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The New Family / 1,000 Families Project: Sarah, Ed, Max, Artemis and The Zoo - The New Family
1000 Families Project Sarah, Ed, Max, Artemis and The Zoo

1,000 Families Project: Sarah, Ed, Max, Artemis and The Zoo

This family has a travelling lifestyle many people would envy. Learn how they’re raising their kids between two different countries.

For some, “Home is where the Heart is,” however, for us, it’s “Family is where the Heart is.” And that’s a good thing considering we spend six months of the year travelling. Life would be pretty lonely without family to come home to. And it was until we changed that.

You see, we don’t have a big family of our own. In fact, the kids do not have even one cousin and they never will. Since we wanted something different for them, we thought that we’d pick one for ourselves. Yes, you read that right. Pick our family. You might be thinking that I’m talking about adoption given the fact that Ed and I are both adopted, but I’m not.

When the kids* were born, we decided to hand pick some individuals that were really close to our family and with their permission, have the kids start calling them “Aunt or Uncle.” We liked that the moniker implied a level of respect for the recipient as well as a sense of trust for the kids. Over the years, our family grew. Not only in numbers but borders, languages and cultures. Family knows no bounds.

Before I go on about how the kids now have over 50 cousins/primos and 50 aunts, uncles, tios and tias across Canada and Mexico, I thought that I’d explain a bit more about the details surrounding our nomadic lifestyle. While it’s “just life” to us, I understand that not many people live the way we do. In fact, we don’t know anyone that does.

It all started in 2005, when after 18 months of preparation, we loaded up our van with all our worldly possessions, including our cat, and drove south to San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas, Mexico. You can read more about why we made this major life decision and moved to Mexico. In 2008, we came back to Canada and started a family.

When the kids were 10 months old, we loaded them, our two dogs and the cat in the van and headed south. The 5,000 km drive takes us five days and this December will be the kids sixth time. Over the years, they’ve spent almost a year of their young lives in Mexico. For four months every winter, they attend school, speak fluent Spanish and play with people that have taken them in as their own. They are our family.

For two months in the summer, we travel around Canada visiting family (of course!). And, for the rest of the time that we’re settled in Canada, the kids attend an all-French school for three months. I supplement with homeschooling in order to meet the educational requirements in Ontario.

As for finances, we live by the basic rule: spend less than you make. Ed is in charge of making the money. As the main breadwinner, he works crazy hours as a consultant for his security design company. He takes on contracts when he wants and can work anywhere there is internet. It helps that we have a VOIP phone system because most times, his clients have no idea where he is. He usually comes back to Canada twice while we are in Mexico and I stay put with the kids and the menagerie of animals.

The saving of money is my domain. I thrift shop, cut coupons, barter, have a garden, enter giveaways, work on my blog and other creative strategies. I am personally challenged to find ways to save. For me, it is more than just a lifestyle—it is also a hobby. The kids have never wanted for anything yet and they have their grandparents to thank for that. It takes a family and a big one at that.

One of the main reasons why we chose Mexico to live was the strong sense of family there. Everyone is included in everything, from a 98-year-old woman to a two-day-old baby. It wouldn’t be a wedding without a baby screaming at the most important point in the ceremony. The best part? No one would even blink an eye. If they did notice, there would be 20 “family members” wanting to hold and love the child. And the parent would pass them off to the nearest set of arms, whether they knew them or not. You don’t have to share a person’s blood to love and care about them. We are living proof of that.

* In 2009, we had Triplets; Alexander, Maximilian and Artemis. Unfortunately, Alexander passed away when he was a baby. You can read more about Alexander’s Story. I refer to all three of them as “The Kids.”

This is #1000families post number 111. Do you have a family story of your own to contribute to the 1,000 Families Project? Or do you know a family that might want to do so? Learn more about how the series got started and how to get involved here. You can find all of the #1000families posts here.

