Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Have kids, will travel- Kauai

Have kids, will travel- Kauai

When my husband found out he needed to attend a conference in Kauai, HI we were ecstatic.  I attended the same conference with him two years previous and we left the kids at home.  Needless to say we had a wonderful time exploring the Big Island.  This time around, shortly after he committed to attending, we found out we were expecting our third child.  The baby would be 4 months old at the time of our trip.  Too young to leave behind, unless I wanted to spend the whole vacation pumping which did not sound fun at all.  So we recruited my mom to come with us(did not take much convincing) and took the family to Kauai for a week.  When planning for the trip I searched and searched for "Kauai with Kids" posts and could not find what I was looking for.  Here are some things that worked for us, and that didn't.

In our party: 8 yr old girl H, 5 yr old boy A, 4 month old girl L
Myself, Husband, and Bubbe

The Flights: Flying from the east coast we opted to fly through LA on the way there.    The flights were fairly uneventful and everyone did well.  I was glad I packed the Ergo in my carry on to soothe the fussy baby during our layover.  The built in TVs on the Delta flight were a big hit and the kids were entertained the entire flight.  The return flight was a bit more challenging.  There is no way to get back to the east coast without a red eye.  We left LIH at 2PM and arrived in SEA at 10:00 PM Seattle time.  Then took a red eye back east.  The first leg was on Alaska Airlines which was amazing.  The flight attendants were very accommodating and actually seemed to enjoy having children on the plane- a first!  It was definitely better having the red eye as our second flight.  Everyone slept a bit (and watched the Delta Tvs).  This aspect could have been a lot worse.

The Time Changes:  It took about 2 days but everyone adapted to the 6 hrs earlier.  After the first two days, the kids were going to bed around 9 and waking up at 6 AM.  Not too bad.  The return it took about a week and it was painful.  Lots of nighttime wake ups with our otherwise pretty good sleepers.  Let's just say it will be awhile before I consider taking all of them back to Hawaii!  The baby had the easiest adjustment with the 8 yr old having the most difficult time.

Gear: I brought diapers and wipes with me (stashed them in the bag with our car seats) but used Kauai Baby Rentals  to rent a baby play mat, bouncer seat and beach toys.  I was so glad I had the  baby gear as it was nice to have a place for her to hang out in the hotel room.  The stuff was in excellent condition and was waiting for us when we arrived. The company picked it up right for the hotel upon our departure.  So easy.  Had I done it again I probably would not have rented the beach toys.  For the price I paid for the toys for the week I could have picked some up for much cheaper at the drug store near the hotel and left them there.

Our Chicco Bravo travel system held up well and L took many naps in the stroller reclined without the car seat.  Also our Ergo came in handy for beach walks, and airport fussiness.  We also brought 2 booster seats for the big kids and checked them with our luggage.  Since the airlines don't charge for car seats we took two separate car seat bags.  This is also a great place to stash extra stuff you don't have room for in your main luggage.

The Hotel:  The Grand Hyatt Kauai was super kid friendly.  The hotel provided a crib as well as baby soaps and shampoos.  The big kids loved the water slide and salt water lagoon.  You can rent a kayak and take it around the lagoon which they loved.  You can also buy floats for the lazy river for $13/apiece.  Had I known that I would have picked some up at the drugstore or brought some cheap inner tubes with me.  Other tips for the hotel: check out the parrots in the lobby as well as the daily fish feedings at Tidepools.  The kids loved listening to the Hawaiian music nightly at the Seaview Terrace and the adults loved having a drink there while they did this :).  We had a few issues with housekeeping not making up the room, and our reservations not being correct but the hotel worked to fix these promptly.  Overall a fantastic place to stay with kids.

Location:  The Grad Hyatt is on the southern part of the island.  You can get to most spots on the island within a few hours drive.  We made the decision we would not spend more than an hour in the car driving to different locations because well, its painful with all the kids.  We did one longer drive to see Waimea Canyon but otherwise kept our excursions closer to the hotel.  Had we been staying longer we may have driven up to the North Shore and stayed a night or two, but our time was somewhat limited.  We were not able to see all the sights on the Island, but had a good balance between relaxing time, our sanity, and getting a taste of the Island culture.

