10 years ago in June we were here

June 27, 2012 |  Category:   life parenting travels

Before the kids, before the business, before a mortgage and life insurance…we got married on O`ahu, but spent a week on the big island of Hawaii after the wedding and after all the family had left. Mark and I had been to Hawaii numerous times before and we do have a family connection to the islands as that is where his mom grew up, but neither of us had been to the Big Island prior to this trip. We rented a house by the water and at times felt like the only 2 people in the world. That trip would also be our last. It’s been 10 years. We want to go back.

Mia has heard enough stories about Hawaii that she wants to go there badly. “When are we going to Hawaii?”, she asks. I tell her I don’t know. It used to be in olden days that you could get a plane ticket to Hawaii for 200 bucks from the West Coast (I even once scored a $200 RT ticket from NY!), but traveling with kids, especially when you have 4 plane tickets to buy, isn’t cheap. As the girls get older it gets more expensive. I’ve always had good luck securing our West Coast tickets to visit family months in advance, but Hawaii (or Europe for that matter) has always been out of reach. So my answer is always “I don’t know. Maybe someday.”.


Our decision to take yearly trips to Seattle was rather recent. We didn’t travel much before that, but with the in-laws coming out here less and less often, it seems like the right thing to do. Besides, my soul needs to be in that part of the country once a year, but it does limit other opportunities to travel elsewhere. I try not to use “we can’t afford it” to the kids as an explanation whenever they ask for things that they see some of their friends doing. You know, trips to Disney World, gadgets, a weekend country house, or Hawaii. I don’t really remember what I tell them, but children shouldn’t be concerned with financial matters; they should just feel secure in knowing that they are being cared for and have what they need. Hopefully. But I do hope that we can make it out to Hawaii again as a family someday. I know the girls would love it.

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  • Kathleen June 27, 2012 at 8:34 pm

    My mom and dad got married after knowing each other for only 6 months and promptly moved out to Hawaii for two years while my dad got his masters degree in Earth sciences. I recently found a binder of letters my mom wrote to my aunt while she was out there and it’s as if I unearthed her blog.

    Anyway, my parents too, after 40+ years of marriage, still speak fondly of Hawaii.

    Happy 10 years!

  • Jocy June 27, 2012 at 9:45 pm

    What a beautiful memory and you look beautiful. I hope you can share the landscape of those memories with your girls soon.

  • Grace June 27, 2012 at 9:47 pm

    I am sure your daughters know how much you love them no matter what.

  • Leilani Paxton June 27, 2012 at 11:02 pm

    Hi Jenna, I’m Mark’s mom’s friend of 60+ years. Love your blog, especially seeing the photos of Lani’s granddaughters ~ they’re the same ages as 2 of our grandsons and much of what you write about them sounds so familiar. Anyway, please correct the spelling of our island. It’s O`ahu, not Ohua. The diacritical mark is a glottal stop. Mahalo!

  • Leilani Paxton June 27, 2012 at 11:02 pm

    P. S. Happy anniversary!

  • Jenna June 27, 2012 at 11:41 pm

    @Leilani oh yeah, that was a typo. I still remember your house well, by the way! That was a good visit!

  • jen June 28, 2012 at 12:27 am

    traveling is so expensive…especially when you are a family of four. we’re doing our annual trip to the east coast this summer and i think it’ll be our last for awhile and will be our only flight for the whole family this year. we used to travel so much when it was the two of us and even with our first, we still managed to travel quite a bit but now with #2, our traveling has been limited to road trips.

  • Melissa@Julia's Bookbag June 28, 2012 at 12:35 am

    I didn’t know you were married in Hawaii! Well I think you know how special Hawaii is to me. B/c I’m on the West Coast, we can often find decent-ish airfare and because my dad still lives there, we have a free place to stay, which is huge. But still, trips out there don’t happen every year or even every other year. Here’s to trips to the islands for both of us in the not too distant future…:)

  • 3lin June 28, 2012 at 12:46 am

    Parents always was the best for their children. So do my parent. I’m still a teenage but i will feel upset when my parents said “someday/no” but well it take times to let the children to understand the real situation.

  • Theresa June 28, 2012 at 6:07 am

    I hear ya… We tend to limit our trips to the U.S. now that the kids are getting older because of two factors (1) my family lives and (2) I want the kids to have a strong connection with the U.S., where I grew up. However I do want them to experience other things. We started an account we call ‘extra fun’ which is for stuff outside of our yearly trip to the States or other unnecessary yet fun activities. At first it seemed like a lot of  accounts to keep track of: rainy day, house, extra fun plus our joint & individual accts. But, everything is transferred automatically once a month. And, this summer after 3 years savings in our “extra fun” account we have rented a (cheaper then it sounds) house in Tuscany for 2 weeks.