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Sarah De Diego

About Sarah De Diego

Sarah authors Journeys of The Zoo where she documents the humours of daily life and international travels of "The Zoo"—Ed, Sarah, the kids, and a menagerie of pets. She became a Mother for the first (and last) time when she had Triplets in 2009. Sadly, Alexander passed away. These are the Journeys of The Zoo. View all posts by

'1,000 Families Project: Sarah, Ed, Max, Artemis and The Zoo' have 19 comments

  1. July 27, 2015 @ 9:49 pm Aneta

    You are brave and wise and your lifestyle is truly one that makes me happy. I don’t have the patience to get in the car with my brood to go to the grocery store and you just do it over and over. Lots of love on your travels


    • Sarah De Diego

      July 29, 2015 @ 10:15 am Sarah De Diego

      Dear Aneta,

      Many people have used the words “crazy” and “foolish” to describe our lifestyle so I’ll take brave and wise. Thank you for your kind words.

      Besos Sarah.


  2. July 28, 2015 @ 8:54 am Christy Maurer

    I love your traveling life and your family…all of them! I think that you are giving your kids an amazing experience and one that they will always cherish.


    • Sarah De Diego

      July 29, 2015 @ 11:05 am Sarah De Diego

      Dear Christy,

      We won’t know if we made the right decision until The Kids are older but we’ve got a good feeling about things.

      Thank you so much for all your support and guidance on this unknown road called “parenthood” and “life”.

      Besos Sarah


  3. July 30, 2015 @ 5:36 pm Rene

    Great story, and well written. I agree that you don’t have to share blood to be considered family. When we live so far from our blood relatives we build our own families!


  4. August 1, 2015 @ 9:10 am Life of K

    I love learning more about you.. it’s fascinating and so unlike anything I know. Thanks for sharing 🙂


  5. August 6, 2015 @ 12:50 pm Anna Johnson

    We would love to be a travelling family, our boys would learn so much more than just in school! Thanks for the money saving ideas too!


    • Sarah at Journeys of The Zoo

      September 21, 2015 @ 10:58 am Sarah at Journeys of The Zoo

      Dear Anna,

      I wish you all the best with your traveling goals. Let me know if you have any questions.

      There is so much to learn with traveling and they don’t teach it in schools.

      Besos Sarah.


  6. August 6, 2015 @ 1:20 pm Theresa C.

    Your children are so lucky to be travelling so much at such a young age! It will make such an impression on them, and give them a wonderful world view that they will carry with them always! Family is the most important thing 😉


  7. August 7, 2015 @ 3:20 pm salexis

    Family is the most important thing. Ever.


  8. August 8, 2015 @ 2:44 pm Darren Scrubb

    I love to travel myself, so it was nice to read about this family doing their voyage.


  9. August 9, 2015 @ 9:50 pm Elizabeth Matthiesen

    Beautifully written Sarah, loved reading this. I envy you a little, though I have travelled a lot it was usually only moving every 3 years. I doubt that I could cope with doing it every year. I take my hat off to you and yours 🙂


  10. August 11, 2015 @ 3:10 pm salexis

    That is beautiful! Family = home.


  11. August 13, 2015 @ 2:22 am heidi c.

    I must commend you on being a strong, courageous, adventurous mom! I love reading about your exciting life.


  12. August 13, 2015 @ 2:36 am Elaine Buonsante

    I admire you for being able to adapt to a new culture like you are doing!


  13. August 20, 2015 @ 2:09 am Julie Lundstrom

    This is a wonderful story that shows the love and strength of a family.


  14. September 19, 2015 @ 7:01 pm paula schuck

    I am so happy to read this here Sarah. Your family is beautiful and your lifestyle is a gift to all of you. I am always amazed that you manage this every year.


    • Sarah at Journeys of The Zoo

      September 21, 2015 @ 9:55 am Sarah at Journeys of The Zoo

      Dear Paula,

      Thank you for being supportive of so many of my lifestyle choices. It’s hard to “tilt at windmills” when everyone else is doing something else but for now, our lifestyle makes all of us happy. Besides, it’s all we know.

      Besos Sarah.


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