Wednesday, 1 November 2017

7 Pinterest-inspired Christmas crafts and activities

Winter is nearly upon us and it's time to start thinking about Christmas!  I'm generally pretty rubbish at planning ahead - every year I have so many good intentions to do and make all sorts of Christmas-themed crafts and activities but then the time flies away from me and I don't get round to doing very much.  Last year I wanted to make Emma an advent calendar and found lots of amazing ideas on Pinterest.  But then I couldn't decide which one to make and then suddenly it was December and it was too late.

This year, I'm determined to be more organised, start some family Christmas traditions and generally infuse the season with more magic and Christmas spirit.

7 Pinterest-Inspired Christmas Crafts and Activities

Advent Calendars


I always had advent calendars as a child, but it's not something people do in Mexico and I've never seen any in the shops here, so Emma has never had one.  I think she's at just the right age to begin to appreciate it; now she has more concept of time and is starting to recognize numbers.  One of my priorities is to make her an advent calendar during the month of November so that it's ready to use by December 1st.

Here are some of the best homemade advent calendar ideas I found on Pinterest (I just have to decide which one to make and how to adapt it):

1. Christmas cracker advent calendar from The Sweet Life





2. Another cool recycled toilet roll calendar from Mamaskram via Frugal coupon living (the pin I found leads to a roundup post with lots of other ideas, but this one I liked best).





3. Yet another recycled toilet roll calendar - I'd better start saving them!  This one is from Parents.com in a post with lots of other winter craft ideas.




Christmas decorations


4. I love this idea of making tree ornaments out of old Christmas cards from Petticoat Junktion.



5. These orange slice Christmas tree decorations from Thimble and Twig look really gorgeous.




Other crafts and activities for the winter season


6. This wishing tree could be an inspiring activity to start the New Year from Baby Budgeting.





7. Visit this post by Teaching Mama for lots of gorgeous Christmas-themes crafts and activities to make and do with kids.


For more ideas take a look at my Handmade Christmas Pinterest board:






Stay posted to see which of these crafts I actually do!   I´m also tempted to update this post with more pins - seven is not many when there are so many more amazing ideas out there.


Photo credit: Joanna Kosinska on Unsplash






#Blogtober17


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Tuesday, 17 October 2017

15 Quotes to live by - #Blogtober17

I love love love love quotes. 

The really good ones I love with a passion.  The ones that speak to the real you.  Words joined together to jump out at you and make you think "THAT is the truth, that means something to me, that is how I want to live my life".  Or some that you just love but you don't know why, it's like poetry, you're not sure what it means but it resonates with your soul.

So for day 17 of #Blogtober17 I had to write a post for the theme of quotes.  I thought I would compile together my favourite quotes - most of them have probably appeared in previous posts, but all of them fit the criteria above.  I could have included more, but I thought 15 was enough!



I won't write much about them, the quotes can speak for themselves, that's what they're for.


Possibly my all-time favourite.  These are my ultimate goals in life!














The following quote really made an impression on me the first time I read it.  This is so important to remember.






I saw this one on someone's twitter header and immediately loved it.  I guess the meaning is open to interpretation ...


I later found out that it was by a zen monk who has a lot of interesting sayings.  This next one I thought was brilliant:



I hope you enjoyed this and are inspired by this compilation!  Would you include any different quotes?  What are your favou
rite quotes to live by?  Let me know in the comments below!

#Blogtober17

Sunday, 15 October 2017

9 Essential Items in the Mexican Kitchen

There are certain items which no self-respecting Mexican kitchen could be without, although non-Mexicans might not consider them essential.

Some of them are pretty normal items or ingredients wherever you live; other things you may never have heard of before. They have this in common: most Mexican families would be lost without them!

I'm not including here the usual items like pans, utensils, the fridge and the oven, etc, just the ones that are not as universal, and are more specifically used in Mexico.

