I left my heart in Jamaica… it’s likely sitting somewhere beside my $25 swim goggles that I lost there. Genesee fell in love with the beautiful island country too, after she got over her initial disappointment about the absence of Cheetos and ramen noodles on all of the menus.
It definitely helped that my parents expertly planned our trip so that we missed the earthquake and tsunami upon arrival in Jamaica and returned home just hours before the winter storm dumped 9 inches of snow across the roadways. Plus, the resort was only at 40% occupancy so we practically had the place to ourselves while watching the Super Bowl and celebrating Bob Marley’s birthday.
But, we also loved visiting the Moon Palace Jamaica Grande resort because it was different from our typical trips to the Moon Palace in Cancun. This resort was smaller and more intimate, which allowed us to make new friends, like Lyla and Conner from Toronto, and David and Marie from Minneapolis! Jamaica also provided lots of new opportunities like snorkeling in the ocean, kayaking with Dad, encountering dolphins, watching cruise ships dock every morning, consuming the best jerk chicken ever, and getting our first manicures and pedicures! It should also be noted that the bacon seems crispier in Jamaica, the brownies are more delicious, and Genesee’s hair bends into perfect little curls in that warm, humid air and liquid sunshine.
In Jamaica, I learned new words and phrases, like “Yah mon,” “Wah gwan,” “Respect,” “No problem,” and “One Love.” However, even with this expanded vocabulary, there just aren’t any words that can accurately capture the stuff that Jamaican memories are made of so I’ll let our photos tell the rest of the story:
All packed up
Rainbow burger sliders at the Sugar Factory
Yum, yum, yum!
Now that’s a milkshake!
Grandpa, you need to step up your game.
All the candy!
Build a Bear at Mall of America
Me and mom on the plane
G and Dad on the plane, 3 rows behind us.
Our bus ride from Montego Bay to Ocho Rios
Genesee taking it all in
Our home away from home!
Super Bowl Sunday!
On the big screen.
I’m cheering for the winning team!
Touring the resort and sporting my team.
VIP seat sections for us!
The Momo experience where you don’t want to go go.
Beach Party for Bob Marley’s birthday.
Hanging out with David and Marie (friends we met on the plane)
The fire blower
The balancing act
Me… about to win the dance contest
Standing ovation from Dad
Not the best place to color
The soft smile
On the catamaran
G trying to get off the catamaran
G was sad that she couldn’t go snorkeling
G turned happy once Mom pulled out the starburst candy.
G unhappy once said starburst candy was all gone.
Sophie teaching Genesee the “peace” sign
Ready to get my snorkel on
Here, fishy fishy.
Skills. Can you eat an apple with no hands?
G is excited about her manicure
“Purple nails, please.” – G
“Oh, you don’t want me to splash my feet in this pool?” – G
Mom’s turn to get pretty nails.
I’m checking things out to make sure it doesn’t hurt.
My turn to get fancy.
Jamaican colors, please! Gotta represent.
“I’ll have one of each.”
Cruise ship watching
One of the pretty angles
Seashells for my classmates
Kayaking with Dad!
Lyla and Eric joined us!
This is so fun!
Heading back to shore
Exploring the beach
Yes, I got in trouble for going head first. No, I wasn’t sorry I did it.
G wanted to go down the slide.
Even mom got in on the fun.
Only once though.
Dad is a waterslide pro. Look at that form.
G loved this game.
Now it’s my turn to fly!
G loved her sand bucket.
And the other kid’s bucket too.
Me and momma
Cheese one more time.
“CHEESE!!!” – G
Don’t worry. That shark is just me in my shark swimsuit.
A fruity tooty drink.
On our deck, watching the ships come in
Michael Jackson show!
The Wired Lounge
Photo shoot before our evening meal
Who is that handsome fella, you ask? It’s me!
Time to swim with the dolphins!
G was really excited until she wasn’t.
Me, giving G a pep talk
It’s a family affair
My first kiss!
Ring toss. Nailed it.
Our beach villa
Miss Curly Q
G in the pool
G and Dad relaxing at the beach
The Sun Deck
Kevin from Heaven playing along with G’s diaper game
Nutella snack. Whatever keeps her happy.
G collecting more sand toys that aren’t ours
Mom on her floaty
Push-ups in the morning
When my legs get tired
When G gets tired
Ice cream cart
Me and Lyla
Genesee and Connor
Dinner with our Toronto friends
Racing at the Playroom
Mega Connect Four
Saying goodbye to Lyla
Little miss sunshine
The night scene
Jerk chicken and corn on the cob
Dirty feet (from our dance-a-thon)
Watching the nightly show
Building sand castles
Our own, private beach
Ice cream bowl #7
Breakfast at Pier 8
The wedding gazebo
View from our room
G loved the outdoor showers
Diving with Lyla
G learning how to drive
Our last breakfast
G showing off her flexibility
We like long walks on the beach
Help! I’m stranded on an island!
Snorkeling with Dad
Cheesin’ with mom
Hot tubbin at night
Some of the local artists
Leaving our mark in the sand
Jaeger was here
On January 26th, Genesee became a 2.5-year-old.
