Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Scenes from St. George's, Bermuda

The last two weekends have found us out on the eastern end of the island. While there, we've revisited St. George's and wandered around the town on two quiet Sunday afternoons.

A few snippets:


Flagstone in Town Hall. 


The stockade - home to many a tourist and resident photo op.


No one escapes it.

Of course St. George's is more than just a stockade in Kings Square. The town itself retains its historic charm, through its architecture and protected status as a UNESCO world heritage site. The cobblestone streets wind through narrow alleys, with beautifully preserved houses, designed in the Bermuda style. For pure walking purposes (ie with a stroller) Sundays are perfect as there is minimal road traffic (sidewalks are a rarity in BDA generally.)


We've enjoyed several of the restaurants in the area over the years.  Jordan watches the waves ripple on the harbor at the Tavern by the Sea.  This is a  pretty place, and was apparently quite popular with the stroller set on a Sunday afternoon.  I tried Jordan's mac and cheese, and it was one of the better ones I've had on the island.  My spicy Bloody Mary wasn't too bad either.


The White Horse Tavern is always popular with the tourists, but it's another nice spot on the water, and it is right in Kings Square.  It gets windy though!  And be sure to save some bread for the fish.  They put on a good show.

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Looking through old photos on Flickr, I remembered St. George's was one of the first places we explored upon moving to Bermuda.  Poor Admiral George.  First forced to crash his ship on the reefs of Bermuda, and now serving as a monkey bar for American rug rats four hundred years later.  The irony.

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There blow some mighty canons.

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It's a pretty town - and the former first capital of Bermuda.  These days, it's a source of endless discussion as far as reviving tourism and preserving a slice of historic Bermuda.  There's actually quite a bit to see, if you don't mind wandering around and exploring. 


I noticed a few more stores and boutiques since I last visited, and there are still places I need to check out.  The Bermuda Perfumery is here, and is tucked down a little lane right by St. Peter's Church.  I mean to get there one of these days to try their high tea.


Fort St. Catherine.

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Flashback stockade days, October 2010.

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Yep, no one leaves the island without a picture in it.  Hi Grandma H!

Happy to answer specific itinerary questions though my partners at Tipglo

You can reach me here

Friday, March 13, 2015

Life lately.

Just some snippets to end the week with.

Wow. These high chairs have come a long way since I needed them last.

Graduating to a high chair - 6 months.


Trying to capture the elusive picture with all of them.


Doing some art on a rainy day.


A quick hose down in the sink.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015


Jordan recently competed in a gymnastics meet held at the University of Maryland - the Mid Atlantic Invitational.  This is the second year he's been at this meet.  This is the first time he medaled in an event.

It's a tough meet - coming as it does near the end of the season.  Level 5 is usually well represented with boys who have been competing every weekend as part of sectional and regional meets.  Most of them are seasoned and used to how a meet works.  Most of the boys are used to having a good day or a bad one and being able to brush it off, knowing another meet will happen the next weekend.

It's a little different for our boys in Bermuda. 

They only had three meets this year - all overseas.  So when they compete, it involves travelling, overnight stays in hotels, missed school days,  a lot of attention (and some pressure) put on them to do well, represent not only their gym, but also Bermuda.  The boys were written up in the  paper, sometimes they are mentioned on the radio, and I also noticed that Jordan's school had his picture on its home page with a write up.  To Jordan's credit, he is very nonchalant about the attention.  It doesn't seem to affect him, which is good.  At the meets I have attended with him, he shows remarkable focus.


Thankfully, this was a good meet for Jordan.  At his last one - the Tim Daggett Invitational, despite excellent scores, he did not make the cutoff for medals.  It hurt him.  He puts so much work into training every day - both at the gym and at home.  He chose to challenge himself by competing at a higher level for the first time, when he could have played it safe and dropped to a lower one.  But, he didn't. 


On the rings - Jordan's best event.


Look at this face.  He is so proud of himself.  As he should be.

The thing is though, as I was editing this picture, something caught my eye.


This little guy down here. 
Maybe he's bored?  Maybe he's a little wistful?  Slightly jealous?  I don't know.  It just struck me that on any given day, that could be Jordan or any other boy out there competing.  They all want to win so badly.

