The Little Yellow School House

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My hubby M and I just got back from a week in sunny Mexico with our nearly three-year-old peanut Max. It was a trip to celebrate M’s birthday and escape winter in New Jersey.

We spent most of our time strolling through town, lounging on the beach (well, lounging as much as possible with a toddler…) and eating an excess of chips and salsa.

However, I knew that I really wanted to do something to connect with locals. Before we left I searched online for ways to volunteer in Isla Mujeres. I can’t find the original link, but reading through a few pages of travelers’ comments led me to the Little Yellow School House.

It’s a school supported entirely by donations that offers education to children with special needs including autism, down’s syndrome and other disabilities.

I emailed to ask if I could visit with Max. They said yes. I packed my yoga breathing ball and asked a Spanish-speaking friend to help me translate Rub Your Hands (Om song). We made a small donation through their paypal link.

On the day of the visit I was a little bit nervous about bringing Max. He can be a bit ahem…rowdy with other children. I told him we needed to be extra careful and nice because the kids were welcoming us into their school.

We toured the school and met all of the students. Max warmed up and played with the children in the youngest class.

He showed them how to breathe with the breathing ball and shared it freely. I didn’t tell him that the students had disabilities and that day was one of my proudest days as a mama. When his new friend jumped on him (normal behavior from toddlers…Max usually pushes or hits back) he laughed and rolled over. He left happy and worn out.

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I used to think that volunteering had to be some grand gesture. When I didn’t live up to my own expectations I felt disappointed in myself. I’ve since shifted my perspective. I now believe that cultivating connection in small ways leads to living a life of service.

How do you cultivate connection? How are you of service?

I want to hear from you, regardless of how small your actions are!

P.S. I am always looking for ways to volunteer/help others WITH my toddler. Suggestions welcome…

P.S.S. This was Max’s second trip involving a school visit. Read about Costa Rica here.

Toddler Tiki Hut

My hubby M and I wanted a fun outdoor play space for Max that flowed with the tropical vegetation in our Florida backyard. He came up with this interactive tiki hut & fish cleaning station made from all natural materials. We had fun searching for the perfect (second-hand) bell and decorations from local shops at the Sponge Docks in Tarpon Springs. Max has been busy serving up sand drinks ever since. Cheers to many peaceful afternoons!

Toddler Tiki Hut

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Have a great week!

Southern Italy

In June my hubby M and I took our toddler to a little known town on the Southern coast of Italy. Tropea had breathtaking views, plenty of carbohydrates and very little English. Our vacation consisted of wine, pasta and delicious dark coffee balanced out by a daily climb up the very steep hill. We dared to venture on a three day road trip across the Straits of Messina to Sicily. Driving through this local region without much Italian or a GPS system isn’t for the faint of heart, but we loved the adventure.

IMG_3712A view of Tropea from the water

IMG_3694Our bambino waiting for his beachside panini

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IMG_3763His daily cookie with my daily espresso after our hike to town

IMG_3731Babywearing on a tour of a countryside farm

IMG_3733Local honey

IMG_3754Captivated by the juggling act in the main square of Taormina, Sicily

IMG_3759Fresh lemons outside our hotel in Sicily

IMG_3771One last glimpse of Tropea

 Did you go on any adventures this summer? Where’s the farthest place you’ve traveled with an infant or toddler? I’d love to hear your stories!