Aloha All Day Every Day

Now that we’ve been back to reality for a month and the tans have worn off and the aches and pains from sitting on an airplane have been replaced by aches and pains from {insert all activity while 34 weeks pregnant here}, I figured it was time to do a little nostalgic hula down memory lane.

The flight to Kauai was just over six hours and it was rough. The crew was nasty, the plane was packed, and my body was not impressed with being confined to a seat for so long. Madelyn, on the other hand, was a total champ. She slept for two hours and managed to stay happy thanks to coloring books and 79283742 episodes of “Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood.” We bought her her very own set of headphones and she wore them very proudly and stayed entertained. There is no doubt that she was way better behaved on the flight than I was!

We arrived at our hotel to enjoy a great room with a pool and ocean view. Bryan and I stayed at this Marriott property on our honeymoon and it was great to be back, especially after some nice updates and renovations. We rested and cleaned up from our travel day, and then walked the short path to Duke’s for dinner, but not without Madelyn modeling for the camera first.



Madelyn couldn’t wait to go swimming in Kauai. We had told her that our hotel had a gigantic pool and she was so excited to wear her floatie and swim.

The water was cold in the pool! Bryan went in with her most of the time because I am a wimp when it comes to water temperature. But I was also her partner in vegging, and she very quickly got accustomed to resort life.




Bryan was also Madelyn’s sand castle partner. He showed her all the techniques and introduced her to proper ratios of water and sand. He taught her how to dump bucket molds properly and about accessorizing castles with sticks and seaweed. I loved watching my little architect become so passionate about sand castles. I was happy to let them have their building bonding time because I don’t like sand in my bits and sitting on the beach means getting stuck on the beach. #pregnantproblems





We also ventured away from the hotel pool and beach. The great part about visiting Kauai is that it’s small and with a car, it’s super easy to get around to see all sides of the island.

We took a drive to the very end of the road past Hanalei but made stops along the way to see waterfalls, burgers, boobies, and beach.

With two must-have burger joints on the road, we couldn’t go Sophie’s Choice on the meal and decided to have lunch twice; once at Ono Char Burger alongside the resident roosters and a few hours later at Bubba Burgers in Hanalei. Bubba is also next door to a pretty delicious shave ice place, so of course we had to enjoy our first shave ice of the trip. Madelyn had no idea what was coming. Her mind was blown.

Between our burger breaks, we visited Kilauea Lighthouse. The lighthouse itself is not that exciting, though it is a pretty structure. The real draw to this stop is the gorgeous views from the tip of the island and the sanctuary of boobies. Boobies are birds. It’s fun to talk about boobies in public and how they fly and swoop. Boobies boobies boobies.










We finally made it to the end of our drive at Ke’e Beach where the road ends and the Napali Coast takes over with its monstrous, lush jungle mountains.

Madelyn was so thrilled to be at a new beach that she tackled me with love and how could I resist? Bryan had the camera ready and I’m so glad he caught these moments of her love attack. On day three of our trip, she continued to be in the happiest of spirits, never complaining and always appreciating everything we showed her in our beloved Kauai. It was at this moment that I was reminded how lucky we are to be raising Madelyn who is so positive and delightful. She really seems to “get it” and we love that she has the travel bug, too.





Madelyn took in her new surroundings and ran around the beach before settling into the sand with Bryan for another creation.

Then, we spotted our first rainbow and Madelyn was pretty enamored with the sight. It was one of those perfect rainbows that disappeared as quickly as it came and showed vibrant colors at its pique. I was hoping we’d get to see a famous Hawaiian rainbow on our trip, and this day did not disappoint. This rainbow reappeared over and over again over the course of our hour at the Ke’e Beach.








We learned the day before at the beach at the hotel that Madelyn does not like going into the ocean. The waves scared her and the endlessness of it seemed to make her nervous. It took a little convincing, but she was finally OK with going in the water at Ke’e Beach because the water was calm and smooth like glass. I didn’t want to miss an opportunity to float in the Pacific Ocean with my best girl, so I got over my water temperature snobbiness and we bounced around together, singing and giggling.

