Posts Tagged ‘ Blogging ’

Jamaica No Problem: Part 2

Thursday, October 13th, 2011

(If you haven’t read part 1 of my Jamaica trip, you can find it here.)

The next day, I focused on sitting on one butt cheek while we made the short drive to Dolphin Cove Negril (ages 5 and up).  If I had to pick a highlight activity of the trip for me, this would be it for sure.  We put on lifejackets and jumped into the enclosed cove with five dolphins.  Their trainers had them “dance” with us, swim under our hands, kiss our cheeks, and give us rides while we held onto their flippers.  I think I squealed like a little kid the entire time, at a pitch only dogs can hear.

In the afternoon, we took off for Montego Bay.  First we toured the all-inclusive Holiday Inn SunSpree Resort.  Now, if I were going to Jamaica on a budget with kids, this is for sure where I’d stay.  It’s a nice 524-room resort on the beach with several pools, a little private island, and tons of activities and sports and bars, and a spa.  Kids age 12 and under stay, play, and eat free.  They have a ton of kids’ games and activities divided into three age groups, free babysitting until 9pm for age six months and up (with paid services thereafter), and a “KidSpree Vacation Club” that’s basically a full-service daycare center for all ages.  There’s a kids-only “snack hut” and a separate kids’ menu at the main buffet at every meal.  There’s also a teen center with Xbox and air hockey and stuff like that.  They have ten “KidSuites” that have a kids’ room within the suite, with bunk beds, a TV, and a play table (shown at right).

The crazy thing about this place is the price– $210 per night for a family of four, and it’s all-inclusive.  I mean, it’s not a luxury resort.  It’s a Holiday Inn.  I wouldn’t go there without kids, for sure.  But it seemed like a destination where kids of any age would have a blast, not just tolerate being there while mom goes to the spa and dad plays beer pong.  Oh yeah.  That’s the one caveat.  While we sat there eating lunch, there was a beer-drinking contest happening at the main pool right in front of us.  I’d personally want to make sure the kiddies were all “KidSpree’d” away before any of that took place.  But other than that, it seemed like the perfect budget place to stay with a family.

We left the Holiday Inn for the Rose Hall plantation, which is rumored to be haunted.

I won’t ruin the story if you choose to go, but basically this crazy chick lived there and murdered all her husbands and slave lovers because she was bored, or maybe crazed from all the lead in her pewter dishes.  One or the other.  (You might have noticed from my blog that it kind of sucks to get divorced so maybe this White Witch was onto something, is all I’m saying.) Anyway she allegedly still haunts the Great Hall, and I’ve got to admit that it is a very spooky, if fantastically-renovated, place, especially in the rain– so I’d maybe keep this trip to ages ten and up to avoid too many nightmares later on.

From Rose Hall we went to historic Falmouth, where we set sail on this techno-dance-pirate booze/dinner cruise.  No, I’m not kidding.

It was called Captain Hook’s Pirate Ship Adventure and it included drinks, dinner, and a cheesy but truly hilarious singing, dancing pirate show with audience participation and lots of pretty cute pirates, just sayin’.  I think this would be best enjoyed by kids age ten and up, alcoholic beverages not included for them, of course.

We were up bright and early the next morning for a day trip to the South Coast, where we met up with a different branch of Chukka Tours for a ziplining tour of the canopy over seven-tiered Y.S. falls.  Now this was super cool.  We climbed up a path next to these waterfalls:

And went shooting through the canopy on five different ziplines, one of which ran directly down the falls.  The view was truly beautiful and I felt like I was flying.  There’s also a rope swing halfway up the path that you can use to swing out over the falls– and jump out into them, if you’re brave enough!

From there we went to Black River to take a safari tour of the river of the same name.  We saw egrets and herons, petted crocodiles that came right up to the boat:

And got out at one point to climb among the mangroves on the shore.  There’s also a crocodile nursery at the end of the tour where they raise and rehabilitate the endangered Jamaican crocodiles.

On the way back to our resort, we stopped in beautiful freewheeling Negril at the famous cliffs of Rick’s Cafe to see the sunset.  Now, I’m just a dentist, not a real doctor or anything, so I might not be qualified to say for sure, but I have a sneaking suspicion that a bar that serves booze and encourages you to go cliff-diving may not be classified as the safest idea in the world.  Just a thought.  It was a gorgeous view, though.