9 Essential Items In The Mexican Kitchen


KITCHEN IMPLEMENTS 


Comal


I had never heard of a comal before I came to México. But without a comal, how can you heat up your tortillas? A large frying pan could substitute it but you won't fit many tortillas flat in a frying pan. That is what a comal is for. It's a large flat metal plate, usually round but often rectangular, without sides. It sits on a ring or two rings of your stove, or it may be part of your stove; a rectangular plate that fits over a long burner in the middle of the stove.
Once you've lived with one you will wonder how you ever managed without it!

9 Essential Items In The Mexican Kitchen
A very big comal on a street market stall; the household versions are much smaller but the design is basically the same!

Exprimidor (lime squeezer)


Another implement I'd never come across before living in Mexico, and it's so simple, but so useful. It is a handheld lime squeezer, slightly resembling a garlic crusher, but lime-sized and shaped. This way you avoid getting lime juice all over your fingers and it stops the pips from going into your food or drink. Very handy!

9 Essential Items In The Mexican Kitchen

Licuadora (blender)


This is the one kitchen appliance you must have. You need it to make delicious homemade salsas, sauces for cooking, soups, and it's essential for your breakfast smoothie in the mornings.

Olla express (pressure cooker) or olla de barro (earthenware cooking pot)


One of the staples of Mexican food is frijoles - beans - which can be eaten in a variety of dishes and at any time of day. It's quite common here to buy the dried beans which take a long time to cook - normally about three hours - whereas with a pressure cooker they're done in less than an hour. However, the traditional method of cooking beans is in an earthenware cooking pot, which apparently adds a special flavour to the beans.

The pressure cooker is also very useful for other popular dishes and ingredients such as lentils, chicken consomé, chickpeas and corn on the cob as it considerably cuts the cooking time.

9 Essential Items In The Mexican Kitchen


FOOD


Limones (limes)


It's important to have plenty of limes on hand as they could be required at any and every meal, whether you squeeze lime juice onto your salad, soup, tacos, fish, in your beer or you just want to make agua de limón (like traditional lemonade with water, sugar and lime juice). Lime juice (usually with salsa too) is also mandatory on all botanas, or savoury snacks; crisps (potato chips), peanuts and seeds, chicharrón (light and crispy pork crackling), cucumber and jicama slices, etc.

9 Essential Items In The Mexican Kitchen

Chillies


Obviously. The most common type of chilli you will need is the fresh green Serrano chilli, used to make salsas, finely chopped with onion and tomato in pico de gallo or any dish a la mexicana, or just bite into a whole chilli to add a little more, well, bite to whatever you're eating!

9 Essential Items In The Mexican Kitchen

Other common chillies are the chiles en vinagre - pickled jalapeños. I personally don't like them but they're very popular and you can buy them in a tin. Chile chipotle - smoked jalapeños - are also usually bought tinned and used in a wide variety of dishes and salsas. Then it may be a good idea to have some dried chillies in your cupboard, such as chile de árbol, a long thin red chilli that's quite hot, or the very mild but deep-flavoured chile pasilla or chile ancho. And not forgetting chilli powder - Tajín is the most popular, and not hot at all. It's a mix of chilli, salt and dehydrated lime juice, and is a firm favourite, especially with children, sprinkled on fruit, cucumber or jicama.

9 Essential Items In The Mexican Kitchen

Tortillas


You can't beat corn tortillas  still warm from the tortillería and they can accompany most meals just as they are, heated up on the comal, wrapped in a cloth and placed in a tortillero, a special container with a lid that keeps them warcm on the table. You can also use them in the preparation of your meal; as tacos with a filling, in enchiladas, filled rolled up and fried to make flautas, filled with cheese to make quesadillas... the possibilities are endless! An alternative to the corn tortilla is the wheat flour tortilla, especially delicious as a quesadilla or a sincronizada - a kind of sandwich with cheese, ham and salad between two tortillas.

9 Essential Items In The Mexican Kitchen

Bolillo


If you're not going to accompany your meal with tortillas, you will have to have bolillos, a very Mexican bread roll. They're just the right size, about as long as your hand and eye-shaped. They should be crusty on the outside and soft on the inside, usually white bread, but you can get wholemeal versions. Some meals, like fish for example, go better with bolillo than tortillas. The bolillo is also used to make a torta, the Mexican version of a sandwich. Cut the bread roll open and fill it with whatever you like and spread avocado on the inside like butter to make it even more delicious.

