I Left My Heart in Aulani- Hair and Makeup

I am not a beauty expert, but I do appreciate recommendations on fashionable yet easy vacation looks.

I know, this likely sounds like it’ll be a boring entry, and maybe it will be, but I know that as I was preparing for our trip, I (being a crazy OCD, type A planner person) researched how exactly to achieve an easy hair style and make up that wouldn’t melt off my face.

We live in a desert, a very hot but very dry desert, so humidity is not something I deal with often or really ever.  The last time I tried to wear make-up in a humid climate was on our honeymoon, six years ago, in Walt Disneyworld.

Our first day at Disneyworld, I put on full makeup, like I normally would.  I did okay throughout the day, and even survived through a cute mini-photo session in the Animal Kingdom Lodge lobby.


You can even see my hair starting to frizz at 8:00 a.m. in the morning!


And then we, the two desert dwellers, ventured out for a very hot, humid June evening at Animal Kingdom which I believe sealed my fate.


The second day of our honeymoon we spent at Typhoon Lagoon (the water park) so naturally I went sans makeup.  One of the first things we did (and the first time my face got wet) was to ride the Crush and Gusher.


Looking at this photo, you might think my reaction is from the water being cold, or shock that I fell off the raft, but I can assure you, it’s neither of those.  The moment my face hit the water, it burned.  I don’t mean it felt irritated, as I think the amount of chlorination in the water can give most anyone an initial burn, but it felt like my entire face was on fire.  A quick trip to the first-aid station, a look in the mirror, and a call to my esthetician confirmed that I had heat rash…on my face.  You know the little red bumps babies get on their bottoms with heat rash?  I had those on my face.  Suffice to say, I ended my use of makeup on our honeymoon as well as any time I was visiting a humid climate.

Aside from my intolerable makeup/humidity relationship, I also have naturally wavy hair.  In the desert it’s usually not an issue, but put me in a humid climate and I have frizz like nobody’s business.   In Florida I can blow dry and straighten my hair with a flat-iron, step outside and look like a hot mess of frizz and unmanaged curls.  So, I knew for Hawaii I wanted a low maintenance hair routine and makeup routine that also provided UV protection.


This was all the makeup I used in Hawaii.  MAC tinted moisturizer with SPF (this stuff is AMAZING), concealer, MAC’s liquid to powder bronzer, some blush, waterproof mascara, a paint pot, light eye shadow, and lip gloss.  It may sound like a lot, but it was maybe a 5 minute routine that took only 3 brushes.  Thankfully MAC had just reformulated their tinted moisturizer with SPF and launched their waterproof mascara version of my daily mascara plus their seasonal bronzer about 2 weeks before we left.  I am happy to say that I never once broke out or got heat rash on my face, hurray!


These are all the hair products (sans my shine/thermal spray which is also Aquage) I used in Hawaii.  I know it looks like a lot, but this is two different hair routines, one for the days I blow-dried/straightened my hair, and one for the days I went with my natural wavy locks.  Because I had just had my hair highlighted (and bleached) before our trip, I opted to bring my own AG Tech II shampoo (it has more proteins in it, so it’s good for chemical blondes like myself) as well as a purple conditioner to help my hair tone (Catwalk just happened to be the only one in a travel-ish size available at the beauty store).

On days when I blow-dried and straightened, I’d apply the Matrix oil (which smelled like heaven) directly after towel drying post shower.  I then used the Aquage straightening gel to blow dry, and when I was ready to flat iron used my Aquage shine/thermal spray.

On days I went with my natural wavy locks (most days actually) before leaving the shower I’d apply a pea size amount of the H2O Hawaiian Sea Salt conditioner as a leave in conditioner.  Next, I’d apply the matrix oil directly out of the shower and let my hair air dry a bit.  I’d then use the Not Your Mother’s Kinky Moves to tame my frizzy waves and the Beach Babe and/or the Bumble and Bumble Surf Spray to add some sea salt/conditioner to help define my waves.  (If I’m being honest, I prefer the “Not Your Mother’s Beach Babe Spray” to the Bumble and Bumble spray, and the cost is about 75% less).  After giving them more time to air dry, I’d mist with my normal hair spray and be on my way.

Now, because Aulani’s pools are salt water pools, not chlorinated, I didn’t have to wash every day (which my freshly chemically treated hair appreciated).  My hair (and skin) were also incredibly soft at the end of the week because of this.

I was such a fan of my beauty routines on vacation, I now use most of them at home.  My hair doesn’t curl as well in the desert due to our hard, calcified water, but it’s so damn hot it’s usually up in a top knot or a french twist anyway!

