Not a Honeymoon

I don't mind staying in three different hotels on one vacation because it makes the vacation seem that much longer.  The  Grand Waikikian is even better in person then it looks on the internet.  The hardwood floors, the kitchen, the bathrooms, and tons of space.  Everything about it was perfect.  My parents stayed with us, and everyone else was in different hotels.

Mom and Dad

This is our fourth time to Hawaii and hiking was pretty much the only activity I wanted to do, so after the four of us checked in we went directly to Manoa Falls Trail.   It was more muddy and slippery than it was challenging, but it was a good hike for the four of us.

older sister and nephew
This is the sister who claims she doesn't like to travel.  How is she my sister?  I got a shirt, but her trip souvenir was two new tattoos! Saying no to travel is like saying, no to taking space away from the job and your every day wash rinse repeat routine to experience new and fun things.  It doesn't have to be as far as Hawaii, or even require an airplane, but travel is travel and I really hope that she has a new appreciation for stepping outside of her small town and doing something different. 
Baby M is not so sure about this whole beach day thing
I haven't yet mastered swimming, and have this odd fear of fish.  Learning how to breathe underwater and walk on the ocean floor with sharks was not on my wish list, so MJ took T's new hubby along and they had a fantastic time.  The rest of us spent the day at the beach.

the kids were done
The newlyweds were not rid of us yet.  Not a single day went by that they didn't see friends and family.  We were all within one mile of each other, so it worked, but it wasn't the same!!  Group activities take so long to get going.  Trying to coordinate dinner, or anything really was a bit of a nightmare.  It took forever for all of us to make it to the beach.  That night we were all starving and it seemed to take forever for everyone to be ready and to decide on a place that could accommodate all 8 1/2 of us.  We went looking for Round Table because the wait at Yard House was too long, and it turns out it was actually just Round Table Pizza served inside a place called Giovanni Pastrami.  Okay...that's clear as mud.  Don't call it Round Table when it's not Round Table!  We would have never found it if I hadn't asked a valet.
surf lessons
In addition to scuba diving MJ also wanted to try surfing so he signed up for a lesson.  He was the only one in his class that actually was able to stand up and he was super sore and exhausted after he was done.  I guess surfing is pretty hard.  You see those two girls on the right?  They had a full face of make-up.  Both of them! Why do people do that?

We got in another beach day and a pool day before we had to go home.  My parents left very early Wednesday morning.  I cried.  My sister and nephew left Thursday afternoon.  I cried.  T and her husband took off on Thursday.  I cried.  What the heck is wrong with me?  We left on Friday evening.  I didn't cry, but I wanted to.  We stretched our trip out to the max; nine relaxing days...and somehow it still seemed like it wasn't long enough when we left.

Oahu was our honeymoon six years ago, and it is great but my only complaint, is that you don't get that quiet tropical island feel you expect from Hawaii.  We got that feel in North Shore, but Waikiki is very populated.  There are freeways, tall buildings, and a lot of chain restaurants and shops.  We still haven't made it to the big Island, but after hearing that the beaches are volcanic ash, I'm not so sure I want to.  Honolulu is still a great vacation, and we enjoyed it, but the next time I go back, it will be Kauai or Maui.  Kauai because it is so remote, and Maui which is not quite as remote, but has Road to Hana.  They are by far my two favorite Islands.

I don't know how he survived, but MJ traveled from Germany half way across the world to San Diego just a day and a half before we left for Hawaii.  He was tired, but he adapted pretty well during the trip.  We did a red-eye out of Honolulu and arrived in San Diego on Saturday morning.  I unpacked my suitcase so he could fill it back up.  He was home for five hours before I was driving him back to the airport, and he had to be back at work bright and early on Monday.  I'm so glad he was willing to do all that travel in such a short amount of time and that he was able to make it work with his schedule.

I cannot be without vacation in my future.  You know what that means? Time to start planning the next one.  It is not a honeymoon when your friends and family tag along so T and Tom are doing the same.

Oahu #1
Oahu #2

My Little Sister's Wedding

So the short version, is that Hawaii was awesome.  It was the first time in a very long time that every member of our family has been on a vacation together.  A "real" vacation and not a road trip to visit family.  Even then, I think there were probably only two out of three siblings in attendance at the same time because with a fifteen year age span between us, there was always one who wasn't around. 

Now for the long version.  The trip can be broken into two parts.  Before the wedding and after the wedding.  We stayed in Waikiki for the first night and went to dinner with the in-law side of the family, and then headed to North Shore for the wedding weekend extravaganza that was my little sister's wedding.  North Shore is about an hour and twenty minutes from Waikiki.

Before the wedding T could barely make it to her hotel because they were running errands all day as soon as they landed in Honolulu, and then all day the next day before heading to Laie.  My parents had all kinds of wedding stuff to do too, and my mom traveled with an entire suitcase full of wedding gear.  I'm on the hot mess express every time I travel, and I distinctly remember the day before our wedding when MJ wanted me to come out with him and his family to Julian and wouldn't go.  I couldn't go.  I didn't have anything I needed to do, but I was too anxious to leave my lists and spreadsheets.  I would have been a mess, but not T.  Nothing phases her.  Not even a destination wedding during the first year of her child's life.  She had all kinds of wedding accoutrements shipped to Oahu that she never even got to see until we checked in on Friday.  There was all kinds of chaos as everyone arrived and started unloading cars.  Before long, our house was full of boxes and the kitchen packed with food...most of which was not for us.  When I asked my mom if they picked up any food that was not for the wedding, she looked around in confusion and said no...I guess not. 

