Jamaica Day 4: Rain, Rain Go Away

#1BabySister slept through the night again for the third night in a row. They say that once they start solids they start to sleep better, and we’d introduced them about three weeks ago when the formula shortage was really ramping into emergency status. Well, I think it’s paying off now. I’ll accept any and all happy accidents.

#1BabySister with Egem, our new Au Pair

I love that the hardest decisions I have to make here involves pancakes & waffles vs eggs any style I can dream up.

Every morning our chef makes breakfast of our individual choice, and each morning seems to feature a new set of china, placemats and fresh flowers from around the grounds of the Villa.

Poolside Breakfast

After breakfast we returned to the beach, this time better prepared with all the swimmies, pool toys and snorkel gear. We also scoped out the cocktail situation early and ordered up a few piña coladas and some pineapple juice for the kids.

Dada living his best life

#1BigSister took her snorkel for a true test drive today in Sandy Bay. With her life jacket on, she floated on the surface and explored the sea grass, sand and shells below. She even found an occupied shell, home to a “queen conch” or Strombas gigas a threatened species in the Caribbean Sea.

Friendly little queen conch

We tossed our little friend back in before #1BigBrother got any ideas about smashing him or taking him home as a pet. We are suffering some extreme attachment issues these days.

Best family portrait we could snag

For lunch we ordered food to the chairs on the beach. The menu includes the delicious pizza we had yesterday, plus an assortment of seafood baskets and jerk chicken wraps/paninis/wings. Did I mention the mango and pineapple daiquiris with a “floater” on top?

We spent the morning back and forth from the pool to the beach as attention spans wavered from one to the next. We even met some new friends, a little girl named Randy and her Nanny, both from Georgia.

First swim lessons

The kids had toy envy though, so we ended up spending $14 on a dollar store plastic bucket and shovel. I justified the expenditure by convincing myself we could pay it forward for the next family with little ones – but it broke before we even got back to the house. Oh well.

Main bedroom suite
Front entryway with views to the indoor and outdoor dining rooms
Looking at the Main Suite from across the courtyard

As we finished lunch at the beach, the sky darkened, thunder rolled in and we scurried like sand crabs to collect our things and get back to Sea Glass Villa before the sky truly opened up.

Two friends found back at Sea Glass Villa

Tomorrow we’ve booked a boating adventure where we can fish for the first hour and then snorkel for the second half. With this big of a crew, we need flexibility to accommodate everyone’s bucket list items. I’m wrapping todays post up early because I know I’ll either need a nap or early bedtime to have the stamina for tomorrow’s adventures.


Three peas in a pod

Jamaica Day 3: The Water Wheel & a Golf Course Grotto

Today is Labor Day in Jamaica, so many places are closed. No matter – we chose a self-guided golf cart adventure around the Tryall Club grounds. Amir has a knack for finding quiet special places, usually off the beaten path, that feel like they were meant just for us. He claims it’s hours of Google research, I think he just has a natural compass for discovery.

The Aqueduct and Water Wheel at Tryall

In the 1700s, this 2200 acre property was a sugar plantation. There’s a three mile aqueduct still functioning that carries water from the Flint River to the water wheel. Back in the day, the water wheel supplied the energy for the sugar cane presses.

The water wheel still turns today

There’s a large chimney still standing which was the boiler room where the cane was boiled down to form the brown sugar of the area. The rest of the building is long gone, but you can appreciate the bustling activity that used to take place at this site.

Looking up at the junction where the aqueduct meets the wheel

If you do visit, just a heads up about the local craftsmen. They must have a security camera focused on the wheel, because before you even unload from your golf cart, there’s someone there peddling handmade woodcrafts. Like most places, you can certainly haggle on price. We travelled without cash today, so we were either SOL or lucky depending on your tchotchke stance.

I might take up golfing after this trip

Next stop after the water wheel, search for a secret grotto just off the golf course. At first we weren’t sure if our gas-guzzling golf cart was allowed on the golf course (we didn’t want to disrupt the serenity), but a friendly security guard assured us we were fine.

Beach Baby at Sandy Bay

We followed the path towards the Caribbean blue water, over a rickety wooden bridge and towards the shore. There we discovered Sandy Bay, a rocky beach with clear blue waters and a refreshing breeze.

Egem and #1BabySister

After Sandy Bay beach, we hopped back in our Sea Glass golf cart and set out for stop #2. We parked the cart next to a fresh water river emptying into the Sandy Bay.

The water was crystal clear and shallow, with round rocks and spiral seashells, perfect for exploration by little hands.

Some of us in the crew opted to wade in the river while others made friends with sand and hermit crabs.

