Saturday, December 20, 2014

We picked a house! Mrs. Angela’s beautiful, fully furnished house, with the tropical yard, and massive porches. But we can't move in until January 5th!! Where in the heck did I get off thinking I only had to survive 10 days?! Oh, I know. Using a public school planner that I bought to keep my homeschooling organized and it simply DELETED the two weeks Christmas break!

Starling convinced Angela to let us rent it for $900/month instead of $1,000. (All utilities, electricity, internet included plus fully furnished).  

He said, “$100/month saved- is 20 pizzas!”

“Uh, you mean, pays for our cook.” ($5/day for someone to cook and clean. AND do laundry). I can do my own dang laundry and clean my own house. But I am definitely having a cook. For $17 a day we can have our meals delivered without having to buy ANY groceries. I’d only have to see food when it was being forked into my mouth. I think that’s been my very VOCAL dream ever since I invited people over for Sloppy Joes and didn’t know the meat wasn’t in the can.

I have a few talents, but cooking is definitely NOT one of them. Is $17 a day to feed a family of 5 good? I have no clue how much I normally spend on us in the States. All I know is we ate a lot of frozen pizzas, burritos, and frozen lasagnas. And when the homemaker bug took a plug out out of me, I would spend FOREVER watching Zataran’s jambalaya boil, (forgetting to stir occasionally), and MAYBE even cook canned corn and green beans. Starling might bake some Pillsbury cookies. But mostly I would go to Wal Mart, buy a bunch of Great Value items and stare at them in my pantry and decide we had nothing to eat.
Starling bought two phones yesterday, so we will have Magic Jack numbers if anyone wants to talk to us for free. But you’d have to download the Magic Jack app. And the whatsap for texting. I'll put my phone number on here once I find my phone. (Don't worry. I didn't LOOSE this one. Its just misplaced somewhere in the hotel).

Starling bought a scooter. Which is huge. Good for our wallet and bad for my sanity.

Since Angela gave us hotel rooms that are walled off from any traffic, said she’d only rent hotel rooms on the other side of the wall, and there is a GINORMOUS cement common area, and total access to the entire 5 acre cement areas both enclosed and outside, we decided bikes for our kids are a must. And the sooner the better.

We made a rash decision. While we still had a rental car that could HOLD 3 riding toys, Starling bought Brooklyn a pink angry birds bike from a Pawn Shop for $40. Its well over $100 at the store. (That's the only way I can justify spending more than I would at a thrift store. This retail crap is DESTROYING me! My brain can't compute). The bike looks brand new. He couldn’t find ANYTHING used for the boys. (AGAIN, WHY no thrift stores!? HOW do people LIVE without THRIFT STORES?!) So he bought retail toys for probably the first time in his life. He got Bry a Car’s bike, and Boeing a red riding toy with a horn.

We had to decide. Do we hide the bikes until Christmas OR do we lie to our innocent little children who don’t know the difference and tell them that it’s Christmas eve? It really wasn’t a hard decision. Without a car to go anywhere out of walking distance for a while, Christmas was here. And yesterday became Christmas Eve.

“GUESS what you guys?! Today is Christmas Eve!”

I looked around the hotel room. No tree. No stockings. No way to make chocolate chip cookies, no milk. So I did what I do best. I improvised and, while I was lying about Christmas, lied about several OTHER things.

“Umm… in Mexico you leave one of your shoes outside the door and Santa puts candy in it, and…” I spotted the remainder of our lunch on the table, “instead of cookies, we leave Santa burritos and Flan to drink.” (Angela gave us Flan. It was delicious, once I convinced my gag reflex to accept the texture). “It’s because Santa comes to Mexico first and eats dinner, and the U.S. after to get dessert.

“Oh! Like leftovers?!” Brooklyn asked enthusiastically. She thought for a minute. “That must be why he’s so fat, huh? He really eats too much food.”

Bry said, “I’m so excited! I hope Santa Clause brings me a spider man motorcycle that climbs up the wall JUST like Peyton got at our old house.” (He has been asking for one for MONTHS ever since Peyton’s birthday. (He’s the youngest little guy I fostered).

They didn’t have one at the Wal Mart here. So I said, “Well Santa brings everyone something. Sometimes its what they ASK for and sometimes its something EVEN better!!”

He contemplated this. “Something better than a spider man motorcycle that climbs the walls? What’s better than that?”

He and Brooklyn joyfully and dramatically went through ALL the possibilities of BEST things they might get. “Maybe we’ll get a new soccer ball that is kind of like magic but its not that you can kick inside and it doesn’t hit walls and it doesn’t even take batteries. I saw it on Mia’s t.v.”

“Maybe we’ll get bubble gum!”

“What if we get a WHOLE bunch of candy? Like blow pops!”

“Or like- a new flashlight?”

Starling and I looked at each other. They have some pretty humble ideas of BEST presents.

It rained last night for the first time since we’ve been here. We put the bikes and all the little presents from the states in one of the many massive rooms in the huge building connected to our courtyard that Angela swept and mopped for our kids to play in. (Since the concrete foot ball field might be too small for 3 kids). When the kids woke up the next morning, they were ecstatic to find their shoes full of candy.

