The Home of Daddy's Day Dare! ~ I am just trying to stay above water

Archive for the month “September, 2012”

Jamaica: FDR III…EARNED frequent flyer miles

My wife and I were real excited to go on this trip to the Caribbean for a big reason, we have not been on a vacation since August of 2011. We each have changed jobs over the past year and taking time off was just not possible as we each tried to get established in our new positions. Add to that length of no R&R was the fact that a lot of the utility and benefits of that last vacation were wiped out by the plane ride home.

You see our last vacation we flew the kids up to Ocean City, NJ. We could do this as US Air owed us a trip after we cancelled our flights that we made 3 weeks before we found out Skylar was going to be born back  in 2010.

Well on that last flight home, US Air neglected to send a plane to take us.

You see we were to fly out of Philly. It rained real hard that day. It turned out that it rained real hard up and down the east coast. The flight that was supposed to take us home that Sunday was never able to leave  the ground in New York, due to all the rain. This was Sunday afternoon around 12:00 noon. I HAD to be at work Monday by 5:00am and now no way to cover those 600 miles to get home.

It was very stressful. Daddy had to stand in line and then bargain to get a flight the same day. Staying overnight was not an option. Mom had the tougher job of pacifying an 18 month and 3.5 year old little girls  that desperately needed a nap in an airport. At 3:00pm we were at our end.

We ended up finding a flight that landed at the closest airport some 6 hours later. We found a friend to go pick us up there and we got home around 11:00pm. We did. Or luggage didn’t. No one told our luggage that our flight was cancelled and it showed up in Charleston the next day. All in all not very amusing.

But that trip was far in the past. Just a memory of what could go wrong, not that it ever would again. Right?

Last week he had to hop on a ‘puddle jumper’ to Miami from Charleston. The international trip began at 7:00am in Charleston. So get there with plenty of time. Right?

We all woke up around 4:30am. We got showered, dressed, breakfast(ed). As I am finishing up poor Dylan walks in my bathroom, her head held down. She says, “Daddy…this is a disaster.”

“Huh? What do you mean Dylan? Why is this a disaster?”

She  said, “Getting up this early. This is a disaster.” ~preachin’ to the choir girl!

“Well maybe you both can sleep on the plane Dylan.” I hope, I hope, I hope.

The girls didn’t sleep but they did pretty good and we were proud of them. The last time Skylar was on a plane she was 18 months old with an ear infection. This trip had to be better than that? Right?

She and Dylan both did great. As much as they love to spot planes in the sky, they each were unimpressed as the plane’s wheels left the ground at takeoff. In fact, Dylan pulled the window down. The rising sun was too bright for her eyes.

“Daddy, the plane has a leak”

We landed in Miami and hustled to our next terminal, got on the plane and prepared to be vacationed. No problem mon.

We taxied out to the runway and then we sat. And we sat. And we sat. Are we waiting for takeoff I wondered? Then, the pilots voice came over the loud speaker, “Attention passengers…we have a warning light on our dashboard so we are going to have to turn around and get it checked out.

And we sat. Can you imagine what runs through your mind when the pilot says we have to fix your plane? Especially through all the waiting and no communication?

Finally the plane began to taxi back to the American Airlines terminals.

And we sat.

The pilot’s voice came over the intercom again, “Well we have made it back to the bays but now we are waiting for one to open up. All the bays are full. As soon as we get word one is available we will head over. Please stay seated with your seat belts on.”

“Did you hear that Dylan? Skylar?” Yea, good luck with that!

And we sat. We had enough time on hands to wonder why this mysterious warning light on the dashboard didn’t come on before we pulled away from our terminal?

Actually we were still quite pleased with the behavior of our girls. They had not cried or whined. Mommy did a great job of prepping their carry-on bags with some great kid activities. No more disaster in Philly! Right?

Dylan played school on her computer

Another twenty minutes went by and we started to roll again. We had to taxi over to the other side of the airport where a terminal became available. The pilot’s voice came on, “Well we found a bay to get repairs. When we come to a stop we will let you disboard so you can stretch your legs. The repairs should take about an hour so meet back at this terminal in 60 minutes.” Only an hour I thought?

And we sat.

It turns out nobody told the maintenance man where we were or he didn’t have a ride over. Eventually they did let us leave the plane. We grabbed our carry-ons and the kids and tried to find something to eat. We rode the skytrain at Miami International, hit the restrooms and found our way back to our new terminal, where we sat. Well Dylan and Skylar didn’t. They were either climbing the windows or laying on the carpet by the terminal doors now.

