Sunday, March 20, 2011


The Husband Fixture and I just returned from a week in sunny, Cancun, Mexico.  We tried to smuggle some of the tropical weather home with us, Customs wouldn’t let us.  Rat bastards!  Since we hadn’t traveled out of the country (by plane) in 15 years, we learned a few things on this trip.  As an educator, I feel it is my duty to share these lessons with ya’ll.  That, and do you really want to hear about what a good time we had lounging by the pool, drinking cocktails all day, and partying every evening?

 We left the house at 0615, dropped the kids at the bus stop/daycare, and got to the airport (Newark) and through security with 1.5 hours to spare.  Gold star for us on that one!

 Our plane arrived late, and we had to run across the Houston (Bush) airport to make our connection--only to have our passports questioned.  (The paper was peeling off the cover from when they got wet on our cruise excursion to Dunn’s River Falls five years ago.)  Thankfully, they held the plane and the Immigration official gave us the green light.  Needless to say, we’ll be replacing our passports when we return.  Grrrrrr!

Travel Tip #1:  If traveling out of the country, make sure your passports are valid and in good condition as soon as you start planning your trip. 

Travel Tip #2:  If possible, take a direct flight to your vacation destination.  The reduction in stress and inconvenience will be well worth the extra cost.

Travel Tip #3:  Make sure you have a pen in your carryon bag, so you can fill out the Immigration cards and your Customs declaration forms. 

Once in Cancun, we had to wait to get through Immigration and Customs, which was mildly annoying. But it was really frustrating to find out that when Expedia changed our flight information (the airline cancelled our original flight), they didn’t update the transport company, so we had to wait for almost an hour to get spots on a van to get to the resort. 

Travel Tip #4:  Unless you booked your   trip with a travel agent, make sure you confirm all reservations directly through the vendor, especially if there are any changes to your reservations. 

Travel Tip #5:  If you book a shuttle service, go directly to their booth.  Do not stop for all the vendors that are near the exit. There will be ample opportunities to book excursions once you get to the resort/hotel. 

Travel Tip #6:  If you bring any liquids/gels with you in your checked bags (ie sunscreen), make sure you put those containers in plastic baggies.  This way if they leak, they won’t get all over everything else in your luggage. 

Travel Tip #7:  A driver’s license will usually suffice for I.D. once you get through Immigration in Mexico, so put your Passports in the hotel safe.  If you insist on keeping them with you, keep them in Ziploc baggies. 

Travel Tip #8:  If you must have your phone with you, check with your wireless carrier about the rates for global roaming INCLUDING DATA so that you’re not unpleasantly surprised with a whopping bill when you get home.   

Travel Tip #9:  Bring snacks with you for the plane rides, as most airlines now charge for any food (even pretzels). 

Travel Tip#10: Pack your shoes in with your checked baggage, because apparently, TSA officials find them fascinating.  (They checked my shoe bag TWICE at the airport in Cancun!)

Travel Tip#11:  For all-inclusive resorts (or at least the one at which we stayed), it’s a good idea to bring your own insulated cups.  They’ll keep your drinks cold, and save you trips to the bar.  Oh, and you can pack your swimsuits in them, too. 

As I said, we had a wonderful time, but the trip home was LONG and tiring.  We lost two hours from Cancun to Newark, and we were still adjusting to Daylight Savings Time.  Blech!  Coming home to a house that looked like a tornado hit it didn’t help, either. 

Travel Tip #12:  Only bother to clean your house before going away if NO ONE will be there while you’re gone.  Otherwise, you’ll be wasting your time. 

Travel Tip #13:  Take an extra day off so that you don’t have to go right back to work the next day after vacation.  It will give you the much needed time to rest and get your house back to rights/do laundry/spoil your neglected pets.  

Monday, March 7, 2011

Mommysaurus Rex

I think it’s time I face facts.  I am a dinosaur.  Oh, this isn’t about my age, this is about the fact that my children and some of my friends have hinted (or stated outright) that I’m behind the times when it comes to my children’s access to technology.

My children do not have cell phones, nor do I plan to let them have one any time soon.  They do not have Facebook accounts, and in fact are rarely on the computer.  We have a “family laptop” that they may use, with our express permission.  Their accounts are parent-controlled, including the times that they may log in (between 7:00AM and 8:59PM).  They don’t even have tvs in their rooms.   

Lest anyone think I am a technophobe, they do have Zunes with the touch screens and Nintendo DS’s.  But they are only permitted to use them on the weekends.   Oh, and . . .  Hello!  You’re reading my BLOG, so I obviously do not object to technology as a whole. 

Part of this is because I feel it’s my job as a parent to monitor how my children spend their time, and to what material they have access.   All too often, I hear stories of kids being cyber-bullied, running up their parents’ phone bills,  or sending/receiving inappropriate texts.  I hear about kids (girls especially) who maintain contact with someone their parents have deemed a bad influence.  I’ve seen evidence of this in the classroom, too.  I have watched kids texting through their pockets, or by putting the phone in their desks while they fake reading.  Yes, if I catch them, I send the phone down to the office.  They know the rules. 

I’m sure eventually, as my kids get older, I may find it necessary (or at least convenient) to adjust my stance on these things. And at that time, you will likely begin to tire of my tirades on the inevitable nonsense that will ensue.  But for now, my archaic foot remains planted firmly in the ground.