“This is the greatest Christmas ever! I love Mexico Christmas!” Brooklyn said. Brighton and Boeing began copying her, of course, catching her enthusiasm. It took them forever to realize they didn’t see any gifts. Starling and I actually had to remind them that there were presents. They went on an “adventure” to find them, searching everywhere for tiny little presents. They FINALLY found them.

“OH MY GOSH! OH MY GOSH! I always WANTED a bike! Its a BIG bike!”


Boeing jumped on his little car and started scooting around immediately. Then he spotted the little four wheelers and motorcycles. “WOOK MOM! WOOK DAD! A mower-cycle! A for-lidder!!!” And boy was he thrilled when he saw that the seat of his little car lifted and he could carry all of his goodies.

Brighton and Brooklyn wasted no time. They began playing freeze tag on their bikes.

It rained off and on throughout the day. It was warm rain and the kids had a blast driving through the puddles.

“I named my bike Angry Momma Angry Bird Angry Johnson!” (First, middle, and last name).
“I named MINE Race, because it is always racing,” Brighton announced.

Angela came over while Starling was gone. Brooklyn had peed in the toilet and not flushed.

“Lady! A problemo!” Confused, I started to flush it. “NO, NO!” She grabbed the toilet paper roll, pointed at it, and rattled off in Spanish. I got her point. Do NOT flush toilet paper. It clogs up their drains or something along those lines. And she reached her hand INTO the toilet, to make her point, pulled OUT the toilet paper, flung it into the trash, and washed her hands while she kept talking ninety to nothing in Spanish. “Lady” this and “Lady” that. I said, “Lo Siento,” trying to apologize for flushing TOILET paper and for anything else she was Ladying me about.

“I” She said pointing at herself, “Clean, clean, clean.” She sounded exasperated.

Wide eyed I nodded, and as soon as she left, I told the kids to clean up everything. I had no idea what she had told me in Spanish, but I understood, “no, no, no. Lady. And clean, clean, clean.”

When Starling came home with lunch, I told him about the encounter. He went and talked to her. She told Starling not to throw toilet paper in toilet and that she was coming to clean our rooms in a little while if we wanted to take the kids and ride bikes in the front while she cleaned our rooms. And she asked, in Spanish of course, “How do you say Senora in Ingles?” Starling said, “Miss.” She said, “What does “Lady” mean.” He told her. He said her eyes widened and she shook her head. She said, “I called your wife Lady.” So then she came and, just as enthusiastically as she did the first time, (its just her way, I guess), and spouted out a whole bunch more Spanish. I thought she was finishing a chew out session, but she was actually apologizing. “You. Me. Amigas, si?” “Si.” I agreed. Having no idea what I was agreeing to.

Starling said she was trying to tell me how excited she is that we are renting her house and we can use all of her facilities (the 5 acres of concrete) that she will clean, clean, clean for the children to play. Gotta love a good language barrier.

Starling came home about 8 with rice Angela gave us. I love their white rice. I want to pile it with butter and eat it as a meal. Boeing, Mr. Impatient, (I wonder where he gets that from), grabbed a chunk of brown on the side. Starling said, “OMG! You did NOT just eat that by itself!” Its like eating a beef bullion, except made out of FIRE. Its supposed to be mixed into the ENTIRE container of rice. Boeing tried to pull out his tongue, but recovered quickly, and said, “Wan nother bite.” Before the bite went into his mouth he blew on it. Bless his heart.

Tomorrow- back to car shopping. If it doesn’t rain, I’m going to be strollering the kids to the beach. Its only a mile or two away. Mirrors KNOW I need to take a hike. If I keep eating Mexican sugar bread everyday, my butt isn’t going to be able to fit through the front gate.       

Friday, December 19, 2014

Email me with your comments if you want to be anonymous and post it on my blog or FB.

I’m currently working on project:
Momma Drama Diaries
This is a series of truthfully comical “advice” books. I’m, of course, including my own experiences, and I thought it would be neat to have some funny inserts from friends and family. (So if you don’t give me permission to use your anonymous comments, don’t give them to me).
I’ve been working on this for a while along with some other projects, but I think I may ACTUALLY have time to finish them now. So throw me your (or your friends) funny quotes, comments, and stories regarding the book titles.

So You Done Got Married
A book telling Newly Weds what to expect during the “Happily Ever After.” Tell me your discoveries of about being married. What horrified you about your spouse (leaving dirty underwear lying around, taste in decor, etc)? What was the hardest adjustment and why? (Sharing a bathroom with a molting woman, etc). They can even be serious issues with a comical twist. (Discovering your wife is overly emotional, your husband is a jealous freak).
So You Done Got Pregnant
This is solely about the Pregnancy (not the kid to come). Women, vent your pregnancy frustrations. I’d also love to include pregnancy from a man’s point of view.

So You Done Had a Baby
This is the time to tell all the tales of first diaper changes, first baby spit ups, sleepless nights, and anything else you can think of. AGAIN- need mom AND daddy’s perspectives.