Beaches:  The beach at the Hyatt is not suitable for kids to swim in.  The waves are HUGE and not safe.  Husband went in and got thrashed around pretty good.  We drove 5 minutes down the road to Poipu Beach Park.  We brought towels from the hotel, our sand toys and found a shady spot at one of the many shady picnic tables.  No need to bring/rent your own chairs if you don't have them.  L snoozed in the shade while my mom took in scenery and we explored the beach.  One side of the shore is protected by a rock wall making it ideal for calm swimming for the kiddos.  Be sure to go across the street to Brennecke's Beach Broiler for shave ice.  They also have a full restaurant and deli with sandwiches but we didn't eat there.  The shave ice was a hit though!

Food and Shops:
Here are the places we ate with a brief review of each.  This is the result of lots of Yelping and I have to say, we didn't have a bad meal.

There were two main shopping centers near the hotel that we frequented- Poipu Shopping Village and Kukui'ula Village shopping center. The Kukui'ula Village shops has a Long's drug store (CVS) which was very convenient for any forgotten items.
There is also a farmer's market there on Wednesdays which was fun to walk around.

Seaview Terrace- This bar at the Hyatt has a nice menu and kids food for a relaxed vibe overlooking the ocean.  Kids enjoyed their food, adults enjoyed their wine.  A win-win.

Merriman's- We went on a date here and left the kids with Bubbee.   We ate at Merriman's when we were on the big Island and this location did not compare.  It was good, but expensive and not the best meal we had there.  I would not necessarily eat here again on a return visit.  Not a kid friendly spot.  We ate lunch one day at the more casual Merriman's pizza and burgers underneath the upscale restuarunt.  It was just ok and pricey.  Would go instead to Bubba's in the same shopping center for cheaper and quicker service.

Keokhe's Paradise- This is close to the hotel in the Poipu Village Shops.  We had a great dinner here with the kids.  Very fun atmosphere and great food.  We had a lunch here that was not as great.  Would recommend for dinner.

Island Taco- We ate at the location in the Poipu Village shops and this was delicious.  Quick, fresh and delicious.  Wish we would have time to go back agian!

Gina's- We ate here on the way to Waimea Canyon and had a great meal.  See below.

Eating House- this place was awesome.  Food was delicious for dinner and they had an amazing kids menu.  Highly recommend.  This is in the Kukui'ula Village Shopping Center.

Tidepools- We ended our week with a dinner at Tidepools at the hotel.  The food and atmosphere was amazing and the kids enjoyed watching the Koi in the pond below us.  A nice ending to an incredible week in Kauai!

We tried to balance having relaxation time in the hotel vs. exploring the Island.  Many of the things we might have done without the kids (helicopter rides, boat rides, etc) were off limits given the ages of our kids.  We did venture off the resort to explore nearby beaches and parts of the island.

Waimea Canyon:  One afternoon we all piled in the rented mini van and drove out to Waimea Canyon.  It is about an hour's drive to the base of the canyon.  We stopped in Waimea to eat lunch at Gina's which is a great place to grab a loco moco or plate lunch.  Also in Waimea is the highly rated Jojo's shave ice which we were planning on stopping at on the return back to the hotel, but some behavior issues prevented us from doing that.  Overall a fun outing and worth the drive to see the amazing topography of the island.

Kilohana Plantation- This plantation was not far from the hotel.  We had lunch there and bought tickets for the train ride.  This was fun and the kids loved the stops to feed the animals.  Bonus was a shave ice shop accross the street.  Very successful outing and would  do again given the kids ages!

Overall it was a great trip and I am so glad our kids got to experience it.  All opinions are my own and nothing was sponsored (haha I wish!).   I hope is helpful to those considering Kauai with kids!

Friday, June 27, 2014

Parent hacks

My posts have slowed down lately as I have gone back to work full time.  I am fortunate to have found a job that I enjoy, working with a very committed and talented group of people.

As any working parent knows, working and parenting forces one to be more creative with their time. Especially when you spend 8+ hours in an office.  That leaves the rest of the day for waking up, preparing meals, getting the kids obstacle course style to where they need to go, mad dashing it to work, continuing the relay race of pick up (bonus points for picking multiple children up from multiple locations) dinner, bath, bed, pass out on the couch.

