Sunday, July 07, 2013

Fun in the tropical sun, Honolulu, Hawaii!!! June 2013

Okay, so where did we leave off. Oh yes that's right. We arrived in Honolulu. Around 10:30am, Friday June 21st. My mom was set to arrive in 2 hours. So I quickly snapped 2 of these pics, and figures they both came out blurry, hahaha! Aw well. : ) We took the rental car shuttle from the airport to the car rental place, which is about 3 minutes away from the airport, so very close. We rented our car. And then we headed to Target to buy us a prepaid cell phone for $14.99.
Inside Target. Probably one of my most favorite American places to shop. : ) Nice stuff and affordable prices. Anyway we didn't get a chance to look around. We literally found the phone we wanted, paid for it in the electronics department. But before we left Target, I wanted to price check some Rice a Roni first.
$1.37 a box. Not bad....not bad at all. In fact I went back later and bought some.
We went back and picked up my mom. I called my mom on her cell phone and she was at the luggage carousal picking up her luggage. I spotted her right away. She spotted me right away too. Noboru meanwhile was parked curbside with the rental car. We hugged and then talked a mile a minute my mom and I. All the way into the car. My mom sat in the backseat with Branden and Noah. And they chit chatted until we got to Bob's BBQ.
I had the chargrill teriyaki chicken. So did the rest of us. It was fantastic!
Branden and Noah enjoying theirs.  Anyway, hotel check in, in Hawaii is 3pm. The only mild bump to that, is our flight got in at 10:30am and my mom's got in at 12:30pm. So, needless to say we had time to kill. So we decided to hit up Target. Plus we also purchased drinks for the hotel and snacks for the beach the next day type thing also at Target. Vitamin Waters were only $1 each.
The 5 of us went to Target. We actually walked all the aisles and by the time we left and considering the drive, it was the right time to check into the hotel. : ) So we dropped my mom off at her hotel and then we went and checked into ours.
I have 3 favorite places to stay while in Honolulu. My favorite place to stay is at the Ala Moana hotel because it's close to the Ala Moana shopping center, the rooms are clean and modern. But the only downside is the charge to park a car there, even if you are a guest. In fact in Honolulu period every hotel pretty much charges it's guests a parking fee. Daily fees can range from $15-40 per day. And yes that can get expensive considering you are already paying for the room on top of that. The only hotel in the Waikiki area that does not charge a parking fee to it's guests is the Illima hotel. That's where we stayed. And not have to pay an additional $30 per day for the parking on top of what we paid for our room was nice. The hotel is sparkling clean. In fact when you walk from the car parking to the hotel elevator the first smell that hits you is bleach. It is indeed very clean this place. However it was built like in the 70's or something, so brand new.... it is not! So if you want brand new stay at the Ala Moana hotel for sures or the Holiday Inn Beachcomber that's my other fave. But if you want super clean and don't mind an older building and if you are renting a car especially because you want to enjoy the entire island. Then pick the Illima Hotel. The rooms are ginormous and clean. But it's not new. Here a pic of the boys when we first entered the room.
The bathroom, useful, clean but basic. I think they bleach their shower curtains in fact I'd be willing to bet on it.
Our first nights dinner we went to the Hard Rock Cafe.
I had the chicken fajitas, omg these were so good!
Noboru and Noah.  Branden sat to my left and my mom sat between Noah and I.
My mom enjoyed this massive BBQ plate. She couldn't eat it all. My mom's just too small. She's only 5' 2" tall (157.48 cm tall) and I'm not much taller, I often say I'm 5'4" but I fall between 5'3"-5'4" hahaha. : )  She did enjoy her meal though. ; )
Branden and Noah checking out the Hard Rock Cafe jeep after dinner. : )
The next day, Saturday we headed to Kailua beach to spend the entire day there! We had went to Jack in the Box for breakfast. My mom bought a big salad from there for her lunch at the beach. And we bought subs from Subway the rest of us for lunch for later. : ) We also brought some drinks we bought at Target the day before.
