16 Things I Learned on Summer Vacation (+ pictures)


Hapuna beach state park

West Oahu

View of the Western coast of Oahu

Hawaiian ocean

playing in the surf

hawaiian countryside

Haleiwa sign

shrimp trucks

hawaiian shave ice


swimming underwater

Kona farmers market

Waikiki Beach

Duke Kahanamoku

view from diamond head

Hawaii family picture

We’ve been home since Friday morning. It’s hard to believe our Hawaiian sabbatical is now over.

I never really shared that much information about our trip. Every year, we typically take a two-week family vacation at the end of August – the two weeks between the end of camp and the beginning of the school year.  This year, we decided to take a month and go to Hawaii. Ed and I are lucky in that we both freelance and work from home so technically, we can work anywhere.

We figured that if we didn’t do it now, we might never take a vacation like this in the future. While I could have worked while we were away, I decided to minimize my work commitments and to take a real vacation. I don’t remember the last time I took a real vacation.

We rented a condo on the West side of Oahu in an area called Ko Olina. It’s a newly developed area with four man-made lagoons and a number of condos and hotels (including Disney’s Aulani resort). We choose it because of the lagoons (safe and protected from the ocean – perfect for the kids to swim and play) and because of its proximity to a good (for us) surf break. It was also easy to get to other parts of the island – about 40 minutes to an hour from the North Shore, Waikiki/Honolulu, and Kailua on the East side. I’ll have more specific Oahu recommendations in another post.

I have so much I want to share with you. I’ll try to do it in a coherent fashion over the next week or so :-)

First, I learned some lessons during our vacation. These aren’t life changing lessons that I learned during my month away from home. More random musings that I collected over the weeks.

  1. Everything and everyone outside of New York City move at a much slower pace. Normally it doesn’t bother me, except if it keeps me from my coffee.
  2. I love seeing my boys experience things for the first time and the look on their faces when they surprise themselves like standing up on a surfboard for the first time.
  3. I’m much more comfortable wearing a bikini now than I was 10 years ago.
  4. I don’t care about tan lines anymore. Between my tank tops, running tops, rashguard and bikini, I’m a patchwork mess. Speaking of tan lines, I used to think tan lines from running shorts were bad. What’s worse? Tan lines from board shorts, knee brace and ankle strap for my surfboard leash.
  5. I like being tan. I know that’s not necessarily the “right” thing to say but it’s the truth. I do slather on sunscreen and reapply multiple times during the day. Apparently, I have a lot to say about tans and being tan.
  6. For the most part, we kept a loose routine during our vacation but more often than not, the boys slept in the car, ate dinner later than normal and went be bed later. And you know what? It was OK even though my kids are creatures of habit.
  7. It was interesting spending 24 hours a day, 7 days a week together as a family. Overall, it was great to have the family time together and to not have nagging work commitments. We could say yes to the kids more often than we normally do at home. At the same time, I’m not going to lie – it was hard at times.
  8. I like running in new places –> oops
  9. The tooth fairy will visit on vacation. We’re not sure what happens if you lose a tooth on an overnight airplane flight though.
  10. Snorkeling makes me really, really, really anxious. More on this in another post.
  11. I actually don’t really like the beach all that much except if I’m there to surf or be in the water. It’s too hot and sand gets everywhere. I know – we did choose to vacation in Hawaii. I see the irony.
  12. I missed my Vitamix for making green smoothies and my foam roller while away from home.
  13. While my kids enjoyed being in Hawaii, they missed home. I found Jasper “walking” home via Google maps street view one afternoon.
  14. I missed writing over the last month. However, I didn’t feel as anxious about unplugging and disconnecting for the month. OK, I may have cheated because I was still on Instagram and looked through my personal Facebook account but it felt different. I didn’t feel like I had to update things or read a gazillion posts. I did (and read) what I wanted to.
  15. I still struggle to be in our vacation photos and photos with the kids. My husband is much better than me but I tend to be the photographer or opt out.
  16. I don’t do well when I don’t have a to-do list and am not busy. I’m less creative and more sluggish. At the same time, I don’t want to run at a 100 mph. There has to be a happy medium.


Did you learn any lessons this summer?

