Weekend Photo Round-Up
When It Snows It Blizzards

The Basics

I get the sense the staff here is worried that we are bored. We are not bored. We are, most likely, the boringest guests they've ever had. They keep reminding about about the hiking and snorkeling and fishing and kayaking and tubing over waterfalls, and we smile blissfully from our chair/chaise/hammock/other-place-where-we-have-planted-our-sedentary-butts and assure them that WE ARE FINE. WE ARE HAVING THE TIME OF OUR LIVES. RIGHT NOW, RIGHT HERE. WITH THE SITTING.

(We did massages. In our room. Practically rolled off the bed onto the table and back again. It was delicious.)

Every morning we wake up with the boys, cuddle for a bit before throwing open the windows and doors to survey the view and remember OH YEAH, we're in heaven, still. We pour ourselves some strong coffee our night watchman makes before he heads home. (I actually feel safer here than at any tourist-y peddler-targeted resort, but because we're so out in the middle of relative nowhere there are guard dogs and round-the-clock staff on the properties.) (And by "guard dogs" I mean a couple docile lumps of snuffully wuffully who's-a-good-boy-who-wants-a-scritchin' furbags.) The nanny makes the boys' breakfast (bananas and cereal for Noah; eggs, fruit and French toast for Ezra) while we head down to eat ours a bit closer to the water. (We've had just about everything you can imagine, from typical American grub to "real" Jamaican breakfasts like ackee and saltfish and callaloo omelets, all of which we've Hoovered up while being all, "OH MY GOD. OH MY GOD.") 

After we eat, the tough decisions start: What do we do first? Beach or pool?


Yesterday, though, we did finally leave the villa property. We visited the local preschool, the Bluefields Basic School.


The Jamaican government offers zero early childhood education, so it is up to communities and businesses and private donors to set up these tiny little places for three-, four- and five-year-olds to attend.


(The family who owns the Bluefields Bay Villas -- who, for full disclosure again, comped our stay here; we paid for airfare and staff gratuities [and those massages, heh] -- sponsor the three-year-old classroom. Other organizations and business support the other rooms. They pay for the teachers, supplies, food for the children and tuition for families who need help paying.) 


Most of the families need help. Tuition is 2,000 Jamaican dollars a semester. That's about 25 bucks.


Noah came along. The kids were delighted by their exotic visitor; they stroked his hair and swarmed him with tickles. Shrieking is the universal language of preschoolers, it turns out.


He sat in on a lesson about proteins and shared some peanuts. Here, they are discussing sardines.


(After disrupting everything, he at least attempted to restore order to the three-year-old room.)


Then he made himself right at home among the four-year-olds. "IT'S TIME TO WASH YOUR HANDS," a little girl is bossily instructing him off-camera. 


The five-year-olds were working in their composition books, carefully writing out the months of the year. Then we showed up and the pose-off started.


Using push pins and rubber bands to make shapes. Behind him: assorted Spider-Man, Disney Princess and Dora the Explorer backpacks.


After we got back in the car, I told Noah we'd go to the beach. "Okay," he shrugged. He waved goodbye to the ramshackle buildings and sighed. "I love that school. Can we go back tomorrow?"



Oh, wow. When are you moving to Jamaica then?


So great that you got to visit that school and how sweet that Noah enjoyed it so much!

Great post.


So great that you got to visit that school and how sweet that Noah enjoyed it so much!

Great post.


So great that you got to visit that school and how sweet that Noah enjoyed it so much!

Great post.


So great that you got to visit that school and how sweet that Noah enjoyed it so much!

Great post.

She Likes Purple

What an incredible school and incredible people to fund it. Thanks for linking.


Ok, now my heart is squeeeing all over the place. Still totally jealous. Happy vacation!

Jane Cato

Very cool!


Love it!


That school does look like an awful lot of fun :D Looks like the people at Bluefields are doing a good thing :)


I am patiently waiting for all of your posts from this vacation and then im going to forcibly make my husband read each on in succession and whine until he takes us. Im specifically going to highlight the part about the nanny and the cooking of the breakfast. What an amazing trip!
Also, go Noah! Were you worried about his reaction to the chaos of school upsetting him or is he just doing that great now??


OMG. You just reminded me that life is wonderful.


That's it. I'm totally moving to Jamaica. I love that you guys are doing this. Can't wait to see more!


How does one donate to the school? I can spare a tuition!


OMG Noah's comment when you left the school makes my heart swell. Awesome


So glad you're having such a good vacation!

