Tag Archives: raising children in Mexico

Modern Day Marias–Maggie the provider

Were there days that Maria regretted her decision to go with Jose, first to Bethlehem and then later to Egypt? Were there times when she felt like she just couldn’t even get out of bed to face the day? Did she need to take on outside work to help in the lean times when Jose didn’t have any furniture orders? How did she manage?

Today’s modern day Maria, Maggie,  “is like the merchants’ ships; she bringeth her food from afar. She riseth also while it is yet night, and giveth meat to her household and a portion to her maidens.” (Proverbs 31: 14-15)  Read and be inspired!


You can call me Maggie. I am from Los Angeles, CA. My husband and I met at my prior job. He was granted a voluntary departure which allows a non-citizen to leave the US without an order of removal on record. He is not allowed to reapply for a visa for 10 years afterward. We have 4 more years to go until he can request readmission. We now live in Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico.

Everything in my life has changed. My family and friends are distant. My husband and I argue more. Our entire lifestyle, our way of life, our everyday routines have changed.  My belief system has changed.  I’ve changed.  I’m often depressed.  I have no motivation.  I’m angry.

We have adapted to the daily border crossing life. My kids had to get used to crossing every day at 4 am for school. For the first 2 years, we didn’t have a car. We had to use public transportation to cross from one country to the other. Border life means leaving before the sun comes out and always getting home after the sun sets.

There were so many things I just took for granted before moving to Mexico. The first year in Mexico we didn’t even have hot water. Winter was VERY cold. For 3 years we used a camping stove attached to a propane tank. The feeling when you get your first stove after so many years is like Christmas morning. Having a stove meant that we could bake cakes or a turkey. It meant a safer kitchen. It was a wonderful day for us.


I miss a warm home, a better way of living, not struggling to get to work or school. I don’t know what keeps me going some days. My husband has missed out on our kids’ middle and high school graduations among other milestones because he could not cross the border to be with us. My children struggle to accept this life. They are both now in college working on saving money to move at the end of the school year back to the states.

I work a regular part-time job across the border.  I own two home based businesses. Margret Ruiz Photography (Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook) and Margret’s Fabulous Creations (Instagram and Facebook). I am also involved in several non-profit organizations including Baja Sand and the Lupus Foundation of America.  I lost my favorite aunt to Lupus the first year our life was uprooted.

I co-founded a charity in Rosarito called Cumpliendo Sueños (Making Dreams Come True). I donate my photography services and gowns so that girls who otherwise couldn’t are able to have a Quinceñera party. Please consider donating your time or resources so that even more girls can have their dreams come true.

Margret Ruiz Photography- Maggie is a family & Wedding Photographer based in San Diego CA. and Baja California Mexico and is always willing to travel.

I love doing military homecoming photography shoots in San Diego. When I do shoots like this I do them with more passion than any other shoot. I get emotional. It’s that feeling of seeing someone after a long time. The adrenaline and happiness and excitement one gets are amazing. I was apart from my husband for 4 months when this all started and I always relive all those feelings when I do a homecoming.

My current goal is to reach a certain level of income as a photographer. I am reaching towards that goal by more networking and investing more in my business. I am in need of a new camera. Mine is over 6 years old. It’s a struggle every time I have a shoot. If you care to help me help others through photography, you can donate via Paypal at margretruizphotography@yahoo.com.  Thank you.

I’d just like to add that we value life and everything we have more now than ever.  We don’t take for granted all of the little things we have.  We reuse and find uses for old or broken things instead of throwing them out.   We might fight more but we love each other more. No marriage or family is perfect. We are more humble, more thankful and blessed to be together.  Mexico has been a learning experience for us all.




Filed under Guest Blogger Adventures

Homeschool variation

scarlet king snake

Red touches yellow kills a fellow. Red touches black, a friend of Jack.

As an educator, I have always been concerned about my son’s education. I felt, since the moment he was born, that my principle task as a mother was to help him learn to be a well-adjusted, happy and successful man, no matter where he might live.

When we arrived in México, my son was 4 years old, and according to his Spanish-speaking grandparents, he didn’t speak any Spanish. However, he did understand everything he heard. In order to jump start his language acquisition, we decided to send him to a bilingual kindergarten. I found a position with a private school, and he attended with me. We both liked this arrangement since Mommy was his teacher for 1/2 the day. His Spanish improved immensely.

At 5, we needed to make some decisions about schooling. We planned to make México our permanent home, not just a 2 or 3-year stint. It was evident that there would be things I just wouldn’t be able to adequately teach my son about Mexican culture and language. Thus began our homeschool variation.

