I’m back from my vacation in Hawaii! You don’t need me to tell you how awesome America’s 50th state is, but I will tell you that I learned a lot during my week in paradise and I’ll share my thoughts with you now.
REVELATION #1 – Every parent travelling with young children should own an iPad: In sports, a coach will give the game ball to the player on his/her team who had the most outstanding performance, and without question my game ball goes to the iPad. Between Dora The Explorer episodes and the “Duck, Duck, Moose” learning apps (which are awesome, by the way), that device made the two five-hour flights simple and easy. Other than the fact that I plan to compose a “Thank You” letter to the good folks at Apple when I’m done composing this post (I’m not kidding either), I have nothing further to say about the iPad’s epic abilities to keep a toddler quietly entertained.
REVELATION #2 – Mother Nature is a MILF: Yeah, I said it – Mama Nature is absolutely MILF-tastic. Is there a better way to describe a woman with billions of kids that’s literally as old as dirt that looks as good as she does? All jokes aside, I’ve never seen more beautiful scenery than I saw in Hawaii. Lush landscapes, bright blue ocean and skies, and pristine beaches to die for. Once I got home, I realized that I spend way too much time indoors. Before the days of Playstations, iPads, and MacBooks, how did our parents enjoy themselves as children? They played OUTSIDE! Wiffle ball, hide and go seek, flag football, camping, etc. As a technology geek, I’m not going to say that our children shouldn’t have gadgets – I just believe that our kids should spend more time outdoors being active. And not to sound like a public service announcement here, but childhood obesity is kind of a big deal in America. Since I’m typing this entry at 1:00 AM on a Friday night, I plan to spend the day at the park with Little DDW tomorrow (Saturday) instead of being parked on my couch watching Dora and college football. It doesn’t matter if you live in America or Australia or anywhere in between – you should make an effort to explore nature with your children. It will serve as a great reminder of how beautiful our planet truly is.
REVELATION #3 – People are funny: You may not know this, but the island of Kauai is overrun with roosters. You literally cannot walk five feet without seeing one. While MDW was surfing, I took Little DDW to breakfast and we were sitting at a table behind two women (probably in their late 30’s/early 40’s). As a rooster strolled by their table, one of the ladies said, “Hawaii is the only place where I’m OK with having a cock in my face first thing in the morning.” I almost spit my orange juice all over the table in laughter. Little DDW also laughed – which was cute and disturbing at the same time.
Come to think of it, I’m not quite sure why I included this story in the first place. Moving on…
REVELATION #4 – Face your fears: A funny thing happens when you’re completely relaxed in paradise – you think you can conquer anything. My fear of frogs is well documented, but many of you are probably unaware of the fact that I’m deathly afraid of heights too. God created the law of gravity for a reason and I’m no law-breaker. However, when MDW and I were planning our excursions, I said, “Fuck it, let’s go ziplining.” In the interest of full-disclosure, MDW and I went ziplining during our honeymoon four years ago, but it was the “Punk Ass” zipline (as MDW called it) that was barely five feet off the ground. The one we tried last week was the second longest zipline in the world, so it definitely wasn’t for punks. Was I scared? Hell yes, I was. Did I do it anyway? Check out the picture here and see for yourself. Over the course of time, I’ve learned that you never regret the stuff you do as much as you regret the stuff you DON’T do. I’m so proud of myself for doing this and I challenge all of you to confront one (just one) of your fears before the end of the year. You’ll find that it’s not nearly as scary as you made it out to be. To show that I’m in this with you, I’m going to have someone take a picture of me holding a frog before the end of the year. Many of you are probably thinking, “What’s the big deal? Frogs aren’t scary! They’re cute!” Let me put this in perspective for you: I’d rather zipline over a sea of molten lava, naked, while covered in snakes and spiders than hold a frog for ten seconds. That said, I WILL do this. Editor’s Note: By “this,” I mean hold a frog for ten seconds…I just want to ensure we’re on the same page here.
