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Lego-lisiousness in Legoland!

Sol 86

As I sit up on my 9th story perch in Ho Chi Mihn City

HCMC Writing Spot

 

I am reflecting on our time in Malaysia. There is so much to write about here in Vietnam and I will get to that but, first want to revisit our adventures at Legoland in Southern Malaysia and Singapore.

Going to a theme park was not part of our original plan but, the opportunity came up, our kids LOVE Legos and the boys were struggling with a bit of homesickness.

The Lobby of Legoland Hotel

Now, do we run off to a theme park every time we are sad…no but, it sure doesn’t hurt to go that extra kilometer (see what I did there with the metric system reference?) to soothe ourselves a bit.

LEGOLAND HOTEL

Legoland Malaysia was pretty sweet. I haven’t been to Disneyland since I was a teenager but, I imagine it is like the ‘happiest place on earth’. We decided to stay at the Legoland Hotel which has themed rooms with scavenger hunts, Lego characters walking around, life-size Lego mini figures, characters walking around and LEGOS everywhere to play with. Big blocks and little blocks.

There are daily building contests and workshops as well as a character parade in the lobby. It was so sweet to see joy on so many faces. Not just ours but, the plenitude of families from all over. There were families there from India, China, and all over SE Asia. We were definitely the minority as we would nod hello to another ‘Western” family from time to time.

Breakfast and dinner buffets were a cultural lesson in itself. So many options of food from standard Western choices to a plethora of Eastern ones too. Did you want Dim Sum with your pancakes? Or French Pastries with Chinese Congee porridge with dried fish on top? Or a traditionally poured spiced chai, watermelon juice, white coffee or full cream milk?

Out in the park, did you want to swim in your hijib or swimsuit or use the body dryer (like a giant hair dryer for your whole body) after getting wet on a ride? Did you want to pray when the call to prayer happened or have a dragon fruit smoothie?

Prayer Spot in Park

All of this while being surrounded by Lego figures?

Our room was the Adventure theme which the boys picked out. It seemed very appropriate for our current journey. Maps and decor from an Egyptian papyrus abound.

Huge ‘Body Dryers’ and all the teens getting dry.

Because we are family half filled with introverts we spent plenty of time in the room. While it was our first place without a kitchen during our travels we did order room service which, amazingly didn’t cost more than the restaurant and the delivery folks refused tips only wanting you to put in a good word at the ‘opinion kiosks’ around the place.

A scooter accident portrayed at Mini-land

THE PARKS

The rides were fine. Oakley tried his first roller coaster and was thrilled. The most impressive areas to me were the Minilands where replicas of iconic places around Asia are constructed to impressive, minute detail. Even the scooter accidents with media and police presence on the street. I could have spent hours here. It was super hot so, we melted as we perused even with the welcome mister machines nearby.

The Star Wars exhibit was stunning with a room dedicated to each episode including the TV Clone Wars. We are Star Wars family so, we loved this geeked out to our hearts content.

They have a water park as well and it was also fine. A lazy river bobbing with big legos you can attach to your floating device. A ‘Build a Raft” float as it were.

In any case, it was lovely to have a big family time in what felt like a big playground. I heard ‘Everything is Awesome’ more times than I care to count but, it was worth it. We did let the boys get a few, small Lego sets to take with us on the road as nothing beats the blues like a couple of hours of Lego play.

A BALANCE OF TRAVEL AND FAMILY

Our travel journey is of where we are going but, it is also richly in the details of our relationships with our kids and between my husband and I. We are a collection of varying personalities and we all need different things to fill our batteries. We discover that more and more as we move along.

Family outings are my favorite and seeing the world whiz by in my window really fills my cup but, I know Oakley and Kelvin need more down time. Canyon too at times. I do too in my own way. Writing is actually very, very helpful for me to sort my head.

I get worried about the things we are doing or not doing and if we are keeping the kids on track in school. Do we communicate enough with family and friends. How do we sort out the time differences and make connections.

Accepting that we can be doing a once in a lifetime thing and still feel rather lonely and miss down time tucked in our oversized duvet back in Oregon.

It is all a balance. And we are working on it day by day. Okay, okay….enough about our inner-psyche.

Next, we headed to Singapore for a couple of days before heading to Vietnam. More on that in our next blog.