And I'm not sure there is a sweeter boy on Earth than Noah :)


Yes, can you put up a link where they can donate to the school please? I am happy for you. Have tons of fun, while I work.


Excellent post. Is it weird that I'm enjoying your vacation so much? :)


omg, this place is gorgeous! Someday we're going to have the $ to spend on a real vacation like this!


SO AWESOME. love the pictures, Amy.


I would also like to know how to donate tuition. I want to come with you next time!!


I kinda love that school, too.


I love this post, especially the end. Kids are the best. Thank you for posting this, you know, when we visit other countries and see these buildings from the outside it is impossible to have a glimpse of the LIFE inside.

Tracy H

What an amazing adventure!


Awww I just love it! When we lived in Africa people would come up to my sister (who is shockingly blond) and ask her if her hair was made of straw.



*wipes away a tear*


Amazing that Noah tolerated it so well. This whole post just gives me shivers... I echo the need to donate money to the school. I am a huge early childhood education advocate and it just looks like they are really trying to do some great stuff.


Everything was so bright and colorful at that school... I love it! Looks like you guys are having a great time.

When my family lived in Japan, my sister used to get mobbed so that people could stroke her long blonde hair. She usually had that deer in headlights look but was pretty understanding for a 6 year old.


I was completely sold on this resort (nannies? hello!?)- but (shouldn't known better)I checked the rates and came crashing back down to earth. Fail. Glad you are having a good time. Am so jealous.


(For everybody asking about donating...I'll be talking with the Proper People about fundraising once we get back. It will take just a bit of organizing, as it's not like the schools around here have PayPal accounts, but rest assured that I'm on it.)


Funny story, ackee is actually poisonous if it's not cooked properly.

Also, an observation - no rampant peanuts allergies among Jamaican schoolchildren, apparently. Hmmm....


What a wonderful travel experience! So great to see the smiles on everyone's faces. That's awesome!


Sweet, sweet post. The school children smiling? Contagious, I tell you! Thanks for sharing!


Uh, different Beth here. Looks like you guys are having a ton of fun! That preschool looks so cheerful :)

Katie Kat

Oh, the children - those BEAUTIFUL Jamaican faces!

Parsing Nonsense

Awww, how cool is that?! I love watching little kids from different countries play together. I think perhaps we should replace all delegates to the UN with preschoolers.


I'm living vicariously right now. Keep the pictures and details coming.


Ha. Pose off! Classic. Hilarious picture. also, JEALOUS! whoooo


What a brilliant and happy comment from Noah! You done good, Mom. :-)


I've already told my husband about this place! I figure it's the same cost as a Disney cruise, depending on when we'd go...It sounds great! Lucky, talented, you! I bet they're asking you if you want to hike/kayak/etc. so that you can take pictures and talk about it on your blog too -- more advertising for them, I guess. Throw 'em a bone and go for a hike! Think of the pictures you'll get. :)


Oh and also, Jamaican me crazy with jealousy with the awesome pictures of awesome holiday.

Sorry about the stolen pun from B&J but really someone had to go ahead and say it.


Noah is adorable. I bet he loved those kiddies.


Would you please provide contact information for the school so we can donate tuition?

Mrs. Flinger

ohmygod the awesome.


hmm what hormonal rages am I having right now - this made me bawl, and seeing Noah in the picture at the end killed me. Sooo amazing!


I, too, am looking forward to donating!

That frock you're wearing in that picture is gorgeous! Is it a shirt? Dress? What brand is it? I loooooooove it!


This post made me giddy. I can just hear the squeals of delight when they met Noah, and I love that Noah fell in love with all of them.


I. MUST. HONEYMOON. THERE. I am emailing them today. Holy heavens, I think I'm in love.

Kate @ And Then I Was a Mom

Um, wait. Nanny? As in, included nanny? Ohmygodneedtobookticketsnow.

The school looks great; I'm glad you told us all about it.


One of the greatest gifts my parents gave me and my brother is the chance to see how people in other countries really live, not just to see how other tourists live when we go on vacations. We went to visit schools (often bringing school supplies to poor ones), churches, homes, local markets, etc. I am so proud that you are introducing Noah to that same blessing!


That is so, so awesome. Kids are great.


Also, it looks like you can contact the Bluefields Villas folks about how to contribute to the community:



How wonderful


Oh my gosh. The cuteness of Noah at that preschool seems worth the ENTIRE trip! What a wonderful, amazing experience.


