One great thing about working at The American School in Mexico City is that you have the advantage of getting both American and Mexican holidays off. So, in honor of Thanksgiving, we got an entire week off from school... so great.
And for this vacation we headed to the beach. We drove south to Zihuatanejo; a beach town in the state of Guerrero. It is a bay surrounded by mountains and it is ridiculously beautiful; yet another reason I am thankful to live in Mexico where we have these opportunities; like vacationing in a gorgeous place with family.
Everything was perfect except for the fact that Isa got sick the very first night we arrived. She woke up around 11:00 in the midst of a coughing fit that continued off and on the entire night with small breaks of about 10 minutes. After she woke up the first time I brought her into bed with me and James and kept her close the whole night.
She only wanted me. Not only did she only want me, but she actually wanted to be on me. She wanted to be as close as possible. I spent the entire night awake holding her in bed, laying her on my chest.
I remember at one point thinking to myself, oh man, I'm not going to sleep tonight.
However, that thought was not followed with sadness or desperation, but with calm.
I had this weird sense of calm fall over me that urged everything inside of me to do whatever I needed to do to take care of and comfort this little being.
It was my job. Not one ounce of me felt like complaining. In fact, I didn't have any thoughts of "me."
It was all about her.
In that moment, I truly felt what it means to be a mom; to be strong, confident, caring, comforting.
It was incredible. It was like I was infused with some kind of power outside of myself.
I know this might all sound a bit extreme, but it's the best way I can describe it.
It was my mom moment.
We're home now and Isa is recovering from a nasty case of laryngitis topped with an ear infection, but she is getting better.
This Thanksgiving I am thankful for this moment and for the husband and daughter that provided it.
This is my view everyday as I drive to work. On the Segundo Piso of the
Periferico (basically the beltway of Mexico City), I pass by this
volcano, Popocatepetl, just before the sun rises. Everyday there is smoke
billowing its way out of the top of Popo.
It's amazing and I am lucky.
I also get to sit next to this everyday on my drive to work.
I work in the same place as this amazing man. We get to drink our coffee together, talk, hold hands, sit.
I'm feeling antsy. In fact, James and I both are feeling this way. We're antsy to get into the next phase of life. The thing is, we still have a good year and a half here in Mexico before that next phase of life presents itself.
How do we fully embrace and enjoy our time here in Mexico while we have it?
We're both pretty reasonable people. We're dreamers, but we're also realists. Is that an oxymoron? Oh well...
We know we need to live life to the fullest while we are here in this moment. We know that when we do make our transition back to the states that we will miss Mexico like crazy; that things won't be all rainbows and butterflies.
We know we'll have the challenge of finding jobs, a place to live, daycare.
And yet, I'm doing everything I can not to peruse Craigslist for rental listings in Maryland.
OK, that was a lie. I'm not really doing everything I can not to look at houses on Craigslist. In fact, I'm not fighting the urge one bit.
So, we know the realities of the situation and we know what we should do... but...
The dreamers in us can't help but dream. My mind can't help but daydream about experiencing seasons and living near family and getting coffee with my sister.
So... there you have it. I'm not going to end this post with a whole shpeal about how I will rise above these feelings and enjoy life right now, because that's just me saying what I think I should say.
I know it's what I need to aim for. It needs to be my goal and I need to try and figure out a way to make it happen, but as of right now, it's not happening.
There you have it. My and James' current state of feeling and what we know we should be feeling.
All I can do right now is commit to working towards this goal, this goal of living in the present, of embracing the good things in life now; counting my blessings.
One of those days when I kind of (just kind of) wish I was living in the states again.
I'm feeling anxious.
Feeling ready for a change.
I miss the comforts that good friends and family provide.
This feeling hasn't been around for a while; in fact, it's been a few years since I remember feeling it.
I remember how strong it was when I first moved here; how I longed to get coffee with the girls, or see the ocean. How much I daydreamed about owning a house in a peaceful neighborhood with trees lining the streets.