This is a tough sport for these  guys.  The strength training and hours they put into it aren't always rewarded with bling around their necks.  Some days are good.  Some days aren't.  Wins are often measured in tenths of a point differentials. 

We've faced some long talks with Jordan, explaining good sportsmanship, and how every little misstep out there results in the difference between a win and a loss.  More important though is knowing you are improving on each event and doing your best.  Even without a medal, we try and reinforce setting personal goals for the season - getting a kip, perfecting the flairs, trying out the bonus moves.  We encourage him to cheer on his teammates and congratulate them for their wins too.

It's not easy. When a win is so easily measured by a medal, translating other success milestones is much harder.  I've been doing some reading lately on athletic mental coaching.  It's really fascinating to read about collegiate and professional athletes whose discipline is more than just physical training.  So much of it starts with what's in their head.  I suppose if we all had that inner strength, there would be no stopping us.


Mina faces her own athletic challenges as well. Her recent running wins at sports day aside, she has spent the majority of the shool year complaining about gym class and "all that running!!"  Day in and day out, she would step into the car and immediately launch into how hard the day was because of gym.  It's particularly frustrating for her because she does so well academically.  There has never been a parent teacher meeting I have ever attended for her that did not begin with the teacher praising her for her work.  I don't mean to brag, although it does sound like it.  She deserves all the credit.  The worst complaint I ever got about her was one teacher suggesting she put too much pressure on herself when she scored only 19 out of 20 spelling words right.  Apparently Mina burst into tears and considered it a "failure."

"Where would she get an idea like that Mrs. Trimarchi?"


It was nice to see her so happy with her ribbons for second place in two athletic events, and a third place in relay.  She has many talents that aren't always splashed out in the papers.  So it's heartening to see her so happy when it's her time to shine.

Of course, then there's Theo.


All he needs to make him happy is some food.

 Life is good when you are just 6 months old.

Sunday, March 08, 2015

Yes, we do love big, cheesy vacations - Vacationing at Atlantis Resort, Paradise Island.

Atlantis Resort really should be commended for its marketing campaign.  What other destination can I think of whose incessant commercials work their subliminal magic into my brain so well?  When we decided to mark Jordan's 10 year birthday with a big trip, it was my first choice.  How is that possible?

The kids also really wanted to go.  That's my story.


The good news is that the resort lived up to the hype.  This is the view from our balcony in the Coral Beach Towers.  In the back is the Royal Towers, which houses a casino, shops, an underground aquatic museum, multiple restaurants, and the kids Aqua camp.  That corridor like structure that joins the two wings of the Royal Towers is informally known as the Michael Jackson suite.  It can be had for the price of $25,000 a night - with a four night minimum.  Alas, I read that it's fully booked for the next five years.

Tip - if staying at the Coral Beach Towers, make sure you ask for a higher floor on the even side.  The odd side rooms had a pretty dismal view.  We booked two rooms, side by side and the view from both was lovely.  Theo and I spent lots of time outside watching the breeze blow through the palm trees.

Atlantis itself is not a cheap destination no matter what your budget, but there are fun things to do for everyone.  It also helps that Marriott recently bought into the resort and is offering Marriott rewards members usage of their points for rooms.  We took advantage of that and it saved us some money as well as providing free Internet.  It doesn't sound like a big deal, but it's nice not to pay $21 a day to check your emails.  We were also greeted with a bottle of wine, a lovely cheese plate and four delicious cookies.  Yay Marriott!


It seems strange that island dwellers like us would choose to go to another island during a school break, but it's here that I will point out that the Bahamas are not the same as Bermuda.  In February, it is cold in Bermuda.  It's warmer in the Bahamas, which are Caribbean islands located further south.

And I hate cold weather.


Oh.. hello.


Hands down, the highlight of this trip was vacationing with our friends, the Perkins.  They have been brave enough to join us on multiple family vacations over the years.  Their daughter, was also celebrating her tenth birthday as well. 

None of our kids knew we would meet up in Atlantis.  It was a fabulous surprise!


The crew. 