So You Got Yourself A Teenager
I’ve only fostered ONE teenager so I’m going on complete research and my journal from BEING a teenager. I’d love some heavy commentary on those of you with teens and even from kids who ARE currently teens. Headaches regarding independence, tantrums, lying, stealing, naivety, being emotionally dramatic, school, jobs, etc. Teens can vent about whatever is most frustrating in their lives and why. (I will probably use your quotes to represent being dramatic. But it’ll be okay. Tell me anyway ;).

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Day 5 in Cozumel

Okay. You know how I said my only criteria for a house was “Not a hotel. Must have a pee trap?”
Well, obviously desperate to get the heck OUT of this hotel, we started our house hunt at 7 a.m. after a family picnic of assorted Mexican pastries.

The kids each picked a different pastry and claimed their treats were AMAZING. I finegaled a bite from each kid. Boeing had a round thing made of bread with sugar on it. He was gobbling it so quickly, I actually feared for his fingers. I took a bite. Dry and tasteless. I forced a swallow.

Brooklyn had some bread contraption shaped like an hour glass. “Its so good, mom.” Hoping it was better than Boeing’s, I took a bight. Rock hard and tasteless.

Brighton chose a triangle pastry that I almost chipped a tooth on. He apparently liked it since he almost chomped off my thumb while I was handing it back to him.

I dug through until I found some doughnuts. Needed a good 15 seconds in the microwave, but at least edible.

House hunting is practically impossible when you can’t just CALL the number every time you pass a house for rent. Starling and I both had our cell phones on day three and were taking down numbers. We also lost BOTH our phones on DAY 3. You read right. LOST both of our iPHONES. ON the SAME day. I lost mine somehow between the beach and hotel even though I was SURE I grabbed it. (I think I must have sat it on the car while I was loading up kids). Starling was running back and forth using his phone for contacts calling numbers at the hotel’s front office and thinks he left it at the front desk. But cell phones don’t exactly get “turned in” here. TALK about being disconnected from the WORLD. We were downloading apps to text and talk for free to all of our Americanas! So if you NEVER hear from me again… THAT’s WHY.

Starling went and bought a Mexican phone for $14 with 100 pesos on it. (Which is prepaid minutes). Talk about going back to the 90’s. No predictive text or keyboard of letters. And we ran out of minutes before three o’clock! He went to the Mexican Wal-Mart (with American prices) and bought 500 pesos of minutes. He showed the lady his number in his contacts. She added his 500 pesos to the contact listed above HIS number. And fix it. ‘No can do,’ says the store manager. Gotta call the buddy, now doing the happy dance, and work it out with him. FANTASTICO! (Luckily it was a member of our new church).

(BACK TO POINT: assuming I remember the point I was trying to make…)
Lowered to the dust, I was on the edge of a mental breakdown, when yet ANOTHER person who was SUPPOSED to show us their house for rent told us they rented it YESTERDAY after they talked to US! (Despite the fact that they couldn't meet with us until this MORNING). And almost EVERY house we saw for rent was being rented by a rental agency that NEVER answered the phone.

“So?? We are back to driving around like a stupid dog trying to catch his tail. Fantastic. This is great.  We will NEVER find a house! These real estate people are clueless idiots! How do they manage to DRESS themselves in the morning? How do they expect people to RENT their properties if they won’t even answer their freaking phones?? ”

Starling’s typical “take up for the enemy” speech:
“Um. We’ve been here five days and two of those days were Saturday and Sunday. And its 7 o’clock in the morning.” He is so annoying when I’m mad.

I was right, of course, about the realtors. When they finally opened at NINE, Starling gave them our criteria (which was pretty straight forward- “ANYTHING you HAVE will do”) and they couldn’t come up with ANY houses that they could show us today. In fact, the chic he talked to said they only had two available rentals. Coincidentally, EVERY house we SAW for rent was listed by THEIR company. And that was at LEAST 50. Starling called and said, “Okay. Your list has TWO rentals. I have EIGHT addresses with your number listed here as the agency in charge of renting them out.”

While the little blonde with air in between her ears looked up all of the listings, we started banging doors. (Or rattling gates. There is no such thing as touching a Cozumel door. Everyone’s residencias are completely gated). We found an apartment for $125 a month. (I’ll live ANYWHERE but the hotel, remember)? Except… NOT really.

We tried to be frugal there for a minute. We tried to be excited about one and two bedroom apartments for $300- $400/month. We did. I gave it a valiant effort.

Then we went inside the condos across from our church. $1300/month resort style living.

“THIS is it! Its perfect!!”

Kids: “I want to live here forever!” , “Look at the pool!!” , “Look at the STAIRS! I can climb on top of the roof!”

Me: “Look at the STORAGE!!”

Starling the party pooper: “Look at the price! Its not furnished and that price doesn’t include internet, electricity, OR water. We’ll have to buy beds and couches and a washer and dryer!”

Miss Frugal five minutes earlier: “It’ll be fine. Look at these CLOSETS!”

Starling haggled the owner down to $875 a month. “For $750 I’ll do it.”

Starling: “We would have to buy t.v.s. Electronics are TWICE as high as the states.”

Wendi: “Yeah, but LOOK at this PANTRY!!”

