great moments in family vacationing

We took our first real family trip in July, and spent a week in Maui.

It was beautiful. It was enchanting.

It was relaxing…with a heavy dose of kiddo juggling, misaligned nap schedules and being those people with small children on a six-hour flight.

I could tell you about all the beautiful places we visited, or amazing meals we ate.

I could go on and on about the gorgeous beaches and wildlife surrounding us at every turn.

Or, I could share a few absolutely ridiculous moments that really added some flair to our adventure.

  1. When our flight was descending into Maui, there was a fair amount of bouncing just before we landed. It wasn’t exactly turbulence, but more of a roller coaster feel, where you can feel your stomach rising and falling. Most of us have experienced this; my three-year-old, however, was baffled by this funny new sensation, and had a hard time describing it. So, at the top of her lungs to an entirely silent flight, she proclaimed, “WHEN WE GO FORWARD LIKE THIS IT TICKLES MY VAGINA!” And my husband partially died inside. I mean, you are supposed to teach children the proper names of their body parts.
  2. On the same flight, we let Lila play with slime, which effectively occupied her for quite some time. Until she rolled it on her pant legs and we learned that slime does not come off of clothes and sometimes you just have to rock the hot-pink-slime-on-your-jeans look because mom didn’t pack extra clothes in the carry on.
  3. Lesson learned: when you rent a car online and it says “Suburban-like vehicle” that does not mean you have reserved a Suburban or anything like it. It just means that Avis heard your request and may or may not give you the size and type of car you need and will act really superficially sad about it but not actually resolve the situation.
  4. One day we spent a lovely morning at a local aquarium, but by the time a few hours had passed we were hot and sticky and very ready to go. As I got Maya out of her stroller I noticed that she had shoplifted a large container of body butter off the gift shop shelves, and contentedly gnawed through its wrapping.
  5. The house we rented was extremely accommodating, and shared that they had a Pack N Play, high chair and stroller available for us to use. Shame on us for not asking for details, because when we put Maya to bed the first night, we realized it was a travel size Pack N Play, for infants. About the size of our microwave. She somehow made it work, but it was a little cozier than expected.
  6. And along the same lines, there was indeed a stroller, but it was a cheap piece of crap umbrella stroller that handled about as well as a wheel barrow. On our last night we happened to notice the other, BRAND NEW designer stroller sitting right upstairs, that we could have been using all week.
  7. We made the magical drive up to Haleakala National Park to visit the dormant volcano crater. Drive up = beautiful trek through the clouds. Drive down = so that’s what it feels like to be carsick. So. Many. Switchbacks. Side note to all my Moana fans, legend has it that Haleakala is where demigod Maui lassoed the sun. He’s real.
  8. On the Road to Hana, we stopped for a short hike, after which we rewarded ourselves with fresh pineapple popsicles. We thought giving one to the teething one-year-old was a good idea. And it was, until we realized the sticks were pieces of sugar cane and a total choking hazard. So I then climbed into the backseat of a moving car on a winding road to extricate said choking hazard.
  9. While on the aforementioned hike, Lila had to go potty and the only option was porto-potties. This did not go over well. “THESE POTTIES ARE DISGUSTING. WHY IS THERE POOP IN THERE? WHY DID NO ONE FLUSH THEIR POOP AWAY?” So, we held it until we reached a more hygienic alternative.
  10. Take the redeye home, they said. Your children will sleep, they said. Well, ours didn’t. Lila managed to stay awake the entire time except for about a half hour. Maya was up every 10 minutes when a noise or bright light interfered with her slumber. We had our first family all-nighter!

Awkward moments aside, this was an incredible trip. Once I never would’ve taken without my husband and brother encouraging me forcing me out of my comfort zone. And I’ll treasure ALL the memories – good, bad and somewhat silly.

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the jerk in the airport foodcourt

To the jerk in the airport food court:

I’m not a parent, and I won’t pretend to know how hard it is to travel with kids, but I cannot believe the way you just yelled at your daughter for spilling a smoothie. An hour later, I’m still in a foul mood and feeling guilty for not standing up to you. The fact is, I was intimidated by you and the way you behaved and you’re a complete stranger; I can only imagine how your little girl feels right now.

What is she? Three or four? She’s adorable. And I think that you forgot that when you screamed at her in a way no one in my life has ever addressed me. You forgot that you brought this child into the world and that she depends on you for everything, most importantly her sense of self worth. You forgot that she didn’t do it on purpose, and that all children spill things. And you forgot that life has far more serious problems than having to wait in line for five minutes for another smoothie.