You just have to love friends that are with you through every stage of your parenting moments.  Through good times and bad, they have put up with our kids' laughter and tears, tantrums and joys.  We had one major one during the trip coming from my oldest child, which was incredibly upsetting.  But suffice it to say, our friends handled it with grace as did the rest of the kids. 

Thanks Perkins!


Atlantis is known for its water slides, and there are lots of options to choose from.  My older two started slow - with the lazy river and eventually worked their way up to the winding slides in the Mayan Temple.  This one pictured is called "The Leap of Faith."  I made it as far as witnessing a grown man hyperventilating as he sat at the top, muttering.. "No.. no.. I don't think I can."  I was on the slide called "The Challenger," which is across from the entrance, so I made a mental note to myself ... particularly when I heard one of the attendants say, "Oh just give him a push."

I can't tell you much more about the slide, other than it is a 60 foot drop that pitches you through a tunnel.  The tunnel is situated in one of the shark tanks, so you get to see the beasties if you manage to keep your eyes open long enough.


Guess who decided he was brave enough to try it?  What you don't see here is Jeff and I on the bridge opposite the slide, clutching our hearts and praying as we watched our first born son head up the stairs by himself, out of sight, and plunge down the slide solo.


His loyal fans greet him upon his safe return.  Nice gymnastics salute dude.


I'm saving this one for their wedding. 


The surprise hit for me was how chill Theo was during the whole escapade.  I had no idea what to expect, really.  Nor did I think there was much I could do as far as planning.  He was just so awesome.  We all headed out in the morning together to the pools or slides.  Theo hung back with one of us till after lunch, then he and I would head back to the hotel room for a nap.  (yay!)  He slept like a champ and was so easy going - happy to be held by anyone interested. 

No, he didn't go on any slides.  The hotel provided a crib and bedding, which they set up for us upon arrival.

Some details for you planning types:

1.  We opted not to purchase the meal plan, as we didn't think we could consume enough food to justify it.  It worked well for us, as we noticed that the meal plan limits your restaurant options, and often several restaurants are shut down for low occupancy.  We also just don't eat that much, despite our best efforts.  Breakfasts were usually quick affairs of grab and go food from the Dunkin Donuts nearby or the Starbucks, which is on the resort.  Lunch was usually poolside at one of the small outdoor cafes, and dinner would be a sit down at one of the restaurants on site.

My favorite was "Olives," with is a Todd English chain, and it was sublime.  The food was exceptional and perfectly prepared  Yes, it is pricey. 

2.  On the subject of price, I must point out a few things, as an "island girl" myself.  When you live on an island EVERYTHING is expensive.  It is expensive because everything is brought to the island via container ships or freighted in by plane.  Everything is subject to duties.  This is a daily fact of life for us in Bermuda, so I was prepared for what things cost in the Bahamas.

There are also added gratuities (TIPS) to just about everything meal related.  Again  another fact of life I am used to.  Maybe it's just that I am used to being hosed, but I wasn't as sticker shocked as the average tourist coming to Atlantis. 

All I can say, is just prepare yourself.  Accept that you are going to pay a lot of money and try and save where you can - there is a local strip mall within walking distance that you can purchase alcohol and breakfasts.  You can also ask  your cab driver to stop at a grocery store en route to the hotel and stock up on provisions.  We did - I got water and formula for the baby.

3.  We booked a car to drive us from the airport in Nassau to Paradise Island.  It worked out really well, and the system is incredibly organized.  Although we booked a car, one wasn't available when we arrived, so the company put us in a stretch limo!!!  Jeff and I looked at each other and just grinned.  Our kids were delirious at the whole thing, and I had to laugh.  How spoiled are these kids??  The last time I rode in a limo was at my wedding.  I'm fairly certain the next time will probably be at my funeral.

4.  Service - I'm really glad I wasn't put off by the negative reviews I kept reading on Trip Advisor.  Without exception, I didn't encounter any surly staff.  Everyone was lovely and helpful.  Even when Theo and I were walking around in the stroller, and lost, staff helped direct us to handicap accessible ramps.  Be prepared for this as there are a lot of steps - but there are ramps, sometimes you just have to ask as they aren't always immediately visible.

