Showing posts from 2017

Clavadistas (Cliff Divers)

Meet Hector

This morning on my walk home around Cerro Del Vigía, I watched as he dove off the jagged cliffs two different times.
Take a look 👀 

I watched the first time as he literally ran down to his spot on the rocks and made the jump for a small group of onlooking tourists. Then after making his rounds collecting money, he quickly flagged down another van full of visitors and made another jump. 
I was curious what a “job” like this pays here in Mazatlán so I struck up a conversation with him. He said he usually makes about $20 US per jump and that he’s been jumping here in Mazatlan for 30 years. 
He told me that one time when 3 cruise ships were in town, he jumped 52 times in one day. He called himself a “professional diver” and “the best in Mazatlán.” When I asked him what makes him the best, he said “because I love it.” 
What would happen if we all found something that we loved, and just trusted that God would provide the rest?
Hector, I applaud you 👏🏼 for doing what you love. Thank …

Baby Turtles 🐢

You might have seen our Facebook Live videos or the compilation I put together on YouTube, but I want to tell you the full story.

It was such a crazy, fun experience for our family that we will never forget. We went out to Estrella Del Mar resort to visit our friend from Oregon who was staying there for the week. 
When she booked her stay, I didn’t even realize there was a turtle sanctuary there but as soon as I found out, I knew I had to bring the kids. They had been wanting to see baby turtles ever since we heard about them last November on our first trip to Mazatlán.
This is the time of year that the eggs hatch and we had heard that sometimes the public can participate in releasing the babies into the ocean. 
However, when we arrived at Estrella Del Mar this particular Sunday, we were told that they weren’t releasing them that evening. We were still able to visit the sanctuary though and see some turtles up close in an outdoor pool. The kids loved it! So much so that they asked to …

The search for cheesecloth...

So I actually haven’t been drinking much coffee here in Mexico. It’s hot and no one else in my house drinks it... and i can pretty much nap every day if I want, so it hasn’t really seemed necessary.
However, after seeing a post the other day by the Pioneer Woman Ree Drummond  I was reminded how much I love her iced coffee... and what could be more perfect here in Mazatlán than any beverage over ice, really. 
But her iced coffee recipe is one of my faves. You can find it here if you’re interested.
It is a bit involved, and is the very best if strained through cheesecloth, so today that’s what I set out to find.
First stop, the public market... the cremeria to be exact. I mean, a store that makes and sells cheese should have cheesecloth, right? Unfortunately, no such luck. However, the gentleman behind the counter was very helpful and after looking at my google images search to determine exactly what it was I was trying to find, he directed me to a store across the street from the market ca…

Somebody pinch me...

Seriously... sometimes I look at my life and think, "Is this for real?"
I'm in my late 30's, and I'm living in one of the best cities in Mexico (in my opinion). Miles of beautiful beaches, delicious fresh seafood, gorgeous weather, and a culture rich in traditions and history.
Affordable healthcare. A safe place for our kids to go to school. The opportunity for them (and us) to learn a second language. 
If I can offer you any single piece of advise, it's this: 
Don't put your dreams off until tomorrow.

Our family is not rich. We didn't win the lottery or inherit a bunch of money. We made conscience decisions and choices that have allowed us to move abroad for a season and live the life of our dreams now, while we are still young enough to enjoy it.

Sure, we could have waited... continued working long hours so we could fund the retirement account, pay the mortgage, save for college, ect. But we choose to live this life now... because the future has no …

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…

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It's art, it's beautiful, and it's where I find my joy. I've also rediscovered my love for travel. I love to see new places, meet new people, learn about different cultures, and experience new things. 
So for the next year, I'm offering my services as a second shooter FOR FREE! Yes, you read that right! If I'm in your area, I will second shoot with you (with all my own professional equipment) free of charge with no obligation. If you like what I deliver to you (high res jpeg or RAW images within 48 hours of your booking) you can purchase images individually or as a package (price for all images will not exceed $500.) 
If I am not currently in your area (predominantly Oregon/Mexico), I would still love the opportu…

Sorry... not sorry

So this happened today...

