Saturday, July 30, 2016

Family Trip to Maui

When all of my friends started turning forty years old this past school year, I noticed that everyone was doing something a little bigger than normal.  From huge, catered birthday parties to ladies' weekends at the beach, I started to think that it would be fun to do something a little more out of the ordinary.  After thinking about it, I decided that my all-time birthday gift would be a week in paradise with my hubby and kiddos.  Around that same time, a letter arrived in our mailbox from Hyatt inviting us to stay in a brand new, 2-bedroom, 2 bathroom suite right on the water in Kanapali for a steal of a deal IF we agreed to attend a 90-minute sales presentation.  Since Ron and I have done things like this in the past to get really cheap lodging for our vacations, we quickly agreed to do it again.  So, I planned out our trip the beginning of January, "gave" it to the kids as a present on Logan's birthday, and then waited many, many months for it to come!  And it finally did.
We returned home late last night after a successful trip to Maui.  Besides the Tropical Storm Darby that blew in the first two days we were there, dealing with Ella's and Logan's toddler shenanigans, and battling Logan to go the beach every day, it was a wonderful vacation.  Like any trip with young children, there were moments of brilliance and enjoyment mixed with moments of chaos and exhaustion, but overall we are so glad we went and already I am looking forward to the next time that we can return to paradise for a week with our kiddos.

On Friday, July 22nd, we caught our 10:30 a.m., direct flight (thank you, Alaska Airlines) to Maui.  Since it was six hours, there was plenty of time for Ella to take a nap.  But since she has enough energy to fuel an army, she never fell asleep and just got progressively squirmier and winier as the flight continued.  After bouncing back and forth between Ron's and my seat the second half of the flight, she was NOT happy about getting back into her seat with her seat belt on for our descent into Maui.  As a result, she screamed the entire 15 to 20 minutes.  That was a first for me and hopefully a last.  Here are the girls all ready to go and super excited at the beginning of our flight waiting for the plan to take off.

Luckily, this was the welcomed sight we were greeted with off of our HUGE lanai after a long flight, getting our luggage, picking up our rental car, and driving almost an hour to our hotel.  Never in our lives have we stayed in such a beautiful and fancy hotel with such a large room (well, actually suite).  We were so excited to hit the pool and that is exactly what we did after eating our take-out dinner and getting unpacked!

This is the other view from our lanai looking over the gigantic and elaborate pool complete with a water slide, waterfalls, and bridges to swim under.  Needless to say, the kids loved it.

After an evening swim in the pool, we returned back to our room for baths and bedtime.  Here are all three of the kids in the awesome tub in our large, master bathroom.  It reminded us of a giant bucket and they loved bathing in it every night after a long day's play in the water and in the sun.

On Saturday, July 23rd, we woke up to the arrival of Tropical Storm Darby.  Although it was still in the mid 80s, it was cloudy, rainy, and really windy.  Not ideal weather for hanging out at the beach or at the pool.  So, we decided to make the most of it and headed down to the amazing aquarium in Maui.  I had been there in 2001 with my parents and thought that the children would enjoy it.  So, we packed up our stuff and drove to the aquarium where we spent the morning.  Here is the picture we took in front of the entrance.  You can kind of tell by the hair in our pictures that it was really windy outside!

The kids and me ready to head into the shark exhibit!

The children looking into the massive tank full of sharks, rays, and tuna fish.  Please notice Logan holding the map of the aquarium that he carried with him all morning long and kept on consulting it like he was figuring out the way for us.  It was hilarious!

Inside the awesome, glass tunnel that goes through the giant tank.  It's not every day that you get to walk underneath a swimming shark!

After we left the aquarium, we walked over to an ice cream shop that had a bunch of unusual, tropical flavors.  We chose our flavors and had them put between two cookies of our choice.  It was delicious!  Here is Lia showing off her cookie sandwich.

All three kiddos showing off their ice cream treats.

We then returned back to the hotel for lunch and nap time.  By the afternoon, the rain had stopped and the clouds broke up a bit allowing us to enjoy several hours at the pool.  We spent most of the time at the neighboring sister Hyatt hotel that had an even larger and more elaborate pool.  Here are the kids playing in the splash pad area.

Although Logan has been quite timid in the water since his swim lessons this past spring, he really got brave this trip!  One of the hilarious things he would do is go down the water slides facing different directions and in different positions.  Here is my boy about to go down...

backwards with his feet up in the air!  So dang funny!

Lia and Logan running to go down the water slide again.

