I'm thrilled to report we successfully vacationed with our three young kids (six and under) for 10 days on Oahu and we're no worse for ware! Here's a rundown of where we stayed, what we brought, and how we lived to tell about it...It's truly not that dramatic.

About a week ago we returned from our Hawaiian travels and I've just now stopped crying and managed to peel myself off the couch. I experienced slight vacation depression...either that or I developed a slight dependency on piña coladas at 10 am every morning...following my second cup of coffee. (It really was the very best vacation morning routine...but not something to be sustained.)

Let's start with the flight. For the new eyeballs around here, we have three daughters. Kaye is six, Sawyer is four, and Elli is 1.5. Kaye and Sawyer I wasn't worried about. But with a 1.5 year old who likes to move and doesn't like to be told what's what...I was nervous. But, just because we have a sassy 1.5 year old, that doesn't mean she gets to dictate our travels.

When I started searching for flights I was shocked to see that we could fly to Oahu for less than $500 per ticket. It was on Alaska Airlines, which please note, do not have little TV's in the seat backs, but they do offer you a device for a rental fee. We had iPad's and phones, however, so we were all set.

We took off from the farm at 5:15 am for a 7:30 am departure. It's an hour drive to the Boise airport, which also happens to be the easiest airport to navigate / get through security ever. Small perk for a small airport. Our flight to Portland was one hour and 30 minutes, and our only goal was to keep Elli from falling asleep. We knew we wanted her to have a big nap on the way to Oahu. Success! The big girls were happy with just being on a plane, not to mention the 200 snacks I packed in their backpacks. (Friends - It's all about the snacks.)

After a quick layover in Portland we boarded our flight for Oahu and hoped for the best. Not a ton to report aside from Elli falling asleep after about two hours of bouncing on my or her farmer's lap. Looking over the seats to see her sisters. Enjoying a few snacks of her own. And watching some Aladdin on my phone. (As it turns out, Aladdin is her new and only favorite, so that was a win.)

Did we pack a carseat for Elli? We did. But we checked it for pickup in Oahu. I didn't want to buy a seat for Elli when I knew she wouldn't want to be sitting in it anyway.

Our trick for getting Elli down for a nap on the flight was luck. All we did was pack a pillow. I laid it on my lap and as she watched Aladdin she laid her head down and eventually fell asleep. I wish I had some better advice, but that was it. I did love having the pillow for her to sleep on because it left both of my arms free, for the most part...as opposed to having one arm trapped under her head. Elli slept for about an hour and a half, which was unfortunate. But, long enough to not have a crabby baby. For the rest of the flight she snacked on Gold Fish, fruit leathers, a Kind bar, and Veggie Straws. We brought her some milk from home in a sippy cup. Advice - Don't forget a sippy cup.

Meanwhile - The girls sat behind us with Uncle Kody (Farmer's brother). We brought Kody with us because 1. This was our first big vacation with all three and we wanted it to actually feel somewhat relaxing. 2. We knew he would be super helpful on the flights. 3. The girls love him. (So basically it was two adults for one baby and one adult for the big girls. All in all, it was a pain-free flight. Minus the fact that it was six hours. That's just a long flight.

Kaye and Sawyer both brought a backpack filled to the brim with snacks and activities. I had filled a clear, plastic, pencil bag-thing with stickers and markers. Each girl packed a new coloring book. And then each girl also had a small stack of clean paper. Really, you have to think in 20 - 30 minute increments. If it held their attention for a small period of time, I call that a win. I also bought each girl two surprise toys. One was just a little bag with several squishy animals inside. The other surprise toy was an LOL Surprise Ball. I don't know what it is about those toys, but it's all they talk about. I'll be thrilled when we move past this phase.

We arrived in Honolulu at 2:30 pm and I immediately couldn't find my rental car information in my e-mail. It had just disappeared. I didn't even know which company I had rented through. Rookie mistake. With all the other business you're juggling, print your confirmation documents out AND save them on your phone as screenshots. Truthfully, I'm not sure how I ended up finding the information. I blacked out. But, we retrieved our rental minivan and we were on our way to our VRBO.

Tip : When searching for a vacation rental, don't limit yourself! Search hotels, but also use multiple vacation rental sites like Homeaway, Airbnb and VRBO. I had been searching for a couple of weeks on Airbnb for a rental and just hadn't landed on anything I loved. Then I thought, I'll just give VRBO a look. And just like that I found the perfect spot for us for the right price.

See our vacation video below!

For four nights I booked us a condo at the Ko'Olina Beach Villas. It's on the south side of Oahu and right next to the Disney Aulani Resort. Honestly, I had never stayed on Oahu, so I was going in blind. I did a lot of travel blog reading and finally decided that Disney wouldn't put a resort in a less than ideal location...so I felt really confident that the Ko'Olina Beach Villas were going to be nice. I'm super jazzed to report - I was correct. They exceeded all of our expectations. In fact, I would say our condo was a little too nice. It had everything.

