We have just a little more time before we leave. I know I’m not supposed to say on the interwebs when we’re leaving for vacation, but given that we have people coming to stay here right away I feel okay about it.

Much like a wedding or pregnancy, when you have a major event upcoming in your life all conversations focus around that. I know that people are interested out of love and concern, but one does get a bit tired of answering the same questions repeatedly. Here, then, is a collection of the questions I seem to get asked most often in order of frequency, with answers.

  1. Are you excited? – Far and away the most common question I get asked. Perhaps it is meant to be rhetorical. I always answer “yes, super excited.” Though sometimes I want to add to that “and I also have some bone crushing nausea and anxiety if I try to think about it too much.” But YES I AM EXCITED!
  2. What are you bringing? – We are each bringing one hiking backpack on the trip. Yes, that is it. We bring about a week’s worth of clothing and plan on doing wash as we go. Given that the weather is mostly temperate or warm  (except for the first week in NZ) we should be fine. If not, we can buy stuff along the way! Except for Eric of course once we get to Southeast Asia, because even the largest size of pants there will probably come to his kneecaps. We are planning on mailing a small box of winter stuff to Romania. Partly for warmth and partly because we will all be tired of looking like characters in a play who wear the exact same outfit for days on end. Eric will have his laptop, we are bringing the Ipad and we each have our own kindles. We have bets on who will get their kindle stolen first (ha, who are we kidding, it’s going to be the little girl)
  3. What are you doing with your house? – We have it listed on VRBO and it has already been surprisingly successful! This leads me to think we have it priced too low. We’re nearly booked for all of August and September, and given that most people don’t book more than 1-2 months ahead of time, I think we’ll be fine.
  4. Are you home schooling the kids? – This is the one I answer least honestly. The answer I give (truth part) is that I intend for the blog to be the homeschool. It’s a way to look up and learn about places we go, write about it, correct their grammar and so on. The rest of the answer (lie) is that I plan on dealing with math when we get to Romania. I do not know if this will actually happen. I’m kind of relying on the Irish Catholic Nuns to whip them into mathly shape in Spring semester as the kids will be enrolled in same sex Catholic schools, uniforms and all. This is really to everyone’s benefit. Have you ever had me try to teach you anything? No? Consider yourself extraordinarily fortunate.
  5. Do you have enough money for the trip? – God I hope so. Otherwise I hope I can ply my skills as a burlesque dancer along the way to support the family.
  6. When are you coming back? – Not entirely sure. See Question 5 as that will decide a bit. Sometime next summer.
  7. Are you going to be working/doctoring abroad? – No.
  8. Where are you going? – asked and answered in prior post
  9. “I’m so jealous/I hate you” – well, you should. I’m pretty fabulous.

I really want a 10th thing because all good lists have 10 things but I just can’t think of one more.


first day of “traveling”

As you probably know, the whole point of this blog post is that my family is traveling around the world in August 2016, but the annual bike trip to Fruita is the first step towards that direction. Instead of going to Fruita where we usually go we (we as in my family and my bestest of friends F and E and their mom and dad) went to Moab. On the first day that we were there we went on a canyoneering hike where we had a lot of fun! But hard too. I figure that we crossed four rivers, did three rappels, went under two rock tunnels, and one big canyon, also we saw some Anasazi petroglyphs and a forming arch. (See lulubelle’s “how arches are formed.”  🙂 ) After that we rested and had fun until then next day. Most of that was resting. The next day the children were informed that we were going on a bike ride, with another family who had joined us with two kids our age. We biked about 14.5 miles all of which were hard, about nine miles on slickrock. After that we were pooped and did nothing the rest of the day. The last day we were there we went up to the Arches National Park and did hike there and saw six cool arches.


So my mom said that I had to write about the Anasazi, the second generation of Native Americans that inhabited America before the settlers came. The Anasazi drew on the cave walls and on dark parts of rock that are still here today and as I mentioned earlier, we saw some too. A question asked a lot and that humans don’t know for sure is why they wrote petroglyphs, but the most believed reason is the reason that either they drew them to doodle, or more formal things like the sun hits it in a certain way that marks an equinox or something like that. Anasazi ate mostly meat but also berries and fruit they could scavenge. Eating like this is commonly known as the “paleo” diet. Anasazi had places to go while following the animals. Imagine it this way the Anasazi knew how the animals migrated and had places to stay along the migration path.

