Monday, April 18, 2016

BarBABYdos: Where to Stay (Comparing Rosebank and Courtyard by Marriott)

When people email me to ask me questions about our experience with Barbados Fertility Centre and our time on the island, booking accommodations is almost always one of the topics they ask about.  So I figure, if so many people are asking about it, it must be blog post time :-)


BFC offers packages in which they will book your airfare and accommodations for you, even further reducing your potential stress level.  Of course, there is a reasonable upcharge for the convenience, and if the financial savings is one of the main reasons you are considering pursuing your fertility treatment in Barbados, you may want to avoid that extra money and book your own flights and hotel.  This is the route we took, and truthfully, it didn't add too much stress.  There are relatively few options for flights (only three airlines currently fly from the US to Barbados), and the Centre has a curated list of hotels in the area that they are happy to provide for you.  

While we obviously don't have experience with all of the hotels on the list, I can tell you about our experiences at two different properties - Rosebank and the Courtyard by Marriott - and give you some pros and cons of each to keep in mind as you make your decision. 

Our first trip, we stayed at Rosebank, an old sugar cane plantation house converted into apartments with a cottage on the property as well.  We stayed in the cottage, actually, for 16 nights.  It had two bedrooms, a bathroom, a kitchen with oodles of dishes and cookware, a sitting room with TV, and a screened-in porch.  I don't want to mention prices here, because the further away we get from July 2014, the more likely it is that prices have changed.  However, I WILL say that Rosebank was among the lowest (if not THE lowest) price-per-night we found.


Rosebank PROS:
  • Very private.  A housekeeper came once a week to do a quick clean and change the linens, but aside from that, we really didn't see other people on the property a whole lot.  
  • Inexpensive.  And when you're looking to book a stay of more than two weeks, that is important!
  • You get to cook your own food. I was really looking forward to this!  Getting local food and cooking it up, experimenting with new things in new ways... we were anticipating lots of fish and tropical fruit. Little did I know, sugar is pretty much the only thing grown in Barbados.  All other food is imported, and pretty pricey ;-) 
  • Suuuuuper-comfy bed!
  • Fairly close to the clinic.  The info from the clinic makes it sound like it's, like, two doors down, but it's probably closer to a quarter mile.  Still a very reasonable walk, unless you're hauling around grapefruit-sized ovaries or aching from egg retrieval.  However, very reasonable cab ride - about $7 (US) each way. (I need to write a separate post about cabs... stay tuned, lol.) 



Rosebank CONS:
Um, how do I put this nicely?  This is not an American hotel.  If you're accustomed (read: spoiled) to the kind of amenities offered in American hotels, Rosebank may not be the place for you.
  • No glass in windows.  Most of the windows are kind of a brick lattice with screens in them, although I think the porch was glass all the way around. This led to:
  • Inefficient air conditioning.  The bedrooms DID have air conditioning, via window a/c units, but we still had to pull in the two big fans from other places in the cottage to get our bedroom cool enough to escape from Barbados in July. The rest of the cottage had no means of temperature control, and it got HOT. (and:)
  • Noise.  We didn't see other people on property, but we heard some.  Landscapers, mostly, but also lots of car horns... not to mention loud rainstorms, noisy bugs, birds, and a couple of monkeys on occasion. (Okay, so the monkeys were pretty cool.)  With no glass separating us from these sounds, they really did add up to a fairly constant din.
  • Inconsistent shower temperature and low pressure.  It was hard to get a good hot shower to ease my aching body, or a good cold shower to cool off from the oppressive heat in the rest of the cottage. And with the low pressure, I had a hard time rinsing my hair or showering sand off my legs and arms.  I never quite felt clean.
  • Bugs.  All the ones we saw were dead, but they were huge and way too close to the dishes we ate off of.
  • The kitchen is not stocked with ANY food (not even spices, or other basics).  We had to do a grocery run almost immediately and were pretty shocked at the prices of groceries... familiar brands, 4-5x the cost you'd see in the States.  It was actually lots cheaper to eat out. It's certainly not Rosebank's fault that groceries on the island are expensive, but consider the staples in a kitchen that you add to food without thinking about, and think about having to go stock them all.  I almost felt like that big grocery run when you first move into a house and don't have any food.

In general, staying at Rosebank felt like the overnight camps I went to as a kid... not camping in tents, but definitely not comfortable enough to consider a vacation to me.  But I admit to being a bit of a princess about this (I don't see the appeal in camping out at all), so if you're not as spoiled as I am, give it a try. :-)

On our second, shorter trip, we stayed at the Courtyard by Marriott, and it was much more what we were looking for in a hotel.  The price-per-night was considerably higher than at Rosebank, but in line with average prices in hotels we've stayed in in the States.  


