#JenntheRN: Is this really who I’m meant to be.

I’ve been writing a lot this year about grace and growth…well, maybe not writing a lot, but of the writings I’ve done this has been a central theme.  This post will be no different.

They say that you become a completely new person every seven years.  That within a seven-year time frame every cell in your body has had the opportunity to regenerate.  Maybe physiologically that’s only semi-true, but as a metaphor it feels so.very.true.

I’ve been in a place the last few weeks that I haven’t been in for quite some time.  The last time I was here was about 5 years ago, when I felt like no matter what I did, my plan for my life wasn’t working.

And it never did.

It didn’t work because God in His infinite wisdom had an even better plan, one that I couldn’t even imagine.  One that lead me to the outcome I so desperately wanted (motherhood) but in the most amazing way to the most incredible little girl.

So, here I am again, feeling those same feelings about other avenues of my life (not about motherhood).  I’m working hard on my nursing program, but continue facing adversities with everything from my actual classes to my actual program.  The program I thought I’d do isn’t an option, switching programs means adding classes that have absolutely nothing to do with my degree (hello, history of lost civilizations?) and in turn adding on additional semesters pushing back graduation and the light at the end of the tunnel.

I use this as an example of the place I’ve been the last few weeks.  This place of knowing so desperately what I want but feeling like it’s just so out of grasp that I’m ready to just say, forget it and return to the comfort of the life I knew.  And I’m stuck in this place of wondering is this God telling me not to do this or is this satan trying so hard to keep from doing it.  At what point do I head to the obstacles in my life and say “I give” accepting them as divine intervention?

As a control addict, Type A personality, feeling like the certainty I have about my life and future is questionable is one of the hardest things to handle only second to having no control over my daughter’s health and/or safety.

A dear friend commented on an Instagram photo I posted that stated “This shift in your life is too big for your blessing not to be”.  Her response was another similar quote that stated, “God cares more about your character than your comfort.”  I’m trying to remind myself of this as I navigate these waters of uncertainty, but it’s hard.

Life is hard.

As I prepare to enroll E in kindergarten, finding a school for her in our state (which is ranked 50th in education, #AZAwesome) is exhausting.  It’s very likely that I’ll have to change my campus location to accommodate her elementary school choice and that’s assuming I’ll be able to have some say in my clinical schedule.  Trying to figure all of this out with the continued hurdles in my nursing program honestly make me wonder if it’s worth it.  Maybe it’s just not the life I’m meant to live.

Maybe, it’s not the life God has intended for me.

Maybe I need to just take a step back, return to my life as Jenn, the stay at home mom.

Maybe I’m not meant to be #JenntheRN.

Posted in Nursing School, Personal Reflection | Tagged | 1 Comment

#JenntheRN: Leap Week

I know I’ve mentioned in passing on the blog before about being back in school pursuing a career change to nursing.  I’ve been so busy since starting school that I don’t know that I’ve actually taken the time to discuss what nursing school really means to me.  I can pretty much summarize it in one word.


Or maybe four words: Really Freakin’ Hard Growth.

As a very young adult, I was blessed to find a career I was able to excel in.  I promoted quickly in a rapidly growing organization and while I made more mistakes than you have patience to hear about, I grew with the organization as a leader, an analyst, an employee, but more importantly as an individual.  My career was in operations (numbers, analyzing, that sort of thing).  I did this because I was good at it and it came easy, but it never really made my heart happy.  And the longer I did it, the more obvious that became.

Oh, and also, I really dislike managing people.  Mentoring people, I loved.  I found that I often learned just as much from my employees as they learned from me.  But managing people was hard, and not in the “good for you hard” but in the “do I really have to do this” hard.  Not only did I have to put up with junk for employees with poor work ethic (and the employees who clearly were oscar winning actresses for hiding their issues long enough to be hired) but I had to deal with higher level management dictating to me what to do with or to my employees.

At first, I thought an employer change doing the same job would make me happy.  And it did, for a while, but you can’t make yourself love something that you just don’t love.  While the decision to leave the workforce came because E was too sick to be in daycare, truly I believe it was God’s way of finally saying to me, “I’ve tried to send you subtle signs, but you aren’t listening, you’re done.”