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I Left My Heart in Aulani- Day 4 Part 2

We decided to head into North Shore in search of Sea Turtles (and Ted’s Cream Pie).  All of my online scouting had told me to head down Kamehameha Highway to find beaches frequented by sea turtles.  To clarify, this is a two lane highway (one lane each direction) that runs along the beaches of North Shore.  Parking consists of pulling over and parking on the side of the road.  Naturally, people pulling off the road and back into the road backs up traffic, a lot.

Let me start by saying that E. didn’t have a long list of things she wanted to do in Hawaii, but the item at the top of her list was to see sea turtles, so come hell or high water, that’s what we were going to do.  As we drove, A. mentioned that he could see sea turtles beached, so we decided to find a place to park.

IMG_7818 IMG_7819You can kind of see traffic backed up next to us.  It was insane and I was all but thrilled to be parking on the side of a crazy road.  But, that’s what car insurance is for, right?  And trust me, it was SO worth it.

We walked a couple hundred feet back towards the beach and saw people in huddles at the various places where the sea turtles were beached and/or feeding.  It was one of my favorite experiences of the trip, standing in the shoreline of the sea watching these beautiful turtles swim and eat.  And as much as E. wanted to see turtles, once she saw them, she was done while I was captivated.  So, A. took up her up and down along the beach while I chatted with the beach volunteers about the sea turtles but mostly just observed them.  I have about 300 photos of them, so hopefully I don’t bore you!




As you can tell in the next photo, E was very observant of the various cultures we were interacting with on the beach and took a liking to how she saw many individuals posing for photos.


After checking out the beached turtles, E and A. had some fun playing in the sand and enjoying the overcast, foggy weather.


After we soaked up our time with the sea turtles, we ventured further up Kamehameha to pick up some coveted Ted’s Cream Pie which we were saving to enjoy for dessert that evening.

The drive back to Aulani wasn’t long, but getting out of North Shore was rough.  It took just as long to make it back down Kamehameha Highway as it did to then make it back to Aulani, but we did capture some very picturesque views on our way back.


Once back at the resort, we decided to try to catch the resorts Luau that evening, the Starlit Hui.  We got in line early, which honestly wasn’t entirely necessary.  It was being offered three times that week, so while it filled up, there was plenty of room up until show time.


After we got our lawn mats and our spot (we were in the second row) we settled in for dessert so we could enjoy our pie!  Personally, I preferred the Pineapple Cream Cheese Pie to the Chocolate Haupia pie, but E loved them both.

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When they invited kids up to learn the hula that they’d invite them to participate in during the show, E decided to go up (I swear she grew up and matured on this trip alone!)  It was a lot of fun watching her learn to do the hula, though hard to catch a good photo as the bigger kids were crowding around her (or should I say towering around her).

IMG_7854The show was spectacular!  We opted not to do a dinner luau this trip, because we weren’t sure how much E would enjoy it.  She loved the Starlit Hui with all the dancing, the music, and of course Mickey, Minnie, and friends helped as well!


A little pre-show fun!




After the Starlit Hui was over, we were exhausted!  We had crossed several things off our list for our trip that day and we were feeling it.  We headed up to the room and went straight to bed, knowing that the next day, Monday, would be a day of relaxation for all of us…or so we thought!

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I Left My Heart in Aulani- Day 4 Part 1

I’d like to preface this post with saying that I am currently listening to both the “Lava” score as well as the Aulani soundtrack because my heart is longing to be back in Hawaii tonight.

Sunday was a very, very busy day for us.  Originally, Sunday was supposed to be our “date day”.  E was going to go to Aunty’s and had her special Chip and Dale excursion while A. and I had our special dinner.  Well, after she melted our hearts by telling us she just wanted to spend time with us on vacation, we cancelled her excursion and our dinner so we could have some more quality time.  Sunday officially became “drive around Hawaii” day.

We got up relatively early (by our standards anyway and left the room by 8:00 a.m. heading down to the Waikiki area.  This was the only time we headed down to Waikiki and even at 9:00 a.m. on a Sunday morning it was crazy!  I have no desire to return to this area until E is old enough to enjoy the shopping and restaurant choices (but by all means, we are not foodies at all).  What brought us down to Waikiki?  We decided to hit the Maui Diver’s Design Studio to do Pick-A-Pearl and make a few special souvenirs!  We had a really nice experience and the ladies at Maui Divers were of course very kind to us.  I didn’t take any photo’s of this, but E picked two oysters, one with a really large white pearl which we had set in a pendant for her and one black pearl we set in a pendant for me.

