This is the Incredible Way I Spent the Year

Upon reflecting about 2017, it might have been the busiest year of my life. It was hard in a way I haven’t experienced before and brought about some of the biggest changes I’ve ever had (after having children, of course). It was also one of the most exhilarating years of my life. I’m still in awe about living in Mexico. I still can’t believe this is my home and it still makes me smile. Still, the time has come to say goodbye to 2017.

A picture of me on moving day. Sick with a cold, tired, and worn out. Also, wearing a carrier that my daughter is asleep in.

Me on moving day, with my (then) 3 year asleep on my back. I was battling a cold and exhausted!

Why do I do a year end review? I love reading year end reviews by other bloggers, so I choose to include them on my site, too! In addition, I get to think about all my trips again. The anticipation of travel and the memories left after travel are as good as the trips themselves.

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First Quarter

In January, I didn’t have any travel plans. My husband traveled to Mexico as part of an interview process. He asked that I don’t tell people yet because sometimes those things don’t pan out.  I started looking for an anti-theft purse since I feel permanently distracted and I hoped we’d be traveling more even if we didn’t move to Mexico.

And then I agreed to move to a country that I’d never visited. Don’t let that fool you, I was very excited!

Queretaro, plane wing and cow of land from above.

First views of Queretaro, Mexico!

At the end of February, we took our first international trip with kids. We traveled to Mexico to go house hunting! I forgot my toothbrush. I wrote about car seat safety while flying. In a deviation from travel, I also wrote about body acceptance. Both are important issues to me. February was also special because this post about Zoey & Sassafras went viral – and I still love these books. There is so much to love about Zoey and this science series geared toward girls ages 5-9.

March brought a lot of angst about moving, packing, and saying goodbye. Everything ran rather smoothly in Mexico, but in the US, it was another story. I wrote a post called The Confusing Times of Confusion, because it felt that I was only getting part of the information I needed at any given time. Our move was a mess and not solely because I had a too much stuff to pack up, store, or donate.

Second Quarter

In April, I wrote about our experience with house hunting in Mexico with two kids in tow. It was also the worst month regarding the move. In The Storm Before The Calm, I wrote, “A few days ago, I was so distraught that I said I didn’t even care if we actually moved to Mexico or not. Emotions were high and our clutter was deep.” We had a visa issue (the company forgot to apply for it), house repairs scheduled on top of each other, and SO MUCH STUFF with which to deal. Plus, two little kids who needed to be entertained. Our friends and family came through and let us know how much they love us. I’m still immensely touched by all the help we received and I doubt we can repay them for their help.

Also, two days before leaving the country, our septic tank had a problem. Right after regular business hours on a Friday, of course. As much as it sucked, it would’ve been far worse if we had already left for Mexico. Thankfully, we were able to fix it easily.

A dandelion gone to seed, but still full with the sun directly behind the fluff. We say goodbye to our house and our country this year.

One of my favorite final images from our former home.

At the beginning of May, we moved our entire household from the USA to Mexico. Our dogs joined us at the end of May, completing a 2000 mile road trip. Bringing them here with us was probably one of the best decisions we could’ve made, regarding how much they helped us with culture shock. We didn’t travel in May, as we were trying to settle into a nearly empty house. I also had my first run in with a camel spider, which I initially thought was a scorpion.

June was also low-key. It’s the month I started struggling with the idea of homeschooling/unschooling here.

Third Quarter

In July, we drove to Puerto Vallarta on our first road trip in Mexico! It was awesome, but I forgot shampoo. We also spent a night in Guadalajara on the way. I also wrote some tips about staying safe while visiting Mexico.

Pictured an infinity pool where it looks like the pool continues into the beach and ocean.

The view from the pool in Puerto Vallarta.

August brought a lot of change. I struggled with some decisions regarding the kids, resulting in the post Why I Hate Back to School Time. Also, I wrote about culture shock and 5 Common Misconceptions of Being an Expat Family. I didn’t expect to have to rely so heavily upon other expats. I also wrote the first of several posts about how hard it is learning a second language.

In September, we celebrated Mexican Independence Day with my children’s school. It was lovely and I was so glad to be a part of the celebrations.

I wrote How Technology and Travel Keeps Us Close, just before my 100 year old Grandmother passed away. I’d “attended” her birthday party via FaceTime and I “attended” her funeral the same way.

a side view of the blonde haired girl with french braids and the green, white, and red flowers in her hair

Ready for celebrating Mexican Independence day!

There were two major earthquakes in Mexico in September. The second one’s epicenter was close to Mexico City and it was big enough to lightly shake my town, which is a few hundred miles away.

