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to Maui, with family

February 29, 2012

 Saturday,  Feb 18

Up at 5:30 to shower, finalize packing (all electronic items charged and ready) and get kids fed, dressed and out the door. Drive to my mom and dad’s where they are waiting in  the driveway ready to shuttle us to the ferry.  Quick turnaround and we drive the scenic, winding road to Departure Bay.  

The ferry hasn’t arrived, so we unload four big bags plus carry-on luggage and have time to hug and have a short visit before saying goodbye.  We are greeted at the ferry terminal by the Big Guy’s mom, who has orchestrated this whole trip.  She hands over our ferry tickets and airplane tickets.  We are heading to Maui for a week with the Big Guy’s family.

The ferry is packed with walk-on passengers heading to Vancouver for a Canucks game.  In the play area I chat with a friend of a friend whose son has autism and watch her skillful parenting in this chaotic situation with awe.  Our group numbers 12 in total, and we orbit around each other while spinning off to the cafeteria or bookstore.  Two SUV limos pick us up in Horseshoe Bay to whisk us through the pouring rain to YVR.

On the flight the Big Kids are seated together and plugged into the DVD player.  Baby has slept sporadically since we left home and is overtired and overstimulated.  He’s getting ready to crawl, and is frustrated by the amount of time spent in arms already today.  The six-hour flight is long; he sleeps about half an hour total, waking every time someone brushes by in the aisle, or the captain makes an announcement.  I try to watch the in-flight movie but Baby wants to pull the headphones off my ears.  Thank goodness for six hours of Star Wars: The Clone Wars to keep the Big Kids entertained.

The descent into Maui is very turbulent.  The kids shriek with delight at each bump, while the adults white-knuckle the armrests.  We arrive in Maui at 10:00pm local time (midnight at home), greeted by Uncle and Nephew, who place leis around the girl’s necks and herd our exhausted pack to the baggage claim area.  We load our suitcases into Uncle’s rental van, parked at arrivals, then stumble through the dark parking lot to find our rental van.  Carvan to the hotel and unload sleeping Big Girl and other kids, parents, and Great Grandma.  Room mix-up so we will have to change rooms tomorrow.

Praying mantis

I get lost delivering the mixed-up luggage to other family members’ rooms.  As I search in vain for our room, I see a  praying mantis on the concrete stairwell.  The beautiful, bright green insect causes me to stop in my tracks and instead of focussing on the task in front of me to to get to the finish line of this journey, I realize that I’ve arrived.  When I finally find our room the Big Guy has changed the Big Kids into pj’s and settled them into the pull-out.  We each collapse into one of the single beds in the room.

Sunday Feb. 19, 2012

Baby up at 4am (6am at home).  He and I sit in the dark living room waiting for the sun to come up, trying to let everyone else sleep a bit more.  Big Kids up at 5am and the Big Guy soon after.  We gratefully eat the bowl of macaroni and cheese and turkey quesidillas Uncle left last night, and I feel better after a drinking a couple of cups of coffee with powdered whitener supplied in the room.

iPhone2 photo.After breakfast in Uncle’s room, we head off to the grocery store where we run into my brother and his family (who coincidentally happen to be on the island) and the Big Guy’s family.  The grocery store is busy and we’re trying to buy enough to last the week without having much left over.  The deli makes amazing tuna ceviche (ahi poke) and the Big Guy picks up three containers.  After saying no about 800 times to the kids’ requests and spending $350, we are on our way with five bags of food.  The island banned plastic bags a year ago, so our groceries are packed in reusable paper bags with sturdy handles.

Returning to the hotel, we repack our bags and move all our luggage, groceries, and Baby’s crib and high chair to the new room.  Our home for the next week has a large kitchen and island, master bedroom and bathroom, in-suite laundry, and separate room for the Big Kids with a bathroom and two double beds.  Once settled, we head to the beach to dig our toes in the sand and enjoy the heat.  Baby loves his little beach tent and the Big Kids settle into digging in the sand and running in and out of the ocean.  When it’s time for Baby to nap, the Big Guy takes him back to the room and I take the Big Kids to the swimming pool.  We meet up with the family, plus my brother and his wife and two boys, for BBQ steak, roasted potatoes and salad with fresh berries and avocado at a large grassy area at the hotel.