9 Essential Items In The Mexican Kitchen

Frijoles (beans)


I mentioned beans earlier but they really are a staple of Mexican cuisine. Black beans or the lighter coloured bayo beans are the most common types. They are usually an accompaniment or side dish, either whole or puréed (refritos) for breakfast, lunch or dinner. They can also be part of the dish; scrambled with eggs for breakfast, spread on a bolillo and topped with melted cheese to make molletes for supper or a mid-morning snack, served as crema de frijol (cream of black bean soup) or enfrijoladas - tortillas dipped in bean purée, filled with cheese and fried. These are just a few examples. You really can't go wrong with frijoles; they are cheap and nutritious, rich in iron and fibre.

9 Essential Items In The Mexican Kitchen
Dried black beans before being soaked overnight and cooked


This is just a taster of what goes on in the Mexican kitchen. If you're hungry for more, try reading my Things to do in Mexico when you're hungry series of Mexican food posts, each one focusing on a specific dish or ingredient.


#Blogtober17

Sunday, 1 October 2017

#Blogtober17 Day 1 - All about me

Happy October everybody, and happy Blogtober!

If you don't know what I'm talking about, Blogtober is a linky run by Mandi at HexMum plus One that lasts the whole month with a prompt for each day.  I know I'm not going to write a post everyday, but I will write as many as I can, and for some of the prompts I have an appropriate old post to link up.

I decided to take the plunge and join in with this challenge precisely because I realised that lately I've fallen into the paralysis of perfectionism  trap.  I've been struggling to write even one post a month, even though I have a huge backlog of post ideas and several partly-written posts.  I don't seem to have as much free time to write as I used to and I tell myself this is the reason, but it's not just that.  I think, somewhere deep down, something is stopping me from writing because I know that I don't have enough time to make it perfect, or I will spend to long trying to get it perfect and I end up blocking myself.  Maybe, something like that.  Anyway, I think Blogtober could be the kick up the bum I need to push me into writing more quickly and frequently to stick to the schedule.

all-about-me-blogtober17


So here goes.  Today's prompt is "All about me" so I will try and give you a more in-depth picture of who I really am but hopefully not rambling on too much!

Where do I start?

First impressions: 

If you met me in person you would probably find it very difficult to get to know me.  I'm not very good at conversations in general, I'm very reserved and introverted and tend to avoid revealing much about myself.  Almost as if I'm ashamed of myself. It's easier in writing, anyway.  I mostly live in my head, so it's interesting that I chose a job that doesn't allow me to do that and actually brings me out of myself to focus on other people (I'm a teacher in kindergarten).  That might tell you that I do - subconsciously - challenge myself, or make things difficult for myself (like the time I decided to take the bus from New York City to Mexico - what was I thinking?!)


all-about-me-blogtober17

Facts:  

I'm British, but have lived in Mexico for the past 13 years, I'm married to a Mexican and we have a three-and-a-half-year-old daughter, Emma.  I turned 40 in March this year (still haven't quite got my head round that), I stay up too late (like now) and I need a haircut.


Things that make me happy: 

Obviously Emma, the funny things she says, telling stories together, when she's singing, when she tells me she loves me, her cuddles.
Music. Books. Words. Time to myself.
Real conversations. The feeling of togetherness and connection with other people.
Good food. Tea and coffee. Chocolate. Ice cream.
A relaxed and leisurely breakfast (very rare).
Being able to express myself creatively, making something beautiful, seeing beautiful things.
Walks in the countryside. Travel. Noticing signs that the seasons are changing.
Watching films. Yoga.
Maps.
The sea; the sight, sound and smell of it.
New clothes in my favourite colours.
Being appreciated for who I am.

all-about-me-blogtober17

Things that make me unhappy:

Being told what to do. Conflict. Criticism.
My hair, frequently.
Varicose veins.
The feeling of time passing too quickly and not being able to catch up.
Realising I've made the same mistake again and beating myself up about it.
Being undermined, overlooked, ignored, insulted.
Cockroaches. Worms.
Mayonnaise.  Sweet coffee.  No breakfast (impossible).
Being so far away from the rest of my family in the UK and not knowing when I'm going to see them next.
Suffering, injustice, greed and short-sightedness of people in power.
No time for myself.


