Aloha -- Which Means Both Hello and Good-Bye

I should be waking up this morning in Hawaii, listening to palm tree fronds shush in the wind and ocean waves pound the lava shore.

Instead, I’m sitting at my kitchen table, which is strewn with half-empty cereal bowls, watching the largest snowflakes I’ve ever seen – seriously, they are about ½-inch diameter – fall gently on my deck, and I’m listening to the harmonious sounds of “Clifford: The Big Red Dog.”

Frankly, I couldn’t be happier.

Six years ago, when Corey and I moved back to the Midwest from our beloved San Diego, we promised each other we would take a mid-winter trip every year. Winter is long in Minnesota; usually, spring can’t get a toehold until April. We knew we would need a sanity check, a break in the madness. (We also knew we’d need to stop worrying about looking cool and start worrying about proper winter attire. But that’s another story.)

This year, we planned to go to Hawaii. Corey had accumulated enough Hilton Honors points for a six-night stay at a very nice resort on the Big Island. It sounded warm and tropical and sunny – everything Minnesota isn’t in January.

Since we had been to this particular resort before, we knew the fun that awaited us. We regaled the kids with details ever since July, when we made the reservations. “You can swim with these giant turtles in the lagoon! And there’s a high-speed tram to take you to the other side of the resort! And you can travel from pool to pool via waterslide! And did we mention it’s warm?”

But last week, as the day for our departure approached, reality caught up with me and took me down for the count.

I started to think about the time difference. Waikoloa is four hours behind Minnesota. That meant, if Teyla slept in until 7:00 AM – which, let’s be honest, she only does about once a month; normally she gets up between 6:00 and 6:30 – she would wake up ready for the day at 3:00 AM Hawaii time. Three. In the morning. On a good day. And I harbor no illusions that the darkness would stop her early wakenings, because it’s dark at our house until about 7:30 AM right now, and it doesn’t stop her at all.

I started to think about the flights that would get us to Hawaii. We were scheduled to fly from Minneapolis to Seattle (flight time – 3 hours, 49 minutes). We had a 2 hour layover in Seattle, before we departed for Maui (flight time – 5 hours, 53 minutes). After we arrived in Maui – at 11:30 PM our body time, I might add – we had an hour before our flight to Kona (flight time – only 48 minutes). Once we finally arrived on the Big Island, we would catch a cab to our resort, about 40 minutes away. After check-in, we would need to wait for a shuttle tram or boat to take us to our actual building. Door-to-door travel time? Something like 15 hours.

Oh! And all those flights were completely full (I checked), so Teyla – also known as the little girl who doesn’t even sit in her high chair to eat – would be sitting standing on my lap the entire time.

I started to think about how expensive Hawaii is. Our hotel stay was covered, and most of our airline tickets were purchased with frequent flier miles – this is the only time it’s nice to have a husband who travels – but food? We’d be paying. (And, just to give you an idea, the mediocre breakfast buffet at the resort is $30 for adults and $20 for children. That means we’d be paying $100 just for our family to eat a morning meal.) If we wanted to sight see, we’d be paying to rent a car (and paying a resort fee to park it). If Corey and I wanted to do anything by ourselves – we love to SCUBA dive, for example – we’d have to pay to put the kids in the kids’ camp and pay to join a SCUBA charter. If we wanted to use beach toys, we’d have to rent them. If we wanted to check our e-mail, we’d have to pay for the Internet. If we wanted to breathe, I’m pretty sure we’d have to cough up a dollar for air.

In other words, even with the majority of the costs covered, it was still going to be an expensive vacation.

All these thoughts swarmed together and left me with a pit in my stomach. I tried to console myself by constantly looking at the Waikoloa weather. (“OK, so it’s -18 outside my front door right now, and in Waikoloa? It’s sunny and 78. How can you say no to that?”) I reminded myself that the kids have been looking forward to this trip for six months already, and to deny them this would be crueler than sending the Christmas dog back to the shelter. (Whoops. Haven’t told you that story yet, have I?) I told myself Corey would be frustrated beyond frustration if I tried to break into his thoughts now and suggest this trip might be a teensy bit too much work.

But on Wednesday night, as Corey and I were hanging out in the kitchen, I couldn’t stop myself from testing the waters.

“So, you know this trip on Saturday. Are we sure we want to do this?”

(Notice my use of the royal “we.”)

“Why?” he asked, eyeing me calmly. “Are you having second thoughts?”

(Corey isn’t royal.)

“Yeah,” I answered nervously, hoping my voice didn’t stray into panic. “Yeah, I’m rethinking.”

To my shock, Corey replied, “Well, it doesn’t really matter to me where we go – as long as its someplace warm.”

That was that. We spent the next 90 minutes looking at cancellation policies, which weren’t severe, since we were using points to pay for everything. So we canceled.

And we’ve both heaved great sighs of relief heavenward ever since. Corey is so far behind at work right now, the thought of leaving for a whole week had him near tears. (Which is a joke, clearly, because Vulcans don't cry, but it made me smile.) I’m thrilled I have a whole week with nothing on the schedule. Maybe I'll have a chance to write. And the kids? They are giddy that they don’t have to leave home. (Well, Connor is anyway. He’s spooked by volcanoes – thanks Backyardigans! – so he's relieved we’re not taking him to the home of KÄ«lauea. Natalie is disappointed, naturally, but she's also highly distract.... hey, look! It's a new "Curious George" DVD!)

Best part? We’re still going to get the heck out of Dodge. We're just going to do it in February and go someplace much closer to home. (But no so close that it requires ear muffs.)

When I called my sister last Friday to tell her the news, my brother-in-law shouted in the background, "I'm disappointed in you, Kelly. I thought you were always up for a challenge."