After our fingers had turned into raisins, Madelyn relaxed on the beach while Bryan snapped a few belly shots. Apparently we wanted to remember what 28 weeks looks like the second time around. Then Madelyn wanted in so she could give kisses to her little sister. And I melted into a puddle that was bigger than the water we’d just come out of.




The next day, we spent the day at the hotel pool and beach again to take it easy after our adventure the day before. We met an older woman from Mississippi on the beach who managed to tell me her entire life story and how her granddaddy built her Baptist church and that every Sunday, she and her husband sat in the pews named after her family and she sings the loudest during the hymns. She also blessed me a million times for my pregnancy and upcoming baby. She then kneeled down to Madelyn and gushed about how she reminded her of the angels in her Sunday school class that she teaches.

She followed up her friendly and kind conversation by asking Madelyn if she likes to sing. Madelyn confidently nodded her head. So the lady asked her if she knew the song “Jesus Loves You” and Madelyn stared at her like she had 50 eyeballs on her head. When she didn’t answer, the nice lady gave us her own personal recital and giggled to us that Madelyn must be shy for not singing the lyrics with her. I didn’t have the heart to tell her that not only did Madelyn not know the words to “Jesus Loves You,” but that we were also on a family vacation during Hanukkah and that the last song she sang at preschool was about a dreidel. This experience was one of the funniest and most bizarre moments of my life, but this lady was so nice with good intentions.

After she left, we blessed the sand with our own creation: a Madelyn Mermaid. She loved being buried and giggled about her sandy fins.


That evening, we got cleaned up to go see a Hula show in the same shopping center as one of our favorite restaurants, Roy’s. However, we were in lots of traffic going into Poipu, and we missed the Hula show. I was so sad because I wasn’t sure when else we would be able to go before our trip ended, so we let Madelyn run around to get some of her wiggles out from the long car ride before dinner and her silly antics cheered me up.

We went to the beautiful nearby Hyatt resort to walk around the property and ended up watching a Hawaiian singer in the lounge where Madelyn danced to his music and put on her own little show for us. We also learned we could come back to the Hyatt a few days later to take a Hula class and see a Hula show. I was so glad to have that final option and couldn’t wait to come back!





We bought a pineapple earlier in the week at a nearby market and it was finally ready to eat, so the next morning, I called for room service to bring up a knife and I performed major surgery on that gem so we could enjoy its juicy island flavor.

Madelyn was so excited to eat real Hawaiian pineapple and she loved watching me slice it up. It was a yummy way to start the day and it sure beat room service.





With our bellies full of pineapple, we woke up our appetites to grab some delicious Mexican food from a food truck I’d read about. We drove to Koloa Town to try Chalupa’s and it did not disappoint! Our food was delicious and was the perfect lunch before making the long drive to the other end of the island to check out Hanapepe and Waimea Canyon.


Hanapepe is an old little town and we went to show Madelyn the swinging bridge. We walked across the bridge 6.5 years before when we came to Kauai for our honeymoon, but we thought Madelyn would get a kick out of crossing a river on a suspension bridge. And then walk back. It’s very anticlimactic, but it’s quirky and kitschy and something you’ve just to go do when visiting Kauai.

And it must’ve made some kind of impression on her because every bridge we saw or walked on throughout the rest of the trip, including the bridge over the pool at our resort, was called a Hanapepe Bridge.

Plus, the photo opps were fun!





After a long and windy drive up to Waimea Canyon, we woke up a sleeping Madelyn to take in the miraculous view of the Grand Canyon of Hawaii. As many times as I’ve seen Waimea Canyon, it’s still a breathtaking sight.

No photo truly does it justice. The ropey red mountains with a cavernous valley below are so powerful to take in. The waterfall gives the perfect dose of Hawaii. The breeze is the only sound over the murmur of amazed visitors who exchange buzzes of conversation for photography trades. We also partook, and thank goodness, because it’s not often we’ll have a family photo with this landscape.





Back down the windy road, we stopped for a late lunch at the Shrimp Station, which was decorated for the holidays. Madelyn loves shrimp and was totally enchanted by the shrimp on a sleigh in front. Bryan and Madelyn also managed to polish off some shrimp platters, while I cursed the windy road that left me nauseous and totally unhungry. I was sad to miss out on one of my favorite eating experiences that I was excited to return to, but I could not force any shrimp into my upset belly.