In a moment of frustration my three-year-old chucked  his iPad down a set of stairs, thus cracking the screen. 
But here's the deal… I don't think I ever would've bought my three-year-old an iPad. To me, three years old is way too young to be spending time in front of a screen. The iPad that he had was actually my first iPad that I ever owned probably a good seven or eight years ago. It had been passed down through Jenica, Tenley, and now onto Kenton because Jenica and Tenley both saved up enough money to buy their own personal screens. 
The thing is, I'm not even sorry. When Tenley came to me scared, knowing she needed to show me that Kenton had destroyed his very expensive toy, I didn't feel angry, or upset, or even disappointed. I felt relieved. I felt relieved that my three-year-old would now experience a natural consequence of his actions, which meant no more screen time for him. 
Because the truth is, in my opinion, he is not developed e…

Mazatlán Airbnb

I absolutely love the Airbnb studio apartment I rented for my recent trip to Mazatlan. It was in a quiet neighborhood just a few blocks from the Golden Zone, walking distance from restaurants, the beach, and public transpiration (although I still used Uber most days to get around if it was too far to walk.) 
The apartment is hosted by a lovely woman that only speaks Spanish, but her daughter manages the online bookings and speaks English very well. It is gated and secure, and fully equipped with towels, fridge, coffee pot and small kitchenette. If you prefer, you can even have it cleaned for an additional 100 pesos per day (about $5.50 US). 

It has a cute outdoor patio space, although in the 90 degree humid heat of August, I spent most of my time in the air conditioning. 

The best part is that it cost a fraction of what the hotels in the area charge. Here is a link to the listing:
I imaging the price fluctuates a little but I paid $32 US per night for my…

Knock offs

Usually I'm not the type of girl who likes knock offs. I prefer quality over quantity and would rather save up and spend more on name brand items than risk getting a sub-par product. I own a coach purse, I buy Buckle jeans, and my iPhone charging cords are Apple certified. 
However, spending hundreds of dollars on name brand perfume just isn't in my budget - at least not right now. Which is why this little perfume store was on my list of places I needed to visit on this quick trip back to Mazatlan.

It is located in centro (the downtown area) and the prices are... affordable. You select your perfume from a list provided to you at the counter. They are all in generic containers on the shelf and you can smell any of them that you like. 
My favorite right now is Coco Mademoiselle. Here is what it looks like and costs in the US.

At the perfume store in Mazatlan, you select your size and concentration, and they fill a container for you right there. 

Although I'm fairly certain the co…


Some of the things I ❤️ about Mazatlan...

👉🏼 Fresh seafood... this shrimp was probably caught this morning!  👉🏼 Tacos 🌮 (no explanation necessary)  👉🏼 Micheladas 🍻 (beer on ice with limón, spices, and my favorite addition... Clamato) 👉🏼 All if this, plus chips and salsa, for only $7.20 US
The restaurant, F.I.S.H., is located in the Golden Zone. The service was excellent and the food and drinks were just what I needed after a long morning of visiting schools and trying to get my temporary residency visa at the local immigration office. 

Stay tuned for more reasons why we love Mexico 🇲🇽

A new idea in wedding photography

I believe that pictures and videos should be the most important part of your wedding day. Everything else will fade away with time, but photographs allow you to cherish the memories forever and pass preciois heirlooms on to your children.

But wedding photography has become so expensive! 10 years ago, we spent $3,000 on our wedding photographer (about 1/3 of our total wedding budget.) Today, packages with well known professional photographers can easily cost upwards of $10,000. And in this digital day and age when everyone has a camera phone, and many of you have professional or prosumer level cameras, it is easy to cut professional photography out of your budget entirely and just rely on well-meaning friends and family to document your most important day.
But what if there was another way? Did you know that a huge portion of what you pay for professional wedding photography is attributed to what we in the photo industry call "post-processing"? It's the time us photograph…