From here, we decided to head to the Dole Plantation (the opposite direction on the island).  Funny fact we didn’t know…we could have just done the Pick-A-Pearl AT the Dole Plantation….oh well, now we know.

The drive to Dole was uneventful and very pretty, but of course, someone fell asleep.IMG_7811So, while she slept A. and I both took the opportunity to put our sunscreen on.  I have to say, the parking situation at Dole is not ideal and the shade options are minimal, so sunscreen and proper head gear/eye gear are a must!  Once E woke up, we got her ready for her time at Dole as well.



While we had a nice time at Dole, I’ll be honest in saying that if we didn’t have a preschooler with us, we could have skipped it minus one very awesome souvenir I purchased for myself.  But with E, we decided to take the Pineapple Express train ride, which she loved.




After the train ride we all agreed we were hungry and stopped in the grill to get some lunch.  Prices weren’t horrible nor was selection, but the food was just okay.  E’s kids meal did come with a Dole frisbee however, which became one of her favorite souvenirs of the trip.  We also grabbed a dole whip in the big plastic pineapple (I love Dole whip!)

IMG_7812At this point, we were hot.  We had bought tickets to do the maze as well, but after hearing it was 30+ minutes in the sun, we gave our tickets to the people behind us in line and headed into the souvenir store to see if I could find the key chain I’d been secretly coveting since I saw it on Instagram.

IMG_7815To say I was happy to find it is an understatement!  This baby has been the topic of many conversations since returning home, apparently everyone loves Dole Whip!

Because we were now only 10 minutes away, we decided to head to North Shore from the Dole Plantation.  Who knew that a drive originally starting as 10 minutes would turn into 60 minutes….

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I Left My Heart in Aulani- Day 3 Part 2

After we picked E up from Aunty’s Beach House, I had promised her some pool time.  As we were changing her into her swim suit, I asked if she wanted to go back to Aunty’s to learn the hula (dancing).  She said that she had fun at Aunty’s, but preferred to be with us.

Now, don’t get me wrong, Aunty’s Beach House is an amazing incentive to staying at Aulani.  Their entertainment is high quality and the cast members are great.  Stitch even came in to hang out with the kids while they made Space Goo!  I know that Aunty’s is a big draw for a lot of parents so that they can A) have alone time to enjoy adult amenities and B) so older kids have fun things to do.  But when our sweet girl told us she’d rather spend time with us than go back to Aunty’s, my heart melted.  I know that the number of vacations (and really amount of time) we have where she’s picking us over cool, fun activities with friends is limited.

After we went up to the room and got E changed for the pool, we headed down to explore and ultimately hit the pool!


This was E’s favorite swim suit of the trip. It’s an Avengers rash guard (She loves Hulk!) It’s a boys rash guard and finding bottoms to match were tough. It turns out, I could have paired any bottoms with it really as you never saw them!

Because A. and I had loved the adult infinity hot tub, we decided to check out the family infinity pool.

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We stayed in the pool and connecting hot tub until E started to turn blue and shiver from being cold and headed back up to the room for dinner and to watch the sunset.

SONY DSCNot unlike home, A. did all the cooking on this trip.  While he was cooking, I took a few photos of our studio.  I often see discussions on trip forums about how studios work for long periods of time for more than two people.  I’m a bit obsessed with keeping our room picked up on vacation so that we have room to move around and always know where things are.  We make beds, fold towels, etc. since we don’t get daily housekeeping service.  So, this is what our Villa looked like after 3 days with 3 people living it:


Not too shabby if I do say so myself.  I think the three of us will fit comfortably in a studio for at least another two years (or until T4 joins the family).

After A. finished making dinner we enjoyed it on the balcony watching the sunset.  Again, I cannot emphasize how glad we were to have upgraded our room to an ocean view.  We used our patio a lot and enjoyed the view multiple times a day!



And a few of the view just because:


Looking straight ahead at what will be the Four Seasons.


Looking down at the lazy river and the private snorkeling reef.


Looking towards the lobby and the Ko Olina resort area.


As the sun set.


She really loved the balcony!

After dinner, we were all pretty exhausted, so we snuggled in for some television and bedtime.

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I Left My Heart in Aulani- Day 3 Part 1

Jet-lag was still my BFF come Saturday morning, so I woke up to review the Daily ‘Iwa to make a game plan for what activities we’d be attempting to sign E up for Saturday.

IMG_7721I was only going to do Stitch’s Space Goo and the Keki Hula, but when I was in line, the other parents told me to sign up for all activities I thought she’d be interested in, we could always cancel them.  E was signed up for the Chip and Dale premium experience Sunday night, but we wanted to make sure she would enjoy Aunty’s Beach House before we paid for her to be there.