So there you are, that's me in a nutshell.
Let me know if there's anything else you want to know in the comments below and I'll answer!


Love,
Ruth xx

#Blogtober17

Friday, 18 August 2017

How to apply for your child's first UK passport from abroad

Whether you're an expat like me or travelling long-term and have a baby while living abroad, the chances are you will probably need to get a passport for your child at some point.

A passport from which country?  Your child's country of birth - which, I suppose, is where you are now - or your native country?  What entitlement does your child have to a passport from either of these countries?  The laws and regulations may vary from one country to the next and could change at any time, so do investigate and don't take anything for granted.

How To Apply For Your Child's First UK Passport From Abroad

My daughter was born in Mexico, I’m British and her dad – my husband – is Mexican.  Because of me, she has the right to a British passport.

I was never sure if she was automatically a British citizen from birth or whether you’re only a citizen once you have the official documents to prove it.  I suspect that may be the case.

My main worry was that, what with immigration regulations becoming ever stricter, at any moment the rules could change.  Perhaps there might come a time when just having a British mother would no longer give her an automatic right to British citizenship.  So I wanted to make sure she had her UK passport as soon as possible, just in case.

How do you go about applying for your child’s first British passport when you live abroad and your child wasn’t born in the UK?  What documents do you need and where do you make the application?

I'm no expert but I thought I’d write here about my experience so hopefully this post will be useful for you too if you’re about to start the whole passport application process or are wondering how to do it.

How To Apply For Your Child's First UK Passport From Abroad

I’m such a procrastinator that it took me TWO YEARS of faffing around to find out how to make the application, what documents we needed and to get those documents together.

It then took about TWO WEEKS from sending our application off to the UK passport office for them to process it and send Emma’s shiny new passport back to us!  I could hardly believe it.  All that time I let it niggle away at the back of my mind and when it came down to it, the whole thing was so quick and simple!

How To Apply For Your Child's First UK Passport From Abroad

So, how do you apply for your child’s first British passport from abroad?

Follow these steps:


1. Check on the website for the procedure for the country you are in and your exact situation – what documents do you need?  How much is the application fee plus the courier fee (for sending you the passport and returning  your documents)?

  • Go to https://www.gov.uk/overseas-passports and answer the questions for your child using the drop down menus. This will take you to a page giving information on how long the application will take, the cost of the application and courier fee.  There is a link to the online application form, but first check the supporting documents and guidelines.  In fact, I would advise getting all your documents together and ready to send off as this could take a few weeks, and then filling in the online form.  Once you complete the online application form and make the payment you have a limited time (90 days) to send your supporting documents.
  • Download the Supporting Documents Table  – it’s probably a good idea to print it out and highlight the parts that apply to you as it is a bit confusing just looking at it on screen.
  • Save the page and come back to it when you’re ready to make the application.


2. Take into account how much you will need to spend.  Apart from the online application and courier fee there is also the cost of getting documents certified by a Notary, the cost of translations and passport photos.  Don’t forget you will have to send all the documents by courier to the UK.

3. Get the documents you need certified by a Notary.  In our case it was my daughter’s and my husband’s birth certificates, both Mexican.*  It wasn’t necessary to certify the proof of address documents.

4. Any documents that are not in English need to be translated into English.  I took the certified copies of the two birth certificates and my proof of address documents to be translated.  The translations must be done by an official translator – I searched online and found a list of official translators in Querétaro with their contact details, called as many as possible to ask their prices and went with the cheapest.

5. Get the photos taken.  Check the rules for passport photos  for specific details about what is and isn’t permitted – there are some small differences between children’s and adults’ photos - and make sure the photographer understands.  Print out the guidelines to show the photographer if in doubt.  I didn’t do this and probably confused the photographer with my rambling explanation as the photos I got back were no good at all (a whole section of hair and part of an ear chopped off!) so we had to go and get another set of photos taken, with a different photographer.

