Family Kauai Trip : {Island Life Recommendations}

This past summer I had the amazing opportunity to go with my family to Kauai….and by family I mean the whole family:  My husband and kids, Mom, Step-Dad, Sisters, boyfriend, brother and his family, nieces, etc.  EPIC!  Anyway, me being me, I had to really plan out the trip.  I so rarely go to big places like this….plus I am a bit of a busy body…..that I had the desire to really MAX-OUT….to really “get my monies worth” so to speak.  So I asked a ton of people for recommendations, scoured the internet, printed up this here map of the island, and started marking places I wanted to see (yes and color coordinating it).  I then made copies for my entire family and sent a ton of texts regarding places to see and plans.  Too much? haha (That’s just me).  But I am so glad I did and I really felt like I got to see a lot of what I wanted on the island (of course there is tons more…but that will be for another trip).  I didn’t see everything, and didn’t blog about everything we saw…there is just too much!  But I do have a friend who lives there, so if my list of things to do isn’t enough…ask and I can def get some more places for you!  ALOHA!

EAT:

  • Puka Dog:  My husband and I loved this place and went twice!  They are amazing hawaiin style hot dogs that do not have a traditional open-face bun, but are almost incased completely in a bun….and then toppings are injected into the bun casing.  And the toppings are special…like tropical relishes and garlic mustards…YUM! It’s a must!
  • Street Burger:  The chef here is bringing some culinary expertise and is changing the food game of Kauai (say the locals).
  • Chicken in a Barrel:  These are stands on the side of the road with just some yummy chicken and ribs…we pulled over and grabbed a bite. 
  • Lava Lava Beach Club:  This was just a little indoor/outdoor restaurant and bar right on the sand in Kapaa.  It had great food and a really cool vibe.  
  • Duane’s Ono-Char Burger:  This is a little burger stand on the side of the road, but it had a huge wait and it was so yummy!  A good old burger!
  • The Wishingwell in Hana Lei:  SHAVED ICE!  You will find Shave ice everywhere on the island….but this spot was the best!

***Buy a cheap cooler and groceries and pack sandwiches if you want to travel a lot around the island and don’t want to always buy food.  We did this all the time, and it really helped because the kids were always hungry, and it isn’t like there is a McDonalds on every beach corner.  Plus you can put beers into the cooler and drink on the beach!

SEE:

    • Queens Bath: This was one of the most beautiful parts of the trip for me.  There is a short hike down to Queen’s Bath, and when I was there we dipped into the bath, then jumped off the rocks into the ocean where we were with a seal and sea turtles.  It was amazing!  But BE WARNED:  Queens bath can be very dangerous depending on the tide, so only go when it is safe.  (Not for little children)….that’s me swimming in the middle. 
    • Wailua Falls:  You can just drive up, park, and get out to view the falls and take pictures.  
    • Hoopi Falls Hike:  We took the kids on this and it was an easy hike!…but the trail is hard to find and is just a small opening across from some homes.
    • Waimea Canyon:  This is a beautiful drive and is like the “grand canyon” of Kauai
    • Hanalei Bay:  This was also one of my favorite spots.  It has a great view, great beach, no real waves which is great for kids, and you can go down the pier and jump off (it isn’t too high).
    • Wailua River:  We kayaked the entire river and then “parked” our kayaks on the shore where there was a path that lead to a hike.  This hike lead to an amazing waterfall!  My arms were dead, but it was so worth it!  BE WARNED:  Rent a kayak inadvance…they were all sold out when we tried to get one day of (luckily we knew someone in Kauai who let us borrow theirs).
    • Napali Coast:  Everyone loves this view…it’s so beautiful.  You can only drive so far, and then you either have to hike or take a boat to view the coast and beautiful mountains.
    • Maniniholo Dry Caves: These are on the North Shore and are just really cool to see.  You pass them on your way up towards the Napali Coast
    • Kalapaki Beach:  My brother and I surfed here and it was such a great experience.  You can rent a surfboard for a pretty reasonable price.
    • Honestly ALL THE NORTH SHORE BEACHES!  We would drive up and see gorgeous remote beaches, land, churches, a lighthouse, etc.  There are so many great beacheslike Anini, Tunnel’s, Hideaway, etc.  My husband and I wore our swimsuits with light clothing over, and brought towels and a cooler of food and just drove up the North Shore.  We would throw off our clothes and jump into the beaches we found, then head back into the car.  It was so laid back and beautiful.  (Clearly we left the kids with grandma at the hotel haha)
  • Luau:  My family and I went to a Luau and had a really great time!  However I was expecting it to be on a beach (like in the movies), but it was on a plantation and there were so many people!