For me the thing the basics get done during the day- child care, meal prep, chauffeuring, etc.  Errands, personal time (what's that) and friend time unfortunate get pushed to the side.  Grocery shopping has to be done in person so that usually gets pushed to the evenings or weekend evenings as I refuse to grocery shop with my children in tow (can you blame me)?  I am always looking for creative ways to squeeze things into my day.  Here are my favorite hacks.  What are yours?

  • Errands at work.  I try to maximize my efficiency by running errands that are withing walking distance to my work.  I used to work near a CVS.  Have I bought milk and stored it in the mini fridge in my office until it was time to go?  Yes I have.  You can get a significant amount of grocery shopping done at a CVS including kids snacks, diapers, cards, gift cards, eggs..the basics.  I also work on a medical campus.  I may have bought balloons for baby showers and birthday parties at the hospital gift shop a time or two.  Now I work near an awesome market that sells fresh produce.  Perfect for that mid week lull when my kids have eaten though all the fruit in our fridge.
  • Amazon.  This is such a time saver I can not even begin to profess my love for it.  Prime membership is worth its weight in gold. Forgot to buy a birthday present?  Two day shipping will get it there before the party.  Out of toilet paper?  You can get that delivered to your door. 
  • Costco.  I dont think I actually save any money here however because my kids eat granola bars like they are going out of style this saves me from making multiple trips to the store within a week.
  • Personal time.  This basically = my commute.  People say how bad Atlanta traffic is.  That is true.  However most days I don't mind.  I have 40 minutes each way by myself with no one else in the car.  I have discovered Fresh Air on NPR. I catch up with my friends.  I have time to think.  It is as wonderful as it sounds.  FYI if you need to reach me- call me during my commute!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Why I love being a parent...

No this is not an April fools joke post.  Since my recent postings I have gotten two main types of feedback.  The first from my friends with kids, is "were you spying on me and my kids?"  The second, is mostly from my sister's friends who are in their 20's is, "OMG I am never having kids."

So this post is mostly for the second group.  But it is also for me.  I think with all of the work we do as parents, inside and out of the house, it can be easy to lose sight of the good stuff.  We get caught up in the day to day tasks of cleaning, and cooking, and working and shlepping, and wiping which are not so fun.  It drives me nuts when someone has a new baby, or someone whose kids are grown says to me, "enjoy every moment".  I have not met one parent who enjoys every moment of parenting.  I don't think it is possible to enjoy every moment of anything!  Nobody enjoys cleaning up bodily fluids, or being sleep deprived.  FYI.

But every day there are moments that make me love being a parent and so here is my list of the good stuff for today.

- Kids are hysterical:  Every day my kids do stuff that cracks me up.  Most of the time I am laughing at them and not with them.  But if I do want to laugh with them, all I need to do is poke their bellies or say the word "fart" and there are instant hysterics.  And then I crack up.  Try not to laugh when you child is hysterically laughing.  It's impossible.  Also sometimes its funny when they have a tantrum for a ridiculous reason (they didn't get to open the door, or eat mud, or play with knives, etc).  Have you seen this website?  I love it.

- I get to relive my childhood.  Today I got to go on a field trip with my daughter's class to the children's museum and it was so much fun.  The kids get so excited and I remember how much fun field trips were when I was in school.  Also on our most recent trip, I totally saw Disney World in a new light.  Also you get to go places that if you went as a single adult people would think you were creepy like playgrounds, kids movies, children's museums, etc.  And that stuff is fun, even for adults!

- You realize simple pleasures.  We had the best family outing the other day.  We took the kids to an ice cream stand in a train car.  It is next to the railroad tracks so you can watch the trains go by and eat ice cream.  My kids were in heaven.  Often times we think as parents we have to do all this big fancy stuff to make ourselves and our kids happy.  But really it is the simple things that have the biggest impact, and are sometimes the most fun.

-Kids learn stuff.  All the time.  And there is nothing that makes me prouder as a parent when I get to see that happen.

-Someone is happy to see me every day.  When I pick my kids up from daycare in the afternoon I get the best reception, like teenagers on Justin Bieber.  My son screams my name and jumps on me.  And it is awesome.

- I get to raise children with my husband. I love my husband and I am lucky enough to have him be my partner in crime through this parenting stuff.  And even though they wear us down sometimes they also bring us closer.  And there is nothing better than seeing that your partner loves your kids as much as you do.

- I get to see my parents be grandparents.  My kids are so lucky.  They have 4 amazing grandparents who love spending time with them whether it is in person or virtually through skype/facetime.  They also have 4 great grandparents who are equally amazing.