6. Decide who your counter-signatory will be.  It could be someone back in the UK or in the country where you are now. You can find comprehensive information about who can and can’t be your counter-signatory at the following link:
https://www.gov.uk/countersigning-passport-applications. **

7. Go back to the website and complete the online application form, make the payment, note down your username and password and print it out.

8. Sign your part of the printed form; the counter-signatory has to complete and sign the other half.

9. Double check all the documents – make a list of what you’re including and check them off against the required documents.

10. Send everything via courier service to the address of the passport office in the UK (which is on the form you printed out). You have 90 days from when you made the online payment to get all your papers sent to the passport office.

Then wait…


You can check up on the progress of your application with your username and password from the online application.

You can also call the passport office if you have any doubts – I called them a few times with queries about my documents while I was getting them all together and they were quite helpful.

Passport Office Telephone: +44 (0) 300 222 0000
Monday to Friday, 8am to 8pm (UK time)
Saturday, Sunday and public holidays, 9am to 5:30pm (UK time)


Finally…


You should receive two separate courier envelopes; one returning all your documents to you and the other containing the new passport.

In our case, the passport arrived first, only about two or three weeks after sending all the documents, so I was sure the application was being rejected.  I opened the large courier envelope with a sinking feeling and when I saw the shiny new passport inside I could hardly believe it!  I was so relieved and overjoyed!

I very excitedly told Emma, who had just turned three at the time, that now she was British.  She caught my mood but obviously didn’t quite understand the implications and replied, “Yay! I’m not Emma anymore, I’m British!”

Notes:


Don’t bother contacting your embassy or consulate as the passport application has nothing to do with them so they probably won’t be able to help, or will just refer you to the website.

*Certified Copies


I don’t know about other countries, but at least in Mexico the Notary will give you the option of either getting a certified copy of your documents or getting them “apostilled”.  According to them, the “apostille” is to make your document internationally recognised and is used for international applications.  We only had the certified copies – as specified in the list of documents – so I called the passport office just to be sure.  They told me that the certified copy was fine, they weren’t even sure what an apostille was!  So we just used the certified copies with their official translations and there was no problem with that.

**Countersignature


At first I was worried about who I could get to countersign the photos since it has to be someone with ideally a British passport, who has known me (not my daughter) for at least two years, who is not related to me by blood or marriage and is of “good standing in the community” – or a member of one of a long list of professions (which sounds rather antiquated to me, but never mind).  Nobody I know personally here in Mexico fits all of those criteria.  I wasn’t sure if I was allowed to have someone living in the UK countersign, so I phoned the passport office to ask them.  They told me that I could, which solved the problem.  Instead of sending all our documents directly to the Passport Office, I sent them to my parents first, who arranged for one of the neighbours (who does fit all of the above criteria) to countersign the photos.  They then sent everything to the Passport Office.


Proof of address documents


I was originally going to send a bank statement as my proof of address as it was in my name.  Later, when I checked more carefully the information about what could be used as proof of address, bank statements weren’t mentioned.  It does give as an example “A letter sent to you by a central, regional or local government department” so I thought of the water bill, which does come from a local state government department.  It’s in my husband’s name, not mine, but he was part of the application so that was accepted.  I had to go back to the translator and get this extra document translated at the last minute!  Maybe they would have accepted the bank statement but I wanted to be sure.

Marriage certificates


You don’t need to provide a marriage certificate if the passport is for a child born after 2006, so we didn’t.

*  *  *  *

I hope all this information reaches someone who might benefit from it – if you’re reading this and know anybody who is going to start this application process, please pass it on to them.  All the links should also save some time searching for the right pages.


Here is the QUICK REFERENCE CHECKLIST as a brief summary and reminder of the whole process:

1. Check all the information on the website https://www.gov.uk/overseas-passports 

2. Investigate and work out how much it will all cost.

3. Get foreign documents certified by a Notary.

4. Get official translations of any documents that are not in English.

5. Get passport photos taken.

6. Make online application and payment.  Make a note of your username and password.

7. Get a countersignatory (who fulfills all the requisites) to sign the back of the photos and complete the second half of the printed out application form.

