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I still identify with being a traveler and my heart still aches for the same as it did back then. I guess the only difference is that I no longer cringe at the idea of a vacation; leave it to parenthood to make you feel like you’ve earned the right to put your mother fucking feet up.

I’ve been coming to Maui since I was a little girl. I have all the typical tourist pictures buried in albums and albums of my childhood (though, to be fair, nothing close to the number of albums that would surely fill an entire room today — I’m talking about the 5 or 6 albums that basically encompass my entire childhood. And my sisters). Pictures of me dancing in luaus, biking down the volcano, holding those same parrots that are still there for the same photo op in Lahina to this day, eating ice cream under the big banyon tree, and so on and so forth. It’s the one place I feel okay going to and doing nothing but relaxing. As much relaxing as you can with kids in tow that is. Which is slim to none, really. But at least it’s in lieu of the weight of having an itinerary.

The flight was dreadful. I mean it can always be worse but there was a solid 30 minutes of screaming and for that 30 minutes you really didn’t know what way the remaining 5 hours were going to go. Hooper and Van’s demands and whines were extra loud; think of those people with head phones on that talk at the volume they can hear, which is louder than it needs to be because whatever they’re listening in their headphones is already loud. That was them. I NEED TO GO POO. I WANT MY GOLDFISH. HOOPER HIT ME. VAN WON’T SHARE. Combined with screaming Sonny and less-than-helpful or tolerant, for that matter, flight attendants, and Willy and I both considered just opening that giant door and jumping. Sonny fell asleep the minute the wheels hit the ground. Because life sometimes gives you the finger.

But flights are never easy. And there’s little reason to bitch because we recognize our privilege. We also recognize why my parents, who met us there, opted to go on a separate flight.

We stayed at the same place we’ve stayed every time we’ve visited, a condo complex mixed with vacationers and those who have made the sleepier south side of Maui home. And we quickly adopted our routine; beach in the morning, lunch on the way home, pool time while Sonny napped, and dinner in or out. The same, on repeat, for all the days we were there; with only a break here or there to venture into Paia, our favorite little town. No trips to Hana, though we love it there and will go when Sonny is a bit easier to manage. No overpriced luaus, no sunset cruises, just beach, eat, pool, sleep. On repeat. It was great.

The flight home was much of the same and nearly washed away any remaining aloha vibes. Making my pitch to Willy to travel with the kids to Asia all the harder. But in the end, I always think it’s worth it. Because, well, memories. And the best trip, in my opinion, is when you can insert a little vacationing with a little travel. Thus, my pitch for Asia. Trying to wrap my head around that flight though… Who wants to babysit Sonny?

A Video

It’s always my intention to shoot more video but frustrating when I can’t make the time to go through all the footage, edit the clips, and compile them together. It’s rather time consuming, in a good way, but nonetheless in a way I simply don’t have these days. So I worked on this on my birthday; a day declared as my own and it was actually nice to revisit our trip to Maui sometime later and to relive it all in a new way. I had intended to use the original version of this song but after much delay and lack of motivation, I’ve left it as is. Sometimes things are close enough. Ha.

Read More “A Video”

Hawaii, part I

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Things we did while in Maui: Listened to a local sing “going to California” and “fast car” (two of my favorites), after the rain led us into a saloon that’s now on our list of favorites, saw several sea turtles both from the shore as well as from in the water, spent a windy day at the aquarium, bought shell necklaces from a local maker; one went missing immediately and two days later the other broke, ate cream puffs and apple pie from a bakery the locals rave about, put extra sunscreen on burned butt cracks, potty trained Van albeit the time he peed on the car’s wheel in the parking lot and in the tide pools too because, well, when you gotta go you gotta go, ate off of paper plates to avoid dishes, gave the boys one shower that probably led the neighbors to believe we practice Chinese torture (both boys hate showers) and one bath… In two weeks (and no, we didn’t spend a lot of time – or much of any for that matter – in the pool), saw an Elvis impersonator perform poolside for all the retired folk (many of which snapped pictures with him afterwards), witnessed my first selfie stick and I have loads to say about it (namely, what happened to asking the stranger next you to take your photo?), laughed at my horrible English / Australian / anything other than American accent, walked out of Mama’s Fish House just as soon as we sat down and noticed that the kid’s meals were $20 a pop and that macaroni, chicken tenders, and hamburgers were not listed as options, watched Hooper catch his first crab, also watched him cry tears of sympathy when he came upon a dead gecko, packed more clothing than we needed and just barely enough sunscreen, and got on the plane feeling well rested, grateful, and sad to leave.