As always, thanks for reading and following!

I’m still in love with my Chef Husband but, it was nice to met Lego Chef!

The Deathstar!

The bathrooms at Legoland

Mini-Legoland

Ha! Love the sense of humor!

Fresh Seafood at Legoland?

 

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Our Bali Excursion is Winding Down, Our Life Long Love Affair is Just Beginning

Sol 61: Coming up on three weeks in Bali. We’ve had some highs and some lows. The awe at the constant beauty around us has not waned. It seems every time I look up I see something unique, amazing, delightful or a bit different and quirky.

The bargaining never stops.

New Kite Flying Friends

My husband is tallying a list of ‘things I have seen being carried on a scooter’ and it just about contains everything possible. I’ve seen tiny, tiny babies nestled between ma and pa, panes of glass being held aloft, piles of branches, sticks and grass, complete mini-stores where one might make a meal or sell you a plethora of snacks. All of this wheeling by you.

Dewi makes the best meals!

The places we have stayed have been varied from an estate/villa such as the place we are at now to a house in the middle of a more tattered neighborhood where our point woman was amazing. She arranged for our boys to fly kites with her sons and made the best Nasi Goreng.

Emade, our amazing driver from Ubud. Email him for driving at nyoman.wati72@gmail.com

We ended up leaving early though as we found a dead bird under our bed and a bird nest above our son’s bed in the thatched roof that was less than sanitary. Bird poo on your sheets and pillows? We had to draw the line somewhere. The host (whom we never met) told us by email ‘that is nature’ and I am inclined to think it is but, it doesn’t have to be on my son’s head.

Dinner on Jimbaran Beach.

We are getting more adaptive in the heat. I wouldn’t say more used to it. You can see why people have plunge pools to dip into and wash off the heat of the day.

Monkey back rubs at the Monkey Forest Sanctuary.

We can see Mt. Agung from our current house and she is still resting. We are grateful for this but, also are acutely aware that there are several thousand people still living away from their homes out of the evacuation zone in refugee camps. This is heart breaking and a struggle.

Jatiluwih Rice Terraces

Our boys have adjusted to mom and dad being the guides/teachers for the interim.

They are adjusting and we are soaking up our last week here as Friday, we head to Malaysia

There are very typical Bali experiences I am committing to memory. I share 10 of them with you here.

  • the sweeping up of all the flowers that fell overnight with a broom made of palm leaves.
  • the sweet smell of incense and tiny offerings that show up before most doors or walkways.
  • the low, guttural mooing of the cows with giant bells around their necks.
  • the assortment of flying bugs some bedazzling with colorful, sparkling wings and others just larger than I have ever seen before.
  • houses with open walls that get transformed in the evening to a closed in space with the pull of a curtain.
  • the frogs that take up residence in the bathrooms or guarding the end of  our bed.
  • the offer of a 100 cab, scooter rides if you are merely standing on the side of the road.
  • the vibrant color of fruit smoothies that rival any modern painting
  • the intricate carvings in wood and stone that are done with a hammer by the roadside
  • the absolute kindness of most people who wish to see you well.

Canyon warning the rabbits they may become pets or someone’s dinner.

Nothing like seeing a structure that is over 600 years old when your own country’s european settlement history started after this temple was built.

My new favorite Pringles flavor?

Doorway to our current bedroom.

Boys paying respects by wearing a sarong and really looking good while doing it!

Night food market.

Grilling the meat and using the fan to bring in the customers as well as spread the smoke.

Kelvin in his element with the cutest photo bomber in the back!

Tenenungan Waterfalls

Reading Kindles while waiting for a ride.

 

Family photo

A huge shout out to our friends Robyn and Mark who hosted us a couple times in Australia. We want them to know we so appreciate them!! Happy Wedding next month!

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A Lush, Green Paradise, a 15 Year Anniversary and 20 things I have noticed.

We have arrived in our first country during our round the world journey where English is not the mother tongue. Even more than that, the surroundings are unlike any we would encounter in our home in Oregon.

We had a few hiccups to get us here. I spent so much time sorting out the information about the visas I missed that tiny line about how you must have a proven departure plan before they will even let you on the plane.