Don't get me wrong, there are many things I love about living in Mexico City. I have a good job that is challenging and stretching (albeit, exhausting). I have a nanny... yeah, a nanny. Definitely wouldn't have one of those in the states.
My daughter is growing up truly bilingual and we are all, as a family, understanding another culture because we are living it.
Those are all good things.
Really good things.
But, still, I can't help but miss those comforts.
The friends, the coffee, the quiet neighborhood, the family.... and maybe a Target run every now and then.
I was listening to some Sufjan Stevens the other day and his version of Come Thou Fount Came on.
I listened as I heard him sing...
"Come thou fount of every blessing, tune my heart to sing thy praise."
Immediately I grabbed a post-it and wrote those words down and stuck it on my computer. I just needed to see them in writing, needed them to be some place close.
On those days; one of those days, I just need to see it, you know?
See those words. Really hear those words, take them in.
I am blessed and my response should be one of praise.
Not wishing, not daydreaming, but being truly present in the now.
Because how sad to miss the now... the stuff good stuff that's happening in this moment, not in the future, but as I type this.
Come thou fount of every blessing
Please, oh please, tune my heart to sing thy praise.
I took part in these three things over the weekend. The first two were voluntary; the latter, not so much. Over the weekend, Isa, James and I were in San Diego to celebrate the wedding of some dear friends.
It started out all right. Some pumpkin spice lattes from Starbucks, a visit to a Fall Festival on my old college campus. Then on Saturday it hit.
24-hour stomach flu. The nastiest case of it I had ever seen. It started with Isa who came down with it on Friday while we were out with my mom. Then, I came down with it on Saturday before the wedding... yeah, really bad timing.
Next it was James later that night, then my mom, my uncle, my cousin's daughter, a friend I had hung out with on Saturday, my mother-in-law, my Aunt, then my cousin.
I'm not joking. It was crazy.
It was a real-life contagion.
James and I were so sick Saturday night that on Sunday morning when we were supposed to catch a flight back to D.F., we knew there was no way it was going to happen. We called the airline and rescheduled it for Monday instead and decided it was best.... although being out an extra $400 to make the change was definitely not best for our pocket books.
We have since recovered and are getting back into the swing of things here in lovely Mexico City.
When all was said and done, we were still thankful we went and thankful to have seen loved ones.
We miss San Diego. We miss the weather, the beauty; but mostly we miss the people.
People are what counts, and we have some good ones there.
The kind you want to keep around forever.
Here are some pictures from the weekend.... before the flu.... hence the smiles.
In 15 days I will have lived in Mexico City for three years.
I still remember the day I jumped into the "shuttle" which was really just an old van, on the US side of the Mexican border and took it to the Tijuana Airport to board a flight to Distrito Federal.
James and I had our backpacking bags packed with what clothes we could fit and that was it.
No set jobs.
A few thousand dollars to our name.
Married only three weeks.
And no idea what we were getting ourselves into.
Almost three years later we have a house, a baby, good jobs with full benefits and a solid marriage.
How it happened is all a bit of a blur, but I know there was some blood sweat and tears in there somewhere.
In thinking about this blog of mine today, I tried to pinpoint what exactly it was focused on. It's called Life en Espanol, which would lead one to believe it was about life in Mexico, but now, after three years here I realize it's just about life.
No "in Mexico" needed.
I'm at the point with living here where it is not new anymore, it is not strange or different or unique that I live in a foreign country; because that country is no longer foreign to me.
It just is.
This is just life.
It is my day to day and it is what I know.
I couldn't tell you exactly when that shift happened for me, but whenever it did, I am thankful for it.
A glimpse back into our first month in Mexico:
New to the city and our first time trying a Cubano and Michelada... so delicious.
When I was little I had this book that was filled with these black, white and grey drawings. Along with the drawings were a few sentences on each page. They were intended as story prompts for children, with the intention of encouraging them to write.