My favorite part about Tiki Moon Villas that weekend is that we were all together.  The property has five bungalows and they were all occupied by friends and family of the wedding so we were neighbors all weekend long.  My family had one place to ourselves and the bride and groom had their own place.  Most of her friends were steps away.  It was the ideal set up so we could spend more time together, and be available when my little sister needed help with baby M or anything else.  She was too busy to do anything!  She needed a lot of help, so I'm glad we were so close.

My second favorite part was the outdoor shower.  Who knew how amazing it would feel to take a shower outside?  I don't know what it is, but being outdoors while naked is great.  I really enjoyed feeling the fresh air and seeing the sun while I scrubbed down.  It just felt good, and it was convenient, because the house had one bathroom to share.  I showered inside once, and then it was outdoors for the rest of the weekend.  I loved it.

Bride getting ready

We waited too late to start getting ready.  Or something.  One minute we were tying tags to the never ending pile of wedding favors, and the next thing I knew it was a race against time to finish my make-up and finish curling my sister's hair.  Meanwhile, MJ was chilling in the room catching up on TV shows.  Sounds just like our wedding day when I didn't have time to eat, but he had time to forget his tux and have drinks with his groomsmen.  The bride had a hair and make up artist come, so she was on schedule, but the rest of us were rushing.  We ran over with the curling iron to finish hair, but none of us made it in time to be there when she put on her dress.  The officiant was trying to get us together, but D was still in her robe, my mom was pinning my dress up in the back, and my dad was nowhere to be found.

How do you get that scene in the movies where the wedding party hangs out in their matching outfits laughing, drinking wine, and soaking in the enormity of what is about to happen?  I may never know.
My nephew the ring bearer
There was no rehearsal.  The bride was so laid back she didn't care where the boutineers were pinned, how we got out there, or how we came back.  She didn't even care that much about what dresses we wore.  The officiant asked us who the maid of honor was.  The bride didn't know so my older sister was elected on the spot because she was born first.  The officiant gave us a crash course on when we were supposed to start walking, and we sent my nephew down the aisle with the ring.  "Walk to the front, find grammy, and sit down."  I think we sent him out too soon because there was no music during the first half of his walk.  He stopped and gave a deer in headlights look, but we told him to keep going, and the ring made it safely down the aisle.

Bride and Groom
She looked so pretty!  The look on his face when he saw T and their sweet baby girl with a flower crown walk down the aisle brought tears to my eyes, and I had to fight off a big happy ugly cry.  That baby is a mama's girl.  One of my sister's friends had to grab crying baby from my mom or else she would have missed the whole ceremony.  There were a few blunders and giggles as the bride and groom proceeded through the ceremony, but nothing major, and in the end they were man and wife.  She did good.  He's  great guy, and we all love him.
Mom, Dad, and baby M until she got fussy and got passed off to me
When the wedding cake arrived I thought that maybe they forgot some of the frosting, but it turns out this is what the bride wanted.  It was simple, and different.  Rustic, to match her theme.  I think it turned out really pretty, but did it taste good?  YES.  We were so happy to have some the next night.  The caterers used our kitchen for prep and were nice enough to leave us a ton of left overs from dinner too.

The rest of the day went by just as fast as it started.  We ate a delicious family style dinner.  We ate cake.  Then there were speeches, and I still can't believe I volunteered to speak.  I do not do such things.  I do not!  Maybe it was the alcohol or the intoxicating humid Hawaiian air, but something prompted me to grab the mike to say a few words.  I wasn't even nervous, and I don't think it was terrible.  The night was warm, the drinks were flowing and we literally danced the rest of the night away.  I didn't waste a minute.  I was one of the first ones out there.  We started out with 98% of guest butts in chairs, but by the end of the night I looked around and every single person was dancing. 

Cousin and Mom
After the wedding EVERYONE could relax, for the most part.  T is a very ambitious bride.  Not only did she plan a Friday night Bar B Q, but she also wanted a Sunday morning brunch for everyone staying at the villas.  This  basically meant that my older sister, mom and I were in the kitchen cranking out waffles for a few hours because we had exactly one waffle maker but we pulled it off.  Afterwards we spent the rest of the day hanging out at the beach and playing with fun water toys like a 7 person raft and kayak's.  The villas are on a private beach that only residents have access to.  I have no idea what beach it was, but it was beautiful and we had it mostly to ourselves.

We checked out of the villas on Monday morning, and it was nice knowing that there was still more vacation to come.  It was moving day, because we sure did make ourselves at home.  I felt like we had been there much longer than one weekend based on all the food and boxes of stuff we had to pack up before we left.  T and her new husband rented an SUV, but there was so much wedding stuff they still didn't have enough space to take all their luggage back to Waikiki.  My parents trunk was packed too, so MJ and I took two suitcases with us for them to pick up later.

She pulled it off!  My little sister who insisted on wearing a black leotard every day for months when she was 3 is a married woman and a Mom.  Her family is complete, and I'm so happy for her.