So, we were at the Brisbane airport Jetstar check in counter (for the first time) and I hurriedly bought four tickets on a ferry to Singapore. I was punching the details of all our passports into my iPhone screen hoping that the credit card I am using would work to buy the tickets. And what’s more, that we will be able to use them.

The port is a place about 1000 miles from where we were staying but, it IS in Indonesia! Thanks so much to the airline representative who helped me do this rather than be forced to buy another airline ticket. Times four!

Earlier, we had already experienced not being picked up by our pre-scheduled Uber ride and frantically had to book another taxi to get us to the airport. I dislike that kind of scramble to the airport.

While we were checking into our flight (after I bought my ferry tickets) they had a lock down at the JetStar check-in counter. I felt like we were at a cooking contest as they yelled out for everyone to step away and hands up from the computers.

For several tense minutes, we all stood around and scrolled through our phones to see if there was some new information about Mt. Agung, the aged volcano currently smoking in Bali. Nothing. Just a false alarm and after a short while we all got ticketed and sent to the gate. The duty free gin never looked better!

It was about a 5 and a half hour flight and the pilot said he was getting updates on the volcano every five minutes and we would ‘act accordingly’. No sure what that means but, okay. He’s in charge.

Onward, a flight with some movie watching and an occasional peek out into the darkness with the hope to see a glimpse of the magical land we were winging toward.

We arrived in Bali and the humidity hugged us like a damp sweatshirt. Wandering through the airport to the immigration hall that had ceilings about four stories high I knew we had arrived.

My Dragon Fruit Smoothie

A friend arranged a pick up (thank you Drew!) and we were mesmerized by the steady of stream of motorbikes that swarmed around us as we motored down the narrowest of roads in the dark. It was like being with a bunch of ants. You just went with the flow.

Asking for prayers for the people in evacuation camps from the Mt. Agung volcano watch area

The next day we headed up to Ubud, known for its rice patty fields, cultural dances and, most recently, the popularly of Eat, Pray, Love. And currently, a spat of downpours that wipe the humidity from the air and feed the rice.

In Bali, tourism accounts for about a third of the economy so, there is always someone to help you with your questions, desires or plans. That is certainly the case in Ubud.

We are staying at a place I found on Airbnb as I wanted to have something set for the celebration of our 15 years of marriage! Whoo-hoo! This home is a dream, it feels palatial. It was a splurge to our budget at $42 a night. 

So much swimming around my head. More to process and share.

Here’s my my list of 20 things I have noticed after arriving in Bali in the first day and a half.

Three Little Monkeys Sitting on a Bench.

 

 

 

20 things I have noticed since arriving in Bali.

1- There are scooters everywhere and they hold such a variety of people carrying a multitude of things.
2- A rice field walk with Drew was awe-inspiring. We saw people working, rice-growing, ducks, giant spiders.
3- The spiders can be very, very, very big. With bodies as big as a hummingbird.
4-People are very, kind and helpful.
5- The roads are very narrow and have various surfaces, rarely a sidewalk and gaping holes about every 25 feet. Makes for an interesting stroll.
6- It is very humid and the rain comes in downpours.
7- Butterflies, moths, are frequently flying around. They are black, blue and many colors.
8- The beds come with mosquito netting and it looks so romantic.
9- People carry loads on their heads to free up their hands.
10-Geckos, lizards are all over the place. We counted 24 outside our place last night.
11- Ducks can be pets and hang out in the rice patties during the day and get walked home at night by following a flag on a pole.
12- Our place has a little pool and it is delightful.
13- The dollar to Rupiah exchange is 13,435. So you can feel like a millionaire when things cost 60,000 Rupiah and you can buy it with ease. That is the going cost of all four of us getting a ride to the center of town, equivalent of about $4.45.
14-It is hard to figure our what everything costs with such big numbers.
15-There are offerings nearly everywhere for most everyday activities. You find these beautifully folded offerings and incense in the most delightful places.
16-If you order Western food it will look differently than you expect.
17- It is really quiet when you get away from the roads.
18 – There are chickens everywhere. They are like wild mice (aka rats).
19-Alcohol is rather expensive.
20-You need to drink bottled water. Even to brush your teeth.

More to come. We will be here for at least two more weeks. More adventures to be had. More plans to be made. Let’s hope that volcano behaves.

Family Commute

Cooking oil for sale at grocery. Makes a lot more sense to take it home and put it in your own container.