Our condo was on the 10th floor of the Ocean Tower. It had three bedrooms and three full bathrooms. The master bedroom had a decent sized walk-in closet. I confirmed that there was a pack 'n play at the condo and a high chair and there was! It couldn't have been easier. We put the pack 'n play inside the master closet and that was Elli's room...because we're good parents like that. (Truly - having that space for Elli is amazing. She's not the deepest sleeper yet, so not having to creep around and constantly worry about waking her was so so nice.)

Our condo was about 30 minutes (traffic) from the Honolulu airport. Once we got all our bags upstairs the girls immediately wanted to go swimming. We opted for a bit of pool time (even though the ocean is right there). The girls were completely happy with this and within five minutes had made friends with a Canadian family who also had three girls. Did I mention the weather? It was a sunny 80º. Absolute perfection for sipping piña coladas poolside. (There's also a bar between the ocean and the pools.)

Following pool time we knew we had to keep moving to combat the three hour time change. We wanted to get on Hawaii time as soon as possible...That meant keeping the girls awake as late as possible. We cleaned up and headed to dinner. This was a quick walk beside the ocean to a restaurant called Longboards. Friends, this restaurant may be ocean side, but it's a skip in our book. The food wasn't fantastic...It was quick and easy, though.

The next morning I woke up with Sawyer at 6 am (9 am Idaho time) and we headed to Safeway to pick up groceries. Here's what I have to say about this - Yikes. Groceries are expensive. They just are and that's how it goes. But, if you have a kitchen and you have children, you may as well invest in the staples and have a meal plan because it's way more relaxing to eat and drink at home than it is schlepping them all to a restaurant. (And our kids are good at restaurants...It was still farm more enjoyable to open the doors to the lanai, enjoy bottomless piña coladas and cook up some mahi mahi tacos. Yes please.)

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Our stay at our Ko'Olina Beach condo was better than I could have imagined. After breakfast we headed down to the ocean. All we had to do was exit the gate on the property and there was our stunning lagoon. There were literally four people there when we arrived at 10 am. It was perfectly calm and so relaxing to have zero worries about our girls playing, running around, and swimming. When it was time for Elli's nap, rather than attempting to get her down by the water (never would have happened), instead, one of us would just pop back up to the condo. It was almost too easy.

When the girls would tire of playing at the ocean we would transfer everything to the pool area where the girls would make new friends with new kids. It never failed - They were angry with us every single time it was time to go back to the condo after spending all day in the sun by the water.


On our last day before checking into Aulani we went to the Polynesian Cultural Center per the suggestion from a friend I used to work with. She lives on the North Shore near the Center and has young kids and knew it would be a hit with our girls. She was right. But friends - this place is HUGE. We were there for six hours and went beyond exhaustion and still did not even come close to seeing half of what there was to see. Buuuuut, a few highlights were the boat show, a quick hula lesson, and spear throwing...of course. Oh! And let's not forget the smoothie straight of of the pineapple. That was also a huge hit with the girls.

That night the farmer and I left the girls with Uncle Kody and headed to Monkeypod for a little date night. The food was delicious as were the cocktails. We both enjoyed a Monkeypod Mai Thai, which is strong, but has this delicious foam topping. Highly recommend. It was super busy, so I definitely recommend a reservation.


The next day was move-in day at Aulani and also our final day with our rental car and Uncle Kody. We headed to the store to get a few more groceries and soon after received a text that our room was ready for an early check-in. (I headed to the front desk in the morning to request early check-in. Apparently, this is the only way to do it. You have to physically be at the resort.)

We unpacked and were out the door again as fast as humanly possible...per our girls. They were wide-eyed and completely blown away by the surroundings. Truly, the music, decor, lush greenery, cleanliness...It's all so beautiful. We went to Aunti's Beach House first. We were fully prepared with our registration (I filled this out and printed it before we left Idaho) and ID's to get the girls ready for fun. The staff took our family picture and gave the girls bracelets (trackers). We toured the house and when we tried to leave the girls beeeegggggged to stay. Truly. No swimming. No pool. No Dole Whip. Just Aunti's Beach House. And who am I to deny them their vacation? Being the good parents we are, we kissed them goodbye and took Elli for cocktails and oceanside ping pong. Literally.

When we got back to our one-bedroom villa (bedroom + living room with pullouts) we realized that the luau was almost completely set up...right outside our door. We decided that before paying over $100 p/ticket we would watch the luau from our lanai to see what it was all about. Here's what we discovered : The music and dancers are amazing. It appears to be a great show. There are drinks and so much food. The whole thing looked really lovely! (If you don't have small kids.) We were able to witness so many young children (ages 1ish - 3ish) who just couldn't sit for the show. Parents were wandering around the lawn with them while the other parents were at the table alone or with the older kids. So, while Kaye and Sawyer would have fully enjoyed the experience, it wasn't on Elli's playlist. We skipped it this time, but when we head back to Hawaii we'll definitely try one out.