I spent the last night having dinner and drinks with the wonderful ladies I met through this trip.  They were truly the best travel companions I could have hoped for– friendly, easygoing, hilarious, and possessed of fascinating stories about their previous travels.  I had a fantastic time meeting and bonding with them.  I only hope I am lucky enough to see some of them again someday (outside of Twitter, of course).

And I can’t close the post without noting that even aside from all the beauty and adventure of Jamaica, one of the country’s best assets is its people.  Everyone we met was friendly and chill and very, very knowledgeable, with an answer to any question, always an interesting story to tell, and a pride in their country and heritage that I think is rare and enviable.

So that was my trip.  I think I’ve made it clear that it was pretty much one of the most fantastic experiences I’ve had.  If I were going to take Caroline on a tropical vacation, for me– Jamaica would be it.  I hope I am able to go back soon.

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Jamaica No Problem: Part 1

Monday, October 10th, 2011

If you’ve been following me on Twitter, you know that I’ve been having the time of my life in Jamaica for the past week.

First things first– the disclaimer: this was a free trip for a few mom bloggers sponsored by the Jamaica Tourist Board.  I was totally thrilled by the invitation but not so sure how I would handle writing about it.  I’m not a reviewer or a travel writer and I have never blogged with the intent or desire to sell anything… and I don’t plan on ever changing that, and I’m not going to do it here.  I just want to talk about my experience and as always, be completely and bluntly honest… and the honest truth is…

It.  Was.  Awesome.

I’ve always loved to travel, but haven’t done much of it since I had Caroline.  It’s too expensive and too hard to manage as a single mother to a young child.  I had sort of forgotten, to be honest, how much I loved it and how much it is a part of who I am.  This trip was really great for me in that way.  To see these other moms who take all these trips and do all these awesome things, with and without their children… it was a good reminder that regardless of how your career and your children may consume you and change you and bury you– you are still you.  Just like I am still me.  And traveling, discovering new places and people and cultures– that has always been me, and I hope I do not forget that again.

I had been to Jamaica seven years ago, as a sophomore in college on spring break.  My memories of Jamaica have always been built around the drinking and the partying and the freedom of the OMGNOPARENTS, and for that reason I would never have considered taking my daughter there for a family trip.  It just would not have crossed my mind.  And still, I will wait until she is a little older than two to take her.  But as you’ll see, I was truly pleasantly surprised to discover another (more family-friendly) side to this gorgeous country.

I arrived in Montego Bay with eight other mom bloggers, and we were taken to our hotel in Lucea, the Grand Palladium.  I’ve never stayed at a resort so fancy in my entire life.

(I’ll always find it a little bit funny that it was my blogging hobby that brought me to a place like this, and not my allegedly lucrative profession as a dentist.)

The eight of us met, introduced ourselves, and had dinner together that night.  The flight isn’t long (about three and a half hours from JFK), but we were all tired from traveling and went to bed pretty early.  I had the first of four glorious full nights of sleep, and I’ll tell you what, I am still wired from sleeping through the night four times in a row.  With a toddler who never sleeps, that is like crack to me.  Anyway, where was I?  Oh right…

The next morning we took a guided tour of the resort.  The Grand Palladium is a seriously enormous resort with 1056 rooms, divided into 18 villas and 12 smaller, luxury “adults-only” honeymoon suite-type villas.  And there were plenty of honeymooners at this place.  (I kind of wanted to yell, a la Miranda from Sex and the City, “Yeah, it’s all so hot, three days in!”)  The resort has 10 restaurants, 13 bars, and five pools.  It’s all-inclusive, so I probably gained 45 pounds, 39 of which were exclusively from the thousands of pina coladas I drank, which is normal.  It has a casino, a theater, and a spa and gym in an adults-only area.  (Our tour guide looked at us apologetically as she explained that kids weren’t allowed in to the spa, and one of my fellow bloggers looked at her seriously and said, “That’s a good thing.  Never let them in.“)

There’s also a kids’ area, where they have kids’ and teens’ activities all day long, and babysitting that’s free for kids ages 4-12.  Honestly, I loved this resort and would go back in a heartbeat, but probably with girlfriends or a significant other rather than my kid.  Kids might have a good time there, but I wouldn’t call it a family-specific hotel.  If I’m going to book a luxury vacation (it’s about $300 per night, depending heavily upon the season and which type of suite you choose), I’d rather relax completely and not worry about what my kid is up to.  Maybe it’s just me!  Anyway, I absolutely loved the place for this trip.