Ok so enough mushiness for today.  I promise, next post I will get back to complaining about cleaning up poop and vomit.  But for today- happy things.  What are your favorite things about being a parent?

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Extra curricular activities

Our oldest started Kindergarten this year and with it came many changes including our introduction to organized sports and extra curricular activities.  When she was in preschool we mostly kept our weekends clear of extra stuff as our weekdays were so hectic.  Once she started school I felt the pressure to sign her up for something.

I know I should not feel pressure but I do and here's why.  At this age she does not know what she is good at nor does she have an interest in much except for watching television and terrorizing her brother.  Good news- those are not activities that cost us extra money.  Bad news- you can not put those on a college application.

Ok for real we are not preparing her college application now.  But here is my dilemma with waiting until she shows an interest in something, especially sports.  Now days kids start sports so early that if she decides she's interested in starting a new sport when she's 10 its basically like an 8th grader trying to go into the NBA.  And she is a kid that wants to be perfect at everything the first time she tries it.  Also given her gene pool she is not likely to be blessed with natural athletic ability so she could use a head start.

So she did soccer in the fall, dance all year, and softball this spring.

Let's start with soccer.  This was a bit of a disaster.  She started out strong until one day she got nailed in the stomach and head with the ball in the same game.  And that was an end to her going anywhere near the ball in soccer.  

Dance she seems to enjoy.  Of course.  Its the most expensive and can we talk about the costumes and recitals and flowers.  My child is not on Broadway.  She can barely clap to a beat.  So why does she need 2 costumes for the recital and why do they cost so much money?  Also did I mention she is 5?

She is doing softball now and seems to be enjoying it more than soccer.  It is an all girls team, and while I still think she prefers playing the infield because it doubles as a sandbox, she is getting better. 

And working parents- how do you reliably get your kids to a practice that starts at 5:15?  We are still trying to figure that one out.

So begins our world of extra curricular activities.  We are fortunate that we are able to give our kids these opportunities and I am grateful for that.  I do worry that it is too much too soon, but I struggle with not having her participate and them losing out on opportunities later on.  For now the plan is to suggest things but ultimately let her choose what she wants to do and not force anything on her.  

Stay tuned for the next blog post on this subject in 2 years when our younger child starts sports entitled: how to be in 2 places at one time.

Friday, March 28, 2014

The Family Dinner Cycle

There has been much research done that family dinners help kids in a multitude of ways.  While I don't doubt that this is true, I believe researchers should study the toll it takes on a parents sanity.  In reality this pretty much sums up what happens in our house.  Nonetheless we usually do sit down for a family meal most nights (the word sit is used in its loosest form).  I present to you:

The Family Dinner Cycle
 The scramble.
Leave work, sit in traffic, race obstacle course style to get the children at their respective pick up times.  No sooner are they collected with their belongings in the car do we transition to....

 The negotiation
What are we having for dinner?  We have come to a sort of resolution in our house with a small number of meals that both adults and children will tolerate.  No matter which one of these meals i have chosen to make, it is always the wrong one.  There are tears.  Not mine.

Child 1 zones out in front of TV.  I run around Iron Chef style to get dinner on the table.  Child 2 tries to grab the knife from me every time I turn my back for 3 seconds.  Miraculously dinner gets made.  Child 2 is uninjured.  Children are collected and we start....

The meal
The children get their food.  They request water and juice and napkins and forks and spoons and the red cup no the blue cup why does she get the blue cup I want the blue cup.  They have finished eating by the time the adults sit down.  Child 2 stands on the chair and bats at the light fixture with tomato sauce covered hands.  There are food malfunctions resulting in tears.  The chicken fell off the bone.  The meat fell out of the taco.  Adults shovel.

No sooner do adults start shoveling than the children make their nightly procession to the bathroom where they poop out what they just ate.  Child 2 requires assistance in the bathroom.  Only mommy.  Adult appetite is lost.

dishes strewn about, crumbs everywhere, more food under the table than children ate off plates.

As the children have gotten older this is actually a vast improvement over dinners that included vomiting, screaming, and basically complete chaos.  Now everyone feeds themselves, and sometimes we even manage conversation.  It is a good feeling to know our family comes together at the end of the day, no matter how chaotic it is.  And I know there will come a time where they will be grown, and not want to sit around a table with us as they once did.