The stream is fresh water, collecting all of the rain water from up in the mountain downward. Today was a bit dry, so much if the river bottom was exposed for our view.

After exhausting ourselves at the golf course grotto, we reloaded the golf cart and made our way back to Sea Glass Villa. Lunch was served at 1:30pm at our request, and we were past due.

Back at Sea Glass, we enjoyed an Asian chicken salad with fresh oranges, crispy straws and citrus dressing. As a bonus, the chef made us strawberry mango swirl smoothies with pineapple and grapes. The kids (and who’s kidding, the adults too) loved it all.


This afternoon the pool time was cut short by thunderstorms, but we enjoyed watching the rain out on the patio. It also became a great time to work on combing #1BigSister’s hair, as 3 days in the pool with no washes in between essentially created dreadlocks. Egem and I spent about 20 minutes trying to detangle her hair and eventually admitted defeat. With scissors borrowed from the kitchen staff, I performed her first at home hair cut, fully expecting a meltdown.

She lost 2 pounds!

Much to my surprise and relief, she was delighted to have lighter hair that’s easier to comb and braid. Somehow I became a hero in just a few quick chops. There’s certainly some leveling out that needs to happen, but life just got a lot easier for everyone.

Today felt like a long day. Tomorrow everything is open again, so we’ll likely try snorkeling, kayaking or some other yet to be discovered water sport.


Egem and #1BigSister with her new and improved hair

Jamaica Day 2: Exploring Sea Glass & Tryall Resort

So much for sleeping in – a 5:30 wakeup call from #1BabySister started my morning as per usual. Fortunately the house staff had already prepared the morning coffee.

For context I should explain that our Villa, Sea Glass, has its own staff of 4 – a chef, a gardener, a laundress and a housekeeper. I’m in heaven. I don’t have to cook, clean or wash anything.

Outside looking in to Sea Glass Villa

Ahead of our arrival, we each selected our first morning breakfast. I opted for poached eggs on toast, while others enjoyed pancakes, omelettes and of course the freshest of fresh fruit.

Our breakfast table under the hanging bengal trumpet vines

A 5:30 wakeup allows for much productivity before breakfast. I logged 2 hours of swimming with #1BigSister, 2 delicious cups of coffee, 2 blueberry muffins and 2 gecko sightings. Nana and Grandma joined us around 8:00am, showered, dressed, makeup on and ready for a day of exploring.

Me and my mini, #1BabySister

After breakfast we grabbed a golf cart to take down the hillside to the beach to explore the shore. In retrospect, our Villa had 2 golf carts for our use, but we so wisely opted to stuff all eight of us into one.

Our golf carts are marked “Sea Glass”

While we didn’t have to “rent it” per se, I’m pretty sure this counts as the extreme vehicular rental for this trip (see prior travel posts for reference). Amir drove it like he stole it, much to the dismay of Nana and Grandma who were riding backwards in the back in the trip down. There were multiple comments from the wayyyy back about Amir’s driving, but I’ll just leave it at that.

Infinity pool at the Tryall Clubhouse

The Tryall Club Villas each have a pool, but there’s also a large beachfront pool for access by all members of the resort. There’s a pretty delicious pizza shack on site, and you can have your pizza delivered poolside, take it to go, or have it delivered to your Villa if you are headed back. We opted to eat beachside.

Missing from photo: #1BigBrother, asleep on the ground under the table

We declared basecamp on the pool deck because it offered the most options for shade and kid-friendly swimming. A resort staffer supplied the towels and positioned giant pink and white umbrellas for us to optimize the shade.



Only Amir and Egem wore their swimsuits on this outing (we’d only planned to go exploring, not to do a whole swimming adventure), so they took the kids in the pool to practice their swimming technique. And by swimming technique, I mean anything to not drown. As an Emergency Physician with three kids who can’t swim, I have nightmares about this stuff. Big time.

To infinity and beyond!
Some swam, some napped

While the others played in the pool, I walked down to the beach to check out the sand, seashells and wave situation. I met a little friend, a hermit crab, who I was sure #1BigBrother would love (or toss across the pool deck).

Mr. Crab was a tad nervous

It didn’t take long for #1BigSister to want to join me on the beach. She’s always loved looking for seashells and throwing rocks into water… so this was her heaven.

Sand castles on the beach

Egem joined us at the beach and took the kiddos swimming while I looked for shells and small natural treasures along the shore.

Coral and seaweed

Back poolside, the troops were dropping like flies. Exhaustion from traveling yesterday set in, and many comfortable naps were had by all.

