A month ago, I married the love of my life. (Photos here.)
We love to travel, so a honeymoon was a no-brainer for us.
Late last year, we got a request on HomeExchange.com from a couple in Hawaii who wanted to swap houses. Their daughter was graduating from college, so they were traveling to Austin in May for the graduation.
A week in Hawaii right after our wedding, with a free place to stay? Yes, please.
You can think of it like the movie The Holiday but on a tropical island with no Jack Black.
But here’s what you may not expect for a honeymoon: We took our kids along. Six-year-old Abby and baby Bailey, who’d turn one year old while we were in Hawaii.
This is a conversation we had approximately 7,000 times before, during, and after the wedding reception:
“Where are you going on your honeymoon?”
“Oh, that’ll be fun!”
“Yes!” we’d say. “We’ll be celebrating Bailey’s birthday there.”
“The girls are going with you?”
“Oh,” they’d say. “So it’s not really a honeymoon.”
As it turns out, this is what happens when you take your kids on your honeymoon.
When we walked out of the Honolulu airport, it was 80 degrees with a cool breeze.
Abby looked up, down, around, taking it all in. “It DOES look like Hawaii!”
Ty and I laughed.
“It sure does,” I said.
We were all quiet for a couple minutes, pulling our suitcases along.
Abby: “Can we live in Hawaii?”
A Special Treat
The first couple nights, we stayed at a hotel in Waikiki. After that, our house swap would start.
For those two extra nights, we used free credits from hotels.com to get a room at the Trump Hotel for the same cost as a not-ridiculously-extravagant hotel.
When we pulled up in front of the hotel, the valet opened my car door, and I stepped out.
In my stretched out jeans and black tank covered in various baby bodily fluids and dirty hair pulled back into a ponytail, I felt a little out of place.
A woman walked up to us with leis in hand. Made out of shells, not some cheap polyester flowers.
Act entitled, I told myself.
The woman lowered the leis over our heads and proceeded to charm both the girls in 3.2 seconds.
Then at the check-in desk, they said three magic words:
“You’ve been upgraded.”
Our room could have comfortably fit the whole Avengers team, and that’s with Bruce Banner in Hulk form.
We lived it up.
Breakfast at a local diner near the hotel, a walk on Waikiki Beach, swimming in the hotel’s infinity pool, a massage and pedicure from Ty and the girls as my Mother’s Day gift.
But too soon, our time at the Trump was coming to a close.
Our last morning, we were all in our jammies trying to decide where to go for breakfast. Abby and Bailey had piled up all 73 pillows from the hotel room onto the living room floor, and Ty and I drank our coffee while watching the girls throw themselves onto pillows like professional wrestlers.
The sliding glass door to the balcony was open, so we could hear the crash of the waves and feel the salty breeze. No errands to run, no house projects on our to-do list.
We weren’t ready to let the morning go.
So we splurged on room service. Which was, as it turned out, no match for us.
At the breakfast table, I looked over at Abby. She was glowing.
“Abby, you look happy,” I said.
Abby smiled even bigger. “I am.”
Trouble in Paradise
Then it was time to pack up and relocate to the house where we’d be staying the rest of our trip.
It was a 5-minute walk from Lanikai Beach, known for its smooth sand and calm waters – perfect for beginning swimmer Abby and non-swimmer Bailey.
The color of the water was unreal. Even the jumbo box of 120 crayons couldn’t do this water justice.
Back at the house, we got settled, which mainly involved moving every single knick-knack from Bailey’s grasp to higher ground.
A large sliding glass door opened onto a backyard patio, with a concrete step that led down to the yard.
We opened the glass door to get the air moving in the house and also because Hawaii.
Ty and I were running around putting things away, and Bailey and Abby were exploring the house.
Then I heard Ty yell, “No, no, no!”
And a shrill cry from Bailey.
I ran towards the crying.
She had fallen down the concrete step off the back patio, landing on her forehead, eye, and nose.
I’ve never seen her cry so hard.
Nothing I did helped her calm down. I rocked her, shushed her, kissed her, hugged her, bounced her. Still crying.
I nursed her, but she sobbed the whole time.
We cleaned out the wounds with a baby wipe. But when we tried holding ice to her forehead, she was having none of it.
We’re lucky she didn’t knock out a tooth or hurt her eye or need stitches, but goodness.
I wished I could rewind back to that moment and be there to catch her. Or press Ctrl-Z. Something.
But after about an hour, she was acting normal again. Happy and bouncing off the walls like usual.
The rest of the trip, I found myself taking a lot of pictures like this:
A Layover to Remember
After 10 days, our Hawaiian vacation was over.
Abby had gone from not being able to swim two feet to being able to swim the length of a pool with her head underwater. Bailey’s head wound was nearly healed and barely noticeable. And we’d had pancakes for more than 50% of our meals.
We had nothing else to do but enjoy each other as a family. S’mores on the grill, a dance party to The Voice, and sand in between our toes.
I wouldn’t have had our “honeymoon” any other way.
As an extra bonus, good friends of ours happened to be in Hawaii at the same time as us, so we got to spend time with them too.
But it was time to head home. On our way back, we had a two-hour layover in San Francisco. That two-hour layover turned into more of an all-nighter when our flight was delayed until nearly 1:00 am.
We were all exhausted, but the girls were troopers. Abby was in good spirits, although maybe a little goofy from being up way past her bedtime.
Bailey was in rare form.
We put her down on the carpet at the gate so she could burn some energy. She ran around in circles, smiling at strangers and squealing, happy as could be.
Abby and I followed her around, in case her exhaustion led to another head bump. We’d had enough of those for one trip. And when Bailey got close to an abandoned pretzel and a chopsticks wrapper, we snatched them out of her reach and threw them away before they ended up in her mouth.