He's right. Usually I am. Canceling this trip because it was going to be HARD is very uncharacteristic of me. Even now, part of me is growling "wimp" at the other part of me.

But I can't help but feel that, this time, I made the right call.


  1. Kelly It sounds like you made the right decision with the relief and peace you have felt. I don't blame you at all! There is plenty of time to do that trip in a few years!

  2. You are welcome in Carlsbad! It's sunny and warm here, but I think the Santa Ana winds are going away for now.

    Jordan did not do well on our 3.5 hour flight. I've heard that one is the hardest age to travel with. I don't think we're going to go anywhere until everyone is 3.

  3. Bummer. Major. But it sounds like you have much more peace about not going than you would have had if you had gone. You made the right call! The travel time to Hawaii gets me every time...we're always okay going, everyone is usually excited, but the coming home! Yuck! We always have a red eye that gets home at something like 7 am. That is always the worst, and longest day, that day after. Can't wait to hear where February will take you!

  4. I do too Kelly. I have friends who travel all over with babies, but I have always thought that sounded like sheer hell. I love my children but I have no desire to be trapped in a hotel room with their exhausted, off-scheduled, jetlagged little selves.

    Now, leaving the kids with Grandma and going to Hawaii....ahhh, now you're talkin...

  5. Well I do think you made the right decision... thinking back to last January when we flew to your neck of the words when Teyla was born- the 4 hour flight was Silas was ok- but we were ready for it to be over. The thought of traveling 15 hours with him as a one year old would be terrifying... Not so much now- as long as we have the DVD player and a lot of M&M's! :)

    I must say, Luke was giddy when I read him the part you wrote about him... I think the thought that he "made it into the blog" was almost too much for him... :)

    Love you!

    **And for the for record- Luke is slightly embarrassed by my above description of his reaction... :)

  6. Simple road trips with the girls stress me out . . . I can't imagine the plane travel and the jet lag at this age. I wholeheartedly agree that you made the right call! Hawaii will wait . . . Maybe y'all could trying being Winter Texans? And promise a pit stop in Oklahoma on your way south? ;)

  7. You know you've done the right thing when you feel relief after canceling a vacation. This just means your trendy - "staycations" are all the rage. ;>

  8. We've been hoping/planning to take a trip to someplace tropical this spring, but I reached the same conclusion about traveling with Anja--it wouldn't be much fun for us or for her to go that far away and get her that off-schedule. So I think we're waiting until summer to go somewhere more near (in northern MN or Wisconsin) where there will be things she can enjoy, too.

  9. Hey Kelly...I have stopped by from time to time and love your blog. I think you sound like a wise mom...
    In fantasy we can always visualize it to be one thing but reality says sometimes it's completly something else:)! Enjoy those big flakes we have them here too!

  10. I would have gone.

    Kidding, kidding. Sort of. Actually, I guess I'm not! I love traveling, and don't mind it too much with the kids. And we've never been to Hawaii, so it calls my name whenever it's below 0 here.

    I'm fully aware that YOU are the smart one and I am the crazy one, I'm sure you made the sane, right decision.

    But I would have gone.


  11. Yeah, I totally believe in cancelling when you know you are over your heads. We took our 4 to a beachhouse for the weekend in September. The beachhouse that is only 30 minutes from our house...and it did me in.

  12. Definitely the right call. I often cancel a trip to the store when faced with the thought of taking all three children so I think you are a rockstar for even considering 12 hours of travel. Enjoy your writing!

  13. I guess it's not much of a vacation if you're dreading nearly all aspects of it. :-)

    Hope you end up getting away sometime soon. I was just telling Abraham that I could really go for a getaway. Something about MN in January perhaps?

  14. Psst... remember how nice the weather is in San Diego?? The prices are quite a bit better here, too. And, you know, there are bloggie people who would love it if you headed back this way. ;)

  15. You SO made the right call! Good for you.

    Sometimes, it just isn't worth it. Wait awhile and go when the kids are a little older, and you'll be glad you did.

  16. Yep. You did well to go with your gut feeling.

    I tend to agree with Susanna. I, too, have to fight overwhelming urges to cancel anything non-essential if I have to take all three boys (especially if I'll be required to think during the event). I hope whatever you do in the end is relaxing and refreshing.


  17. good call - it takes a lot of work and guts for me to decide to take Z on my own to my mom's, much less HAWAII

  18. Another vote for San Diego from the blogosphere...

  19. I would say you made the right decision b/c the feeling your would have in the pit of your stomach from now until you got back wouldn't be worth it. Now you've got peace and a vacation (closer and more budget friendly) on the horizon.

  20. The gut feelings are right, and you have to do what is best for your family. I know that we wouldn't have been able to handle that sort of trip.

    At least you will still get away, and somewhere that the baby will adjust to much easier.

  21. We did that same thing back in November and the whole week in question we kept saying to one another, AREN'T YOU GLAD WE CANCELLED OUR TRIP!? THIS IS AWESOME! And it was. I think you're the kind of person who looks for the best in things anyway, so you'll enjoy it and not have regrets.

    Also, about the blonde highlights thing. Natural blondes (as I recall from many years ago) have darker hair under their top strands anyway, so you'll look more natural if you DON'T have all your hair all matchy-matchy. BUT, if the contrast is too stark, (yours doesn't look too stark to me, but you be the judge), you could always tone down the top highlights a bit, or add some lowlights that match the underside. The thing that always stops me from doing my whole head, though, the major dealbreaker, hasn't been the money (although that's a consideration, for sure) but the fact that the less hair you highlight means the less hair that gets damaged, and more hair that has that telltale root growth. A whole head of processed hair means more hair subject to evil hair enemies, which can only mean more time and effort maintaining it. BLUH.