Two days after returning for Maui James started second grade! He was a bit nervous, a bit excited and quite a bit sad to have summer winding down. He ended up having a fabulous day and loving his teacher. James eats hot lunch every day and plays with his friend Ian most days at recess.
This bunny didn't start for another week and was SO nervous and anxious on her first day. Yes, this is a smiling photo but there were lots of tears and anxiety even when she had to say goodbye to me.
James was trying to help, make her feel better. Sweetest big brother.
E wanted to see Juliet after her first day of school and she came out of the class with a huge smile, saying it was "a great day." We've had some anxiety each morning before drop off, but overall the transition has gone smoothly and has been easier than it was with James.
After we hugged and kissed Daddy I asked her what she'd like to do. She chose Wendy's and a visit to the park.
And while my kids are at school I love to spend my time hiking. I'm not able to go daily (things like grocery shopping, laundry and responsibilities keep me out of the mountains) but I try to make it up there weekly. When this view is thirty mins from my house the tired legs and burning lungs are worth it.
You've been warned. How many photos of someone else's vacation can you really enjoy, we will soon find out! The correct answer is this is way too many.
My personal favorite day on Maui is the day we drive the Road to Hana. The windy road full of hairpin turns is so stunningly beautiful I am in a constant state of awe. We haven't ever driven the full drive, instead preferring to take our time, stop every few miles, swim, jump off waterfalls and explore.
This, by far, was my favorite memory from the entire trip. The waterfall was hidden behind rainforest and river (and a lower more popular falls). We were the only ones there for some time, and I felt so damn thankful I can experience things like this in my lifetime.
E lost his wedding ring at this fall (we think) and it was SO worth it. The water is deep and the pool is huge and you're nestled in this little pocket of paradise right in the middle of the Hawaiian tropics.
The bamboo forest was also magic. I need a new word. But honestly SO amazing.
She's grown up a bit since last time.
We all got matching Hawaiian shaved ice shirts because we're just that cool.
Everyone wore swimsuits because every stop included a waterfall swim.
There aren't many beach stops on the Road to Hana, Honomanu Bay is one of the few, but the black sand beaches and the fact that we had it to ourselves made it worth the stop for sure.
Eucalyptus trees have smooth and almost rainbow painted bark.
So many waterfalls, so many sticks to collect. (Do you see the bigger waterfall beyond?)
Ioa State Park is also a must visit. For some reason we didn't bring swimsuits (??!!) so undies had to do.
But before we stripped down to undies, Juliet explored the rainforest in a rainbow dress. These leaves? Couldn't get over them. I swear I could live in Maui and never tire of it. I'd hike for days and soak in the smell of guavas and flowers.
E loved the fact that we rented a Jeep, and wanted some photos with a nice backdrop. Ioa State Park was the perfect backdrop. Holy crap it's unreal even when you're standing there.
I really wanted to swim in this river, and am not opposed to an underwear dip myself, but decided to pass because there were two other men hanging around. Such a shame. LOL
Our big splurge of the trip had to be sailing on a catamaran out to Molokini Crater to snorkel. While both the kids gave it a go, neither we quite old enough to want to spend much time in the water. That was fine though, they were happy on the boat with endless supplies of soda while E and I snorkeled!
Molokini was incredible, the water clearer than I've ever seen it and absolutely teaming with fish.
We sailed on this type of boat and everyone loved it. The trip included breakfast and lunch, plus two adult drinks per adult. After Molokini, we stopped at "Turtle Town" to snorkel there, and both E and I saw huge sea turtles.
I relaxed right below the sails on the upper deck and enjoyed this view as we sailed the Hawaiian waters.
These two thought the entire trip was so fun.
And what's a vacation post without some photos of vacation food?
Or dinner views?
Or overpriced Hawaiin drinks in novelty glasses and paper umbrellas?
Eating at a restaurant that overlooked the ocean, there aren't many things better.
Then we'd walk about old Lahaina and finish out the night with shaved ice. Almond, mango, coconut, there isn't a wrong choice on flavors.