  • Pia June 28, 2012 at 7:11 am

    I am so with you. I love to travel but traveling as a family does get expensive. We always end up in Caribbean. My husband says when Greece is out of euro zone, maybe we will go there. So I am crossing my fingers.

  • Loren June 28, 2012 at 10:32 am

    Growing up in a middle class family with three kids, we often saw our friends take trips to Disney World or Europe and felt a twinge of “me too, please!” My parents sacrificed things like that to provide my mother the ability to be a stay-at-home mom. The lure of Disney came and went and as we got older we earned our travel through high school jobs and college abroad programs. Throw in the annual extended family Cape Cod vacations where fifteen people squished into a rental for two weeks and traded off making dinner each night and I would not change my childhood for anything. We were aware of financial struggles (it’s hard to ignore the fact that your mom is driving a 25 year old Lincoln Town Car that breaks down going up hills and everyone else has the latest SUV) but beyond that we had an actual parent waiting to open the door to us, give us warm cookies and let us complain about such “unfair” circumstances. After 30 years of marriage my parents just went on their lifelong dream trip to Florence and Rome and soaked in every minute. This has taught my siblings and I to appreciate each moment spent with our family and the hard work we put in to afford the extraordinary.

  • Jenna June 28, 2012 at 1:24 pm

    Hi Jenna!

    I love your blog. My parents were financially unable to take me and my brother anywhere, other than camping, for the majority of my childhood. It left those big trips to be oh-so-special, and allowed the anticipation to build so greatly!

    Now as an adult I feel so humbled to know how much my parents struggled financially. They never made us feel insecure, but we definitely knew the value of a dollar, a lesson lost on so many kids.

    When your kids get to Hawaii it will just be one of the major highlights of their lives, the way it should be!

    Thanks for all your lovely and honest posts.

    – Jenna

  • Karen June 28, 2012 at 1:42 pm

    I immediately recognized the photos of the Big Island because we had the good fortune to visit recently with the kid. Having one kid makes longer trips like this possible, but I could definitely see us dialing back on these if we had a second. Even from California, the airfare to Hawaii was not inexpensive.

    I am sending good thoughts your way that you will have the chance to get back there soon with your entire family!

  • Jenna June 28, 2012 at 1:44 pm

    I love all these comments about traveling and family. Thank you so much.

  • Atsuko June 28, 2012 at 2:51 pm

    Happy anniversary! I am sure that your girls know that they are cared. My husband and I live far from both families. We try to save money to see both side, but ticket price is not as cheap as it used to be, so we use Skype to see them. I am glad for technological advancement.

  • Joanne June 28, 2012 at 3:49 pm

    I went to Hawaii for the first time just a little over a month ago. It was beautiful. Hubs & I do plan to go back again soon. It’s now the favourite place we’ve visited and we love the beach. We find the atmosphere so much more laid back.
    I do hope you & your family will get to visit Hawaii soon.

  • Sara Jensen June 28, 2012 at 3:57 pm

    We should just all rent a house together over a school vacation.

  • Shayna June 28, 2012 at 3:59 pm

    Just wanted to say thanks for sharing these thoughts. It’s comforting to see that I’m not alone in feeling bewildered and left behind when it comes to expenses and how to balance life and reality.

    My husband is German, his mom and other family live in Germany and in the 9 years that we’ve been together, we’ve been able to afford to visit exactly once. Tickets and travel is not getting any cheaper and it just kills me that my daughter won’t be able to experience her father’s country on a regular basis.

    Growing up, we were also a family of camping (3 kids) and cheap vacations (left longing for Disneyworld and Europe) but I never remember hearing “we can’t afford it”. Honestly, I don’t even remember the few times we stayed in hotels but I have vivid memories of camping in Yosemite That said, hope your Hawaii trip happens sooner rather than later!

  • T.J. June 28, 2012 at 7:48 pm

    I love all these different views on travel. I am 38 years old and I’ve never been to Disneyland or Disney World. I come from a large family (8 kids) and we were a camping family, too. As one of the older kids in my family, I felt a bit jealous as m parents did better financially and took the younger kids to Disney World and Hawaii. But I was grown and out of the house when that happened. I lived in the “salad days” I guess. Now as a mom of one (yes, I already felt I raised a family and settled on one child) we still do not take trips to Disneyland or the like. I’m not sure if my 10 year old even wants to go, she’s never expressed an interest. We go to the Oregon coast once a year and other small trips, but someday we’d love to save enough to travel, as a family, to Europe. I think kids are less bothered by the perceived injustices of what their contemporaries have then us parents. (Unless that injustice happens to be the lack of a cell phone!) Your girls are just lovely. It is so obvious to see the care with which you and your husband are raising them. Thank you for sharing your thoughts – and allowing us all to share with you!