Logan riding on the dolphins in the awesome, baby pool.

Of course, Ella was game to try the water slide the second she saw her older siblings going down it.  Here she is sliding down with Lia.

And all three of our kiddos riding the giant turtle in the pool.

There was an awesome suspension bridge that went over one of the pools.  Here is Ron and the kiddos crossing it.

We woke up to another stormy morning on Sunday, July 24th.  Since we had wanted to drive down to our favorite breakfast restaurant in Kihei one morning while we were in Maui, we decided that we might as well be in our car on a day that wasn't sunny.  So, we packed up and headed out to the Kihei Cafe by 8:30 in the morning.  After waiting in the normal line that is always in front of the restaurant, we ordered our favorite #8 (eggs and rice) and enjoyed a delicious breakfast under an umbrella outside.  Here is a picture of my breakfast before I devoured it.  Oh, how Ron and I love this place.

The Hartland fam enjoying our breakfast on a rainy morning.

Logan and Lia finishing up their french toast and whale-shaped pancakes.

Sweet Ella and her pancakes with Lia in the background.

After breakfast, we wandered behind the restaurant to our favorite outdoor shops full of vendors selling their local wares.  Here are the kids checking out the koi fish in the pond...

and posing with a giant, tiki statue.

We then took the kids across the street to the park that we played at three years ago when we were in Maui last time.  I will always remember this place as the first park that Logan every played on when he was almost 14 months old.  Here is our Ellie Bellie coming down one of the slides.

The kids on the swings.

Mama and gang sitting on one of the awesome trees in the park.

Lia and the tree.

Ella and some palm trees with the wind.

Before leaving Kihei, we decided to drive down to our old condo to visit the beautiful beach in front of it.  While walking along the path, we found two leis floating in the water.  We fished them out and, to my surprise, Logan asked if he could put one of them on.  He wore it and lugged it around with him for a good day or two.  Here is our boy 'hanging loose' with his lei on the beach.

Lia posing with an awesome sand castle we stumbled across on the beach.

Ella posing with the other lei we found on the grounds of our old condominium.  I just love this picture of her!

Almost 36 hours after landing in Maui, I finally got my family onto the beach!  Finally!  The weather just had not been good enough until this point in time due to the tropical storm.  However, since the sun started to finally poke out while we were at the beach, we decided to venture down to the shore.

My kiddos and me.

We decided to change into our swim suits that we luckily decided to bring with us in case the weather improved.  Here is Lia gingerly walking out into the water.  She started out the week totally afraid of sharks and not wanting to swim in the ocean and ended up the week body surfing and snorkeling.  This made me so happy as I love the ocean so much more than pools!

Logan enjoying some play time in the sand.

All three of my kiddos enjoying the beach.  Although I enjoyed our pool time together every day, it always made me so happy to see them enjoying the beach and the ocean as this is what Hawaii is all about for me!

Sweet Ellie scooping away.

All three of the kids making "train tracks" in the sand.

Taking one last picture before packing up and driving back to our hotel in Kanapali.  After lunch and naps, we spent the entire afternoon playing at our hotel pool before calling it quits for the day.

We started off the morning of Monday, July 25th, with beautiful weather!  The tropical storm had finally passed and we woke up to sunshine and stunning, blue skies.  Hooray!  Since the kids had their own T.V. in their bedroom (a first for us), they loved crawling into bed for a few minutes after breakfast every day to watch morning cartoons.  On this particular morning, Ron joined them and I just had to take a picture of it because I thought it was so funny.

I then dragged the family out to the beach in front of our hotel for some beach time before the pool (a rule I implemented this day and enforced every day the rest of the week).  Here is Lia working up the nerve to get back in the water with Ron.

My sweet kiddos and me.

Logan writing his name in the sand.

Lia finally swimming in the water for the first time!

After the beach, we headed back to our awesome hotel pool for some more play.  Logan absolutely loved this water slide and would have seriously gone down it fifty times a day if we had let him.

Papa and the big kids enjoying the pool with the pretty waterfalls in the background.

One of the favorite things we invented on our first day in Maui was doing a train down the water slide with all four of us.  Yes, Ella was totally fine sitting in my lap and going down this slide into the deep water--even with Logan in front of her and Lia behind me.  It was so much fun!  Here are all four of us about to crash into the water.  After playing in the pool, we had to pack up and head to our 90-minute sales presentation which was obligatory to getting the amazing rate at our hotel.  Afterwards, we came back to our hotel for lunch, naps, and then spent the rest of the afternoon and early evening playing in the pool and on the beach before heading in for dinner and bedtime.  One of my all-time favorite memories of the trip was playing in the sand with Ella while the sun was setting that evening after Ron had taken Lia and Logan back to the pool.  Although I didn't get any pictures of this moment, I will always remember it.