I finally said we’d keep looking but NOTHING would top that brand new, pristine two story condo with the most well designed cabinetry I’ve ever seen.

The realtor FINALLY grew a brain cell and told us she could show us a house. Sitting on a corner smashed in between lines of houses, the 2nd house looked like a quaint little villa for $650/month. Nothing included, partially furnished. We walked in and WOW!! The place was MASSIVE! Bigger than my $1400/month house in MS. It was technically a 4 or five bedrooms, 3 bath. (If you consider living rooms to be for beds). And the upstairs! Bonus space everywhere I turned. And on top of the roof, a gorgeous, HUGE tiled patio. The entire house was filled with entricate detail, mosaic tiled floors, tall ceilings, etc. LOVED it! Kids LOVED it! Starling REAAALLY loved it.

BUT I didn’t like the kitchen, which was huge but hideous, but situated smartly behind a closed door, and, as Starling pointed out, I never cook so why do I care? AND I wanted to repaint the inside. AND we’d have to buy a washer and dryer, furniture, a stove, a fridge, and beds. (And couches because I would NOT use the pink dilapidated couches in the living room. And there were almost NO closets and NO storage space. Which could only mean one thing. A LOT of clutter, or we were adding built in shelves. (And that’s kind of a lot to do when you are only renting… and Starling wouldn’t even entertain my idea of BUYING the house. Something about I’m insanely rash and bla bla bla). The other thing- NO yard. As in NADA. Unless you count the flower bed wedged between the privacy gate and front door.

We went BACK to the house where Starling had previously abandoned me two days before. Senora Angela finally got a key made to break into the house we might want to rent. (Because her current renter has the keys and she never thought to duplicate it). JUDGES the woman who left my OWN renters in MS NO keys because I don’t even think I’ve ever owned keys to my house. I certainly never locked my doors. (Don’t worry. They now have keys! At least I hope that all worked out…).

I literally walked into the front door and turned to Starling and said, “Okay. We are getting THIS one.” Fully furnished with dark brown leather couches, beds, washer and dryer, and all utilities included. Including internet. Three bedroom, three bath, not INSANELY large like the other house, but spacious enough. Lovely kitchen. And the porches are MASSIVE! Mexican style tile. And the yard is a tropical paradise! Palm trees and all the other beautiful tropical plants that make Cozumel beautiful. AND it comes with a gardener that maintains all the landscaping. $1,000/month. PLUS Senora Angela told us we can use her insanely spacious compound that’s connected to her house anytime we want. For church celebrations, etc.

Right after we decided to move to Cozumel, I became increasingly interested in orphanages and birth mothers trying to put their children up for adoption to Americans, and the like. In one of my creative moments, I designed an orphanage on paper. I drew it out, labeled it, and showed it to Starling. “How much with this cost to build?”

“WHEW! A LOT.” He listened to me ramble about EACH part of my drawing and how it would all work and yata yata.

I told you in my last blog that we stopped at Senora Angelas property because I thought it was Los Ciudaded de Angeles because I saw the word Angela on the property. It wasn’t, of course. But Angela walked us through the entire property. Starling and I just stared at each other. EVERY detail of my orphanage drawing. EVERY last detail. So how much would my orphanage cost? One million dollares. It has TONS of hotel rooms. A GIGANTIC central hall (like a gymnasium) with a commercial kitchen. And so much room outside that every single person staying in the hotel rooms could play outside and not be crowded. The house for rent situated right in the front of the property separated by a concrete wall. JUST like in my drawing.

Obviously I love the house and the yard. I LOVE the porches and the tiled trails going around the house to the back patio. (Kids and bikes= ME and QUIET). The only downfall to the house. We can NOT move into the house until January 5th. That’s like DECADES away.

But Angela wants us to be her renters SO bad (so she can see our kids and probably Starling, too) that she will rent us two of her hotel rooms for $14/night. (She started at $50/night).

So I went from BEGGING and PLEADING in my morning prayers to find SOMETHING, ANYTHING that would be live-able so we could move out of our hotel. And now we have 3 AMAZING options and I wish I had my girl friend clan here to help me decide which house we should get.

Starling wants the humongous house. Brighton wants to live at whatever place we are at, at any given moment. Brooklyn loves each of them dearly and equally, and can’t decide her favorite so she’ll just let Bry pick our new house. Boeing follows Bry around repeating Brighton’s every word with vigor, “I wan DIS howse! I wan live HERE por EVER!” And I am no better than Brighton. Every house I see I basically salivate and millions of pinterest posts start clogging up my thought processor.

I have culled out house number one because its the smallest, in a condo complex with a shared pool, and my kids would probably ALWAYS be in a neighbor’s porch swing, running on their patio, or tom peeping through their sliding glass doors.

Number 2 and 3….I just don’t know. Starling says the cheap rent of #2 would give us furniture buying bonus and we could sale it if we move back to the states. And I LOVE the thought of decorating from scratch. But no yard? In the land of glorious vegetation? BUT he agrees that #3 would probably be a bonding friendship. Angela wants Starling to buy the whole property and owner finance. She said she will claim him as family so he doesn’t have to pay high taxes. I don’t know WHERE that came from bc Starling never mentioned buying it. We are scared to lease a house for $1,000/month until Starling gets his work visa and can make “legal” money.