The three years I spent at home with E were a huge blessing to us.  While for most of my life I couldn’t imagine being a stay-at-home parent, I now find myself wondering how I’ll ever return to work.  Beyond my time with E though, my time away from corporate America has also allowed me to figure out not only what talents I have for things I’m naturally good at, but what actually makes me happy.

For years, I’ve felt a calling to be a nurse, and when E started school, I saw it as an opportunity for me to ease back into school part time (since she was/is in school part time) and then ease into full time once she did.

My first semester was fairly easy.  I took classes that highlighted my natural talents of math and physical science.  I received straight A’s with minimal effort, in hindsight, this was good.  It gave me the confidence to sign up for a second semester, which was brutal.  As I forge through the pre-requisites to (finally) start my nursing blocks, I’m realizing just how hard going back to school is.

For the past decade or so of my life, I’ve really only used the talents that I already had.  Sure, I fine tuned them and enhanced them, but for over 10 years I’ve been using the same set of skills for the most part.  The skills I need to be a successful nursing student (let alone nurse) are in-part those skills, but are also part skills that I haven’t used in a very, very long time.  And friends, it is NOT like riding a bike.

Today, I was speaking to a friend who is exhausted from their infant child who is experiencing a Leap Week.  At first, I comforted this friend assuring her it would pass (failing to mention another one would be all to soon behind it), but then I had a revelation.

I am in a Leap Week (or maybe a Leap 1/2 decade).

I am that cranky, whining, tired baby who can’t seem to comprehend or communicate WHY I’m frustrated or WHAT is frustrating me, only that I’m tired, and cranky, and frustrated, and confused.

And suddenly, my sympathy was with the infant, not my friend (sorry!)

That is what this growth is.  I am exercising and stretching my knowledge.  Physiologically I am forming new neuron pathways in my brain.  Emotionally I am exhausted from the learning, and the studying and the (shitty) act of trying to balance school, studies, homework, mom-life, being a wife, being a daughter, and being a friend (of which the last three have kind of gotten the very slim pickings of what I have to offer).

And friends, this type of growth is HARD.  And while I may be able to mask my frustrations a bit better than an infant, on the inside I am doing the exact same thing.  Sitting on the floor, surrounded by juice, snacks, my favorite toys, and the people I love, but just crying for no apparent reason other than these physiological and emotional changes required for the growth I need (and want) to succeed are daunting and just hard.

Really freakin’ hard.

Posted in College, Leap Week, Managing People, Nursing School, Parenting, Student Nurse | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

My Letter to Michael Colglazier- President of the Disneyland Resort

Dear Mr. Colglazier,

You don’t know me, and I don’t know you, in fact I had to Google who you were this morning when I was trying to figure out how to address my letter.  But this isn’t about me, this is about the thousands (maybe millions) of people like me who all have these same feelings this morning.

Mr. Colglazier, I’m sure it’s no surprise that I’m writing to you this morning in regards to the latest price increase (really price gauge) on Annual Passes at Disneyland Resort.  This morning, it was released that the new Signature Plus Annual Pass (which is equivalent to the Premium Annual Pass) is now available for purchase for $1049.

For my readers, who aren’t familiar with what the benefits of this annual pass include, this is the only pass you can purchase that gives you admission for 365 days a year (meaning no blackout days).

For Mr. Colglazier, as a comparison, I purchased this same annual pass (well my parents did) in 1999 for $199.  That is 527% inflation over 15 years.  For further analysis, I purchased this same annual pass in 2008 for $389.  So, for you mathematicians out there, that means from 1999-2008, a nine-year period, the inflation rate was 195%, from 2008-2015, a seven-year period, the inflation rate is now 270% (and rising).

Growing up, my family was a blue-collar family.  My dad was a diesel mechanic, my mom worked in a restaurant and later moved into a more corporate environment after receiving additional training.  But every year from the time I was four years old until I started my own family, we took a summer vacation to Disneyland.  We saved for that trip all year and weren’t annual pass-holders at the time.  It was the one week a year that we got to be together as a family without any interruptions or distractions, the one week a year that my parents and I got to enjoy each other and have fun together.

Which, Mr. Colglazier, if I’m correct, wasn’t that the sole intention for Walt’s motivation to create Disneyland to begin with?