Courtyard PROS:
  • Comfortable temperatures.  Our room had an epic air conditioning system, and we were able to get it nice and cold!  
  • Restaurant in house.  There was a little restaurant area just off the lobby, and they had a really great, varied menu.  We ate breakfast every morning (I believe this *may* have been included in the special BFC rates, but I can't promise.), and dinner most evenings, and while prices were high compared to American food, they were downright reasonable compared to other places to eat in Barbados. Also, SO delish! And convenient.
  • Great Wi-Fi.  Rosebank's wi-fi came and went pretty badly, but Courtyard's was fast and consistent.  And since we turned off all cellular function on our cell phones to avoid astronomical roaming charges, Wi-Fi meant connections to home. 
  • Quiet.  There were obviously other guests that we would run into while out and about in the hotel, but our room was very peaceful.  Perfect for that post-appointment cocoon, when you just want to hunker down and process your day.
  • Close to clinic.  We didn't walk to the clinic from Courtyard, but the cab fare was the same as from Rosebank, about 7 USD.


Courtyard CONS:
  • Maybe the hardest mattress I've ever slept on.
  • Less "local" feel, if that's important to you.
  • Not the least-expensive option, and for longer trips the price would add up.

I think it's probably fairly obvious from the tone of my reviews which property I would recommend of the two, but I also know that different people have different "must-haves" for accommodations.  I always want my hotel to be a comfortable sanctuary of sorts, someplace I can go and unwind, touch base, clean up after a long day exploring a vacation destination, so keep in mind that's the lens through which I'm viewing these places.  If your accommodation priorities are different than mine, you may see these properties differently.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

8 Magic Moves Mommas Master


When you're pregnant - or even thinking about getting pregnant - people are quick to tell you what a magic-filled time of your life pregnancy and parenting will be.  And they're completely correct!  In both super sincere and slightly sarcastic ways, mothers become magicians.  I thought about my daily repertoire of magic, then consulted some of my favorite fellow magicians - the fabulous parents in my twin mom club - and here are just a few of our many tricks:

The Abdominal Amplification  

Let's start at the very beginning... (a very good place to start.  Sorry, I'll stop with the lyrics now.) Our bellies get kind of ginormous.  Especially twin bellies.  As you're watching yours expand almost so quickly you can see it, you can't help but marvel at this super-cool magic trick you didn't even know you could do!


The Sedative Song 

You may have the world's second-worst singing voice (mine's the worst), but something about it still calms your baby.  Their reaction is almost trance-like, and I always picture that scene in The Little Mermaid when Ariel's voice is out of her body, swirling around toward Ursula's seashell necklace... except my voice seems to wrap around those tiny angry people and make their eyes glaze over and get very... very... heavy....


The Gibberish Decoder

When I hear a noise from the nursery, I can always tell you which baby it is, and 99% of the time, I can tell you what they want.  Their voices and needs have changed, but since they were a few days old, I've been able to translate like they are my second and third languages.  I'm much more fluent in Abbie and in Sam than I ever got in French... with eight years of study. And there's no textbook, dictionary, or tutor for these languages. Tell me THAT isn't magic! ;-)


The Medication Obscuration

Only by magic can we convince babies that the syringe of sickly sweet syrup they do NOT want to swallow is really an airplane they should open their mouths to let into the hangar.


The Auxiliary Appendage Acquisition

We can hold a squirming baby (or more), mix bottles, and (for many of us) keep an older child or even a pet from getting into trouble, all at the same time.  Each of those tasks require at least two arms... put a few of them together... magic!


The Perplexing Plaything Prestidigitation

In this trick, a toy that two kids are fighting over (or fighting with) suddenly disappears without a trace. It may or may not reappear at a later date ;-)


The Silent Slink

This is the ability to slip in and out of your sleeping babies' nursery to retrieve the cell phone charger you left there during their morning bottles.


The Tenacity Optimization

After a long day of being pooped on (figuratively and literally), of questioning and striving and loving and advocating... we go to bed exhausted, then wake up (usually too soon) and do it all again. Because we are magical creatures, and we love those little people so stinkin' much <3

What magic tricks did I miss? :-)  If you leave one in a comment, make sure I have a link to your blog if you have one... it may show up in a follow-up post down the road!

Friday, April 1, 2016

My Simple Spring Mom-iform (and a coupon code!)

Have I mentioned how I'm loving all of the spring colors and flowers in our back yard? :-)  The weather in Ohio is a little temperamental right now, so it's not necessarily feeling like spring every day, but it sure LOOKS like spring time! I'm gonna let you in on a little secret that could probably get my blogger cred revoked... I feel about the coming of spring pretty much the way everybody else feels about autumn ;-) It's fresh and soft and optimistic... and I can go barefoot more easily.

