The Road to Paradise

Six weeks from today the four of us will board a plane, relax in first class and fly to Honolulu. There we will spend a week in Waikiki and another week in Kona. We will chill on the beach, unwind by the pool, drink delicious concoctions out of coconut shells with cute little umbrellas and try not to giggle as we order a pupu platter. We will explore a real volcano, hike up Diamond Head and experience Pearl Harbor. We will play in the ocean, look for marine life and search for the cast of LOST. Todd and I will take walks in the sand, enjoy gorgeous sunsets and romantic dinners and hopefully dance under palm trees and stars.

These two weeks in Hawaii is more than just a family vacation. This is our reward. Recompense, if you will, for the last three years.

We’ve had some pretty fabulous vacations, in my opinion. We’ve been to the beach in Florida, the mountains of Durango and Northern New Mexico, the awesomeness of Yellowstone and Southern Montana, East Tennessee, North Carolina and, of course, California. All our vacationing came to a screeching halt in 2005, however.

This might sound a bit whiney (when has that ever stopped me before?), but vacations are kind of a big deal to me and going without for three years has been pretty lame. The older the kids get the bigger deal vacations become. I figure we only have another summer or two of vacations left with Taylor before he’s busy with work and college and his own thing. Maybe I’m wrong, but what if I’m not? If I’m not then I want to take advantage of the time we still have.

We were supposed to take this dream vacation last summer, but further medical issues prevented it. As sad as I was about postponing our plans last year, now I’m kind of glad because I still have it to look forward to. And last year “cancer” was still such a fresh word in my vocabulary. This year I’m two-and-a-half years out of treatment and Mom is a little over a year out of treatment. I’m pretty much done with reconstruction and I feel like I’ve really moved on in the last six months or so.

Except I’m very overweight. I find it funny that I would be happy if I weighed what I weighed 8 years ago when I hated the scales. At least then my face wasn’t quite so round and I actually looked like me. Ever one to look for the silver lining, last year I joked that delaying the trip would give me 52 more weeks to put off my diet. Unfortunately, truer words were never said.

But I’m not going to beat myself up about it. I’m going to see how much weight I can lose in the next six weeks – hopefully enough to take the puff out of my cheeks – and go enjoy Paradise. That and be on the picture-taking side of the camera.

I’m not going there to impress anyone but Todd anyway (and he makes it really easy). I’m going to see a part of the world I’ve never seen, to relax and read, to enjoy my family without the responsibilities and pressures of every day life. I’m going to thumb my nose at cancer and gloat because I kicked its butt and will be wearing the t-shirt to prove it.

Two weeks in Hawaii and first class round trip is not something we would normally shell out that kind of money to do. But, as I said before, this is our reward. Or maybe a better word would be “reimbursement” for having to be separated (physically, not legally) from Todd for over a year. His company put him up in a Homewood Suites during that year and we got to bank the Hilton points. His company also flew him home every other weekend and we got to bank the sky miles.

One year’s worth of Hilton points = one week each at two different Hilton resorts.

One year’s worth of sky miles = four first class round trip tickets.

I felt a bit guilty at first for using all the points and miles for such a luxurious vacation. That guilt didn’t last very long, though. We went through a type of hell and it’s only fitting we enjoy a type of heaven. And while I hate to use the word “deserve”, I do see this as just one more blessing God is pleased to give us. One more in a myriad of undeserved blessings we’ve been inundated with.

So despite my largess (I know, I know. Inappropriate use of the word, but it sounds right to me. “Largess – generosity of largeness”. If that’s not me, I don’t know what is.) I’m looking forward to our looooong awaited vacation. I’m looking forward to seeing the beauty of Hawaii; to meeting my friend, Cigi; to reading a lot; to doing a lot of relaxing; and to just hanging with the family. What a great gift.


  1. Travis Erwin on June 7, 2008 at 11:40 am

    Sounds like a sweet trip. Hope y’all have a blast.

  2. Becky on June 7, 2008 at 12:32 pm

    That sounds like a FABULOUS trip! I think y’all DO deserve that time away together as a family! Don’t feel ONE BIT GUILTY for using all those points that way, either…because what better way OR place to use them than a celebratory, victorious, memory-making trip like this! May God richly bless your time together as a family!

  3. Gretchen on June 7, 2008 at 12:42 pm

    So thrilled for you. I, too, am feeling a bit rotund. I’ll be happy to be an accountability partner from afar for the next 6 weeks. Let’s start emailing, Chica!I’m with Becky, may God richly bless your time together. Isn’t it fun to be in the planning for it now process? Yay!!! :)xxxooogretchen

  4. Sherry/Cherie on June 7, 2008 at 1:52 pm

    Oh you know how I “get” this!! That’s what our trip to California last month was all about — a return to the “normal” and a treat to us all — our own personal “survivor”!!! You are gonna have a blast in Hawaii — and you deserve every second of that!!As for the weight, I “get” that too…but it’s what we are right now and who we are…and I wish you every success in feeling more comfortable in your body before you leave. I know what you mean about the puffy face and if it helps – the first weight that seems to “go” usually shows in the face!! Sending you hugs and love as you plan for the vacca in paradise!!