Local boys using a fish to fish.

A Royal Bathroom

Happy, jet lagged boys in a field.

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3 Cats, 3 Dogs, 3 Chickens, 1 boy who turned 10 and a Volcano Watch.

Sol 42: We are in our last week in OZ! I didn’t know was the nick name for this wonderful country as every time I hear that I think of a prison drama on HBO but, never you mind.

Last week, we went a different direction by splurging on passes to the amusement park of Dream World and White Water World .  This is out of the ordinary for us but, one turning 10 is a pretty big deal too.

We have never been to Disneyland but, this may count as a good alternative. Kelvin and I have not been to any Disney park since the 1980s so, we don’t have a lot to compare it to.

It was fun, some crazy rides and loads of old school favorites. Also, not so crowded so all introverts in the family adjusted well. We packed our lunches and easily headed to the car to eat or carried what we needed with us.
For an eight year old and newly minted ten-year old it was the ‘bees knees’. My words, not theirs. Theirs included ‘This is sick!’ and ‘What the ‘bleep’ (yes, they say actual word bleep).

These sound bites don’t sound so good in print. It felt good to be in a place with a bunch of other kids too.

There are few amusement parks where you can see Kangaroos, Dingoes, Bilbys, and lizards that are all over the place. They might even visit your picnic lunch (the lizards, not the Dingoes!).

Oakley’s favorite place was the Lego Store as you walked in. This sounds like the ‘liquor store’ when spoken by a native Aussie so, my confusion was apparent. And disappointed to having no wine with the Legos. But, alas.

Canyon starting his Chauffeur career.

Canyon, our ever-present water hound, was pleased with all the water slides and joyous drops from up high. He even learned to drive a little.

Kelvin took a lot of photos (you should check out his blog at Degrees of Kelvin to see some of his perspective on this trip.

He always shows us sides of the trip we hadn’t seen and close-ups with all the birds and animals. All of us had a great time, we had a couple of day pass that we felt was very affordable.

Which was good as Oakley had a fever the first day and he and I hung out at the house with the dogs for the day while Kelvin and Canyon adventured.

Canyon bringing Mossimo back as Oakley looks down from the bedroom.

The dog and chicken sit is going well. There are three dogs with varying personalities and one is blind so, we carry him down the stairs to wee/poo. The house is called a Queenslander so, it basically built on stilts.

It is a single level for living but, the bottom is like an open spaced garage/washroom/storage room. Fresh eggs every morning is a plus as well.

We also have been getting in our last swims in the Australian seas as well as trips to the pharmacies, book stores and other supply places we might not so easily access on our next leg.

We have been finding our way with the world-schooling. It is a rhythm that we are all trying to balance. Kelvin and I take turns ‘teaching’ or ‘guiding’ as in the Montessori way.

We did Skype with the classroom and that was helpful for the boys to see some of their friends and realize that they are far behind or missing big events.

Yes, there are doing cool things in school but, it’s not like the boys are left out. As they check in with their reporting of their adventures. This helps with the home/friend-sickness that comes up from time to time.

Did I mention that volcano? The last couple weeks there is has been a lot in the news about Mt.Agung’s volcano activity.

List to report to the class.

We have talked with ex-pats that are there and contacted several places and we are getting the go ahead to proceed.

Even the Balinese Tourism Chief asked folks to not change their plans and to still come to Bali. We are not planning on being in place near the Mt.Agung so we are going.

We don’t currently have flight plans to leave which is for the best as we can pick and choose when and where we go next.

We have accommodations for nearly three weeks and will keep a keen eye on what is happening.

The last couple days are connections with long time friends. Staying in their wonderfully comfy, clean house warm with lively conversation, tasty meals and, as Oakley ferreted out, more Legos.

We did tip our hat to OZ at Sky Point , one of the tallest buildings in the Southern Hemisphere. It was a great way to get some perspective when getting ready to leave an area.

The views were unsurprising and there were many, many pods of Humpback Whales breaching, slapping and altogether frolicking out in the ocean. Oz is truly friendly, beautiful and ginormous. We will have to come back.

I think this just might be Kelvin and I in Lego form.

Kody helping Kelvin even though he is blind and deaf he knows good food when he smells it. So do the Geckos that climbed in the window to peek at the activity.

