TBT: Oahu trip 2006

My friend Courtney recently took her oldest daughter to Maui for a mother-daughter trip. This was their first time on a vacation of this magnitude. Courtney, like me, didn’t have money for vacations when her oldest was younger. A big vacation for Alex and I was driving to Marine World in Vallejo for the day. And I only pulled that off once. When you don’t know if you can make rent or food costs for the rest of the month, vacations are not high on your priority list. Simply existing was hard enough sometimes. Seeing photos from Courtney’s vacation really made me happy for her though. It was proof that we both made it through those tough years. Her photos also took me back to when Alex and I went to Hawaii, just about 9 years ago, on our first (and only) big vacation together. Just the two of us.ray3sea9

It was only for 5 days. And it was only to Oahu. But it was still one of my proudest moments as a mother ever. I was actually making a big tropical vacation happen for my daughter and I. Of course, much of this was possible because of Nathan. Because he worked for an airline part time and so our flights were discounted. As was the hotel through his airline discount. I saved the spending money though. I planned fun activities for us. She both swam with manta rays and dolphins on this trip. It ended up being one of the best trips of our life and the worst.

Best=Vacation with my girl. Swimming with rays. Swimming with dolphins. Warm beaches and water. Beautiful scenery. Pina Coladas for lunch;)

Worst= Lice. Jellyfish stings. Torrential rain that would flood the streets every night.

The difference between day and night on this trip was so crazy. We would have such a great day exploring the island and shopping. Going to theme parks and the aquarium. For me, cocktails at lunch.. Alex made a friend that she met up with numerous days and they would play for hours on the beach. And then night would come and it would be like we were on the vacation from hell. Rain + rain + rain and then more rain. Every night we were there. Alex was stung by a jellyfish on our second day and it wasn’t until that night that the pain really started acting up.IMG_3869

And then the lice.

Alex had spent the 3-4 days before this trip at her dad’s house and I just picked her up on the way to the airport. At the end of our first day on the island, while we were headed back from dinner, I happen to see something in Alex’s hair. I thought it was sand that she had missed when she showered. If ONLY it had been sand that she had missed in her shower…Alex’s head was crawling with lice. She had apparently gotten it from a friend before we left town. She had spent the night at their house the day before we left and because our traveling was done late at night I hadn’t noticed it. Until our first night in Oahu. This was before I had a cell phone. Or a tablet. This was discovered during a rain storm as we made our way back to the hotel. If you’ve ever tried to find lice shampoo (it’s triple the price on an island btw), in torrential rain, in a tourist town then you know what I was up against. The only break we got was that Alex had just had 12 inches of hair cut off a couple of weeks prior to this. If I’d had to deal with waist length hair and lice I probably would have lost it. I lost it anyway. Every morning and night was spent cleaning her hair with RID shampoo and combing as much lice out as I could. By the time we got back to California I also had it. Our nights were also filled with doing laundry. All our clothes from that day and our pajamas. We didn’t use anything but the sheet on the beds in the hotel. The comforters and extra pillows were folded and put to the side. So every day we had new sheets and I washed our clothes each night. We still couldn’t get rid of them. We took them back home with us. It was a nightmare.lulu's1

Surprisingly though this didn’t take away from our fun during the day. We went site seeing. I took Alex to this park on our first day there. She did the ray encounter and swam with dolphins.We did the Pearl Harbor tour on the second day and spent the afternoon at the beach. We shopped in the Waikiki International Market (which I’ve now found out is closed) and had lunch (and a pina colada for me) at Duke’s. She got to play with Anna (a friend she met that was visiting from Canada). We saw a neat Hawaiian dance at the park.We took the bus around looking at the views of the ocean. It was a great vacation. During the daytime…oahu8oahu12

All these years later I’ve come to see this trip as a great story to tell though. The best and worst vacation ever. The good parts of each day were always followed by a rough night. We always did family vacations after this, not on purpose, it just happened that way. I had married Nate and this trip was kind of a last hurrah for Alex and I. We were no longer just a family of two we were now a family of three.

I’m grateful that I have these memories with my daughter:)IMG_4059

 

Jennifer

 

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List 45: 10 year anniversary trip: Day 1

IMG_5016This trip was years in the making. I’ve been talking about swimming with whale sharks for  as long as I can remember. I always thought it was out of our price range to make this happen but I was also under the impression, for years, that you could only swim with them in Belize. Then I discovered that you can also swim with them off of Cancun. THAT we could make happen. First though I had to convince Nate to do the trip. He’s not a good traveler. Scratch that. He’s actually a great traveler but he has a LOT of anxiety leading up to a trip. Even a small local trip. He worries about things that I don’t even think about…like how we’re going to talk to people in the country we’re going to if we don’t speak the language fluently, what he’s going to eat, how much stuff is going to cost. I never worry about that type of stuff. It’s just not in my nature. My worry manifests itself in other ways. I talked and talked and talked about whale sharks though and finally I beat him down and he agreed. The only downside to seeing and swimming with these amazing creatures is that you have to go to Mexico in the dead of summer. The whale shark season is only from June through September. The best time is July and August. July and August…in Mexico. Here is where my anxiety kicks in…LOL. But we scheduled it for August. I only had to last 4.5 months after we booked…

