Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Our Hawaii Vacation Video

OK, last post about Hawaii...

I made a little video slide show of our pictures.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Hawaii Photobook is Finished!!

I just ordered my Hawaii Photobook! I've been working on it ever since we got back, and I finished it today! I can't wait to see the printed version!

I opted to do a digital photobook this time, rather than a traditional scrapbook like I usually do. There were several reasons, but the biggest one was to save money. To have all of my pictures printed, 900 of them, would have cost a lot of money. Plus the album ($20+), and all of the paper and stickers, it is a big investment. I knew I could go digital for a lot cheaper. I did buy a few digital kits, but the total for all of them was $20. And shutterfly is always having sales, and promotions on their photobooks, so I wasn't sure when I would be able to print it, since I would have to wait for a sale. Well, I got an e-mail yesterday from shutterfly for a free photobook (a value of $23.99)!! And they are having a 50% off photobooks sale too!
 My original price was going to be:
+ $11.99 S/H
+ $9.35 tax
Total = 138.32

This is how it broke down after all of the sales:
$58.49 (50% off)
- $23.99 (Free code)
- $11.99 (Free shipping code)
+ $2.76 (tax)
Total = $37.26

Total saved = $101.06!!!!!

I am so proud of my Awesome Deal!!!

You can check out my photobook below...

You'll love Shutterflys award-winning photo books. Try it today.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Tips for those traveling to Aulani

Here are just a list of things I thought I would share with others that may be traveling to Hawaii and staying at Aulani:
1. Leave the resort. Don't fly all the way to Hawaii to sit at a resort. You could have saved yourself a lot of money, and just gone to one of the other Disney resorts. There is so much to see and do around Oahu.
2. Rent a car. If you don't want it for the whole time you are there, then at least for a couple of days. So you can go and see the rest of the island.
3. Don't waste your time in Honolulu or Waikiki. We didn't go, and were told by locals to avoid it. We don't feel like we missed out on anything. Unless you have a lot of money to burn at the expensive shops...
4. When you get a shave ice, just get one to share. They are huge, and melt fast. Buy one, share it, and if you still want more, get another one. I saw so many melted shave ice cups laying around the pool, because they are too big for kids to eat.
5. Go to McDonald's and get their Haupia pie! YUMMY!! (It's a coconut pie.)
6. The resort is huge, and spread out. Be prepared to walk! And if you have small children, bring a stroller. I was almost wishing we had brought one for Michael, and he is almost 4!
7. Make time to stay at the resort. I know I said to leave the resort in number 1, but you also need to at least stay at the resort one day to see what all they offer. We did an every other day approach and that worked really well for us. That way we didn't get so exhausted from going all day, every day.
8. Don't buy milk at the ABC store. It was twice as much as it was at walmart. Drive to the Walmart 2 miles away. It will save you $$$
9. Do buy your souvenirs from the ABC store, they are cheap! Walmart also has cheap souvenirs.
10. Drive on the H3 - the most beautiful views of the mountains!
11. Talk to the cast members at the resort about what to go do and see.
12. Use photopass. I wish we had used it more, and we ended up with over a hundred pictures. They are everywhere, you just have to look for them. On the Beach and in the pools too.
13. Don't expect a beautiful sunset every night. I went expecting that, and was so disappointed when we only had one! If you get more than one, then it will be a pleasant surprise. I'm not sure if it was the time of year, or just the weather we were having, but it seems like every night, there were clouds blocking the sunset.
14. The ground by the pools gets very hot! I don't think you need water shoes, but you will definitely need shoes if you are going to be walking any further than just to the pool from your chair.
15. We didn't do this, but we saw a lot of people doing it. Make lunch in your room, and bring it down to the pool to eat. This will save you lots of $$$.
16. Another $$$ saving tip, eat at local restaurants. They are not as expensive as you might think. We ate at a few different places and never experienced sticker shock when we got the bill. We did, however, think the prices at Monkey Pod were high. Zippy's was really good, and wanted to go back, but never got a chance to.
17. We rented our car through We got a midsize for 8 days for $228. Saved a lot of money.

I think that is all for now. If I think of anything else, I will add it. These are just my opinions, based on my experience, so if you had a different experience with any of these, please leave a comment.

Thanks for reading along. Hope you enjoyed it!

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Hawaii Vacation Day 9 - Goodbye Aulani & Hawaii

Monday morning would be our last, waking up in paradise. Since our photo session got cancelled the night before, we all put on our "matching" clothes and went to take pictures using our own camera and Disney's photopass people.

We were able to get some using photopass, but not many. But we did get some good ones with my camera.

While taking pictures on the other side of the lagoon, there was a seal right on the beach! There were some seal volunteers there, and had roped off that area of the beach. They told us all about her, and a little of her history that they knew. She was pregnant, but they weren't sure how far along or anything.

After I was done torturing my boys with pictures, it was time to go swimming one last time.

The boys got ready and went down to the pool, while I packed everything. I got everything packed up and headed down to the pool where I met Andrew, and he took the suitcases to the car and picked up our pass for the Luana Lounge. It is a one time use pass, so you all have to be ready to go change, and go and out at the same time. Because once you go out, you can't get back in.

