Friday, December 25, 2015

2015 Review

There are so many things I love about Mexico, but Cabo really has a concentration of those things. 

This year has been FULL of changes from packing up or selling everything in Abu Dhabi to our transitional 4 months in Texas to a three week escapade to our final destination and having to jump onto our jobs with both feet running. In all of these changes our family's prayers, coworkers and church family have made the difference.

It feels like we're finally settled in and it feels like home now.

Some things we have done this December include:
Piñata whacking! And csndlelight service, singing, feasting, and great conversation with friends.
Who spoil our kids;
Can you tell they've all had chocolate by their grins? Ezra was a blur, a chocolate covered blur...

I'm so thankful for the relationships we've found here. On to another full year!

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Water: Pressure, Temperature

A week or two ago we woke up to what sounded like rain. Since it had rained the day before, it wasn't startling... Until we heard someone shouting "Hola" from the street to get our attention. (Everyone has a gate separating their front door from the street and almost no one has a doorbell to get their attention, people just call you if they're at the door.) The lady who was kind enough to stop and get our attention informed us that our clean water tank on the roof was pouring clean water out of the top and running all down the back of our house and down the street.
Apparently the valve that regulates when the tank is full, like the bulb in the tank of a toilet, was broken. Then, the hot water heater went out. We don't know if the water shorted it out or if its age took its toll. Since then we've been using cold water and manually turning the water on to fill the tank and turning it off quickly when it started to overflow.
Today it was finally fixed! And, in addition, the trickle of water we had due to low pressure was also fixed! That first shower felt amazing.

Edited to add that another consequence of higher water pressure are the leaks we have discovered at the water hoses. It seems they are not built to handle any pressure higher than a trickle.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Tropical Storms and Beaches

Many people move here for the beaches. Ironically, we haven't been able to visit a beach since we arrived September 4. After all of the sickness last week ending in Talia's mild version of what they think was dengue, I needed to run again. This weekend we've been visited by tropical storm Sandra (who was thankfully downgraded from a hurricane) so it has been raining the entire time. When the rain finally let up Talia and I went for a walk, and this time, we figured out how to get to the beach!

The waves were marbled green, wild and moody, but so cathartic. I can't wait to run here next time. Next to the beach are a herd of horses! We love to see them and say hi on our way by.
Our school hosts a 3K-5K-10K and I think also 20K. I'm training for the 10K. I want my children to grow up active as well, so they walk or run with me when they can.

Monday, November 23, 2015


Elias came home from school coughing last Monday. Tuesday evening Talia was sore and coughing. Wednesday all three had varying degrees of flu along with Ben. Thursday, I had it the worst.
All weekend we were pretty pathetic all lying down and just getting up to keep up with laundry and food. Then everyone mostly got better except for Talia who continued feeling achy, running a fever and very tired. Ben took her to a clinic on Sunday and the doctor said it was dengue but didn't confirm with blood work, so they will go to the clinic tomorrow to find out. 
After a year here, maybe we will be used to all of the things our immune systems are getting acquainted with right now, and it won't phase us... But flu is pretty common in winter no matter where you live. 
I'm so thankful most of us feel better again. Please help me pray for Ben and Talia.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Boca de la Sierra, Hiking in Beautiful Cabo

This weekend I got to explore a new part of Cabo with some friends. We crammed 11 people into an Expedition and drove to Boca de la Sierra. On the way you can see the mountain Picacho, the highest point here. My friends were upset that it looks like there have been miners changing the shape of the mountain. Mining is a hot controversial topic here because it introduces pollution and messes up this beautiful place.
We arrived and hiked down a dirt then rocky trail, crossed a slippery river, then found a sandy beach area to make a "fogata" campfire.

The beautiful, deep pools were clean and clear. It was a wonderful compromise between a pool and the ocean: clean but no wild animals and still in gorgeous nature.

We cooked beef for tacos, roasted marshmallows for s'mores, swam in the cool water, hiked the giant rocks and laid on a sheet in the sand talking to friends. Every once in a while someone would wander off to "cut flowers" but we knew that really meant they were watering them... 😄

On the way home we were blessed with some of the most vivid colors splashed across the sky in a magnificent sunset.

