Where do we go from here?

My heart is saddened this morning at the news of what took place in my home country last night. The shooting in Las Vegas is being called "the worst mass shooting in US history."
Thankfully no one I know personally was injured in the attacks, but I couldn't hold back the tears when I tried to explain to my 9 year old daughter what had happened. I shouldn't have to have this conversation with her, but I would rather she hear about it from me than from someone else. 
One of her most vivid childhood memories from her school back in the States was having to go into lock down because there was the possibility of an armed man on campus. After that, "active shooter" drills became a normal part of her school experience. 
It's easy for us to place blame when things like this happen. But that's not the answer. I wish I knew what the answer was - I'm sure we all wish we knew... 
What makes people do these crazy evil things?
Mental illness, prescription drugs, v…

Hotel Emporio Mazatlán

At first glance, it doesn't look like much. It's one of the many hotels in the Golden Zone of Mazatlán (the touristy "hotel district" of the city.)
I choose it for our weekend getaway with the kids because of their affordable rate on Hotel Tonight  and because of their fun looking pools and beach access.

Unfortunately shortly after we arrived, Kenton took a nasty spill that ended up requiring 3 stitches at the local Red Cross. Within minutes of the fall, one of the hotel lifeguards was on scene with first aid to assess the situation and bandage the wound. 
Numerous other hotel staff gathered around to offer assistance and help translate for us, including the hotel security manager, who provided us use of hotel transportation to take us to the hospital, wait for us while they stitched Kenton up, and bring us back to the hotel. 

(My youngest is fine, by the way. The Red Cross took excellent care of him and he's happily recuperating at home now.)

The hotel did have a few…

Mexican Pizza

Like almost everything else here in Mexico 🇲🇽 it comes with a side of salsa - and while it may look a little different than most pizzas 🍕 in the States, it's basically the same thing (in my opinion). 
This bad boy cost us 200 pesos, which included the 15 peso tip to the delivery driver (about $11 USD). And it's been a tradition since we first came to Mazatlán last November. 
Actually, we've had a long standing family tradition of pizza and either watching movies or playing games on Friday nights. But when we moved to Mexico, I switched our Netflix account to Spanish, and only let the kids watch TV shows and movies in Spanish. 
Except for Friday nights. Friday nights fondly became known as "English Movie Night" at our house. Even during our time home in the States for the summer, I did my best to have them watch everything in Spanish... except for on "English Movie Night" 🎥  🍿 
Ordering the pizza was probably one of the biggest challenges we faced as a …

Un día en la vida... A day in the life

So many people have expressed concern about our decision to move to Mazatlan, Mexico. After all, it is in the state of Sinaloa, known as one of the most dangerous drug cartel states in the country, and the city where the famed "El Chapo" was captured back in 2014.

Articles like these saturate the American media and perpetuate the cycle of fear.
We were warned of theft, kidnapping, robbery, extortion, even murder. 
We spent 6 months here last winter with our three school aged children. And we just moved back 2 weeks ago to enroll our children in school and spend at least another 10 months here.
We are moving out of our gated coto in the superbs and into the heart of downtown Mazatlán, near Centro, Olas Altas, and the Malecon - one of the longest ocean front boardwalks in the world. 
We have never felt unsafe here. Our kids have never felt unsafe here. We have left our house unlocked and nothing has been stolen. I have walked around the city alone (sometimes even wearing my je…

Cultura Mazatlan

Today, I had the privilege of attending a press release detailing some of the events that Cultural Mazatlan has in store for us this fall. Can I just start out by saying how impressed I am with this organization and what they offer?

Here's a short video that shows many of the great productions that will be offered over the next few months - and you are not going to believe the cost of tickets!? The average price for good seats at an opera for example - 300 pesos (about $17 US).

Jenica and I attended "Il Trovador" on Wednesday night - if you follow me on Instagram you may have seen some of it in our Instastory (if you don't follow us, head over here and check it out. I post a lot about our daily life here in Mexico on Instragram Stories that never makes it to facebook or the blog.)

Now, I've never considered myself much of an opera fan... in fact, I think I may have only attended one opera in my life, and that was over 15 years ago when I spent the summer in Italy…

Living the dream isn't always dreamy

It has always been a dream of mine to have my children become bilingual (while they are young and their minds are like little sponges.) Last winter, as many of you know, my family and I were blessed with the opportunity to spend six months in Mazatlan, Mexico.

We loved the experience so much that we decided to come back and have the kids attend school here for at least a year, and see just how much Spanish they can learn being fully immersed in the culture and community here in Mazatlan. 
We applied for, and were approved for temporary residency visas, which allow us to stay for longer than 6 months (and up to 4 years) at a time. I flew down last month and got the kids registered at a great private school, and Monday we all arrived here in Mazatlan to start this new adventure.
I feel so lucky to be living out the dream I've had for so long... but like the title of this post reads, "living the dream isn't always dreamy." 
The last couple of days have been hard… Like, …

Cost of "affordable healthcare" in the United States

So I was in the middle of another bog post about what influenced our decision to move abroad for a season, with our 3 children (ages 3, 6 and 9).

Affordable health care ranked in the top three for each of us. I quoted a number off the cuff about what I thought it would cost to insure our family of 5 in the United States. My guess was $2,000.

I also prepare United States personal income tax returns for a living, so with the new W2 reporting requirement, I am pretty aware of what health care costs are for companies offering it to their employees, but I hadn't shopped for insurance on the individual market for quite some time. 
The experiment was eye opening to say the least. First of all, in my home state of Oregon, where we lived for the summer with no health insurance, it appears that we would not have even been able to purchase a "major medical plan" since we had no "qualifying reason" to be able to enroll during a non-open enrollment period. 

If you are a non…