Happy New Year, everyone! I’m back at it again, with a full Year In Review post. Please enjoy this update as still haven’t jump on the bandwagon for sending out holiday cards. Leave a comment below (or reply to the email) with a hello and let me know what you’ve been up to.
It was a cold month in Portsmouth, New Hampshire! Having our blood thinned from a decade in California made it tough to readjust to the cold, gray, and wet New England winter. But the boys didn’t seem to mind. We bundled them up and hit the town. Sledding and ice skating in our beautiful little town.
Maverick stopped napping at home, but he wasn’t ready to go a day without a rest, so on most days I took him out in the stroller, often in the rain, snow, or sleet. Our coldest walk was 10˚F but with 6 layers on it didn’t seem to bother him and he slept well.
More harsh than the month prior, winter kept on doing its thing in New Hampshire. Visits with family helped pass the gray days.
Amber’s amazing imagination and creativity came in handy when she made games and activities to keep the kids busy while indoors. She’s started publishing her content on Instagram and it’s gathering quite a following.
The snow came and went throughout the month, often melting completely. Towards the end of the month the temperatures climbed a bit and the snow turned to rain. We did our best to get out and explore the towns around us. Still with COVID we kept a low profile throughout the winter. Thankfully we had a library within walking distance. Our voracious reader would go through more than 50 books a week. “New book day” was always an exciting afternoon. The library even put on outdoor story time all throughout the winter!
With the snow behind us, we picked up a new toy. The “Follow Me Tandem” is an ingenious (if not clunky) device that allows me to tow Maverick’s bike behind my own. In less than 30 seconds I can un-hitch his bike, allowing him to ride by himself. Then when he’s tired I can re-attached him in less than 30 seconds and I tow him home. I could enjoy a longer ride and he felt engaged along the way. I highly recommend this contraption. On a day that I felt really strong, I even took Mason along in the bike seat. We all loved being back on the bikes again!
Spring is in the air and we kicked off the fresh weather with T-Ball. And as Maverick was outgrowing his 12″ bike we picked up a secondhand 16″ bike and he was off pedaling on it in no time.
A kayak found its way into our stable and we enjoyed paddling around our cove.
Skateparks, lots and lots of skateparks.
My first get-a-way in forever was a trip to Wyoming for a good friend’s wedding. Can you call someone a good friend if they tried to leave you for dead in Mexico when you couldn’t speak Spanish? It’s a wedding I wouldn’t miss, even if I my connecting flight got cancelled and I had to rent a car and drive 12 hours round trip in 2 days… Congratulations, Jim & Katie!
Then it finally happened; we caught COVID. Fortunately (?) it was staggered. I had a fever for 3 days. Then Maverick and Mason went down shortly afterwards and their fevers lasted 5 days. Amber wrapped us up with a 3 day fever. It wasn’t fun, and it was surprising that the kids fell more ill than us parents. Once quarantines finished, soccer sessions started. Portsmouth has so many kids sports going on throughout the year and we did our best to take advantage of them.
The boys started swim lessons in the enormous Portsmouth outdoor pool!
By this time, we’ve had a lot of time to think about what’s next for us… We’re enjoying Portsmouth, but not so much the harsh winter months, and we’re not ready to settle down just yet. So I took a quick scouting trip to Mexico to see if it might be a good fit for us to live as a family…
Upon returning from Mexico, I jumped into an activity I’ve been wanting to try for years. SAILING! I took lessons at the Kittery Point Yacht Club. Honestly, it was humbling… I usually pick up athletic actives pretty quickly, but for some reason I had a really difficult time grasping the fundamentals of sailing and all the muscle memory that goes along with sailing a small boat. It took a while but I eventually started getting the hang of things, despite a rogue jib that caused the boom to crash into my skull. Thankfully my sailing partner that day was a doctor and she gave me advice on what to look out for in regards to a concussion. Fortunately, I was feeling ok, other than the egg size welt on my forehead. But by the end of the class I was thoroughly enjoying my time on the water, heeled over, trying to go as fast as I could (until the wind shifted). Maybe one day we’ll live on a boat…
After a few too many trips to the Mexican consulate in Boston, we finally received our Temporary Residency visas! Things were starting to fall into place and by the end of the month we were out of Portsmouth and on our way to Mexico! It was sad to leave family and friends behind, but we were excited to continue exploring. With my mom’s old Subaru, we started loading up for a life south of the border. Amber packed the car WAY too full. We grabbed a set of mountain bikes (as the cobble stone roads in the place we’re headed wouldn’t be a good fit for our touring bikes). I drove 3500 miles down to Mexico over 7 days. Amber, the boys, and my Mom flew in 2 days after I arrived. This was going to be the start of a great new chapter of our lives in beautiful San Miguel de Allende, Mexico!
