Browsing Tag

travel

Expectations family travel home schooling kids travel learning mom blog Parenting round the world travel travel travel blog world schooling worry

Home Schooling in the Wide Wild World

Sol: 149 One of the challenges and biggest worries I had about this trip was the continuing IMG_4034education of our kids. I was really, really concerned that we would mess them up or get them really behind. I’ve expressed this on this blog and the sentiment takes up entirely too much space in my head.IMG_9725

It has been an adjustment to our parenting to add in the responsibility of our boys’ education along with the other parenting tasks: keeping the kids alive, feed and so forth. I’m a big follower of Dr. Laura Markman of Aha Parenting. An approach of empathy with limits in parenting has helped me as I process this.

IMG_4118.jpg
So, when talking to our kids about choices I often tell them or ask them to tell me what my job is as their parent. The mantra is that I’m to keep them “Happy, Healthy, Safe and Clean”. This helps when I have to explain a difficult decision or boundary that is unpopular with them (or me!).

IMG_9283Then add in the schooling and it is a whole new role. Yes, we have been teaching them since birth but, the structured approach of making sure the boys are ‘on track’ has been an interesting one.

The boys attend a Montessori school back in Oregon (We love Harmony Montessori!). We plan on returning to the school upon our return. In fact, it was a big bargaining chip when planning this trip that we would bring them back to a place they love, feel comfortable and back with friends.IMG_8743

In the meantime, we are the teachers. This big, wide, world is a great teacher. Now, 140+ days I see a lot of change in with the boys. They have always been curious but, they have found some comfort and connection in the places we staying and have grown in the discomfort.

It’s not so much about ‘touring’ but, about finding ways to do what we do in everyday life in Oregon on the road wherever we are. Eating, Laundry, Sleeping, Groceries, Food preparation (sounding like a child friendly version of The Shore?). It is a lot about routine and making sure people get their own spirits soothed.

IMG_8758With Kelvin and I, it doesn’t always work out as we are the only adults around to care for the kids but, that it is another post altogether.

So, the boys have found interesting ways to play, relax and learn. We have an established routine now. The first two months this was really hard at times as they are not used to us being the ‘teachers’. There was a lot of discussion on expectations and how they are learning (discussion would be a polite renaming of some of those discussions).

They are not expected to know things when learning. They are learning! It’s okay to not know and make mistakes.IMG_8948.jpg

Some of the tools we use include the Monday-Friday daily routine. We write out the schedule. It usually consists of the following which we write down and they follow in their Common Place books.

For Example: Today is Thursday, January 11th, 2018. We are in Chiang Mai, Thailand

  • Journal Writing
  • Math – 2 pages
  • Writing/English – 2 pages
  • Cursive practice
  • Cultural lesson – language, history, currency, religion
  • Research or Field Trip discussion.

All is mixed with breaks, wiggle it out, free draw, coloring, reading or even a short dance party.IMG_5713

The Common Place book is their notebook to write down the school list but, also words they are learning and lessons. It also holds all the doodles, drawings and cartoons that get made. We have been getting notebooks to write in a we move along. We also shipped some filled books home for safekeeping.

IMG_8767.jpg
Oakley has gone to making his own toys using boxes from cereal or crackers we buy. It is amazing what a pack of colored pencils and paper can bring.

Last Christmas we got the boys Kindles and we choose ones without internet access (only Wifi to choose books). These little lovelies have been the true companions. The boys curl up with their books for hours. It is a great time filler that feels good as a parent.

Also, their reading has improved so much with it. Yes, there are a lot of graphic novels, cartoons including several Calvin and Hobbes books but, it is reading. In fact, Calvin and Hobbes is how Canyon turned to love books.

IMG_0408.jpg

Canyon’s stats for 2017

We complied their stats at the end of the year and Canyon had read 55K pages and Oakley 42K. Their reading time adds up to just over two weeks for Canyon (371 hours) and a one week for Oakley (172 hours). That is amazing. I feel better about how we are doing this.

[caption id="attachment_3378" align="alignleft" width="124"]IMG_0409.jpg Oakley’ Stats for 2017

Now, we are reading the Harry Potter books. I am reading them out loud and Canyon is chasing us with his own reading. Some of the best memories of this trip are being curled up on a bed with

IMG_3911

the boys and reading.

So, as we move into the next months we look at our learning and take stock of what works and what doesn’t. There is a real rhythm to our work. We are finding our way.

As always, thanks for reading.

IMG_6450

Waiting for a ride in Ubud.

IMG_3930

Oakley drawing in Hawaii

IMG_4328

Australian money session while camping.

IMG_4580.jpg

Homeschool while house/pet sitting in Brisbane, Australia. That’s Kody there!

IMG_4535

Canyon’s dream journal!