On the job, walking the dogs.

Canyon is trying three new things in each country and it was Sushi for his birthday. A new love for him (and a delight for me!).

Dinner with Deb, our first Trusted Housesitter host and a friend for life now. She has also offered Canyon an opportunity to come back when older to sit again.

 

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Total Eclipse of the Heart!

We fly out tomorrow! We spent a week in Idaho visiting family and friends, eating last tastes of favorite foods such as tuna melt and fries from Bar Gernika, lamb shank from Lock, Stock and Barrel.

Yesterday we tried to race across Oregon to get back to Portland in time for our flight but, we dawdled instead. Lovely it was indeed as we drove right through the

Sun in its waning glory

Path of Totality of the Total Eclipse.

My father in law, Mike, helped us get to Portland and he had, as he called it, ‘one of the best days of his life’. The eclipse experience really bonded us all.

We got to see the eclipse in the shadow of hills of the Snake River on the border of Oregon and Idaho.

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Our Pin Hole Camera

It was an amazing experience. The sudden darkness shocked and surprised all of us. The stars came out, car lights automatically came on, a hush abounded. The sun was a mysterious orb of light that might emanate from Gandalf’s staff in a different universe.

I had seen a partial eclipse when I was 10 years old. A pin hole camera in the backseat of my Dad’s LTD on the canal bank in Rupert, Idaho. Fond memory of my Dad.

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Cowboy Eclipse

So, now we are in Portland, Oregon. Making our last trips to the bank, store and by my office for the last check of mail.

Tomorrow morning we fly to Oahu. We are ready to go. At least as ready as we are going to be. Whew!

Here is to the next steps!!! Our next post should be from the road.

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Oakley checking out the morning sun.

The

Oakley, Kelvin and Canyon watching the waning of the sun with Idaho across the Snake River border.

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Idaho and Oregon as the eclipse is happening – August 21st, 2017

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I’m Not Gonna Throw Away My Shot!

Days are counting down and we are on the move. This week we are wrapping up tasks. A big one has been getting our inoculations for this trip. I truly thought this would be pretty straight forward to plan and execute. Ha!

I wish, wish, wish I would started this one a couple of months ago. I found out in mid June that our insurance, which was ending on 30 June, actually does cover a lot of travel shots. Amazing as that isn’t usually the case. So, I was trying to wrangle the best schedule to get our shots in before our insurance ran out. The rest has been cash pay (ouch). IMG_2970That price tag smarts more for me than the pain of the shots, although, my sons will beg to differ.

We got about half of them in before paying out-of-pocket. Actually, cross your fingers for us as we are still awaiting the reimbursement from the insurance company after I submitted a 20+page claim on June 30th hours before our insurance ended at midnight. Please, please, please.

The other challenge has been the timing of all the shots. Japanese Encephalitis has one shot then, 28 days later, the booster. Each shot is $330. Gulp! You can do the math. It hurts my head too much.

Typhoid has one shot ($149) effective for two years or a series of four live-virus vaccine capsules ($40 per person with insurance) taken on an every other day, eight-day regiment, effective for five years. They have to be on an empty stomach that doesn’t allow any warm drinks (read NO coffee) and nothing to eat or drink for approximately two hours. Kelvin, Canyon and I figured out the way to go was to take the capsule at 5am and go back to sleep. Oakley had the shot and was none too pleased to be singled out for that one.

Then the Hepatitis series for Kelvin and I, which runs about $159 but, FREE with insurance. When I lived in Hong Kong in the 90s I had a series of shots but, I cannot (shockingly) find the paperwork on those details. Bummer for me as I got to have some of them again. The kids (and now all kids) have the Hepatitis shots as part of their normal childhood regiment so, no extra bargaining there. And it’s covered by their insurance. Yay!

Yellow Fever, about $159 a shot, is also a live-virus shot which requires someone specially trained to administer. Also, the batches here in Portland, Oregon would sell out in a day so, you had to ‘reserve’ your doses. Never knew, we had such a hot market for real estate and Yellow Fever vaccines.

