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True Love

He loves me,

He loves me not;

He loves me,

He loves me not …

Well, maybe it worked as a young schoolgirl, but I don’t think this is a very accurate way to determine someone’s love!

So, how do you know when someone really does love you?

(And if you love them?)

I’ve been reading through Philip Yancey’s book, Disappointment With God, over the last couple months. When I came across the following quote, it stirred up a lot of emotions and got me thinking about my current marriage – and how it is vastly different from my past marriage. Here’s the quote from page 122:

“Love is most persuasive when it involves sacrifice.”

Sacrifice.

To forfeit (one thing) for another thing considered to be of greater value.

Free Dictionary

It’s a word that has a lot of negativity connected to it. And yet, is the “giving up” always difficult, or is the love that prompts us so much stronger than the sacrifice that it doesn’t feel like anything has been lost?

Looking Back

Originally, our top 5 reasons for moving to Mexico were:

5. To give our kids an overseas experience (and have our own, too!)

4. To get out of the “Rat Race” (which leads to #3)

3. To be able to live off less money than we earn (which leads to #2)

2. To buy a sailboat and learn how to sail (which leads to #1)

1. To travel and recreate our lives!

We have certainly traveled a lot with our 39′ sailboat and 37′ motorhome. Summer trips, sailing adventures, and lots of flights to see family during the holidays have filled our vacation time. We have also enjoyed the slower paced life here (#4 above).

Our Family

But, we had to re-evaluate our priorities after having kids. Realistically, the impact that #5 will have on our ability to see family, especially the grandparents, over the next 18 years of our precious children’s lives, has prompted us to make some BIG changes.

This past June, we decided to move from Mexico up to Flagstaff, AZ. We want to provide our kids with a stable and familiar place to call home. And we want to be able to afford the time and money needed to visit with family. But to do that, we had to consider our financial situation. So, here’s the big question:

How affordable is it to own and maintain a sailboat, RV, and a home?

Well, if you’re a millionaire, it’s probably just fine! But for us normal folk … it’s just not realistic. While discussing this reality a few months ago, I asked my husband which one he would prefer to not have.

And without a thought, he said,

“We’re selling the sailboat.”

He’s sacrificing the dream that led us to Mexico, but he’s replacing it with the greater dream of having a family – OUR FAMILY. (Even now, I’m moved to tears by his love for me and our kids.) I told him I appreciated his sacrifice, but he simply turned it around and acknowledged how much I sacrificed to move here by giving up my booming business and the wonderful life I had in Colorado.

His love is so real to me. Every day I see him working hard to provide for us, spending time loving on our son, giving me hugs and kisses all the time, and telling me how beautiful I am. Washing the cars, taking out the trash, folding the laundry, and the list goes on.

Is it a sacrifice, or is it simply allowing previous dreams to be exchanged for what is “considered to be of greater value”?

“Love is most persuasive when it involves sacrifice.”

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Filed under Life Journal, Living in Mexico, Moving to U.S., Travel

Keeping up with the Joneses

When you live in southern California – namely, Orange County – it’s REALLY hard not to want what it seems everyone else has. Especially when you can’t afford it! I’ll be honest, here’s what I wanted as a young married person (the 1st time around, that is):

  • Nicer cars
  • Nicer clothes
  • Nicer furniture
  • Better vacations
  • Kids and family experiences
  • Buying a house instead of renting

And to top it off, renting included being able to check the traffic by looking out the dining room window of our 1 bedroom apartment to see how packed the freeway was! I was SO ready to move somewhere more affordable and less affluent so I could feel like I fit in.

Hello, Colorado! When my ex and I moved, we rented a 3 BD, 2 BA house with a huge yard for less than that apartment in CA. But, Colorado Springs was still bussling with plenty of Coach bags, high heels and fancy cars, know what I mean?

And then, life happened.

I got divorced, met my sweet husband and we moved to Mexico to start a new life together. Ironically, he also had lived in southern CA with his ex-wife. He did make a good income and had a few nice houses and a fancy sports car. But none of it was very fulfilling because, in the end, his marriage was on the rocks just like mine was.