That's the long and the short of it.  Without a doubt, I would love to come back here, particularly when Theo is old enough to try some of the activities.  The kids loved it, and we did too. 


Nice to see that the commercials weren't a big, fat lie after all.

Tipglo is how you can reach me for specific questions, and I will be happy to give you more details!  Cheers!


Monday, January 26, 2015

A Sunny Break in January

With the Northeast expected to get blanketed this week, I can't help but appreciate the glorious weekend we had in Bermuda. Theo and I had a lovely walk up Point Shares Rd, and admired the view.


We got Jordan a Wubble ball for his birthday, and we finally had a chance to test it out at the Botanical Gardens.


Lots of open space there.


And sunshine!


Stay warm and safe US friends. 

Remember, it's only a two hour flight to BDA from most east coast airports.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Black and white gallery.

Working on updating pictures in the dining room. We have one big one of Jordan and Mina, in black and white.

 Thinking of making it a gallery wall instead.








Sunday, January 18, 2015

Ten Years of Memories.

"I can't believe he's turning ten this month," I said to Jeff for the hundreth time. 

Almost 20,000 pictures I've uploaded onto Flickr over the years still aren't enough to convince me that ten years have passed since our little monkey was born. 

Jordan, let me tell you a story. 

It all started so sweetly.  You were our first, you see.  You were so wanted.  Everything started out fine. 

But then there was this.  And we didn't know what to do.  They told us there wasn't much hope you would survive.

But, you were lucky.

A mommy with a really big heart, decided to share her daughter's with you.  Thank you, Breanna.  Thank you, Nikki.  On January 26, you were born again.  This time, you had an angel's heart beating inside of you.  Sometimes I think it's because of this, that you are so strong.


Turning one could not have been more special.  We had a big party, which you will never remember.  All of your friends came.  We danced.  There was ice cream cake.  And balloons.  I think all the parents there hugged their kids a little harder that night, thinking about you and what might have been.

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Before long, you had a sister.  She's been by your side ever since.

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You were always having adventures. 

Jordan's first day of school (6)

Before I knew it, you were ready for school.  Do you remember your first day?  When I dropped you off, I felt like a piece of my own body just flew away.

Jordan poolside

Those cold days in New Jersey made us long for warmth.  Our first big family vacation was to the Outer Banks, with our dear friends.  You were so little in that big, big pool.  The light shines with a special gold down there.  It always hit you the right way.

Jordan and Grace on the beach

"Grace, keep looking cute.  It will distract them so I can escape from this pit of sand they've stuck me in."

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You're always ready to explore.  A warm day in February, doing some dog walking on the streets of Leonia.  I walked behind you, a little scared you would run off.  But you didn't.  You walked just far enough ahead to be in the lead.  I walked behind you, so proud.


Jordan, what do you feel like doing today?
I want to go the big field with the poofs!

And so we did. 

You found fun everywhere.  I looked at that big field every day and thought it needed mowing.  You saw fields of little fluffs waiting to be set free.


Sometimes, you would be scared, but you've always been surrounded by people who love you and teach you. 


You love the water, in any form.  We used to take you into the city to go to Central Park.  There are wonderful sprinklers there, amidst all that green. 

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Having you in our lives makes us all feel like kids again.  This picture is from Victorian Gardens, in Central Park.  You started those rides with  the grown ups. 

The last time you were here (2013) you ran around the park with your friends and rode all the rides by yourself.  You daddy and I, along with our friend Miss N, watched you all have fun by yourself.


November 2008

November 2008 - where there's a leaf pile, there will be jumping. You showed Mina how it was done.


"You're thankful for me?"
 "Yes, I'm thankful for you." 


All dressed for Arman's 1st birthday.  You both clean up so nicely. 


Backyard adventures  in our house involved lots of climbing. 


"Swimming" in Captiva, Florida.  Despite not knowing how, you were still going to give it a try.


This is you making chocolate at a birthday party.  Could there be a better idea for a party than this?


Heading to transplant reunion at Columbia Pres.  You've always been such a good big brother.


