Tag Archive | travel

Happy Second Christmas

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We are home!

One of the tricky things about travel over Christmas is what to do about gifts.  Do you do them before the trip or after or drag them along on your trip?  This is doubled or tripled by what does your family do?  Give in person or ship to your home?  Complicate that more by variables unique to each situation and you get quite a situation.

We have been doing this for years and have come up with a few things that seem to help so if you are thinking of traveling during Christmas and wondering what to do here is what works for us;

  • If we are traveling very close to Christmas we do gifts before we leave
    • Also if something that is a Christmas gift but also needed on the trip
  • If we are leaving well before Christmas (like this time) we told the kids the gifts would be waiting when we got home and we would do Second Christmas
    • To make this work well I wrapped gifts well before we left and put them out so they could be shaken and wondered about, physical proof gifts exist
    • Had a friend put out the last few gifts and arrange them a bit and text a picture so on Christmas morning I could show the kids that Santa had come and set the gifts out just like normal and there they were, waiting for them.
    • “santa” still came to us in Hawaii, but, for us Santa fills the stockings so that wasn’t hard to do there
  • Make Second Christmas a real deal – We got home late and groggy and cranky from travel and I made the kids wait one more night so this morning we woke up to Second Christmas where we had fancy pancakes and talks with relatives as we opened gifts and I’m treating the whole day like a private Christmas.
    • Also talking up the fact that we have an extra Christmas day full of family time and nice food etc helped them feel good.

Bottom line is that we talked honestly about what would happen and how and why over and over to make sure they knew.  Also, a good time to work on the fact that a trip to Hawaii and all the fun things we did were part of their Christmas, and, spending time together is better than spending money on gifts…  However, that is a concept that is beyond many adults so I had realistic expectations for my kids and they did really well.  Especially well now that they have their second Christmas 🙂

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twas the night before 2nd Christmas

They did thoroughly enjoy what we got them and what was sent from family.  It seriously sounds like Christmas here today with all the playing with all the toys.

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final moments of torture waiting for Fiona to finish breakfast!

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super tight bows are hard…

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Grandma wins for most interesting and creative!

Next I need to tackle the unpacking.  Our flight was nasty timing, departing at 11:50 pm meant that we couldn’t really have a normal bedtime but on the positive Zoe and Niamh and Lars slept.  Fiona kept half waking up and freaking out so she and I did not get much rest.  Landing in LA at 7:30am with a 2-hour layover was not too bad.  You need at least 30min in LAX to get to the right place so we had enough time for a little breakfast and getting where we were going.  I was a zombie and Niamh kept falling asleep everywhere but we did ok.  Thankfully we had Vacation Mom to pick us up and we got home and ordered pizza and told the kids to eat and watch TV while we went to sleep.  Lars actually ended up sleeping on both flights so he was reasonable when we got home and went to work to pre-catch up.

I’m, not unexpectedly, unsure on what day it actually is but I know we have a weekend and new years day to go so we have plenty of time to readjust to this time zone and weather.  The house is decent, I need to grocery shop, but I did leave my sisters with clean laundry so I’m going to enjoy this day.

 

PS. this day for me made possible by my prents getting married 38 years ago.  Happy Anniversery!

Christmas Eve

I’ve been blog  and I have a list of reasons why….  The biggest is my computer decided to be ‘on vacation’ without official leave.

I have so many awesome pictures, we have been doing the family thing and the tourist thing and generally enjoying fantastic weather.  When I get home I’ll do a massive update (maybe) but I’ll see about doing a gallery or something for those of you who care to see tons of pictures of Hawaii.  I’m posting one a day on Instagram at least.

Today and tomorrow will be fun for us and I hope you too.  I know this is a crazy stress time of year for so many and I am putting out only good thoughts for the day.

Off for now, Happy Merry Everything

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my last day of 36

…. and second day in Hawaii!

The jetlag has worn off everyone finally.  Poor Fiona had it worst, the other girls and I did fine and Lars just went to bed early.  Speaking of poor Fiona, a bird pooped on her but she didn’t really care.  She also got super dirty feet so when we got back from todays outing we washed her from head to toe.

 

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Fiona’s view of the movie.  I drew the outlines of the people, Moana left and Mawi right.  She did the rest and drew a ton of islands, his hook, and the animals he turned into. 

 

In a not unexpected situation, we were in a house full of Star Wars people who highly desired to see the new movie today.  Lars is right there with them.  I’m not so much… but! I did really want to see Moana, the movie about Hawaii that is staring one of my favorite actors.  Moana did not disappoint, I loved it all and laughed all the way through.  I particularly like that Moana was a very fit girl, a real sized active muscled female.  Nothing against the waif look, but, the un natural princess proportions do get annoying after a while.  For this movie trip, the girls went one way, the boys another, and then we met up for Mexican and a ramble around a park/beach.  The park had the coolest trees and was full of the flora and fauna of the tropics.  Trees just grow differently when they don’t have to worry about snow or ice.

I also got to experience a Hawaii Target, about the same as ours, to fill in the Santa duties for next weekend.  This morning Dan and I ran 4mi in my last run for my year and it was great scenery from palm trees and mountains to f15s and Airforce1.  Next up a game night and tomorrow the plan is to go to the beach.  This will be a first  in my life experience to go swimming on my birthday.

More tomorrow…. I plan on

Aloha time

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In my opinion, the key to travel is to absolutely ignore the things that could go wrong and focus only on the reality you want.  I refused to acknowledge the possibility of a snow storm or ice or delays or lost luggage and things worked!

We got a limo (just what you get when you have 5 people but it feels fancy) at 4:30.  It was also key to get into a warm car because I made everyone leave coats at home.

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I did my best to plan for things and we had a nice pile of food and snacks, I even went for lunchables for the kids because they have been wanting them for ages so that makes them ‘special’, and more importantly to me, they are reasonably crush proof so they were intact after hours of travel.  The three planes and the three airports each had things to nitpick, but, overall it was worth it to get here.

Plane #1 was just fine and our layover was just long enough for a walk, a coffee, and a bit of a charge.

Plane #2 was the looooong one but I kept telling the kids it would be 8 hours but it was actually only 6 so that was a nice surprise.  We kept decent entertainment levels and constant snacks and things were pretty good.  Some of the surrounding people were not my first choice, but hey, that means we looked better in comparison.

Plane #3 was so short that the stewardess practically tossed juice to everyone from the back of the plane and then collected the cups and then we landed.

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why couldn’t this have been on the long flight?

 

My sister met us with the super pretty flower and we stumbled to her house and went to bed on a flat, non moving surface.

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my midnight after waking up at 4am!

 

The fitbit was very confused, I somehow managed to get 10k steps but my day was an extra 4 hours long and I started at 4am.  However, Fitbit could not figure out what to do when I synced so I had two Thursdays for a while.  I just need it to tell time in general so my steps will sort themselves out some how.

Today was more or less paperwork day.  We needed passes for the base, we planned out the big outings for the trip and got advance tickets to secure reservations and prices.  We visited a different base on the island for a drink and a view of the island and the harbor from the high ground.  The view from the grocery store was pretty good too, almost everywhere is either something pretty or something interesting.  I love the variety of things here.  My sister lives in a historic home in a historic neighborhood and the base is full of architecture from every era, but, in some ways time stopped here 75 years ago (once they cleaned up the mess that is).

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grocery store view.  Not half bad

 

We got out and about a little bit but not a lot.  Just the ability for the kids to play and us to eat dinner outside is a novelty.

A friend said once that visiting family isn’t a vacation, it is a trip.  People imagine Hawaii like a luxury hotel or on a cruise or even on a massive cram it in sight seeing extravaganza BUT I am living life with my sisters family and it will include doing fun things, and, the best is that we are all in it together for the next 2 weeks.

Back and going again

Status

Sleep – I think I’m caught up, if that exists

house – looks like I was gone for 3 days

bathwater – I think I saw a stick in someones hair

Travel – Home from NY, aiming at WI

 

The weekend away was really nice.  I picked a really hectic travel schedule to maximize time with people but that did cut into the time I’m usually asleep.  On the bright side all things went well or even better than planned.  Got to NY at 1am (late) but managed the trams etc and my last post had me meeting my sister who flew in from Hawaii and that all worked out just fine.  We took a taxi and a train and then a car and finally arrived.  I then went on a boat just to round things out, hitting all the transport methods possible in 24hours.

Visiting with no kids was weird because I had nothing to do.  No hand to hold, no person to make sure was ok.  That isn’t to say my kids didn’t call frequently…. Niamh figured out facetime and would pop up all the time to say hi.  They had a good time here too and vacation friend did a great job of subbing in as a mom.

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The wedding itself was very nice.  I knew more people than I expected, I talked to quite a few new people and they were all intelligent and interesting.  My cousin is marrying into a good crew.  I did some crazy swing dancing with a cousin who is practicing regularly and I had to recall my dusty knowledge of lessons years ago.  We looked ok I heard, I didn’t get (too) dizzy and he gets all the credit for being a good leader.  I wish Lars liked to dance but it was fun to just jump in and do it too.

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Getting home we planned for massive holiday traffic but there really was nothing and I got there so early I was there before the airline check in desk was even there.  JFK seems to be doing a new thing with security – they ‘gate’ checked my carry on at the desk so I only had a backpack and then I was directed into a security line that had me take out and off nothing.  I was through that line in under 5 min from walking into the cattle shoot to walking away into the inner realms of JFK.  I have a feeling with security issues now happening outside security they want to get people through as fast as possible.