Figuring out where to get them administered was hard. That became tricky as we ended going through Walgreens Pharmacy to get them all sorted. Other places charged a lot to administer (upwards of a $25 per shot fee) and an in office fee per person which could be just $200 for us to walk in the door.IMG_3024

These stand alone places (and even one connected to Providence Hospitals) refused to bill insurance even after I had arranged a conference call with my insurance (BCBS), them and myself on the line. They stated that most insurances don’t pay and I had my insurance company telling them they would if they would just bill for it. They refused. My last conversation with that medical office did not highlight my best, adult problem solving conversational skills. Sometimes you meet people who are very regimented and rigid (what’s that, Kelvin? You know someone like that?).

Also, when you vaccinate young kids you need written (read not phoned in or electronic) prescriptions for these shots so, had to go to pediatricians office to pickup or have them post them to us. Those pediatricians frequently can’t administer the shots as they don’t have them in-house and are somewhat reluctant to order them in as the transport of live-virus stuff gets tricky.

I had my patience tested many a times and collectively, I likely spent about eight hours on calls and research to find the right place. Then came the waiting times at Walgreens. We knew that store’s employee codes and all the aisles after three visits and approximately six hours being there. IMG_3025The folks there were mostly great but, with each day new people had to be told what we were doing and I was beginning to feel like I was in a Groundhog Day movie.

We would have an ‘appointment’ to get our shot. This was a loose term I realize and often we waited up to two hours to get everything written up, processed, paid for and administered. Kelvin and I broke all our screen time and sugar rules to get it done. Our sensory kids were nervous and at times it was achingly painful to have to negotiate with a screaming, sweating eight year old. I may apply for SWAT tactical hostage negotiation work later in life.

So, we are basically set in that department. One more thing moved to the DONE column. I know you can’t really put a price on avoiding a life threatening diseases. My advice to anyone out there thinking of traveling like we are. Sort this earlier as it takes longer than you think, you might get some of it covered by your insurance and budget for it. It is not cheap. And I am pretty sure this isn’t covered in any healthcare coverage being bargained over in DC.

 

 

 

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One Month To Go! The Purge Continues.

I am hunkered down in a coffee shop as my husband and children are hawking all of worldly possessions that we don’t want anymore. Sounds pretty sad in some ways. However, we have been divying up jobs for months. This, the Great Yard Sale, is one of the worst jobs for me. Being a salesperson to my personal belongings is like having a root canal. In many circles, I am considered by some to be a ‘sensitive’ soul so, I attach a lot of meaning to things and that bites me in the bum from time to time.

My husband was very patient with me as I poked through boxes I was helping set outside and pulled things out saying, ‘Really, we are giving up this?’ IMG_2945A saint, the man is a saint.

Don’t get me wrong, sorting out our house and reducing our belongings feels good and liberating. Only, I am a product of a pack rat mom and with both of my parents having now passed on, there are little things of theirs that I attach enormous meaning to. It is a bit crazy since I know these things won’t help bring them back but, they spark a bit of memory in me as I consider them.

My parents would have loved this round the world journey. They taught me that the world is more than the neighborhood around you. I grew up in a town of 5826 people with one stoplight, one movie theater and one newspaper published once a week. Yet, I knew of the magical lands beyond our borders.

My father was a businessman who travelled to various ports in Asia and Europe at least once a year. Mom, traveled with him and wrote a food column based on the foods and adventures from their destinations. Interestingly, us kids didn’t travel with them but, we had the spark to follow our own paths.

In 1980, my sister was a Rotary exchange student to New Zealand at age 16. I remember the day she got the call informing her where she was going. She covered the phone and yelled at us to quiet down so she could hear (likely, my brother and I rough housing in the background). She hung up and announced, “I am going to New Zealand”. I stared at her as I had no idea where that was. We pulled out an atlas and I gasped. The vast distance across the Pacific Ocean marveled me.

I winged it to Europe the summer of 1989 and was in the Netherlands for a year while witnessing the Velvet Revolution that winter. I was hooked. Since then I have lived, studied or worked abroad for five years of my life. However, the last 14 have been in Portland, Oregon. So, I got all tied down again with things, places and meaning in routines.

These are not bad things, just a different allocation of energy. So, we are ready to shed our skin of living here. At least for a while.IMG_2949
As I have written before. I have been feeling a great responsibility to our kids to make sure they are okay. And now they are chatting up folks on our front lawn convincing them that their Spiderman costumes and Elephant and Piggie books would be a great addition to their lives.