This beach is so gorgeous! It's breath taking! And yes that is Noah walking along the beach. You can double click most of these pics on this post, if you want. : )
Not a care in the world. 2 brothers having the time of their life! : )
Noboru loves to be hands on with both the boys! He's just that type of dad. : ) So the boys are super lucky! Noboru and Noah in this pic, waiting for a bigger wave to ride on.
I zoomed in a bit.
Noah smiling and having a blast!
Noah my sweet 7 year old!
Riding in together!
Smiles and a look of having total fun! Coming from Branden! They do have a pretty great childhood, these boys. : )
Waiting and watching. Will it be a wonker of a wave? A dud? Or will it be a good sized one!
Ride it Noah, ride it!
Noboru helping Branden. Our whole family just had the best day, you guys! : )  I was in the water for most of the day. And I boogie boarded 5 times or so that day. : )
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Time for lunch! Semi froze Vitamin Waters meant they were nice and cold and perfect temps by the time lunch rolled around.
Branden had a foot long Italian BMT.
Noah digging right in! He had a 6 inch Italian meatball sub with provolone cheese.
And what a view I had while enjoying my lunch! My 2 best boys, meaning Branden and Noah. My husband and best friend, meaning Noboru. And my mom, my awesome mom. Family is very important to me. And I honestly couldn't think of a better way to spend my Saturday...then with the ones I love! Corny or cheesy or not, but it's true! : )
My mom swam and frolicked in the ocean with us for a while. And she also went up to our area and enjoyed her book and bottle of Perrier. She's currently reading Fifty Shades Freed. And those are her fashionable reading glasses. : )  My mom also took many pictures of the boys and of me and stuff. And I took many of her and the boys and stuff also. Not to be pictured here of course, those are private pics. But yeah we had a blast Saturday. : ) After a full day on the beach, we all went to our hotels and showered and stuff. And then we went to Sam's Club (my mom has a membership, so I was able to get some stuff from there) and then we went to Walmart downstairs. Walmart and Sam's Club are right in Waikiki, next to the Ala Moana mall.
The 5 of us about to enter Sam's Club. I have a Costco membership of course but not a Sam's Club one. So, it was nice for us to get to walk around and to also purchase a good little amount from here too.
We went and had Pizza Hut/Taco Bell for dinner Saturday night.  We all had a very nice relaxing day. And wanted to end it.... low key also. So this was nice. I had a pepperoni pizza and a bean and cheese burrito.
Branden had a pizza and a taco.
Noah had 3 tacos.
The next morning we went to Ihop for breakfast.
Jelly donut pancakes...tiramisu pancakes...banana graham nut pancakes. They had so many varieties.
Butter pecan syrup, Old fashioned syrup...and blueberry and strawberry.
Again we had a nice relaxing breakfast. Watched many tourists walk by.
We walked Waikiki after breakfast. And to do a little shopping in the tourist trap called the International Market Place. You know it's a tourists trap. But, they do have great stuff and some stuff not found anywhere else. Like trinkets and bracelets that say Honolulu.....or Aloha type suitcases. You know what I mean. But yeah it's here. And prices are negotiable. Know that. You are supposed to haggle. Noboru is a fantastic haggler. He's famous for it. And my mom is a haggler like you wouldn't believe! She has no fear about haggling the price down. And that's a good thing.
We knew we wanted to get a handful of souvenirs from here. And so we had eaten a good breakfast and in we went!
The boys have been enjoying their shark book. And so it was known before we ever even got to Honolulu they both wanted a shark tooth necklace. 2 for $5 is not a bad price. They each picked up 1 of these. But they also got bigger shark tooth necklaces and they were more expensive but not to worry, my mom and Noboru haggled that lady down to a very fair price for Branden and Noah's bigger shark tooth necklaces. Hahaha. : ) Everyone was happy when we left...the lady made a sale and we were happy about the price. So a win win for everyone. After we bought our souvenirs we walked Waikiki and wanted to take a pic with Duke. Famous statue in Waikiki. This will be on our New year's card this year.