Fourth Quarter

In October, I decided to write daily for one week (excluding the weekend). Then, I expanded it another week. It’s the most I’ve written in such a short time. My favorite destination for October was Las Sietes Luminarias, which while the name refers to seven craters, the signs direct you to the most famous of the seven.

We celebrated Halloween and Dio de Los Metros. I even made a first attempt at Catrina make up, due to the encouragement of my friend (who is the mother of my daughter’s best friend from school).

My babies, in the middle of the most popular crater of Las Siete Luminarias.

November was a great month. It was the month I noticed that things are good and have been good for awhile. The highlight of the month was interviewing Asia Citro, the author of the Zoey & Sassafras series.

Since I was planning our first home visit, I discussed what is in my travel first-aid kit (there is also a free printable checklist available for your own kit, sign up for my newsletter and you’ll be sent the file). We also took advantage of a holiday weekend here and went to Xilitla. The drive was a bit more intense than I realized, the weather a little rainy, but Las Pozas delivered with its coolness.

In December, we made our first home visit to the USA. Before that, we discovered that my husband had two days off and we decided to take a trip the beach in Ixtapa! Four days later, we left for the United States.

But before we said goodbye for now to Mexico

What is it with us and having emergency plumbing issues before leaving the country? The day before we were scheduled to leave, I discovered one of the toilets leaking… because there was a large puddle of water on the floor. It went unnoticed because we don’t use that particular bathroom. Mostly because I thought the toilet wasn’t functioning at all.

Everything got fixed quickly and we flew to the USA as scheduled in mid-December. Though traveling, I published 5 Reasons Travel is Sweeter than Christmas Morning. Being home was fun and we had a great time. However, spending 17 days in a hotel is a long time with kids. It didn’t help that we arrived and almost immediately got sick. My cold lingered through Christmas, but I was thankful it wasn’t worse.

Goodbye 2017 and Hello 2018!

As we are getting ready to return to Mexico, I’m thankful for such an interesting year and so much travel. While I missed several events in person this year, I did spend Christmas with my family. It felt normal and wonderful… and it was surprisingly low-stress. I hope your 2017 was just as wonderful! Soon, I’ll post about the highlights, lowlights, and what I hope to do in 2018!

As always, go forth and travel (and take the kids)! How was your year? Did you travel a lot? How do you say goodbye to each year?

12 thoughts on “This is the Incredible Way I Spent the Year

  1. Hannah says:

    Wow, what an intense year – moving to a new country can be so stressful, so you’ve done so well – especially settling in the kids! I hope that 2018 is more settled for you and you can concentrate on travel and fun! Bons Voyages for 2018!

  2. Paige says:

    What a beautiful year – the challenges make the good stuff even better right? I hope your 2018 in Mexico is wonderful. It sounds like an incredible adventure and I hope that you have a year full of beautiful moments there and traveling elsewhere.

  3. Elena says:

    What an incredible year it was for you! Seriously, I am lost for words. Moving an entire family to a new country is an incredibly courageous decision. I am glad to hear that it worked out for all of you pretty nicely. I am curious about your opinion on living in Mexico from a security point of view. The country is relatively often mentioned in the media with some news regarding drug-related violence. However, I know from the first-hand experience that outsider’s point of view could be exaggerated to say the list. What are your thoughts?

    • Natalie says:

      Elena, I have thought about writing a post about security and violence here in Mexico. The problem is that I don’t know a huge amount about it and it would be only what I perceive. Overall, I feel fairly safe but I also stay pretty alert. And just yesterday, an American tourist was killed in Ixtapa, Mexico, an area we visited earlier this month (and felt perfectly safe). I will say that I believe most of the drug-related violence is targeted versus random.

  4. Lauren says:

    What an incredible experience making a new life in Mexico! I couldn’t imagine doing that with kids – I feel like there are so many more logistics – but you’re definitely a shining example that it can be done! It’s an amazing country and I’ll be going through your old blog posts to read about your journey.

    • Natalie says:

      Thanks, Lauren! Having children put into sharp focus that I want to travel and show them the world in a way I was unable to do prior to having kids. Thankfully, we have found a way to do this through moving to Mexico with my husband’s work. I never dreamed I’d be an expat living in Mexico and yet, here I am!

  5. Nisha says:

    What an eventful year it was for you. Relocating to a new country can be very stressful especially with kids and dogs. Hope Mexico treats you well in the new year. And may you travel far & wide in the coming year.

    Have a wonderful year ahead and wish you a Happy New Year.

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