  • Christine Witt (Brush Dance) June 28, 2012 at 10:22 pm

    When my son would ask why we couldn’t do something, have something, or whatever – I would explain it by saying, “We’re choosing to spend our money on other things right now.” I forget where I heard this – but it seemed to not burden him with the finances – and also say that we were working with a budget – that we’re making choices.

    I hope you make it back to Hawaii sometime – I have yet to make it there, but it’s on the short list of places we’d like to see.

  • Sandra June 28, 2012 at 10:51 pm

    My husband grew up going to Hawaii from Vancouver. I too remember the $200 flights and the cheap room rates at the Outrigger. Remember those? We now have taken our six year old a couplea of times and she lives it. There is nothing like Hawaii…

  • Kiana June 29, 2012 at 6:31 am

    I don’t think there’s anything wrong with telling your kids that you can’t afford something. That way, they realize that the things they do get and the trips they do take, privileges that you and Mark work hard to provide. It makes them not take things (or you guys) for granted. I grew up with 3 sisters and two parents that lived paycheck to paycheck. Did I sometimes worry that my parents wouldn’t have enough money for my field trips and things? Yes! But I also never asked them for anything that I didn’t absolutely need and I was appreciative of everything I did get because I knew how much my parents had to work to get it for me. I think this teaches good values to children, personally.

  • SY June 29, 2012 at 1:36 pm


    You are right, Hawaii is getting very expensive, even if rom California. When my boys were little it was an easy, family friendly destination. We just looked into Hawaii for next year, it will have been five years since we last went there, and plane tickets are REALLY expensive. A few tips that work for us is traveling as close to Labor Day as possible, VRBO rentals or some hotels offer “specials” if you are willing to sit through a one hour talk ( DM) me for more info.

    Right now we are in Europe and we managed to score some tickets for a fairly good rate, sometimes it is a matter of booking tickets closer to the trip. It can be done, you can tell Mia I will keep you posted regarding deals, since I am already looking for next year 🙂

  • Emily Hughes July 1, 2012 at 8:04 pm

    I’ve lived my whole life on the Big Island in a little town called Hilo.
    This post broke my heart a bit with the Kona rock graffiti and plantation home photos.

    I’ve been at school and haven’t been home in years because it’s so expensive to travel. In the end, years and years from now, you’ll remember the time you had, not the money you lost. I hope you get to travel there soon as a family,

  • Eva @ Sycamore Street Press July 4, 2012 at 2:11 am

    As someone else who runs a small family business and has a kid, your travel situation sounds familiar. We can’t afford to pay for much travel either. But we put most of our business expenses on a rewards credit card (and then pay it off) so we can get the points… (all the raw materials we have to buy to make our goods really do start to add up, as I’m sure it does for you, too) After a few years of doing that, plus after learning a few tricks from reading “points” blogs, we’re taking a trip to Europe this fall. Airfare and hotels will be paid for with points. We also used points to fly to visit friends in the Midwest this spring.

    Sorry if this is way too much info and you already know how to do all of this or it won’t work for you… I thought I’d throw it out there just in case. As someone who loves to travel and couldn’t really afford to otherwise, this points situation has ending up being a dream come true! That sounds like a commercial, ha ha, but it’s true.

    p.s. Beautiful photos. Hawaii is definitely on my list.

  • Aya July 5, 2012 at 6:25 pm

    Hi Jenna,
    As a kid, we did a lot of camping and backpacking as a family because my parents are outdoorsy and because it’s a cheap family trip. I sometimes envied my friends’ travels. However, one day in middle school while playing at my best friend’s empty house down the street I realized that while her parents made 2 or 3 time more than mine, my parents (who are nurses and both worked part time) made the choice to have less money and more time together. It was a realization that I am still thankful for. I have since figured out ways to do a good bit of travel around the world through different programs and through summer jobs as a teen. I’m sure my parents felt the same ache of wanting to provide for my sister and my needs and not always having the funds to take care of our wants. I just wanted to let you know from the other end of things that it works out just fine. Those trips to Europe and such that I envied I found a way to do by myself later and I wouldn’t trade time hanging out with my parents for any of it.