8. Double-check all documents.

9. Send by courier to the UK Passport Office (address is on the application form you printed out.

How To Apply For Your Child's First UK Passport From Abroad


Please let me know if you found this post useful, or if you have any additional or alternative information!  Maybe you've already been through the whole process and had a completely different experience.  If you have any doubts you can contact me – leave a comment here, send me an email or leave a message on any of my social media platforms and I’ll do my best to help - or just call the Passport Office.


All the best,

Ruth xx



Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday

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Wednesday, 5 July 2017

Milestones, Achievements and Adventures of a Partly-Expat Bilingual Family - Spring In Review

What have we been doing with ourselves for the past four months?  Certainly not writing monthly review posts, that's for sure! So now I'm cramming four months' worth into one post, it's going to be a long one.  Be patient, there's a great quote at the end, some gorgeous beaches from our holiday in a beautiful corner of Mexico, a few successes, a few failures and an assortment of funny phrases Emma has said, amongst other things.

Milestones, Achievements and Adventures of a Partly-Expat Bilingual Family - Spring in Review


Weather-wise, spring was mostly sweltering hot, with sunblock essential protection against the potent UV rays of the Queretaro sunshine.  Now that spring is over and we're well into summer, the rainy season is upon us, making a sometimes-welcome change - you really get to appreciate cloudy days here!  When it rains, it's normally in the afternoons and evenings, so I usually get home from work at around 4pm either drenched by the rain or drenched in sweat.

Family


Big Achievement 


Milestones, Achievements and Adventures of a Partly-Expat Bilingual Family - Spring in Review

I'd spent about two years getting together all the documents we needed for Emma's British passport application  - it shouldn't have taken that long, I was just being slow and procrastinating.  Finally, towards the end of March I had everything ready and sent the documents, application form and photos off together and held my breath, waiting to hear if it had been accepted or not.  

I had to send everything to the UK Passport Office, and according to the website it could take up to 90 days to process the application, so I imagined that I would be waiting for some time.  I'll be writing a post soon in more detail about applying for a child's first British passport from abroad.

About two weeks later a DHL envelope arrived at the house.  I knew it had to be something to do with the passport application but thought that it was too soon and they must be rejecting the application for some reason.  So, with a sinking feeling, I opened the envelope ...and inside was Emma's new passport!

I was so relieved and completely over the moon.  I couldn't believe that after all the time it had taken me to get the documents notarised and translated, checking and double-checking that I had all the right paperwork and finally getting round to sending it all off, the application had been processed so quickly and we had Emma's passport in our hands only a fortnight later!

This means that Emma finally has a document to prove that she's a British citizen, which is a huge weight off my mind.

Milestones 


In March we celebrated Emma's third birthday, followed a week later by my 40th.  I still can't quite believe I'm that old!  I decided a positive way to approach it would be to write a post about 40 Things I'm Grateful for at 40.  I thought I would struggle to find 40 things, but in fact it wasn't that difficult, and once I'd written the post I kept thinking of yet more things I was grateful for.  It made me feel good to write it.

Milestones, Achievements and Adventures of a Partly-Expat Bilingual Family - Spring in Review


I felt inspired to compose a letter to Emma for her third birthday, Three Thoughts for my Three-Year-Old.  I absolutely loved writing it.  It's all about what I consider to be the three most important qualities anyone should have, and my wishes for her, for her future.  I'd love to know what you think of it, too.

In April, Emma went on an aeroplane for the first time when we flew from Mexico City to Cancun. It was only a short flight in a small plane but she seemed to enjoy the whole experience of traveling and flying.  She was busy eating m&ms during take off and she spent the flight playing with some beach toys and Dumbo the elephant, and looking out the window.  Seeing the clouds right next to us was fascinating!

Milestones, Achievements and Adventures of a Partly-Expat Bilingual Family - Spring in Review


Emma is about to start a whole new stage of her life.  She will be starting kindergarten in August, after the summer holidays.  In Mexico, kindergarten lasts three years, from ages three to six approximately.