That afternoon, we took off for a horseback ride and swim with Chukka Caribbean Adventures at Sandy Bay (ages six and up).

(This is from Chukka’s website, it’s not me. I was wearing a bikini and my thighs must have looked gargantuan so let’s keep those pics off the internet, kthx.)

We rode the horses on a long trail through a village to an old sugar factory, with guides who told us all kinds of cool facts about the vegetation and animals and people we saw.  I, despite being from Connecticut, have never in my life been horseback riding.  I loved it, but can’t exactly claim that I was skilled at it:

Horse: I think I will leave the path and go over there.

Me: I would really prefer–

Horse: I do what I want.  Now I will uproot and eat this entire baby palm tree.

Me: I don’t think that’s allow– well… that happened.

Horse: Now, I will gallop.

Me: I am going to die, aren’t I.

Horse: Probably.

I did not die, nor did I come close to it.  Not even when we rode the horses into the gorgeous, turquoise Caribbean Sea and they swam with us clinging to their backs.  It was an amazing experience.  My tailbone, however, may never be the same, and for that reason I recommend you save this very cool activity for the end of the trip.  You might be slightly uncomfortable sitting on the plane ride back, but at least you’ll be more comfortable for the majority of your vacation.

To be continued in part two: swimming with dolphins, haunted plantation houses, a disco-dance pirate dinner cruise (oh yes), ziplining over waterfalls, and more…

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Let’s Have a Little Q&A Session

Tuesday, October 4th, 2011

Okay, you guys are killing me these days with the judgey comments.

I know, I know, I put myself out there and people can say whatever they want on the internet.  I knew that when I signed up for this gig.  I’d like to say I don’t care what anyone thinks about me, but it’d only be half true.  It makes me sad and makes me question myself when strangers judge me like that.

But, I guess you can say what you want, because I’m not going to stop writing about my life, and I’m not going to make stuff up.  I do reserve the right to stick up for myself, and to think that you have no balls, because let’s face it, I share my whole life and put all this stuff out there on the internet under my real, full name, and you leave anonymous snarky comments in the middle of the night under fake email addresses.  HEYOHHH!

Anyway, here’s the part where I stick up for myself.

Q: Why are you so determined to date?  You’ve been desperately looking for a guy since the minute you left your husband.

A: I’m not “determined to” date, nor am I desperate.  I didn’t date for quite a long time after my separation and official divorce– in fact, I haven’t really “dated” anyone until HSD.  I’ve been on dates more recently, sure, but it’s not like I’m out trolling for guys.  If I happen to meet someone I find interesting and attractive, and they feel the same way, then sure, I go out with them to get to know them.  But it’s not all the time and it’s not like I’m desperately on the prowl.  I don’t feel like I need a man, because I enjoy being alone, but I like dating, too.  It’s fun, and it helps me get to know myself better and figure out what I’m looking for in life, not just in a partner.

Q: Shouldn’t you be spending time with your daughter or on your career instead of dating?

A: Dating has never, and will never, take away from my time with my daughter.  I go on dates after she is asleep (with a sitter in my apartment, of course), or when she is on visitation with her father, which is relatively often now that he is back from North Dakota.  And I have never introduced her to anyone I’ve gone on dates with.  Either way, though, I’m more than just a mom and a dentist.  I’m entitled to companionship or even a relationship if I choose to have it.

Q: Don’t you think it’s better if you just stay single until your daughter turns 18 and moves out, and then look for a relationship?

A: Nope.  That’s ridiculous, complete overkill, and frankly, none of your damn business.  Next question.

Q: Are you just ripping on Reese Witherspoon because you’re trying to forget that two parents are better than one?

A: Make up your mind, people.  First I’m not allowed to date, then I’m not allowed to be single.  I can’t do both.  And no, I’m ripping on her because I don’t like her implication that single parents are people to be pitied.  We are doing just fine, thanks.  And so are our children.  Besides, that post was meant to be funny.

Q: Didn’t the Jamaican tourism board offer you a free trip to Jamaica so that you could write about family-friendly vacation activities for us readers?

A: Okay, okay, nobody asked that.  But you should have.  Because they totally did.  That’s right!  I’m leaving for Jamaica early tomorrow morning and I’m gonna do all kinds of kid- and family-friendly stuff and let you know how it went.  I’ll be tweeting about it (@unexpectedjules) and I’ll write all about it next week when I get back.