Well, we’ve had a much simpler life here in San Carlos for the last couple years. Most days I wear shorts and a tank top and sport a pony tail. And no make-up (gasp!). High heels? Maybe on Sundays for church, or if we go out on a date. But for the most part, I’m at home being a Mom, enjoying the basics.

Of course, life happened again and with baby #2 on the way, we decided to move back to the U.S.

But I’m nervous about one thing …

falling back into a lifestyle of “keeping up with the Joneses”.

I must be on a movie kick these days, because I keep thinking of how our lives and choices are often reflected in various movies (read my last post “The Importance of Being Earnest” – another great movie!). Anyway, The Joneses (2009), with Demi Moore and David Duchovny portrayed a family that wasn’t really a family. They were business people pretending to be a family in order to make BIG BUCKS!

That movie was a great reminder that trying to keep up with your neighbors and what the media wants you to think you need is really not what’s important in life. And as we head back to life in the U.S., I want to be fully aware of what my priorities are.

Let’s face it …

we all place value on relationships, things, and experiences.

What I’m willing to spend on a cup of coffee, or a movie, or a pair of running shoes, or the latest cell phone, or a computer, or a car, or a house, or a (fill in the blank) may not be the same as my neighbor. But I need to know what I value, and not feel bad about spending money or not spending money the way other people do (or don’t).

Of course, I’ll be honest, I do want to own a home and enjoy eating at nice restaurants, wear nicer clothes (sometimes) and look beautiful. I want to be able to use my Coach bag (yep, got one from hubby as a birthday gift!) and hang with other Mom’s and talk about our kids (all the while, checking out each other’s trendy outfits, right?!)

But, I don’t want those things to consume me. That’s the difference!

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Filed under Life Journal, Living in Mexico, Moving to U.S.

Maternity clothes – a necessary evil

So, ladies … who else thinks that maternity clothes prices are outrageous?!

Here’s my journey to find an alternative …

I have been fortunate to gain most of my weight in my belly alone, so I didn’t need to get maternity clothes until around four months pregnant. Yes, my pants were tight, so I used the belly bands (I think I bought Bella Vonna Belly Bands from ebay) and just unzipped those pants/capris/shorts. That worked for a couple months. But, the belly kept growing!

At three months along, I took a trip to California to visit friends and family. I had decided it was time to actually purchase real maternity clothes. Fortunately, after several unsuccessful attempts (prices too high or wrong season clothing for Mexico), my Mom and I stumbled upon a great little maternity section at Burlington Coat Factory. I believe we purchased about 12 items for around $100. Not bad! I also found a couple comfy cotton shift dresses at Buffalo Exchange. They aren’t “maternity”, but they fit great – still!

However, time continued on and my belly kept growing – of course! I can no longer wear the maternity capris, shorts, or pants I bought. It is way too hot here and the thick elastic band on the shorts is too tight now. I had only one skirt left that fit. It was actually an ankle length black skirt that was always a little big, so I simply cut it off to knee length and hemmed it. (In the photo of B. and I at my baby shower).

So, what does a girl do? Get creative!

I figured that other women have probably run into the same problem, so I looked up some tutorials on how to sew my own maternity skirts. This one is particular inspired me to take the plunge and start cutting!

At five months pregnant, I purchased several cotton skirts at a thrift store for $3-4 each.

The black skirt I simply hemmed to knee length (it was originally mid-calf) and removed the tie at the waist (pregnant belly plus big bow in front = bigger belly!). Since it has an elastic waist already, it fits great and will fit after the pregnancy, too.

The two white skirts needed more adjustments, so I bought a stretchy cami at Ross for around $5 to turn into the “secret panel” waistband.

With the help of several other women’s blogs/tutorials, I began my project.

Snip, snip … sew, sew … and …

I now have three skirts that work great and cost me a total of less than $20! Now, that’s what I call a bargain!

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Filed under Crafts & Kitchen, Life Journal, Pregnant in Mexico

Summer Road Trip – Part 1 (RV Travel – not just for old folks!)