Eighty minutes went by from our unboarding when a voice finally came over our terminal.

“Well flight 1491 we have some good news and some bad news. The bad news is that it is going to take longer to fix your plane then we originally thought. The good news is that we found another plane for you to take you to paradise. You can board that new plane now. It is at  terminal 6. If you have not grabbed your carry-ons please pick them up from this plane before you head down to terminal 6 and your new plane. No worries, no cry”

Well he didn’t actually sing the Bob Marley song but he did say paradise, which sure wasn’t the interior of an American Airlines jet!

We were at terminal 46. OK, here we go. We were familiar with the airport by now. We opted to hoof it to the new terminal instead of climbing the stairs up to the sky train (this was good!)

The four of us had made it all the way down to terminal 30 when a  voice came over the airport’s intercom, “Attention flight 1491, your plane is now ready. Head back to your plane and prepare for takeoff.

REALLY!? Is this a joke?

So we restepped our path back to the terminal, stood in line, and prepared to board.

We found our seats, strapped in and prepared for our overdue trip to Jamaica. We really should have been at our resort by now! Step up American Airlines!

Well……we sat.

It turns out those that rode the skytrain down to terminal 6 missed the call back to the plane. So we had to wait for everyone on the flight to make it back. We sat.

It turns out American Airlines never staffed terminal 6. The handful of people that made it down there waited and no was there to tell them they were at the wrong place. We sat in our airplane’s seats a total of another 40 minutes waiting for the very last passenger to make it back to the plane.

Well they eventually did. We DID taxi to the runway. We DID take off this time. As the plane’s wheels left the ground the passengers all erupted in a sarcastic round of applause. Dylan had  nailed it, “Disaster”.

You may know the rest of the story and our License To Chill. We landed in Jamaica some five hours late, found our ground transportation waiting for us, rode to Runaway Bay and then were “Wow’ed” with our reservation’s upgrade, chocolate cake and champagne.

Upon departure, EACH of our flights on the way home were delayed from the  incoming flight being  a late arrival as well, making our wait and traveling day that much longer.  Again. But it did give us some time to goof at the airports!

They’re not in Finland but….

at the Margaritaville restaurant in the Jamaican airport

…where I met an old friend. Yes, I am a Pirate…

American Airlines, being the international airline that they are, really did step up. We all received emails saying they were giving us an additional 40,000 miles on our frequent flyer accounts. As if?

I think I am trying US Air next time. I never thought I would be saying that again.

So tell me,

What has been your worst travel story?

What has been your funniest?

Jamaica: FDR II…Love For Water Knows No Boundaries

As parents I think our three main responsibilities are to keep our kids safe, help them to grow up to be good citizens, and keep them happy. I think that last one is the thing that keeps us going sometimes, seeing the unbridled smiles on our kid’s faces. I mentioned in my prior post how Dylan really had a great time in the water on our vacation. She had a great time and it gave me a chance to really bond with her.

While we tried to take advantage of the nanny program with our wonderful nanny, Sharlene, Dylan still wanted to hang with Mom and Dad in the morning, instead of playing with our nanny, because we were going to the beach.

One particular morning she cried and cried  as we tried to convince her she would have more fun playing with our nanny, as Mom and Dad were ‘all played out’. She cried and so we said come on.

Dylan and I played for about an hour in the ocean that morning then I told her I had to get out and rest.

She said, “OK Daddy, I’ll go to the Kid Zone with Skylar then and I won’t cry.” Atta way Dylan!

We went to a downstairs restroom where I could put some dry clothes on her. AFTER, I changed her she told me she had to go to the potty. I huffed and started to unpeel her play clothes. How dare her discomforts get in the way of my play time! 🙂

Dylan said, “Sorry Daddy. I didn’t want to pee in the ocean.” What a cool kid I thought. Even I don’t like the ocean THAT much.

When asked what Dylan wanted to do before we went on vacation without hesitation she would say ‘ride the big blue slide’. We viewed some videos of our resort on Youtube before we came down. Ol’ Miss Fearless wanted to have some fun combining a giant slide with her love for the water. Each day, we found out, I had to ask the lifeguards on duty to ‘turn on’ Big Blue, since the resort’s occupancy was so low. The lifeguard would give us a time for when Big Blue would be primed and ready. Once she got on the slide she would keep playing there until lunch. She would slide down and then I would pretend to race her in the water to steps at the other end. She loved it and never tired.

If you want to see what I mean, as well as some smiles and personality from Ms. DYLANism check out some of the fun on the video below.