White and Gold Polka Dot Shirt: Kohl's (still see on clearance sometimes!)
Dark Peach Shorts: Kohl's (softest. shorts. ever!)
Shoes: circa 2004ish? And I can't even read the brand anymore.
Necklace: c/o The Vintage Honey Shop (Spring Daisy Ring)

This is my spring "mom-iform"... I keep it very simple.  I have a handful of skirts and pairs of shorts and several solid-colored or neutral tees.  I'd say all of my tops go with 3/4 of my bottoms, and all of my bottoms go with 3/4 of my tops.  I almost have to try to mismatch, haha! :-)  But neutrals and basics don't have to be boring!  Believe it or not, these fun peach shorts are really versatile - they look great with my white (or this white with polka dots), black, light blue, navy, and tan shirts! And I'd wear it with yellow if I had one... hm.  Maybe I need a yellow shirt. ;-)  I wear my favorite old (we're talking high school here, y'all), broken-in flats, and a Vintage Honey Shop necklace, and my mom-iform is complete :-)  

Each piece is deliberate but relaxed. Everything is interchangeable so when I get spit up on, I can change the dirty piece instead of the whole outfit.  All of my clothing is either loose or comfortably stretchy, allowing me to roll around on the floor, pick up Abbie and Sam, and bend and twist all day long. And my choice of jewelry entertains restless babies and soothes their poor teething gums :-)


Speaking of my Vintage Honey Shop teething necklaces, I have just been accepted as a brand rep and affiliate for their shop!  I've talked before about how much I love these necklaces, and I'm so excited that I get to offer my readers a coupon code for 10% off their orders!  And in addition to you saving 10%, I earn a little bit of money too... which will probably go back toward buying another necklace for myself ;-) So I SUPER appreciate you entering this code at checkout! :-) The code is:


alwayskatie

Tell me about your "uniform!"  Do you have a closet full of super-basic basics like I do?  Or do you like to mix it up a little more?  And which Vintage Honey Shop necklace do you neeeed in your life? :-)

Happy April, friends! 


Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Abbie and Sam at Nine Months

We got Abbie's and Sam's nine months pictures back this weekend, and I promptly melted in a puddle of momma :-)  We had soooo many great pictures that it was really tough to narrow it down to our favorites for Facebook, and then further for the blog :-)  



They turned nine months old on March 3, so they're almost 10 months old now.  


Right now, Abbie has two teeth and Sam still has none... Abbie's are SHARP!!  She was chewing on my finger today, bit a little too hard, and broke the skin.  



We JUST separated them into separate cribs at night, because Abbie has started to climb on Sam every chance she gets.



Sam is crawling quickly and lots of distance.  Abbie "army crawls," but doesn't crawl with her belly up in public.  We HAVE seen her doing it perfectly over the video monitor at night... it's like she's practicing before she shows off the new skill.  Little stinker ;-)


Sam goes from his belly to sitting by himself now... this milestone is a crazy one to me.  Just glance over and he's sitting tall and straight, and I didn't put him there!  So grown up!



They had their first chocolate this weekend... we decided that would be a fun little first for their Easter.  Each one had a tiny bit of a warm homemade chocolate chip cookie.  




Monday, March 14, 2016

Building a Legacy (#MotherhoodMonday, Motherhood Motivation)


When we were trying to have children, I used to daydream about the little things, the daily miracles and joys.  I was motivated by the desire to make a silly face and watch a gummy smile bloom, to explore how paint colors mix with a toddler, to braid a daughter's hair.  But I was also motivated by the idea of my legacy.

I alluded to this a little bit when I talked about the pressure of picking the perfect names for our twins... the idea that these names (but mostly these people) are forever.  I pray that Abbie and Sam will each find the great love of their life and have babies (hopefully more easily than we did), and that some of those babies will have babies and that our descendants are good people who do great things.  

Leaving a legacy is important. As a grad student, I was drawn to Erikson's stages of psychosocial development.  The seventh stage - middle adulthood - is all about making a difference and leaving a legacy, and for a person to successfully move on from that stage, they must feel they have accomplished this.  A legacy doesn't have to be through parenting... far from it.  I believe that Ethan's legacy is more far-reaching than my own, as he has directly influenced over a thousand students as a teacher and a professor... but for me, I have always imagined that my major legacy in following generations would be through my work as a mother.

So my motivation in mothering is to set in motion a cascade of good, loving, influential people who make differences in their own ways.  Sort of like the premise of the movie "Pay It Forward"... I can raise two good people who each will have their own legacy reaching multiple others, who will have their own legacies... I hope these legacies will be of compassion, strength, and dedication.  

Every day, I will try to model these characteristics for Abbie and Sam.  I will try to meet their changing needs, to help them become confident, whole, well-rounded adults who are excited about their own legacies, whatever those may be.  

PS: Please stop in and visit with the other #MotherhoodMonday blogger moms who have posted today!

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