REVELATION #5: Hold your little ones close while you still can: My 20-month old daughter can be a little wild and unpredictable (similar to every other toddler on the planet). Because of this, I’m not very comfortable with having her run loose in areas that I’m unfamiliar with (especially areas with vehicle traffic). Luckily, I brought the Ergo baby carrier with me so she could be safe and still see all of what Hawaii had to offer. You know what? It was awesome for me – and I’m assuming it was awesome for her too as she kept saying, “Daddy UP! Daddy UP!” to put her inside of it. I don’t take any of these moments for granted because I know that it’s only a matter of time before she gets too big for the Ergo. Oh – and since she’s currently 3 feet tall and 34 lbs, that “matter of time” could arrive by the time you’re finished reading this post.
REVELATION #6 – Memories > Material Items: A few years ago, I had the pleasure of speaking with a wealthy man. I asked him for a bit of financial advice, and he told me, “If you’re going to spend big money on material items, make sure that you only do so for a house and a good camera. Everything else is a waste. Other than that, big money should be spent on events that will create lasting memories like vacations, weddings, and birthdays.” Now that I’m a dad, I couldn’t agree more.
I’ll be completely honest here, Hawaii is a lot of things – but “cheap” is not one of them. Between airfare, lodging, rental car, food/drinks, and excursions, it’s going to set you back at least a few thousand dollars combined for you and your family. But think about it – what would you rather spend that money on? A down payment for a fancy car so you can look cool to people who don’t give a damn about you? A designer handbag that your girlfriends will “ooh and ahh” over? A flat-screen TV that will be obsolete within a year? Think about when you were a kid – what do you remember more, the type of TV your parents owned or your family vacations? I still have the pictures from my first ever family vacation – and when I’m dead and buried, I hope that Little DDW shares the photos from this vacation with her friends and children. If you have to choose between memories or material items, choose memories EVERY damn time. Your kids will thank you for it.
REVELATION #7 – Follow your dreams: On our way back to Los Angeles, I noticed a beautiful family sitting in the aisle next to me. The mom and dad were very good-looking and extremely kind – and their kids (an 8-year old daughter and an 11-year old son) were two of the cutest, most well-behaved kids I have ever seen in my life. I was so amazed by this Hallmark family that I had to say something to them. I approached the mom and we had the following conversation:
Me: “So what brings you to Los Angeles?”
Mom: “Well, we lived in Hawaii, but we just decided to sell everything – our house, our cars, our furniture – to buy an RV and drive it across country for a year.”
Me: “Wha..? Really? What about the kids? Aren’t they in school?”
Mom: “We figured that there isn’t a better way to learn about American history than to actually visit the places that they would read about in the history books.”
Me: “Wow, that’s really cool.”
Mom: “Yeah, a lot of people think that we’re irresponsible and crazy – but this was a dream of ours and the kids are excited for this adventure. You don’t regret the stuff you do as much as you regret the stuff you DON’T do, right?”
Sounds familiar to me.
Editor’s Note: Before any of you judge these folks for doing this, let me tell you that this family has its shit together. I could tell instantly by meeting them that they have the “IT” factor to succeed in this world and I have no doubts about the fact that they’ll be just fine. Lisa (the mom) – I know you’re reading this. You and your family have inspired me. I’m sure you will come across haters who will say how crazy your adventure is, but I will not be one of them. Props to you, my new friend!
Editor’s Note #2: Lisa and I became “email buddies” and I shared my Achieving Happy post with her. In doing so, I found out that her husband lost a loved one in the Twin Towers during 9/11. She also mentioned how that unfortunate incident helped to change her family’s life for the better as well. Eerie…
OK, that’s what I’ve learned in my week away in paradise. Life is way too short for you to only be truly happy during your yearly vacation. Do whatever you can do to make EVERY day a happy and productive day for you and your loved ones. Trust me, if I can do it – there is absolutely no doubt that you can too.