But her love for the water and craziness was not restricted to Big Blue. As I mentioned earlier, each day she did something new and amazing in the water.

One day she finally held her nose and dove under the water. This had been a summer long project with no results. Now, finally, in the clear blue Caribbean, she said, “Watch this Daddy!”. Then she did it! No prompting. She just gave it a try.

The next morning, while we were swimming in the pool with “the red slide”, she uttered those same amazing words as she stood on the side of the pool: “Watch this Daddy!” Then she took a leap from the side and did a flip into the water! I gasped and laughed at the same time.

Where did this come from? She popped up from beneath the water with a big smile on her face (so cool to see). I had to laugh. She took my laugh as winning approval for her stunt. She made her Dad smile. She enjoys that about as much as I do seeing the smiles on their faces. “Hey Mommy, did you see what your daughter can do?”

“No problom mon”

The next day we rode in the resort’s glass bottom boat to a reef about 15 minutes away. I wanted to show our kids the colorful fish in the water in hopes they would be interested in learning how to snorkel with mom and dad.

We got to our destination and the staff threw some food in to attract some fish. Then, two other vacationers in our boat jumped in the water to do some snorkeling themselves. After about 5 minutes of watching, Dylan told me she wanted to get in the water too.

We all had our life preservers on so I thought why not. I jumped in the sea and then Dylan jumped into my waiting arms. She swam and kicked around a bit and then just flipped over on her back to float. She was so at ease doing this and smiling at all times. And then it hit me. She was floating on her back about a half mile from land in about 40 feet of water and didn’t have one care in the world. Amazing! A four year old that loves the water this much. I wish I would have brought our camera as it was such a Kodak moment.

We stayed in the water about 10 minutes or so. Everyone had returned to the boat so we had to make our way back. The boat was anchored at the reef. I know. I wasn’t a big fan of dropping and dragging an anchor on a reef either. However, the wind and tide had carried us both about 20 yards from our boat. So in an attempt to get her out of the water I said, “Come on Dylan, I’ll race you to the boat.” And that girl paddled and kicked her way, into the wind and tide, all the way back to the boat. Again, four years old! It took her a lot more kicks, given her size, then it took me. And she did it with a smile on her face.

An international hot spot

One of the nice things about traveling is that you can meet some really nice people.This trip was no exception. On our first full day at FDR I saw a father playing with his two daughters in the big pool. I soon found the man had two daughters the same age as ours, ages 2 and 4. Both of his girls loved the water too.

They were from Switzerland. They had been to FDR before (yes, either brainwashed or magic). He and his wife knew how to play the nanny game. I could tell. Every morning, while they were off diving, Dylan got to play in the pool with their oldest, Lillya.

Both of these girls were shy at first. Reto, the father, said as much. But you could tell Lillya loved the water. And I think a mutual admiration quickly built. Lillya could do some things in the water Dylan couldn’t. And Dylan could do somethings Lillya wouldn’t dare.

That first morning they would watch each other after they came up from the water. At first, it seemed, they were watching to see what the other was doing. Later it was to see if the other was watching.  If Dylan jumped in the water then Lillya would jump in from her side of the pool. If Lillya went down the slide then Dylan would. And both would show off with their Dads. It was cute to follow.

With the help of the Dads the girls were introduced. Then they played with each other in the pool every morning for the rest of the week. It didn’t matter that they could not communicate real well. Lillya did know some English. Lillya’s mother, Heather, was born and raised in the US. The girls mainly communicated by their love for the water and seeing and appreciating what the other could do. Dylan had met her match. They played all day in the pool that first day after the introduction. Then, as we walked back to the room at the end of the afternoon, Dylan looked up with the towel wrapped around her and said, “I think I made a new friend today.” You couldn’t help but be happy for her.

Take a look at some of Dylan’s and Lillya’s fun:

Both Heather and Reto were swimmers in college. And they educated their daughter(s) well in both English and swimming. She reminded me of Diane Lane with red hair. He looked like an Olympic swimmer. Both were special people and avid travelers. I am glad we all had a chance to meet. Once again I was happy for our daughter as she got to experience a little bit more of this big world with Lillya, although she couldn’t appreciate how far away and different the two girl’s lives actually were. Yet you could tell she did feel special for making friends with someone just a little bit different than the girls back home.

The last afternoon they played together. Reto tried to get his daughter out of the pool to get ready for dinner and so did I. Reto had trouble with his girl and then so did I. Dylan just kept swimming and playing in the water like she didn’t hear me. Finally, after my third attempt to get her out and my tone getting a little louder, Dylan yells back without looking up, “Princesses Rule!”

