Mahalo…A Hui Hou

We returned from Kauai on Sunday evening well-rested, sun-kissed and happy. It was a much-needed, relaxing, utterly beautiful and fabulous vacation. We’ve been fortunate enough to have taken many vacations over the course of our marriage, and even quite a few since the kids have been born, but I honestly don’t remember another time I came home this peaceful and relaxed. I didn’t even have my post-vacation “it’s over” sadness, just utter contentment. I suppose someplace as beautiful and magical as Kauai can do that to you.

Dawn of a new day.

Mr. N and Miss A even fully immersed themselves in the relaxation of this trip. With the exception of a few minor meltdowns from Miss A (which frankly were nothing in the grand-scheme of things – pretty remarkable for a three-year old) and a few initial protests about an activity from Mr. N, both of the kids were absolutely in-tune with each other, us and the vacation. 

Our little sand kids building a fort.

Mr. N, who only six months ago didn’t know how to swim, absolutely became one with the water. I have never seen him so happy to do any one thing for hours on end – and believe me he can spend a lot of time with his Lego’s. Each day of our trip he spent at least a few hours in the pool swimming all around, playing “sea serpent” with Miss A and even learning to snorkel.

It’s hard to walk in these things!

Miss A on the other hand was much more content to hang in the sand or operate from her “control room” poolside. She was the police captain telling Mr. N where to swim in order to save the animals that needed saving.

Mr. N always knows how to make his sister REALLY laugh.

The kids also spent hours at the beach discovering interesting rocks and little shells,

Mom! Look at this one!

and just discovering the sensation of waves on their toes.

I’m not so sure about this ocean thing.

Eventually they got a little braver, well Mr. N got a whole lot braver, and ventured a bit closer to the water. In fact, one perfect afternoon, Mr. N spent literally two hours body surfing. He’d run out into the water, wait for a wave and either swim with it or just let it carry him to shore. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen him happier than he was this afternoon.

Life is good.

And as I lay in the sand watching my little boy utterly loving his life – splashing, laughing and rolling with the waves, I also had the absolute blessing of enjoying just over an hour of Miss A tucked in next to me with her head on my chest fast asleep. I don’t know what could possibly have been better than these few hours that lazy Friday afternoon.

Now this is the way to spend a Friday afternoon – napping in the sand.

We did venture away from the water and sunny shores every now and then for some other fun adventures. I spent a morning zip lining and repelling my way over waterfalls in the mountains of Kauai. Now this is not something I normally would even think about trying given my fear of heights, but it was one of those trips where I needed to do something out of my comfort zone. And let me tell you, I couldn’t be happier that I did! By the end of the tour I was even whizzing around upside down!

The adrenaline rush lasted for days!

The kids also spent a bit of time crafting canoes out of coconut palms,

I think I’m too big for this boat.

looking for Puff the Magic Dragon in Hanalei,

Painted wings and giants rings make way for other toys.

chasing around roosters,

This one’s for Greg and Katherine.

performing Hawaiian dances on stage,

A star is born. Swing those poi balls Miss A!

searching for the end of rainbows,

Anyone see the pot of gold?

and watching the sun set into the ocean.

The sun will come out tomorrow.

We also sampled lots and lots of local dishes from traditional luau fare

Flower girls.

to roadside hot dog and shrimp stands.

Rockin’ the Hawaiian shirts boys!

And of course we’ll be sharing many of these recipes with you over the next few weeks. Until then, Hawaii was actually one of our very first state night picks last year, so you can enjoy this post which includes a delicious virgin lava flow. The kids could have lived off of these delights!

Now before we set about on our next cooking adventure we have a few things to wrap-up…First up, the winner of our blogiversary giveaway (set of travel plates and a photo book of year one at Eat, Play, Love) as drawn by Miss A. Congratulations to ChgoJohn from the Bartolini Kitchens!!!!

Happy Valentine’s Day ChgoJohn!

Many thanks again to all of our followers, commenters, visitors, friends and family. You’ve made our adventures this past year truly amazing. We’re very humbled and grateful.

Also, before we launch off to our next international meal destination as chosen by Mike, we’re going to round-out this week with our banana bread taste test and reveal the first recipe of this year’s “Quest for the Best.” We hope you’ll enjoy it – we know we already do!

Mahalo and a hui hou (thanks and till we meet again).

The footprints may not last forever, but our memories sure will.

