5 Big Reasons I Enjoy Living in Belize

The question was asked on Quora recently “Why do American’s enjoy living in Belize?” I thought it woud also make a great blog post for you all to read.

This American likes living in Belize for 5 main reasons. I recommend everyone live somewhere outside their home country for a little while at least. Its eye opening.

1. Life is more simple. Less traffic. More kindness. Less hurry. More friends and family. Less stuff and more doing things. Life here connects you to what really matters – people. Not things and prestigious awards like we are taught in the US. You make real connections and it feels good.

2. The food is better. A whole lot better. Cleaner. Easier to get fresh local food than in the US. And it’s often cheaper. (The imported boxed stuff from the states that is expensive.)

3. If you have kids – you have a village to help raise them. My village has taught my kids more than any suburb could ever about the real world and real people skills. They can fish. They can make tortillas. Speak Spanish. Speak Creole.

4. People are more friendly and genuine. You wonder less if someone is your friend for their own personal gain. Friendship is given and reciprocated without expectations attached.

5. The last one is hard to explain. When I go back my home town for a visit I am instantly reminded. But the US is a media freak fest. You don’t realize how intrusive all the marketing is until you leave it for a while. From the commercials on television to the number of stores to the billboards to pressure for everyone to perform at a high level for more income – it’s a real pressure that you can feel. It’s a vibe we don’t have here in Belize. It’s a pressure I don’t feel here. Every time you turn on the TV in the states you’re being sold something and told you’re not adequate enough. Every magazine cover and every ad target to our kids is selling something you don’t need and making you feel inadequate so you’ll buy it. If you don’t wear makeup you’re never going to be a cover girl. If you don’t have the newest little blue pill you won’t be confident enough for sex. If you don’t buy ABC mouse software for your kids they surely won’t ever be smart. And we can’ t have junior behind now can we? That would mean you are not a good parent. When you walk into a store (And I love my Target, don’t get me wrong) but when i walk in there now I see a bunch of shit I don’t need. I used to walk in and envy all the things I couldn’t buy. As Americans we are ingrained to think we need more stuff all the time – because if you don’t buy that cool stuff (you know the pillows with the cool lobster on them for $40 a pop) – well your house won’t be decorated right and what will the neighbors think? Or maybe I will even feel bad about myself because I don’t have all I want.

Living in Belize you learn to think differently about what really matters. When I see a cool set of something for the house – and I see that its $500 or $600 dollars – do you know what I think now? I think – you know – I could send three kids to school in Belize and change their lives with that amount of money. Suddenly that new whatever it was has no value to you anymore. Because buying it doesn’t create anything but a few dollars profit for a big box store anyway.

So those are the bare bones reasons my family and I like living in Belize. And other expats tell us similar things. Come down and see what it’s all about!

BIG LOVE ❤

Birthday Shopping – Or Should I Say Hunting

I went to the city today to get stuff for Sabrina’s birthday party on Saturday. She’s going to be 4 ya’ll! Don’t you get tired of parents saying every year how they “can’t believe junior is __ years old already! Where does the time go!”

Yeah. That’s me.

Because the days sometimes seem to crawl by – but the years fly by like shooting stars. And every year my kids gets older- means I too am a year older. And sometimes I think that’s the part that gets me. I’m getting older … fast!

But back to the shopping. So this will be the first year Saby will have a party in Belize. Usually all her friends are gone during the summer but this year all the kids are here on the island – about ten of them -which hasn’t happened since she was born. So we decided it called for a party!

So I go into town to the store called Celebrations. I’ve been here before but only to the reception part of the store to buy New Year’s hats and little party favors but never to by all the whatnots for a kids party. And since you never know what you’ll find in the city – or should I say not find – I didn’t have any specific theme chosen. She asked for pink icing on her cake and lots of balloons and more pink things. I went in flying by the seat of my pants. Well. This was stressful. I will never do this again. Hopefully. The entire store I learned, is about half the size of a Target women’s bathroom. {Did I ever mention how much I miss Target!?} The store had a surprising amount of inventory though. But you have to have a helper. A girl who gets things out for you based on what your theme is and what kind of party – because otherwise you’d NEVER find it on your own. Ever. She’d pull out eight rows of paper Princess cups and tablecloths to reveal these cool light up party favors.

It’s like a hoarder married a party planner.

The way I wanted to shop is what I’d like to say “is what I’m used to” – which means if I were in the states this is how it’d go. Even though I’ve lived here four years and SHOULD be used to the way things are here. I know shopping here is more like hunting. I’m just still in denial I guess.