Well, a….a….yes, they certainly do.

Jamaica: FDR… License To Chill

Well, we made it back! The girls and I snuck off to the island of Jamaica for 7 days ~ barely. Thanks AMERICAN AIRLINES! That was sarcasm.

We found a nice all-inclusive in Runaway Bay, Jamaica called the FDR Resort. Parents, this is the place to be! When they say “all-inclusive” they take the term a little bit further and give you a real-life nanny every day from 9-5. They are the only resort in the Caribbean that does this and one of only 2 resorts in the world (I read) that gives you a nanny. These nannies come highly acclaimed (Trip Advisor) and become part of your family.

Also, you get a small kitchen in your suite and the nannies stock it for you! We had a sheet where you can request any of 6 soft drinks, beer, wine, a cheese and cracker tray, cereal, milk, fresh fruit and more. This was so cool I thought.

To get there, we had to be on a plane at 7:00am. So we had to be at the airport by 6 Saturday morning. We flew to Miami and the girls did great. We were supposed to head to Jamaica but had difficulty leaving the town through a myriad of difficulties with our airplane, at one time wondering if we were going to go at all. It truly was a comedy of errors, yet not funny at all, and surely not one of American Airlines best moments (more to come).

But we finally landed in Jamaica. Due in at noon, we landed around 4:45pm. A very timely shuttle took us to our destination. Once there, our mood quickly turned around as we found our reservation had been upgraded! I requested an OF 1 BR Suite and we ended up an OF 2 floor 2BR Suite. Our new vacation home had a nice big living room with pseudo-marble tile floors, mahogany and cherry wood furniture and fixtures, high ceilings (Ugh!), and more. What a great surprise and a nice ending to a long and difficult day!

A sunrise from our room.

I asked for a second floor room in our reservation so we could get an ocean view with no worries of the kids running away at Runaway Bay while we were in the shower. That part was nice. Now, with a two-floor suite with high ceilings, my calves were burning the first two days. Do you realize how many trips you make to a kid’s room? Now that room was upstairs. Those high ceilings made for some steep, steep stairs. I thought I was in shape but my calves were hurting. Be careful what you wish for, right?

We received our upgrade, in part, because I told them that Saturday was my anniversary (it actually was Friday) and also because the resort was fairly empty so they had rooms to spare.  Being the middle of September I imagine most of the resort’s target market had just taken their kids back to school this month. FDR had 8 buildings for guests but only the ocean front building was occupied. We had the place to our self!

So there we were! We made it to vacation, finally. Upon inspection of our new digs in Jamaica we found a chocolate cake and a bottle of champagne in the frig with our name on it too. THANKS FDR! To the resort’s credit, the whole staff did go out of their way for you, from the bartenders to lifeguards to maintenance to our great nanny, everyone went above and beyond with smiles on their faces. This was just the beginning we found out.

Nicely done FDR!

Further inspection of our upgrade revealed a nice, anniversary size king size bed upstairs. The bed may have been a bit old as it creaked quite a bit; maybe louder than any bed I had ever heard. But it was OK, we were on vacation. No problem mon!

The kids didn’t see ‘king size’ bed but a ‘jump castle’. And so, before we herded them off to bed our first night, we first had to shush them after jumping on OUR bed for 45-60 minutes. That next morning it became apparent how noisy that bed was as I got a high-five, two thumbs up, a wink and a nod from many of the guests down at breakfast. Not all of those gestures came from the men either. Those kids had made me ‘Legend’!

FDR was really built to cater to the kids too; young and old. Skylar enjoyed playing in the Kid’s Zone with our nanny the most. Both girls enjoyed feeding the rabbits and fish and doing crafts. They each made necklaces and tie-died Tee’s. The last day was goat races!

While both our girls like the water, Dylan is much more acclimated to it. She would follow mommy and daddy to the beach and pools in the morning. She made me ask the staff to turn on ‘Big Blue’, the 50 foot water slide, each morning so she could ride it. (Stay tuned) It seemed every day she either surprised or amazed us on her lack of fear and love for the water, including doing flips and floating in 40 foot ocean water. She also made a new friend, Lillya, from Switzerland. While they didn’t share much of the same language (Lillya did know a bit of English at 4 years old) they did communicate by sharing their love for the water, impressed with what the other could do. It was cute to see.