It's going to be a huge step for her as so far she's never been to nursery, daycare or any kind of class.  This will be the first time she'll have to learn to socialise with lots of other children her own age.  She will have to get used to a new routine, going to bed earlier in the evening and getting up earlier in the morning, being away from home, mummy, daddy and grandmother for five hours every day.
I wonder how she'll get on?

Holidays 


Milestones, Achievements and Adventures of a Partly-Expat Bilingual Family - Spring in Review
Hanging out with Auntie Alex.

In the Easter holidays my youngest sister and her husband came to visit us for the first time ever, which was pretty exciting.  It was lovely for Emma to properly get to know them in person as they'd only ever seen and talked to each other via Skype and FaceTime.  I hadn't seen them since our last trip to England almost four years ago.

Milestones, Achievements and Adventures of a Partly-Expat Bilingual Family - Spring in Review
Racing Uncle Jamie across the square.

We stayed in Queretaro for a few days then we all went to Cancun in the second week of the holiday.

It was our first visit to Cancun. What impressed me the most was the colour of the sea.  The city itself was nothing special and the hotel zone was, obviously, all very built-up, full of hotels and luxury apartments.  The beaches, though, are beautiful, with their fine white sand and that stunning aquamarine blue of the Caribbean.

Milestones, Achievements and Adventures of a Partly-Expat Bilingual Family - Spring in Review


Emma had great fun playing in the sand and making sandcastles with her Auntie Alex and Uncle Jamie.  At the first beach we went to she wasn't so keen on going in the sea as the waves were too splashy, but at the other beach she was playing happily in the shallows, jumping waves, splashing, "swimming".  The water was gorgeously warm and felt so relaxing.

Milestones, Achievements and Adventures of a Partly-Expat Bilingual Family - Spring in Review
Emma was enthralled for hours playing with the sand!

We weren't able to travel much further afield.  One day we went to Tulum further down the coast, stopping off briefly at Puerto Aventuras on the way there and discovering a quiet, hidden beach before getting caught in a sudden downpour.

Milestones, Achievements and Adventures of a Partly-Expat Bilingual Family - Spring in Review
Finishing her fast-melting ice lolly before washing her hands in the sea.

Milestones, Achievements and Adventures of a Partly-Expat Bilingual Family - Spring in Review

Tulum is an archaeological site, the ruins of a Mayan seaport city built in the thirteenth century.  Its location on the coast with its own beach makes it all the more impressive.  It was overcast and windy when we were there which gave the grey stone remains a rather moody and solitary feel.

Milestones, Achievements and Adventures of a Partly-Expat Bilingual Family - Spring in Review
Tulum

On the way back we made a short visit to Playa del Carmen to have dinner and meet up with an old friend who lived there.

On the last day we visited a small seaside town called Puerto Morelos, walked along the beach and built more sandcastles  - the shore was lined with a barrier of seaweed, which certainly made swimming in the sea less inviting.  We strolled down the peer and saw pelicans and shoals of little fish, bizarrely bumped into the parents of an old friend of my husband from San Luis Potosí, then the wind started blowing stronger and stronger, the sky darkened and it began to rain quite heavily.

Milestones, Achievements and Adventures of a Partly-Expat Bilingual Family - Spring in Review
The beach at Puerto Morelos just before the rain came.


Then it was the end of our holiday, time to go back home and say goodbye to my sister and brother-in-law who would continue on their journey and be traveling around the USA and Canada for the next couple of months.

What made it bittersweet was the not knowing how long it will be until we next see each other.

On one of the three long weekends we had in May we spent a couple of days at the ranch where my husband's uncle lives.  We had gone there in February and Emma enjoyed it so much, she kept mentioning it afterwards and saying that she wanted to go to the ranch.

Milestones, Achievements and Adventures of a Partly-Expat Bilingual Family - Spring in Review


It's a great place to relax and just get away from it all - it's also an enforced digital detox as there's no WiFi and usually no mobile data signal!