SHOP:

Honestly I didn’t do any shopping because in paradise, who cares to shop? The only things I bought were some souvenirs, a hat for me from Hanalei Bay, and groceries! *Groceries…like a load of bread are pricey in Hawaii! Go to Walmart and Costco while there if you need to get food

  • ABC Stores:  These are everywhere in Hawaii and you can get anything from toilet paper to aouvwniers and clothes there. It’s a one stop shop to grab stuff for people back at home, or grab something you forgot.

HELPFUL TIPS:

  • When traveling with young kids, prepare yourself in advance that this will not be anormal trip to paradise with lots of sleeping in, massages, date nights and sex.  So just mentally prepare yourself now lol.
  • Don’t pack a ton of makeup, and lots of fancy shoes and dresses….you will get so into the island way of living that you won’t care about such things….plus it will most likely be too humid to want to get ready at all. (Bring a tank and shorts, sandals, and a swimsuit, done).

BUT SERIOUSLY:

  • Kid Tip:  When traveling with kids, pack TONS of food, snacks, lollipops (for the ear popping), pack the Ipad and headphones, and wrap “presents” for them to open on the plane to keep them entertained.  We wrapped crayons, a coloring book, a couple small toys from the cheap section at target, animal crackers, etc.

Praise God there was a Shake Shack in the LAX airport…..YUM for days!

WHERE WE STAYED: 

We stayed in condo’s at the Lae Nani Outrigger Resort.  These are privately owned condos that vary in size (1-3 bedrooms), and there are three floors to choose from.  We booked ours on AirBnB and had a great experience.  We got a 1 bedroom, that had a pull out couch in the living room for the kids, a full kitchen, two bathrooms (showers only), and a TV in each room.  It was plenty of room for the 4 of us.  The condo was fully stocked and even had beach chairs, inflatables for the pool, snorkel gear, cooking gear, and a cooler.  Just do a little research, look at customer reviews/pics, and ask the owner questions, and I am sure you will get what you want!  It was under $200 a night for us to stay right on the beach…which is a pretty good deal to me!  We chose a bottom floor unit so we wouldn’t have to lug kids up and down and so they could just wake up, have breakfast on the lanai and run on the grass as soon as they woke.  (Our poor neighbors lol).  There is a pool and tennis court also there, and I like the location….plus if you pick the right unit (like we did), you can have an awesome morning view.  The little beach right out front was so pretty, and there was even a spot that was set aside for kids to play (a portion of the beach is closed off by lava rocks making it safe without waves).  Kapaa is in the middle (coast) of the island, so almost equal distance to the North and South Shore.  

KidzShake : {Finding a Shake for kids}

I am a protein shake and smoothie momma all the way.  Almost every single morning I drink some sort of a protein shake or a smoothie.  This is great for me, but the problem is my girls always want some of mine!  I give in some days because I they are picky and I want them to get in some protein and vitamins, and let them have some….but I always feel a little weird about it because I don’t always know whats in mine.  I hate to say it but sometimes I value flavor over the most “natural” protein powders out there.  That’s why I was so excited when I was given the opportunity to try the KidzShake products!

KidzShake sent my kids and I some awesome products to try out: The Strawberry Cream and Chocolate Cream flavored shakes and the Sportzpure Hydration drink.

KidzShake is a Premium Nutritional Shake for kids aged 2 years old to teens and was developed by a doctor FOR kids, with only ingredients that are good for growing bodies.

-Organic Protein                      -Has no added sugar or artificial sweeteners

-GMO Free                                -Gluten Free, Soy Free, Nut Free, Corn Free

-Omega 3’s                                -17 Essential Minerals + Vitamins

and more!  We were excited to try them: My youngest ALWAYS asks to sit on the counter with me and “help” whenever I “cook” and this was no exception.  I always make my smoothies with unsweetened vanilla almond milk…don’t ask me why…sounded healthier and my kids don’t taste the difference.
KidzShake has lots of great recipes on their website like this Berry Banana KidzShake we made.
They drank it up and loved the taste.  Healthy & tastes good…BONUS!  They literally keep asking me to make them smoothies anytime I ask what they want for snack or meals.  My blender needs a rest lol. SportzPURE is a flavored hydration drink that supports rapid hydration, and contains electrolytes….similar to Gatorade or Powerade, only less calories, less sugar, no artificial colors, and natural/organic sweeteners.  So better basically 😉

Re-Play Recycle Plates : {My Favorite Kid Plates

I just had to pass on my favorite plates for kids to the moms out there.  I have used all different kinds, but these by far are my favorite!  They are made out of the bottom of recycled milk gallons.  I love them because they have compartments, and are curved and semi-bowl like.  So I can put liquids like spaghetti O’s in one area, and solids in another, and not have to worry about them running together.

You can grab them on Amazon and they come in 4-packs.  Enjoy!


