EUROPE!!!!!

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We have been very adventurous with and without the kids when it comes to vacation choices lately.  Bali… Costa Rica.  Ziplining, River Rafting… it’s one thing when I do it because I fear for my own life and assume I will die BUT even worse watching my kids upside down on ziplines and being fearless in kayaks -AHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!  I think I woke up every day in Costa Rica thinking we were going to die, took a breathe of relief each night just bc we made it through only to wake up and repeat the cycle the next day.  EXHAUSTING!

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So… to get to my point.  Last night hubby and I were talking and he agreed to take me to EUROPE (I’ve never been) AND we are taking two of our munchkins with us (listen carefully you might hear me doing my happy dance- cabbage patch and running man included!).  And, we are thinking of leaving next month.  I am SO excited!!!!!

Why only take some munchkins?  Well I have a theory on this.  We have a very large family- 5 kids!!  And, while in theory it sounds great to always be in perfect harmony it is not very realistic.  So, I think it is very healthy to split the group up occasionally and give two kids our undivided attention, allow them to bond as siblings even more and maybe most importantly it gives me and the hubby a much needed break.  Two kids feels like nothing when you don’t have the baby and you are used to FIVE… catch my drift?  Plus, I have the world’s most amazing and compassionate mother who will come and watch and love on my other 3 munchkins while I am away.  Nothing better than some extra loving from Nana.  No munchkins will complain about that.  She spoils them silly 😉

So, miss Belle and Captain Funny are coming.  They don’t know it yet and I cannot wait to tell them.  Let the vacation planning begin!

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What to do in Oahu

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If you have been following my blog you will remember that one of our favorite resorts is Disney’s Aulani- see here.  We have already visited that resort 5 times in the short amount of time it has been opened.  So, we have rounded up some of our favorite activities OFF property just for you:

1) Waimea Valley-

We love Waimea Valley for several reasons.  1) The path is paved so strollers are welcome, 2) There is a waterfall at the end complete with complimentary life vests and lifeguards and 3) It is absolutely GORGEOUS!!!

You can read more about it on Yelp here.  Note there is an entry fee for this hike.  Below are some pictures of us at Waimea this past November.

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See the gorgeous Peacock behind the kids… I missed getting him when he opened that gorgeous tail up.  I think I was drawn in by the beauty of those feathers.

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Tiny lizard… love the kids getting to see all the wildlife up close.  There were also a ton of beautiful butterflies.

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Above is the waterfalls at the end of the walk.

*Tip- bring a few dollars for the guards working so hard to keep everyone safe.  They have a tip jar up there.

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Do bring your brother to entertain your children… definitely!

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Don’t take a picture next to said brother who happens to be 4 years younger yet towers over you.

I often forget how short I am until I see myself standing next to other adults ;)

2) Turtle Beach (really Laniakea Beach)

This adorable little strip of beach is super cool.  If you go mid day you are likely to see sea turtles either swimming in the waves close to shore… or climbing out to beach on the sand.  There are amazing volunteers who watch over them and keep records on each turtle.  These volunteers are amazing people and they have always been super informative.  This is a great hands on educational experience.  Just be very cautious when parking, crossing the busy street and climbing down to the sand.  For directions and more info view it on Yelp here.  Here are some pics:

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Dad was pointing out the sea turtles bobbing in the waves.

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3) North Shore-

As long as the weather permits you should be able to hang out and watch some amazing surfers doing what they do best.  My boys could sit and watch those surfers for hours.  Just make sure to grab some Matsumoto Shaved Ice before you hit the beach.  View on Yelp here

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Yum!

4) Food Trucks by North Shore

Great food… try the infamous Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck.  Read what others say about Giovanni’s here on Yelp.  But, be warned there are wild chickens running around and a fair amount of flies- yuck!

5) Manoa Falls

This hike is a little more work and not for those with super little munchkins as the path is muddy, slippery and not fit for strollers.  But, if you are a more adventurous family this is a fun (super muddy and messy) gorgeous hike.  I would recommend old sneakers and a change of clothes and shoes for when you are done.

See more on Yelp here

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*I do NOT recomend not listening to the warning sign by the waterfall.  As you see I am NOT on the other side of this.  I am the spazz yelling at them and taking their picture 😉

6) Waikiki Beach

Great food, history and a beach… ‘nough said!

7) Ala’ Moana Mall

Gorgeous mall with everything from high end boutique shops, name brands and little mom and pop shops.  You can walk the mall and several blocks around it.  Don’t forget to stop by the Hawaiian Cookie Store for some free samples 😉  My only complaint is that they recently shut down our favorite open air International Market right there next to the mall.  Heart breaking really.  So many memories from my own childhood there (sniff!)  See more on Ala Moana here

8) Dole Pineapple Plantation

This one is a love/ hate thing.  It is fun to go here once I think.  The kids get a kick out of seeing how pineapples grow, riding the train, eating the soft serve Pineapple treat etc…  However, it is a complete tourist trap with ridiculous prices, pushy sales people and cheap trinkets.  But, if you know it going in at least you will know what you are walking into.

* I also would recomend Pearl Harbor.  We unfortunately have not had the chance to take the kids.  However, I have heard it is a MUST do.  So, it is on our list.  You can read what other people are saying about Pear Harbor here on Yelp.

What do you do with your family when you visit Oahu?  I would love to hear from those of you who have a favorite zip line or horse back adventure that you would recommend as those are also on our list for next time 😉