 Anyway, back to the pool. It was so crowded, since it was Memorial Day. We were able to find a table and chairs near the octopus, which worked out really well, since we were planning to eat lunch before we left. 

It was time to order lunch, so I went to go get our last shaved ice of the trip.

We ate lunch, enjoyed the shave ice, and then went to change and head to the airport. I went ahead of Andrew and Michael by like 5 minutes, so I could be done changing, and then get Michael changed.  Well, when they were on their way, Goofy walked right up behind them and then proceeded to take Michael's hand and walk all the way to the Luana Lounge!! I'm so glad that Andrew is so quick with his phone, because he was able to capture a pretty "Magical Moment"! I only wish I could have been there to see it in person.

Well, we were supposed to be leaving the resort at 1:00 to get to the airport for our 3:30 flight. Let's just say that we were running a little behind schedule. And as Michael and I are waiting for Andrew to change, I send Michael into the men's bathroom to find out what is taking Andrew so long. A few minutes later, Michael runs out saying, "Daddy can't get his bag out!! He locked it up!" Andrew is walking behind him shaking his head. Apparently Andrew used one of the lockers, and pressed a different number than he though, and he couldn't open the locker. So I go next door to community hall, and ask if someone can open it for him. They call for someone, and we wait for them to get there. Keep in mind, we were already running late, and this added an additional 15-20 minutes. The guy finally comes and unlocks the locker! So we hightail it out of there. By then it was 1:45. Thankfully, we had no traffic getting to the airport. Only one minor delay with getting gas for the rental car. Then we finally get to the airport, and follow all of the signs for "Rental Car Return" and there is no Alamo place!!  We finally just follow the Alamo Bus back to where we picked up the car, and that is where we are supposed to return it! So, if you rent from Alamo, take it back to the same place you pick it up, Not the airport!! So, we turn in the car, hop on the shuttle, and get to the airport. We had checked in online and prepaid for our checked bags, so that saved us some time. When we go to check our bags, at 3:00, they tell us that we were too late to check our bags, and that they would eventually get to Charlotte, but we would be responsible for picking them up. We didn't care, and told them that was fine. Bags taken care of, we go through security, and get to our gate, which thankfully was right next to security!! As we walk up, they have already started boarding for our flight!! Talk about cutting it close!!

I was so nervous that we were going to get stuck in traffic, or stuck at the rental car return and miss our flight. But God was watching out for us, and we made it! And so did our luggage! As we were standing there, waiting to board, I look out the window and see our suitcases waiting to be loaded on the plane!!

We even had time to take a picture!!

We board the plane, and get comfy, since we would be there for the next 8 hours!!
The flight home was easy! They had so many different movies and TV shows to watch. Plus they had a USB plug, so we could plug in our phones and kindle, and Michael was happy as could be. We got a great view of Honolulu and Waikiki from the plane.

We also had a beautiful Sunset to watch.

Michael fell asleep about an hour before we landed in Atlanta.

Which was about 11:00 pm Hawaii time. Andrew slept just a little bit, and I didn't sleep at all. But I knew I wouldn't. We had a 2 hour layover in Atlanta, and Michael slept during the entire thing. Andrew grabbed us some breakfast from McDonald's and we ate it on the next plane. The ride from Atlanta to Charlotte is only 45 minutes, so that was a nice short flight. Michael stayed asleep the entire flight. Once we arrived in Charlotte, Andrew and Michael went to get the van, and I got our luggage. In the van and headed for home, Michael kept right on sleeping. We had to go pick up Molly from the kennel and then went straight home. It was about 10:30 when we finally got home. So we quickly unloaded the car, put Michael in his bed, then got in bed and took a nice long nap!! We slept till 3:30 in the afternoon, and then went to bed around normal time. Getting over the time change has been rough, and has taken us a week to readjust. Andrew did better, since he had to be up for work. Michael and I slept very late several mornings. Michael would go to bed good, but then wake up 3 hours later wide awake. We finally have him all straightened out, and everyone is sleeping normal again.

It was an incredible trip, and I have loved reliving it through my blog!!
People have asked if I would go back, and Yes, of course I would go back! But I would go back and be prepared next time. I will do one final blog about our trip, with some tips for anyone that may need them.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Hawaii Vacation Day 8 - Battleship Tour and lots of rain

Sunday morning we were up bright and early. Andrew was off to tour the Missouri Battleship and Michael and I were going to spend the day at the resort, relaxing.

Here are some pictures Andrew took on the Battleship.

Michael wanted to go back to Auntie's Beach house, so I took him around 9, but the secure check-in didn't start till 9:30. So, he had to have me tag along with him for the first 30 minutes.

At 9:30, I checked him in, and I went to apply some Disney gift cards to our bill at the front desk. Then I went and found our photopass pictures, and had them put on our card. I also went and made a lei at the community hall.

They have the supplies laid out every day, and you can just go in and make one whenever you want.