I see the economy is going good for you. How lucky you are, to not have to work, and be a world jet setter.. Wish we could all afford to have comped vacations for writing a blog. Oh Well. Real people have REAL jobs I guess.


Love that you posted about the local schools - a great way to raise awareness about a situation where a small donation can make a big difference for a child.

And those kids are adorable!


Wonderful, Amy! What an awesome time for your family and for the school when your readers can donate to them--to a place we probably never would've heard of if you hadn't taken the vacation. I'm really glad you decided to visit & blog about the kids.

Bachelor Girl

This is amazing! The Bluefields people rule!

I vote you enroll Noah in that school post haste.


what an amazing experience for Noah! right on mom ;)


Just wanted to say this, Amy.

Your blog is the *only* one that I read faithfully. I enjoy each and every entry and I ALWAYS look forward to new ones. You are funny and wry and your observations are always so spot-on, and I admire you for having the courage to share so much of yourself with the online world.

So yes, we are all jealous, but because you provide all of your readers with so much joy, laughter, and sometimes tears, why *shouldn't* you get comped to something so wonderful? In other words, you completely deserve this. And because of this post in particular, it looks like this school will be getting donations from a good number of us (I know they'll get one from me!)...so don't be surprised if you're invited back!

So enjoy this paradise to the fullest, and we, your readers, will enjoy it vicariously right along with you.



next year, my bffs and i turn 40- i have sent the link and asked them to think about it. which villa are you guys in?


Amy, you're killin' me. I so want to be there. What kind of activities do they have for the older kid crowd? (9 to 16 year olds, of which I have 4!)

Stinkey Pete

If you haven't, try the bun and cheese. It's not real cheese but it's our equivalent of a grilled cheese (kind of). I studied abroad (I know) in Kingston and miss the food so much. There is nothing like it!


looks fantastic :-)


love it ALL!


Well played, Bluefield Bay Villas, well played. How many of Amy's readers are looking into a stay at your paradise right now? (Including me.) MUST find a way to visit soon! Enjoy, Amy and fam!


very cool Amy! love Noah in the school, such an awesome experience for him! enjoy the sun for me, more rain and wintry mix on the horizon here. you're in paradise so soak it up!

Christina Q

Hi Amy,

Another touching post. Thank you for taking the time out of your vacation to visit the preschool. I'm another that would love to get information on how to donate to sponsor tuition. Keep us updated!

Erin (Snarke)

This post makes me so happy for you guys! What a great vacation you're having!


Aww! What a gorgeous school!

And it's so fitting really, with everything that is happening in Haiti that we remember that these countries DEPEND on our tourist dollars to survive. I've read a bunch of articles on the hand-wringing people are doing over their Caribbean vacation plans. If people cancel their vacations then the LOCALS SUFFER! Fisherman who sell their fish to feed you, artisans who sell their crafts for your souveniers, local people who work in the resort itself.

I am glad you are there! I am glad you have a family vacation!

Seriously anyone could be in your position to get a reduced-price vacation (plane tickets ain't cheap) and they could be a horrible selfish person who wouldn't have even cared about seeing a local school. So frankly I'd much rather you were there than whoever else might have gone! I mean, they were going to send SOMEONE THERE ANYWAY. hello!

Miss Britt

You had me at Nanny.


I too would like to donate a tuition or two. Those children are so beautiful.

I too was a little shocked at the cost of the villas - but when you remember that the cost is for an entire week and includes food, other amenities and YOUR OWN HEADMAN who makes sure that everything is perfect for you, the cost slides from "in my dreams" to "possibly doable someday". Especially if you go during hurricane season.


Amy, wooooohooooooooo! Looks like you're all having a ball. But what, no piccies of DH? I guess he's taking all the lovely photos! I await donation info on the school! Bluefields looks fantabulous - the publicity your blog is generating for the place beats any mag editorial! Clever them.

As for the earlier poster, geee, could you be more bitter?


Me? I certainly didn't mean to sound bitter, but I went back and read all the comments, and nobody else did either, so I'm not sure who that comment was aimed at. Everyone seems happy for the Storch family, albeit a little jealous that they are not there in the villa next door, enjoying right along with them.


am I the only one anticipating a little blonde baby girl with a Jamaican accent in oh... 9 months... give or take?


um i LOVED this post. those photos of the smiling kiddos? love. tear.

seeing this and knowing how it's funded and cared for is truly awesome.