How do I love to travel? Let me count the ways …

planes, trains, automobiles, sailboats, and now … our motorhome!

Lunch in Gunnison

We left San Carlos on Sunday, May 29th, and returned 5 weeks later on Sunday, July 3rd.

Day 1 – San Carlos, Sonora, Mexico, to Buckeye, AZ; 470 miles; Mexico Hwy 15 to US I-19 to I-10

We headed up to Buckeye, AZ, in our Honda CR-V for the first leg of our journey. I stayed at my Uncle’s place while M. flew to Sacramento, CA, to purchase our new (used) motorhome. (Check out this post for more details on what type of RV we bought.) M. then drove back to Buckeye with the RV while I spent the week shopping – no, not for girl stuff, but to outfit the motorhome! We couldn’t believe how much stuff we ‘needed’ for our 37 foot RV. We tried to stick with the basics – sheets, towels, toiletries, trash cans, plates/cups/utensils, one pot and two pans, three mixing/serving bowls, food for basic meals, a couple rugs (to keep the imitation wood floors cleaner and more feet-friendly), cleaning supplies, and a bunch of maintenance stuff that M. bought. (Being the wife, I didn’t keep track of all the ‘guy’ stuff he bought, so I can’t offer more info on that. Maybe M. will blog about the details later.) So, after several hundred dollars and many hours of elbow grease getting the motorhome ready …

… we were off for our summer road trip!

Day 8 – Buckeye, AZ to Flagstaff, AZ; 178 miles ; I-10 to I-17

We got a late start, so we stayed overnight in a WalMart parking lot.  This may sound odd, but if you are taking three nights to travel from location A to B and simply need a place to lay your head during the nights in between, it’s a great place to stay – and it’s free! (Most WalMarts allow RVs, campers, trailers, and semis to stay overnight in their parking lots.)

Imagine this … you are driving down the highway, ready to pull over for the night to get some grub and get out of the chairs you’ve been sitting in all day. It’s just about dark and you want to leave by 7:00 am the next morning to get closer to your next destination. So, you see a sign for an RV park/campground. You exit the highway, drive 4 miles down a small paved road, pull in to the campground and discover that they don’t have any spaces big enough for your 37′ RV pulling your small SUV. So, you drive back to the highway and drive farther down the road. Your stomach is grumbling and your eyes are tired. You see another sign for another campground with RV spaces. You pull off the highway, follow the signs 3 miles down the road, pull in to the campground and its now 8:42 pm. There is no one in the office, but there is a sign with the empty spaces posted. You spend 20 minutes negotiating how to get into the space, unhook the car to park easier, spend another 10 minutes leveling the motorhome, and don’t even bother to hook up to the sewer, power, or water. Now it is 9:18 pm, you haven’t eaten dinner and you’re exhausted. You heat up a cup of soup, then crawl into bed.

Next morning … the alarm wakes you up at 6:00 am. You crawl out of bed, throw some clothes on, eat a bowl of cereal, raise the leveling system, and pull out of the campground. On the way out you pay $35-45 to the office and you’re back on the road by 7:00 am as planned.

Or … you are driving down the highway, ready to pull over for the night to get some grub and get out of the chairs you’ve been sitting in all day. It’s just about dark and you want to leave by 7:00 am the next morning to get closer to your next destination. You see a WalMart sign (or look one up on your GPS), pull off the highway and park in the back of the lot. You spend 10 minutes leveling the motorhome, and don’t need to hook up to the sewer, power, or water because your motorhome is self-contained (generator and a 100 gallon water tank). You need milk and eggs, so you walk over to WalMart for a quick purchase and are back ‘home’ in 20 minutes. It’s now 6:38 pm. You have a yummy stir-fry that the wife prepared while you went in to get the groceries. You pull the shades and spend the next couple hours relaxing – reading a book or watching a movie – then head to bed.

Next morning … the alarm wakes you up at 6:00 am. You spring out of bed feeling refreshed, take a shower, throw some clothes on, eat a bowl of cereal and make some coffee, open the shades, raise the leveling system, and pull out of the parking lot. On the way out you pay $0 and you’re back on the road by 7:00 am as planned.