It’s a rough life

Back at Sea Glass, #1BigSister was of course ready to go straight back into the pool. I was game since I hadn’t had a bathing suit on down at the beach and was a sweaty mess desperate for a dip. Unfortunately she demanded we swim in the “hot pool” (hot tub) which is a refreshing 95 degrees.

Hanging in the “hot pool”

Today is Sunday, so most tours and activities on the island are closed. Tomorrow is also a holiday in Jamaica, Labor Day, so tours won’t be running. That’s ok though – we’re finding plenty to keep us busy at Sea Glass.


Jamaica Day 1: Louka, Party of 8

This is our first trip since COVID-19. For our handful of loyal readers, you may recall our last trip to Argentina, where when we returned home the first week of February 2020, they were still only asking if you’d visited China.

All his vehicular dreams come true

A lot can happen in two and a half years. when COVID-19 let loose, I was 22 weeks pregnant with Oliver. With healthcare up in the air, I had fears that I wouldn’t have access to the hospital for my high-risk pregnancy. With our city in flames from protest, I wasn’t even sure I would have a safe route to the hospital to get care. Everything was in flux. Everything was in question.

Flash forward to May 2022, and not only did we make it through our pandemic pregnancy, but we had a second pandemic pregnancy which lead us to move from the city to the suburbs, uprooting everything we’d established in our 7 years in the city.

So now as we embark on our first vacation since COVID (not after COVID), I realize the greatest thing it stole from us was indeed the joy of travel – meeting new people, tasting different foods, learning new things, photographing new sights.

So here I am – ready to blog about our trip, which in some ways feels like a final victory in a 100 year war. In the saddle, guns a blazin’, our anthem in the background on repeat.

Traveling is rough

So I warn you ahead of time, unapologetically, that this trip is done deliberately in excess. With the goal of going somewhere new, exploring new experiences with our family, and really at the end of the day creating an experience that just might allow me to sleep in for the first time in 6 months, get lost in a good book, and for once get tipsy from a few too many fruity drinks. I think we’ve all earned it.


Clinton Corners Day 9: Leaving The Willows

Yesterday I finally managed to locate and read the book that recounts the history of this great home. Built in 1914, the Ben Tousey House, or “The Willows” as it’s known by locals, holds New York State Historical Landmark Designation.

The Willows, 1915

Benjamin C. Tousey (1868-1955) built the house from 1914-1915. He was born in Clinton Corners, but reportedly moved to Florida and hit it big in the railway business. With his new wealth, he came back to Dutchess County and began construction on his family home.

Top: Porte Cochere 1915 and 2021; Bottom: West Veranda 1915 and 2021

While the architect remains unknown, the style of the home is Arts & Crafts. According to architecture.org: “The Arts and Crafts movement originated in England in the mid-19th century as an antidote to the dehumanizing effects of the industrial revolution. It looked back to a time before craftspeople were replaced by machines. Its roots were philosophical rather than architectural and it encompassed many art forms.”

Two features of the home distinct to the Arts and Crafts style are the Porte Cochere (seen above) and the sleeping porches.

Porte Cochere

A porte cochere is an architectural feature that dates back to French palaces. It’s a covered area designed for offloading horse drawn carriages and later cars. Many early 20th century homes featured them as a sign of luxury.

Sleeping porch (now enclosed)

Sleeping porches are also a hallmark of the Arts and Crafts movement. According to Bob Villa, “The sleeping porches often built into Queen Anne Victorians and Arts & Crafts-style homes provide just the space for all ages to enjoy nature’s version of a cooling system and white noise machine. These rooms were, in effect, screened decks and balconies adjacent to second- or third-story bedrooms, located on a corner to receive breezes from all directions… The house feature was extremely popular at the turn of the 20th century, when health professionals advocated sleeping outdoors as a way to bolster the immune system.”

The sleeping porch at The Willows is now enclosed with plexiglass windows, but one can imagine the appeal way back when.

The Willows, circa 1915-1925
The Willows, September 8, 2021

On the drive home I polled the crowd to ask everyone’s favorite thing from our Clinton Corners vacation.

Amir: Going to Innisfree and sitting in the rock gardens and playing on the fuzzy moss.

#1BigSis: The swing!

#1LilBrother: Collecting sticks and rocks (inferred)

Me: The slow pace, the views at sunset, three meals a day together and sleeping in.

Back pasture at The Willows

As I mentioned we’d entertained the idea of Hawaii or a tropical island, but abandoned it when Delta began to surge and timely passport renewals became impossible. I think it’s good things played out the way they did. There’s something about a family road trip in a car packed to the gills, pillows, stuffies and bags crammed in every possible nook and cranny… it’s not picturesque – but it’s perfectly messy.