We started off Tuesday, July 26th, with another beautiful morning and a familiar scene that I had to capture on my camera because I thought it was so cute--Ella in her princess nightgown staring at the view from our lanai.  It was the cutest thing to see this little girl of ours looking off into the distance every day.  I just love her!

We then packed up and headed off to Lahaina, one of my favorite towns in Maui.  We first took the kids to see the largest Banyan tree in the world in the downtown area.  Here we are standing in front of the main trunk of this massive tree.

The kiddos and the Banyan.

After walking through some of the cute shops downtown we stopped for a Hawaiian classic--shave ice.  Here we are eating this local treat in front of the shave ice shop.

We then spent the rest of the morning at "Kids' Beach" in Lahaina that was recommended to us by a local the day before.  It had very mellow waves and was the perfect place for our little ones to play.

Ella and papa and the beautiful water.

Logan an Ella and the sand.

This is the beach where Lia started to really swim in the water and learn how to body surf.  She really started to get comfortable in it and have a great time.

Logan also started swimming around in the water and would have Ron and me push him back and forth so that he could swim between the two of us.

A picture of Ella and me (and Lia) bobbing in the waves which was one of my favorite things I did every day.

A beautiful shot of a palm tree silhouetted against the ocean that I noticed as we were leaving after lunch that day.  Once again, we returned home for naps and a late afternoon/early evening swim at our hotel pool before dinner and bedtime.  We found that this routine really worked well for our kids and helped them to stay rested and happy every day.

We sadly had to say goodbye to our amazing suite on the morning of Wednesday, July 26th.  The package that we were offered was only for a 5-night stay, but I refused to go to Hawaii for that short of time.  So, when I planned out this trip back in January, I learned that we could transfer to a regular hotel room at the neighboring Hyatt for two nights for free if I opened up a Hyatt credit card.  So, here we are eating our last breakfast on the giant lanai overlooking the beautiful grounds of our hotel.  I have never in my life stayed in a hotel room with such a big lanai.  It was large enough to comfortably fit a table and four chairs, two huge lounge chairs, and an outdoor bed.

Here is a close-up of the kiddos and me on the outdoor bed.

And a far away shot of the bed.  After the first night here, I started going out onto the lanai at night after the kids were in bed.  I would lay on this bed in the incredibly warm, evening air and fall asleep with the sound of the surf crashing.  It was so relaxing and I loved every minute of it!  I was so sad to leave this.

But we checked out of one Hyatt and moved into the neighboring one with an unbelievably fancy and elaborate lobby and pool.  Here is the view of the pool and the beach from our new room.  We could literally see our old hotel room from our new balcony (it is the building off in the distance).

After changing hotel rooms, we headed out to spend the morning at the D.T. Flemming beach just north of us that Ron had read about online.  It was in a beautiful bay and had a long beach to walk on and explore.  Here is the fam after first arriving.

My little mermaid in the sand.

The kids and Ron walking down to the water for some ocean swimming.  By this point, it was no big deal for them to go into the water.

Since Ella is currently fascinated with birds and likes to point them out where ever we go, she got a big kick out of all of the "ca cas" in Hawaii.  She especially liked to chase them on the beach.  Here is my silly girl chasing after a cute, little bird with a big stick.

Ella chasing after a bird in the far right of the photo.

Lia making sand castles.

Playing with Logan and Ella in the sand.  I seriously loved doing this every day!

More sand play.

We walked to the end of the beach to explore a cave in the rocks.  We talked with a nice lady down here who offered to take our picture.

And another one.  I'm always on the hunt for a "Christmas card worthy photo" which is not easy to get with three little ones!  After a picnic lunch on the beach, we returned back to our hotel.  Ron took the two older kids to the pool while I stayed back with Ella in the hotel room for her nap.

Since we no longer had a kitchen in our hotel room, we decided to eat out our remaining two nights in Hawaii.  Some people we had met in our hotel pool had told us about this great, local restaurant right on the water in Lahaina that serves lobster for $16.99 on Wednesday nights. Since Ron and I haven't had lobster since our cruise six years ago, we jumped at this opportunity to eat one of our favorites meals that is always too expensive at regular restaurants. So, off we went to Betty's for a wonderful evening in a super neat restaurant with a beautiful view of the sun setting over the ocean.  Lia and I decided to wear our complimentary leis that we got from checking into our new hotel room earlier that day.  I just love this picture.