This was definitely a hunting experience. I wanted a zoo experience. {I drank three beers after I left.}

I wanted to, you know – walk in, mosey around look at options. Take my time deciding what to buy. But this was question and answer and yes and no kind of quick shopping. I either wanted what she showed me or I didn’t. The woman was quite helpful actually. It’d been so long since I had a kid party I forgot all the fun things you could do! So for $90 bucks we got all the goods – her first piñata and all the fun treats to go inside, table deco, all the stuff for eating and drinking, goodie bags, birthday girl gear – you know the drill. We went with the multi Disney princess theme. When I came home and told Sabrina what kind of piñata I got – she threw hear head back and started crying “I wanted a doll shaped one!”. She not ever once asked me for a doll shaped piñata.

So we’re already off to a good start.

I really wanted to make this cool sand pudding and put it into little mini beach buckets with tiny shovels. Thought it would be fun for the kids to play with after. But I couldn’t find anything remotely close. Well I found large and regular sized buckets for the beach. But I know Hobby Lobby or Michael’s has them. Too bad we don’t have those. Not here. Oh well, next year. I bought extra cupcakes instead.

Sure hope the weather cooperates. Our house is too small for everyone to fit inside. Plus 6-8 boys and a few girls running around eating cake and hitting piñatas seems like something that needs to happen outside. I’m a little crazy but not that crazy.

Wish us luck! 🙂  Big Love ❤

Level Up

Guys – I’m trying to come back! Its been a long three weeks and I haven’t had any time to write – but certainly gaining a lot of experiences to write about 🙂

I was definitely bummed because at the launch of the blog I had about 2,000 visitors a day which was rapidly growing. While my entire goal of the blog is not to solely gain visitors – it is a passion and something I have set as a goal. Mostly because it challenges me. { And I like that } The time is now.

My visitors have dropped off tremendously – but a big thanks to those who continue to read and listen to me bitch.

{ I mean watch me learn. }

I have been in Texas for the past two weeks. The week before that I was not feeling well. And Sabrina has been sick since before I got back to Belize. I have been home three days. I am exhausted. My body hurts from traveling. I miss my family already. Now Barry isn’t feeling well and I haven’t left the house in 36 hours. Its stormy and windy and Sabrina has a terrible cough so we have needed to stay indoors. Sigh. I was so ready to come back here – but I am also mourning the loss of the freedom to get in a car and go somewhere.

The duality of my living situation is a constant tease.

Cars and freedom of mobility. Beaches and freedom of noise. My reality is terribly out of whack :/  And I am very behind on work.

Texas was great. It wasn’t what I expected. But it was more than I ever could have hoped. I was present and attentive for Emma when she really needed me. I am ever thankful for the struggle and positive outcome I was there to be a part of. Growth is painful. But we leveled up last week. My siblings and I got together and laughed around the table for hours. We have never. Ever. Done this before as adults. It was epic. Thanks Mom for giving us kids the gift of each other.

The Kardashians have nothing on us.

So leveling up is a term we use in our house which means someone has mastered something new. Outsiders may not notice the level up happening – but Barry and I do. Sabrina levels up when she gains mastery of new language or new physical skills like hitting a ball with a bat. The big girls level up in their maturity emotionally or perhaps their understanding of life and people or even by mastering a new skill at school. Barry and I level up when we learn from unexpected circumstances and maintain our cool when all signals point to “it’s perfectly normal to freak out now”.

We all leveled up while I was gone. And now it’s time to take some deep breaths and appreciate the community and family of love that surrounds us whether we are here – or there. It is time to stop and be grateful for people filled with patience who support us and hold us when it may have been easier to just let go. For those are the people who make love tangible. Real. Unconditional. And unimaginably good.

Big Love to those in my life who stand so tall and proud next to me and my family.

Keep moving forward – today is a new day.

Big Love ❤

Ashley

Seven Days With A Three Year Old

 

The last seven days have been great! Our nanny lives on the island with us for 3-4 weeks then goes home to her family (sisters and nieces and cousins) for about a week. I always think I’ll be able to get my work done during these days. Even though I am never able to get my work done during these days. I tell myself during the day that I will get to it when she goes to bed. But I’m too tired to think after she’s gone to bed. So at night I tell myself I will make time during the day while she watches tv. By the time she watches tv I’m just trying to take a shower because I’m covered in marker and glue and glitter. Which is kinda fun, I must admit. There’s something cool about getting in touch with your inner artist with a preschooler’s perspective.

