Thursday, October 30, 2008

Oh Glorious Thursday!

I arrived in Mexico this afternoon! One day earlier than most weeks.

Husband, Other American Mommy and I picked kids up from tutoring and headed to local restaurant on beach.

It was great. awesome. great. awesome. great. okay - you get the idea.

We sat under umbrella on beach, talking, fending off beach peddlers (although we did not fend off too well since I got pair of earrings and Other American Mommy got a bracelet), listening to acoustic music duo, having dinner, 5 boys playing on beach until after sunset, ...

We reluctantly left beach. I read with boys and then put them to bed.

I am very content right now.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Voting: Absentee or Polls?

Today was the day. I voted. But I almost did not.

Husband requested absentee voting for both of us. I mailed his a couple weeks ago. Since I am in USA weekly, I decided to vote at polls.

I went for early voting tonight. The computer system immediately identified me as an absentee voter. Over comes Judge. He grabs a couple forms and asks me a few questions:

Did I request absentee voting? Yes

Do I have form? Not with me

Where do you live? Well ... Mexico

Judge gets on phone. Can they cancel my absentee request and allow me to vote? This Judge was great - he was definitely working to help me exercise my right to vote.

Judge was even surprised when the "people on phone" said I was good to go. I signed a few papers and was in my booth within minutes.

Husband and I canceled out the other's vote for President. Can you guess who voted for whom?

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Sayulita and Surfing Lesson

Here I am in middle of pic coming up off surf board to stand - that is Oldest Son in front watching me as he paddles out.

We took our 2nd outing to Sayulita yesterday. The goal this time was surfing lessons!

Other American Family and their 3 sons journeyed with us. They showed us a camping area on the beach where we can park. (Note to Self: Bring pop-up-camper back here for our first camping outing.)

Other American Dad arranged a lesson for Oldest Son, Other Oldest Son, me and him. It included surf boards and a surfer dude who went out with us. I vacillated and Other American Dad convinced me to go for it.

The two boys had surf boards that were 6 foot and mine was 8 foot. Other American Dad had his own board. We had our ankle straps attached. We all paddled out.

The gentle, 4 foot waves were breaking over a rocky reef so you had to stay on the board to prevent your feet from getting messed up. We explained very, very clearly to the boys that they could not dive off board but must hit water "flat" so not to crash into underlying rocks. The rocks made Other American Dad and me nervous the entire time.

Surfer Dude sends Other Oldest Son first. Up he goes quickly. Success.

Surfer Dude sends Oldest Son second. He goes up more cautiously and slowly. Up he goes too. Success. Surfs all the way to beach.

Surfer Dude sends me third. Like Oldest Son, I go up more cautiously. Up I go! I was more surprised than anybody! Success. I surf quite a ways before toppling over.

We stayed out for an hour. We were each able to pick up several waves. Timing is everything. If you start paddling quick enough and pick up the wave, standing and riding the wave is really not so difficult. However, it was exhausting for me. Paddling out was hard for this 43 year old who is not in the best cardio shape. (I am very sore today especially in upper chest.)

Oldest Son was excited for himself and and for his Mommy as well. I felt I had the ultimate compliment when Other Oldest Son says "Mrs. American Mommy, you are doing pretty good." and Oldest Son responds "Yeah, Mommy you are."
Here I am in middle of pic standing - wave does not look like much but I really am moving forward on it!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Friday and Family

The school and work week has concluded.

Oldest Son did receive a 100 on his Mexico History test so he was very proud. I believe this week of exams all in Spanish has propelled Oldest Son forward in so many ways in both Spanish skills and life skills.

I returned to Mexico this afternoon. The scene right now:

Sitting on back porch with the sound of surf ...

Oldest Son reading Crane by Jeff Stone (4th in the series: The five ancestors). I brought it back this afternoon and he will finish tonight ...

Youngest Son deep into "play" with the ants ... his most recent fascination. He read me Inside an Ant Colony by Allan Fowler (Rookie Read-About Science) earlier this evening ...

The gecko is crawling along the wall making his distinctive chirping sounds ...

It is cool this evening and the ceiling fan makes a little breeze ...

SLAP! Oh and the mosquito just bit Oldest Son - always the jolt back to reality.

Nice to be with my family.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

School Update #3 - Tests

Final day of tests for Oldest Son. More good news.

He did well on the both the Spanish Spelling and Spanish Language tests yesterday.

He took the History test today. He thinks he made a 100! All correct. We will find out tomorrow. However, the grade does not matter. What matters is that he felt so confident after test.

According to Husband, Oldest Son was very, very tired this afternoon. He was happy to veg out in front of a movie (in Spanish of course.)