The entire gang getting ready to dive in to the lobster (for the parents) and the grilled cheese sandwiches (for the kiddos).  The kids actually did a really good job eating at this restaurant and made it an overall wonderful experience for Ron and me.

Hilarious Ella giving me the "Hang Loose" sign with the Hawaiian sunset in the background. 

Thursday, July 28th, started off with the kids taking a gander at the penguins that live in our hotel lobby!  Yes, you read right.  These penguins from South African can live in this warm climate and can be found in the fancy, large lobby of our hotel.  

A close-up of these funny birds.

We then headed out for our final full morning of Maui to Napili Beach which had been recommended to us the previous day and it did not disappoint.  In fact, it was hand's down my favorite beach of the week and I am so glad that I pushed hard to get everyone out the door and away from the pool to visit this place!  It was in a beautiful, calm bay that had wonderful snorkeling.  

Since we couldn't leave our kids alone, Ron and I had to go snorkeling one at a time.  I went first and found two sea turtles along the left side of the cove.  One of these sea turtles was only about 15 to 20 feet off of shore.  After finding it, I poked my head up out of the water and got Ron's attention half way down the beach.  He was then able to send Lia running down to me.  I shouted to her to swim out to me which she actually did with her little goggles on.  We were then able to hold hands and swim in the water together while watching this massive sea turtle underwater.  This truly was my favorite moments of the entire trip!  Afterwards, Ron and I switched spots and Lia put on my snorkel gear and Logan's life jacket and went out with Ron for quite some time.  I was so proud of her!  Here is my baby girl all ready to go.

Lia heading out to Ron.

Getting ready to snorkel.

Lia eventually left Ron snorkeling and went back to the beach to play.  Here are my kids taking a snack break.

And my sweet, baby girl playing in the sand.

All three of our kiddos lined up with the beautiful Napili Bay in the background.  We headed home for more pool time and a necessary nap for both Logan and Ella since we were staying out late that night for the luau!

We got dressed up all nice and headed out at 5 o'clock to attend a luau actually held at our hotel. It is one of the best on the island and people come from all over to see it.  So, it was super convenient for us to just walk out of our hotel room and take the elevator downstairs to see it.  Here we are waiting outside before the luau began at 6 o'clock.

Another shot of the Hartland fam.

A close-up of mommy and daughter with our leis and plumeria tucked behind our ears.

Logan and Ella waiting for the luau to begin.

After getting seated at 6 o'clock, we got to see some of the performers take the pig out of the imu where it had been cooking all day long.  Here they are carrying the pig away to be served as the delicious shredded Kalua pork for our dinner.

Ron and Lia sitting together after serving up our plates.

The Hartland fam eating dinner.

After dinner, we were treated to an hour long performance of dances from all over Polynesia.  The program started out with my favorite, Tahitian dancers.

Thankfully, Logan and Ella did a great job and quietly sat in our laps during the entire performance.  They were absolutely fascinated by the dancing performers.  Here is a shot I took of Logan looking on from Ron's lap.  It was definitely money well spent!

Afterwards, Lia and Ella posed with several of the performers outside.  Logan was not interested in participating which came as no surprise.  

Lia and Ella with another dancer.  I told Lia it's just like posing with a Disney princess and she agreed!

Sadly, we had to pack up and leave paradise on Friday, July 29th.  Since our flight didn't leave until 1:30 in the afternoon, we had a little bit of time in the morning.  While I packed up our bags, Ron took the kids back down to the pool for one last swim.  However, I actually finished packing a little bit early, so I decided to slip out of our hotel room for a quick dip alone in the ocean.  It was pure paradise and so hard to leave.  I then went and found the gang at the pool and we quickly returned to our room, got dressed, and checked out of our luxurious hotel.  So sad. Here are the kids standing in front of our hotel entrance before climbing into our rental car and leaving for good.  Thankfully, the flight home was a breeze compared to our flight out.  Ella fell asleep within twenty minutes of our departure and took a whoppin' 2.5 hour nap on the plane.  I don't think I have ever been lucky enough to have a child take that long of a nap on a plane in my entire mothering career!  She woke up rested and happy and did great the rest of the flight home.  It was the perfect way to end a pretty perfect week.  Thank you, Hawaii, for treating us to such a wonderful family vacation.  Until next time!