One more playing in the waves picture, if you've made it this far, you deserve a medal.
Watching the crabs and the sunset on the last night before we headed home.
James was my buddy on our flight home, and I asked him for a frown because we were leaving. Apparently looking at your crazy mother frown makes James smile. Good to know for the future.
Honestly, if you read all of this, you're a superstar. Maui, we love you, see you in a couple of years!
I've had a few good friends (Ashely, Brooke, Allison and a couple more) told me how much they love my blog and miss it dearly. First of all, thank you, second of all, I'm back! We just returned from Maui Hawaii and in the last week both kids have started school, so I'll blog about that next.
There is no way to not love Hawaii, okay sure, you might not love warm sun and gentle waves lapping at your toes, perfect crystal clear water and rainbows every day, rainforests so dense they take your breath away, and waterfalls around every corner. It's pretty hard not to adore. Our family LOVES Hawaii. No other vacation holds the magic that Hawaii seems to capture in a single breath.
My parents bought a Mariott timeshare years and years ago, and kind of outgrew the 'all inclusive resort' vacation. That works wonderfully for us, however, because a beachside room with a kitchen and two bedrooms is exactly what we're after. We'd wake up early, get coffee and hang out on the beach all morning.
Both kids absolutely loved playing in the waves, and it was easy enough to get past where they break to calmer and deeper waters beyond. Maui's Ka'anapali beaches are some of the nicest in the world. The sand is powder soft and clean, and the waves perfect for kids. The water is so clear you could look down and see fish swimming near your toes. In some areas the beach was wide and sandy, in other areas it was narrow and pristine.
Our hair was always tangled with salt and wind, and within minutes our swimsuits were full of sand. Many days we'd underestimate the reach of the waves, so our towels were wet and heavy with sea water and sand. The kids loved building castles, digging holes, and sculpting support walls to protect their masterpieces. Our favorite part was when a big wave came up, surprised us all, and swept away all our hard work. We'd laugh and laugh and start again.
How many beach pictures is too much? We will soon find out!
In addition to the beach that was only steps away, the kids loved the hotel pools. Many pools were interconnected with waterfalls and slides, so while E and I took turns watching the kids in the pools, we'd relax here, on one of the dozens of lounge chairs set up looking out to sea. There's really nothing better than texting friends, reading books or looking out to see in the perfect and never too hot Maui sunshine.
After hours of swimming (usually paired with fresh mango, icy water and hot beignets) we'd break for lunch. Luckily the poolside bar had the best fish tacos, crab sliders, pork nachos and pina coladas known to man. One hundred dollars later, and we were all fed. ;)
Seriously they must have blended these pina coladas with magic. I have NO idea what made them so good at the hotel bar, but they were the best on the island.
Not every day we stayed at the hotel, many days we'd pack a lunch and venture off to explore. Maui has so many hidden gems and miles and miles of quiet stretches of road and coastline. On the day we drove the North Shore, we stopped at Nakalele Blowhole, just like last time. James and I wanted to hike down and E and Juliet wanted to stay on the bluff at the top. James is always thrilled to go on an adventure, and I'm one to never pass up something I can't see at home. We hiked and saw the blowhole up close and it was SO COOL. We were loving it, huge geysers of water shot straight to the sky.
Shortly after we arrived it started to rain, hard. James and I watched the blowhole a bit more until we were both fairly soaked, but then scrambled up the lava rocks to a small cave to watch it some more. We were wet and cold and having the best time, he and I.
And then the rain stopped as quickly as it began!
Another favorite North Shore stop is Honolua-Mokuleia Bay, just the walk through the forest feels like you've dropped into a fairy garden, and you're the fairy. It's hard to show how huge these trees are, how enormous the leaves are, but honestly it feels like magic.
Pictures don't even begin to show how absolutely enchanting this forest is.
OMG are you guys getting sick of this post yet? I'm getting sick of writing it. I'll split here and continue in a second post, because really, how many vacation photos from someone else's vacation can you really stand in one sitting?