Me, personally


Blogging


The past few months have been somewhat frustrating. It's been over a month since I published a post.  I've been lacking time, energy and focus, I think.  I have lots of ideas, I've just been too short of time  - proper time to myself - to write.  And when I do have a little time I'm either too tired and sleepy to do anything or just not focussed enough to make the most of it.  Quite honestly, I've been feeling like a failure.

I hope I can turn this around, find my focus and energy to set some goals and stick to them.  It's a different kind of stressful not getting the time to myself that I need to do things that are important to me.  I have to tell myself that it's not a luxury.

However, I did manage to finally write my potty training post that I'd been planning for ages, Successful Potty Training - How we did it + 5 Essential Tips for Potty Training Success.  I also did a book post, 3 Brilliant Mouse Books for Toddlers and Preschoolers.  My goal for July is to publish two posts a week, so we'll see how that goes!

I'm happy to say I finally got rid of my old header (the one with the parrot which was supposed to be temporary over two years ago).  The header I'm using at the moment is still not the definitive one, but at least it looks better than the old one, in my opinion!


Exercise

I started off the year so well - as is often the case - aiming to do some yoga practice most days.  Right now, I'm at the point where I'm doing a short yoga practice once a week at the most.  I must do better.

Emma says...


The day Emma's passport arrived I told her excitedly that now she was British.  Her reaction? "Yay! I'm not Emma anymore, I'm British!"

I finally solved a mystery, too.  When Emma was very little, about 18 months old or so, she started saying the word "foo" to mean "small".  I could never understand where Foo had come from as there didn't seem to be any other word in English or Spanish with a similar sound and meaning.  It was funny but rather mysterious.

Then more recently, I noticed she was pronouncing the word "smelly" as "feyi". It occurred to me that she was substituting the "sm" sound that she couldn't pronounce for a "f" sound. And since she couldn't say the "l" sound at the end either, "small" became "foo"! Mystery solved!

She still mixes some English words in when she's talking Spanish, and vice versa.  Here are some recent examples.

We were talking about a new soap here:
Emma: It fells like oranges de adeveras
Me: It smells like real oranges?
Emma: It fells like eel oranges!

Emma: I want manzana juice!
Me: Don't you want apple juice? Or is that the same thing?
Emma: It's the same!

Often, she starts talking to me in Spanish, then she'll pause and think for a second before repeating what she's just told me in English.  I'm so impressed with her translating skills!

And this one: " I'm not full for afters, I'm just full for dinner!" Funny that...the same thing happens to me!

Growing up...

Milestones, Achievements and Adventures of a Partly-Expat Family - Spring in Review

She's becoming so much more independent these days, it's almost scary how quickly she seems to be growing up. I'm so proud of her, though.

She goes up and downstairs by herself, without any accompaniment - she's been doing this for a while now, but the first time was a bit of a surprise a few months ago. Emma was upstairs with her grandmother while I was downstairs in the kitchen then she suddenly walked into the kitchen all by herself.  The other day she even carried her toy shopping trolley down the stairs!  Sometimes I'm torn between wanting to applaud her for trying to do things herself and at the same time wanting to protect her and tell her to be careful.

More recently she's been keen to show how grown up she is by getting on and off the toilet by herself, wiping her own bottom and flushing the toilet.  I do wonder how she'll deal with using the bathroom when she first starts school as it's quite a different situation, not at all the same as being at home.

Inspiration


Perhaps I'm being hard on myself but I know I could try harder, do better.  I seem to be living with a feeling of not being good enough - as a mum, at work, at home and clearly I'm rubbish as a blogger.  However, to counteract this attitude of belittling myself this is the best phrase anyone's said to me recently - even if it was just in a Facebook group!

And it's true - you are awesome. Accept it.

Milestones, Achievements and Adventures of a Partly-Expat Bilingual Family - Spring In Review

Thanks to the lovely Nicole Annette for this phrase and for boosting my self-esteem!  Her journals look truly inspiring, too - check out Journal Junky.

Sparkles at Midnight


Cuddle Fairy

Mummascribbles

Rhyming with Wine

ethannevelyn.com