What Kauai can do

It’s hard to believe that a whole month has passed since we returned from the most amazing family vacation. Years of foregoing eating out, buying the unnecessaries and always tucking money away, even if it was only 20 bucks is how we pulled it off. A few years ago, someone on FB decided to post an easy savings plan.

I to be honest, never really knew how to do it, when overwhelmed I tend to avoid and not dig in. So that is what I did for years. How could a constantly growing family, every other year, save for a tropical destination on one steady income. My side jobs never provided anything substantial to our income. The FB post seemed fool proof, so that is what I used. That simple savings plan covered the cost of our condo rental, our suburban rental and some groceries for the 2 weeks we were on the island of Kauai. The next step I had to tackle was tickets. Thanks to alaska airlines, I paid everything I could with our CC. I paid utilities, gas, groceries, fuel for our tank, walmart, etc. Anytime there was a chance for the bonus miles, you bet I signed us up. After 5 years of saving miles, we were beyond blessed to “purchase” 5 miles tickets and with the help of the companion fare, we covered the remaining 2 tickets needed to get our family there.

We didn’t leave with any disillusionment of detours that we would find ourselves on. In fact, the worrier aka always waiting for the shoe to drop, person was watching for it. When we found ourselves stumbling into bed at midnight after a long drive to our condo from the airport, it was then that I discovered our first detour. In the chaos of traveling with 8 people and ALL our luggage (car seats, strollers, pack and play, etc) we managed to leave our cooler at the airport. Not just any cooler, but the cooler with Ezzy’s $3k medicine in it that has to be special ordered and takes days to get anywhere not on the mainland of the US. I was crushed, angry and went to bed unable to sleep. Morning came and with great urgency we found ourselves back at the airport pounding on the door of the office that refused to answer any calls for the last hour and a half. There I found our prized cooler and there I uttered my first Mahalo with tears down my face.

When Ezzy’s vest broke it didn’t derail me. Murphy’s law right. Also everything comes in 3s I have found. So we switched to manual therapy and called her amazing vest company and they started working on sending a new one out. But what was the 3rd incident?

2nd degree sunburn on day 3 of our 14 day trip.

We found out we had a faulty bottle of sunscreen and everyone who used it got the color of tomato on their skin. Ezzy was the worst. Blisters on her nose and her entire back, fire red. No longer able to do manual therapy and the weekend approaching, meant that we were going to go even longer without airway clearance.

It was then that I was left with nothing, but to ask my village to pray for Ezzy, that God would protect her lungs and the vest would show up sooner than we anticipated. We spent 3 days waiting for the vest, 3 days of hearing her get gunky and 3 days of me surrendering to God. Honestly, it is where He always wants me. Never reliant on myself, but reliant on the fact that He is her provider, He is in control.

The vest arrived on Kauai day 6 of our vacation and we became the proud new owners of her 3rd machine.

Everyone told us that it was going to rain when we got to Kauai. Richard and I kept watching the forecast, days leading up to our trip and were so defeated when we saw the predicted weather. Staying on the north shore, meant that we were hammered the hardest. Thanks to my adventurous, find another way husband. We loaded up everyday and made the trek to the other side of the island and chased the sunshine. We didn’t spend a single day without sun, even though the locals kept telling us “this is the worst it has been in years”.

Our days began around 6:15, thanks to little bodies that arose with the sun and thankfully due to Nana, we were able to lay in bed and await until true chaos hit after breakfast.

Richard made sure to make a hot breakfast on the days I would sneak away for a morning run.

Due to the lengthy drive we had to take each day, we learned to pack for a whole day away from our kitchen and were so thankful Kauai has a costco.

The long drives weren’t too bad. We got to know the WHOLE island really well. We saw amazing scenery. The kids learned to keep themselves busy without the use of electronics and with good old conversation, games and drawing. We only busted out the ipad for a movie when everyone was too tired to use inside voices or manners. What I enjoyed the most is how the LOUD car would go silent the moment we pushed play on one of the many sermon podcasts we listened too. You want to talk about church trained kids. As soon as the preacher started, they zipped their lips and the whole energy in the car died down. As soon as the sermon ended, within seconds they were back to themselves. It was crazy.