Temporary Residency in Mexico

Almost anyone can travel from the United States to Mexico 🇲🇽 on a Tourist Visa. Usually all you need to do is fill out the paperwork on the airplane and you can stay in Mexico for up to 180 days. This is what we did last winter when our family of five spent 6 months in Mazatlán. 
We enjoyed it so much that we have decided to return for an entire school year this time, in hopes of giving our kids a jump start on becoming bilingual. But to stay for longer than 6 months, and have the kids enrolled in school, we needed to apply for "residencia temporal" or temporary residency visas, instead of the tourist visa we obtained last time.
The process went relatively smoothly, aside from one minor hiccup that required an extra trip into the Mexican Consolate in downtown Portland that could have been avoided had we fully understood the instructions.
First of all, we live in Oregon (and our children were born in Oregon). I'm sure the process is different for each state. We were requir…

Being back

I've been back in Oregon for almost a month. For those of you who haven't followed our travels, my husband and I, along with our 3 kids (age 3, 6 and almost 9) spent the winter living in Mazatlán, Mexico.

(To read more about our reasons for going to Mexico to begin with, click here.)

We returned stateside 🇺🇸 in May, and while my husband had to be back here in Oregon, the kids and I were able to spend a month at my dads property in North Idaho. But now we are all back in the same area where we spent 10 years of our lives together. 
But we aren't living together. And we don't have our wedding rings 💍 on. So of course people are gonna talk. And it sucks that they have to ask my friends "what's going on with us" instead of just asking me.
But I understand that asking can be awkward too so I'm just going to do my best to explain things here:
Rob and I love each other and have probably become better friends over the last year than we have ever been throu…

Oaks Amusement Park

Looking for something fun to do with your kids while they are on summer vacation? Oaks Amusement Park in Sellwood has a two for one tickets every Tuesday. For just $15.75 I was able to get both of my kids limited ride bracelets that give them access to all the rides that are perfect for their ages. My son is 3 and my daughter is 6 (although most of the rides are based on height and not age).
The lines are shorter earlier in the day. There's lots of shade and you can bring in your own food and drinks... so pack a picnic lunch and make a day of it! Your kids will think you're the best! At least mine do ☺️
For more fun videos from our day, follow me on Instagram and view my "story" at the top! (But only for the next 24 hours!)

An open letter to my children

Someday you are going to read this blog. Someday you are going come here for answers. We live in a different world than I grew up in. The digital era has allowed everything we post to be memorialized in timelines, Facebook memories, and an endless array of blog posts, Instagram pics, tweets, snaps, ect.

In the past when I have posted on this "journey through parenthood" blog, I have always considered my audience to be the friends and family that stop by here to see pictures of how cute you are, how much you've grown, or the newest milestone you have accomplished. But it has dawned on me recently that this is your baby book of the 21st century. Just like we pull out our handmade scrapbooks that our mom's wrote in with pens and pencils - to see when we got our first tooth, or took our first steps - you will come here to find those answers, and so much more.
This is what I want you to know about your dad and my choice to live apart this summer:

To my babies - 

Mommy and D…

To My Village

I couldn't do life without you. You have come through for me time and time again. You have loved me, prayed for me, encouraged me, laughed with me, cried with me, and been there for me anytime a need arose.

Thank you for helping us through our adventures of moving abroad, and now coming home. Idaho is beautiful but it made me realize that I can't do life without YOU. So many of you have stepped up and offered us beds, furniture, a room for the night, a couch to sleep on - the list could go on and on. You bless me more than words can express and I mean it when I say that I couldn't do life without you. 
I love being a mom but I can't be with my kids 24/7. It starts to make me a little crazy after a while. But you, my village, are the ones who are always there for me, at a moments notice, you are willing to take 1, 2 or even all 3 of my babies so that I can get away and do the things I need to do to have a career and be a strong, healthy, loving mom. 
So thank you. Each …

The good, the bad, and the beautiful...

We've been stateside for 3 weeks now (well, kind of... there was that spur of the moment weekend trip to Canada that you can read about here), but it was only 24 days ago that we were leaving our home in Mexico with high hopes of a fun summer in the woods of North Idaho.