@Judy - I think the bitter poster referred to is sad, bitter Sally from 4:10pm yesterday. Poor, poor Sally, who is so miserable in her own life that she can't take a moment and be happy for someone else's good fortune.


Thank you, Wendy, I'm always so paranoid. I missed the 4:10 post and yes, it does seem a little hateful. But one out of 80 or so isn't too bad, huh?

I keep going to the Bluefields website and dreaming. *sigh*


Cool school.

Oh how I long to be a boring guest.


College At Thirty

I'm echoing the sentiments of wanting to sponsor a kid or two every semester. It looks like a great school, and I'm a sucker for adorable children.

Also, Go Noah! No fits pitched then, eh? Good for him! *shakes pom-poms*


Will be pitching this to husband as our honeymoon destination. Or perhaps, the primer to our honeymoon, seeing as we have another 2 years maybe until we can leave both kids that long, and heck, I don't think I could wait that long!


I am totally for just sitting on your bums during the entire vacay!!! Soak it up!

Love the pics of Noah with the school children. What a great experience for him.

Have fun!


Great pictures!!! You are missing on on MORE snow here in THe DC area. Which is crazy because in the four years I've lived here its never snowed more than once (okay, maybe twice) a year.
Somewhere a polar bear is crying.


That's one crazy commute Noah's going to have to his new school!

As for your beachy, massage-y, time-means-nothing induced state of bliss, I might have to unsubscribe Amalah fan club until you're back somewhere gray and drizzly with a baby throwing up on you. That's where I am today.


I've heard such unsavory things about visiting Jamacia that it's turned me off from visiting. After reading about your vacation, I think I've changed my mind!

I love that school too. All the kids look so stinkin' happy. Smiles all around!

Love it!


I'm so totally sold on this place. Luxury and philanthropy! If I had some money (or something to sell to get some money) I would definitely vacation there :-)


So happy for you, genuinely happy -- not even the slightest bit envious or jealous -- enjoy and keep on sharing...


Oh, Amy! I was worried you were going to say that Noah got completely overwhelmed by all the attention and noise at the school. I'm so happy that he had a great time and wanted to go back!

Count me in for a tuition donation too.


I'm with Noah - that school was rad. They sure know how to treat a preschooler right.


The RFSB Awards are back- get your nominations in!

Fairly Odd Mother

Love all those smiles and Noah fitting right into it all. Awesome.

Can I say that for the little amount of money each family can afford to pay, that school is brighter, cleaner and looks more joyful than some US schools. I also absolutely love the little uniforms. Those kids are adorable.

Fairly Odd Mother

Love all those smiles and Noah fitting right into it all. Awesome.

Can I say that for the little amount of money each family can afford to pay, that school is brighter, cleaner and looks more joyful than some US schools. I also absolutely love the little uniforms. Those kids are adorable.


Such is the sad state of my life that I have checked about 5 times today for a new posting from you. (And I am at WORK!!!) Come on, I know you're on vacation and everything, but could we at least have more beautiful pics???


Yes, Sally from 4:10 seems to be having a bit of a rough go of it.

Someone else pointed out that, when looking at the rates on the website, it may seem high...but LOOK at all you get for that. All your delicious meals? Someone to clean up after you and watch your kids? OPEN BAR?! Holy mackerel, you're saving a lot right there. Consider taking a weeklong vacation, with your family, at a US resort where these things are NOT included. You'll spend at least as much as you will at these villas. For all the amenities, really, the cost is not THAT bad. Relatively speaking, anyway.

Suzy Q

Cute! But, I still want to see the bathroom.


I hope you all aren't planning to fly home this weekend. Big storm coming!


No one has gone all "I Still Know What You Did Last Summer" on your asses have they?!

Hope you're having a blast and soaking it all in, love reading and seeing all about it!

may pariseau

I share your joy of Bluefields. I was there in November with a beautiful fun loving group. My travel buddy Paul could match you toe to toe with sand crab photos. Race you back!


We receive periodic updates on Bluefields from Debbie Moncure. My husband and I stayed at Bluefields for our honeymoon almost 7 years ago, in the same house as you all, and have been dreaming of going back and taking our family -now a family of 6- ever since. The thing we remember the most, well next to the absolute beauty of that part of Jamaica, is all of the sweet faces of the kids on the beach next door to the house. Thanks for taking me back!

Was introduced to your blog through the e-mail we got from Debbie. Awesome, I love it!


What a wonderful experience for Noah.

"Shreiking is the universal language of preschoolers" Love it!

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