Print this recipe: Lava Flow (Non-Alcoholic)

49 thoughts on “Mahalo…A Hui Hou

  1. Mel says:

    Wow! What a holiday!! Thanks for sharing your photos (stunning) and words with us. Frankly just the picture of zip lining is giving me an adrenaline rush at 6.50am…..!! I have a crazy fear of heights that hasn’t gone away no matter how many high rise buildings I walk in to/live in/work in, they make my knees wobble and my tummy flip like excited pancakes 😦 I think it is great that you went for it!


  2. Purely.. Kay says:

    Just look at you guys. You all looked like you had so much fun and dare I say it.. you all look RESTED! lol. I love that look of rest when I visit my family’s home in Florida. But Hawaii has nothing on Florida lol. And Miss A looks wonderful in red. And of course she gets her fashion sense from her mom ;). I am so happy you guys had a great trip. To many more for you..


    • Kristy says:

      Hi Kay! We definitely were rested. It was such a wonderful week. Going in I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to completely relax, but it didn’t take long at all! 😉 And here’s to many great trips in your future too!


  3. Eva Taylor says:

    Great photos Kristy, it looks like you really had an amazing time with the kids. The zip lining looks amazing too, and would be totally out of my comfort zone…perhaps one day I’ll get to Hawaii and try it. Lucky John to win your anniversary give away.


    • Kristy says:

      Zip lining was amazing Eva! It was probably one of the biggest adrenaline rushes I’ve ever had! Especially after we had to trust fall backwards off of one of the drops! Crazy, but so much fun! 🙂


  4. Erin and Molly Reeder says:

    It looks like you guys had a great time! I am so jealous!! It makes me want to get back to Hawaii so bad! I am so glad you had such a great time. We’ll have to get together soon so I can hear more about it!


  5. spicegirlfla says:

    Kristy, what wonderful memories you’ve made on this trip and I thank you so much for sharing this with us. I think its wonderful you bring along your kids as I see too many couples preferring their own vacation, sans kids. It may have its ups and downs but overall, you’re building a strong family and memories for a lifetime. Your photos brought such a warm feeling and happy smile to me!
    Congrats to John, Miss A picked a well deserved winning heart! I can’t wait to see future food posts from your trip.


    • Kristy says:

      Thanks Linda! I can’t imagine traveling without the kids (well, maybe an occasional weekend getaway). They are such great travelers and it’s so much fun to see the world through their eyes. I’m happy to have made you smile today. I feel the same way when I look at these pictures. You know both of the kids actually cried the first night back in their own rooms. They wanted to be all together again and wanted to go back to Hawaii! 🙂 Bittersweet.


  6. Amy says:

    That rooster looks just like the one that nipped Todd on our honeymoon in (on?) Kauai! Glad you had such a good time! Kate recently started asking to go back to Hawaii, but I’m still not sure the time change is such a good idea.


    • Kristy says:

      Could have been! We had no idea they were everywhere!!! And it must be a right of passage into the family clan…I was nipped by a wild dog on ours! LOL. As for the time change – after the first day it wasn’t so bad, and on this end it’s been great! Both kids are still sleeping in – although I’m sure that won’t last. In fact, I have no doubt Mr. N will be up at 6 on Saturday. Ha!


  7. Mary says:

    Oh how wonderful!! I feel like I’ve been on vacation looking at your gorgeous pictures! What precious time for your family – so glad you had a fantastic vacation 🙂
    Mary x


  8. Kelly @ Inspired Edibles says:

    What a beautiful post Kristy. Sounds like you and family had the trip of a lifetime. And how nice to return home feeling rested and refreshed. Thank you for sharing all these photos and moments… the footprints in the sand are precious. Lava flow… love the name – sounds very intriguing… I’ll be checking it out for sure. Meanwhile, Miss A in her Valentine’s day red dress with that face…. beyond adorable…(I definitely need a hair lesson from her) ;).


    • Kristy says:

      LOL! I had to laugh out loud at that one – you should see when Miss A does her hair on her own (which she did many times on the trip). It often involves numerous barrettes dangling all around her hair in random places. It’s quite the sight. 😉 But I will say that the humidity in Hawaii did wonders to her curls. They were like tight little springs and just so gorgeous. And I love the footprints too. We have one from our last trip…but that one only has three imprints. 😉


  9. Charles says:

    Congratulations ChgoJohn – well deserved I’m sure!