Not every day in your life has been easy.  You face challenges that most kids would never even know about.  You get poked, you get shots, you have masks put on you to make you fall asleep.  You have bandages and cathodes ripped off of you.  You get blood tests, and EKGs and medications.  You throw up after a biopsy.  Sometimes you've cried.  But even when you finish a procedure, you've learned to look at the technician or doctor, and say, "Thank you."

Because you are a trouper, a survivor - even on days like this.  Here you are, all hooked up for an EKG and grinning away. 


Off to find the flags at Rock Center when they failed to show up at the UN building.


Then you were five, and graduating from kindergarten.  Your daddy and I looked at each other throughout the whole program, both of us forcing back tears from our eyes.  I know it sounds silly.  One day, when you have a little boy or girl of your own, you will understand.


This is you at our last 4th of July BBQ in New Jersey.  This is the night we announced to all of our friends we were moving to Bermuda.


You and David are only months apart.  You have been having play dates with each other before you even learned how to talk.  His mommy has been one of my best friends through all those years when I wondered if I was doing the right thing.  Being a mommy isn't easy.  We worry about everything.


Super blurry picture, but you've always been happy in a gym.  I remember taking this picture and trying not to freak out when I saw you leap off the balance beam.


Flying is so much fun!


When you started school in Bermuda, you never flinched.  


The older you get, the more willing you were to tackle new challenges - like skiing. 


Or running a half mile at the National Stadium before huge crowds!  You didn't quit, even when you were at the end of the pack.  You put one foot in front of the other and kept going.  I will never forget it.  I was in the stands, and heard people cheer you on because you were not going to give up.  A woman standing next to me said out loud, "Look at that little guy go!" 

And I practically yelled, "That's MY son!  He's doing so great!  We are so proud of him!!"

That's the difference between winners and losers in the long run, Jordan.  You don't have to come in first.  You just have to believe that you can keep going till you get it right. 

Just keep going,


Moving to Bermuda has been an amazing experience for our family.

These two pictures might be my all time favorite.  My little beach baby.


Doing handstands into the sea.  These picture capture the joy you carry with you every day.


Whether you are racing down the hill to find the Easter eggs.


Or doing a hike at Spittal Pond to watch the birds.


Or skipping stones at Lake Tahoe.

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Or posing for pictures on the beach,when you'd rather be doing handstands.


Or sailing an airplane during a fall break in the Poconos.  You embrace life.


And new experiences - like testing out the exhibit at the science center with your cousin.


Or leading the pack for a hiking and birdwatch on New Year's Day.

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What an amazing life you've shared with us these ten years.

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You've given us a new perspective.

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It's been such a joy watching you grow into a big boy, embracing the freedom.

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Watching you learn to trust your friends.

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Watching you smile.

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Watching you succeed.


Of course, you'll always be our little goofy kid - leaping off the boat during a Bermuda raft-up.


Or stuffing your face with sweets whenever the opportunity arises. 


You're a big kid now. 


You're an athlete.


And a musician - performing at the class assembly.


And a scholar - Prize giving day at Saltus.

Theo first pics

And a big brother - twice over!  Welcoming Theo.


Love at first sight.


Jordan, you have made our lives such an adventure.  At ten, you are still the same sweet, loving, goofy little kid you have always been.  Your interests are varied, your kindness has no end.  You can be frustrating - like when you tease your sister or pretend you haven't heard me tell you to brush your teeth, practice piano, do your homework, for the thousandth time.

You can also be the most loyal, loving big brother in the world - like when you refused to leave the school without Mina (she had been picked up earlier), or when you rush to see Theo in the morning as he wakes.

Your love of sweet things has remained constant your whole life.  You happily test out all my baking creations, browse new recipes for us to try together, and suggest ways of combining desserts so you get a double dose of sugar all in one seating. 

You can be a non-stop bundle of energy, but since discovering gymnastics, you've managed to channel all of it in a positive direction.  You have become so disciplined.  We cheer you on when you win, and love you just as much more when don't.  Because, as Dr. Seuss says, "Sometimes, you won't."  You are always a good sport, even you don't get a medal.  That's just as important.

I couldn't be more proud of you than I already am. 

Happy Ten, little man.  Being your mommy is one of my greatest joys in life.  I can't wait to celebrate your milestone birthday.