Now, as a mother, I too look forward to my vacations with my daughter at Disney properties.  At four years old she has been to Walt Disney World, Disneyland, and Aulani.  As a DVC owner, Disney is and has been our vacation destination of choice as a family.

We live in Arizona, and my husband, daughter, and I have long enjoyed our spur of the moment decision trips to head to Disneyland having annual passes has enabled us to do.  Our most recent annual passes (which were premier annual passes that I actually paid less for than your signature deluxe now retails for and allowed us admission to Disneyland AND Disney World) expired in August 2014.  At that time, my husband and I felt it was no longer economical for us to be annual pass-holders, and clearly that rings even truer today.

Mr. Colglazier, I understand that being an annual pass-holder is a privilege, not an entitlement.  For many years, I’ve been blessed to hold an annual passport and share these experiences with those I love.  As a former operations manager, I also understand the business decision behind increasing the prices for annual passports.

What I do not understand, or ever thought at this point in my life I’d have witnessed, is 527% inflation.

While I’m sure this morning your share holders are happy (being that it’s a Sunday and the stock exchanges aren’t open, we won’t be able to truly know until tomorrow) please know that thousands of those who have been loyal and true to Disneyland even in her years of drought (circa 2003ish-the opening of Carsland) are now realizing that their once go to vacation destination, is fading to a distant memory.

It saddens me to see how corporate and capitalistic Disney has become in plain-site.

Thank you for your time.


Posted in Disneyland, Personal Reflection | Tagged , , , , , | 11 Comments

Thirty-Two Equals Grace

Today, I turn 32.

This may not seem like a milestone birthday for most people, but for me looking back on my 31st year of life, 32 seems like a pretty important milestone for me.

My 31st year was one of the most challenging years I’ve faced and one that pushed me to grow in many ways I was prepared to grow in and many years I was not.

As E started pre-school and was no longer under my care full-time, I entered back into school part-time to pursue my dream of being a pediatric nurse.  Going back to school (especially on campus) after a 10 year hiatus was a big change for me.  For the most part, I loved it.  It felt wonderful to be challenging myself academically again and to thrive while doing so.  But it was also a big adjustment learning how to balance my academic commitments with our family life as well as my social life.

I personally faced many health challenges that I wasn’t anticipating.  From ones I was prepared to face, like the thought of losing my right ovary, to ones that came out of nowhere like my 5 day stint at a Neurological Institute, these were both times of great pause and reflection in my life.

My husband faced the greatest health challenge we’ve ever faced together and I learned that the thought of him facing a serious health condition was far scarier then when I faced it for myself.  It was the first time I ever had to think of walking this earth without him by my side, and it was the scariest moment in my life.

Through these major milestones of this past year, the personal pause and reflection that ensued was literally life changing.  The lessons I learned were humbling, and maybe that’s the best word to describe this past year: Humility.

I learned that people will surprise you in both good and bad ways.  On the positive side, I learned who genuinely cares for me and my family, the people who will always be there for you (and I don’t mean physically because sometimes a phone call or a text is even more appreciated than an in person visit).  I was truly amazed to see that some people whom I wouldn’t have guessed would show up for us in a time of adversity were the people there in the strongest form.  It’s humbling to know that there are people out there who care so much about you and your family and will do whatever they can to keep you happy and also in working order so you can focus on recovery and healing.

I also learned that sometimes, the people who you think will show up the most because of who they are or the title they have don’t.  These people will let you down over and over time and time again and seem to not even care that it’s hurtful to you.  I learned that sometimes a lifetime of a relationship with someone doesn’t keep them from talking about you behind your back, pointing out your flaws because they’re too cowardly to face their own.  This lesson, while one I’ve been exposed to before, came in full swing this year, and it’s a very painful lesson to learn as you always learn it while you are at your most vulnerable.

This was a big year relationship wise for me.  Friendships that I once thought were ended, merely were resting, and rekindled like they never had pause.  I was reminded that sometimes the people whom you assume you have absolutely nothing in common with upon first meeting, are the people who understand you the most.  I also learned that just because someone has been a great friend in the past and done wonderful things for you, doesn’t mean that it gives them a free pass to treat you like poop now.  I also learned not to judge so quickly, as there are truly good people out there.  People whom you have never spoken to, but hear about your situation and send you audio recordings of lectures you miss so you don’t get behind, simply because they want you to succeed.

