MEXICO: Life Lessons While Camping

MEXICO: Life Lessons While Camping


As a wife of one and a mom of four, it seems like I am always learning and discovering! I know I am not alone. Let’s just admit it: The world is a big place, life is a lesson, and children can be the best teachers.  Normally my series, Life Lessons with Mexico Mom,  is hosted on Los Gringos Locos, but today I am posting here on World Moms Blog.

This week’s life lessons are all about camping in the Mexico mountains. A few weeks ago we took the kids to Grutas Tolantongo. This place is amazing! It is a hot spring park located in the southeast mountains of Mexico. The hot spring water flows out of a waterfall, into a cave, down a series of rapids, and finally through the valley in a hot water river. How awesome does that sound? Here are my insights and experiences as a Mexico Mom, camping near a hot water river:

Life Lesson 56: Don’t leave the baby’s travel crib at home. Brad said we didn’t have room for it in our tent. I thought leaving it was a bad idea but I decided to go with the flow. This was a terrible mistake. Tristan was totally out of his element. He must have cried and screamed for two hours before falling asleep. We were afraid the campground was going to kick us out. Finally I put him in his stroller, which he hated even more then being free range in a small tent. When I got him out of the stroller to change his diaper, he was so exhausted from kicking and yelling that he fell asleep beside me and slept all night. From now on the crib goes with us even if Brad has to sleep outside for lack of tent space 😉

Life Lesson 57: Don’t trust a nine year old near rapids. The river is shallow and divided into pools by large stones that create small rapids. I told Taylor and Alexis to stay in a specific pool and not to go over the rapids into another pool. I was afraid they would fall on the slippy rocks. Sure enough, Taylor decides to stand up on a large stone and make funny faces while wiggling her bum at her sister. She slipped and went through the rapids. Next thing I know, her goggles are floating down the river and she is crying at the top of her lungs. After getting Taylor out of the water, I saw she had scraped her back along the rocks. She had small cuts and bruises down the length of her spine. My poor kid was a little traumatized, but after learning the hard way, she stayed away from the rapids.

Life Lesson 58: Don’t try taking the stroller on a hiking trail. Yes, we are that nutty. I guess we thought that the trail was a very short distance, with flat terrain. Nope. After walking a mile up a mountain, over steps, rocks, and tree roots, traveling through forest complete with banana trees, under a zip line, and over a few creeks, we finally made it to the other half of Grutas Tolantongo. It was worth the effort but thankfully we were able to take the shuttle back to our campsite. Oh yeah, they had a shuttle the whole time. At least we exercised for the week and saw some of the most beautiful mountain scenery in Hidalgo, Mexico.

What life lessons did you learn this past week? Please share it with us below. We want to hear your thoughts from around the world!

This is an original post to World Moms Blog by Tina Marie Ernspiker.  Tina can be found blogging over at Los Gringos Locos.  She is also on Facebook and Twitter.

Photo credit to the author.

Tina Marie Ernspiker

Tina lives abroad in Mexico with her husband and four children. She is active with homeschool, travel, and her Bible ministry. Tina loves photography and writing thus she blogs. Come join her adventures!

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NEW ZEALAND: Innocence

NEW ZEALAND: Innocence

beastvboyOn Saturday night, I had the privilege of hosting three of my 13 year-old son’s friends for a sleep-over. They are lovely boys, and all I have to do is feed them and ignore them. I don’t mention things like showers or teeth-brushing, and in return they pretty much keep to themselves and don’t expect me to converse about Minecraft, Clash of Clans or Team Fortress II.

I teased them a little about not letting girls in while I drove my 9 year-old to a birthday party. I didn’t make a big deal of things when one of them smuggled in cola. I laughed with them, when on my return from the party drop-off, they were trying to stuff MacDonalds packaging into my kitchen rubbish bin. They pushed their limits with bedtime, of course. And they declined the offer of mattresses to sleep on (too much work for them to get them into our lounge) and slept on the carpet…. because, they’re 13 and their bodies still bend in ways mine don’t.

It was both innocent and, I felt, an appropriate mix of mischief and compliance.

Then, on Sunday, I heard of other 13 year-olds who had been in online chat rooms, talking about anal-sex and rape. Not in general terms, but in…. I shall be doing this to you terms…. These are kids who come from great homes and who have very loving families. I immediately thought: there but the Grace of God go I.

Children easily get caught up with what their friends are doing, or those who they emulate. My 13 year-old could have easily been one of those involved and I have no doubt all three of my boys will make stupid mistakes as they move from childhood to adulthood. Just not this time. Thank goodness.

The biggest worry, for me, was that there was at least one unidentified person in the chat-group who could, quite literally, have been anyone. It’s probably another 13 year-old, a friend or acquaintance but it could just as easily be a predator who was scoping for a target. And that makes it all the more scary.