Tomorrow is Pool Day (inflatables brought on campus) for the Lower School. Well deserved. Those kids have had a demanding week.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

School Update #2 - Tests & Reports

Oldest Son got results of yesterday's Natural Science test and he did well. He took Spanish today which he thought it went okay. Last one tomorrow! History. He studied about Mexico and Nayarit history tonight.

The last two weeks we have received a 1 page report for Youngest Son. It has about 20 items with written comments such as si, no, en proceso, algunas veces, etc.

I am happy to report Youngest Son has not fallen asleep in class. What a relief! Okay I am being a bit sarcastic. Husband and I think this line item communicated to parents weekly is just too funny.

Youngest Son is having such a great year and doing to so well. Youngest Son is our beautiful, spirited child. He is so full of life and enthusiasm and tenacity. He is a "lethal" combination of intelligence and personality and striking looks. He is dramatic and embraces every life experience. We often reach into our parenting skills bag to provide loving guidance. He is our little wild card.

Here is a bad copy of the Report. It is in Spanish which means Husband translated for me although I was able to make out some of it ...

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

School Update - Tutor, Subjects, Tests

The past couple weeks have been both stressful and rewarding for Oldest Son (and us) who is in 3rd grade in a school in which his day is split between Spanish and English.

First, Husband was finally able to secure an after school Spanish tutor. We feel fortunate that his tutor is Youngest Son's Kinder3 English Teacher - Maestro (male teacher.) Maestro is meeting 3 times a week with Oldest Son after school. Oldest Son seems happy with the arrangement. We all like Maestro very much.

Second, Oldest Son has brought home his various books: History, Math, Science, Music, etc. As crazy as this sounds, we were not sure exactly what was being taught in these subjects. I feel much better having seen the books and flipped through them. Even though I can not read them since in Spanish!

Third, last week Oldest Son started talking about some tests that would be given in Math, Science, Spanish and History this week. He seemed worried. Apparently, these test scores are used to "rank" the school against other schools. There are NO English teachers allowed in room during the tests - all communication, verbal and written, must be in Spanish. He actually started studying for these tests. He has never formally studied for a test other than weekly spelling quizzes. How is it going so far? So far, so good. Oldest Son made the 2nd highest grade in class on Math yesterday. He was able to complete Science today without stress. Now the two most difficult for him will be over next couple days: Spanish and History. Husband told me (I am in USA) that Oldest Son studied unprompted for about an hour this afternoon for Spanish. The translation will be tough for him.

We continue to be very proud of him. And more importantly, he is so proud of himself. It is a year for him to learn about dealing with change and adversity in life and the rewards that accompany overcoming challenges.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Sukkot to Surfing

Being Jewish in Mexico has become one of my favorite aspects of the Move to Mexico.

With the final blowing of the Shofar, the Jewish High Holy Days end and the focus of the Jewish community shifts from the solemnness of Yom Kippur to the jubilant celebration of the festival of Sukkot.

You will dwell in booths for seven days; all natives of Israel shall dwell in booths. -Leviticus 23:42

Sukkot means “booths” and commemorates the 40 years during which the children of Israel were wandering in the desert and living in temporary shelters. It is also a fall celebration of the harvest.

In the USA, our family would
- Build a sukkah which is a 3 sided temporary structure, open to stars and decorated
- Purchase a lulav (palm branch, myrtle & willow twigs) & etrog (citris fruit native to Israel)
- Invite family & friends to eat with us

In Mexico, our lulav was a fern leaf and our etrog was a lime. We met up with the Other American Family and 5 of the cutest little boys ever (!!) held the etrog/lime in their left hands and the Lulav/fern leaf in their right hands. Husband and Other American Dad helped the youngest ones determine what went in each hand. We recited a Bracha (blessing) and waved the Lulav/fern and etrog/lime in all six directions: east, south, west, north, up and down, symbolizing the fact that Hashem (G-d) is everywhere.

Then Oldest Son said “Let’s Go Surfing!” It was perfectly timed and another perfect Mexico ending …

Would You Move to Mexico?


I already have permanently

I already have for specified time

In process

Hoping but not sure


Yes but never will

No way, no interest

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Our Deserted Marietta Island Experience

We spent the day at the Marietta Islands yesterday.

We went out with a local dive shop and 6 scuba divers. Since not a traditional snorkeling/beach group, the Dive Master adjusted to accommodate us.

Our 1st stop was snorkeling. Upon entry to the water, we were surrounded by grouper and clown fish. You could touch them! It was wonderful. Oldest Son actually got a fish bite when he was feeding them bread. We snorkeled all around for a couple hours and saw lots of sea life including a balloon fish, damselfish, Moorish idol and colorful crabs. Before leaving that spot Oldest Son and Youngest Son did a jumping, flip, diving, twisting show off the side of boat while singing that "You gotta move it, move it" song replacing "move it" with descriptions of their jump of the moment. Youngest Son is quite proud of his bootie move.