This was a growing year.  A year full of trials and adversity, but an important one to face.  Without this year of adversity, I wouldn’t be prepared for the year ahead of me which I am labeling a year of grace.

This year, my focus is to give grace and while it sounds unselfish, it’s completely selfish.  I spent a good part of the year pained and hurt by people in my life who I once thought were the people whom I was supposed to have the closest of relationships with.  Giving grace is my completely selfish way of letting go of that hurt.

I will give grace because you make your own choices, and I will no longer let you hurt me by those choices.

This doesn’t mean I will be a revolving door to continue to be hurt time and time again, it simply means that for the people whom have decided to mock me for my weaknesses and blame their problems on me, I will give you grace because it must be horrible to walk around being so insecure that in order to start to work on your own faults, you have to point out others so harshly.  It means that the people (or person) who chooses to live as though I don’t exist and who I thought would always be the person/people in my life who would be there for me, I will give you grace, because it must be really hard to walk around with that much hate that it’s easier to just not care about a person.  This year I will give grace, because every person is walking their own battle, and I’m no longer going to own their battles for them.

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I left My Heart in Aulani- Day 8

When E woke up on Thursday, she asked if we were going home today.  When A. and I told her yes, she asked if we could “make a deal” to stay one more day and go home “another day.”  As much as we wished we could, we sadly denied this deal, but promised to return next summer.

We all got up, got ready, and packed up the remainder of our things.  On a side note, a few years ago, A. bought a luggage scale through Groupon which I thought was the silliest thing ever.  It came in very handy this trip as we could weigh each of our bags in our room to make sure they were all at or under weight, I’ll explain why this was so helpful in a minute.

After we got everything packed, we took a few last photos on the balcony….


…and sadly, left the room we’d called home for a week.


Unlike at Walt Disney World, we did not receive a copy of our room charges under our door, but getting one at the front desk was quick and painless.  With that in hand, we loaded up our rental car and began the drive back to the airport.

Our flight departed at 1:00 p.m. and we wanted to make sure we had enough time to get gas in the rental car, return the rental car, and still have 2 hours in the terminal.  We were also told by Avis that we had to return the car with a full tank of gas that had been filled within 5 miles of the airport (haven’t heard that one before, but we obliged).

Finding the rental car return was a bit chaotic as there was terminal construction going on, but we found it well enough.  We had brought one of E’s car seats with us (she has 4), but decided it was not worth lugging it back, so we left it in the rental car.  I’m not sure if they put it into their rotation of safety seats or threw it out, but if you rent through Avis and rent a child seat that’s a black Britax Boulevard, know that up until the point we returned it at least, it had been cared for by all manufacturers instructions and never checked on an airplane or in an accident.

The airport was pure chaos.  As I’ve mentioned previously, we flew Hawaiian Airlines, which is obviously a major airline in Honolulu.  When we found their kiosks to check in, the lines were unorganized and intertwined with the line you entered after checking in to check your bags.  Additionally, your tickets and checked bag claim stickers would not print until your bags had been weighed (the weight printed out on the sticker).  Because many people did not have their own luggage scale that they packed, like we did, in the midst of the chaotic lines, you also had people trying to shift items around to keep their bags under the max weight (IE: avoid paying hefty over weight charges).

We managed to navigate this area and get our bags checked (even though the Hawaiian Airlines representatives kept insisting our one carry on bag was to big- which it wasn’t) and rudely kept insisting we check it, and thankfully had TSA Pre-Check.  We moved through security easily, but the walk to our gate was…intense.  It probably took us a good 20-25 minutes to walk to our gate, as it was a very long, and odd walk, that led us inside and outside.

We made it to our gate with plenty of time to spare.  I grabbed E some lunch and reserved our onboard tablet.  We boarded the plane on time and with ease, and while we were sad to be leaving Hawaii, were ready to get home.

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We thought everything was going smoothly, until we got to the runway and the captain announced there was an issue with one of our generators and we were taxiing back to the gate where we’d get further information.