Deep down I had hoped that this trip would reconnect us all. Regardless of how hard we try to make time for each other, because of the various things we do, we are always going here and there. My prayer was that we would return closely knitted, that any wears and tears that happened over the years would mend. Especially with my oldest kids. They have seen alot of change. Careers for both mom and dad, new siblings, new callings. There have been days I wondered if they even liked each other. Towards the end of the trip, Richard caught a glimpse of the mending. Ezzy was sitting alone on a log and Cayden ran up behind her, gave her a huge hug and pulled her to the ground. They laid there laughing and Richard said, that made the whole trip worth it. The kids learned to be each other’s friends Ezzy told me she whispered to Cayden one day and said “you are my favorite part of this trip”, he did roll her eyes at her, but she knew he heard her and it was received. Yes they fought, but they also played so much with each other. They had evening races in the huge backyard. They had evening swimming competitions. They shared shaved ice with each other. They learned about each other in ways that only Hawaii provided. Cayden helped Ezzy learn how to swim and cheered her on as she swam the length of the pool.

Hawaii brought a sense of identity back to the Harneys. All the to dos that are stacked high were gone. They didn’t have stressed out parents trying to squeeze in one more thing before our minds and bodies gave out. They weren’t being shuttled from one practice or after school event to the other. We just got to be. Be with one another.

As ANY woman would tell you, I had an idea of vacation body in mind. I believed in my hearts of hearts that I would be disciplined, that I would push myself hard and that I would reach my goal of what I thought was enough. Life had other plans. So I didn’t pack the too small for me bikini that I had planned to wear months and months ago when I got it. I packed my one piece with shame along with the shorts I wore the summer after having Veil. I was going to have to go as Sarah, mother of 5 and not hungry/over worked out Sarah.

Much to my surprise, every single beach I went to had the same crowd of women. What was that crowd? It was a crowd of every single shape and size of women in 2 pieces. They didn’t hide behind one piece bathing suits, they didn’t drown themselves in hot cover ups. NO, they walked, with smiles on their faces, deep in conversations with their man smiling back at them and their beauty. They didn’t shift or quickly cover up when people walked by, but instead drank in the laughter of their children swarming around them, the very children that gave them their stretch marks and cushion.

I then realized that I was allowing my altered view of myself dictate how I enjoyed and embraced this trip and honestly season of life. I went to Richard, admitted my shame and asked him to take me to find a 2 piece bathing suit. That man needed no bribing and I found myself with a new suit that I felt I could be me and never put back the dreaded one piece on my body.

I didn’t know that Hawaii would bring wholeness to my shattered body image. I didn’t know that Hawaii would help me love my body. Something I have NEVER done in the 33 years I have walked this earth. Even at my smallest weight, I was miserable and completely a slave to what I had to do to be that small. Hawaii helped me own this amazing body that grew and cradled 5 amazing little souls that call me mommy.


My heart is saddened to watch the news reports of the massive flooding taking place in Kauai. The north shore got hit the hardest and we saw our favorite breakfast burrito place surrounded by water. There are many who have lost their homes.

But I also remain completely confident that when the Harney’s return to Kauai, we will see it back to normal. There is something so enduring and iconic about Kauai. The people are not what you would expect. They don’t meet you with Las at the airport, they don’t go out of their way to make you feel welcome, it’s not a tourist destination. In fact they don’t care for you at all. The first week locals were short with us. They were less than helpful. Then after seeing us past the week mark and seeing us at regular places, they began to become friendly, the gardner would say hi in the mornings, the grocery store clerk would ask how our adventures were going.

Kauai was the perfect place for us to unplug. To not get caught up in countless tours, city life to explore in the evenings or crowded beaches to fight for a sliver a sand. Instead, we found ourselves many times having miles of sand to pick from and now and then someone who wanted to comment on the size of our family. Kauai’s spirit is so chill yet so strong. They don’t have to rush to do anything. The to do list is probably: sun, friends, family, food. They know their priorities and they don’t compromise.

Today Ya’el curled up on my lap and said “I miss Hawaii”.

Me too Boo, me too.