As we 5 happily strolled with souvenirs in hand and shark teeth around the boys necks. We saw this shop. The Stupid Factory. We read the shirts in the window and we literally laughed out loud! We lol'ed so hard. : )
Shark teeth necklaces around their necks. And a tourist type pic taken. : )
We took some pics on Waikiki beach. Sorry... but Kailua beach is much prettier. Whiter sand and a clearer prettier light blue water : )
Duke and the boys! We adults, my mom and I snapped tons of the boys. And then Noboru took some of my mom and I together with Duke. And then we switched and took a few other pics.
I had to get a drink while walking. Pardon the ghostly white pale digit, but on the bright side at least you can see my pink nail! Yay! : )
Yep, this was for me. : ) We all now headed to a local mall. No real tourists. We headed to Pearlridge Shopping Center. We went to the Bath and Bodyworks. And they had a good sale, so I bought some hand washes. My mom bought a very beautiful bright red Michael Kors leather bag at Macy's.
We had lunch at the food court at the Pearlridge..
Their biscuits omg!
Branden enjoying his. My mom was feeling a little sleepy, so she wanted to rest. We drove her back to her hotel. My mom just turned 60 this year, yet she looks only 50! Her skin is flawless and amazing! She does a weekly Zumba class in California, a couple times a week. But we do zip everywhere while on vacation so I can understand her wanting to rest a bit.: ) We meanwhile went to check out The Face Shop.
I was so excited to go here!
The ladies working here were so nice! They were helpful. They warmly welcomed me when I came in. They left me alone when I shopped but when I had a question she came immediately. I was wanting the Rice Water face cleanser. I told her I have 1 super tiny but light freckle on my right cheek area and I'd like to whiten that and hopefully fade out that freckle. She then said well the rice water one will fade out the freckle. But this new cleanser will actually make your entire face 1 shade whiter. It is not the Snow line. It's a different one. I was like really? She said all the girls in the shop are loving it!!! And she said it is great for combo/oily skin. I had told her I am combo/oily but more oily in Summer. I'm pretty ghostly anyway. I'm an NC15 in Mac. But sure, I told her I wouldn't mind a blank slate of pure whiteness. Meaning goodbye 1 freckle. : ) Sure. So I bought the 2 face washes. I also bought cleansing wipes. And a peel. She left me alone, like I said, but when I had a question about the peel and looked in her direction she came right away. Smiling and helpful...just really helpful. She was Korean American, she told me. And the lady working the register must have been from South Korea because her English wasn't too great but she had the most gorgeous white flawless skin. They all had amazing skin in the shop. Anyway I left with a bunch of stuff I had wanted to get. Next was to Tony Moly.
This is located right near the Walmart near the Ala Moana Mall. But closer to the Walmart, but a few blocks down. It is very hard to find because look at this picture! No store sign saying Tony Moly. Ykwim. How... The Face Shop had a big sign saying The Face Shop. Yet, there's no sign here.
If you break out your magnifying glass... you can see very small words above the OPEN sign to the left and it does say Tony Moly. But my goodness! Please get a bigger sign! Ladies do like to shop providing we can read the sign! Hahaha. : ) 2 ladies working in here. The store was dead. Could be the no sign outside though. : ) I did get 2 of the 3 things I had wanted from the Tony Moly off my list though. So that's the bright side. And the 3rd thing was sold out, but no worries, I bought it at Narita this week, so I'm good. : )
The next day, we all went to make a lap of the island. We drove to the North Shore to enjoy some famous Kahuku shrimp. And to head to the Dole Pineapple Plantation. We have enjoyed shrimp at the North Shore for years. This time we went to try Giovanni's. We weren't fans! I'm sorry to say.
$13 bucks a plate. So not unaffordable by any means.... but yes a little pricey for a lunch per person! But that is the going rate. If you check online, there are half who swear Giovanni's is the best and half say they didn't like it. We have never eaten here before. And I don't know why, but we tried it this time. We should have went to Fumi's. Anyway no sense in crying over spilled milk, so to speak. It happened. : ) And the silver lining is, at least we now know it isn't for us. Also there is a 7-11 near, so I would suggest buying drinks there, because it's cheaper.
This was mine. I think I had 3 shrimp before I admitted...I can't eat it. Branden couldn't either.
My mom bought the boys each a disposable camera. She asked them to take pics from their perspective of their vacation and she let them have at it! It was a great idea because I enjoyed watching the boys take pics during our vacation.
Noah doesn't care for shrimp, so he had 2 ...100% beef hot dogs from 7-11.
Branden's and mine way too hot kind in the center. And Branden's and my new plate also pictured. We had a laugh over this. Let me preface this by saying we all like spicy in our family. Okay you all know that. And also it's fair to say, you all know we eat the shrimp in Hawaii every time we come here. Meaning in Kahuku or at Andy's whatever. But we eat the shrimp on island every time we come here. So that's a given too. We always order the spicy garlic from each and every place and so that's what we ordered from here too. This shrimp was so hot.... it was inedible hot. And I do tend to be a slight cheapskate and I do hate the thought of wasting food. It literally makes me sick thinking about wasting food. But yeah...by shrimp 3, I realized I couldn't eat it. I just couldn't. It tasted like shrimp in a gallon of Tabasco. You could strongly taste the Tabasco kick. It had tabasco and chili flakes. No real good flavor at all. Just fire. If I had known it was tabasco based, trust me.... I would have went elsewhere. Given the $13 a plate. I ate 1 shrimp...was pure fire, but wanted to eat it so said nothing. Ate shrimp #2. Coughed. And then started to wonder if it would eat a hole in my stomach. It was not tasty spicy... it was just hot fire! Pure hot and no good flavor imo. Noboru was also pretty disappointed. My mother lucked out because she didn't order spicy at all she ordered the garlic butter to begin with. Branden also tried to not complain but, I had him stop eating it, I could tell it was much too much for this kid. You can see our cherry cokes from 7-11 in this pic. Noboru knows we're not complainers and he knew it was much too hot for us, so he went and bought us 2 new butter garlic shrimps. Noboru on the other hand, didn't like the flavor but he can handle any amount of heat. So he ate all 3 platters. He told my mom and me, I had always wanted to have an endless supply of shrimp and so the bright side is now I will have had my fill. : ) But Noboru did say we'd never go back and I agree. And even the butter garlic see that stuff on top of the rice. It was flavorful but after a while it was like grease or butter soaked rice. No offense to Giovanni's but this place just wasn't for us. I know some folks really love this place. But yeah never again for us. If tabasco based shrimp seems right up your alley, you'll love this place though. : )
The North Shore indeed. : )
The Dole Pineapple Plantation. The boys, both Branden and Noah. Noah with hat.
And 1 without hat. : )
We lightly walked around the shop, got an idea of what we'd like to buy. Then we went and bought some ice cream and enjoyed it outside. This was mine. Pineapple ice cream and fresh pineapple. So good!
Noah picked a regular cone with his pineapple ice cream.
Branden picked a waffle cone with pineapple ice cream. My mom picked the same thing Branden did. : )
Noboru picked the same thing I did. : )
Branden looking at the pineapples.
I always enjoy this sign with how many miles to all these different places.
Noah, his shark tooth necklace and a pineapple.
This was another sign and it said Guam on there! And the boys wanted to take this picture and show grandpa! : )  So if you're reading this dad, this pic is for you! : )
The 5 of us got really silly in these! If you only could see all the funny pics we took of each other! You'd laugh so hard! : )
Noah getting silly! : )
Growing chocolate! And we also saw lots of coffee growing while on our drive also. : )
I bought one of these. Choice was pineapple, banana or mango. I picked banana. : )
The Red Lobster. Amazing how we could eat shrimp for supper after eating shrimp for lunch. Hahaha. We do love our shrimp though. : ) They are famous for their cheddar garlic biscuits. They are free for customers and they refill these during the meal a lot.
Noah enjoying a delicious cheddar garlic biscuit.
Noboru and Branden too.
Salad and even more biscuits.
My meal. Given I had the scampi for lunch, I didn't want it for dinner. So I had the fried shrimp for dinner. With a butter and cheese baked potato.
The next day we went back to Kailua beach.
We brought a lunch with us again. And spent another nice long relaxing day on the beach. My mom had beach time and water time and also read her book too.
Family time along the beach. It's the simple things in life. As most of you know, I don't do Facebook or Pinterest, I don't Instagram or tweet. : ) I am pretty out of the know when it comes to stuff like that. And that's okay by me, it's intentional. : ) I know every one's different and just for me personally, I don't want to use my time on stuff like that. I prefer spend my time on things that really matter to me, like my kids or my husband or my family, my mom and my dad. Enjoying traveling. Or just being floored by how awesome life can be at times. Or how pretty it can be. If you're into that stuff and I know most of the world population is....that's fine and there's probably many pros to being on those types of places. : )   I'm just not into those. : ) For me...I read emails. I skype my friends and family often. And I somehow manage to maintain this little ol' blog here. And that's it. that's just all I am willing to spend my free time on....online wise. Otherwise I'd prefer be in the backyard having a  BBQ or being at a beach or pool some place with my husband and kids. : )  And while I was on vacation, I read my emails once in the morning (replied to family) but didn't check in again until the next day. : )  Friends I caught up with when I got back to Japan and they all knew I wasn't really available on vacation beforehand though.... and they're the same way also. : ) So it was fine. : )
The boys.
Noah having a blast!
We all had a blast.

We had Andy's shrimp for dinner that night. So delicious and fantastic spicy garlic flavor! We took it back to our hotel and enjoyed it there. There's just so many days and so many places we went. We went to the Ala Moana shopping center twice. We spent about an hour at the Crocs shop at the Ala Moana mall once, lol. Noboru picked Crocs, my mom picked Crocs, we all left with a pair of shoes. : ) Just so many days and nights we did stuff. 1 night we strolled and shopped at the International Marketplace and I bought a gorgeous little flower bag. We bought coconut and also banana pancake mix. One morning my mom called me and said, "Gina I just bought you and I cute little dresses with hibiscus on them" :  ) Again there was just a full week of breakfasts, lunches and dinners, mall visits, beach visits. Tons of family time. Just a really nice quality trip.
My mom's hotel. Then the day came and it was her day to leave. : ( She had to check out of her hotel by 11am. But her flight wasn't until 11pm. So no worries, we picked her up at 10am at her hotel and I made sure she got all checked out and stuff and then Branden and I helped her with her luggage into our rental car. My mom's jean jacket and bag and hibiscus/aloha travel bag she bought for her souvenirs, pictured here.
One of my mother's leather Michael Kors bags. She also brought her little tan leather Michael Kors one also... it's a cross-body type. She has a Louis Vuitton collection and handbag collection period that could rival any one's. I also think the actual size of my mom's walk-in closet could rival the Kardashian's walk in closet, lol.  : )  She's gorgeous my mom and kind and loving and always has been so stylish. And fwiw, she drives/owns a black Cadillac Escalade. Yes same car Tiger Woods, The Rock and Usher drives, lol. She also has a smaller super equally nice car she uses for zipping to the store. I'm pretty protective of my parents on this blog and am extremely careful and mindful what I say about them. But I will just say, it's peace of mind knowing both my parents are financially secure and have no worries.
My mothers sun hat in her straw bag to the left and her cute little blingy sandals in that same straw bag. Her black luggage pictured here also. We dropped my mom's luggage off in our hotel room and we went to lunch. The 5 of us. : )
We went and had a nice simple lunch at Taco Bell.