Monday Feb 20, 2012

Baby up at 5am, a small improvement over the day before. I relish the early morning stillness that is broken by a cacophony of birdsong as the sun comes up.  Baby gobbles blueberries in his high chair on the deck, then settles back to sleep in his crib.  My Big Girl wakes up at 6am and she and I enjoy some precious alone time, snuggling and watching Sesame Street on the couch.  She is learning to read and the show gets her right where she’s at.

When the boys wake up we pack beach stuff to head up-island to Paia to rent a surfboard and check Ho’okipa and Paia for waves.  At the gas station we run into the rest of the family and the Big Girl decides she’d like to join them on their tour of Surfing Goat Dairy and meet up with us later.  I’m proud of her independence and spontaneity, and happy to have the adult-child ratio evened out for a short while.

We check the windy, crowded break at Ho’okipa and spend a little time watching the surfers and windsurfers, and letting the Big Boy play in the sheltered lagoon there.  Back in the van we drive 10 minutes to Paia to rent a surfboard.  After drooling over the scrumptious but pricey pizza menu at the Flatbread Company, we decide to get sandwiches and delicious smoothies from the Hana Bay Juice Co.  Paia is a beautiful, funky little town with a hippie feeling and lots of boutiquey shops and nice places to eat or get a picnic lunch to take on the long, windy road to Hana.  I put the bead store, coffee shop that advertises fresh coconuts, and the gelato bar advertising lime ginger cheesecake flavour on my return-to list.

The boys and I settle in at the beach at Paia and the Big Guy heads out to surf the point.  After watching him get a few successful rides I get up the nerve to take my turn. The wind is blowing sideshore and the tide is going out, so the waves aren’t breaking that well and I’m intimidated by a couple of late drops. I’m disappointed not to be ripping this perfect, narrow 8 foot longboard and nice deep beach break, but am proud to have paddled out and enjoyed the nice warm water. The rest of the family has joined us and are playing on the beach.  Other Uncle is spotting the kids as they run in and out of the heavy shorebreak and the babies are sleeping in arms in the shade at the top of the beach. It’s a national holiday in the US, so the shorebreak is being worked by swarms of brown-skinned local boys ripping on their boogie boards.  My Big Boy watches with interest as they catch wave after wave.

We decide to pack up and return to the beach in front of our hotel, where the waves are safer for the kids, then enjoy another delicious barbeque dinner together that night.

Tuesday Feb 21, 2012

Have to return the surfboard to Paia today, but we want to try surfing a little spot called the Cove just up the road in Kihei first.  The Big Guy paddles out and the kids take their boogie boards into the water.  I’m so proud of how my Big Girl paddles out smoothly and sits on her board, mimicking my actions from the day before, even though boogie boarders never sit on their boards.   After a few minutes, however, the Big Kids are back on the beach, saying that their legs and arms are burning.  I don’t see any jellies on their skin or in the water, but their arms are covered in tiny red bumps.  To distract them, we decide to walk over to an amazing playpark to meet my bro and Uncle and Nephew.  The kids’ skin settles down after a few minutes, and walking back to the break a man stops us and advises not to take the kids in the water here today. He says the swell and wind direction have combined to wash urchins off the reef, and their stingers will have discharged into the water.  Adults with our thicker skin aren’t usually bothered, but kids are often sensitive.

When the Big Guy comes in I paddle out for a turn on these tiny, fun waves.  The foot-high wave breaks in about two feet of water, and I cut my feet up every time I  jump off the board onto the lava-rock reef, but the waves are so fun and easy to catch I keep going back for more.   The vibe in the water is pure Polynesian playfulness.  Looking down the beach I see probably a hundred people in the water on longboards and stand-up boards, laughing and hooting and chatting and cheering each other on, with no thought of being territorial or possessive of this break.  Locals mix with complete kooks on big foam rental boards, and everyone has a wide grin on his or her face.  Seeing my brother and his family and my kids and the Big Guy on the beach makes my heart swell with happiness. Too soon, I paddle in so we can return the board to Paia.  We fight traffic the whole way there and back, and walk through town while a warm rainstorm drenches us.

Back to Kama’ole II beach in front of the hotel for the afternoon, and a 4-5pm pool session.  Many more tourists arrived today (after President’s Day), and the whole island, including the place we’re staying, is more crowded.  The Big Kids enjoy the extra playmates at the pool.