The same is true of a local man who is hanging around liquor stores offering to buy alcohol and cigarettes for underage kids, 14 and 15 year-olds. He does this for a while. Then he offers drugs. Then it’s parties at his house. This is a whole different scenario from the stranger-danger I taught my boys when they were small.

We’re talking about people who are consciously befriending those kids who want to seem older than they are, and who are ready to break rules. They are grooming relationships before they pounce. They are feeding the teenage need to belong and the teenage need to experiment and do things that their parents may not approve of.

So we hit the teenage years, and now I find parenting is not so black and white.

No, I don’t want my kids drinking alcohol or smoking but do I buy them a few beers to take to a party, so that creeps don’t target them and they go behind my back? No, I don’t want my kids smoking pot but if they choose to, should I allow it when they know who grew it, rather than have them turn to those who lace it with P?

No, I don’t want my kids to be suggesting they will rape someone or perform anal sex on them, but I also don’t want them to be excluded from other things their peers are doing.

Suddenly, a conversation about Minecraft seems pretty appealing afterall.

What do you do or have you done to deal with these aspects of parenting?

This is an original post to World Moms Blog from our writer and mother of three, rapidly growing boys in New Zealand, Karyn Willis.

The image used in this post is attributed to JD Hancock and holds a Flickr Creative Commons attribution license.

Karyn Wills

Karyn is a teacher, writer and solo mother to three sons. She lives in the sunny wine region of Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand in the city of Napier.

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SAUDI ARABIA: A Tribute to the King

SAUDI ARABIA: A Tribute to the King

10852732526_da0f9421e5_z(1)Early in the evening, we heard that he was not doing well. Then again, as is the way here, we had been hearing a great many things since the king had entered the hospital.  Although Riyadh, the capital city of Saudi, has a population of four million, it still functions like a little neighborhood.  Everyone has a ‘reliable source’ on the inside.  As a rule, I do not believe anything until it is officially on the news–and even then, I take it with a grain of salt.  Nonetheless, it was hardly a surprise when, at 2:00 AM, Saudi Arabian television announced the death of King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud at the age of 90.  Even though I expected the news, it broke my heart.

I watched the local Saudi channel for a while, then I switched, curious to see how the foreign press would frame the news.  They appeared to be competing to see who could be the most negative about Saudi Arabia’s progress under King Abdullah’s reign.  Although their own experts pointed to the king’s many accomplishments, the foreign networks seemed to delight in ignoring them and focusing on the dissidents.  Reporter after reporter repeated that progress in Saudi was occurring at a ‘glacial rate.’

The western media used its standard to measure my country’s progress.

Maybe they assumed that their standard is the one all the world should aspire to?  They ignored how different Saudi is in our priorities, life style, and even our wants and needs. They ignored how young a country we are, and they certainly did not measure how far we have come.

By the morning we had a new king. No bloodshed, no chaos, no ‘state of emergency’, no transitional government. We have come far under King Abdullah’s reign.  Yes, Saudis do recognize our shortcomings, and, yes, we do want to–and will–improve.  But we should, and will, recognize and celebrate our accomplishments along the way.

We must be doing something right, as we are the most stable country in the region. We are battling the Houthis in the south, ISIS in the north, and successfully fighting terrorism on our own soil, all while growing our universities and health care system.  In the past decade, women have been elected to the Shura Council, which advises the king.  Twenty-eight universities were built.  Two hundred thousand students were given scholarships to universities overseas.  Six medical cities were built, 11 specialist hospitals were built, and 32 general hospitals were built.  Finally, as a woman in Saudi Arabia, I seen both an expansion of the opportunities I have in my own life, and in the paths that are being laid for my daughter’s future, which far exceed anything available to me when I was her age.

For days after King Abdullah’s death, I could not stop crying.  I watched my country mourn on the streets around Saudi.  It was as if we had lost our own father.  He was so beloved that people who were not related to him, who had never even seen him in the flesh, were giving each other condolences on his loss.  His life fulfilled the adage, “When you are born, you cry and the world rejoices.  Live your life so that when you die, you rejoice and the word cries.”

Picture attributed to Edward Musiak and used under a Flickr Creative Commons License.