  5. Cecily R on June 7, 2008 at 2:24 pm

    Sounds like a wonderful and well deserved trip!I came over from Becky’s blog after I read your comment about next friday. I really hope you’ll join us for Photo Story Friday yourself!! It’s easy and fun and you can link up to other bloggers you don’t know yet. You can come over to my blog to see other participants (, feel free to e-mail (cecily05@gmail) or more information!

  6. Lynilu on June 7, 2008 at 6:15 pm

    “I find it funny that I would be happy if I weighed what I weighed 8 years ago when I before, most often out of my own mouth! And 8 years ago, I said it, too. I’ve lost a part of the weight, but only half what I need to lose. Yet, Jen, I have recently found that more important to me is that I’m enjoying life beyond belief, as I think you express in this post. Life is more important than ideal, cute weight. Wouldn’t it be nice to have both? :’)

  7. SweetAnnee on June 7, 2008 at 7:43 pm

    What a great trip you’ll havejust enjoy every bit ofit and come home

  8. God's Guitar Girl on June 7, 2008 at 8:37 pm

    Hawai’i is a magical place — enjoy this well-deserved respite… 🙂

  9. Sarah S. on June 8, 2008 at 7:10 am

    I would say you totally deserve the wonderful vacation! It sounds so great.I have gained some wiehgt during my treatment too. Can’t seem to get a grip on it. I will just lose it when I finish chemo! 🙂

  10. Angry Woman on June 8, 2008 at 9:35 am

    Two weeks in Hawaii, that is a first class vacation. Completely covered by various reward points – priceless. I know you’ve been looking forward to this trip for a long time. Really cool to hear that you’re finally meeting Cigi after all these years chatting with her on the boards and stuff. Please tell her I said “hi”. Call this a warped request, can you take a picture of a spam musubi for me. If you’re not sure what it is, ask Cigi she’ll show you. It’s the snack/meal of choice for a lot of islanders and I hate to admit the fact that I love spam as much as Hawaiians do.

  11. Jenster on June 8, 2008 at 10:53 am

    Amy – The kids are hoping they’ll be having Spamfest while we’re there! LOL And they want to order a Spamburger at a Burger King.Whatever happened to wanting sugar cane and pineapple??

  12. KidFriendlyVacations Guide on June 8, 2008 at 1:26 pm

    Sounds like a fantastic family vacation. Just spending time with the family is always a great time.

  13. Katybug on June 8, 2008 at 8:20 pm

    Jenster, you will have a wonderful time, and don’t you dare feel guilty about ANY of it!!! I can’t think of anyone more deserving of a great vacation to Hawaii (except, perhaps, me after a summer pregnancy! *G*). I have been to both Kona and Pearl Harbor, and you will relish both of them. We went to the volcanic or “non-green” side of Kona. It was great, but I wish we had been able to stay on the more lush side, and I hope that’s where you’ll be. Pearl Harbor was amazing…it will be something that will leave you speechless and overwhelmed. It will be good for Taylor & Katie to see true sacrifice first-hand. If you haven’t watched the movie “From Here to Eternity” yet, I highly recommend watching it, either before you go or after you get back. It might have more significance after your trip, but it can also prepare you for some of the Hawaiian sites and locations surrounding Pearl Harbor. ENJOY!

  14. Monnik on June 9, 2008 at 8:37 am

    oh, i’m so excited for you!You deserve this trip. Actually, you deserve about ten of these trips. :)Have fun and enjoy that awesome family of yours.

  15. The Daily "B" on June 9, 2008 at 6:00 pm

    Lucky, Lucky Lady! I just came back from a week long vacation and feel like I never left… why does time go by so quickly when you’re enjoying yourself? stinks. Anyway, You guys deserve it! First Class? If it’s an option, why not? =)

  16. Sing4joy on June 9, 2008 at 6:36 pm

    2 weeks in Hawaii??????? First class tickets?? Put down the guilt. Those were hard-won miles at a great expense to your family….plus you saved up vacations for 3 years to take a really great one! Go do it and bring back lots of pictures and fun stories. I guess you can think about paying attention to your family too and attending to them too.

  17. Shauna on June 10, 2008 at 5:59 pm

    Jen, I couldn’t be happier for you!! This sounds like a FABULOUS trip and I cannot think of anyone (or family) more deserving!

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