Hawaii:: December 2014

We had an amazing vacation to Hawaii last Christmas. I can’t believe it has been almost a year since we were there. We had a lot of fun while we were there.


We visited the Dole Plantation in Wahiawa, HI. We rode a train, walked the pineapple maze, toured the gardens, and ate Dole Whips! That made me think of Disney World!


We played on Waikiki Beach.


We ate on the balcony of our room at Ilikai Condos overlooking the ocean.


We rode the free trolley to the Hilo Hattie Flagship Store.


We watched the sun set at the luau at Hilton Hawaiian Village.IMG_1005

¬†The kids got “tattoos” at the Hilton Hawaiian Village luau.


Derek and I hiked with 4 kids to the top of Diamond Head and we saw whales off the shore.


The we ate shave ice and tried not to get stung by the bees that wanted to share.


We spent Christmas Day at Waikiki Beach.


The kids rented a boat and went around the lagoon, or as Cara called it “the goon.”


We went to the Big Island and took a helicopter ride with Blue Hawaiian.


Then we went to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.


Cara had just woken up and was having trouble with the brightness of the Hawaiian sunshine.


We also visited waterfalls.


We saw the King Kamehameha statue.


Derek and Cade went parasailing together on our Xtreme Parasail adventure.


Cara and my Dad went parasailing together.

There they are…way up there.

Abby and I went together. I had to pretend to not be nervous so Abby wouldn’t be scared!


Grocery Shopping List for Week Long Beach Vacation

We went on a beach vacation to beautiful Lakeside, Michigan with our friends last month. When we booked the house for the week, we knew that we would do a lot of cooking and less eating out. Before we went, I made a shopping list on GoogleDocs and shared it with Jamie so we could figure out what we already had, what we needed to buy, and any changes that we needed to make to the menu. On our way there, we stopped at WalMart in Michigan City, IN and got the things we thought we needed. This list is for 2 families:: 4 adults and 6 children between the ages of 2 and 7.

  • Breakfast: waffles- 2 boxes, eggs- 2 dozen, milk- 2 gallons, sausage, jelly, butter, syrup, hash browns, Cheerios, oatmeal
  • Lunch: bread- 3 loaves, lunch meat- 4 lbs., chips- 3 bags, mac n cheese- 2 boxes, spaghetti o’s- 2 cans, pretzels, gogurt- 24, ketchup, mustard, frozen peas, peanut butter
  • Dinner: frozen corn, pasta- 2 boxes, pasta sauce- 2 jars, garlic bread, lettuce- 2 heads, dressing, frozen pizzas- 4, meat to grill- 2 packs hot dogs, brats- 2 packs, hamburger- 2 lbs, chicken- 10 breasts, vegetables to grill, hamburger buns- 2 bags, hot dog buns- 3 bags, grill seasoning, strawberries, bananas, grapes, apples, carrots, peppers, onions
  • Extras: cookies, candy, apple juice, lemonade mix, pop, beer

Shopping LIst

It was helpful to break down what we could buy ahead of time and what we needed to buy on the way. We didn’t want milk and frozen food sitting in the car for over 2 hours. When we stopped in Michigan City, we dropped the guys and kids off at a park and Jamie and I went to the store and tried to be as efficient as possible.

Lakeside, Michigan

We just returned from a week at the beach in Michigan. We rented a house with our good friends and tried (mostly successfully) to entertain 6 kids aged 7 and under for a 24/7 playdate. Almost every day was a beach day. It was a short (ish) walk to a private entrance to the beach from our house. The beach in southwest Michigan is beautiful. The water can be a bit cool but on a hot day, it felt great.


We brought sand toys to build sand castles and some cars to drive around the castles. We had watering cans and boats to play in the water. We also brought a football and floaties. There was a sandbar not very far off shore that the bigger kids and the adults (except for me) liked to swim out to.

The water is quite clear there and really very nice. After playing and swimming and building, the kids were glad to have juice boxes to get refreshed. We froze them before we left and they were perfect and cold for a hot summer day. Lakeside, Michigan and the surrounding area is a great place for a beach vacation, especially if you don’t live close to the ocean.