Coffee DaNang Expectations family travel foodie Hanoi Ho Chi Minh Hoi An mom blog Parenting round the world travel travel travel blog Vietnam world schooling

20 Observations in Vietnam – Scooters, Coffee, Critters and More

Sol 109

Going into our fourth week in Vietnam. Arrived in Hanoi by an eighteen hour overnight train from Da Nang. We have found a place that is the nicest and most comfortable we have stayed in in awhile. The washer machine actually dries clothes too. We haven’t had that since Australia!

It’s the Christmas season and we are adjusting to being in a place that is not full of our usual holiday extras. I’ll write more about that later but, firstly I wanted to share some thoughts and observances I’ve had since arriving in this amazing country.

Things I have noticed in Vietnam. A random list.

1 – People selling things on their motorbike will have a recording      announcing what they are selling and will play it over and over while driving around. You can flag them down and buy whatever it is they have. Usually, it is some meal. The scooter may even have a glowing hot oven on the side.

2 – Vietnamese people really, really like kids. Our boys are smiled at and coddled over almost everywhere we go. Oakley being least likely to want attention does have some discomfort in this and for Canyon, it depends on his mood. Sometimes he laps it up. Other times, he gets exasperated. It must be similar to what it is like if you are a famous person in other cultures. They are consistently told they are ‘so handsome’! People (usually a woman) will drop whatever she is doing and come over to touch their cheeks.

3 – There is construction constantly going on somewhere. It never ends. Never, ever, ever.

4 – There are at least 30 different ways you can get your coffee. They certainly give Starbucks a run for their money.

5 – It is easy to forget this is a communist country but, remember when you see the political posters everywhere, very little advertising (except outside a local cafe) and handing over your passports every time you stay somewhere new.

6 – The Vietnam/American war was not that long ago and there are plenty of reminders of this intense history. Yet, for the Vietnamese it is a blip on their several 1000 year old history. There seems to be no hard feelings about the war.

7 – The beaches here are amazingly beautiful even in the rainy season.

8 – If it floods, we are told, ‘you just go to the 2nd floor’. Not a lot of worries about that here as it seems to happen a lot.

9 – The garbage/refuse system seems to be is that people just put their bag of rubbish on the street and someone will come along and pick it up. It seems randomly coordinated but, bags don’t stay long. And, as I cringingly found out, sometimes a rat will be getting his take on the trash as it sits there.

 

10 – The bread here is amazing and likely has to do with the French colonial influence. The mini baguette is a staple for many breakfasts with eggs and are sooooo airy inside and crunchy on the outside. Delightful.

11 – Scooter, motorcycles and mopeds are EVERYWHERE. People can carry almost anything on a scooter and the bikes are often driving right into people’s living rooms for the night for safe keeping.

12 – This is a tropical country so, you get to see some big, little critters. In the last days, we’ve had a cockroach in our flat (which Oakley terrifyingly mistook for a tarantula) and many, many in our train carriage, a super fat rat (my phobia) munching on our buildings refuse pile, the praying mantis that guarded our bathroom for a week and would leap on your feet when the water flowed (to have a drink?), beautiful butterflies, dragon flies and your requisite flies, ants and mosquitos that come around pretty frequently.

13 – The blend of traditional (straw hats, bicycles) to the high tech (smart phones everywhere, apps on tablets to order drinks or check you into your berth on the train) is fascinating to observe.

14 – If you want to buy something you will need to bargain for it. Even in the markets the granola bars or bottled water will change prices depending on who is working, what is going on with the weather.

15 – Massages in Vietnam are a whole body experience. The masseuse will literally climb onto your back and legs will use their feet, knees, elbows and hands to work out your kinks. It is not for the faint of heart and if you have any IT band issues consider them ‘worked on’ after they are done with you. You will be sore for days to come.

16 – You are strongly discouraged from any public display of affection with your loved ones. With parents to children it is okay but, a very, very big no no to kiss or canoodle in public.

17 – You will have to get boiled or bottled water for any tasks or thirst. Much like everywhere in we have encountered in SE Asia. You are not encouraged to drink from the tap. We are in the habit of going to the bathroom with a bottle of water to brush our teeth and if water is set on the table while we are out, the boys immediately ask what source it came from. Don’t take your clean, tap water for granted!

18 – You can get any item of clothing made in a couple of hours for a very reasonable price. The tailor work is impeccable and remarkable. You dream it, they will sew it.

19 – You can buy outdoor gear that would put REI and Sportsman Wearhouse to shame. I found the exact Osprey backpack I got for my birthday at the market and I cringed when I say that I paid 70% more for it in the States. Shoes, coats, backpacks are all really marked up when they leave the country.

