Many of my friends, families and followers know I’m a huge proponent of traveling with your children even when they are babies. I think there is something so valuable about seeing the world through a child’s eyes and not giving up the things we loved before they came along. I even wrote a whole blog about it for OC Moms Blog called Travel Baby. But it’s not all perfect and I’d like to get real about how it is behind the photos and how our last trip to Hawaii went.

It may not be the way you would travel before children. There will be less poolside drinks and scuba diving. But there will be more small moments where you are stopped watching their wonder. And wonder spreads. It fills you up and it expands and travels on to the person who is there with you.

Now that was what I wrote two weeks ago when I was greatly anticipating the beauty of seeing my daughters eyes light up as she ran towards the beach in Hawaii. And it was amazing. I’m not going to downplay or humble brag. It’s INCREDIBLE to be able to walk out of your house and onto a pristine white sand beach with warm water any time of the day. But it was a truly difficult trip with just as many highs as lows and I’m starting to think that is just the norm of traveling with kids.

It’s no longer a vacation it’s a TRIP.

I thought that this trip would make up for our first trip to Hawaii with Juniper which we had jokingly named Hellwai. But I was soon proven wrong. Our first trip we mistakenly took a 3.5 month old baby, YES A NEWBORN to Hawaii and stayed at the highly rated Disney’s Aulani. Now believe me I know exactly how fortunate we are that my husbands parents love traveling with their family so much that they took us there but we had no idea what we were getting ourselves into.

She was a newborn as I have said and newborns are notorious for not sleeping and constantly eating.

Not exactly easy to enjoy a trip into another time zone with and all the work that goes into that. Add to it that Aulani is basically a giant water park with a hotel. Every day there was noise from the pools, and at 10 pm every night the song Jump by Van Halen was blasted to the whole hotel from inside the lagoon area which our room faced. Which would wake her up just as I was settling down to sleep myself. I was ready to JUMP go ahead and Jump out my fucking window. Hawaii wasn’t as dreamy as I had hoped.

She didn’t sleep, we didn’t sleep and we didn’t get to do much of anything since she was attached to my breast and all the activities would be inappropriate to bring a baby on. So while everyone swam with dolphins we sat in the small hotel room or tried to hang out in the lazy river. I am so glad they had one because I lose my shit for a lazy river. I’d sell my left tit to sit in a lazy river all damn day and lucky for me she felt pretty good about them too. It was the only thing we did the entire trip that was fun. We were there for 6 days. But if you had looked at our photos or even read my social media posts you would have thought that Hawaii was a GREAT place for a newborn! I mean look at me.

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Looks idyllic right? Yeah well that was 15 minutes out of the whole day that was good. We went home vowing to not go back until she was big enough to be able to enjoy it with us. A year and a half later we decided it was time to go back. We were pros at this traveling thing now after all. She is good on planes, we are good at packing and we have fun watching her experience things. And we had found the perfect house to rent in Kailua which was right on the beach, had rooms for everyone (aka privacy) and close to town so we could easily get take out for dinner every night. All the best laid plans as they say.

First thing that went wrong was the flight.

We were so confident that our kid would be great especially compared to her cousin Benson who doesn’t do much flying. But fun surprise Ben showed up that day with a fever and was calm as a cucumber since he was so tired the whole flight. Our child on the other hand was not.

Usually we give her a little Benedryl to help her stay calm and nap through the flights. This time we decided not to, she had just flown two weeks ago after all and she was a pro! Nope, wrong choice. I know drugging your kid is an unpopular choice to admit to but our doctor said it’s fine and we regretted not having it immediately. We normally fly during her nap time and this time it wasn’t, and she was in RARE form. Throwing herself into the aisles, yelling, jumping in the seat and screaming for her Nai Nai all occurred. She didn’t fall asleep until the last 40 minutes of the flight. And having a toddler melt down when you are the parent is basically hell already. But we thought at least we are here, now it’ll be okay.

At first it seemed like we were going to get the perfect family trip we had dreamt about. We swam with dolphins (they like group sex, just a fun fact we got to see up close and personal that I thought I’d share with all of you. They call it wuzzeling). We played on the beach every afternoon with the kids and we even did some shopping! I felt spoiled and happy.

We got approximately 2.5 days of the beauty of Hawaii and Kailua beach before disaster struck. That fever that her cousin had on the plane was now clearly hand foot and mouth disease and they had been hugging and kissing and loving each other all weekend. There was just no way around it, day 3 her fever spiked to 103. How suitable right? We were lucky and privileged enough to have so much help. We had not only the grandparents there to help with the two sick kiddos, but also my sister in law had brought her nanny and we had split the cost. Best decision ever. After 24 hours of a sick baby I was starting to feel like our trip was ruined.

It was Hellwai 2: The HFMD Edition.

We were just getting by with bottles and lots of videos on the ipad. She didn’t even want to play outside at all anymore. Great way to spend our time in Hawaii huh? Benson had blisters all over his feet. Neither kid wanted to eat. But we had booked activities and though I felt extreme mom guilt I didn’t want to miss out on zip-lining through the scenery from Jurassic park.  So I got brave and left her for the afternoon. I left her in Susan’s very capable hands, swallowed hard and told myself it was okay. And it was. It was beautiful. I was happy I did it. But I felt like I had to be honest with all of you. It wasn’t perfect. Nothing about parenting is. My pictures look like I had the time of my life and that everything went off without a hitch but that isn’t true. Hawaii was again Hellwai but that is okay. It was still worth it. Still good. Still beautiful. But also difficult.

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It wasn’t perfect. Nothing about parenting is.

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That serene picture of me is when I was exhausted from lack of sleep not contentment. She never adjusts the the timezone until we are about to leave and sleeps terribly away from home which means I don’t sleep either. The other one with her grandfather was because I NEEDED some space from them both so I asked him to take her to the beach. Other moments were perfect and I try to freeze them in my mind to overtake the hard ones. Like when she thought it was just the funniest thing ever to try to pull up the plants in that last photo. Or the times we ran down to the beach in the morning before the sun was even fully up and the my breath was taken from me with the beauty and the breeze. The moments where I had to pack everything and handle the sick baby to get to the airport because the day we flew Oliver spiked a fever, those I try to bury deep.

Instead I focus on the the moment a lady stopped us on the beach to ask if we wanted our photo taken because the light was just so beautiful and we had such a sweet family. No one keeps the pictures of the difficult moments. But they exist.