Sunday, January 31, 2010

Hawaii 2010 - Days 1 & 2

We met Mom and Dad at Ma & Bob’s in Arlington the evening of January 12th and headed out early the next morning to catch our flight from DFW. We ran into our first minor snag at the airport – when I booked the tickets, we were on American flights to Honolulu and then a Hawaiian Airlines flight to Maui. I was told by someone at American (and various other places online) that we would be able to check our bags through to Maui. When we went to check-in, we were told that our connection in HNL was too short – just under an hour, and it had to be an hour and 15 minutes for a codeshare flight. Information that would’ve been nice to have earlier… This meant that we would have to get our bags in HNL and go back through security to catch our flight to Maui. At least we knew that there were multiple flights and we should be okay.

After check-in, the flights were long, but pretty uneventful. We didn’t buy Claire a ticket since she is under 2 and able to travel as a lap child, but we had an extra seat in our row on both American flights that they blocked for us at the gate (our trick of booking the window and aisle seats worked again!). She fussed some, but did as well as could be expected.

1 Claire at airport

Our flight from LAX to HNL was delayed slightly – enough for us to miss our connection. Fortunately we were able to get on the next flight without any problems – and all of our bags made it with us!

Once we arrived in Maui, we got our minivan without any fuss (a necessity when traveling with 4 adults, a toddler, and all of our stuff!) and headed for our condo in Kihei. I’d heard about a fried fish place that was close by, so we picked up dinner on the way to the condo. We settled in and ate (the meal was pretty forgettable, but at least it was cheap and convenient) and got Claire settled in before Robert and I ran to the grocery store. I’d rented a pack & play and booster from a local child equipment rental agency, Akamai Mothers, and the items were waiting for us when we arrived – so much easier and cheaper than bringing our own. Even with the 4 hour time difference, Claire wasn’t too fussy and went to bed around 7, which felt like 11 to us. She adjusted so quickly to the time difference – I think it was easier on her than any of the adults!

On our first full day we didn’t really have an agenda – I didn’t want to plan much to give us a chance to adjust to the time difference and see how Claire was doing. We all got up fairly early and drove up to Iao Valley State Park. The park has an important landmark in Hawaii’s history, the Iao Needle, which is a chunk of volcanic rock that was a lookout for Maui warriors. The valley was very peaceful and lush and had several easy walking trails.





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We were all ready for a good meal after exploring the park and drove into Wailuku. The downtown area is pretty small, and we were on our way to one restaurant mentioned in the guidebook when Café O'Lei caught our eye. They have another location near our condo that was on my list after reading several good reviews, so we gave it a shot. It ended up being one of our favorite meals of the trip. If you ever go, I highly recommend the quinoa salad with roasted vegetables and the crab salad sandwich!

We drove back to the condo, stopping for shave ice on the way (the first of many!). Claire was immediately a big fan.



After a nap we walked across the street to the beach. Claire wasn’t sure what to think of the ocean, and she did not want to walk on the sand but was okay with all of us getting wet. I held her and waded out and would run from the waves or “chase them”, and she thought that was hilarious. She just laughed and laughed!


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Dinner that night was pizza at a place in Wailea called Matteo’s. It wasn’t on the beach but had a great deck with perfect views of the sunset. Great way to end our first day in Maui!

Note for my fellow photography buffs: Photos are from four cameras - mine, Robert's, Mom's, and my iPhone, and are all SOOC except for a little cropping on a couple of them.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Our big girl!

Claire used her potty for the first time tonight!

A few months ago, our pediatrician suggested that we go ahead and get a little potty for Claire so that she could start getting familiar with it. We got one and had her sit on it a few times before her bath, and she hated it, so we just ignored it and left it on the floor by her bathtub. A month or so ago we started talking about it with her and explaining what it was for, but never had her sit on it again.

A couple days ago she seemed interested, so I had her sit on it before getting in her bath. She seemed more comfortable and sat there for awhile. Nothing happened, but she had a good time sitting there for a few minutes before her bath.

Tonight Robert was also in there when she sat down, and we told her again that it was for "pee pee and poop". (Sorry if this is too much information for all of you non-parents!) We encouraged her to use it if she needed to. She sat there a minute, and then she made "Number 1" in her potty. We clapped and exclaimed loudly, and she was SO proud of herself! I think all 3 of us were surprised! Then she didn't want to get up and it took some bribing with her bath toys to get her up and into the tub. :)

I would definitely say that we're not trying to potty train yet - I think she has a ways to go on recognizing when she needs to go and being able to communicate it to us in time, but it's exciting to see progress this early!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Hawaii 2010 - The Background

Several months ago Robert and I started discussing taking a vacation. Our last real vacation was our trip to Japan in August 2007, immediately before we found out I was pregnant with Claire. Obviously, we were way overdue! We talked about several options, and ultimately decided that we wanted to bring Claire, since we wanted to take a long vacation and didn't want to be far away from her for more than a few days.