Just please don’t leave me a ton of mean comments to come back to.  ;)

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The Good Girl

Sunday, August 14th, 2011

A friend sent me this truly awesome blog post about being a college-educated divorced mother.  It discusses an article from the New York Times about how the rates of divorce among educated parents are dropping.  One of the points that struck home with me from the article, and the blog post, was the idea that we’re not a hippie or a rebel generation– this generation, the children of divorced parents, has decided to “be good”… to put our families first and to make our marriages work, no matter what.

It resonated with me because I have always been such a good girl.  Straight-A student, never got detention, never got in trouble.  Went to great schools, worked hard, became a doctor.  Hell, I’ve never even been pulled over.  My entire life, I have been so good.

My one and only act of rebellion has been my divorce.

I am still not sure if I agree with the notion that divorce equals failure.  I know that I failed when I agreed to marry Tyler.  Did I fail by choosing divorce?  I don’t think so.  I think I’d have failed if I’d stayed.  To wake up every morning and wish I were somewhere else, to live in depression because “this isn’t how I wanted my life to go”, to raise my child in a house where there is nothing but conflict, that would be failure.

Failure or not, another comment from the New York Times article that struck me was that it’s not divorce itself, but the way divorce is handled, that damages children.  Now this, I wholeheartedly agree with.  Even though I sometimes want to strangle Tyler for his periodic fade-outs from Caroline’s life, getting along with him will always, always be at the top of my co-parenting priority list.  I could not, or would not, save my marriage, but I can and I will preserve civility with my daughter’s father.  I try to do that in every way, even down to referring to him in conversation as the positive “Caroline’s dad” rather than the negative “my ex-husband”.  In other words, even though I might have given society the middle finger by getting divorced, I still try to be the “good girl” by staying friendly with Tyler.  (Key word there is try.)

When it comes down to it, I can’t imagine my life still married to Tyler.  Maybe I gave up my “good girl” status when I chose divorce.  I suppose it must mean something that even if I did, I don’t care.  Some people will forever judge me for following my heart rather than a societal norm.  But I have learned that living a happy and peaceful life is far more important than living a perfectly well-behaved one.

I’d make that trade again any day.

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Drama, Drama, Drama.

Wednesday, June 8th, 2011

My fairy tales post spun off into quite a bit of Facebook drama yesterday, and it got me thinking about what I’m trying to do here with this blog.  (I had actually considered that to be one of my tamer posts!)

When I was first approached about moving this blog to Parents.com, I wasn’t entirely sure how I felt about it.  There is a lot of really personal stuff here.  I thought, what if people at school see it?  My family?  My friends who don’t already know about it?  My patients?

And what if people don’t like it?  I am pretty thin-skinned.  I wasn’t sure I could handle mean comments, and I knew I was going to get some because you can’t expect everyone to agree with everything you say, especially if you’re writing a blog about divorce and single parenthood that is this public.

But I got over it quickly and agreed to do it, and I do not and will never censor anything I write.  I am proud, honestly, to give a voice here to single and divorced parents, and I don’t expect that everyone (or even that most people) will agree with what I write and what I’ve done with my life.  But if I write bland, tame posts that are totally devoid of any speck of controversy, everyone would just shrug and think it was fine and go on their way and that would be it.  I’m not going to do that because it wouldn’t be me.  If you make something nobody hates, no one will love it.

I am not a writer.  When I sit down to write a post, I write it all in one go, because this is how I talk.  It isn’t a series of articles or essays or news stories.  It isn’t anyone’s opinion or experience but mine.  It’s me, talking to you, about my life and the crazy ride I have been on since I first found out I was pregnant with my daughter.  I am just holding on for dear life, and if even one post rings true for one person, then I’m happy.

If you’d ever like to see any single parenting or divorce issues discussed here, or if you have any questions about me and my life, I’d love to hear about it.  (My fellow Parents blogger Richard Rende actually just published a post about the effects divorce has on kids today!)  You can leave a comment or click “email us” on the right-hand side of this blog to contact me directly.  You can also follow me on Facebook or Twitter, if you are so inclined.  Since my divorce, I have gotten a lot of email from women going through similar issues and I am always happy to lend a listening ear and respond, because I know how much it sucks.  The one thing I prefer not to address with this blog or via email is dental issues or questions, because of liability issues and because as a resident I do not yet practice under my own license.

So, enjoy!  (Or don’t!)  And always feel free to let me know what you think.

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