Subscribe to UltimateMama Subscribe to UltimateMama's comments

Posts tagged ‘UltiamteMama’

Appears on

In my new book Ultimate Nanny:  How to Find, Interview, and Manage the Most Important Person You Will Ever Hire – Your Child’s Nanny which is on Amazon now (by Kristen J. Duca) I help parents and guardians navigate the childcare search in an organized manner.

The key to finding a great childcare provider (whether it be a nanny, sitter, or companion) for your child is to sit down and analyze your family’s foundation. There are many aspects to your family’s day to day life that you will want to consider before starting your childcare search.  Taking the time to examine the composition of your family in the initial stages of your search will pay off in the end.

It is my belief that the groundwork toward building a stable childcare situation depends on the following:


  1. Your child/children: Think about their ages and developmental stages. Will there needs change over time? If so, how?
  2. You/your partner: Discuss both your work and social schedules. Figure out what days and hours you actually hiring a childcare provider for right now. Think about if you have flexibility in the hours you need childcare help.
  3. Your family: Analyze your household structure and examine if you are hiring solely for childcare services. Perhaps, you need assistance with housekeeping, cooking, cleaning, pet care, and errands in addition to childcare.
  4. Layers of help: Writing down a list of emergency contacts is essential for all parents. Consider your surroundings and determine if there are capable, motivated family members or friends nearby who can help you out from time to time.

UltimateMama and her family had a spectacular time in the Virgin Islands recently. One tip:  buy your snorkel gear ahead of time so you don’t have to rent – that goes for adults and childrens gear!  UltimateMama’s kids loved Head Pirate snorkeling gear (the 3 piece set includes a mask, snorkel, and fins).

Stay at Marriott’s Frenchman’s Cove in order to get a villa with full kitchen.  UltimateMama enjoyed her two bedroom unit in the Tortola building.  The pool with water slide is terrific for kids as is the hot tub for adults.  There are myriad activities on site for people of all ages (bingo, movies, karaoke night, crafts for kids, and more).  You can snorkel right off the beach.  Additionally, one can take advantage of the Marriott Hotel’s offerings next door.

You will want to rent a car in order to explore the island of St. Thomas and have the ability to go to the car ferry to St. John.  UltimateMama was happy with our Avis rental and used it right away to stock up on groceries for the week at Gourmet Gallery.

An absolute must is an all-day boat trip on the Breakaway II to the British Virgin Islands (bring your passports).  You will board the boat at Sapphire Marina then have a wonderful day exploring The Baths at Virgin Gorda, snorkeling at Diamond Reef, eating lunch at Pusser’s in Marina Cay, and jumping off the boat to hit the Soggy Dollar Bar on Jost Van Dyke.  Make sure your entire family has water shoes, sunglasses, UV protection shirts, bathing suits, towels, and plenty of sunscreen.  There is a short stop in St. John then you return back to St. Thomas in the late afternoon.

A trip to the U.S. Virgin Islands wouldn’t be complete without a trip to St. John to hit some great snorkeling beaches such at Trunk Bay.  Choose either a car ferry or a foot ferry to get over to St. John (car ferry obviously gives you more freedom once on the island) from St. Thomas.  UltimateMama advises you to get to Trunk Bay early as the parking lot fills quickly.  Trunk Bay has an amazing underwater snorkeling trail, a bathhouse, snack bar, and souvenir shop.  Cinnamon Bay is nearby too.

Back in St. Thomas, take your family on a drive to explore the beautiful beaches that the island offers.  Coki beach (on Coki Point) was a big hit with UltimateMama’s family due to the amazing fish seen when snorkeling in addition to not only a full rainbow sighting but also a double rainbow sighting.  UltimateMama arrived late in the day, parked and spent an amazing early evening snorkeling and taking pictures of various species of fish.  Apparently, the beach gets crowded when cruise ships are in port so be aware of those times in addition to making sure that you know where your belongings are at all times.  UltimateMama had a lovely time at Coki and it was not at all crowded.

UltimateMama’s family looks forward to their next meal so the following restaurants greatly appealed to all travelers (make all reservations in advance):

Havana Blue (on the Marriott’s campus):  Get a table overlooking the water and enjoy the blue lights

Grande Cru (located in Yacht Haven Grande): Upscale food in a tranquil setting

Banana Tree Grille (overlooking the Charlotte Amalie harbor):  Go on a night the piano player is playing and order the amazing Key Lime Pie

UltimateMama feels that Seven Mile Beach in Grand Cayman is a must see for everyone.  You will feel the soft, silky sand in your toes as you walk down to the edge of the crisp, blue, warm waters of the Caribbean.  Lodging options are plentiful in Grand Cayman but UltimateMama suggests staying on Seven Mile Beach if you can swing it (if you can’t Sunshine Suites seems to be a nice option).  From the top of the line Ritz Carlton or Caribbean Club to the Marriott, Westin, or Comfort Suites, Grand Cayman has it all.

UltimateMama and her family opted for a condo at the Casa Carribe through and were extremely pleased with the accommodations.  The condo on the beach offered a pristine pool and well maintained tennis courts.  It was on one of the best snorkeling reefs on the beach.  Additionally, the condo was walking distance from the Strand shopping plaza which was filled with restaurants, grocery stores, liquor shops, and boutiques.  We stocked up on breakfast, lunch, and snack foods and strolled down the beach for dinner options which were plentiful.  Our condo was located near a wonderful restaurant that we loved to frequent for dinner called Luca — terrific Italian fare.  If you are eating with children or a large group UltimateMama recommends making reservations in advance.  The Ritz Carlton Grand Cayman not only had a spacious pool but also yummy restaurants.  UltimateMama’s children took advantage of the Ambassadors of the Environment programs at the Ritz Kids Club and saw some fabulous iguanas on site!

Not to be missed is the Dolphin Discovery experience which is a cab ride away (we used a taxi driver named Rita for all of our excursions).  Swimming with the dolphins was an extremely positive experience for our family of four!

UltimateMama knows that sidewalks (city mamas) and malls (suburban mamas) can be challenging with strollers.  When you need to move ahead and a polite “excuse me” doesn’t work for the person ahead of you, try some restaurant lingo by saying “behind”. 

At a restaurant, “behind” is a command often used by food servers or waiters who are trying to prevent dropping their dishes while moving past another employee near the kitchen area.  When strolling her children, UltimateMama often uses the short, quick, kind command of “behind” when “excuse me” fails to get the job done!  Try it today!

UltimateMama realizes this is a tough economy in 2010.  Should you skip Mother’s Day altogether?  Of course not!  You can show your mother (and your child’s mother) appreciation on a shoestring.

UltimateMama’s top budget Mother’s Day gifts are as follows:

– Send her an e-card

– Make her afternoon tea with biscuits or muffins

– Make her a photo collage or enlarge and frame your favorite photo

– Make her an early Christmas tree ornament

– Pick and arrange a bouquet of wild flowers

– Buy her a “used but in great condition” book

– Give her a gift bag of her favorite magazines (don’t forget to include the one UltimateMama writes for:  New York Family magazine

– Take her to your favorite park, beach, nature trail and go for a walk or bike ride

– Catch a matinee movie (cheaper prices)

– Buy her inexpensive gifts that are useful (socks are always nice)

– Get her a new keychain

– Pick out a nice candle or make one yourself

– Paint a piece of pottery for her (stores like Little Shop of Crafts are perfect for this as they have a wide range of price points)

– Make her placemats for dining