Texas State Fair

Everyone has told us since moving to Texas that we have to go to the Texas State Fair and see “Big Tex!”  We visited and had a great time!  We are used to the OC Fair that happens in Orange County every summer, so this felt familiar and fun in comparison.  My favorite thing from the OC Fair is the bucket of hot, mini, cinnamon and sugar donuts …….they are HEAVEN!  But I could not find them here at the Texas state fair.  But where they were lacking in donuts, they made up for in cotton candy…they honestly had the best cotton candy I have ever tasted!  The kids loved the fair (I quietly mourned our Disneyland Days), and we made some great memories.  I am excited about this new fall tradition!

 

My Family’s Favorite Salad : {Kids Eat It Too}

Getting my kids to eat vegetables is almost impossible…but I honestly don’t sweat it that much because I know it will eventually grow on them, they take vitamins, and they seem healthy enough.  But one vegetable they do eat regularly is this Dole Sunflower Crunch Chopped Salad.  No joke…this isn’t an ad, we seriously just love this salad.  We eat it on average at three meals a week at lease I would say!  Because the dressing is a little sweet, and the lettuce, kale and cabbage is chopped so little….the girls gobble it up!  So I thought I would pass it along in case any of you mom’s are looking at a salad to get your kids to try, or an easy salad to take to a BBQ or party.

If I get invited to a party;  I bring this salad.  If I am bringing a meal to a new mom;  I bring this salad.  If I am cooking BBQ;  I make this salad.  I used to get the Sweet Kale salad from Costco that has the craisins and pumpkin seeds in it…but I like this one even better!  The only problem is it’s hard to find at times.  I have only found it at Ralphs & Kroger.  It comes in small bags (like in my picture), and big bags.  Good luck! 
The Salad comes with Bacon, Sunflower seeds, and the sweet onion dressing.  The dressing is kind of a creamy.  Just pour in and toss!

Easy Lemon Salmon

I finally got both my daughters to eat salmon!  Mom victory!!  My oldest (4 year old) has been eating it for a year, and my 2 year old just started eating it a couple of weeks ago and I am so pumped because 1. I hate making them other food when I want salmon, and 2. it’s so good for them!

What got them into it was lemons.  They love “decorating” the uncooked salmon with the lemons I cut because they look like flowers, and then at the dinner table I have more lemons they get to squeeze on it themselves.  Plus, lets not underestimate how cool it is for them when we go to Costco and they can look at the dead packaged fish and then we talk about eating it at home.

Recipe:

I make this salmon once a week at home, and it’s super easy and simple.  I buy the big salmon filets at Costco, and then cut them up into smaller fillets, put them in ziplock baggies, and freeze them for later use.  Then when I know I am going to make salmon, I just defrost them in the fridge the night before.  First thing I do is throw a little olive oil on a foil-lined baking sheet.  Then I place my pre-cut fillets on top and kinda smear the fillets around to make sure they have a small amount of olive oil on them so they don’t stick.  (You can also use olive oil spray).  Then all I do is salt and pepper both sides of the fillets.  (Not too much pepper if you are feeding it to the kids).Next I cut the skin off a lemon, then slice it into the “lemon flower” shape my kids love.Then just place 2 “lemon flowers” on each fillet.   Now bake for about 20 minutes on 350 and thats it! *
*Just don’t eat the cooked lemon that is on the fillets.  Remove them from the fish and just toss them….cooking them makes them taste more bitter and won’t be good.  If you love lemon and want more, just squeeze some fresh juice on top when serving.  Also…it’s very important to use ripe lemons or they will get too bitter and ruin the taste.

Schools In Session : {Preschool At Home}

Recently my husband accepted a new job in a Dallas suburb of Texas called Plano…yes you heard me…nothin fancy, just Plano Texas.  Because of this move, my daughters left the preschool they were attending, and I left my job.  In preparation for the move I decided that it would be best to not go back to work right away, so that I could really focus on getting the kids plugged in and acclimated to our new life.  Without my income, I wasn’t sure about paying for the girls to go to preschool when we moved and had the brilliant (and stollen) idea to homeschool the girls from home for at least the next 6 months.  This would give us much needed bonding time, and I could ensure we would get to explore Texas and our new home….I was so afraid to throw them into a ton of new things all at once.

In trying to prepare for my new genius idea (insert eye roll), I headed to my nearest Lakeshore Learning Store and Target for all the supplies I would need.  I took a copy of the preschool academic calendar from my daughter’s previous school, bought some workbooks on Amazon, and decided to dive in!

What I discovered:  Decorating a room to be a classroom is much easier than actually homeschooling your child!  Who knew right?  Don’t get me wrong, lots of people do it and do a great job…but I’m new to all this “staying home all day with your kids” stuff.  I’m that mom that loves my kids, but I also thrive on getting adult time and work.  In a totally normal circumstance, I think this would have gone better….however moving to a new place, having no friends, and my kids having no friends….and add homeschooling on top of that, and you get feeling extra alone.  After about 3 weeks here, I realized that they have been dying for friends, and that going to school (actual school) will give them some normalcy and there will be familiarity because that is what they did before we moved….I should have thought of that lol.