When we went to Burger King we spent $15 on food. Prices are exactly the same as U.S Burger King except NO dollar menu. (But they do have the COOLEST playground I’ve ever seen). Starling asked the workers how much they make. $6 a DAY. (I told Starling we need to open a Burger King. Can you imagine the PROFIT they are rendering charging American prices working Mexican workers?!?)

We asked the guys pumping our gas how much they make. $4 a DAY.

We asked the hotel manager that is like the highest up of high ups in his job. $3 an hour. He’s big ballin.  

I can NOT compute. If Sam’s Club and Wal Mart have U.S. prices and ALL the little Mexican stores throughout the entire island are U.S. prices than HOW in the HECK do the Mexican people survive??

And on a selfish note, if adults make $4-$5 a day working a run of the mill job, how much would I have to pay for a couple of hours of babysitting?

I LOVE living here. The people are just plain amazing. Even when it looks like they have nothing, every time I go to a person’s house they bring our entire family drinks and try to cook us dinner. I just want to get in a house so I can return the favor. I’ll offer them some mac n cheese and ramon noodles. Because that’s going to be our Mexican staple since I can’t make tortillas and edible beans and rice.

What house would you pick? Big yard and smaller house or giant house/ no yard?  

Monday, December 15, 2014

The Crazy Adventures of the Johnson Family: Cozumel Addition

How excited am I that we are finally in Mexico? Its similar to the euphoria one gets when entering a chocolate factory and being told he/she can eat as much as desired. (So basically its unprecedented).

The journey here has been INSANE. And I really hope the tornado of our departure has calmed down.

Special shout out to our AMAZING renters!! You are AWESOME!! (Last week when we were scrambling with a total of 4 hours of sleep a day, they not ONLY came and helped us TWO nights, they also brought us dinner. And it was delicious).

I tried to pack a separate cruise bag than the move bag. But that worked out for all of about two seconds. The swimsuit I packed for the cruise was OBVIOUSLY the one I wore when I was nursing and actually had something to FILL the top cups. So the FIRST thing I had to do when we got on the boat was unzip my preciously folded and vacuumed magic bags of clothes and dump them all out and find a good “flat chested” swimsuit. (This may shock you, but NO swimsuit looks flattering when your stomach exceeds your chest. Cruise food= I became an Ethiopian caused by gluttony instead of starvation).

Cruise Highlights

The first time we went to dinner in the little shazzy snazzy restaurant with two of every eating utensil, white table clothes, and breakable water glasses with our CHILDREN (probably the only children EVER brought to dinner), Boeing discovered the knife made a fantastically obnoxious and excruciating noise when he scraped it across the top of his water glass. He then said, “I need to go potty!” And while I tried to find a bathroom he PEED. ALL over the floor.

The next night we ate at 7 o’clock with all of our kids and Brooklyn, Brighton, and Boeing wanted to go to the play place. How TERRIFIC! IF only they let in kids under THREE! Ugh…  Boeing threw a fit of complete despair begging with all of his heart to go “wif bwy and bwookin to pway.” We tried to cheer him up by goofy golfing with him. Which was really us dodging flying golf balls being THROWN, not putted by one of those golf sticks. Even though we’d just finished eating at the buffet, we went to dinner with Boeing. (Yeah. I don’t know why either. Its like we just LOVE public humiliation).

We learned the night before to move all metal and glass apparatus FAR from Boeing’s reach. Smart. But not smart enough. Barely seated, Boeing immediately climbed on TOP of the table and grabbed a handful of the individually wrapped butter. Starling seated Boeing as discretely as an elephant, and Boeing settled down playing with the butter. “Pick your battles.” We’ve all heard that. So butter was the battle we picked. I actually breathed a sigh of relief and almost relaxed enough to ease the giant KNOT that had replaced my spine. And just as suddenly as he had calmed himself, Boeing opened a butter and said, “I wash my hands wid da soap!”
“Not SOAP!” I whispered yelled. He was getting his clean on like a magic eraser. If only it hadn’t been BUTTER. I TRIED to pry the butter from his gleefully squishy hands. And it did. End exactly like you predicted. He was covered. I was covered. The poor white table cloth… And since he wasn’t hungry and Starling and I were consuming a 3 course meal, he decided to play the “potty game.” (Also known as Baby Poker. This is where he asks to go potty every time I sit back down at the table. And Starling has NO problem saying, “You just went. Sit down.” I, on the other hand, take him to potty pretty much every time he asks because he actually pees or poops every time I take him. Boeing obviously comes to ME when he needs to go to the bathroom). When I took him for the fourth time and he only “too-dood” as he calls a pass of gas, I decided to gamble. But only until mid desert, after I’d watch him chug two glasses of lemonade. He was suddenly famished when he saw the desert on the table we’d only been away from for less than a minute. As I tried to protect the glassware under attack by flailing arms, I elbowed MY desert. It was a pink substance that didn’t blend into the carpet At All. Bless Boeing’s little heart. He spent most his first cruise in time out and getting his butt beat. And he wouldn’t repeat his crimes. He’d just move on to new ones.