This day was filled with friends, blessings and nature. I'm so grateful to be alive!


Saturday, October 31, 2015

Why Teachers Make Good Friends

I have been blessed with wonderful co-teachers at every school I have ever worked. I'm not  sure if that's an odd thing and I'm just hitting the jackpot every time, or, and I think this is more likely, many times good teachers have the same qualities that make good friends. (By no means am I downing any other profession, just speaking of the one I have experience in. ;) Some of these great qualities that translate into friendship are:

They are good multi-taskers: In the classroom this is imperative for maximizing learning time. In friendship, it means that while you are busy with school during the day, you still have time to plan for an evening or weekend with friends.

They are good at gauging internal conflict: Students come to school every day carrying their home lives with them. Sometimes that is a supportive emotional structure that encourages learning in the classroom. Many times it isn't and, even the best students have off days. In order to capture a child's interest in a subject, you have to first have their confidence that you have created a safe place. They need to feel emotionally safe before they can engage mentally. This constant gauging of emotions in the classroom hones a teachers' skill at perceiving when something is going on with a friend as well.

A good teacher is also a good listener. Listening for feedback and proof of understanding in the classroom is another thing that is put into practice in a friendship as well.

There are so many other things that apply- like compassion, being young at heart, being flexible, and knowing how to connect with many different types of people. There are so many things we learn from each other, it is good to be surrounded by people who encourage me by their example in all of these areas every day.

There's nothing like loving the people you get to work with!

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Loreto to San Jose del Cabo, Texas to Cabo Trip, Part 7

From Loreto to San Jose del Cabo seemed to be the longest part of the trip, but only because we had come so far and it was the last stretch and we could almost see being at our destination finally happening! We left beautiful Loreto and drove through a few more mountains before reaching La Paz. 

There, (at a Burger King with a play place, yay!) Ben called the director of the school to see which way would be better: the road from La Paz going east seemed shorter than the road to the west. We learned that the road to the east went through mountains and was only a one lane road but the road to the west was a comfortable two lane... so that's the one we took this time. Going from Cabo San Lucas to San Jose del Cabo was the most suspenseful part: We were so close, but construction was slowing everything down. The beautiful views compensated for this. 

Arriving in San Jose, the one way roads threw us off a few times, but we eventually found the school. We were overwhelmed with how thoughtful everyone was and how prepared they were for our family's arrival.

I'm very thankful for this trip to be over and to have arrived here without mishaps: no blowouts, no children sick, no confiscations, and our destination was full of people who are wonderful to work with!

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Guerrero Negro to Loreto, Baja California Sur: Texas to Cabo Trip part 6

This day seemed to go on for a long time. We left Guerrero Negro (literally "black warrior")  towards Loreto. 

The road was curvy, like most of them in Baja California, so it took longer than I expected it to from looking at the map.

There were more date palms...
Loreto had a beautiful plaza and lots of different shops. One of the things I liked the most was the rice pudding pops, or, paletas de arroz con leche.
One more day!

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

San Felipe to Guerrero Negro, Baja California Sur: Texas to Cabo Trip part 5

The map of Baja California is displayed in almost every restaurant around here, even the McDonalds (Playplace!!!! It was needed!) in Calexico had a huge map on its wall. (And a huge sword fish.) In the beautiful coastal town of San Felipe this was also true:
The waves were a decent size due to a fairly strong wind and it wasn't very hot here for that reason. 

Most of the terrain between San Felipe and Guerrero Negro looked like this:

Part of the highway between these two towns hasn't been developed yet; so one and a half hours of driving was on bone-rattling rocky road. We were so glad to see pavement again!

If you want "comida economica" here the option most of the time is "burritos de mancheca". This is like a beef jerky they cook with onion, tomatoes, or peppers sometimes to make it taste better and wrap in a tortilla.

In Guerrero Negro the temperature was really nice and the locals said it was like that year round.
Happy Travels!