Our day started at 2:15am. We had to be able to get up, get ready, and be in  San Jose by 4:30 am. We also had to drop the car off to long term parking. It could not have gone smoother. We flew from San Jose to Phx and then on to Cancun, Mexico. I had some anxiety about how to get from the airport to the ferry (only because I was unclear about where it was…not knowing where a location exactly is one of my anxieties…Nathan…not at all) but a shuttle was easy to find. The ferry ride to Isla Mujeres was easy, finding our apartment was easy. It was a perfect travel day and we had a wonderfully low key first evening. Our first impression of Isla Mujeres was positive. It’s small. There were quite a few tourist but many of the people there during the day come over from Cancun so by early evening many people have left leaving only those of us that are staying on the island. We loved our apartment (we went through Homeaway) and we took a quick walk around he city center side of the island (the island is only 4.5 miles long and a mile across). My only mistake was not bringing my list of places to eat with me from the apartment so we ate at a place that I hadn’t checked out first. It ended up being okay but we made sure to eat from the list the rest of the time. I got a margarita (that was just okay but it was still appreciated) but it did feel great to finally be on the island after hours of travel. And it was fun to people watch from our little table on the patio. Just based on our first experience on the island we knew this was going to be an a amazing trip. The laid back feeling and small town feel was right in line with what we were looking for. It only got more amazing too. I’ll post about our second day on the island soon:)

 

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Jennifer

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Muckfest 2015

worst photo ever of me…

My friend Courtney was inspired by the list that I make each year and for her 40th birthday, she made her own list.  One of the items on her list was  *Do a mud run* and so a few months ago she tried to corral a bunch of us to do it with her. I said “count me in” and then promptly forgot about it…

Fast forward to the end of September and she contacts me to find out if I’ve signed up for the race…oh crap. I’m the only one that ended up being able to do this mud run with her it so I sucked it up and  I signed up, despite the knee injury I was dealing with, for a 5K obstacle course mud run. Yes, you are reading that correctly…I was going to run an obstacle course in the mud. I hadn’t run anything since the 5K I did in January so I expected this to be tough.IMG_6460

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So muddy. So gross.

I was definitely nervous that morning but after that initial nervousness I overcame some of my fear and had quite a good time. I didn’t push myself (afraid of my knee and hurting it worse) to do some of obstacles but Courtney did every single one. She was a rock star on this course. 17 obstacles and she did every single one. I was so proud of her. I would definitely do this obstacle course again but I’d probably try to train first this time. Going into this cold…with no training and a hurt knee was probably a bad idea (or so my body told me later when it could barely move…LOL) and I paid for it the next week when I went to Seattle with my sister. IMG_6463

This particular mud run was a fundraiser for MS. From their website:

About MuckFest® MS

MuckFest MS is the fun mud and obstacle 5K for everyone. If you can laugh, you can do it. No special training required. Have a blast on mountains of mud and 18+ outrageous obstacles that will spin, swing, and fling you and your teammates up, down, and sideways. The event is built for laughs, but we’re also on a serious mission: to support people living with multiple sclerosis and to bring us closer to a world free of MS. And you’ll feel great knowing that 100% of your team’s fundraising dollars support the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.

You can read more about it here

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Exhilarated but exhausted!

We got to meet quite a few people with MS that were doing the course and they were such amazing role models. They were all kicking my ass at this obstacle course at least. And having so much fun doing it. They really were so amazing. I’m grateful that Courtney pushed me to do this event. Hopefully next year I will be in better shape for this event:)

Jennifer

 

 

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That first step…

IMG_2896I’m standing at the water’s edge and staring. I’m already anticipating how shockingly cold the ocean will be when it touches my skin for the first time and it makes me a feel a little lightheaded. I’m awkwardly trying to find my footing in the sand while also stiffly holding a body board. I’m aware of every stretch and movement the wet suit makes and I feel a bit claustrophobic in it. I’m feeling completely out of my element. This is all new for me. The body board. The wet suit. The plunging into the ocean for that matter. 20+ years of living by the water and I hadn’t once ventured into it. Not once.

This moment was a long time coming though. After years of telling myself I was too fat to wear a wet suit, to embarrassed to be seen in a wet suit for that matter. Too out of shape to attempt body boarding. Too afraid to swim in the ocean.  Always allowing that inner voice to tell me what I CAN’T do. That inner voice that feeds my self loathing and vulnerability. The one I always listened to until one day, pretty recently, a smaller voice in me suddenly said “Enough.” It said “You’re letting your life slip away from you. You aren’t getting any younger. Get off you fucking ass and live the life you want to live. Stop. making. excuses. You are the only one holding yourself back.”

So here I stand. Contemplating my next move. Watching as Nathan heads into the water without a moment of hesitation. In so many ways, he’s braver than me. He likes a little bit of danger with his adventure. It’s not something he would readily admit to, but I’ve seen it in his eyes. I prefer my adventure a bit more tame. We work well together because of these small differences. He gets me to step a little bit out of my comfort zone and I keep him alive. Less reckless. Which may be a surprise to those that know him because he comes across very reserved and quiet but that is far from the truth. He has a bit of a wild streak in himIMG_2904. Mostly because he just never worries that anything will go wrong. I admire that about him. I worry that everything will go wrong.

Anyway…I did finally follow him into the water and spent the afternoon body boarding Well, I attempted to at least. I was slammed quite a bit by the waves and swallowed, by accident, a nauseating amount of salt water. But it was one of the best days of 2015. And by the end of the afternoon I could reasonably ride a wave. I got showed up by quite a few younger (aka kids) people in the water but regardless of that I had a blast. Better yet I was proud of myself for tackling something new.

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I mean…look at my face. I couldn’t stop smiling. What an amazing day.

 

Jennifer

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