Cozumel, Mexico:: Thursday, December 24, 2009

It was our last day in Cozumel and we planned to make the most of the morning and early afternoon before leaving for the airport. Before breakfast, I went to the lobby to try to check on our flight and weather conditions because we heard that there was terrible weather back home. We couldn’t get a wifi connection, so we finally decided that whatever would happen would happen and we went on with our day. We ate breakfast and brought our beach things with so we could head straight to the beach. We stayed at the beach for a few hours and then headed to the pool. Cade fell asleep so I went back to the room to shower and finish packing for our noon checkout time. Abby played with a new friend at the pool and Derek watched. At about 11am I met Derek and the kids coming back to the room just as I was coming down. We went back to the room and got everyone cleaned up and ready to go. We were able to leave our bags at the front desk, so we checked out and then went back to the pool snackbar to eat some lunch. We made one last stop at the buffet for some dessert when it opened at 12:30. After walking around a bit more and taking a few pictures, we were finally ready to leave.

We got a cab to the airport and got there around 2:30 for our 4:40ish flight. Abby and I checked out the airport shopping and Abby and Cade played toys while we waited. We left on time and hit some turbulance but otherwise had an easy flight to Atlanta. After claiming our bags and going through customs, we got back on the underground tram and headed to our gate. When we got there, the flight was delayed from 9:40 to 10:20. That was not what I wanted to see. We decided to go down the hall to a food court area for some supper. I called Mom and Dad since they would be picking us up at O’Hare and filled them in. We took our time, made a bathroom stop on the way back to the gate, and when we got to the gate at 9:40, no one was there! Well, just a few workers. All of the passengers were on the plane and the screen now read ON TIME. They had undelayed our flight and didn’t even make an announcement. I was shocked, but the airline worker assured me that they wouldn’t have left without us…yeah right! Anyway, we got on the plane and I made a quick call to Mom and Dad before we were on our way. The person in front of us had a hoodie on that was made to look like an animal with little ears on the hood and spots on the fabric. Cade took one look at those ears sticking out from in front of the seat and starting screaming and crying. I had to assure him that it wasn’t real, but it took him a few minutes to calm down. We hit more turbulance and my stomach was ready for the plane to land. Both kids were sleeping and we had to get our carry on bags. I carried Cade and the backpack and Derek took Abby and the 2 Trunkis. Luckily we had checked the stroller at the gate so Derek was able to put her in while we walked and walked to baggage claim. My arm was ready to fall off, but just as we stepped off the elevator by the baggage claim, I saw Mom walking in the door. Yeah! Perfect timing. I took Cade outside where Dad was waiting in the van and got him into the seat. He woke up, of course, but we were ready for the last leg of our journey home. Mom brought Abby out and she too woke up. I went in to help Derek get the bags and they came out quick, so we were on our way. We left O’Hare by about 10:20pm and made it home through the rain at midnight. Merry Christmas! Thanks to Mom and Dad for getting us and to Dad for driving us home. The kids slept and Derek and I shared some stories from the trip. After we got home, we had to get ready for Christmas morning. We moved the presents from our bed to under the tree, got Cade’s train table from upstairs, Abby’s Barbie house from the basement, hung stockings, and got ready for bed. Derek and I finally feel asleep about 1 am. It was an awesome vacation or trip. My theory on the difference between a vacation and a trip was kind of blown. I always said that if you go on a trip you come back tired and if you go on a vaction you come back rested. Well, what I failed to realize is that if you have to get back from somewhere, whether it is by car or plane or whatever, you will probably come back tired. So, vacation or trip, whatever, I will come back tired, but it is always worth it!