Our last night on the ship, after Boeing threw another heart wrenching plea tantrum to go play with his ecstatic siblings going to a Pirate Party, we took him to the nursery to let HIM play. For $8 an hour. He was TERRIFIED. He didn’t want to be with strangers. I wasn’t going to make him stay when Starling intervened and said we should have ONE dinner in peace before we left. So we had a little date night. We goofy golfed without getting pegged in the shin by wayward balls, we ate a peaceful dinner, we relaxed in our room. We tried to absorb as much peace and quiet as possible.


Jamaica’s port was beautiful. VERY commercialized and obviously not at ALL real Jamaica. We bought the kids colorful sea turtles being hand carved in front of the kids. You would have thought I’d given each of them a fluffy puppy. And we finally found out Brooklyn’s dance genre. She looked a lot more in synch with the Jamaican drums than she ever did with the other girls in her ballet class.  

We then entered the real Jamaica. Yikes. Everyone kept handing Brooklyn things and she kept saying, “Oh! Thank you SO MUCH!” And I would say, “No thank you. Give it back.” I felt like I was in a swarm of bees. Or a swarm of maracas and cheap jewelry. We were going to go to the falls but the kids were already whining, “We are TIRED of walking… we are ready to get back on the ship with our turtles.” We’d been there a total of 30 minutes. Despite my inner cry to experience the unsculpted parts of the island, the audible outer cries far outweighed it. Luckily my kids loved Margaritaville. We swam there For Free until 1 or 2:00. Then we went back to the ship and ate lunch while Starling went back to explore the island.

When asked about Jamaica, my kids said their favorite part was getting the sea turtles and seeing butterflies. Of course. Nevermind swimming under a waterfall in Margaritaville.  

When Starling returned just before he got left (on the wrong island) I was (how do I put myself in a positive light here? oh I can’t) furious! Not about him coming back late. I couldn’t believe all the (and I mean this with all do respect to the amazing artists that created the objects) CRAP he bought!

A wooden CANE (bc we ALWAYS need a walking stick), a THREE foot ALLIGATOR eating a baby alligator (because I ALWAYS decorate with wooden gators), a bambalin (exactly! what tha frick is THAT), a GIANT wooden unpainted fish (again with the wood?), a HIDEOUS wooden monkey (seriously?? a creepy monkey??), a jewelry box, and a SHARK TOOTH necklace. (Starling Johnson has never worn a necklace in his life). The ONLY thing I told him I liked that I was fine using to decorate a house we don’t even HAVE yet, was a small fish painted in our decorative colors. He bought it. AND a random GREEN fish. I just couldn’t wrap my head around it.

What goes through ones mind when they decide to buy random objects they know they are going to have to hide from their psycho wife. WHILE on a cruise ship. WHILE moving to another country. WHILE being house-less. What could possibly be THAT compelling that you would risk the WRATH of ME? And its not a risk. Its a DEFINITE occurrence. Its not like he can say, “Oh I got it to hang in The Barn.” There is no barn. There will BE no barn.

“You just THREW away MONEY on a bunch of CRAP that will NEVER be used! I MARRIED a HOARDER!! Like we don’t already have a MILLION piles of luggage! We don’t even know where we are going to LIVE! This is exactly what I did NOT want to happen! I wanted to LEAVE all of your crap behind so I could start with an EMPTY, clean, DECLUTTERED house! How can you DO this to me!?” And that was the pretty part of my lecture. It was all downhill from there. I’ve been accused (completely unfounded accusations obviously) for being a little over the top dramatic at times.

I have a love/hate relationship for Starling’s four-wheeler side business. I have a HATE relationship with all unnecessary clutter. (Which is anything that doesn’t turn a profit OR anything that doesn’t have its own place even if it DOES turn a profit). (Hence the HATE part of Starling’s obsession with motorized objects). Starling and I differ on our opinions of NECESSARY.   

All I could think is WHERE’s a dang HAPPY pill when ya need one?
His excuse was he needed a souvenir from Jamaica. He may never be there again.

OKAY. GET something a couple of INCHES long. NOT a billboard!

Then his new excuse was that the people were so poor. The further he got into Jamaica the worse the poverty was. And he didn’t WANT the objects he bought. They were the only thing remotely interesting on specific peoples’ tables that his heart went out to. They needed the money more than us.

I HATE when he does that because its almost EXACTLY what I would do. ALMOST. BUT I would have looked for something small and dainty that I could gift or donate, OR I would just give the beggars some money and leave the clutter for them to sell to another person.

While mid drama, Starling told the ship people we were getting off the boat in Cozumel. You would have thought we said we decided to be pirates. We had to go through immigration the next morning. THAT was exciting. They counted every penny we had so they could record it, took Starling into a room to interview him separate than the rest of us. We suddenly went from people moving to Cozumel for a year or so, to “vacationers for 6 months.” Because that is what you tell Immigration to enter Mexico.

The blessing that arose out of all the rig-a-maro was Daniel. Daniel was the same man that helped us LAST time we got trapped in immigration. He not only requested all of our luggage be trollied out of our ship and reloaded onto his own trolleys, but he also loaded our luggage into one of his ginormous work vans and drove us to a hotel. (If you saw how many trips we had to make to get our luggage into our hotel, you would understand that a normal taxi wouldn’t even FIT half of our luggage).