We had confirmed we would be able to spend some time on a beach in area. Confirmation does not include details! The boat pulls up to a beautiful, beautiful set of islands. There is a small beach area against some cliffs. The water is every shade of blue and turquoise. Dive Master says he will drop the family here and they will come back for us after their dive. Husband and I did not have time to react really - we just started applying sunscreen and donning our swimming gear. Over the side of boat we go and swim to beach! Husband gets caught in riptide but finally gets to beach. There we are. Absolutely no way to communicate with outside world or leave. Deserted truly.

So we have a unique and joyful two hours. We have 2 bottles of water, sand, beach, rough surf and some caves. No lounge chairs, no cabana boy, no tropical drinks, no floats, no toys. I was supremely relaxed. Husband was a bit anxious in case we had a medical emergency (he is the safety side of our marriage.)

We talked about what we would do if boat did not come back. SOS with sticks perhaps. Youngest Son caught a crab and announced that he had his dinner!

But, the boat did come back. We were a bit nervous about swimming from beach to boat but other than swallowing some salt water, we got back easily.

As with all outings in Mexico, we got the expected unexpected.
See the island beach below as we pull away:

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Overheard: Youngest Son Talking in Spanish

We were invited to have a cook out and swim with two other families Saturday. Both families speak English and Spanish.

Family #1: Papa from Alaska, Mama from Guadalajara, 1 son age 5
Family #2: Papa and Mama from Guadalajara, twins: girl & boy age 6

Youngest Son was sitting with his 3 classmates. Mama #2 motions for me to look at the kids. She says - "Listen - Youngest Son is speaking in Spanish."

Youngest Son is flitting around the table playing some game and speaking completely in Spanish. Youngest Son loves entertaining so he was happily gathering the spotlight as his friends laughed and encouraged his playful banter.

I did not have a clue what he was saying but my heart leaped - this is the first time we have heard him be spontaneously conversational in Spanish.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Books, Books, Books

In our prioritization of what to Move to Mexico, we elected to bring all of the kid's books. We even had to purchase shelves at local Home Depot upon arrival. As I type, Oldest Son and Youngest Son are both reading their books quietly in their room.

Kids have been motivated this morning by our re-organizing of their book shelves. I admit I was thrilled to use my labeler! We labeled Jewish, Spanish, Chapter, Comics, Dr Suess, Youngest Son Readers, Picture, Holiday & Art, Activity and finally Nature, Science & History.


In parenting today, "teachable moment" is a buzz phrase. I had one a few minutes ago. Oldest Son picked up First Comes Love by Jennifer Davis and was reading though it. I quickly sat down to read it to him. Why? It is a book that helps explain about love and having babies. I bought it at Half Price Books when I was pregnant with Oldest Son. It is written in a rhyming scheme and discusses animals as well as people. It is beautifully illustrated. Highly recommend. But, make sure you read first because may be too explicit for some families.

Friday, October 10, 2008

My Mexico Mitzvah - Asking for Your Help !!!

USA Friends - I Seek Your Help for My Mexico Mitzvah

I give credit to this blog posting for inspiring me:
Same Life -- New Location

As you know, I am commuting weekly to USA - Fly to USA on Sundays and to Mexico on Fridays.

I can check two bags and I usually just have 2 carry on items. So I can easily bring 2 bags of gently used
  • clothes
  • books - especially books for school!
  • toys & games
  • any baby items
  • laptops & small electronics
  • stickers (used allot at kids' school)
  • anything you are ready to pass along and can fit in a suitcase

Please send me an email or post a comment and I will come pick it up.

Thanks in advance for your help and generosity!

Shabbat Shalom

Vonage - Purely Informational

Husband recently sent the following information to friends living abroad in Europe and thought it might be helpful to some of you:

Vonage and Skype provide VOIP (voice over internet protocol) phone service. Practically speaking you need DSL service first. If you have that then you will need to buy a Vonage/Skype device (I recommend the vonage v-portal) to connect the phone into your DSL . Usually you simply take an additional ethernet cable and run it (it has plugs on both ends) from the DSL modem/router to your Vonage/Skype device. Other devices may connect differently (I have attached the manual for the provides a decent pictorial for the set-up).

That is the hard part. You still need to select a phone number or transfer one from another carrier.

Once you activate the number with Vonage/Skype you make you calls by connecting your phone to the Vonage/Skype device just like you would plug it into an outlet at home. Then you call just like you are at home.