20 – The confluence of religions here is notable. It is a communist country and we were told that if you have a religion you were discouraged to apply for a government job (or at least say you don’t have a religion). Yet, there are a number of Christian charities that operate cafes hiring people with disabilities. People practice any number of various religions including Buddhism, Islam, Christianity, Hinduism, Taoism, Confucianism to name a few.

I have many other observations to share and will but, first wanted to share these thoughts from my perch in Hanoi. Until soon. Be well and thanks for reading.

parent memories round the world travel Singapore

Singapore Style in a Whirlwind 48 Hours

A whirlwind excursion in Singapore

To get a cheaper flight to Vietnam we traveled to Singapore to catch a cheaper option. I also wanted to visit this place that my parents had been to so many times over the decades as it holds a place of mystery and reverence for me.

Parent Memories

My Dad did a lot of business in Asia in the 1970s to the end of his life. At least once a year my parents would travel to Asia often for about a three-week period when they would visit Japan, China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia and Taiwan among other places. Nancy Joy Memorial Show 2001.027In the 1990s, I worked for a short time in Hong Kong for a colleague of my Dad’s. It was an interesting time and experience.

Singapore always invokes a mix of west and east for me. Amazingly, I never got to travel in Asia with my mom and did go to Hong Kong once with my Dad. Being here now, I so ache for an experience of walking around with them if only for a day or a couple of hours. Both of my parents have passed and this trip is often a tip of a hat in their direction as they instilled the love to travel in me partly due to their extensive travel while my brothers and sister were growing up.

I do know, we have very different travel styles. My family and I are decidedly budget oriented. My Dad’s businesses had him ‘smoozing’ folks so, I think there were a lot more high-end hotels, banquet dinners and glasses of cognac.fullsizeoutput_a03a

For a decade, my mom built a part-time career writing about her travels and food. Her muse in her food column, frequently came from her travels with my Dad. She would travel around Asian cities on her own while my Dad was in meetings. I look back and think it had to be rather lonely at times. It is sometimes lonely being with your family in a place where you are the stranger in a strange land.

Strong memories stir as we wander around Singapore. I know my mom thought the world of the Raffles Hotel. We decided to go there for a Singapore Sling and look around. fullsizeoutput_a024While most of it is under re-construction, it held an air of prestige with high ceilings, white columns, giant billiard tables and support staff dressed as Raj royalty. It felt a  little rich for my blood but, I did love being there and smiling up at my mom.

Indulgences 

The Singapore Sling was tasty but, SO EXPENSIVE! We have had accommodations that were cheaper than that drink. Let me put it this way, two Singpore Slings, one mocktail the kids shared and to appetizers cost the same as four nights in our place in Da Nang, Vietnam. I am glad we did it even though we are committed to noodles made at home for several nights to make up our budget!

IMG_7721The food areas in Chinatown and the Golden Mile were well worth a visit. IMG_7828Sumptuous food for really fraction of that cocktail! Such a wide array of foods; Indian, Malay, Chinese, Thai, even Italian, English and American among others.

The journey from Malaysia – leaving Johor to Singapore was a bit of a struggle. Our boys are struggling with their backpacks and this border crossing you have to walk a lot. You have to walk through several areas to leave Malaysia, then ride a bus across the bridge to then go through another series of rooms and passport checkins to then end up without an access to an ATM, a phone with a SIM card that didn’t work anymore and no free WiFi which is frequently available at other ports of entry. We were able to get a taxicab which we have rarely taken as the cost is less predictable.

fullsizeoutput_a087

Look at the ships in the international waters. Looks like a real life version of battleship.

We have taken a fair amount of Ubers and Grab Cars during our travels. Grab cars (or motor scooters) is like an Uber and you can pay in cash. You can also order food to be delivered or even a masseur to be sent to you. We haven’t tried that option yet although it is tempting!

The people were very, very friendly and of course, with a 1% crime rate we felt pretty safe. In fact, I went to buy a SIM card and the salesman loaded it in my phone and then informed me that they take cash only. I grimaced and slightly panicked.  IMG_7776I didn’t have any cash on me. He directed towards an ATM several blocks away.

Trusting me to come back and pay him. On my way back I got a little lost in a sudden downpour and finally found the shop again. He seemed nonplussed that it took me awhile. No big deal, he shrugged.

I was told there are cameras everywhere so, you may not see police but, they are watching. If you do something you will get seen and visited within 24 hours. This includes chewing gum. Yep, not legal. And don’t even think about selling it!

Singpore Flyer – View of the World

The Singapore Flyer was a treat. My husband kept calling the Portland Flyer – a nod to our hometown hockey team. It was sweet. The ride is a half hour-long and is like a giant ferris wheel.

IMG_7761

Our Space Capsule in the Signapore Flyer

It was spendy but, worth the view especially since we got to have the entire capsule to ourselves. It is reportedly, the largest ferris wheel in the world.