Daniel wanted to take us to a nice hotel that cost $80/night. I said, “No, no. We’ll stay at the one we did last time. It only costs $45.”

I have to say this is not at ALL what I expected. I envisioned staying a single night in the hotel. Maybe two while a realtor showed us a few houses and we picked one. I had NOOO idea that we would rent a car and drive aimlessly over the entire island writing down phone numbers that we can’t call because our phones can’t even be used here. For DAYS on end. And I would be trapped in a one room hotel room with three boisterous children wanting to play inside, outside, swim, not swim, eat, eat, eat. While Starling sat in the front lobby making phone calls, appointments, checking prices. We came at peak season so rentals are filling up with their top dollar clientele. We are looking at apartments and houses from $300/month to $1200/month. There is no rhyme or reason to neighborhoods. There are terribly impoverished people living next to 2 million dollar mansions. Half the rental signs hung on houses are actually advertising a rental in another location. The first two days the kids and I rode around with Starling from house to house. The kids loved the little orange convertible bug we rented. (By convertible, I mean no roof. Sounded like an airplane, no seatbelts). The policemen waved at the kids that were hanging out of windows and standing up in the back seat. Four wheelers, scooters, bicycles, and horses drove past us. The kids thought it was WAAAY cooler than Cruising the Coast. It wasn’t fun to them after 2 days.

“When are we going to GET there??”

“There is no THERE. We are looking at places to live.”

Not really a suitable answer. So the kids and I are now beach residents while Starling does all the shopping. (Even though house hunting is my FAVORITE thing to do. But being on the beach does plenty to dull my trepidation regarding Starling culling out properties). The kids crack me up (sometimes in a good way, sometimes in a mental institution way). I told the kids we will go to whichever beach they want tomorrow. (The two sides of the island have two COMPLETELY different beaches. I call them the sandy beach and the rocky beach).

Bry said, “Lets go to the sandy beach!”

To look at the beautiful water and the fish right under his nose? To stare in awe at the tropical paradise we are living in? No.

He held up a plastic water bottle he found. “Because I want to find gu-lass and put it in here!”

I was confused. So he dumped out the contents he’d already collected while we were walking. Brown glass. Broken beer bottles. Of course. That was SECOND on my list of reasons to move to Cozumel.

Brooklyn likes the hotel pool better than the beach. To swim? No. They have a little kiddy pool that comes up to her thighs. She, Brighton, and Boeing have a game they play. They will play it until it gets dark. You ready for this? Its called “Throw the Coconut in the water and get it out.” I’m guessing I don’t have to explain the rules to you. Because there are none. They literally grab massive coconuts and chunk them in the water, laugh hysterically, fish them out, usually without ever touching the water, and repeat. I really wish I’d brought a 500 page book. Because watching them play that game stopped being fun after about 5 minutes.

Today we WALKED to church. Of course we stopped and asked for directions to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. EVERYONE knew where it was. Yet EVERYONE gave us compLETEly different directions to get there. I saw a man wearing a white shirt and tie and knew he was a Mormon. There are two wards that meet in the chapel. North Cozumel and South Cozumel. We went to both to meet the people. There are other Americanas in both wards. I sat through church catching lots of “Jesus Cristo” and “familia.” And everyone says “entonces” a lot. The speakers talk so fast that’s about all I got from the meetings. But the people know a little English and I know a little Spanish so usually after a little game of charades we can communicate our thoughts to each other. There are 12 missionaries in Cozumel between the two wards. They speak English, too.

I was worried about the kids, how they would do in a church where they couldn’t understand anything. I don’t know why. They are MY kids after all. Brooklyn ran out of Sunday school with some kind of drink and odd looking edible stick and said, “MOM! LOOK what my teacher gave me and I said, ‘Muchas gracias!” And Bry got one, too! And I saved some of my drink for Boeing since he wasn’t in there!”

Boeing could hardly be bothered by a drink. He was yelling at the top of his lungs outside in the fenced in grassy area, “Ca get me!” He was leading about four or five kids of all ages in a game of tag the Boe Boe. He was IN Heaven. He belly flopped into the grass from the sidewalk repeatedly to either see the kids laugh or the mothers have a heart attack and die.

Bry, our shy one, ran up giggling with three other kids, he talking to them and they to him. I guess none of them noticed that they didn’t speak the same language. Bry, also our little “can’t act TOO excited about anything even if he is” said, “I LOVE this new church!”

So THAT’s a relief. We have automatic friends. Two families invited us out this week. One from each ward.

Not that only the Mormon’s are instant friends here.