Park Royal Hotel, Cozumel, Mexico:: Wednesday, December 23, 2009

We woke up to another beautiful day. It was warm and sunny! We took our beach toys to breakfast and went straight from the buffet to the beach. It was nice to get there early before many people were even starting their day and have some time almost to ourselves. The kids were chasing the pelicans and running around the chairs. The kids had the best time burying Derek in sand. Abby put one little strip of sand on his arm and said it was done. I helped out a little with the big shovel and we got him completely covered.We only saw a few lizards the whole time we were there. This one was the largest and was sunning itself by the pool. Cade loved jumping in the pool. He must have done it a hundred times. My arms got tired way before he did.Cade took his nap by the pool, which was nice because then we didn’t have to sit in the room all afternoon.As soon as Abby saw the balloons, she wanted to join in the water aerobics. It was comical, if nothing else, but Abby had a great time.When Cade woke up from his nap, he got dinner and a show. He ate a hot dog, or as he calls it a “bot bot” and watched the aerobics.We ate dinner at the buffet and then made our way back to the room, thinking we should get the kids to bed early. Cade fell asleep early, but Abby was still awake when the night show started, so she wanted to see it. We could hear it from our room and see it from the balcony, so I took her out to the balcony to watch for awhile. When she came back in the room, she fell asleep pretty quickly. It had been a long few days in the sun and we were all pretty worn out.

Cozumel International Cruise Port:: Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Yea for hot sunny weather! We woke up to beautiful weather. After breakfast at the buffet, we went back up to the room and got ready for the beach. We were sitting on the beach, under a palapa before 9am. We built sandcastles, played in the water, saw fish, went in the hot tubs overlooking the ocean, found shells, ate pizza and nachos from the snack bar, and had a blast. After a full morning at the beach, we stopped at the pool on the way back to our room. The waterfall was fun and even Cade could touch in that part of the pool. The pool wound around one of the snack bars and made a river like path. It was a lot of fun. After we ate lunch from the snack bar, we went up to the room for Cade’s nap. Abby and I went shopping while Derek stayed with Cade.

Abby and I walked a few blocks south to the Cozumel International Cruise Port. On the way in, a man asked me for my ship card and I told him I didn’t have one and that we just wanted to go shopping. He let us right in. We found T-shirts, ornaments, maracas, and another sun for the kitchen. Abby had a good time choosing the maracas and her own T-shirt.Cade woke up happy and we were ready for another round at the beach.

Abby had her usual late afternoon snack and we went back to the room to get cleaned up for dinner at the buffet. We were always the people waiting at the door when it opened. 6:30 is a late dinner time for us (especially the kids) and that is when they opened for dinner. After dinner we saw the sun setting and the kids had some strawberry daquiris while we waited for the fire and drum show.The show was pretty amazing but after awhile we had to move to the back row. The smell of gasoline was overpowering. The performers were amazing and all of us really enjoyed the show.

This was my favorite day of the whole vacation. It was great from start to finish!

Monday, December 21, 2009

The morning started again with breakfast at the buffet with what would turn out to be our usuals. It was good, again. After breakfast, we hung out in the lobby for awhile and used the ipod touches, since that is where the wifi was at. The weather was not cooperating so we went back to the room and then Cade took a nap. Even though it was a little chilly, Derek and Abby went to the beach while I stayed with Cade in the room. They built a castle for Barbie and had a great time. I believe Abby ate some more pizza from the snack bar and probably another strawberry daquiri. When they got back to the room, Cade was still sleeping and Abby took a nap as well. When they both woke up, we had a late lunch at the buffet. We stopped for some nachos and a little pizza for Abby at the snack bar afterward. It poured that afternoon and into the night. It poured and poured and poured. We had to walk outside to get to the buffet for dinner after spending the entire afternoon in the room. Our shoes were drenched and our clothes weren’t very dry either! It was Italian night at the buffet but the kids didn’t feel like sitting very long, so we didn’t eat too much. Later that night, Abby and I went to Bingo night while Derek stayed back with Cade to get him to bed. Abby and I each had a strawberry daquiri while we waited for the Bingo to begin. It was alright, but after about 3 games Abby and I were both ready to be done. We went back to the room and prayed for better weather the next day before we fell asleep.