All the crankiness of our delayed flight melted away – for us and everyone else. All around us, people were grinning and laughing at Bailey’s antics.
After about 15 minutes of following her around, I pulled out my phone to get the girl on video. This video, in fact.
In videographer mode, my level attention to Bailey took a little dip, I’ll admit. But Ty was watching from his seat, and Abby was right by my side with eyes on Bailey and ready to catch her.
Then I saw something on the ground by Bailey. I walked up to get a closer look, ready to get another potential choking hazard out of the way.
It was green, and roundish.
An olive? I thought.
Bailey ran off fast in the opposite direction, so I was distracted from picking up the olive.
I followed her for a minute, and I noticed she had a smudge of something on her calf. Probably dirt from the nasty airport floor.
I got closer.
The smudge was green.
I bent down to Bailey. The smudge wasn’t just on her calf.
It was all down her leg.
Oozing out the sides of her diaper.
And it wasn’t dirt.
I looked up and made eye contact with Ty, who was sitting about 15 feet away.
“It’s everywhere,” I mouthed.
I picked her up and held her at arm’s length in front of me.
She didn’t super love that.
I hurried to the women’s restroom, glancing back to see Ty loading up with the diaper bag and all our carry-ons.
But this wasn’t a one-person job. The green goo was in her socks and shoes, on her hands.
I power-walked to the family restroom, poor Bailey still dangling in front of me.
“Please use the courtesy phone to unlock this door,” the helpful sign said.
My eyes darted around, looking for the damn phone.
Abby spied it, so we rushed over, and I stuck a hand under Bailey’s bottom so I could pick up the receiver.
“I need the code for the family restroom,” I said.
Mumble mumble mumble.
Mumble mumble mumble. And of course, announcements over the intercom were perfectly timed with Mr. Mumbles.
“I can’t hear you!”
I hung up the phone, rushed back to the restroom, and Abby punched in the code.
Ty walked in with us, and we got to work on cleaning up the girl.
Abby sat in the chair behind us.
“Is it gross being a mommy and a daddy?” she asked.
“Sometimes it is,” I said.
We’d packed a change of clothes for Bailey, but not for me. So I was stuck with some green stains on my shirt and pants.
After Bailey was cleaned up, Ty and I sighed. Done.
And then another thought hit me: We’d have to walk back to our gate and face all those people.
All those people who saw me getting a video on my phone instead of taking care of my baby’s overflowing diaper.
All those people who saw me stop and run off, holding her out three feet from my body.
All those people who saw the olive.
We’d have to pick up the olive.
“I think it got on the floor, too,” I said to Ty.
“I noticed,” he said.
“I thought it was a green olive,” I said.
And then we cracked up.
Abby laughed at us laughing, which made us laugh even harder.
My apologies to anyone who needed the family restroom in the San Francisco airport Wednesday night shortly before midnight. We probably weren’t the speediest at making our exit.
But eventually, we did. With us, we brought paper towels from the bathroom. For the olive.
Ty peeled off to buy some water before the convenience store closed, so it was me and the girls.
I looked down at the floor the whole way back.
“Please don’t notice us,” I repeated to myself.
We got back to our seats, and I slowly made my way to the olive, paper towel in hand.
It wasn’t there.
In its place was a half-dollar-sized green smudge. Ground into the carpet.
My face felt hot.
I went back to our seats.
Then Ty was back with our water, and I felt a little better. Diffusion of embarrassment?
He glanced at the olive spot on his way towards us.
“I wonder what happened to the olive?” he asked.
But Here’s the Kicker
Our last flight turned out to be a red-eye to Austin. The girls slept most of the flight, thank goodness. Bailey on my chest and Abby’s head on my shoulder.
We got into town around 6:00 am and devoured breakfast tacos in the car on the drive home.
At home, we all piled out of the car and put on jammies to catch a little more sleep.
Abby called down to me from her room.
“Mommy, I don’t need a story tonight.”
This is a big deal to hear from our master bedtime staller. She must have been tired.
Then around noon, I woke up to Abby standing by my side of the bed, smiling.
But her smile was different from her Hawaiian smile. There was sadness behind it.
“When am I going to school?” she asked.
“In a little bit.” When we dropped her off at school that afternoon, we’d be saying goodbye to her for a week. After the family time we’d just had, the thought felt a little like a razor to my heart.
We all got up and went through the motions of getting ready.
Abby sat at the breakfast nook table, eating a PBJ and drinking a glass of water.
“I’m sad,” she said.
“Why are you sad?”
“I’m sad I have to leave you.”
“I know,” I said. “I know.” My throat felt tight.
And then it was time. We found her backpack, filled her water bottle, and walked out the door.
We were all a little quiet on the drive to school. Bailey held Abby’s hand.
Ty said goodbye as Abby climbed out of the car, and Bailey fussed.
I took Abby’s hand and walked her into school.
I didn’t say much on the walk.
When there was no more walking to do, I bent and hugged Abby.
“I love you,” I said.
“I love you.”
“I’ll see you tomorrow for lunch, okay?”
She smiled. That different smile again.
When we got back home, I walked into the house and saw the crumbs from Abby’s PBJ on the breakfast nook table.
And I left them there.
So if you drop by for a visit and notice the crumbs, please forgive the mess.
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What happened on your honeymoon? Share your story in a comment below!
I’m a mom of four, a recovering perfectionist, and the author of Happy You, Happy Family. Parenting is hard enough without all the guilt we heap on top of ourselves. So let’s stop trying to be perfect parents and just be real ones. Sound good? Join my mailing list and as a bonus, you’ll get 25+ incredibly helpful cheat sheets that will ease your parenting struggles.