Once we deplaned (which I should have known was a bad sign) we were told that we were on a 2.5 hour maintenance delay.  Now, let me say that while I was incredibly impressed with how comparative prices in Hawaii were to the mainland after I’d heard how expensive they were, this did not apply in the airport.  I was amazed at how expensive everything in the airport was (far more expensive than our home airport).  The idea of being stuck in this airport for the next 2.5 hours (with a 6 hour flight on top of that) was not something that made me jump for joy.

Thankfully, E being the friendly girl that she is, made a new friend right off the bat and the two girls literally played together for what ended up being a 3 hour maintenance delay.


By the time we finally got back on the airplane, we were all exhausted, especially E.  She passed out long before we even got airborne.


She woke up around the time they served dinner, and stayed awake until we landed.  We watched a plethora of movies including Frozen.


Finally, after 3 hours of delays plus a 6 hour flight, we touched down.  I took a screen shot of my iPhones stopwatch I had started once the captain came over the intercom to inform us of our maintenance delay the first time we were on the runway.


You can also see that we landed at 2:06 a.m. (which was supposed to be 10:00 p.m.)  Needless to say, we were very happy to be home.

Posted in Aulani, Hawaii, Travel, Traveling with Preschoolers, Vacation, Vacation on a Budget | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

I Left My Heart in Aulani- Day 7

So, I clearly did not meet my personal (soft) deadline of finishing up my blog series on our Aulani trip by the end of July, but I do intend to wrap it up this week.

When we woke up on Wednesday, I won’t lie, I may have shed a few tears knowing it was our last full day at Aulani.  This was the first time our family had ever taken a “resort” style vacation (AKA: a non-Disney theme park vacation) and while I was apprehensive we’d enjoy it…resort living fits us well.

But you know what cures “last day of vacation blues”?  Mickey Waffles.  We ordered in-room dining for breakfast so we could have a loved vacation staple of Mickey Waffles.  I have to say, the cost on in-room dining was very reasonable.

After enjoying our Mickey Waffles, we headed down to the pool area.  E had been resistant of the Lazy River and the Menehune Bridge all week, so we made a deal with her that she’d try each at least once, and if she didn’t like it, she wouldn’t have to do it again.

We started with the lazy river.  At first, she was very upset and wanted to get off, but we told her she had to do at least one full circle.  Obviously, by the end she was clearly miserable…

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I think we ended up going around the lazy river at least 6 times and even then, we only got her out by telling her it was time to try the Menehune bridge.


The Menehune Bridge from our room (before it opened)

A. and E headed over to the Menehune Bridge while I soaked up some vitamin D in our chairs (which again, we had no issues grabbing in a very prime location!)  It was getting to be lunch time, so I ordered a few munchies from poolside dining and a tropical (non-alcoholic, boo) drink.  (I was still on some meds for my head issues, so alcohol was out this entire trip).  Again, I was impressed by how reasonable poolside dining prices were.  However, I wish we’d have had the May poolside dining menu, ours was pretty much a bunch of seafood (which I’m allergic to) and fried food.  Still, I ordered the onion rings for me (which were delicious) and the kids Mac-N-Cheese for E (which I swear tasted like pineapple).  She approved and enjoyed dining poolside!


After enjoying our treats, E was desperate to show me the Menehune Bridge, so I went over there with her and A. to check it out.  I was very impressed with the area.  There’s many options for kids and at each of the slides, Disney Cast Members were present to make sure there was no pushing and that kids were taking turns safely.  E loved the slides.

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Needless to say, A. and I were regretting not “making a deal” with her earlier in the week.  After sliding for a long while, she decided she wanted to hop back over to the lazy river.  This time, I let A. enjoy the inner tube and I walked along with E (she enjoyed floating through in her Puddle Jumper).


We got out because we saw a familiar face that she wanted to say goodbye to!


Since we had gotten out to see Goofy, E decided she wanted to see what other characters were behind the river at the meet and greet island.  She was in luck, she got to see one of her favorite friends again before we left!

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And, we even got one more special treat.  We rarely (if ever) see Mickey and Minnie Mouse together in the parks.  (I think the last time we did was at Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party in Disneyworld in Fall ’13) but as luck would have it, they were out together on Wednesday!