I got to JFK with 5k steps and decided to get up to 10 so I walked around the whole place 3x.  Definitely not the biggest terminal I’ve ever been it (they split them up into 5 buildings) was interesting enough to walk around.  I got overpriced and underwhelming sushi and ate it at a nice central table with a charging spot.  We boarded exactly on time and I sat in my seat and nearly immediately fell asleep.  That was my power nap because we landed at 11:25pm and between one thing and another we didn’t get home until 1am and I was promptly woken up by children at 6am.

The 4th of July is an odd holiday.  I like it, I like what it stands for, but we ended up with a fairly quiet day because I was so tired and so many things needed to be done.  I rallied early to make the breakfast and hang out with the kids and since it was only 80 degrees we headed out to the parade.  Post parade I slept and after dinner we went to the tiny carnival that comes to town for the 4th.  No fireworks – it takes too long to get dark here and I didn’t want to deal with bugs and traffic and kids so I put 3 mad kids to bed hearing fireworks (that were neighbors doing little loud things) with promises of going to a fireworks later in the summer.  I was in bed by 10:30 and this morning I hit the ground running.

 

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Niamh and Zoe on the left, Zoe and Fiona on the right.  Same exact dragon in both.

 

I would say I have no idea what day it is but in reality I’m all too aware that I only have 3 days before a big camping trip.  Today we did the shopping, tomorrow I’ll pre-cook and pack and more of the same on Thursday.  In there I hope to also work out because that has not happened in a week.  I did get a bunch of odd things done like the MOMS club annual report but I wish there was a pause button for the world because I have things to do but I also don’t want to miss anything so I can sit and do them.  My 85 days of summer is zooming by!

Ok, time is ticking and I want to arrange camps for later this month for the girls.  I might not get them in but worth a shot.

Happy Birthday Fiona! But first with the Zombie MLP cake and the weekend…

Today Fiona turns 4, unbelievable yet totally believable because I’ve been here for all 4 of those years and I completely appreciate how far she has come!  My ‘dear Fiona’ post is in process but not ready but I can’t post ON her birthday and not even mention it.

This past weekend was all the fun.  We had friends come from ND so we made extra efforts to hang out with them.  Another friend hosted a BBQ and we did indeed bring the Cowboy Caviar mix that Lars made and I had a good time creating a My Little Pony Zombie cake.  It was a special request for a 13th birthday and I think I could not have done better and kept it tasty.  Fondant looks so nice, but, tastes so yuck.  I like to use a really simple chocolate recipe that is 1c heavy cream brought to a boil and then 9oz of chocolate added – stir until smooth and remove.  It’s great because you can pour it right on hot for a smooth shell look or wait until the consistency you want to ice with happens due to solidification.  You can also wait for it to cool and whip it and that makes it even better for smoothing or piping or even sculpting.   I firmly believe that MLP are full of rainbows so I started with a rainbow cake, then a crumb coat, then the icing, then  the accessories including swedish fish cut to look like ribs and whopper eyes and my extra ‘puppy chow’ got used as gnarly pony teeth.

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The reason I got to do such a fun fancy cake was because our new neighbor is awesome!  She is a year older than Niamh but the younger of a boy/girl sibling set so they really don’t play together much and she is girl starved.  Their house backs on ours so you don’t even have to cross a street and the moms can both hear what is going on in the yard.  She loves coming over and plays with everyone, including Fiona, and they all played with very minimal parental guidance all day Saturday and half the day Monday.  I kept an ear on them (bonus to windows open time of year, and, a relatively small house) and around lunch time just piled up a tray with fruit and carrots and leftover pizza and just slid it into the playhouse entry.  I also got a good chunk of the routine cleaning done so today I don’t feel behind even though I semi missed my Monday.

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Sunday we actually got to go to Valley Fair!  The weather cooperated, Vacation Friend was able to go and as always we split nicely where I love the thrill rides and she loves the water stuff and the kids love her so we were set to cover the kids.  Our ND friends were the reason we were even going and they also lent a hand on the kid watching since there is nothing better for a 13 year old than the love and adoring company of little kids.  I ended up alone on a ride because they all choose other adults and/or teens to be near!  It was our first try to stay ‘late’ and it worked pretty well because Fiona just crashed out on me for an hour and a half in the sling and I missed a ride or 2 but no problem, I got the ones I really wanted first thing.

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Yesterday was a holiday here so it was like a preview of my summer with 3 kids solo on a nice day.  The summer will need some time management instituted but overall it was a nice relaxing day. **I’m really really glad I got that play house done, it is such a perfect place for summer play**

That brings us to today, #3 birthday and I’m at cake capacity.  Today I made a bunt just to do something new but it has been a very good cake season.  We need to do our 3-girls ‘family’ party soon but thats another schedule issue that I’m going to think about tomorrow.