I am learning to let go and be again. And my kids are helping show the way.

 

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Before the Lemonade there is the Lemon

All of this travel and life planning is full of excitement, fear, anxiety, trepidation and wonder. However, all of this wouldn’t be happening but, for the fact that Kelvin is losing his job of 13 years. Today is the day that becomes an absolute reality.

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This morning he went in to grade the last group of students in the restaurant, yesterday having the last restaurant opening of the curriculum.

Kelvin has been working at Le Cordon Bleu (and previously known as Western Culinary Institute) as a chef instructor, primarily running the student restaurant called Technique, for over a decade.

We have had a lot of happy memories there, celebrating births, graduations, mourning loved ones, birthdays and just a good night with good food. Friends and family joining for amazing meals and bright-eyed students nervously applying their skills.

He taught the practical class where students would put all their newly honed skills to work in creating a live restaurant. Imagine opening a restaurant with new staff every six weeks. He has done it with pride and tenacity.

Five years ago we did the numbers of students he had taught after the restaurant closed to the public and then it was over 2200 students. Five years on it would make sense that number has multiplied. IMG_2030

We are sorry this chapter has come to a close. As most people do, we have chosen to make a new path out of the end of this one. We are grateful that Le Cordon Bleu has given us a lot of notice (18 months) and some help to send Kelvin on his way. We will miss the people, students, experiences and community.

I give a shout out to my very modest husband who has worked tirelessly and devotedly to make an impact student’s minds in the culinary world. He has an amazing mind for menu planning, restaurant management and price point evaluation and culinary insights and application.

I still get nervous from time to time to cook for him. Not because he is a harsh critic but, because he knows his stuff. He gets calls from family and friends for a bit of quick advice and is always modest and ready to help.

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Newborn Canyon and the Chefs

So, please tip your chef’s hat to Kelvin today. To ‘Chef Gurr’ as he has been called by thousands of students. After that celebratory drink after work come on home, hang up your apron and let’s get going on our new path.

We will be traveling the world and soaking up all the culinary delights along the way. Watch out world. Stay tuned to his space. Something amazing will pop up from his mind when set down again next year. Need a consultant anyone?

 

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The Let’s Go Checklist – 3 Month Marker – Part One

Memorial Day weekends are often a time to catch up with family and friends for a BBQ, remembering love ones who have passed and gear up for summer. In our family, either turkey hunting and sorting out the garage are also on the list!

Last week Kelvin and I got a rare Saturday night alone and we went through a long list of things to do and really me, off loading my worry list! So, what do we have to worry about? Well, I am a worrier and so, it comes second nature to make lists, while trying to solve and turn over sticky issues in my head. Sometimes, it’s a really annoying place to be!

So, one thing I do that helps is to dump out those worries. Write them down so, I can effectively look at them and not just the strands of them floating around in my head along with my emotions. As my dear husband knows, if they gave out ribbons for experiencing anxiety I would be a blue ribbon wearer! Thus, the need for talk and planning was so helpful for me.

So, at the end of our lovely evening, we made a list. A list to guide us over the next months. This is what we are working on (at least as of today!!).

Here’s what is on my mind all shaken out for your reading pleasure and my sorting.IMG_2345

1- Completely sort out our monthly expenses for when we are on the road. Identifying which subscriptions to shut down (we will need some Netflix from the road if can find the wi-fi!), bank transfers that we won’t be doing the road, etc.

2- Figuring out how to manage our money from the road. I have heard some great things about Trail Wallet to track expenses. I also talked to a friend who recently travelled in Vietnam and Thailand about the need for cash and how frequently bank cards get jammed up due to theft or other such annoyances.

3- We need to sell our mini-van before we go. We have a lease and need to sort out our financial obligation to that.

4- Rent out our house. We need to be out of our house by 15 August. We want to rent it partially furnished to save on storage but, would happy to rent it to folks that will take good care of our little parcel of earth while we are traveling. If we rent to folks we don’t know then we have to involve credit checks and in any case, we need to have a lease drawn up.

5- Where to store the things we have decided to sell, donate or dump? Kelvin is working on some Tetris magic in his mind as the boxes accumulate in our garage and evaluating what kind of square foot space we will need.

6- Work on house repairs. Those little things we have been avoiding to fix and now, will need to before we rent out.