San Diego to Calexico to San Felipe: Texas to Cabo Trip part 4

Ben has long held a special place in his heart for Arab refugees. When we heard that an acquaintance of his was teaching what is called the "Chaldean" refugee students in San Diego and requesting books for her classroom, It made sense to visit. In the "El Cajon" district we found Spanish and Arabic intermingled. It was one of Ben's dreams come true! And there were Arabic pastry shops:

The San Diego consulate refuses to give work visas without appointment and since every consulate is different and they don't always answer their phones, sometimes it's tricky to figure out where to go. The San Diego actually answered that we'd have two extra weeks of waiting for an appointment via a Tweet on Twitter. Since Calexico didn't need an appointment, that was where we went. 

At the Calexico consulate we found out that immigration had sent Ben with one number different on the work visa code: a number which made the difference of six months! My visa was correct saying that I could work for a year but Ben will have to return to the States within 6 months to correct his. For a fee. After paying a fee for them messing it up; once to the Calexico consulate and once again at the border! 

Speaking of which- we got to cross the border!!!
The consulate visit took a good four hours, so we were able to drive to San Felipe, Baja California. 


When Your "Delegado" is on Vacation: California Cabin Time

When we heard we would be staying an extra week and a half until the guy ("delegado") who needed to sign our papers got back from vacation, Ben looked for a cabin in the mountains where it was a good 20 degrees cooler than Calexico. The week and a half spent in the mountain community of Running Springs, California was an interesting look into a part of the States I had never visited before: mountains, beautiful views, hiking trails, and really friendly people. 

Everyone we met here was super friendly! People walk around the neighborhood ALL the time and you might even see a random group of walkers all meet and start a neighborhood conversation. Our host said it had been too cold a few weeks previously, so perhaps this is a seasonal thing. In Texas, it's hot and everything is built very spread out, so walking happens, but not like I've seen everywhere else in the world. 

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

What To Do When You're Waiting for Paperwork in Calexico


Salvation Mountain; Crazy place in Niland, CA where this guy built up a mountain of hay, coated it in something, then used thousands of gallons of paint to cover it in scriptures and decorations.


Mountains and desert on one side and the accidentally created Salton Sea with its pelicans on the other. The kids had fun finding pelican feathers.

The International Banana Museum in Mecca, CA had almost everything banana you could think of. 

Wisteria Candy Cottage 
Unfortunately, this famous chocolate shop was closed on the day we visited... So we went to the:

Desert view tower
The views at the top of this tower/shop/information center were spectacular but the wind was super strong! On the same property were some kid-friendly caves and rock formations.

Coming next: what to do when you unexpectedly hear your work visas will take an extra week and a half and you're in southern California...

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Tucson, Arizona to Calexico, California; Texas to Cabo Trip 2015 part 3

This morning we left Tucson, Arizona for California. Our first stop was in Dateland, Arizona where Ben tried a date shake. There were also these date treats: date butter, pecan pumpkin pie spiced date rolls, balsamic date vinegar and regular date vinegar.
There were mountains (and tons of RV parks) after Dateland:

Then we went to Yuma for some family history:
Where we walked around in 115 degree heat looking for the plank road until...
We found it!

This was our first time in California.
And it was interesting to see signs like this periodically:

We ended our day in Calexico where there are several places for the kids to play, a consulate and a border crossing and the people have all been very nice!

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Van Horn, Texas to Tucson, Arizona; Texas to Cabo Trip 2015 Part 3

One of the different things about this part of Texas is that we haven't seen a grocery store in several hundred miles, (before entering Van Horn, TX and as we travel into Mountain Time Zone the last hour of driving through west Texas.)

This is mostly what there was to see:

We were reminded that we were still in Texas this morning at breakfast:
We went through El Paso and crossed into New Mexico, a state neither of us had visited before.
In Las Cruces, NM the kids had a blast at a train museum!

And the rock museum in Deming, NM where we got a lesson in which minerals make which colors in rocks, and about different agates.
After which we crossed into Arizona:

Where they boasted all kinds of different jerky:
The kids had a hard time with this stretch of the road getting to Tucson. It was hot, but we made it!

