Monthly Archives: December 2009

Feliz Navidad!


Photos from Christmas in South Carolina


Some thoughts on gloating


Our child is perfect.

Now I know everyone says that about their child, but in this case, it’s the God’s honest truth.

Each week, Francisco and I pull out a book that Nancy gave us which maps out a baby’s normal development week by week.

Mariel is always meeting and usually exceeding her developmental milestones, so we close the book proud and satisfied.

This week, there was a line we found somewhat jarring: “By this week, your baby should only be crying one hour a day.” Other than the first week of her life, when she was all but starving because I had no breast milk, Mariel never really cries at all.

Now I know the gods are going to send down the cosmic smackdown on me, but
“Oh yeah, our baby is perfect.”

The best thing about St. Thomas? The people here LOVE kids.


Like anywhere, there a million interesting things about St. Thomas:

-the oldest continuous use synagogue in America is here (Who would’ve thought?)

-the best restaurant we’ve found is Virgilio’s, a hole in the wall Italian joint on a side street surrounded by abandoned buildings owned by a Colombian man named Virgilio. It’s probably the best Italian we’ve ever eaten anywhere… and the chef is a Mexican.*

-the island has the oldest lottery in the US (Again: really?!)

But the very best thing about St. Thomas is how much the people here love kids. I’ve never really been anywhere where people are more interested in kids. We’ve been stopped at least a dozen times in the street by people who ask “How old is the baby?” or “Can I look at her?” Someone actually got out of their car this morning to run up to us and tell us how beautiful Mariel is.

A mom could get accustomed to that kind of treatment, let me tell you.

Tonight, on an insider’s tip, we made our way downtown to “Miracle on Main,” the annual Christmas celebration featuring a parade of boats decorated with lights and Christmas trees; children’s steel drum bands; and other live music performances. I loved that a band that was clearly for adults had three little girls up on the stage dancing. Where was the spotlight and the crowd’s attention? On the kids.

I’ve seen lots of babies and, encouragingly, lots of men with their families. In fact, I saw a number of men wearing their babies in Snuglis. (A mom could get used to *that,* too.)

Mariel even had her first proposal. We happened to meet a couple who attend the synagogue right up the street from our apartment in NYC. “How old’s the baby?” the woman asked. “Three months,” I said. “Our grandson, Ben, is three months old, too. He was born on September 23.” “So was Mariel!” I said. “Would you like to meet Ben?” the lady asked Mariel, pinching her cheeks. Then she looked at me and asked, “Are you Jewish?” “No,” I said, Mariel’s first suitor suddenly less interested in her.

So bottom line? If you’re wondering about family friendly places to travel, add St. Thomas to the list.

*This meal, by the way, wasn’t paid for as part of the #blogparadise trip, so no shill there.

Why it’s a good thing to have a good husband on a press trip.


That, my friends, is a clock.

At 4:45 AM, the alarm clock on my Blackberry started its steel pan trill. I’d forgotten to turn off the recurring alarm.

Francisco, sweet soul that he is, silently got out of bed, walked down the spiral staircase in the dark (because yes, we have a two level hotel room), turned off the phone, came back up the stairs and got back into bed. Without saying a word.

Having slept a total of 93 minutes in the past 48 hours, I appreciated both the fact that he got out of bed in the first place (I was rather inclined to continue letting it sound and trying to sleep through it) and, especially, that he didn’t say a peep about it.

Just as we were slipping back into a sleep deprived coma, the hotel alarm clock started cheeping. I hadn’t set it. Neither had he. Mariel woke up. Lovely. Not wanting to turn on the light–because I was hoping she’d go back to sleep, you see–I simply started fumbling with clock buttons in the dark. The sound ceased. Our breathing started to get that tenuated rhythm of the dream world, and then… it went off again.

Again, Francisco says nothing. He doesn’t even sigh the heavy sigh of the justifiably annoyed. He just lays there quietly as I yank the cord out of the wall and then get up to take a photo and write this while he feeds the now-very-awake baby.

Thanks, by the way, to the flexible and friendly folks at Diamond PR and Marriott Frenchman’s Reef for being amenable to the family coming along for the ride. Though we paid their way, it was super nice of them to accommodate our unusual request.

Everything we need is in my bag


I know I’ve said this before, but it bears repeating: When you’re pregnant or you’re a new parent, there’s no shortage of people waiting to dispense advice on just about every topic. They want to tell you what worked for them and what didn’t and why it will or won’t for you.

I appreciate it, I truly do, but sometimes I just want to say: “I respect your experience, but could you please just be quiet for a second and let me have mine?”

Take, for example, the matter of traveling.

Everyone I know who’s not a regular traveler assured me that traveling with Mariel would be hard. “Kids need so much stuff,” I heard over and over again. “You just won’t believe everything you have to carry.” And so on and so forth.

But having now taken two trips with Mariel and gearing up for two more–one to St. Thomas for #blogparadise and one to the South for Christmas)– I have to say that’s not my experience at all. I haven’t felt that Francisco and I have been any more weighed down with her than we are with our (ahem, HIS) stuff (You can read all about THAT here). As I’ve already mentioned, she’s the perfect Buddhette on flights.

And as far as the gear we have to bring along for her? Minimal. Everything we need is in my bag:

It's all about that black bag.

-a sarong: used to cover changing tables or to serve as an improvised, on-the-fly changing spot
-6 diapers
-a pack of wipes
-a couple of bottles (or more, depending on the duration of the flight/ride)
-a tete (pacifier)
-spare set of clothes
-Giffy the Giraffe

That’s just her stuff. A laptop, notebook, pens, keys, wallet, passport, a book or two, and a couple magazines fit in there, too.

The bag, by the way, is a Baggallini I bought three years ago at the gym for $80 and which has been to Colombia, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Chile, Brazil, and God knows where else.

If you need some packing tips yourself–kids or no kids–check out this video from packing pro, Benny Lewis.