7- Sorting out health insurance. Our insurance ends at the end of June along with Kelvin’s job so, figuring out what we will need to be compliant but, also not too expenses as we are unlikely to be able use this insurance while we are traveling.

8- Buy the travel supplies; packs, shoes, travel kits by a certain date.thomas-martinsen-2158 We have a couple of requests out to businesses to see if we can receive any donations and we will write about these products from the road. A real road test!

9- Setting up a safe deposit box at bank to hold important documents and valuables while we are on the road.

10- Getting our inoculations needed for travel. This one is tricky as it hard to convince our boys about extra ‘shots’ but, hopefully seeing us all get them together will make this a great bonding experience! ha!

11- Doctor’s and dental appointments. We are often scrambling to make sure the kids have their check ups but, as the grown ups we don’t always check in unless something is wrong. We need to have a basic check up to make sure all is clean and shiny (teeth) and all in working order!

12-Make digital and paper copies of all the documents we will need access to from the road and packets of information for each boy in the unlikely and, hopefully, never happening situation in which they need to reach out for help without our guidance.

That is the first dozen. There are more than a dozen more but, I am taking it a bit at a time.

Thanks for bearing with me and let me know of other things you would want to take care of if you were leaving for a significant amount of time.

 

 

 

 

 

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World-schooling, A Whole New Responsibility

One hundred and seven days to lift off and all the tasks are piling up and colliding. Many of them taking up all the extra space in my head between all the responsibilities of now..such as work, getting kids to and from school, food, shelter, etc. 

So, the big worry on my mind today is our kids eduction. This might be the biggest fear for me about this travel (so far!). IMG_1700I have never seen ourselves as people who home school their kids. We have always sought out the appropriate education philosophy for our boys and embraced our school as they plan for our kids.

The Montessori approach has worked really well for us, especially with the sensory challenges we have had along the way. We love the student led teaching style, how students learn concepts from accessing working materials, free movement around the classroom, small group or individual instruction and independent follow-up.

The ‘going out’ philosophy of approaching research in the world is an aspect we really love .In this Going Out activity, the kids are encouragejan-mellstrom-242087d to research and seek out a way to investigate their question. The steps to find out the answer to their question has the child find out the place where one would learn about that interest.
For example, one would go to an aquarium to learn about the Pacific Octopus (this was one of Canyon’s interests). The kids (usually two or three at the most) have to figure out how much it costs to go, they have to call the place to see what the hours are (no internet searches!), who could help them when they get there, what are the directions to get there and so on. Then they write out the questions they have to ask and how they will write down what they learn. At the end of their outing they report back to the class what they learned.

We are looking to apply this approach as we maneuver the world. However, I get scared that we won’t be able to keep them on task with their math, reading and writing skills. roman-mager-59976I realize how much we depend on our schools to keep our kids ‘on track’ for their learning. It is their professional job! I am not a professionally trained teacher. Kelvin and I both have skills to share, like any parents but, the responsibility of being in charge of a year’s worth of eduction feels very daunting to me.

I don’t want to screw this up! We have met with our kid’s teachers and they are giving us some guidelines to help us as we go through this year. It also tells me that I don’t want to be in charge of this educational part for all of their education! I have always respected teachers and now I am particularly aware that I am a bit out of my depth. We also have plans to Skype in with the class about once a month to keep up connections as well as foster enthusiasm for learning and sharing.

People are very supportive in saying our boys will be fine. “No worries!” says a friend, “you’ll be learning so much on the road.” Okay but, I also don’t want them to be behind their learning levels when we return. Our kids teacher has given us some material to use as we go along. gaelle-marcel-8992We already started a practice of writing in a small journal at the dinner table after our meal where we each write a little bit about the day. Oakley will write one sentence and Canyon a couple. Kelvin and I also write and we all check each other’s work. We generally write down what we are grateful for that day. Noting small, notable things that happened that day.

We started this journaling exercise last October and are not doing this daily due to the crazy schedule of sports, work and occupational therapy being some of the many things that rearrange our schedule every day but, we get some practice in. We plan on doing this every day on the road. Hopefully, this will help all of our writing skills and create a wonderful journal of our experiences in the world.

If you are following this please let us know what you think, what you would do and how you would caretake your childrens’ education.

 

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