She spilled a smoothie, you know; she didn’t shoplift or shout or act inappropriately. She’s likely tired too, and didn’t need to be shamed in front of a bunch of strangers for an accident. You yelled so loudly that everyone, even the food court employees, paused to stare.

I get it, you’re overwhelmed and exhausted and this was the last straw. THE LAST STRAW in the never-ending odyssey that is child-rearing. But you need to chill out. Take a deep breath. Count to 10. Do whatever you’d want someone to do to you in a similar set of circumstances. Do what you’d teach a child to do when she feels upset, because that’s how you acted.

A little girl gains a sense of what is ok, what isn’t, and how a man can treat her from the men she interacts with as a child. At the center of all of that is her father.

I presume you’ll calm down later and apologize, and when you do, you’ll be setting an example that it’s ok for a man to get mad and react inappropriately, in a way that borders on abusive, as long as he makes up for it later. This will impact her for years to come as she enters relationships with men. Her sense of what’s right and wrong comes from you, first, so be careful.

Again, I’m not a parent. I can’t tell you I’ve been through a similar situation, but I know that my parents never would dream of addressing me that way, even as an adult or for a serious offense. One day, when my future kids spill all over a public place I’ll likely want to yell and flip out…but I won’t. I won’t because I know better, and because I saw the look on your daughter’s face just now.

I’ll never see you again and that’s ok. I just hope you get a grip on what really matters in life, and what’s worth getting upset over, and that spilled beverages don’t make the cut. Be happy, dude. You have great kids.

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Marry someone you love

Marry someone you love, because sometimes you’ll travel around the world and spend 3o consecutive hours sitting next to each other on planes, taxis and boats. You will be cranky and dirty and largely delusional. Without patience and the right chemistry, the risk of bludgeoning each other to death increases significantly.

At home, we’re somehow always busy, always occupied. We work, volunteer, run errands and participate in more activities than a day camper. Needless to say, it’s a big change to our routine to travel to unfamiliar territory and spend 24 hours a day together. Outside of bathroom breaks, we were rarely more than five feet apart for two weeks.

It’s a give-and-take, really, traveling with one’s spouse.

I sunscreen your back, you sunscreen mine…I withdraw money from the foreign ATM when you forget your PIN, you choose not to comment when I buy alarming amounts of clothing and shoes…I accidentally order food I don’t like; you trade with me without being asked.

I love my husband and I love traveling with him; we’ve been to all different parts of the world together. Do we sometimes lose our cool and snap at each other, or have temporary lapses in conversation? Yeah. Because we’re human. But fortunately, those are fleeting moments within a great adventure.

Marry someone you love, because he will let you have the window seat and still get up every hour when you have to pee.

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Well, if James Taylor said we are…

When I’m old and gray, Jim and I will sit in matching rocking chairs, covered with afghans and listening to oldies (Ludacris and Jay-Z). I’ll have ridiculous hair, Jim will wear suspenders. We’ll both smell like prunes.

Our children and grandchildren will crowd around us like a scene from a Norman Rockwell painting. They’ll beg to hear the story of our courtship, back in the olden days, and will swoon over the romantic details as we reminisce about our youth. The story will culminate when I tell them about the day it became official on Facebook.

[This is where you laugh.]

Confirming a relationship on social media was such a huge deal around the time we started dating. I’m honestly not sure if it’s still as important and momentous, but the Facebook relationship invitation is the lavalier of the digital age. It’s not official until it’s online and visible to everyone you know and kind of know.

There’s a lot of debate as to whether we put too much of our lives “out there” for the world to see. Privacy is a never-ending conversation topic and it’s not unusual for people of my generation to sustain relationships completely online. It’s outlandish, but we grew up with this type of interaction, and have adapted accordingly. A Facebook conversation will never replace the feeling of a phone call or a hug, but it provides a fast, easy and engaging way to interact with others. It changes quickly though, making it challenging to keep up with the latest features and settings. We were the first to have Facebook, and now I feel like I’m constantly behind the curve. I do not want you, Vine, or SnapChat, or Voxer. Enough already. Bastante.

As for me, I’m not entirely sure why my husband waited to formalize our social media relationship until we’d been dating for five months, and I was 2,000 miles away volunteering in the Dominican Republic, but he’s always kept me on my toes. I still remember this moment vividly.

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I was sitting in a shady internet cafe in Las Terenas, covered in dirt and mosquito bites with hair so big I put women in Texas to shame. When I got this email–the email–my heart did a little somersault.

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Looking back, this would’ve been the best save-the-date ever. (Take that, Pinterest.) But now it’s a fun reminder of our lives six years ago, how far we’ve come and the fact that we have no idea how we’ll be communicating our lives in another few years. Maybe the passenger pigeon will make a comeback?

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