So, what was the point of paying $35-45 to sleep in a place that might have a parking spot big enough for you, is possibly located near where you are ready to stop, has hook-ups and a dump station that you don’t need, and has some trees?

WalMart definitely offers a great service to travelers. We took advantage of their parking lots and in turn gave them business. We did spend several nights enjoying some beautiful places … but you’ll have to read the rest of the Summer Road Trip posts to find out about them.

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Filed under Life Journal, Travel

Stuff … easy come, easy go

Our friends just rented a beautifully furnished home with an amazing view of the Sea of Cortez for the last few weeks they are here in San Carlos. (They had to move out of their previous rental due to a sewer blockage). I saw it for the first time tonight when we went for dinner.

The owner has created a ‘cross wall’ in the dining room – one wall covered in a fantastic collage of various shapes and sizes of crosses. Beautiful and comfortable furniture invited me to relax while the tall, chunky candles on the coffee table cast a warm glow around the living room.

I absolutely loved the decor and would so love to live in a house like that. But at the same time, I absolutely do not want to own a home right now, or spend the money and time needed to decorate it. I am surprised at how content I’ve been to rent a furnished home for the last ten months. I have not purchased a single item of decor, furniture, or household goods the entire time we’ve been here (unless you count light bulbs).  Wait … I did purchase one inside and three outside plants, since there were empty pots available to use, as well as material to sew thin curtains for M.’s office to cut the glare.

In less than two months we’ll be moving to another furnished rental home and preparing for our first child. I do plan on buying some baby furniture and a small desk, but nothing else is needed. After so many years of wanting my own home and being envious of others, I’m now so relieved I haven’t ever owned a home.

When M. and I moved from Colorado to Mexico last June, we  sold, gave away, or threw away about 80% of our belongings. Furniture, plants, clothes, dishes and other kitchen items, tools, knick knacks, rugs, beds, TV’s and stereos … stuff. I spent about three or four months posting things on Craigslist, giving things to friends and making Goodwill runs, and filling up the trash bins. I do wonder how much money I spent on all the stuff that I no longer have – or even remember I had! (Actually, I do have several boxes stored in a friend’s garage that we will be getting this summer. That means going through the process one more time!)

I admit, I’ve never been great at decorating, so my heart certainly wasn’t broken to see everything disappear slowly while waiting for the countdown. Anticipating my future adventurous new life made the stuff I had seem less important and less necessary.

Our goal was to bring only what could fit in, or on, our cars. M. did pull his motorcycle on a trailer and we packed a few bins full of stuff and strapped it to the top of his truck (see this post for photos). So, with a mini-SUV, an old Bronco pulling a new motorcycle, our stuff, and our dog, we headed down to Mexico.

Many people asked both M. and I if we were going to put our stuff in storage – because we certainly needed to have it, right?! (I really don’t think people thought I had the most amazing home decor that they couldn’t imagine me living without it. Were they assuming we wouldn’t like Mexico?)

Let’s just say that M. and I had decided to keep our stuff. We could have packed up everything and trucked it over to a climate controlled, inside storage unit of 150 sq. ft. for $138/month. That means … for a mere $1,656/year we could hang on to our furniture,  clothes, dishes and other kitchen items, tools, knick knacks, rugs, beds, TV’s, and other stuff. During that time we would live in Mexico, have fun adventures together, buy a sailboat and learn how to sail, and travel for part of the year.

At some point, we would need to go back to Colorado, unpack the storage unit and decide what to keep, what to sell, and what to throw away. Would that be perhaps two years later ($3,312) or maybe even five years later ($8,280)? Personally, I’d rather take a trip to Europe than store a couch and a bunch of boxes in a closet that I have to pay for, while forgetting what I even put in there to begin with!

I’m sure that we will purchase a home at some point – and fill it up with, well, stuff. But for now, we are both content and excited for our adventures together. And for us, that means having a mobile lifestyle.

Our bodega (Spanish for storage area) in our rental home.

See, we still have stuff!

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Filed under Life Journal, Moving to Mexico