Our next days consisted of a little routine : Breakfast at the condo, a walk across the way to Island Vintage Coffee (delicious coffee, very cute shop, amazing acai bowls), followed by dropping the big girls off at Aunti's Beach House. (Yes, they were obsessed with Aunti's Beach House. I was too. But I'll talk more about that in my next post.) We would then take Elli back to the room for her nap. We would head to the pool, grab a cocktail, go for a walk by the ocean, and keep it so low-key. Which was glorious because our lives are always so go-go-go. Not to mention, anytime we get in the car it takes at least an hour to get to our destination. So the fact that 1. we didn't have a car and 2. we didn't have anywhere we needed to drive = the best ever.

Each morning Elli definitely woke up early. It could have been worse. Between Idaho and Hawaii there is a three hour time change. So having Elli wake up at 6 am as opposed to 3 am - no complaints. However...The one morning we actually needed to be awake at a certain time...we all slept in. We had reservations for a character breakfast at 7:15 am and at 7am my eyes shot open. It was a very Home Alone situation where Kevin's mom shoots up in bed and screams, "WE SLEPT IN!" And then the entire family goes flying around the house trying to get out the door. That was us - 100%. But we were dressed, teeth brushed, hair fixed (kind of), and out the door in 10 minutes. No joke. Also no joke - me fresh out of bed with no makeup. Please reference puffy faces...on all of us. And my collar.




The good news - the resort is actually pretty small-ish, so getting from our room to the restaurant took about three minutes. We were seated quickly and given coffee nearly immediately. Bless them. They invited us to hit the buffet and we told the girls to go wild. (I mean...kids don't eat free at Disney.) There was tons of fresh fruit, an omelette station, waffles, bacon, sausage, ham, seafood, oatmeal, desserts...the list goes on and on and on. The girls had never seen anything like it. And you know what, the food was good! Buffets always have me skeptical - but no complains from anyone in our party. You can even order mimosas, Bloody Mary's, etc.


The pools were so so fun. There was a crazy treehouse with two waterslides for younger kids. Elli mostly enjoyed keeping her feet firmly in the shallow water. But the girls took full advantage, made friends, and ran ran ran. So much running. There was also a little splashpad that Elli really loved. It's small and it was never very busy, so I really loved taking Elli there to enjoy. Sawyer liked it too.

During one afternoon our Farmer took Kaye "snorkeling". There's a designated saltwater pool with fish, coral, and artifacts. They give you masks and flippers and let you go at it. I wasn't sure how Kaye would do...but she's a fish and enjoyed the one on one time with her Farmer. I enjoyed knowing she wasn't going to get eaten by a shark.

Fun fact - I'm terrified of shallow water attacks. Do I have any logical reason for this fear? No. Not at all.

The highlight of the pools for me were the two bigger slides. All of us were able to enjoy them...and Sawyer (our cautious one) even did the fast slide by herself. When she was getting ready to go down one of the people in line said, "Is she going to do that by herself?" Yes...and she did. And she loved it. Elli (one year old) would go on the double tube with her Farmer or me. I'd say she probably didn't enjoy the slides as much as the rest of us...but no frightened looks, so we went with it.

One of the nights our Farmer took Elli for an hour and the big girls and I signed up for an art class. They seat you at a table and then there's an instructor who takes you through steps to draw a character. It was so cute and the girls really enjoyed the drawing of Stitch and the painting of Minnie Mouse. The finished products made for perfect take-home keepsakes.

Another sweet feature are the movie offerings. As much as we like to go go go, it's super fun to chill out. There were two movie offerings -

1. Movie on the lawn - One of the nights at 8pm they handed out mats for families to sit on to watch a movie on a giant screen on the lawn. The lawn was just outside of our room, so technically we could have watched from there...but it was fun to go down and see it on the big screen up close. The girls cuddled in and I may have fallen asleep.

2. There is a room you can visit with hundreds of Disney movies (new and old). You're allowed to take two at a time back to your room. At that same spot you can snag board games, coloring sheets, sign up for activities, or just hang out on the comfy sofas / chairs.

We enjoyed all of the above. If ever there was a family to take advantage of all the features of a place...we're that family. Give us all the amenities. All of them.

It was a vacation I'll treasure forever. And as much as my Farmer despises anything mainstream (don't get me started), he'll tell you it was special too. Or at least the piña coladas were special. The location was perfect. The weather was stellar. And while at the end of 10 days I was ready to have a break from vacation and get back to our normal routine at home...I'm definitely ready to go back...tomorrow.

And you guys - I know it's been a full month since we returned, but I wanted to get the recap down first and then in my next post I'm going to answer all the questions you asked over on Instagram. Or, if you have questions right now, ask them in the comments!

More Photos!