Wednesday, Feb. 22

Family breakfast at our place – pancakes, scrambled eggs, fruit salad, and bacon.  I try baking the bacon on a roasting pan in the oven, but smoke up the whole room.  The Big Guy disables the fire alarm so as not to alert his fellow firefighters for no reason.  After successfully crisping the bacon up, I remove the pan from the oven in a hurry and spill boiling grease down my arm.  Even after icing it right away, a third-degree, blistered mess results.  Despite that fiasco, we enjoy feeding the family, and spend the rest of the day at the pool and local beach, avoiding driving anywhere.  

Uncle has rented a paddle board, and the guys take turns on it on the windy water.  The Big Guy takes the Big Kids for rides on the paddle board and the Big Boy spends hours riding his boogie board, with some help from my bro.  I try to help my Big Girl boogie board, but she’s so light she gets washed right off and scared by a couple of nasty tumbles in the whitewash.  She opts to run in and out of the water and build a sandcastle hot tub with her cousins instead.

Baby is officially crawling!  The Big Guy puts him on our bed, completely naked, and he gets up on all fours and makes his way across the soft polyester bedspread.  The wall to wall carpet here and lack of toys has been great motivation to get going!  Now when he’s put down he makes his way with a combination of wiggling, double-arm pulls, and true crawling over to the electrical outlet to play with the cords.  The beach is a new challenge now that he can get out of his tent or off the towel and into the sand.  After stuffing one handful of sand in his mouth, he learns not to do that again, and instead sifts the sand with his fingers.

Thursday, Feb 23

Decided to try to connect with the rest of the family in Lahaina, but got a late start after both the Big Guy and I fit in a morning run.  We arrive in town after the largest cruise ship ever to anchor off Maui has disgorged its 2700 passengers onto the streets.  Uncle and his family have headed back to Kihei, but we have lunch at Bubba Gumps Shrimp Co. with the rest of the gang before beating a hasty retreat.  I’m sure Lahaina is a lovely town, but the best part of the day was the scenic drive past some beautiful, deserted beaches and lovely campsites on the way.  Leoda’s Kitchen and Pie Shop, and the adjacent fruit stand selling fresh coconuts go on the return-to list.

Friday, Feb. 24

Uncle and his family are heading home today, and we are all sad to see them go.  The Big Guy and I leave our brood with the grandparents so we can go snorkelling, just the two of us.  We head out at Makena Point, and see amazing coral, urchins, fish and some sea turtles!  The ocean surface is peppered with flat-top kayaks and snorkeling tour boats.  Once underwater, that traffic fades away and the world of fish nibbling coral and humpback whales singing takes over.  The turtles swim so gracefully and nonchalantly past, and I feel a brief connection with them as I flap my flippered feet.  I say a silent thanks to the progressive people who helped ban plastic bags and the troops of locals who scour the beaches picking up garbage and especially cigarette butts every morning to protect these beautiful creatures.

Spend the afternoon sunning ourselves and watching humpback whales breach over and over again in front of Kam II beach.  Today is our last day here, and we invite the remaining family members over for a use-it-up dinner of BBQ chicken and homemade guacamole on tostadas with watermelon for dessert.

Saturday, Feb 25

Packing, packing, packing.  Despite my rationing, we had to buy more diapers, and those combined with a box of pasta, box of rice cereal for Baby, and a few jars of spices have my bag splitting at the seams.  Why is it always harder to pack for the trip home?  There is a snowfall warning for Vancouver, and we have to make the transition from 30 degree C weather to freezing in one day.  Checking out takes way longer than planned, so we have a scant 15 minutes at the park for the kids to burn off steam before they have to sit still for the next 12 hours.

Our checkin takes an hour and a half, but our bags are finally checked and we are through security with enough time to get some pizza to eat on the plane and a magazine for the Big Guy.  My Big Girl makes a new friend in the waiting area at our gate in the airport.  I am in awe of her ability to connect with other people.  She saw this girl and immediately invited her over to share her colouring book.  When the two girls realized they had the same shoes on, it was like they became blood bonded.  While waiting for the plane to take off, my Big Girl draws pictures of herself with her new friend surrounded by hearts and sunshine.  Her dad and I give the girls a chance to sit together while I bounce Baby in the Ergo to get him to sleep at the back of the plane.  Thankfully, Baby sleeps for more of this plane ride.  We make it to Vancouver and check in to the airport hotel without a hitch.  I fall asleep pretending the sound of the furnace warming our room is really waves crashing on the beach.  Tomorrow we make our way to the ferry and home.

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