My son attends public elementary school from 2 pm in the afternoon until 6:30 pm. His normal subjects include Spanish, Math, Science, Mexican Moral Values, Physical Education and Mexican History, with brief sessions of music, art, and computer classes. So my mission was to supplement these courses with those that I thought he might need. We began a home study course in the mornings and on weekends.

I left Spanish alone. A native teacher is always better than a foreigner. At 10, he speaks Mexican Spanish fluently, without a trace of an American accent. He also is the top reader in his class, having been elected several years in a row to represent his school at various reading competitions.

Math, other than learning the terms in English, again was something I didn’t need to focus too much on since numbers are easily understood in digit form in either language. Anyway, I wasn’t much help with the metric system, having learned the English measurement system when I was a girl. His dad does most of the teaching for this subject. Having worked in both the United States and México, he is able to use both measurement systems well. He and our son used hands-on math in the construction of our home.

I added World History to his morning agenda, using interesting books or fun activities like word searches or hidden picture books. I also had him play Civilization on the computer, which really was his favorite lesson by far. If you’ve never played the game, the idea is for you to grow a civilization from the hunter/gatherer stage to a scientifically advanced one. Your scientific and military advancements depend on the civilization you choose. I think, for this reason, he never complained when we had to gather vinas (a bean type plant) or cut grass for the animals. He imagined he was gathering, just like in the game. Now that his reading ability has caught up to the textbooks I brought with us, he enjoys comparing what he learned from the game to the information in the books.

In line with our world culture study, we recently added Bible lessons as well. We can really relate to some of the early biblical accounts as we too have sheep and goats and have to haul water and make good trades. I found Semana Santa (Holy Week) a good time to present the life and times of Jesus since there are live reenactments of the trial and death in this very Catholic nation. He also is my assistant in designing Spanish Bible games for a local Christian church.

Science has been the easiest by far. We live off the beaten path and every day provides opportunities to study native flora and fauna. I remember the day we saw a dung beetle rolling its dung with his hind legs. Having only ever seen that creature on TV, we were very excited to be sure. We watched it for awhile, then raced home to do more research in the bug encyclopedia.

On another nature walk, we came across a snake that my son was able to identify as a non-venomous scarlet king snake, not its poisonous cousin the coral snake, from his readings. Then there are the butterflies of México, every size and hue imaginable. After the rains, butterflies can be found in groups of hundreds. You can literally walk through clouds of butterflies. No museum trip can match the wonder of that.

With the native vegetation, I am as an avid a student as my son. I have been unable to locate any composite books on plants of México, so am always full of questions for my husband and my in-laws. What is the medicinal value of this or that plant? Is it edible? What animals eat it? Which are poisonous? Can it be made into a tea? How do you eat it, raw or cooked?

We also began our mini-ranching about the time our son started school, so he has had hands-on experience with a number of different animals, much more learning intensive than a day trip to the petting zoo. He has helped with births and hatchings, with daily care and milking, with the selling and butchering. He has learned, along with us, about the interconnectedness of the environment. For example, the horses eat grain then poop. The chickens eat the flies and the undigested grains and lay eggs. We eat the eggs, which gives us the energy to plant the grain that the horse eats. He has also seen the agonizing results of improper or inadequate care and learned how we have a responsibility to our animals to provide adequate food and shelter and what benefits we receive in return.

Of course, his daily homeschool curriculum includes liberal doses of English. He helps me design exciting language games, reads, does his (in his opinion ‘not so fun‘) daily grammar or spelling activity, and uses the language every day with his father or me or my other ESL students. He speaks English without a Mexican accent, although he often spells as if the word were phonetically Spanish. We’re working on that.

With non-academic courses such as physical education, music, art, and computer literacy classes, most Mexican public schools do not have a lot of funding for intensive year-long classes, but they do provide sessions as teachers become available.

My son had an art class working with barro (clay) which is a traditional medium for many everyday items still made and used here in México today. He is also learning Zentangle design from a student of mine in exchange for English classes.

He has had a few flute classes, but he never mastered that well. So now, he takes Mommy piano lessons on Saturday and is progressing nicely.

Our daily lives, with its many activities, provide ample physical activity for a growing boy. For instance, my son’s job is to fill the barrica (barrel) using the hand pump so that we have water to wash with. We tease him about how the girls in his class must notice how muscular he has become because of this daily task. We also love to take family bike rides to the next town and back.

And he has had access to a computer from an early age in our home. We have recently been able to get internet service, and the whole world has opened up for him with the click of a button.

I wish I could provide more for my son. The area that we live in is so backward regarding technology and at times, culturally. But I hope that I am providing enough that wherever he may go, he will have enough knowledge to survive and succeed.

After all, as Joseph Campbell says, “Wherever you go, there you are.” and that should be enough for anyone.




Filed under Education, Parenting Challenges and Cultural Norms