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To anyone who looks at these photos with any amount of jealousy, allow me to be frank: traveling with young children sucks. That’s not to say the water wasn’t warm, the sunsets beautiful, or the pineapples ripe because the water was glorious, the sunsets long and lingering, and the pineapple so ripe and sweet you’d wake up with mouth sores the next morning. Damn those mouth sores.  
But getting there required two long hours on a six hour plane ride with both kids screaming. And when the flight attendant offered Willy two bottles of Jack Daniels for free (because, hey, any parent dealing with two screaming toddlers damn well deserves a drink on the house), I swear the joke was on us when Van proceeded to spill it all over Willy’s lap. It was one of those plane rides. You know, the one where your child insists on bringing his beloved tennis ball on the plane only to have it rolling out of reach from one end of the plane to the other so then you turn to your grab bag of tricks and pull out a bag full of trail mix that you’re certain will entertain them for at least five minutes only the next thing you know the ground below you is sprinkled with trail mix like the steps outside a church are sprinkled with rice after a wedding. Needless to say, we got off the plane with our clothes smelling like liquor only to learn that Willy’s luggage was somehow lost. It was “found” hours later, because – you know – everyone there is on “Maui – aka lets all get stoned – time”.  
In any event, we spent the windy days exploring, the hot days on the beach, and every evening on the patio – drinks in hand – watching the sun go down with a mix of locals and vacationers alike doing the same.
Motherhood will always be a beautiful disaster. I’ll refrain from using the word vacation until the kids are grown and instead refer to trips like this as an adventure.  
What has your experience with traveling with kids been like? Do you consider it worth it?

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Bits + Pieces + Realizations, from Maui

Maui Realizations.
-Traveling with a toddler is hard. Forget about the near impossible task of traveling with a grumpy toddler, traveling with a happy go-lucky busy toddler is almost impossible too. It didn’t help matters that some chick tried to get onto the plane sick and couldn’t manage to even make it to her seat. We had to wait for a customer service representative to “escort” her off the plane and then had to wait even longer for a clean up crew to clean up the throw up see left behind. It was like starting with a full tank of gas and then dropping to nearly empty before even leaving the runway. Oh yes, there ought to be an asterisk attached to my opening realization that traveling with a toddler is hard. The asterisk would read: And traveling with a toddler while seven months pregnant is harder. That little boy inside of me has quite the limited room as is and having an external little munchkin pushing further on the littler munchkin made this mama short of breath real fast. Bless the flight attendant who pointed out two open seats, allowing Hooper to have his own seat. This wonderful occurrence has happened a few times while traveling with Hooper and it makes such a big difference to my own comfort. It does not, however, change the fact that he nearly refused to sit in his seat. He pulled all the magazines out of the seat in front of him, he took the tray down and then pushed it back up (apologies were made to the people in front of us), played peek-a-boo with the people behind us (more apologies were made), ate the snacks that fell on the ground from the little girl next to him, walked up and down the aisles, you get the idea. He had gotten up so early in the morning for the flight that I was certain he would nap. He did nap, for about 20 minutes until my ass was fully numb, my left foot was tingling, my back was beyond aching, and I took the risk of lying him down on the open seat next to me. He woke almost immediately and never went back to sleep. So, it was a long flight there but he was happy and smiley regardless of appearing busier than a crackhead.
-Holding Hooper on that flight against my belly while the little one inside threw kicks and punches reminded me that soon my attention will be divided. I thought of this fact often throughout the trip. Every time I felt a kick I envisioned having to stop what I was doing and turn my attention away from Hooper. I feel some sadness regarding not being able to give Hooper my full attention in the near future. I worry less about how he’ll handle it and more about how I’ll handle it. Is that weird? I had a conversation with a friend who said she cried for three weeks after she gave birth to her second child. Even though her first child handled it well, she felt like she was cheating on him with the new baby. I’m trying to prepare myself to handle this transition in the most healthy of ways, but I’m sure what that means yet.
-Moments in motherhood, like life, are about perspective. For those 20 minutes Hooper was asleep on me on the plane, before the numb ass, tingling foot, and aching back, everything was perfect. I could stare at that boy sleep all day long. His weightless body and ability to give himself over to me fully is the most beautiful thing. He was perfectly peaceful. But, it’s momentary. Soon your ass is asleep, the fingers in the arm he’s resting on begin to tingle, it gets harder to feel your foot, your reluctant to uncross your legs for fear of waking your sleeping angel, and well, the moment of perfect peace passes. As I laid him on the empty seat, feeling incredibly grateful and indebted to all flight attendants from here and out, he instantly woke up. He never went back to sleep and for the remainder of the flight I was one of those hammers on the arcade game trying tirelessly to knock down the weasel every time he’d pop up. So you have a choice: call it a good flight and praise the lord for the moment he was asleep on your chest and the fact the flight was tantrum and tear free or call it horrible because you worked the whole time. It’s a matter of perspective and the choice is up to you.
-I noticed a woman at the beach watching Hooper as he mosied back and forth to the ocean with his bucket of water. She asked how old he was and mentioned she had a 19 month old at home. I studied her sitting in her lounge chair with her magazine, her husband next to her, and said “enjoy the freedom!”. She smiled in such a way that made me realize she was missing her son. I realized in this moment that being a mom is a double edge sword. It’s hard when you’re in full mom mode and it’s hard when you’re not. It’s a challenge, in my opinion, to enjoy the time alone with your husband when you’re both missing your little one at home. So as she watched Hooper and missed her son, I watched her and missed time alone with my husband. We both had something great in that moment, yet we both had to sacrifice something to be in that moment. The yin and yang, push and pull of life. Again, it’s a matter of perspective.