We looked at our frequent flier miles and decided we had enough for all of us plus my parents to go to Hawaii. Robert and I wanted Mom and Dad to see Hawaii and knew they would not go on their own, and we knew that the extra help with Claire would make things go more smoothly, plus give us opportunities to go to dinner, the beach, etc. on our own if we so desired.

Mom and Dad quickly jumped on board, and we got our plane tickets in November. At the time, we hadn't decided which islands we wanted to visit for sure, only knowing that the Big Island would definitely be on the itinerary, so we booked flights from DFW to Honolulu (knowing we could easily travel from there to the island of our choise) and back through Kona.

Ultimately, we decided on Maui over Kauai. I'd been to both, but Robert hadn't seen Maui since I went with friends before we met. What really made the decision for us was learning that our best chance of seeing lots of whales would be on Maui, and finding whale boat tours there that would allow a passenger under the age of 2.

I spent many, many hours scouring various rental agency websites,, and Trip Advisor, then e-mailing agencies and owners trying to find the best options for accomodations, and eventually settled on unit G-502 at the Maui Banyan in Kihei and unit 10B at Hali'i Kai in Waikoloa. Both owners were extremely easy to work with and offered us great rates. Also, both units each also had three of my big priorities - ocean view, easy access to the beach or a nice pool, and a washer/dryer in the unit (essential for traveling for long periods with a toddler!). We were extremely happy with both units.

Rental cars were another hurdle. I looked at all of the major websites (Expedia, Travelocity, etc.), Costco Travel (which usually has the best rates), and the individual companies. I made reservations through Costco, but I still felt like the rates were really high. After reading several positive reviews for on the Trip Advisor forums, I gave them a shot. With no deposits or obligations, I figured they were worth a shot. It was almost too good to be true - I ended up with the same vehicle for $200 less on Maui and $50 less on the Big Island than Costco. I was a little nervous since they didn't require a credit card, and we've had some bad experiences with a couple of agencies in Hawaii (incredibly long lines, poor service, car shortages, etc.) but I received confirmations directly from the rental agency they booked us with (Avis) and once we got there, the process could not have gone any quicker or more smoothly. I will be using Discount Hawaii Car Rental for any future trips to Hawaii!

I was working on our trip almost up until we left, and before we knew it, it was time to pack and head off to Dallas to meet my parents and catch our flights from DFW...

Monday, January 25, 2010

Quick Update

It was a long travel day, but we arrived home late Saturday night/early Sunday morning from our Hawaii vacation. We all slept in yesterday (Claire slept until noon - so awesome!) and spent the rest of the day relaxing, unpacking, and getting ready for the week. I'm hoping to get all of our photos downloaded tonight or tomorrow and start going through them and will do some nice long photo-laden posts of our trip. It was wonderful!

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Christmas 2009: Part 3

On New Year's Eve, we drove to Vernon to celebrate Christmas with my family. Before we left, we turned Claire's car seat around to foward facing. She was mesmerized by her new view, and while it took a little getting used to for all of us, it's made long trips a little easier for everyone.

We celebrated on New Year's Day, and Claire was extremely impressed with the mountain of presents under the tree!



As usual, Claire got several things that really excited her. One of her favorites was a new pair of pink shoes from Nana and Granddaddy.


We gave my cousins David and Jonathan each a set of Bucky Balls, and I think everyone wanted a turn at creating something with them.


Mom and Aunt Nancy

I was super excited about my new Cricut! With Christmas stuff and getting ready for our trip, I haven't had a chance to use it yet, but I can't wait to try it out after we get back.

David, Penny & Jonathan

Claire "helping"




She could hardly wait for me to get her new Little People School Bus from Nana and Granddaddy out of the box. We all had the songs memorized with 20 minutes - she loves it.


It took awhile to open all of the presents, and we had a feast for lunch (again, I couldn't keep track of the number of desserts I had). Later that night we played a new game, "Wits and Wagers". It was really a lot of fun and perfect for playing with family.


Claire was able to get in a little piano time with Nana before we left - she was having the best time!


Our Christmas holidays were wonderful. We're so fortunate to be able to spend time with both of our families during the season, and we know that Christmas mornings will continue to get even more exciting for our family as Claire gets older and develops a better understanding of the meaning of Christmas.