So the cycle continues...except for the nights we feed the kids dinner and order in sushi.  We call that part of the cycle: Recuperation.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Job perks

As I have mentioned, I am currently in between jobs.  Since our move last summer I have been at home with the kids.  I loved my work and really miss it.  I am hoping to be able to do something similar here in Georgia, but it is taking a bit longer than anticipated.

Let me also preface this post by saying that I am writing this at 11 AM when both kids are at school and the house is quiet and not at 6 PM when my kids are reenacting a UFC fighting match on the living room rug.  That’s a whole different blog post.

That being said, there are some perks to being home with the kids.  Of course there are the ones I knew I would enjoy- being around for H after school, taking A to music class and discovering how much he loves it.   (Although can we talk about music class for a second?  I thought I was paying someone to teach my kid about music and I would sit in the background.  Oh no.  The parents are expected to sing and dance around.  In front of mirrors.  While trying not to make eye contact with each other as if doing so would cement how lame it actually is.  However my 3 yr old seems to love it.  And by love it I mean he picks his nose less during music class than other times of the day).  

It is definitely harder work for me than going to my old job every day, for sure.  I have managed to carve out a bit of time for me...and I am loving that.  Here are a few unexpected perks of my new stay at home mom position:

Mid afternoon naps: I really should have moved to Spain.  I would nap every day if given the opportunity. This does not happen often, but every once in a while I can squeeze in a 20 min nap around 3 pm.  Heaven.

 The Chew: Has anyone else watched this awesome show?  I am hooked.  It is complete mindless television and is fantastic.  Clinton Kelly is the main host, with other chefs.  They talk, they eat, they cook.  Have I sold you yet?  I will be dvring this one for a while.

 Zumba: I started working out pretty regularly for the first time in years and I have to admit it feels pretty good.  My favorite is the Zumba class on Monday mornings.  The average age has to be pushing 70 which is perfect for my uncoordinated self.  Also there are no mirrors in the gym so I feel like a rockstar.  You haven't lived until you've danced burlesque with a group of senior citizens.

Volunteering:  I have been helping out in H's school once per week.  I am probably the worst volunteer in history as I cannot cut or trace in a straight line.  That being said it is fun to go and see her in school, and she is still happy to hug me in front of her friends.

So there you go.  I look forward to going back to work, but am going to enjoy this time while I have it.  And if you know anyone looking to hire a counselor who knows a lot about medical school, let me know!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The most underrated developmental milestones

Parenting in this day and age requires you to track your children's milestones.  No matter how neurotic or lax a parent you are, every pediatrician I have been to asks  how many words your child is saying, if they can point to 3 body parts by the age of 1, etc.  Never mind the checklists my kids came home with from daycare.  My personal favorite was the narrative on Hannah's 3 month (you read that right) report that said "she knows what she wants".  Clearly not much has changed.

But I digress.  Over the years I have diligently tracked my children's milestones, some more detailed than others.  Overall we are very lucky and they are pretty much on target.  Lately I have been  thankful for some of the milestones that no one asks you to track.

So here is my list of my favorite underrated developmental milestones that my children have hit recently.  Feel free to add your own!

Morning routine: This used to be such a battle with my daughter.  The past month she has been getting up on her own, getting dressed, and coming downstairs all ready for school.  I am probably jinxing it by writing this but this makes life so much easier.

Independent play:  I love playing with my children.  I also love it when they will play together.  In the basement.  Without screaming.  For more than 3 seconds at a time.  Which is actually happening right now (yay!)

Wiping noses.  My children can both retrieve their own kleenex and wipe their own noses.  Enough said.

Mealtimes:  While family dinners are far from relaxing we have reached the point where all 4 of us sit at the table for at least 10 minutes and eat (or refuse to eat) the same food. .

School:  My daughter goes to  school every day from 7:30 to 2:15 EVERY DAY.  She is learning things and has a teacher that has instilled in her a love for learning.

Toilet training:  My son is still in diapers but he is trained to vomit in the toilet.  This is a huge accomplishment in our house as he has a sensitive stomach and this is a frequent occurrence.

Random I love yous:  this is by far the best thing.  H has been randomly saying "I love you Mommy" all the time and I really don't think she is trying to butter me up!  Of course A copies everything she does and follows her lead.  Love those kids!