So whats the conclusion/solution:  I’m putting them in a preschool 2 days a week for the socialization and for the expertise of the teachers….let them do the heavy lifting of introducing how to read, write, etc.  I’ll come along side them for sure…but I’ll let the pros handle it.  And then I will be “homeschooling” them the remaining days of the week.  And by “homeschooling,” I mean playing, reading, having playdates, and lots of art projects with all the fun supplies in our home “classroom.”

Check out our classroom below and the fun supplies we got:
Table, chairs, easel: (Ikea), Desk Classroom Caddy: Lakeshore Learning
Wall Organizer: Home Goods, Cork Board Frame: Goodwill
Simple dot-paints, glue and sticks…kids don’t need much!
I know I know…the school bell is a bit overboard…but they love ringing it!  

Parenting OC Jamboree! : {UPCOMING EVENT}

Jamboree-at-the-Cube-Logo-2016Hello Sweet Friends!  I just wanted to invite you all to a FREE, fun event I will be helping out with this upcoming Saturday, March 5th.  It’s the Kids’ Summer Opportunities Jamboree event!  The Jamboree event features exhibitors specializing in summer fun and learning opportunities for families, and allows moms and dads to research and talk with the program leaders and camp directors face-to-face, and get all their questions answered. The Jamboree is free to attend, and when you’re done….you can head off for a full day of fun at the Cube with your family.

Get a FREE CHILD ADMISSION to Discovery Cube on the day of Jamboree! Just click here to download your coupon to bring with you on March 5.

Feel free to check out more info here

Hope to see you there! XOXO

Sprinkled With Love : {Baby Shower}

Oh how different everything is the second time around haha.  I remember caring about every detail of everything for my 1st child….even the color’s for my shower.  This time around, I told my friends Heather & Julie, they could choose any colors they wanted…and I loved the finished product!  For my shower, or “Sprinkling,” they did a donut/brunch theme with multiple colors….you know, like sprinkles….how clever they are haha.   This post is way past due, but better late than never.  🙂
IMG_4638A big thanks to these ladies for all they did!IMG_4633JOetzell-lo_16They dipped this letter E in actual sprinkles! So adorable!JOetzell-lo_14JOetzell-lo_02JOetzell-lo_21JOetzell-lo_28JOetzell-lo_15JOetzell-lo_33JOetzell-lo_22JOetzell-lo_03
JOetzell-lo_23JOetzell-lo_13I was obsessed with this dress!  I also wore it in my maternity photoshoot.  It’s from Nordstrom’s rack, its not a maternity dress (I just bought a bigger size), and they had it in black as well!JOetzell-lo_17JOetzell-lo_62JOetzell-lo_30A beautiful shot of my eldest Evangeline
JOetzell-lo_37JOetzell-lo_45IMG_4646This was an adorable idea they had:  Every guest made a number/letter block for me, and after the shower, my friend Heather used Modge Podge to set them and I have a whole set of personalized, adorable blocks for my girls.  
JOetzell-lo_35I need to post the finished product, but everyone wrote wishes for my daughter Elizabeth, and my friends made it into a keepsake book to have forever!  


XOXO, Caroline

Heart & Seoul : {Growing Up In Korea Exhibit At Pretend C!ty}

heart-and-seoul-media-kit-images-join-grand-openingTomorrow (June 2nd) is the grand opening of a new exhibit at Pretend C!ty Children’s Museum and my girls and I got a sneak preview today!  The exhibit is “Heart & Seoul: Growing up in Korea.”  We spent the morning checking out the new exhibit, making fans and tiger puppets, and eating yummy noodles and snacks by Nongshim!  In the exhibit your child will have access to a number of rooms and activities that help give them a realistic and fun picture of what life is like in Korea.  There is a tea room, a room where they can practice martial arts, a restaurant, a primary school room, a kitchen, and many more fun things!  Plus, when you are done with he Heart & Seoul exhibit, you can enjoy the rest of Pretend C!ty…which the kiddos always love!  This is a mom-win for sure…the kids love it and they don’t realize they are “learning”…haha suckers.
Also don’t forget to check out the free Family Fun & Wellness Fair they have going on this Saturday!
IMG_5306 IMG_5313Thanks Nongshim for lunch!
IMG_5329IMG_5334“Mom please open this!”IMG_5341 IMG_5344 IMG_5349This one didn’t sleep the whole time…but she was all smilesIMG_5351 IMG_5354Painting in the exhibitIMG_5355 IMG_5359My girl making a movie in the exhibitIMG_5360 IMG_5363