Read more about our trip to Hawaii:


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  1. says

    Beautiful pics . Hawaii is actually one of my favorite islands and ok, maybe it’s because I lived there for 2 years but honestly it has so much to offer. Sure it’s not as remote as some of the others, but I love it so much. It seemed like you were there forever but now that you’re back it feels like it was no time. Weird. We now go there for family reunions every other year so I get my 3 weeks there next summer! Can’t wait. Glad you had a month to relax with the family. Welcome home!
    Melanie @ Nutritious Eats recently posted..Blueberry Zucchini MuffinsMy Profile

  2. says

    It sounds like it was incredible, so great to relax and so great to come home… like you said , balance. I hope you feel refreshed ad recharges and ready to tackle the fast pace of NYC again. It was certainly a summer you and your family will never forget. The pictures make me want to go back to Hawaii, it is so beautiful there!
    Lisa @ RunWiki recently posted..Hood to Coast – a Paradox of SportMy Profile

  3. says

    What an awesome opportunity! I’m really glad (and jealous!) of that time away. It would indeed be different to have 24/7 together as a family–I could see how it would be wonderful and hard both. Bravo to you for unplugging to the extent that you did. That’s true vacation and relaxation.

    Now you get to hit the ground running (hopefully literally, soon). Welcome back!
    misszippy recently posted..Team Treasured ChestsMy Profile

  4. says

    You should be a photographer. Love the pics especially the ones of the boys in the water. Your list is great. And I’ll be waiting for your post about snorkeling. I went once and absolutely hated the experience. Never been able to put it into words… hoping you can! X
    Martha recently posted..Beauty Brunch Balance BootsMy Profile

  5. says

    This post makes me so happy! I was reliving our trip to Oahu with all of your beautiful pictures. Loved the lagoons at Ko Olina. They were perfect for little ones, and I even enjoyed ‘lap swimming’ in them, although I stuck to the pool at the condos most mornings. Not to mention Giovanni’s shrimp truck (YUM!) and Hawaiian ice (Double YUM!). We were in Oahu in January, so we got to see the huge winter waves on the North Shore. Amazing! And I think Hawaiians move at a different speed from pretty much everywhere in the world. Aloha time baby! Thanks for sharing all of your memories and lessons with us. After spending just over a week recently with my girls 24/7, I wholeheartedly agree that it’s equal parts wonderful and tough!!
    Nicole @ Work in Sweats Mama recently posted..Race Recap: Eastman 10KMy Profile

  6. says

    Love the pics. Especially the one of your little one snorkeling. Which I can’t do because it makes me claustrophobic — will look for your post about it. LOL on #1. I think the earliest coffee place we found at the beach opened at 7:30. There was a Starbucks a bit further out of town I would have found if I got desperate!
    Coco recently posted..Seven Minute High Intensity Circuit TrainingMy Profile

  7. says

    First…next time you go please pack me in your suitcase!!! There is so much to learn from summer….so much! I’m glad you had such an amazing time! Oh and I am so not used to slower people….makes me uneasy!!!

  8. says

    Been loving all of your photos over the past month. Just beautiful. Your list cracks me up because I can identify with almost each and every one of the numbers. Sandy beaches, while pretty can drive me insane. Sandy, sweaty, sticky….anxiety. Oh snorkeling anxiety, ah yes, have that too. And I too love having a bit of color with a tan. Weird but makes me feel better about myself. =)
    Heidi @BananaBuzzbomb recently posted..Back To Running For Health And ImageMy Profile

  9. says

    you had a gorgeous vacation and I’m so glad that I get to see it through your lens. There is nothing better beautiful places, beautiful weather with your beautiful family.

    I’ve actually been taking a LOT of time offline (esp on the weekends) and while parts of me feel disconnected, other parts of me are getting used to it. I need to LIVE a life, not just document it.

    thank you for sharing all those pictures and moment. I miss you…:)

  10. says

    Snorkeling makes me anxious too! And let’s not even talk about scuba diving..or even saunas and steam rooms. I don’t know what it is about the breathing in those places… I can do it, but not well.
    These photos are obscenely gorgeous. I wonder what I’d take photos of if I went to Hawaii. My brain would probably short circuit from it.
    I am so happy that you’re back.
    Tamara recently posted..Ask Away Friday with Brittnei from HomeMaking with Style.My Profile

    • says

      I think it’s the combination of the breathing and being in the open water that does me in with snorkeling. I didn’t realize that so many people felt the same way. There’s another dimension to why I don’t really want to do it again that I am trying to articulate. Still working on it. YOU would have so many amazing photos in Hawaii!
      Christine Yu recently posted..1 year and 9 months. Finally surfing. My Profile

  11. says

    Good for you for taking a month! That’s great. S and I are talking about doing that and go see the national parks. I am interested in why snorkeling makes you anxious. So glad you had a good time but glad you’re back. :)
    Katie recently posted..My First 5KMy Profile

    • says

      My husband (and boys) want to take Amtrak across the country and then rent a Winnebago and drive back. I told them I would see them at home! ha! I do think that it would be amazing to take the time to go see the national parks. There are so many that I haven’t visited yet. And the snorkeling thing? Oy. Hopefully I can articulate it all later this week.
      Christine Yu recently posted..1 year and 9 months. Finally surfing. My Profile

  12. says

    I enjoyed reading what you learned on vacation but mostly I really loved your pictures. We went to Hawaii every summer for 5 years but the past couple of years we haven’t been and I miss it. Your pictures will make me smile all day – and I might even come back over to view them again!!!
    Kim recently posted..The Master CalendarMy Profile

  13. says

    We’re 5 days into our vacation (almost halfway) and I totally agree with #6, #7 and #15. I just remembered today that with my new phone, I can totally take selfies easier (due to the reverse camera function) so I did! And I hope I remember to continue to do so.