These days, she weighs almost 29 lbs, measures just over 3 feet tall, sports a consistently-dry pull-up, and loves a good bag of Cheetos. Or Doritos. Or Potato Chips. Really, she’s a snacker of all things snacky and she’s still got that sweet tooth for the sweets too.
The 2.5 version of Genesee continues to adore OUR dad (even though she says he’s only her dad), but she’s also a faithful lover of Arlo, Mr. Levi, Cory, Papa, Grandpa, and the fictitious Mr. Grinch.
Sometimes we call her “GG” or “Pumpkee,” and other times we call her “naughty,” like when she gives us the evil eye or tries to beat me up. But, I still love my sister… quirks, and whines, and all. Because no one can demand “2 minutes on couch” before bedtime cuter than Genesee. And when she watches Madagascar on constant loop or fights Mom to wear Paw Patrol pajamas to school every day, my heart melts a little. Besides, she’s become a much easier back-seat companion in the car and it’s hard to not admire someone who can operate the iPad with her feet.
And so, to celebrate this milestone and honor Genesee’s growing independence, we removed the safety gate from the stairway in our house; there’s no stopping her now!
Thank goodness Genesee is still in daycare so we can continue to attend the annual family pajama holiday extravaganza at Children’s Treehouse!
I loved seeing some of my favorite former teachers, a few of my 4k best buds who now attend different schools, and most importantly, my main man, SANTA. Although Genesee was terrified of Santa, the walking reindeer, and the real-life Frosty the Snowman, and consequently spent most of the night clinging to dad and hiding between mom’s legs, she did have a few highlights of her own. Genesee was excited to find her BFF, Arlo, she enjoyed being a “soloist” during her entire Christmas concert, and of course, frosting homemade cookies was like the icing on the cake …literally, until she licked it all gone.
Luckily, we were able to convince Genesee to partake in a family picture with Santa so I could tell him how deserving I am of a pop socket and matchbox cars. Genesee was scared stiff the whole time but managed to yell “Baby doll… bye!” as we were leaving the room.
Upon entering the hallway, my eyes welled up with tears. Everyone thought it was soooo cute that I was sad to leave Santa’s side, but really, I just forgot to tell him that I wanted legos, too. Fortunately, my meltdown was averted when we found a Santa letter-writing station and mailbox right around the corner.
It’s hard not to have the Christmas spirit after a party like that. Thanks, Children’s Treehouse!
Do you know when it’s the best time to peruse the Rotary Lights Display at Riverside Park? Approximately 9:05 p.m. on a seasonably mild Saturday night when the crowds have gone to bed.
Do you know when Santa goes to bed? Yeah, neither did we, but apparently, he hits the sack at 9:00 p.m. because he can’t hang with us night owls.
Still, there’s something magical about this family tradition, so after recovering from the initial disappointment of missing Santa, I decided to enjoy all 3 million lights the only way I know how: by skipping, singing, running, dancing, jumping, and repeating. That is, after all, the proper protocol if you want to feel the magic.
Thanksgiving Thursday is nice and all, but what I love even more is Sit-at-Perkins-then-Search-for-a-tree Saturday! Because who isn’t grateful for pancakes with whipped cream and rainbow sprinkles?! (Answer: My picky-eater sister, but we let her come along anyway.)
After pigging out at Perkins, we bundled up to brave the terribly sleety and windy weather conditions, which prompted a record-time selection of our 2019 Christmas tree since there were no spare minutes for debating, voting, or pretending that dad’s demands for a smaller tree were being considered.
And just like that, we welcomed a beautiful Fraser Fir into our home, decorated our hearts out, and made Christmas official!
We’re ready for you, Santa! I think we can all agree that Genesee’s consistently questionable behavior should not be held against my good-all-year-with-an-occasional-lapse-in-judgment track record. We’ll leave the Christmas tree lights on for you.
It was nice to see you at the table for the holiday! You have a wonderful way of bringing families together, like my loved ones who gathered under the same roof for a shared Thanksgiving meal, laughter exchange, Black Friday advertisement reviews, and a friendly re-match of Jenga. I’m sorry you couldn’t join in on the fun, but I do appreciate the sacrifice you made for my belly; your tenderness didn’t go unnoticed. I hope you understand I meant no disrespect when I gobbled you up; that’s how I show my love for you.
For what it’s worth, I returned to frozen pizza and ramen noodles the next day when Grandma and Grandpa were no longer hosting a fancy, delicious supper. So please don’t judge me for the teeth marks you endured while I indulged in that necessary second helping on Thanksgiving Day.
This year’s gun deer season was a huge success…. if you were hunting for peace, giggles, and quality time with my dad, like I was!
I got to hang out in the deer stand 3 days this year, and when I was left behind, I just stared out our living room windows, waiting for dad to come get me.
It isn’t easy being the hunter-gatherers for our family…. This year, we had to battle a winter storm, we learned a painful lesson about how cold weather affects one’s phone battery, and I had to resort to playing my Nintendo Switch on the small screen.
Still, I love the part where we hang out at the warm and cozy cabin… kickin’ back, playing cards, and getting ready for a long winter. That’s the stuff memories are made of!