Friday, August 14, 2015

North East Texas to Van Horn, TX: Cabo Trip 2015 Part 2

This morning we loaded the rest of the essentials we had been using into the van. (And then unloaded some and put more in storage and reloaded and saw if the kids would fit and the doors would shut...) We did it. There's always a feeling of finality as you pull out of the driveway: all of your decisions, good or bad, are finished for the most part and you'll have to live with your choices when you get to the new place. (Barring spending money on more things, to which I'm always opposed.)

We drove a good two hours before everyone had to take a potty break. (Can you tell I'm a mom of small children by my language?) For an approximate 45 hour trip, hopefully we will get a better average of stops to progress over the whole trip.) However, there was a nice grassy place the kids could run in, so we raced. Talia won most races.

We saw refreshing rain for the first time in a couple months just west of Fort Worth.
Another highlight was finding an interesting truck stop with interesting canned goods like jalapeño or chipotle ketchup and sweet potato butter... And a fried pie shop! Ben and Talia split a vanilla pie and Elias and I shared an apricot.

When we spotted Odessa, Texas' version of Stonehenge we decided it was a good place to let the kids expel some excess energy.

Then we drove the last 160 or so miles for the day and got a hotel in Van Horn, Texas. 

9 hours, over 600 miles. Done. Zzzzzzz...

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Packing: Texas to San José del Cabo 1

When I was young my dad built himself a little shop to work in and to hold his tools. As we grew up he graduated to a bigger one and gave his little portable shop to me. When we began our international travels it became a great storage place. We began international teaching in 2009 in Guatemala when Talia was only 18 months old, and in between times we haven't had enough time to unpack and reorganize everything; until now, so you can imagine the variety of things that have collected just in different gender and sizes and seasons of children's clothes!

The last few weeks we've been busy seeing family for the last time and sorting storage into: take, give away, store and trash. Since we are driving and moving to a house, we can take things that weren't feasible in Abu Dhabi. Like a mixer! However, everything we bring must fit into the minivan we've purchased with no racks or trailers to attract the attention of the possibly search-happy Mexican cops. This is the challenge... And it has been one to make us question the line between having faith that what we need will be provided and being a good steward with what we have and not just getting rid of everything. 

(Pictured above) A neighbors' house burning down cemented the thoughts we already had during this packing process: we will make the best decisions we can, but in the end it's just stuff and if something happens to it there are more important things in life than stuff. We were thankful to hear that our neighbors' family was ok!

Now, I need to go make sure we can close the van doors...

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Homemade Fig Newtons

The squirrels and wasps and other creatures were really enjoying the figs from our tree, but there were enough untouched ones to make something with, so we decided to try to make one of my dad's favorites: fig newtons.

We looked at two recipes; one from and one Healthy Green Kitchen and combined the ideas.
They came out delicious! However we decided it only needed a half cup of sugar in the crust and a half cup in the filling instead of the full cup it called for in both to not be too sweet. It's worth trying again!

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Trying New Food in the States

One thing about getting to visit many different family members while we are in the States is getting to learn new recipes. 

I had never tried "Dutch hats" before. It was basically a pancake batter with more eggs, poured in a cast iron skillet and baked where it puffs up. We then slathered on Greek yogurt, strawberries, blueberries and a little Maple syrup... Yum!
Another thing I had never heard of was cornmeal pie. To me it tasted like a gooey yellow cake mix wit a hint of the gritty cornmeal texture.
I loved this recipe of quinoa salad! It had dried cherries, walnuts, green onions, celery, a pinch of cayenne, salt, pepper, coconut oil, red wine vinegar, and lemon juice.
Have you tried any new recipes this summer?

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Blending and Harvests

I love harvest time! Our neighbors are getting older and don't like to mess with putting away fruit from their trees anymore so sometimes we get to pick their fig and peach trees. Here we got two five gallon buckets full of peaches that were falling off of the tree. Now they need to be processed/set out to finish ripening.
With all of the fresh produce in this season I was excited when my aunt gave me a beautiful hot pink blender to make smoothies with some of it.

 I knew the first recipe I wanted to try was the raw chocolate pudding: this recipe called for a banana, avocado, cinnamon, raw cacao powder, and (almond) milk blended then chilled. It was yummy!
We are looking forward to the rest of this season!