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.

Isla Mujeres

M and I celebrated New Year’s Eve in Playa Del Carmen, Mexico. It’s one of our favorite spots in the whole world with its blend of European chic, friendly Mexican smiles and laid back tropical beauty. After three nights we ventured to a new destination that a cool couple told us about years ago. Whenever we meet avid travelers we ask them their favorite places and jot them down in a file. It’s led us to a few far-flung destinations we would have never known about. This time it brought us on a short ferry ride from Cancun to Isla Mujeres, translated as Island of Women. It’s a laid back little island with an eclectic mix of boutique hotels and youth hostels. M loved that we could rent a golf cart to cruise around in and I loved the sexy vibe of our hotel.

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A barefoot sunset

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Breakfast in (an outdoor) bed at the Hotel Secreto

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What’s not to love?

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Of course being pregnant meant this trip was a little different than our usual tequila-drinking Mexican jaunts. Not having a hangover every morning means plenty of time for yoga, true relaxation, reading and reflecting. I brought along copies of Yoga Journal and Yoga International. Yoga Journal had a great article about letting go of past mistakes and bringing in the new year with positive intentions. The article suggested spending a few moments in reflection about how difficult situations were handled in 2012, not so that we can beat ourselves up but so that we can learn from them and think about how we want to grow. I want to be the best mother possible and I believe that starts with being a vibrant, positive, healthy person. Part of personal happiness is getting rid of crap I don’t need whether it’s clutter, excess sugar or negative conversations. Alicia Silverstone shares my sentiments in this blog post. And on a side note, here’s one change I’m currently making: starting the day off with warm water & lemon.

Happy 2013! Do you have anything you are getting rid of? Do you have an intention for the new year? Do you have any new year’s traditions or rituals?

Desayuno

They say breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and there’s nothing I love more than Mexican food first thing in the morning. Whether it’s fresh fruit, rice & beans, leftover guacamole or tortillas covered in salsa… it’s like a never-ending fiesta for the tastebuds.

Huevos rancheros minus the huevos

Juicy ripe mango

Happy Sunday!