A couple of other things to consider:

1. Choosing your phone number. We actually transferred our number over so to call us you would simply dial 555 333 4444. If you plan on using the phone to call to Europe you may want to get an unlimited plan to save costs because whether a call is international or not depends on the sending phone and the receiving phone number. So...even though I am in Mexico, anyone I call in the US is local not international. However, if I called our neighbor next door I would be making an international call since it is going from a US number to a Mexico number.

2. Vonage also provides the ability to have a fax line as well. I have found this handy but it requires you pay for an additional line and your Vonage/Skype device will need to support 2 devices.

3. Some DSL providers block access to Vonage and/or Skype services so you might check with some other expatriots to see if they use and have had any issues.

We have used Vonage for 2 to 3 months so far and the only complaints I have a realated to the DSL provider not Vonage. Because if you lose DSL access you lose your phone.

Finally, we have a local phone number here in Mexico for making calls in Mexico as well.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Jewish Diaspora

The story of the Jewish Diaspora began in the year 587 B.C.E., when the kingdom of Judea was conquered. It is commonly known that the history of Jews includes repeatedly relocating and dispersing world wide - hence living in Diaspora i.e. not living in Israel. There are currently about 13 million Jews in the world: over 8 million in the Diaspora, with the remaining 5 million in Israel.

SO ...
I was fortunate to attend Yom Kippur erev services with Generous Friend tonight at my Temple in the USA. We read from our siddur (prayer book) as the Rabbi lead us in the prayers. The Rabbi also gave quite the clever sermon on the state of the economy and the opportunity to now invest in our families, etc.

I called Husband and kids in Mexico. They put me on speaker phone as they lit candles for Yom Kippur. They read from our siddur as Husband leads the kids in the prayers. It was the EXACT same prayers I had just recited one hour ago. It was surreal. It made me feel closer to my family and to the Jews in both Israel and Diaspora saying the exact same words all over the world.

The only item not checked on our Decision to Move to Mexico Checklist was a Synagogue. There is not one in our area. However, we were comforted in knowing we would be able to maintain the Jewish rituals and teach our children with the same liturgy that Jews have used for centuries. It is a cultural practice that still binds us in the modern world.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Love My Lemonade

Lemons – I am traveling back and forth weekly to USA.
Lemonade – I am able to provide for my family while doing interesting work and expect to not commute so much after November. And , I get to stay with my Fun Friend and her daughter while in town.

Lemons – I miss the week with Husband, Oldest Son and Youngest Son
Lemonade – The weekends are so wonderful.

Saturday, we had a late breakfast at our favorite restaurant in local Mexican town. We then went across the street to beach. Husband and I ordered a bucket of cerveza for 80 pesos and the kids played in surf. We supported local economy by purchasing necklaces for boys, earrings for me and a hammock. We then went to local vegetable store to get produce (WARNING: if a dog taking a potty break on the sidewalk in front of your produce store makes you uneasy – do not move to Mexico) We then went home and relaxed before late afternoon Birthday Party (see slightly creepy Piñata below.)

Sunday, we tackled the 6 foot surf at Other American Family’s beach by their home. It was impressive. Oldest Son and I got caught in a bit of a rip tide. Wave #1 took us both down. We looked up and saw Wave #2. Oldest Son screamed (imagine little boy in Home Alone), I grabbed him and boogie board and dove under. We came up and Other American Father whisked Oldest Son away. All was fine and Oldest Son playing in sand within minutes.

I am back in USA for the week …

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Finally - a Birthday Party

Tonight I was finally able to attend a Birthday Party for one of Youngest Son's classmates (others have been while I was traveling.) We all had a really good time.

What were the elements of this birthday party for a 6 year old girl?
  • Jump House
  • Magician
  • 2 Fancy Wonderful Piñatas
  • Room to run and play
  • Pizza
  • Cake
  • Goody Bags
  • Happy kids
  • Parents chatting

There were a few parents who spoke English so I was actually able to visit and get to know some of them. Some I had a "real" connection and can see our families socializing in future. I was also able to see and meet some of the kids' friends.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Pot Hole Update for PV Airport

Recall, last week we had the "plane crash."

This week we had Pot Holes. Really.

All loaded on plane. Pilot announces we may be delayed due to Pot Holes on the air strip. Uh no, next announcement says Pot Holes in taxi area. Next announcement says there are some language barriers and not sure what wrong. Next announcement, we will be delayed 2 hours while Pot Hole is "worked on."

We pull back up to terminal. The airline actually allows passengers to deplane a few at a time.

Sure enough, 2 hours later we leave.

Final announcement is that there was a Pot Hole in runway and we are cleared to leave.

Safe Travels!