Saturday, July 23, 2016

Like a second honeymoon, only with kids

This is the part of our journey that gets very, very hazy. I was going on about 20 hours of no sleep (give or take a 5 minute power nap here and there) and was strugglin' to keep it together. I vaguely remember Jon going off to collect our luggage and me reminding the kids over and over not to jump off this random ledge they kept jumping off of. Also, I forgot to mention that while Jon and I received traditional Hawaiian leis, the kids were of the candy variety. So not only were they severely jet-lagged and finally getting a chance to stretch their legs after 13 hours of traveling, but they were chewing their way through a sugar-laden lei.

We finally gathered up our things and headed out to meet the shuttle. They decided to squeeze our entire family (and our luggage) into the last 6 seats remaining of one van. Three minutes after we situated ourselves, they changed their minds, had us disembark, and then wait for a second shuttle that would apparently be a more direct route. I think they took one look at our kids and decided we needed to get to our hotel ASAP.

The drive to the hotel is a bit of a blur. Our first taste of our new home state was the outskirts of Honolulu, and that's not exactly it's best side. Two children fell asleep instantly (and were extremely difficult to awaken once we got to the hotel.) But after what seemed like a very long trip, we finally pulled into our resort. And while I don't remember much, I do remember thinking "Wow, this is niiiiice!!!"

So, the government gives us a stipend to cover our room and board while we're waiting to move into our home. It's based on a whole bunch of things--rank, location, number of dependents, whether or not you have a kitchenette in your room, etc. Our responsibility is just to find a hotel that offers this "government rate." Naturally, there are quite a few options in Hawaii. But because of RIMPAC this year (a biannual military event that brings in over 25,000 additional people to the island) most places were booked up.

We knew that Jon would begin working right away and I'd be stuck in our hotel with the kids on my own, so Jon made it a priority to stay at a place right on the beach to make it more convenient for me. So when he told me, after quite an effort, that he'd finally found a place that not only offered a government rate, but also let our entire family stay in one room, I was quite relieved. Never mind that it was one of the "older hotels." I was just happy to be on the beach.

Well, it turns out it's not just "one of the older hotels," but it was the very first hotel to open in Waikiki in 1901. And you guys, it was positively charming!

Those are luggage stickers all over his shirt...

Check out the detailing on that veranda!
So we roll up to this beautiful Victorian building, stumble past rows of guests relaxing on rocking chairs on the veranda (I'm fairly certain Jack was sleepwalking at this point), step through the lobby where a pianist was providing live music, just barely dodge a bride and groom racing their way down the hall, and plant ourselves on the couches in front of the check-in desk--where Jack promptly falls asleep while the rest of us wait for Jon to get our room.

Jack is obviously super-duper tired at this point. We all are. But we're also pretty hungry--like ravenously hungry. It was a very strange marriage of sensations, and I'm not sure I've ever felt that way before. In fact, there were a few instances where I had to catch myself from stumbling while we walked from our room to the outdoor eating area.

It was late and crowded, but a kind couple that was just about to leave offered us their table. We sat down to glance at menus and Jack fell right back to sleep again. I mean, literally sitting up at the table sleeping. He eventually settled into lying on his [metal] chair, but never woke up again the entire meal. The waitress just laughed and put his food in a box. Meanwhile the rest of us hurried through dinner so we could shuffle off to bed.




Except it felt wrong, so wrong, to just go to sleep in Hawaii without having seen the ocean. So the non-sleeping kids and I made a quick detour to the beach just for one quick peek and, wow. It was everything I hoped Hawaii would be.

Does it not just feel peaceful and serene?
We sank our feet in the sand, dipped our toes in the water, enjoyed the final light of day, and then headed back up to our room where we could finally, finally give in to the exhaustion of the day. It was 8pm Hawaii time (2am EST). You never saw four kids (or their parents) fall asleep so fast! And we all stayed that way for the next 9 hours.


Jon was up bright and early the next morning so he could catch a cab to pick up our vehicle that we shipped early, and then head to the Coast Guard base to check in. He didn't think it would take all day, so the kids and I decided to lay low in the hotel room and attempt to recover from the previous days adventures. Ha.ha.ha. Four kids. In a hotel room. Laying low. Hardly.

The lanai barely fit the 6 of us, but at least we could get some fresh air. 
I guess this would be a good time to mention that our hotel room had a bidet. Or, as my kids called it, a "toilet shower." I won't go into too much detail, but I will say that we may have devoted our entire first morning in Hawaii to "testing out" the bidet. So fun.

We had the city behind us and the ocean before us!

Practicing those hula skills ... again.


I don't remember what's going on here. All I know is I can never get just a nice, normal picture from my children.
Everybody was more than ready to hit the town when Daddy returned. We decided to visit Hale Koa, a military resort, just a few blocks up from our hotel. We did a little shopping in the Commissary, grabbed dinner, and let the kids play at the park. We thought about staying for fireworks but didn't think the kids would make it that long.

Instead, Jon started driving up the coast. He and I enjoyed the views and the kids fell asleep before we even made it out of Honolulu. What they say is true, Hawaii is absolutely gorgeous. The beaches, the coastline, and the mountains. I just can't get over the mountains. I didn't make it out of Waikiki very much that first week we were on the island, but whenever I did, I just couldn't stop staring at the mountains. I'm not sure they'll ever get old!

View from the other side of Diamond Head.




Hawaii has lots of places to pull off the road and enjoy the views. Thank you, Hawaii!

There's nothing graceful about jet lag.
The nice part about our little drive that evening was that the kids slept. The bad part about our drive that evening was that the kids slept. Because the parking garage for our hotel is about 2 blocks away. And our actual room is 8 floors up. And it wasn't like this was a little afternoon siesta. We had four kids OUT for the night.

In case you're wondering how this hotel living thing all went down--Jon and I had one bed, the three younger kids slept horizontally on another, and Jack had a trundle bed.
Jon dropped me and the crew off at the door while he parked the car. And I ushered four half-sleeping, half-crying children into the hotel, past the lovely live pianist, and into the elevator. Yet again, easiest night putting the kids to sleep ever (once we got everyone in the room.)

To be continued ...

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