I remember one with a little girl opening a box that had something inside of it that illuminated her and the room around her with a sentence on the adjoining page that read something like, "and so it happened that on her 12th birthday it had found her..."
There was one with a man holding a chair above his head about to stomp something under his carpet that was mysteriously traveling through the living room; and another with a woman lying in bed asleep with a book open next to her. Inside the book was what looked like a vine growing around her; and other drawings involving mysterious or exciting events.
But there was one that always interested me more than the rest.
It was a drawing of a little girl sitting inside a small wooden wagon with a sail attached to it. It was being pushed by a little boy. They were going fast, headed down a pier of some sort; but it was a pier which dead ended into an ocean.
I forget what the story prompt read, but the image of that boy and girl is so engraved in my mind. That one drew me in. It caught me; held me captive.
I've always longed for an adventure. I even remember praying for one as a little girl. I wanted to explore a new place, a new land. I wanted to meet all kinds of people, things, animals, and I wanted to meet a boy who would accompany me for the ride.
Looking at my life now, I feel as though so much of those longings have become a reality. I am that girl, sitting in the wagon with my fearless adventurer pushing me from behind. We are exploring a new land, meeting new people, seeing new things.
But now we've reached the end of the pier and we're in the water. We're floating along, secure in our boat and sail, but the waves are starting to pick up. We're both holding on and trying to keep steady, but I can't seem to get a good grip.
I'm scared, overwhelmed by the task in front of us.
I'm trying to grab an oar to help steer, but can't seem to gather enough strength to make an impact.
The waves all seem too big.
In this moment, my fellow adventurer is yelling to me, reassuring me, "it's all right," he says. "you're going to make it."
"We're going to figure this out."
Life seems to have surrounded me in this moment. Working as a first year teacher, motherhood, wife, friend. They are all things that I hold dear. They are my adventure. But adventure never comes without some rough currents.
I feel the pull of those currents right now.
As these waves push me around I am thankful for the voice of that boy and his presence in my boat. I am reminded that I am not caught in these waves alone; rather with the most incredible partner I could ever have imagined and with a power greater than those waves watching over me; holding me steady.
****After writing this I decided to try and find this book online. It's called The Mysteries of Harris Burdock and you can find it here.
We've always tried to keep TV to a minimum in our house. Having a 19 in TV screen helps with this.
Since moving to Mexico, James and I have found that we just don't have the time to sit down and watch a show, nor do we seem to want to much anymore.
Since having Isa, this has just been a norm. We never have the TV on. She's usually more interested in running around the house anyway, or reading a book, that we're too busy keeping up with her to get engrossed in an episode of House.
But, then it happened.
As I was perusing youtube, I stumbled across a video from Sesame Street featuring Feist as the special guest, singing about the number 4.
One word... Awesome.
Isa loved it. Since then I have found other great short Sesame Street videos featuring an array of musical guests like Will I Am, Jason Mraz, India Arie, and many more.
I forgot how much Sesame Street rocks. Seriously, it's smart, it's witty and from a teacher's perspective, it uses engaging strategies to get kids excited to learn.
I heart it.
Just to prove it, here's one of Isa (and my) favorites as of late.
Before moving to Mexico City I had lived in beautiful San Diego my entire 22 years. Pre-school, college, all of it.
When we moved down south I was certain that once we were done with this experience we'd be moving back to sunny San Diego in our old beach bum town of Ocean Beach to raise our little beach bum kids in happy beach bum style.
Fast forward 3 years and here we are still living in Mexico, happily, I might add, with an entirely new plan in mind.
That plan now includes the east coast; Maryland, to be exact. After a very thought filled and revealing visit to both coasts over the summer, we have decided that when we head back to the US, we will be heading in the opposite direction of where we once thought.