IMG_2517  IMG_2520

But, dang, three years olds are flat out demanding – I tell you – if you don’t already know first-hand. Three is by far a harder age than two. Why? Because they ask why. They have more reasoning skills. Two is hard because they are learning independence and we’re used to them being babies. They begin to defy us. Three is harder because they’re learning to manipulate and lie and avoid consequences. They are devious little things! AND they are the cutest sweetest things on Earth! All at the same time. JUST LIKE TEENAGERS! I have a unique vantage point with Sabrina – I’ve done this twice before and am also through the toughest part of the teenage years. So this Momma knows ALL the tricks. And cherishes all the snuggles.

We watched a great sunset together at the pool.
We watched a great sunset together at the pool.

I love my days with Sabrina because every few weeks kids change and learn and have more to say. They can jump higher. They can swing on their own suddenly. Their feet are bigger. So I really enjoy being on her level and connecting with her during this time. It is ALSO completely and utterly exhausting! See, babies are physically exhausting because they need you to physically do everything for them. Teenagers are emotionally exhausting as they deal with hormones and real life – you’re constantly wondering what to say. One wrong word and you’re toast. Three year olds are both physically and emotionally exhausting making for a unique period in their childhood.

This was ALL her doing. I swear.
This was ALL her doing. I swear.

They make you question yourself and they are constantly moving. And not just moving – jumping, climbing, traversing. Often in the kitchen near heavy plates and hot stoves or flipping on beds while you wash dishes. Sabrina cried real tears one afternoon “because I don’t have any pretty shoes.” Are you freaking kidding me!? I own four pairs of shoes so she didn’t learn this from me. I’m baffled. Another day when I wouldn’t do what she wanted right away she frowned and said “Then you’re not my best friend anymore! Hmph!”  And as soon as I sit down its “Mom, I have to go potty,” and then telling me “You look old” on the way to the bathroom. Thanks kid. Now let me wipe your ass. Maybe next time I won’t catch you as you flip off the bed. That’ll teach you!

But I will. Catch her.

Three year olds also love unconditionally. And -no matter what they say – you are the center of their world and they want to please you. Their hugs are the tightest and best! Their little breath when they fall asleep in your arms – its SO good. They enjoy helping with the chores. See below picture. I’ve got a great dishwasher 🙂 She asked me to read her poems this week. ‘When We Were Very Young’ by A.A. Milne. A book I used to read to E & L.  And she laughed when it was time to laugh and asked for specific poems. It’s pretty amazing to watch things click in their little brains. One day they don’t get it. The next they do. Just like that. The brain cells connect and suddenly they can ride that bike or read that word.

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She loves washing dishes!

 

There is something great about every age children are. They are pretty amazing. I love being a Mom to all my kids at every stage. Even when they call me old 🙂

Big Love ❤

Flying kites with Daddy :)
  Flying kites with Daddy 🙂
Kayaking with Mom and Dad. She can name at least 20 different kinds of marine life.
Kayaking with Mom and Dad. She can name at least 20 different kinds of marine life.

 

 

 

Expat Has Baby in Belize City Shocks Locals

Seriously should have been the headline in the paper the day I gave birth in Belize City.iPod 215 (2)

A suburban US raised white girl (I’m more like translucent but whatever) five months into her new Belize life daring to give birth in the meanest city in Belize. The only explanation for this happening must be I hadn’t been here long enough to know better –  my friends later told me. I was shocked to find out so many Belizeans actually leave Belize to give birth. They don’t trust their own system. And with some years behind me now – I know why.

I’ve had a rash of people lately asking me about expats having babies in Belize – so here’s the story.

Continue reading Expat Has Baby in Belize City Shocks Locals

Life’s A Beach

Life’s a beach. Life’s a bitch. Life is usually both at the same time.

So we’ve been off in San Pedro –  The Big Island I like to call it. For it’s a hundred times bigger than my island. Thousands of times more populated. And so full of life. The sun shines brighter here. The friends flows endlessly here. The moments and memories of love amass. This is – after all – where I fell so madly in love with Barry ❤

Continue reading Life’s A Beach

Testing, testing – 1, 2, 3

I’m doing some hard personal work right now. My ideas and thoughts and goals are being harshly challenged. And I’m running my own interference. The Universe has stood up – as if to challenge to my credibility. “Who are you to tell people about love and happiness?” “Let me test your true understanding with a few curve balls…” Continue reading Testing, testing – 1, 2, 3