The Anasazi were not the first to build upright homes but they tunneled into the ground a little and made a room under the ground that was accessed by a ladder coming though the roof. The Anasazi lived in and around the Four Corners area (Colorado, Wyoming, New Mexico and Utah) the Anasazi also later evolved in to the Pueblo people and created Mesa Verde. The Anasazi who lived there, in cliff dwellings, but later split up for some unknown reason.


below a Anasazi home












Travel Book Review: Family on the Loose

I found this book while looking through family travel sites on the web– “Family on the Loose: The Art of Traveling with Kids” by Ashley Steel.   It’s currently a free borrow with Amazon Prime so I downloaded it. It is a GREAT resource for not just family travel, but even eating out domestically. There’s a lot for smaller kids and even breastfeeding which I skipped over since it doesn’t pertain to me. What I love the most are all the charts and worksheets that you can copy and paste into a journal for the kids to work on. There’s a lot of ideas for keeping kids engaged and interesting, and a lot of fun games and ideas for things to do while waiting in an airport. So many of these don’t even have to be used while traveling – there are many restaurant dinners where I wished I’d had some of these ideas! One example: the game “pancake” in which one person is “it.” The other family members go around the table and ask whatever question they would like but the only answer they can give is “pancake” and they cannot laugh! Whoever makes them laugh first is “it” and gets to pick a new word. Many of the ideas are grouped by age so it’s not one-size-fits all.

There are travel checklists and even checklists that are done with pictures so non or early readers can pack their own suitcases. I especially appreciate all the advice on how prepping your kid for the trip and what to expect makes everything smoother.

While I borrowed this on my Kindle I think I’m going to order the paper version so I can make copies of all the helpful charts and games that they include to put into the kids’ journals and take along with us. If you’re considering a similar trip (or hell, even a trip to Chipotle) I would check this book out for some truly wonderful ideas.

Change of Plans?

It’s looking more and more like starting in Japan in August will just make everyone relatively miserable with the humidity. I once spent a summer in rural Louisiana and Houston, and my most salient memories are quickly scuttling from one air conditioned box to another and feeling like showers were both the best thing ever and the most useless thing ever. I remember the same thing spending summers in India as a child during the monsoon season, but without the a/c and with lots of mosquitos.

It seems foolish to me to wait so long to go somewhere and know that you’re walking into a hell of humidity where you’ll never want to be outside. You can start in the northern and more mountainous regions, but even if you spend a few weeks there it’ll still be bad on the eastern coast. So, what to do?

My new idea is to follow the weather! This means that we start in the Southern Hemisphere, namely in Australia and/or New Zealand and then work our way northward following the good weather. Many regions of Australia are relatively temperate during this time. New Zealand is in winter, but our ski passes will give us a free week at Mt. Ruapehu and I think it would be a dream to ski there if we could! I’m going to pretend that the practicality of taking ski clothing isn’t an issue, maybe we can just rent like you can here?

So now that I’ve read a bunch of books on Japan and gotten all excited for that, I’m waiting for some books on Australia and New Zealand to come in from the library so I can dream about those.

Looking at the map the plan would be to spend a week in Australia/New Zealand (I know they’re far away really) then a week in Indonesia, moving north through Singapore, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam and then Japan. If the Fulbright doesn’t work out, then we can spend longer in each place and be more leisurely. I’d love to go to China and see the Terracotta Warriors and the Great Wall too-it’s always been a dream of mine.


Books and books and books


This is one of  my favorite parts of a trip, where you start looking through different travel guides and see how much delightful things there are to see and do around the world. It’s full of possibility and imagination and delight, and has none of the pesky realities of cost and actually getting there.

I’ve thus far just focused on the Japan books, since that will be the first part of the trip. Or…maybe not. As I’ve just learned, August is intolerably humid through most of Japan, with humidity up to 80% on many days. Unfortunately, we don’t really have the flexibility to go there in, say, April when it’s truly lovely given the school schedule.