Because I was up so early, I decided to head down to get in line at 6:45 a.m.  I had read that it was recommended by other parents to get in line at 7:00 a.m. (Disney Cast Members begin distributing tickets at 8:00, but since it was a Saturday I figured there would be high demand.)  Sure enough I was correct, when I got in line at 6:45 there were already a handful of people in front of me with the line growing by the minute.

IMG_7718The line moved quickly and I met some nice people in line.  I had no idea that E needed to be there when I turned in her tickets, as she hadn’t been there before, and I needed to fill out the supplemental registration (I had done the online registration already) and take our photo.  Around 7:30 they came by and asked us which activities we wanted to register for and gave us our tickets.  I registered E for Auntie’s Aloha Party, Stitches Space Goo, and the Keki Hula.  E and A. came down around 7:50, so we could get E registered and her Aunty’s Beach House bracelet (magic band).

IMG_7806Once we got that taken care of we took a tour during the open house and headed back to the room to get ready for our character breakfast.

After we got ready, we headed down and got in line to meet Mickey before breakfast.

IMG_7743 IMG_7736After meeting Mickey, we had a short wait before being called for our table.  As soon as we were seated, Minnie came to the table, and Goofy shortly after that.

IMG_7770 IMG_7765I was very impressed with how extroverted E was at the breakfast.  She participated in the games Auntie Kathy and the characters were doing TWICE!  This is a big deal for her, she’s normally very shy!

Breakfast was pretty spendy, for the three of us it was over $100, but it was nice to do one time.  I certainly wouldn’t do it more than once in a trip, but for the experience it was nice.

After breakfast, it was time for E to head right on over to Aunty’s Beach House for E’s first activity, Aunty’s Aloha party (she had to be there by noon, and we had a very late breakfast reservation as I didn’t factor jet lag into our reservation time.)  While E was at Aunty’s Aloha Party, A. and I enjoyed our first alone time for the first time in 4 years while on vacation.

Her activity was over at 1:30, and we went down to see if E. wanted to stay until her three o’clock activity (she’d have to be there at 2:30) or if she wanted to come out with us.  She opted to leave with us, so we took her back up to the room and fed her before turning around to take her right back.

E had a great time at Stitches Space Goo (which is the activity that we heard everyone raving about our entire trip).  I think she’s ridiculously adorable in her lab coat and safety glasses!

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Seriously, how adorable is she!  While she was enjoying Stitch’s Space Goo, A. and I enjoyed the adult only infinity hot tub.
IMG_7784Our hour and a half in the adult only hot tub was just what we needed!  It was so nice to have a little bit of time to enjoy each other on our vacation.  But soon enough it was time to pick up E from Aunty’s Beach House and get her take on Stitch’s Space Goo and Aunty’s Beach house and her review was very surprising!

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I Left My Heart in Aulani- Day 2 Part 2

Nap time didn’t exactly go as planned (of course).  E fell asleep in the car and woke up once we got back to Aulani.  She was a bit grumpy as she was only asleep about 40 minutes and of course jet-lag was kicking all of us in the rear-end.  She perked up as soon as I asked her if she wanted to go down to the pool though!


Once we got down to the pool area, I had one thing on my mind: Lazy River!  Alas, E refused to join me.  In fact she refused to do anything that was not a “normal” pool or splash pad that she was accustomed to.  So, while I circled the lazy river, she and A. hit up the toddler splash area (which literally looks like any mall splash pad).


I won’t lie, the lazy river was heavenly with some AMAZING views along the way.


But alas, I was lonely.  I found E and got her to go into the main pool with me which we both enjoyed.  A. however, sat out on the side (party pooper!)

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Still, he has his redeeming qualities.  After E and I spent about an hour in the main pool having fun, A. enticed us to come out with the most amazing looking (and tasting) Hawaiian shaved ice ever.  It had condensed milk poured over the top and ice cream in the bottom of the cup.

IMG_7686Yeah, you see how she’s gripping the shaved ice?  She pretty much downed the whole thing by herself, that’s how good it was!  After we finished up with our yummy treat (or E finished her yummy treat) we walked down to the beach to play in the sand and ocean.

Now, let me stop for a minute and say that I had heard about people who start chair stalking right at 7:00 a.m.  (Aulani has a strict “reserved chair” policy especially during high occupancy times.  If you’re not in your chair when they do their “check” they fold a towel over the back of the chair. You then have one hour to move the towel or your personal belongings are removed from the chair and held at a separate location for you to pick up.  You also have to have personal items on the chair, not just a towel.)  We never chair stalked and never had a problem getting a chair in the area we wanted.  Granted we used our chair as a “holder” and usually only needed one chair, but it was never an issue for us.