We left the beach yesterday and stopped to look at a house. (In only our swimsuits). It was REALLY nice and exactly what I want for $1,000/month all things included and fully furnished, yard, etc. The lady that is renting it out lives next door. She talked to us for a little while, showed us all around, made us sit in her house and gave the kids yogurt. Starling said we had to go because he was meeting his friend. (Which is the guy we met last April that owns THE most beautiful hotels you will EVER see right on the sandy beach. That’s why we went to the beach in the first place because, in Starling’s book, after you have a conversation, even if it was only once eight months ago, you are BFF’s. And I guess that’s the Mexican culture because the guy told Starling he’d pick him up at our hotel at 5 to show him all the houses he knew of for rent). Starling and the lady were saying, what I thought were good byes. Then that little fart of a husband I have turned around and said, “K I’ll be back to pick you guys up when I get done.”

And he was out the door before I even had time to sputter, “ARE you NUTS?!”

So there I was. In my swimsuit. With two kids in swimsuits, and Boeing butt naked because his swimsuit fell completely off and was soiled with sand. And a Mexican woman who spoke NO English. AT all. I don’t even think she knew “Hello.” She was grinning ear to ear like she’d just won the Bingo. And I smiled back, trying to repress the terror rising from my stomach. She started talking ninety to nothing. I just stood there blinking. Forever. Then I shook it off and said, “Despacio por favor. No comprendo nada. Repite por favor.” So she started again very slowly. I only caught “something something something...sientete”, which I know means “sit down.” So I sat. And had the kids sit. They were oblivious to the awkwardness of the situation.

She brought me a HUGE plate of chicken. OH my GOSH. I have NEVER had chicken that good in my LIFE. I don’t know WHAT she did to make it taste like that, but it was juicy, melt in my mouth delicioso. I know several adjectives of praise. So I threw all of those to her. Probably some that can’t actually apply to food. She also brought a huge bowl of spaghetti and a massive smoothie. I fed some to the kids. They ate some chicken but not the spaghetti. It was fantastic except for some seasoning that I’m not accustomed to. The smoothie. Well. Lets just say when she went outside to pay her employees, I pinched my nose and tried SO hard to chug it. But I was gagging. It was NOT an American smoothie. No ice. Not cold. GOSH awful taste. She was about to poor the kids some and I said, “No, no…” And I showed her I’d share with them. Each took a swig and did the “WHAT was that poison you put in my mouth” expression. She thought it was hysterical. I told her that I liked it. Because I’m a liar and I didn’t want to offend her especially considering I was her prisoner until further notice. She gave the kids cereal and milk. She just doted on the kids like a little mother hen. She kept hugging them and squeezing them and laughing at them. She showed me her grandson who now lives in Canada. She really, REALLY wants us to rent the house next to us. She said she would babysit for us anytime and cook for us.

It got well past dark and I was freezing. The kids weren’t because they were playing tag around the back yard. Angela, the lady, had just hung up her linens to dry. The kids played hide-and-go-seek. You know how that goes with little ones. Brooklyn would find a hiding spot and then the boys would hide together in that same spot until Brooklyn found another spot. Brooklyn hid behind the linens. But the linens didn’t touch the ground so her legs were exposed from the ankles down. Angela laughed until she was crying. She kept trying to express everything to me. But it was all lost on my uncomprehending self. She had an alligator and frog yard ornaments. Boeing was terrified of the gator, but obsessed with it at the same time. He would run to her every few minutes and grab her hand and say, “yook! uh awigay-der!” And she would say, “o! el cocodrilo!” And he would say, “No! uh awigay-der!” And they carried on all around the yard, he pointing out things to her in English and her saying it in Spanish.

After six years of waiting, Starling FINALLY came back. Not alone. He was with Edwardo and his spouse. Angela tried to feed them, too, but they only accepted drink and then she showed them around her property. Starling apologized about a hundred times, but he was laughing so I don’t think it counts. I thought we would NEVER leave. And when, after THREE hours of being there, everyone decided to part ways, the KIDS didn’t want to go! I was completely baffled. Angela’s yard is about the size of our hotel room. And so is her house. It was an eye opener to me about my kids. We were ready to move on her house for rent, but someone is in it until January 4th. And NO WAY am I living in a hotel until then. Even though Brooklyn said, “Mom… I REALLY like this place.”
So we are back to house hunting.
It’s kind of funny. We started with me saying, “I don’t want to live in the city. I want to live in a rural area. And it must be at LEAST 3 bedroom 2 bath. WITH a large yard. Close to the beach. A house. Not an apartment.”

I have now been in this hotel room for a YEAR (actually 3 days) and I am about to DIE if I don’t leave. I don’t know if you got this from the previous part of blog, but I HATE clutter. We literally have a trail winding through our luggage from the door, to the beds, to the bathroom. And find something? IMPOSSIBLE. And there is an odor seeping out of that bathroom, a stench so grotesque that every time someone opens the bathroom door I gag and my eyes water. Seriously I threw up because of it this morning. (Starling said they don’t have a pee trap. I don’t know exactly what a “pee trap” is, but I now know that it may possibly be more important than air conditioning).  I just have to get out of here even though the kids love it. They LOVE living in one room together, building forts out of our luggage, climbing on the beds covered in sand, dog piling me every time I sit ANYWHERE. Its fantastic.

Starling wants us out of here by tomorrow (for MY sanity’s sake). FINGERS crossed.

So my stipulations have a changed a little since day one. Here are my new stipulations for living.

Not a hotel. MUST have a pee trap.