I was too much of a wimp… for shrimp. Womp womp.


We drove back to the hotel and I spent the rest of the late afternoon and evening curled up in a ball, stewing over how mad I was for feeling sick on vacation. We called it an early night and I felt so much better the next day. We relaxed at the pool again and then got dolled up in repeat outfits for our Hula night back at the Hyatt.

Dinner at Puka Dog was quick, but delicious. Kauai travelers will enjoy visiting this simple hot dog shop that’s anything but boring. The dog is wrapped in a cylinder sweet roll and there’s a variety of tropical relishes to use instead of the usuals. This is no ballpark hot dog. And as a picky hot dog eater who has the audacity to hate all condiments except for ketchup, even I like the relishes!

We arrived at the Hyatt for our Hula lesson and we learned a dance and a song. It was super fun and I appreciated learning about storytelling with my hands. Madelyn did a great job following along when she wasn’t being harassed by another little girl who had no interest in watching the teacher and only wanted to play with Madelyn. Poor Madelyn was so torn, loving the attention from a new friend, but also really wanting to Hula dance. She did the best she could and we ended up having a good time before heading down to the lounge to watch the children from a local Hula school perform for hotel guests. Madelyn ate it up. She loved watching little girls not much older than her shake their hips and use beautiful props to dance.

At the end of the night, we enjoyed a family walk and a cuddle on a hammock under the stars. It was a perfect evening and a wonderful memory.






On our second to last day, we took one more drive north to check out some other beaches with a shave ice stop on the way because shave ice. We enjoyed the beach at Princeville and then found ourselves at Lumahai Beach which is one of our favorites. It’s rarely crowded, easy to get to once you know it’s there, and the waves are fun! They are also huge and I’ve never seen anything like them. On our honeymoon, we went there and I wore a bikini (a bik-what???) and the waves at Lumahai left me without a bikini. So, there’s that. Needless to say, Madelyn took one look at those waves and ran away back toward the car. We promised her she didn’t have to go in, but Bryan enjoyed some thrashing around in the water while we watched.

There’s also a really cool river alongside the bottom of a cliff that feeds into the ocean. It’s super calm and like a wading pool. Madelyn much preferred that atmosphere. She chased floating banana leaves and splashed in the water.

We ended up eating dinner in Hanalei that was just mediocre. We didn’t feel satisfied after, so we did what any hungry people do after they’ve eaten a proper restaurant meal: we got burgers at Bubba’s. Shameless. Who says dessert has to be sweet??

At the end of the night, my depression sunk in that our trip was ending and we’d rest our heads on the pillows of our hotel only one last time. Madelyn loves hotel life. She thinks the little bottles of toiletries are a blast and being roomies with mom and dad couldn’t be cooler. We taught her about hotel etiquette and that we have to be quiet in the hallways since people might be sleeping. We told her this once. From then on, eery time we walked down the hall, she put her finger to her lips and whispered “Ssssss!” (she can’t say her “sh” blend). One morning, a horrible man was talking so loudly on his phone and we could hear him through the door. Good thing I was already awake or I would’ve ripped his ear off with the phone. Madelyn shook her head in disapproval and scolded him from inside our room. Already, such a savvy traveler.

She slept in a sofa bed for a week and did great. Better than great. In fact, every morning, she did something new that she’s never done at home. She would get out of bed when she woke up (sometimes before us), tip toe to the bathroom, pee, come back, and go back to sleep or get dressed and read her books while letting us snooze. She also woke up dry every morning even though she wears Pull-Ups to sleep and essentially nighttime potty trained herself on this trip. What?! I never imagined vacationing with a three-year-old would actually be a vacation for all of us.








The fastest week was also the best week we’ve had as a family. We had the best time showing Madelyn what we love about one of our favorite places and we loved watching her take it all in. Even a month later, back at home and back at the old routine, Madelyn consistently tells us she loves Hawaii and misses it.

But in typical Madelyn fashion, instead of harping on the vacation she had, she looks toward the future and always says, “Let’s go to Hawaii again, but with Baby Sister when she gets here.”

Sign me up, Big Sis!