Lillya and Dylan jumping in together

Mom and Dad found a friend too in a secluded sanctuary at the edge of the resort, where we could hide from the rest of world, daring it to find us. We had a good breeze, great weather, and some crystal-clear tropical water to appreciate and cool off in.

A view from my lounge chair in our hidden sanctuary

The resort had an open-air gym that was actually above the poolside bar. There, the treadmills dreadmills had a beautiful view looking down at the neighboring beach, water and reefs. In fact, the water was so clear that, while running on this second-floor treadmill I could spot and follow fish swimming in the shallows at this beach in front of me. It may be the best view from a treadmill in its portion of the northern hemisphere!

Not your usual beach run

We did lots of research in shopping for and choosing this resort. Our other choices were a Disney Cruise, a fabulous Beaches Resort in Turks & Caicos, and our favorite Breezes resort in Curacao. We chose this resort, relying heavily on all the great comments by past vacationers on Trip Advisor.com. It seemed three out of four commentators on the resort, had been to the resort before and vowed to return again and again. in fact the reviews were so identical that the tourists seemed some sort of brainwashed. Everyone raved on the nannies and called them family. Everyone. They all sounded the same, brainwashed.

But Monday afternoon, 15 minutes into my specially beach-laden Ipod, the therapy started to work on me too. I have a special coastal Ipod I have taken to the Caribbean for the past few vacations. After listening to it for those prescribed 15 or 20 minutes, if you could wring me out, you would get drops of liquid sunshine, a salty coastal breeze, all wrapped up in a Tanqueray and Tonic flavor.

So, with my Ipod, sprawled out in my lounge chair, relaxing quietly in our own little sanctuary by the clear blue sea, sipping endlessly on my T&T,  the magic hit me too.

I’m coming back!

These nannies give parents a License To Chill; a rare, coveted document to new and old parents for ‘extended’ relaxation. Not just the 5 or 10 minutes we occasionally get.

Here’s a quick look at one day of our vacation:

We had few other fun things occur on our trip too but my wife made me do a ‘pinky-swear’ that I wouldn’t blog about them.

So take some picturesque Caribbean water, add shots of wonderful Jamaican weather and breezes with a splash of coastal melodies, finish with a scoop of ice and a well trained nanny, shake (not stirred) and you too can have a ‘License To Chill’.

If I haven’t bored you I would like to tell you a few more stories from our vacation over the next few days. Pack your bags and come a long with us!

The King Of Some Place Hot

The other day Dylan came up to me and we started talking about ‘things’. She suddenly asked when our kitty was going to die. (?) Kitty is 16 years old but still doing OK except for some fur-ball irregularity.

I said why do you ask?

She asked, “Will he die on Christmas or on my birthday?”

I said I don’t know. I followed with everything dies at some time. I will die someday. She will die someday.

Dylan snaps back, “Oh no! Not my Grandpa and Grandma. They are going to live forever!”

It was touching. But for superstitious reasons I didn’t feel like I dared share that moment with my parents. But Dylan must think something special about them. She’s smart!

Me? Not so smart! Ask you-know-who. You see about 6 months ago I booked a vacation to the Caribbean in September. How crazy was that? It was our opportunity to make it past the continental shelf at last.  But anybody that lives  east of Texas knows that September is prime hurricane season. Why would you pay for a flight and reservations when a storm could wipe the whole darn thing out? Not so smart.

Not so smart? Have you felt how great the temperature has been this week? About the time the high heat and humidity finally go away and the long awaited cooler temperatures slide in…we are going someplace hot and humid again! I think I would rather stay here in the 60’s and 70’s. BUT….my three girls and I are going anyway. Wish us luck! ~ I am sure it will be great!

Dylan says she doesn’t want to go thou. I asked, “Why?” She said she would rather go (up) to Ocean City, where we spent last summer’s vacation at….along the beach and boardwalk, rides and bikes, ocean and putt-putt and …Grandpa and Grandma. They have spoiled her real good!

Have a great weekend everybody!

Older than dirt!

The other day I very quietly confided to my best friend that I was having an affair. He turned to me and asked, ‘Are you having it catered’?

And that, my friend, is the definition of ‘OLD’!

But wait there’s more…

My memory’s not as sharp as it used to be.

Also, my memory’s not as sharp as it used to be.


It’s scary when you start making the same noises as your coffee maker.


These days about half the stuff in my shopping cart says, “For fast relief".


~ Sorry for the barrage of old jokes folks. This nasty friend emailer has no heart!

I hope your week gets better. I’ll try to do better next time knuckleheads 😉

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