Maryland is where my husband spent most of his formative years and is where his family currently resides. As well, there's the added bonus of my sister who lives near-by in D.C.
We've decided this is where we want to lay our family unit's roots. When visiting, it just felt right. It felt good to be there and we realized it was an experience we want our children to have.
So, when it's time to head back north (which is still about a year and a half away) it looks like that's where we'll be headed. East Coast, here we come.
Here are some snapshots of the summer from the east coast.
I got this recipe from my husband's mom and I absolutely love it. It's the most awesome blend of flavors; curry, sweet potato, ginger, rum.... mmmmm, so good. And to top it off, a giant dollop of sour cream.
You hear it all the time from celebrity moms, "My child is my world." "I'm a completely different person." "Everything is perfect now."
I'm not going to lie, I often read those quotes and roll my eyes. They always make motherhood sound all butterflies and rainbows.
Now, don't get me wrong, there are many moments where motherhood is butterflies and rainbows, but there are also the moments where it's rainstorms and thunder as well.
I love my daughter and in more ways than I can count, my life has changed since she was born. I would say that she has genuinely become the center of my husbands and my world. But motherhood isn't all that my life is about.
It is a part.
A very huge part.
But a part.
I am still a wife and a sister; a friend and a teacher.
All of these things still hold precedent in my life.
So now comes the hard part. How do you balance it all.
How do you, and in my case, how do I, as a working mom, make sure that in all of the craziness I am giving my daughter the attention, love and support she needs.
Often times I find myself feeling like I don't give her enough of my energy. I feel guilty for being tired when I get home form work and I feel guilty when all I want to do is curl up and zone out in front of the TV for a bit.
I was sharing these feelings with a new colleague at work and a woman who I am thankful to call a new friend; and she asked something that was so poignant and true.
"Well, is your family thriving?"
To which I thought about and answered, yes.
We love each other. My husband and I have a strong healthy relationship, we equally care for and love our daughter and we do the best we can for her. She is healthy and growing, learning and loving.
So, yes, we are thriving. We are growing as individuals and as a family unit.
That's it. That's all you can ask for. On those days when I feel guilty for being tired or for throwing so much energy into my work, I have to ask myself...
Are we thriving?
As long as I can consistently answer yes to that question then I have done all I can.
Family Beach trip to the Outer Banks, NC, Summer 2011
I've started cooking. It's true. My wonderful husband is usually the cook around here, but I've begun to give him a run for his money.
Before our darling Isa came along we'd cook pretty often; trying out new things and making actual meals. Now with our lives in a constant state of business, tiredness or straight up laziness, we've cooled down a bit with the cooking. Our dinners are pretty standard; maybe a pasta here, some street tacos there, with the occasional chicken something mixed in.
But I've decided to venture out, to try new things. And I've found that while I like the results (aka the eating part) I also enjoy the cooking part.
This is my first year teaching. I mean, really teaching.
I was a teacher's assistant for a while, then a long-term substitute, and now I am officially a third grade teacher to a raggamuffin group of 24 8 year-olds.
Yes, 8 year-olds.
So far this year has had a handful of awesome days and a majority of so-so days. Oh, and a few want to pull my hair out days. But they say that's normal in this profession.
I'm not going to lie. Teaching is hard. I mean really hard. Some days I'm on top of the world with a killer lesson that has every kid engaged and other days I'm constantly checking the clock to see when the day is over.
But... I'm good at it. I am. I mean that in a non-self-involved-sort-of-way (too many dashes?).
I make kids excited to learn, I somehow manage to get them to listen (some of the time, at least) and I like being the one up there being heard.
So, here I am, 3 weeks into the school year, tired, a bit overwhelmed, and one bad case of the flu under my belt (most likely caused by multiple uncovered sneezes by a student).
And on the days when I want to throw in the towel, I'm thankful for kids like Raul who tell me that the thing they're thankful for most is that their mom hugs them all the time and the thing that makes them sad is global warming.