    Glad you had a good time!
    Alison recently posted..LivingMy Profile

  14. says

    Your son is SO adorable – walking home via Google Maps.

    You have now convinced me that I can (and WILL) take a family vacation to Hawaii (in a few years – I will not attempt the plane ride with a kid under 3, lol). I’ve always considered it someplace I should with my husband as a couple – but I know my kids would really have a blast there too. Maybe not for a month – that IS a really long time to spend 24/7 with just your family!
    Michelle @ Crazy Running Legs recently posted..Why New Runners Inspire MeMy Profile

    • says

      The last time that we were in Hawaii was on our honeymoon and while we definitely would have liked to have done more hiking and other adventurous things, it was really great to be able to experience the islands with our kids and as a family. My kids really loved it. Even with a 4 and 6.5 year old, the plane ride was long!
      Christine Yu recently posted..1 year and 9 months. Finally surfing. My Profile

  15. says

    LOVE ALL OF IT!!! I have never been to Hawaii but your pictures are what I dream about. My two favorites are the papayas at 7 for 2 bucks!!!…and your fear of snorkeling b/c I have a strong one myself. Can’t wait to hear more about that!! And being tan is fun and awesome:-)
    Allie recently posted..WHAT DO YOU DO WITH…My Profile

  16. says

    I LOVE your photos! And I love your list! I’ve only been an islander for three weeks, but I love the slower pace and I am all over the place in my bikini – with my 40-something body and not really caring that much – which is so freeing! I don’t mind the slower pace, but I’d totally mind it taking longer for me to get my coffee! I am so glad you were able to (kind of) unplug and have this wonderful experience with your family!
    Ilene recently posted..The FamiliarMy Profile

  17. says

    I also recently came back from Oahu and was in super denial for about a week. I loved everything about my vacation, the relaxation, the horrible tan lines (that started out as super redness), the beautiful views, waking up to dolphins jumping and swimming near us, everything!
    Sheena recently posted..Oh Captain, my Captain…My Profile

  18. says

    Your honesty about so many dichotomies were great.

    While I’m still not comfortable in a bathing suit (just a one piece at that), I have become more comfortable with my own body now than I was 10 years ago (back then I would NEVER even wear anything sleeveless!).

    Although you encouraged me to unplug while I was away, I didn’t and maybe I should have. Perhaps I’d be more present if I was not always buzzing in my head….
    Melissa Burton recently posted..New Year, New StuffMy Profile

  19. says

    Everything must have felt really really slow in Hawaii after New York! But sounds like just what you all needed! Month is an amount of vacation time, because you can really take time out and enjoy and usually are ready to come home at the end! Love your pics
    Jess recently posted..Simply Sunshine Award!My Profile

  20. says

    Christine, I can’t. I’m just so jealous! :) Does that photo of your boys in the wave together just melt your heart? I totally agree with no. 1. We got married in Hawaii last year and dealing with all the coordinators and vendors in Hawaii was like torture for a New Yorker that wants things done RIGHT NOW! But once I was there, I could have cared less how fast things got done! But no. 11 ohhhhhh man, I am a beach girl from the top of my head to the tip of my toes! Love, love, love the beach! Sand me up! Happy to have you back!
    FitBritt@MyOwnBalance recently posted..Seven Day Detox PlanMy Profile

  21. says

    LOVE this post friend!! I too love being tan even though I know it’s not the best 😉 I am so glad you had this time to rejuvenate and connect as a family, I have loved your pics and your journey via instagram! Can’t wait to hear about the snorkeling, I think it would stress me out!
    jolene recently posted..On taking a chance…three years later.My Profile

  22. says

    Wow! What an amazing opportunity… no wonder you wanted to press pause on blogging- I wouldn’t want to look at a computer screen at ALL with that scenery around me. Breathtaking! :)

    Ben and I have recently been discussing Hawaii as an option for our trip next year. If you did it all over again would you go exactly where you went? Any tips or pointers for a young couple without kids wanting to visit the island?
    Cori @ olivetorun recently posted..Fall for Fall With These Ways to GIVEMy Profile


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