After getting to see her friends, she was eager to head back over to the Menehune bridge to go down the water slides another 323890238 times.

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Pure joy, I’m telling you!  When Disney built Aulani, they truly built it with the entire family in mind!  We were so impressed with the entire resort and all the wonderful theming.  Disney Imagineers have never let us down!


After being out by the pools for a solid 6 hours, we decided we should probably head back up to the room to get out of the sun.  Thankfully, E didn’t get sunburnt at all, nor did A., but I did (the only time I got sunburnt in Hawaii).

We went back up to the room so I could start packing up some of our things and we could feed E.  I also got my first (and only) Mickey ice cream bar of the trip.


However, after dinner, she begged to go back out to the pools again.  Because it was a bit chilly once the sun went down, we headed for the hot tubs and stayed out until almost closing time (10:00 p.m.)

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At ten o’clock the lifeguards made their rounds to clear us out of the pool.  We made the sad walk up to our room, showered, and got ready for bed.  We knew that at this time the next day we’d be back at home….or so we thought.

Posted in Aulani, Hawaii, Travel, Traveling with Preschoolers, Vacation, Vacation on a Budget | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

I Left My Heart in Aulani- Day 6

When we awoke Tuesday Morning, E seemed to be feeling better, but we wanted to play it safe.  After my hospitalization in April and A.’s mysterious mouth tumor still pending results (which ended up being benign by the way) the last thing we wanted to do was visit a hospital in Hawaii (though, my husband came prepared with directions to the nearest Urgent Care and Hospital on the island).

We decided to take it easy and stay out of the water for the day.  Now, Aulani offers several non-water activities, but we certainly weren’t sending her to Auntie’s Beach House, and most of the activities involve walking around the resort.  Telling a 4-year-old she can’t go into the pool/ocean/etc doesn’t go over well.

We started our day in the Pau Hana room for some pin trading and another drop in activity where you could make your own post card.  Both went over very well, though E was convinced she was a pirate and the pins were her booty.

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I had also called the character line to get the list of characters who’d be taking guests that afternoon.  Thankfully, Donald Duck was on the schedule (he’s one of E’s favorites).  We tried to cleverly position our times so that we’d hit the tail end of one character and the beginning of another character’s meet and greet.  But once E realized that the characters were coming to that specific spot, she didn’t want to leave.  So, I sat on a rock and she sat between my legs.


We were able to catch all the characters available on Tuesday (minus Duffy which E had no interest in).

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And then, when she saw this guy, she was in heaven!  She has a fascination with Donald Duck, more so than Mickey, and we never seem to be able to catch him at Disneyland, so when she saw him at the Mickey Beach, she was over the moon!  And Donald was quite excited that someone was so happy to see him too!

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By now, it was around 2:30 and E was begging to get into the pool.  Because she had gone all day without any congestion or coughing, we decided to let her give it a shot, but told her if she started coughing we were getting out right away or if she needed her inhaler (she’s gotten very good about knowing when she needs it, sadly).  We headed up to change and jumped in the pool while A. grabbed us some food from Mama’s Snack Shop.

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On a side note – we live in the southwestern part of the United States, where the primary secondary language is Spanish or a variation of Spanish dialect.  When we travel to California and even to Orlando, we often find some version of Spanish is repeated after all English announcements or information is available in English and Spanish.  I was amazed that the secondary language in Hawaii was Japanese.  Even more so that most of the menus were split with American and Japanese offerings.

IMG_8084After we swam (primarily in the hot tub because it was kind of chilly and with E being sick I wasn’t risking it, she also favored the hot tubs) we headed up to the room and got cleaned up for dinner.  Since I had done laundry the night before, E. got to wear her Elsa Nightgown (from Costco of course) again, you can see how happy she was about that.


After dinner, E. crashed relatively easily and early.  A. and I sat out on the patio enjoying the music coming from the lobby area of the resort (which was only heard when our slider was open or we were on the patio).  I also attempted to snap some photos of our amazing view at sunset.



Once the sun set, A and I headed back into the room, both in absolute disbelief that the next day would be our last full day in paradise.

Posted in Aulani, Hawaii, Travel, Traveling with Preschoolers, Vacation, Vacation on a Budget | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment