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Oahu Trip

I was born and raised on Oahu, HI

and am part Native Hawaiian. A lot of people have this common misconception that if you're born in Hawaii, that makes you Hawaiian. However, that simply isn't true. To be Native Hawaiian, is a racial - not a geographical, birthright. Native Hawaiian runs in both my families bloodlines. I just happen to carry more Okinawan and Native American physical traits than the majority of my family members. I have traveled back and forth to Hawaii from Los Angeles many times. Each time I come back to the islands, it feels more like I'm returning "home" than just coming back for a vacation.


Throughout our recent Oahu trip, we met some old friends, shared some laughs, and ate some damn good "ono" (delicious) food. Even though we struggled with toddler tantrums, crazy blood sugars, traffic, and a slight pump malfunction; we still managed to have fun beyond type one. Which is also why I'll try to focus this particular post more on the positive aspects of our trip versus all the diabetes crap we normally have to deal with since T1d never takes a vacation.

Waikiki Trolley Ride - First time ever!

South to East Oahu

The first few nights, we stayed at the Hilton Hawaiian Village in Waikiki or Waiks as the locals call it. The Hilton has many pools and ocean-facing views from select rooms. Coral enjoyed playing in the sand and the Waikiki Trolley ride around Ala Moana Shopping Center and back towards the new lavishly upgraded International Marketplace.

The New International Marketplace
We spent one of our afternoons
Yauatcha, International Marketplace
there exploring all the new high-end retail shops and dined at the most fancy dim sum restaurant we've ever been to, Yauatcha. It was definitely a splurge at prices per dim sum plate starting at around $9.00/3pcs for most of the typical dim sum selection you can find at many restaurants in Chinatown. Don't get me wrong, we enjoyed it, but if you're married to a full Shanghainese husband from Shanghai, you become kind of a "dim sum snob." Everything was delicious and the dumplings were beautifully crafted. I just wanted to be dazzled with something more bizarre like what Andrew Zimmern would eat. It's a beautiful restaurant based on an upscale Cantonese style. I would probably return only if I were extremely desperate for tasty dim sum in Waikiki. Order anything with duck and you'll be satisfied or try the xiao long bao's (they call it something different here, it's in Cantonese). For those in the Los Angeles area, definitely try Din Tai Fung, but get there early because there's always an hour wait.
From top left (clockwise): xiao long bao, xiao long bao bite, variety of dim sum
kampachi filets in special sauce, shrimp bean curd rolls


From top left (clockwise): pork shumai, pinot grigio and beer, red chili oil
flaky pumpkin & vegetables puffs, sticky rice, flaky duck puffs
We walked around a little more where I ended up buying a new swimsuit from Seafolly. We also took home some gifts from Eden in Love where my old buddy from Nordstrom was working that day. It was so nice to run into her and catch up a little bit before saying a hui hou or see you later. Then, we came across a splash pool in one of the courtyards and Coral had a blast jumping around in it for a solid 20 minutes or so. Instinctively, I turned her pump off before she attacked the puddles. I eventually had to give her a couple Yum Earth gummy bears to treat a low BG anyways.


Eden in Love - locally owned, one of my fav boutiques, specialty items & clothes
She soon wore herself out and we began to walk across the street to wait for the Trolley. Only to return to the mall so she could use the potty when she refused earlier. Back across the street, hopped on a crowded trolley (Pink Line), and back to the Hilton in time for a nap.

The next morning, we grabbed a quick breakfast and packed our beach bags to head out to Kailua on the east side. On the way to Kailua Beach Park, we stopped in the Kalapawai Market to grab some more snacks and drinks. That's where I came across the most delicious kettle cooked furikake (Japanese nori seasoning) chips ever! We made sure to disconnect her pump and plug it with the separate clip-on piece it comes with before she played in the fine white sand and swam with us. A little boy came over to join Coral with her sand toys and eventually his mom and I just started talking story. She was really intrigued about our new T1dLife and had many questions. I eventually told her about my blog and handed her my card. Every parent should be made aware of T1d or at least the warning signs. I still don't understand why more pediatricians do not speak of this during the first year of a child's life. Especially, when more and more children under the age of 12 are being diagnosed every year.


Adorable Coral at Kailua Beach
Our bellies began to growl with hunger and that led me to look up a local restaurant nearby with the Yelp app. That's how we stumbled across the cozy low-key Uahi Island Grill serving a full bar and pacific-Asian or local style dishes. I ordered myself a Moscow mule and lightly fried ahi steak with side salad. Hubs had a crispy duck with rice and veggies and Coral miraculously ate some grilled tofu with a side of furikake or dried seaweed seasoning. She didn't finish her meal as usual. So, I reluctantly resorted to ordering a sweet potato haupia (like creamy coconut jello) pie to prevent any low BGs on the way back to the Hilton. All their desserts are homemade and this particular treat was definitely on my must-have list anytime we come back to the islands. Stop by Uahi Island Grill the next time you're in Kailua. It's a very casual, rubbah slippahs and t-shirt kinda place. Leave your troubles (and pretentions) at the door.

Uahi Island Grill, Kailua: Crispy Duck, Fried Ahi Steak & salad
Sweet Potato Haupia Pie, Grilled Tofu
Next, we went to check out one of my favorite stores, Fighting Eel in Kailua Town Center next to Whole Foods. Fighting Eel is locally owned and operated with multiple stores throughout Oahu, but none on the mainland. They also have a sister company known as Ava Sky. Both brands feature modern, tropical and island inspired prints in flowy silhouettes and comfy cottons or cotton-blend fabrics. I tried on a couple things, but only ended up with a few "Honolulu" t-shirts for Coral and me. It's funny, I would never wear shirts like that representing where I'm from while living there, but now that we live in the mainland, I wear it with pride.

I was hoping to find some more soft tea towels with Hawaiian phrases and cute illustrations printed on them at Red Bamboo across the street as I did prior to moving to LA, but couldn't find any that quite enticed me. Instead, I purchased Coral some more rubber duckies. She picked out a mer-ducky and a hula ducky. Hahahh...Then, before heading back to our Ford Explorer rental car, I convinced Hubs to let me check out Splash (for more locally designed graphic tees by Project Aloha and cute slippahs) and a few other boutiques.

Heading back to the Hilton through the Pali was brutal since it was raining and we were stuck in afternoon traffic. At least Coral's BGs were fine, as far as I can remember. We ate a quick dinner so we could make it back to the hotel room in time for Friday night fireworks! They light 'em and launch 'em right there at the Hilton. Coral was a little nervous at first, but began to watch in awe peaking from behind my shoulder as I kneeled to take some pics and video. She watched the recording over and over again once the 10 minute display ended. Prior to the trip, she kept asking to see "fireworks" and go to "Disney." Daddy made that happen. We'll eventually take her to Disneyland in Anaheim, CA.


Disney's Aulani Resort and Spa

Headed to the West Side






The next morning, we checked out of the Hilton and headed to Disney's Aulani on the west side of Oahu. Honestly, this is where all the pricey hotels are where rooms run about $600-1000 a night or more. Yep, we splurged and put our tax returns and Daddy's bonus to good use. All for our baby girl. Our room wasn't going to be ready for another couple of hours so, we dropped off our luggage with Guest Services (advising them to place her insulin in the fridge) and went off to explore the resort. It's absolutely spectacular and instantly makes you feel the rich Hawaiian culture with their displays, educational tour guides, decor, and hospitality. I'm very pleased they hired a lot of local people including another one of my buddy's who is a cocktail server poolside and at the lagoon. There's so many activities for the keiki including all the pools and jaccuzi's, lazy river, and Aunty's beach house - where kids can participate in organized activities and even learn how to dance hula. Coral enjoyed the splash zone, water park and slides, and the beach the most. She got to take pictures with Minnie and Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Stitch, and Alvin and Simon the Chipmunks. We enjoyed stuffing our bellies with loads of seafood, poke [poh-keh], wine for me, beer and mai tai's for Daddy, and so on. I want to say that I ate low carbish most of the trip. At least during lunch, I always choose to substitute starches with a salad or fruit. If only Coral would follow my lead.
Chillin' on the lanai at 'Olelo Room
After her diagnosis, I quickly lost an appetite for sweets because I saw how much it spikes her BG and wrecks her no matter how much you try to time the bolus. Not all carbs are worth the bolus. During our stay, it was the Disney milk chocolate and cheesecake that wrecked her overnight on a few occasions. Enough to make her a1c go up from a comfortable 6.2 to whatever it is now, probably a 6.7 or average BG of 146.

We enjoyed our meals at each of Aulani's following restaurants:

'Ama 'Ama - a contemporary island style restaurant facing makai (towards the ocean) where we dined multiple times feasting on poke, crab legs, sashimi, bunless lobster rolls, mac n cheese. Best to call for reservations if your party is larger than four.
'Olelo Room - a seat-yourself on a first-come-first-serve basis either bar side or lanai (patio) for a light cocktail atmosphere, small menu with select pupu's (appetizers), and live entertainment from musicians like the talented Jerry Santos of Olomana.

'Ama 'Ama restaurant: Seafood platter (chilled), lobster roll (no bun)
Escargot (was okay), and shrimp linguini
Of all the poke I had on this particular trip, none of them compared to 'Olelo's exquisitely fresh raw ahi poke with crisp sea asparagus, limu (seaweed), perfectly presented with a side of chili pepper water - it tasted of my childhood where good things should just be kept simple.

Coral enjoyed a Mickey Mouse waffle that ended up wrecking her BGs even though I requested the server switch out the side of regular pancake syrup for SF. It was pump change night anyways and she enjoyed dancing her version of ballerina hula in front of the other guests near our table.

Makahiki - reservations required; casual attire; indoor and patio seating; guests are greeted by Disney characters (check with Guest Services to see which characters will be visiting on certain nights). We rarely eat at any buffet, but I was rather pleased with the selection here. I probably shouldn't have gone too crazy with the crab legs and tako (octopus) poke since they were pretty damn salty. Desserts saved Coral from a severe hypoglycemia where Dexcom alerted "LOW" DOUBLE ARROW DOWN. She got distracted by the music and pictures with The Chipmunks and Stitch. Stubborn high BGs all night that night despite our best efforts. Oh well...C'est la type une vie.
'Olelo Room - Details

'Olelo Room Pupu's (from left clockwise): Best poke ever! Steak kabobs
carby Mickey Mouse pancake, and calamari steaks
Regardless of a few rough nights, she still woke up in range (with my relentless efforts) to take on another adventure. On Tuesday, Hubs took her down to the lagoon and my Aunty picked me up to go to the new Ka Makani Ali'i outdoor mall in Kapolei. I wasn't planning to do much shopping since I really wanted to see what it looked like in addition to all the other new developments on the island. Kapolei is the second largest city on Oahu and is still expanding with new lofts and homes averaging about $2,000 to $3,000 monthly for rent.


There were some familiar shops like American Eagle, Victoria's Secret, Bath & Body Works, T&C (Town & Country surf shop), etc. The highlight of that mall experience was getting my nails done at Lavish Nails and lunch at Okome Bento. This mall could really use a CottonOn and Gymboree. There weren't any stores for the keiki and I really needed to get Coral a new longsleeve rashguard to cover up her quickly tanned arms aka "Dexcom real estate." Even Macy's didn't have a decent selection of kids rashguards. Therefore, we headed to Target which was about a mile away in the older, yet continuously developing outdoor shopping area. We finally headed back after around 3pm and I gave Aunty a hug and kiss goodbye. That evening, we dined at the 'Olelo Room where Jerry Santos performed again.

Brunching with Buddies

The final weekend of our trip, my Hubs picked up our old neighbors granddaughter and she stayed with us until Monday afternoon. He met us on the beach at the Aulani lagoon and she jumped on me with open arms. I could barely carry this skinny, but tall 12 year old girl. She fits my size 7 sandals and is only a few inches "shorter" than me. She befriended Coral right before diagnosis and they always got along so well. Her parents are out of the picture so, we've kind of accepted her as our hanai or unofficially adopted daughter. That same Saturday, our friends and their T1d four year old son came over to the lagoon to hang out and have lunch at 'Ama 'Ama makai side of the Aulani resort. Another day well spent and feeling mighty thankful.

On Sunday, we met with my other friend and her family at Monkeypod for brunch. This is an open-air restaurant and lightweight clothing is definitely a must with Hawaii's humid weather and fickle sprinkling of showers. Their menu is pretty simple, food is delicious, and they carry all the local craft beers like Maui Brewing Co's Bikini Blonde and Honolulu Beerworks Kewalos Cream Ale. We enjoyed our potstickers, saimin (aka ramen), and lobster benedict. Afterwards, we had some homestyle ice cream at Two Scoops Ice Cream Parlour - mango for me and vanilla for Coral. During the afternoon, us girls enjoyed more water activities around the resort. One of their infinity pools plays whale sounds on the speakers under the water making you feel like a mermaid. The kids could run around through the Polynesian themed water park and slides forever. For dinner, we headed to Eating House 1849 by Roy Yamaguchi in Kapolei and indulged in some "Surf and Turf Luau" - braised pork over squid luau for me, chicken fingers and fries, and "Sinigang" - pork belly, shrimp, and Ong Choy dish similar to Filipino style sari sari (see below images).

That Monday, we headed over to Magic Island which is right next to Ala Moana Beach Park on the far left before the harbor. It has a man-made lagoon similar to that at Aulani or Ko'olina with a rock wall formation blocking out the rough waves. It's where I often went swimming when the surf was flat, during my prenatal days, and after Coral was born since the water's so calm there. It's also the first beach we took Coral to after her diagnosis and I remember pricking her tiny finger to check her BG and she was at 247. We didn't have a Dexcom back in early April 2016. Our traditional Hawaiian plate lunches from Highway Inn were onolicious and fulfilled my cravings. Although, it was pretty pricey for three plates totaling around $50. A typical Hawaiian plate lunch consists of lau lau (pork and butterfish wrapped in taro or luau leaves and steamed), haupia or creamy coconut jello, lomi salmon, poi or pounded taro root paste, and side of sweet potato and/or chicken long rice. Before we knew it, we had to drop off Coral's friend in Kalihi and head back to Aulani...in some mean traffic. What should have taken us about 25 minutes to travel about 15 miles took about an hour.


Magic Island Beach Park

A hui hou!

The day before our departure, we made sure to spend a relaxing afternoon with family in Waianae. Uncle cooked pork tofu with brown rice for dinner. Coral quickly ate the rice and I had to hand feed her the tofu until she finally finsihed. She colored in some old coloring books with Aunty as we waited for the laundry to finish. By nightfall, we said goodbye for now and gave our hugs and kisses. They have always been supportive and for that, I will forever be grateful. "You got something really special," my oldest Uncle said as he smiled and gazed down at Coral. I nodded in agreement and admiration of my little T1dwarrior princess.

We returned to our room at Aulani and Coral and Daddy watched Moana play on the big screen in the garden from our balcony while I packed our bags. One of the main scenes in that movie that strongly resonates within me is the part where Moana asks Teka, "Do you know who you are?" as she holds up the glistening emerald heart of Te Fiti. I know who I am, but no longer feel as if the islands are pulling me back as strongly as it did the very first time I moved away in 2006. I feel I've experienced so much hardships and prosperity since living on the mainland - both independently and now, with my own ohana. Oahu will always be home, but I yearn to continue growing myself and exploring the world.

"Babe, wake up," my Hubs stood over me. It was a quarter to 7am and our flight was scheduled to leave by 10:15am. Coral was slowly waking and lay peacefully on the sofa bed. I heated up whatever left overs we had in the mini fridge and we quickly gobbled it down and got ready to leave. Hubs dropped Coral and me off near the Delta curbside check-in while he went to return the rental car. I rushed over to a bell boy before he drove off so he could help me load all our baggage and help at least us girls get checked-in with our boarding passes. He couldn't check-in my Hubs since a photo ID is needed. That took care of our one heavy suitcase which I had to spontaneously unload five pounds to avoid the overweight fee of $100. Damn crazy fees nowdays. Then, we patiently waited for Daddy to join us and headed to security.

Side Note: Leaving LA, I had sprayed Coral's hands with sanitizer to check her BG and they actually swiped her hands. Guess what, they found a "chemical" and ended up hand-checking our carry-on suitcase, Coral's Skip Hop Unicorn backpack and stuffed unicorn toy, and my purse. Totally defeated the purpose of me separating her Dexcom sensors in a smaller case to save some time. I made sure not to do that prior to this flight and glad her BG was pretty stable since we had breakfast already. It all went along as planned. I handed Honolulu TSA the separate case of Dexcom supplies to hand-check while they had me walk through the scanner. Then, they had Hubs hand Coral to me through the gate and we walked over to grab all of our carry-on's. They didn't insist on swiping her hands this time. Another agent went through the small Dexcom supply case rather quickly and handed it to me. I replaced it strategically in the carry-on suitcase and we headed to our terminal.


The flight back to Los Angeles is always quicker than the flight to Honolulu due to less wind resistance. This time, we plugged her pump back in after the cabin pressure equalized. She still spiked a little past 200 when we landed, but at least it wasn't as bad as the flight to Honolulu where we had her pump unplugged the whole flight and only reattached periodically for snacks. During that nearly five hour flight, I had plenty of time to reflect on this trip and distract myself with the free movies on-screen provided by Delta Airlines.

I actually wasn't too sad about leaving this time, but I wasn't exactly happy about it either. It's as if my soul is in limbo, somewhere in between here and there. Like a branch that has broken off from a mango tree that planted it's roots in Hawaii's soil years ago and now needs to be planted somewhere else. Where that is, I will find out eventually. We may not come back to visit for at least a few more years. Oahu's changing in a disruptive direction with multi-million dollar condos continuously driving up the housing market and pushing more and more locals to seek better jobs in the mainland. Meanwhile, people with deep pockets are migrating to the islands from oceans away. If one cannot find the resources she needs to thrive on the islands, she will soon find herself seeking it elsewhere. We do what we must to support ohana and ourselves.

If you plan to visit Hawaii, please be sure to e ola pono me ka 'aina a me ke kai, live right with the land and sea [and it will be good to you too]. Always leave the beach cleaner than when you arrived. Throw away your opala or rubbish. Aloha means more than just hello or goodbye. It's a way of life that shouldn't be taken for granted much like another's kindness or generosity. Live aloha or in harmony with your surroundings and self. Don't take or crush other people's aloha spirit.  Instead, embrace and share it with others. 

Mahalo nui loa (thank you very much) for reading this special edition to T1dlife.
Shelsea + Coral

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