August is also a heavy travel month in Japan given that it’s their summer vacation too and it’s also time of the Obon festival so we’ll have to make some more plans in advance since the Japanese are traveling also! One thought I had is to start with a week or so in Vancouver. We’ve never been and would love to go, August is pleasant in Vancouver, and flights there are surprisingly cheap and flights TO Tokyo are also fairly inexpensive! Another idea is to spend time in the mountains or Hokkaido first where it’s cooler and more nature-y.

Reading about Japan is so fun-whether it’s learning about the Studio Ghibli museum, tasty ramen, the outdoor hot springs (where many ban tattoos as they are considered tied to the Yakuza!), delicious sushi, the tons of fireworks festivals throughout August, the temples, yummy udon, Ninja training academies, all the crazy Harajuku outfits, Tokyo Disney and shabu-shabu. Did I mention the food?

It’s also really nice that all the prices are listed in Yen and I have no idea how much that is at this point. Sure, I could plug it through a converter but where’s the fun in that? Right now there’s so many zeros it all seems ridiculous! I’m going to live in that world for a bit. Besides, we’re not doing this as a shoestring trip-while I don’t want to be spendthrift, we do have the luxury of not needing to spend only $50 a day and I know we’ll be able to make up for it in Southeast Asia and India.

And it’s fun to be able to look at thing that I wouldn’t be able to look at without traveling with kids. By which I mean, I would normally be somewhat bashful about wanting to visit Tokyo Disney or a Sanrio store or the Ninja training but hey, if the KIDS are clamoring for it, who am I to stand in their way, right?

Anyone who’s been there have some must see sights, possibly off the beaten path?


Preparing for Lift Off

It’s time to start really thinking about the trip for next year.  I mean really, really thinking about it.

Which induces not only excitement and happiness and gratitude and amazement and also complete paralyzing anxiety and panic.  As wonderful as I know the trip will be, it also just feels SO BIG to think about. There’s all the big things to think about–what do we do with the house, the cars, school, safety, money, where we will go–and then when I’m done worrying about that I start to think about all the little things. Things such as what to pack and what we’re going to eat and will we have cell phones and is it okay for me to bring mascara on this trip? Or does that make me a bad traveler? Or just one who looks a bit better in pictures?

Some of the big things-we’d like to rent the house out, though haven’t entirely ruled out selling it, we’ll be selling one of the cars and probably having a friend keep the other. School is a bit trickier but with some combination of online math/science and using the trip itself for social studies, history and reading/writing I think it’ll be manageable.

As far as where we’ll go, I’ve gotten a stack of books from the library to start researching the first leg of the trip, which will be Japan and Southeast Asia. I’m thinking to start in Japan, then fly down to Vietnam and explore the peninsula. I’m not sure about visiting China, but it all depends on how much time we have and how much anyone who’s been there convinces me we HAVE to go. The second leg depends on whether Eric gets the Fulbright Scholarship he’s applied for in Timisoara, Romania or not. If so we’ll be there from perhaps October through December, and likely do some exploring of Eastern Europe at that time. If not then we’ll likely do longer stops in East Asia. December/January ideally we’d spend 3-4 weeks in India, then in February we’d head to Ireland where Eric is teaching a Study Abroad program near Dublin. During or after that time we’ll travel in Western Europe. Nothing of course has been set in stone, and if there’s someplace that you tell me we MUST go to, we can change our trip.

Overall we’re planning a slow travel type of a trip, where we find a rental for 1-2 weeks in a place and then do day trips from there instead of moving every day. I’ve been reading some family travel blogs and this seems to be what works best especially when traveling with kids. It also gives us the ability to have a more relaxing down day in the week where we plan the week, do homework, etc.

I’d like to be better about documenting this trip, so my goal is to start writing on at least a weekly basis to get in the habit of doing so. It’s surprisingly easy to find time NOT to write, as those of you who write well know, and I hope that by making it a priority now it’s easier to continue when we’re on the road.

So here we begin!