Mama B (Saudi Arabia)

Mama B’s a young mother of four beautiful children who leave her speechless in both, good ways and bad. She has been married for 9 years and has lived in London twice in her life. The first time was before marriage (for 4 years) and then again after marriage and kid number 2 (for almost 2 years). She is settled now in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia (or as settled as one can be while renovating a house). Mama B loves writing and has been doing it since she could pick up a crayon. Then, for reasons beyond her comprehension, she did not study to become a writer, but instead took graphic design courses. Mama B writes about the challenges of raising children in this world, as it is, who are happy, confident, self reliant and productive without driving them (or herself) insane in the process. Mama B also sheds some light on the life of Saudi, Muslim children but does not claim to be the voice of all mothers or children in Saudi. Just her little "tribe." She has a huge, beautiful, loving family of brothers and sisters that make her feel like she wants to give her kids a huge, loving family of brothers and sisters, but then is snapped out of it by one of her three monkeys screaming “Ya Maamaa” (Ya being the arabic word for ‘hey’). You can find Mama B writing at her blog, Ya Maamaa . She's also on Twitter @YaMaamaa.

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WORLD VOICE: A Trip to Haiti #Bloggers4Haiti

WORLD VOICE: A Trip to Haiti #Bloggers4Haiti

As a global advocate and traveler, I have always wanted to visit Haiti and little did I know I would soon find myself there as part of the Macy’s Heart of Haiti program (#Bloggers4Haiti), an initiative to bring the artisan’s work to market in the US, and offer a sustainable income for the survivors of Haiti’s catastrophic earthquake five years ago. A small group of us landed in Port au Prince the Thursday before Valentine’s Day and the start of Haiti’s Carnival. I honestly had mixed emotions about what to expect.

The weeks before my departure the news from Haiti was more or less the same. Protesting, political instability, and the usual ongoing extreme poverty that gives Haiti a bad name. Being the poorest nation in the western hemisphere is not a status any country desires. Decades of political fighting, instability, foreign meddling, natural disasters, and poverty has left the country in shambles after the devastating earthquake a little over five years ago.

Reading all the terrible news that never seemed to shred a ray of light on Haiti obviously worried me. I honestly had no idea what to expect when I signed on for my trip with Macy’s Heart of Haiti program where I would spend five days in Port-au-Prince and Jacmel learning about the amazing partnership between America’s largest department store chain and Haitian artists. Would it be safe? was always my number one question as I finished reading the pages of Paul Farmer’s harrowing true story of the aftermath of the earthquake. Would I feel threatened? was another alarming fear I had in the back of my mind when I heard about the recent rioting and protests over the government and fuel prices. Lastly,  Would it be depressing? I wondered as I pictured enormous squalid tent communities, slums and rubble.

How would Haiti truly be?

For me, that is the answer I wanted to find out. Whether “Hay-iti” or “the mountains place” as it was named after the long gone Taino people, was the frightening, poverty-stricken desperate place I’d read about over and over again in the media or was it a place of beauty, resilience and strength.

Our group meeting with the amazing women of OFEDA, all earthquake survivors.

Our group meeting with the amazing women of OFEDA, all earthquake survivors.

As we landed in Haiti’s rebuilt airport in Port-au-Prince, I had just turned the last page of the powerful book “The Big Truck that Went By” by Jonathan Katz. Katz is a journalist who was based in Haiti during the earthquake and stayed on afterwards to document the enormous missed opportunity of governments and aid groups to help truly rebuild Haiti.

Despite the billions of dollars sent in aid money, Katz pointedly argues that Haiti is no better off than it was before the quake that killed over an estimated 220,000 people. Much of the promised aid money was never delivered, while Haitians scramble to rebuild, create jobs, and repair the horrendous lack of infrastructure that lead to such devastation in the first place. Five year later, running water and electricity remain a luxury to the lucky few. Haitians continue to leave the countryside and come to overcrowded Port-au-Prince to live in one of the many growing slums. Tent communities, although reduced in numbers, still exist. Medical care and treatment remain overwhelmed. And deforestation that makes the rains sweep away cities during the rainy season, destroying thousands of homes and killing people in its path, continues.

But “Dèyè mòn gen mòn”…a famous Haitian proverb that means “beyond the mountains, there are mountains”. 

The "gingerbread" homes that rise up in the slums above Port au Prince, Haiti.

The “gingerbread” homes that rise up in the slums above Port au Prince, Haiti.

Haiti has a long way to go in rebuilding and ensuring that another devastation won’t destroy the progress that has been made. Haiti needs a stronger economy providing sustainable jobs.

Haiti needs better infrastructure on every level. Haiti needs investment in education, health care, water and sanitation, electricity, and transportation. Haiti needs political stability and a government that works for its people. And Haiti needs us to not forget her.

The mountains remaining are enormous and often seem almost impossible to pass. Yet the one thing that I learned after five days in Haiti is that the people are some of the strongest people on earth. They have witnessed so much hardship for centuries yet they persevere. Their strength and resilience is astonishing.