E loves the sand, she’s not as big of a fan of the ocean.  Scratch that, she’s not nearly as big a fan of moving bodies of water (IE: waves), so she primarily just played in the sand close to the shore line.


I did con her into coming into the very shallow part of the beach with me for a short period of time.  She liked it for a few minutes, but then returned to the sand.  Once we were done, we stopped for a few photo’s with the photo-pass photographer.

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Once the sun started to set we retreated back to our room for dinner and a movie we rented (Into the Woods- I’m glad I never paid to see it!) and lights out.  I went down to the lobby around 6:30 to pick up the daily schedule for the following day so I could put a plan in place for programs to enroll E in at Aunty’s Beach House.  Once I returned we snuggled in for the night and crashed out of pure exhaustion.

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I Left My Heart in Aulani- Day 2 Part 1

Jet-lag and I were best friends throughout our entire trip, and on our first full day in Hawaii I awoke at 4:45 a.m. (which never happens naturally).  Both A. and E were still asleep and seeing as how it also happened to be our 6th wedding anniversary, I spent about an hour in bed reminiscing over the life we’d created in that six years.  I think I finally got out of bed and started getting ready around 5:30 as it was my goal to leave the hotel by 7:00 a.m. so we’d be at Pearl Harbor by 8:00 a.m. to pick up our 9:00 a.m. tour tickets (are you following me here?)

I had booked our tour tickets online 60 days prior for a nominal reservation fee of $4.95.  I highly recommend doing this!  While I was getting ready, A. and E woke up and started getting ready for the day.  Island time kicked in and we didn’t leave until closer to 7:30.  Now, when you reserve your tickets online, you’re supposed to pick them up one hour before your tour time, and since it was a Friday morning, I was unsure of what type of traffic we’d encounter.  Never to fear, even leaving the hotel 30 minutes late, our fearless tour guide Waze got us to our destination a few minutes past 8:00.  Because I had reserved our tickets online, only one person from our party had to be present to pick them up, so A. ran up to the ticket booth while I parked the car.   Before long E and I were on our way up to meet him.

IMG_7598When we met up with A. we had about 45 minutes before it was our turn to get in line for the video presentation that proceeds the boat ride to the USS Arizona Memorial.  We walked around the shop and peaked in the museums.   Seeing as how I had only brought in my small wristlet containing money, cards, and ID when Little Miss decided she was hungry and wanted her juice we knew we needed to make our way to the small food market.  I was pleasantly surprised at how moderately priced food and beverage was.  E. settled on powdered donuts to cure her case of the “hangry’s”.

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Soon enough it was our turn to file into the theater and watch the video that precludes the boat ride to the memorial.  We had been preparing E. for our trip to Pearl Harbor, but made sure we sat in the row in the back in case she had any concerns during the movie.  Thankfully, she did great!  Once the move was over, we boarded our boat and were on our way to the memorial.

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People have asked me how the memorial was on several occasions and I’m not sure how to respond.  I’m so glad we had the privilege to experience this sacred memorial.  I can’t however bring myself to say that it was “great”.  How can you describe something so somber and tragic with positive words?  It is an experience I hope that all American’s have the opportunity to experience to remember just how visible we are and how many brave men and women fight for the freedoms we exercise daily often with little remembrance of the lives that have been lost allowing us to do so.

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We spent about 40 minutes on the memorial, though I likely could have spent the entire day in reflection.

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When we were notified that it was time for our tour group to depart the memorial, we got in line and boarded the boat for our return trip.  Feeling quite nostalgic we made the impulsive decision to also head over to see the USS Missouri which I did not book in advance, nor was it $4.95.  By the time we boarded the shuttle bus which took us from Pearl Harbor to the “Mighty Mo” we were wondering if we’d made the right choice.  We were all tired from jet-lag and from being out in the bright sun.  This sounds silly since we live in a desert, but the sun in Hawaii is different the sun back home, and it was wearing on us.

Once we got to the “Mighty Mo” we were assigned a tour group and started our tour.  Our tour guide was passionate about the USS Missouri, but we found ourselves wishing we’d been assigned to the guide before our group or after ours as they were far more entertaining.  Still, it was a very neat experience to have been present in the place where the United States entered WWII and to also be present in the place where our war with Japan ended.

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We departed the USS Missouri and took the Shuttle back to the main entrance plaza.  After picking up a few souvenirs we decided to head back to Aulani for a nap and to finally get our feet in the water!

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