Then we went to the Famous Footwear in Honolulu, where we bought the boys a pair of Nike sneakers for school. Brand new 2013 model sneakers for the both of them. I had wanted a pair of sandals but they didn't have my size... so my mom went and had the lady call the other shop, they had them in my size and she asked them to hold them for us. So we drove to Waikele Premium Outlets to Famous Footwear. I purchased 3 pair of shoes from that particular Famous Footwear. And we bought Noah a pair from the Crocs shop at Waikele also.
We then went to the Walmart near-ish to Waikele. After that we went back to the hotel and we all took a nap. My mom and I took a nap on 1 bed and the boys napped on the other bed. Noboru wasn't sleepy but he enjoyed an hour or two of down time in the room also. When we woke up, it was time to eat and drop my mom off at the airport. : (
We then went to Popeye's. Guam has KFC but no Church's or Popeye's (Popeye's in available on base though and I do have access to it, but never go there). So we took advantage of us being there and we had this.
Their mashed potatoes and chicken and biscuits are so good. Branden said he prefers Popeye's to Church's. Hahaha. : ) I think so too. : )
Noboru being a gentleman and being a good son in law wheeled my mom's stuff into the airport. My mom hugged me and she said "don't cry" And I tried very hard not to cry. I saw her eyes were watery. And I think my eyes instantly got watery too. The boys hugged grandma. Branden said, "I wish you didn't have to leave grandma" She told them to be good boys and that grandma loves them so so so much! : (  Noboru hugged my mom and my mom said she adores Noboru and how calm he is.  : )  She's right, he's very chill, my husband. : ) And then she left. Also important to add....Branden loved how my mom's cell phone rang and the tune was Goyte's Somebody That I used to Know. Both the boys thought grandma was so freaking cool! My mom and Branden looked for the Brittney Spears song with Will. I. Am. "Scream and Shout". Because as my mom told Branden, her Zumba class plays that song a lot and she loves that song! Branden was like @.@  "mommy, grandma's SO cool!" : ) Hahaha. And she also bought the CD of Bruno Mars before she left also. So needless to say, Branden and Noah both think their grandma is so rad! : )  We dropped my mom at the airport around 8:30pm and her flight was at 11pm. But when checking in for the flight back to the mainland.... the crowds get crazy busy and we wanted her to go right in. And she did. She zipped through the check in counter and right through the TSA. We had a night without my mom. And I admit, I missed her. : ) But I also wanted us to enjoy our last night, so though we missed grandma already we did enjoy our last night also. And we did. She did call me on her cell to mine...when she boarded the plane to say good bye and that she loved me. : ) The next morning was our turn.... we left back to Japan. Wow hard to believe a week had passed. It was a fantastic trip but it was time for us to go home. : )
After checking, in and going through the TSA line. We went downstairs to the private Delta Lounge.  They have free breakfast and drinks down there. Sparkling clean bathrooms and big nice comfy seats and places to rest before your flight boards. So we sat down there in private. I had a strawberry yogurt with granola and a toasted bagel with butter.
Noah had waffles and a yogurt. The windows are all blacked out... so we can see outside but people walking passed here couldn't see us inside. It looks mirrored from the outside. Which was nice for privacy. The view was lovely though. : )  The flight back to Japan was the same as the flight to Hawaii, big seats that lay down to beds, 2 great meals with snacks in between. We all had sundaes again except Noboru always picks plain vanilla. : ) And then we landed in Narita, Japan.
Noah at Narita airport with 1 pair of his new Crocs on. ; )
So handsome! Branden wearing his new pair of Crocs as well and helping by holding 2 of his mom's (my) shoe bags. Nordies and Famous Footwear. : )
My same hibiscus carry-on that I've had forever. : ) Love this suitcase. : )
Our luggage. It felt great to be home.  : ) Anyway that was our family vacation to Honolulu, Hawaii this year. : )