Our kids started at a local Montessori preschool. It’s mostly Spanish speaking kids, but there are a few other English speakers. Honestly, it was a struggle at first. This was the first time our boys had been away from Mom and Dad and thanks to COVID they didn’t have nearly the amount of socialization that they would have had under more normal circumstances. We weren’t sure if they would ever turn the corner, and we were starting to doubt if this was going to work. But little by little they started settling in at school and now, at the end of the year, we have more good days than bad. It’s mostly just the drop-offs that are challenging. School is half-day Monday through Friday.
I’d like to say it’s given Amber and I the time we needed to relax, regroup, and regain our energy, but the reality was far less glamorous. In an unfortunate turn of events, I contracted a rare bacterial infection and was feeling lower than I had felt in a long long time. It was scary, but thankfully our neighbor is a retired doctor (how lucky are we!?!?) and he recommended which of the local hospitals I should go to. The doctors spoke great English and they quickly diagnosed my issue. I ended up spending a night in the ER and then 3 days admitted as an inpatient. Slowly but steadily I started feeling better.
It took another 2 weeks to regain my stamina, and just as I did, the kids got sick at school! We really haven’t had the energy to go and explore our new town, but we’re fortunate to live in a community that’s filled with kids and is a safe place to play. So even though we stayed close to home, we still had fun with the pools, palm trees, and daily dose of sunshine.
With the kids in preschool, we went from one cold to the next with everyone in the house feeling sick for what felt like the entire month. Nevertheless, we enjoyed a trip to the annual town fair, explored a local skatepark, hit up the kids arcade, rode horses, taught driving lessons, and ate some delicious food.
By the end of the month I regained some strength and took a trip for business and stopped by Colorado and California for a few days to enjoy some time with friends I hadn’t seen in far too long.
Once a week I try to make it out for a bike ride in Mexico with a group of local riders. Getting out of the city and into the countryside only takes a few minutes and it’s very refreshing. It’s a great workout and I love being out exploring the nature!
Fortunately I made it back to Mexico by the end of the month to experience el Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) which is a fantastic cultural experience. It’s a time for families to honor their deceased relatives. They often make an alter at the grave and an offering of their loved ones’ favorite foods for when their souls return to earth for the night. It was really amazing to see how a family, a community, an entire country come together to pay respect and celebrate their lost family. Not wanting to disturb their moments we opted not to visit the cemetery at night, but rather the next morning when all the decorations were up, but all the people were gone. An entire cemetery was covered in beautiful colors, but the heartbreaking moment came when we saw the graves for the children. Looking at the headstones – 2 years old, 3 years old, 3 months old. How sad. Their graves were covered with candies and toys.
The rest of the month was enjoyed with mostly good health. Biking, extravagant Mexican children’s birthday parties, parades, and a time spent with our first visitor – Charles! Long time readers will remember that Charles and I motorcycled the Americas, for which this blog was created. We had a great time showing him around our adopted hometown.
One final business trip for the year and a trip back to New Hampshire to see friends and family. Back in Mexico we had a trip to the ER after Maverick decided to swallow a little plastic star. WTF??? Fortunately, it didn’t get lodged in his throat or lungs. An hour of the doctor’s time plus an X-ray was $43 USD out of pocket.