This is an original post written for World Moms Blog by Nicole Melancon of Third Eye Mom

Nicole Melancon (USA)

Third Eye Mom is a stay-at-home mom living in Minneapolis, Minnesota with her two children Max (6) and Sophia (4). Her children keep her continually busy and she is constantly amazed by the imagination, energy and joy of life that they possess! A world wanderer at heart, she has also been fortunate to have visited over 30 countries by either traveling, working, studying or volunteering and she continues to keep on the traveling path. A graduate of French and International Relations from the University of Wisconsin Madison, where she met her husband Paul, she has always been a Midwest gal living in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Chicago. This adventurous mom loves to be outside doing anything athletic (hiking, running, biking, skiing, snowshoeing or simply enjoying nature), to travel and volunteer abroad, to write, and to spend time with her beloved family and friends. Her latest venture involves her dream to raise enough money on her own to build and open a brand-new school in rural Nepal, and to teach her children to live compassionately, open-minded lives that understand different cultures and the importance of giving back to those in need. Third Eye Mom believes strongly in the value of making a difference in the world, no matter how small it may be. If there is a will, there is a way, and that anything is possible (as long as you set your heart and mind to it!). Visit her on her blog, Thirdeyemom, where she writes about her travels and experiences in other lands!

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Belgium: 5 Things You Can’t Do Anymore When You Have Children

Belgium: 5 Things You Can’t Do Anymore When You Have Children

8637286065_45771f32f9_zWhen you become a parent you soon realize that there are a million things you CAN and WILL do, only you never suspected you were capable of doing them.

You might gag the first time, but trust me, after a few rounds of ‘fish the poop out of the bath’ or a couple of midnight sessions of ‘guess what the baby threw up’ you will be surprised at how big that ‘I can handle this’ list becomes.

But what about the things you cannot do anymore? Here is my Top Five. Feel free to add your own.

1. Splurge a big amount of money on a whim.  I’m not a Kardashian, a Hilton or the owner of a money tree. Life is expensive and kids cost a Gazillion dollars/Euros a day. Just feeding them might cost you a small fortune. So I budget and think each purchase through. Carefully.

2. Seeing a movie/ reading a book where something bad happens to a child.  Along with the muffin top and the dark line on my lower abdomen came a strange new sensibility. Or rather an inability.  Books, movies and documentaries featuring children getting hurt or dying are a NO GO these days. I cannot sit back and watch a drama about how a sick child tears apart his/her parent’s marriage and how they deal with the loss of said child through music/pottery/becoming crazy cat people.  Tears will drop at an alarming rate and there will be sobbing. Because that could be my child. That could be me, grieving the most terrible loss a mother can experience. Just the thought of one of my children getting hurt or sick is enough to cut my heart in two and fill my chest with the blackest despair.

3. Get any satisfaction from cleaning /tidying any room or space in your house.  Even though I’m a notoriously messy person I too experience those rare moments when I can no longer stand the filth or mess of my entire house or just certain rooms. It is at times like this when you might stumble upon a ‘Cleaning the basement: found the whatnots again! Thought it was lost forever!’ tweet if you follow me on Twitter. These little episodes used to leave me with a deep feeling of accomplishment and the satisfaction that I was – after all – a responsible adult.
Having kids sucked the joy right out of that feeling. As soon as they could walk, their tiny grubby feet left muddy footprints everywhere, and every room they entered immediately looked like a tornado had gone straight through it.
At first I tried to keep up, but honestly, what is the point in cleaning/tidying up when you know it will only be spotless for about a millisecond?

4. Be a dirty, disgusting schlob. Picking your nose? Scratching certain body parts? Drinking straight from the carton? With children in the house these actions will either be ancient history or something you do in deepest, darkest secret. One of the delights of parenthood is that society expects you to educate your children about the many Dos and Don’ts of polite behaviour. To put it bluntly : you are expected to lead by example. Little Freddy/ George/ William will not see why he cannot adjust his boy-parts right in the middle of the store when daddy did so the last time he took the little angel grocery shopping. Nor will little Betty/ Grace/Jennifer refrain from digging that booger out of her wee nose and inspecting the find before putting it in her mouth when mommy did just THAT a few minutes ago.

5. Sleep in on a Saturday. No explanation required.

What are the things you can no longer do as a parent?

This is an original post to World Moms Blog by Tinne at “Tantrums and Tomatoes” from Belgium. Photo credit: olnetchannel. This picture has a creative commons attribution license.

Tinne from Tantrums and Tomatoes

Born in Belgium on the fourth of July in a time before the invention of the smart phone Tinne is a working mother of two adorably mischievous little girls, the wife of her high school sweetheart and the owner of a black cat called Atilla. Since she likes to cook her blog is mainly devoted to food and because she is Belgian she has an absurd sense of humour and is frequently snarky. When she is not devoting all her attention to the internet, she likes to read, write and eat chocolate. Her greatest nemesis is laundry.

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