    Kristy and co – glad you’re safely back, and what a wonderful trip it looks like you had. Thank you so much for sharing some of your memories with us. I’m still outraged (read: insanely jealous) that this was a form of “work” for Mike. Your photos are beautiful – the rainbow photo, and the first sunset picture, you’ve perfectly captured the magical beauty of the place. I’m not familiar with Hawaii, but I sure want to go there now, thanks to you!

    Hooray for not having back to reality blues either… they can be a real bummer 🙂 Nice to see you home again 🙂


    • Kristy says:

      LOL. No kidding right! If only my job could take me to exotic places…until then, I’m just going to have to go along for the ride whenever possible. I did feel a bit bad for Mike as he spent two solid days inside meeting rooms while we were out enjoying the surf and sand…still, I’d rather work from a meeting room there than here. 😉 And thanks for the welcome home…it is good to be back (although I’m starting to miss seeing the sun again – lol).


  10. ChgoJohn says:

    Welcome home! What a wonderful trip for you and your family! The photos and your commentary were fantastic! The tourism board of Hawaii should put this post in a brochure advocating that families vacation in their lovely state. I’m glad that you were all able to travel together and that it went so well. YAY!

    And Yay! for winning the travel plates & photo book. There I was, imagining the roar of the surf, the warm breezes, palms swaying, and then boom, I won! Thank you so much. I cannot wait to see them but, first, get yourselves settled back into your routine and then we can arrange the delivery. And, again, welcome home!


    • Kristy says:

      Congratulations! I’m so excited for you. I hope you love the plates as much as we do. 🙂 And you know – I think I’d like to work for the tourism board of Hawaii, especially because I’d certainly have to go back to explore some more. 😉


  11. Just A Smidgen says:

    Your time in Kauai seems so magical:) We were there one year with our kids. There was a pond that had sea life so the kids could paddle to their hearts content. Hawaii sure knows how to make a family friendly holiday… And, it’s so true.. all they need is sand and water and extra naps:) Those lava flows look delicious… and congratulations to John for winning an awesome prize:) Love all your photos.. but especially the one of Miss A sleeping with you!


  12. Courtney says:

    What an amazing vacation you’ve described. It looks absolutely perfect. I love that your kiddos had a great time and that you experienced comfort and going outside your comfort zones. You actually make me *think* about taking my boys on a big trip…


    • Kristy says:

      I say go for it! Start ’em early. It’s certainly got trying moments, but overall it’s totally worth it. My only advice…don’t take road trips longer than 2 weeks with a three-year old. Just sayin’. Oye.


  13. profiterolesandponytails says:

    Love the coconut palm boats — what unique souvenirs for your family! I’d like a virgin lava flow right now!!!! Looks like you had a wonderful family vacation….I’m so pleased for you. I’ve spent the evening researching a getaway for us in March. Right now it’s between Jamaica and Cancun!


    • Kristy says:

      I’ve never been to either place, so I can’t possibly vote, but either one sounds fantastic to me! How fun! I’m sure the ponytails will have a great time in either location. 🙂


    • Eva Taylor says:

      Hi Barb, I think I would rethink Cancun…Mexico is not a good place to travel right now. I’ve been to Jamaica and you basically have to stay on the resort or explore with tours, it is also unsafe to go on your own.


  14. A_Boleyn says:

    Congratulations to the lucky winner (ChgoJohn ) and to you and your family on being able to enjoy such a paradise for your holiday.

    The last/only time I was at the seaside, we collected a lot of shells and then took them home to my friends’ house and embedded the shells into concrete stepping stones that they put into their garden. It was a wonderful souvenir of a lovely sunny day and a blissful holiday.


    • Kristy says:

      Now that is a wonderful idea!!! I actually have a bunch of shells from a past trip to FL that we no longer use in our decor. That would be a fabulous project with the kids this summer. 🙂


  15. smartfoodandfit says:

    Thanks so much for sharing your photo’s from your beautiful family trip to Hawaii! Mr. N and Ms. A look like they had so much fun and congrats to Mr. N on becoming a better swimmer. On congrats to you for overcoming your fear of heights, I’ve always wanted to do that.
    The lava flow drink looks tastey and so colorful! Look forward to your posts, so exciting!
    BTW, Mrs. A is so darn cute with the Valentine to ChgoJohn! Congrats to ChgoJohn for winning the plates! Happy Valentine’s day to you and your family! 🙂


    • Kristy says:

      If you ever have the chance Lisa – go for it! Zip lining was incredible – fear of heights and all. 🙂 And as for the lava flow, I have to say, I actually prefer the non-alcoholic variety for that one. The coconut and strawberry are just so good on their own.


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