With December coming to an end, it was time for a winter break roadtrip! No ski slopes this year… We drove 3 hours to a Pueblo Magico town called Patzcuaro which had a beautiful central jardin (garden) and a unique Christmas feel. It was higher elevation than our home in San Miguel de Allende so the temps were quite a bit cooler, but we enjoyed the fresh, brisk air.
After 2 nights it was a 4 hour drive to the coast. The temps quickly increased as we dropped in altitude. Christmas on the beach in Zihuatanejo (the fabled beach from the movie Shawshank Redemption). It was wonderful and the boys enjoyed playing in the sand, ocean, and pools.
A week later we roadtripped back into central Mexico for a stop at Valle de Bravo, a popular getaway town for folks from Mexico City. The town is surrounded by a beautiful lake and lush forest. We enjoyed hiking, but the city was way too crowded for the New Years holiday. These are very cooperative hikers…
Back in San Miguel and we’re happy to be out of the car and in our home. Being on the road and seeing new places is fantastic, but a big challenge with 2 active little boys. We were all happy to arrive back at home and celebrate the new year by falling asleep at 9pm.
What went well, what do we want to do better, and what’s next?
I also spent a good chunk of the year working on the next generation of SnapType. It’s certainly taken longer than expected but we hope to launch soon. We’re really excited to get these new tools into the hands of students who need them most! Every week we’re getting emails from parents and teachers sharing their stories about how SnapType is changing their student’s lives. It’s empowering!
Astute readers may have realized that last year I left my career in order to focus on our family, yet in 2022 I mentioned some business trips. Well, after a 6 month hiatus, my former employer made me an offer to do some work and we eventually landed on an agreement. I’m happy to be back in the high-tech world, but doing it a bit differently this time around. I’m mostly confident in my own skin and have a sense of my worth, but after a decade in a high profile role it’s still hard not to feel a sense of character loss when going from developing cutting edge technology and negotiating hundred million dollar deals to transitioning into full time dad mode. It’s not that I don’t love being a dad, but I’ve found that I also love developing product, providing value, learning new skills, facilitating, creating, and being part of a team with a common goal. The trouble is that I want to do it all! At least for the moment, it’s nice to have struck a balance.
We spent the first half of the year where we grew up. Spending time with friends and family was wonderful, but after a year in New Hampshire we had itchy feet and were excited for a new adventure. Moving to Mexico was a big undertaking! We received temporary resident status and it’s been great to dive deeper into life in Mexico without always being on the move to a new location.
The boys are in a Montessori preschool and already learning Spanish. Transitioning into school was tough, but overtime it became easier and eventually the boys started to enjoy going into school. Everyday Maverick comes home with new words, phrases, and songs. It won’t be long before his Spanish is better than mine. Mason, who is just learning to speak English, is also picking up the Spanish. He understands quite a bit and speaks some. Recently he’s started saying “Si” instead of yes, even when we talk to him in English.
Raising two little boys is exhausting, and most days it feels like we’re just trying to survive until bedtime. We’re still spending a lot of time together as a family and we’re thankful to be part of a welcoming community here in Mexico. Our neighbors are a mix of Mexicans and expats (mostly from the US and Canada). The weather here is always beautiful! We’ve decided to extend our lease here in Mexico for another 6 months. Then we’ll see what happens next…
Our winter road trip reminded us that although we’d love to be on the road continuously, it’s not the best fit for our family (at this time). Honestly, I don’t know how some families do it with such young kids. At this stage, we’ve found that having a home base works best. When we’re ready, we’ll move move to a new home base and continue exploring. Of course we’ll look forward to the day when we can enjoyably resume overland travel. Until then, we are happy that our new home base gives us a chance to explore a new culture, language, cuisine, and people.
Finally, thanks to Amberlynn for pushing me to do this year’s annual writeup. I took the easy way out these past few years because we were so busy, but she helped me find the time this year to sit and write for a few hours. It will be a great memory for myself and my family to look back on in the years to come. 😁
Until we meet again, greetings from Mexico, where we teach kids to drive!