We were supposed to be having family pictures taken later that evening, so I though a fresh lei would look nice in the pictures. After all of that, I went to the beach to get some sun.
The flew over while I was sitting on the beach

Around 11:30, I went to get Michael so we could eat some lunch, and he could take a nap. He was not too excited to see me, and did not want to leave Auntie's. But when I got there, he was almost asleep playing the wii, so I knew he needed a nap.
We grabbed some lunch fro ulu's cafe, and ate it in the room.
Michael laid down to take a nap, and was out quick!

It had started raining during his nap, but just a sprinkle. He woke up super grumpy from his nap, and didn't want to do anything. He finally said he wanted to watch a movie, so we went down to rent a movie, and while we were looking, Andrew walked in. He said it had started raining harder, and that he coming to get a movie, before everyone that was leaving the pool decided to do the same thing. 

We got up to the room and it started to POUR!! And Pour and Pour!! So we sat watching a movie, and praying that the rain would stop, so we could have our pictures taken.
After the movie, Michael wanted to go back to Auntie's so I took him there, and Andrew napped.
I watched another movie and got more and more sad that we wouldn't be taking any pictures.

So much rain - you couldn't even see the ocean!
Well, the rain finally stopped, but it was 7:00 by then and too late for pictures! I was so sad that we wouldn't be getting our pictures taken on the beach in Hawaii. I had arranged the photo shoot several months in advance, and we were supposed to do them on Wednesday, but the photographer had to cancel. We rescheduled, and didn't think it would be an issue. But we were wrong.

We went and picked Michael up from Auntie's so we could go eat dinner. On the way, this is what appeared in the sky! It was beautiful, and helped cheer me up out of my funk.

We had heard great things about Monkey Pod, so we walked across the street for some dinner.

We were not impressed at all with monkey pod. We had to wait 45 minutes for a table, so we walked over to the ABC store and did some shopping while we waited. I got some t-shirts and chocolate covered macadamia nuts for my parents. We walked back to the restaurant and still waited another 15 minutes for our table. Our buzzer finally went off, and we got seated. This was the first restaurant we encountered that was shockingly overpriced! The service was mediocre and then we got our food, and realized it was even more overpriced then we originally thought. The food was good, but the portions were so small. And we had to pay $3.75 for a kids drink!! We were not impressed at all.

After dinner we went back to the ABC store, because they have a Dole Whip machine! For $3.99 you can fill a bowl with as much dole whip as you want! Best dessert ever!

Then it was time for bed. We were leaving the next day, so we had entered our last day of vacation depression.

Up next, Soaking up as much of Hawaii as we can and Will we make it to the Airport on time??

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Hawaii Vacation Day 7 - Pali Lookout and Blowhole

Saturday was another day for exploring around the island. We started out going eat on the H1 through Honolulu. That was our only experience driving through Honolulu the whole time we were there. There was a lot of traffic, but we expected that. Our plan for the day was to hit the Halona Blowhole and the Pali Lookout. On our way to the blowhole, we stopped at a couple of other pull-offs along the highway.
Koko Head
The views were all so incredible, and just had to get some pictures.

Diamond Head

Photography by Michael!

 And another look out/pull off

The we got to the Halona Blowhole. The ocean was very rough that day, and I had heard that it helps for a bigger show, so I was pretty excited about what we might see. When we first walked up, we immediately saw water shooting out of the blowhole. 

Then we watched and watch, and only saw little spurts.

 Then all of a sudden there was huge spurts! Like 30 feet high! And we it did it over and over.

It was so cool! I would highly recommend stopping here. It is a quick stop, but with a really cool "show" to watch.

Next, we made our way to the Pali Lookout.

What an incredible view!! It's just breathtaking!

As we were leaving the lookout, there was a random girl standing there with this huge lizard thing. Not sure what it was, but Andrew tried to hold it.

We had originally wanted to hike Diamond Head, but once we got to Hawaii, and Michael couldn't walk from one end of the resort to the other, there was no way he could do that hike. But going to the Pali lookout was a good substitution, and there was no hiking involved!

A panoramic view
After the Pali Lookout, we drove over to the Valley of the Temples to see the Byodo-In Temple. It has appeared in several TV shows, and is beautiful, so we wanted to go see it. When we got there, it was $7 for us to go in, and I know that's not a lot, but all we wanted to do was go in and take a picture, we opted to just turn around.
This is what it looks like

Then it was time for some lunch. We went right across the street to a strip mall, and found a great little local restaurant called, Koolau Drive Inn. It was kind of sketchy looking, but the food was great, and it was really cheap too! I just ordered a cheese burger and fries and Andrew and Michael both got the ramen. Andrew also got the gyoza and really liked everything he got. Really large portions too!
As a bonus, this is was our view during lunch!!
After lunch, we hopped back on the H3 and headed back to resort.

When we got back to the resort, we put on our bathing suits, grabbed a pineapple macadamia nut cupcake and went to eat it by the pool.  We had fun playing in the pool and the boys went on the slide a couple times.

 We also got a shave ice. Like I said, that was a daily thing for us.

They were so good, and cheap. We always just shared one between the three of us. We were actually at the pool till 6:45, so we just grabbed some dinner from the Ulu Cafe and took it back to the room to eat and watch a movie. Then it was time for bed.

Up Next, Our last full day of vacation and the only bad day we had.