And we have had lots of fun here! I don't want that to go unmentioned.

So let's start with "The Good"

Rope Swing
The pond and the goldfish
Building Rafts
Playing with trucks in the dirt piles
4 Wheeler Rides
Survivor Games (check out our youtube video here)
Feeding the chickens
Climbing the hill
Time with Grandpa
Relaxing in the hammock
Nature walks
Throwing rocks in the creek
Smores and campfires
Legos in the loft

We have had a great little visit here in Idaho. I was able to decorate the guest house a little more, hang some curtains, and clean up a little around the outside.

But sometimes things just don't turn out as you envision them.

Enter "The Bad"

Mice... lots of them. We've…

Becoming Bilingual

It has always been a desire of mine to have my children become bilingual when they are still young, when their brains are still developing and can acquire new knowledge so much easier. When I was 12 I spent just one month in Mexico with my family, fully immersed in the culture.  I have always felt that even that small amount of exposure helped me 5 years later when I studied Spanish in junior college.

I always dreamed of going to a Spanish speaking country and immersing myself for long enough to become fluent... but life got away from me and that desire just sank lower and lower on my "list".

Fast forward almost a quarter of a century later, and here I am with 3 beautiful babies of my own.

Last November, we had the incredible opportunity to spend 6 months in Mazatlan, Mexico. I didn't know how much we would or could actually learn in just half a year of immersion, but here we are on the other side of the adventure and I'm ready to report how we did...

First of all, h…

The property I grew up on

Dear Dad,

The girls are on their way up to your cabin to see if you will take them on the rope swing. On the way out the door, I overheard Tenley: "I bet he'll say yes, because he is the best Grandpa EVER!"

I'm so glad the kids get to spend the summer here. It's so fun to see their eyes light up as they explore the exact property I grew up on. When you and mom split up some 25 + years ago, and the home we lived in had to be sold, I never thought my kids would have this experience.

We loved visiting the original cabin, and the years we came for summers and Christmas are memories that our family will treasure forever. But there is something special about having this 10 acres back, and once again having the property that Rhianna and I grew up on "whole" again. (Plus, our family of 5 and Rhi's family of 4 have kind of outgrown the 1 bedroom cabin you built when we were babies.)

The kids are going to remember this summer forever, and I'm so grateful …

Going home...

We are counting the days until we leave this sabbatical of sorts that we have been on here in Mexico for the past 6 months. Things haven't turned out like I hoped they would, and I would be lying if I said that my faith hasn't been shaken, but I still believe that my God will work all things together for good.

And our time here has been good in many ways. As a family, we have truly been blessed to be able to come here and enjoy the weather, the extremely low cost of living, and be able to introduce our kids to another culture and language.
But I can't wait to go home.
Those of you who have followed our journey might be asking where exactly home is for us these days. As you might recall, last May we sold our 5 bedroom house in suburbia and downsized to a small 2nd story apartment for the summer before taking the leap to move to Mazatlan for the winter. (You can read more on that here if you missed it.)
We have a small storage room at one of our rental houses in Molalla with …

Making New Friends

Last week, we had school at Rico's Cafe in Zona Dorado (The Golden Zone), here in Mazatlan. 

The local kids here didn't have school on Monday and Tuesday because of Carnival, so Tuesday while we were having school, these sweet kids came in and tried to sell us bracelets. We told them "no gracias" (no thanks), but they seemed really interested in what we were doing. I asked where their parents were and they said they were on the beach selling, so I invited them to sit down and join us.

From left to right, Jocelin, Judith and Luis. I think Judith was 8 or 9 and the other two were 11 years old. The perfect age for me to practice my Spanish with! lol

They stayed for Math, Reading, and were obviously the perfect addition to our Spanish lesson for the day. After we finished school, we ordered a huge plate of French Toast and we all ate together. 

When it was time to go, they asked us if we could be friends, and Luis drew us this nice picture.
Click here to view image on Instrag…