The view was incredible especially when you’re told that on a clear day you can see into three countries and 45 kilometers. It was amazing to see all the ships in the harbor, just outside the Singapore border. We were told that the waters are calmer there and that ships often hang out in the international waters waiting to port.

I think all of Singapore feels expensive, especially the accommodations. I cashed in some Chase miles to get a room that was somewhat more reasonable.

IMG_7736

How most takeaway is served. Add a straw and drink your chai.

It is amazing as just across the border the same place would be about 80% cheaper.

We were told that road to the airport has potted greenery in the median in order to create an emergency runway if needed. Singapore is a tiny, island country with a lot of personality, grace and grit.

We purposely spent just a couple of days there so, we could gather ourselves for our trip to Vietnam. All in all a good, brief visit.

Thanks for following! As always, please let me know that you think of the blog. I love hearing from you.

More from Vietnam soon.

IMG_7723

Smoothie? Made with real sugar cane? Why, yes you can!

IMG_7714

Darn, the fresh frog porridge place is closed!

IMG_7815.jpg

Chinatown

 

Expectations family travel kids travel Legos mom blog Parenting round the world travel travel travel blog vulnerability world schooling

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?

 

round the world travel

Malaysia on My Mind

Sol 74 

We are on week two in Malaysia and just left Kuala Lumpur for the south. We came  to be near a big city to find some Halloween experiences for our sometimes homesick boys, buy some supplies and to make some plans. 

IMG_7164

Halloween party at Jump Street

IMG_7256It has been a delightful place to see albeit a bit further removed from our more hands on experience in Bali. A bit of an adjustment after Bali as we are on the 16th floor of a shiny apartment and not even a third of the scooters we have been used to seeing whizzing past.

We have been introduced to a large, multicultural city which is predominately Muslim and full of dining, entertainment choices and other big city options. We have spent some time planning our next weeks as well as taking care of some tasks. Kuala Lumpur is known for ‘medical tourism’ and I decided to try it out.

I have hypothyroidism for 10 years and have been managing this by getting blood tests every couple months and taking an appropriate dose of daily medication to balance it. When I left Portland, I had a three month supply of my medication and our last prescription plan wouldn’t let me have anymore. Which is not usual, but annoying. So, I knew I would need to get a new supply from the road. 

IMG_7414

Check out the hours. He is almost always here.


So, I went to a doctor here in Kuala Lumpur. The host of our Airbnb helped me find one and my experience was pretty interesting, at least from the point of view of an American used to our complicated medical/insurance institutions.

The Doctor, Dr. Anthony Samy, was everything I needed including kind and no-nonsense.

IMG_7419

Dr. Anthony

I had to show up and wait (no appointments allowed) but, only waited about 30 minutes. He chatted with me, asked what I needed and took a blood sample. His assistants spent a lot time calculating prices of medications and we got it all sorted out.

Two days later I came back for the results, another consult and then was given four months of medications. My only concern was that the sense of privacy is different there.

They took me in a room to be weighed and there was the doctor at his desk talking to another patient.

IMG_7430

Paying for my medications.

“Oh, excuse me!” I said, but, they were indifferent, shrugged their shoulders and went back to their conversation.

The medical office also takes you on without a lot of information. My script has my first name only on it. It reminded me of Dr. Fleishman in Northern Exposure when Marilyn would just number the people in the waiting room.

While I was a bit worried about the process, it turned out fine. In the entire process with two doctors visits, blood sample, lab work/results and four months medication the total cost was $61. Wow…

In Kuala Lumpur we also visited the tallest twin buildings in the world. The Petronas Twin Towers  and  KL Bird Park an amazing bird park with an outdoor aviary several acres big. We also visited the National Mosque of Malaysia and they proudly told us that Obama had visited there just last year.IMG_7392

fullsizeoutput_9dc8In our world-schooling lesson we had a long lesson on mosques and Islam. It is always fascinating for Kelvin and I to see things and think they are a big deal and then have the boys just accept all as ‘normal’. People doing their everyday tasks, working as a nurse, checkout person at the grocery store, kids jumping on trampolines or on school trip at the park – all in their hijibs. So many colorful varieties.

IMG_7248

The other Twin Tower and I

Normalizing plurality. Always a good world-school lesson.

We are in Malaysia for one more week then are heading to Vietnam with a two day visit in Singapore. We made to Johur yesterday via bus from Kuala Lumpur. From our current place we can see across the river into Singapore and the kids love being able to say. “Hey, I can see into another country over there!” and then they collapse in a pile of giggles.

As usual, thanks for following.

fullsizeoutput_9d81

National Mosque

IMG_7478

School on the Bus to Johur.

australia cheap flights family travel kids travel mom blog Parenting passports round the world travel surfer's paradise teaching travel travel blog world schooling

The Golden Coast of Australia is Magical.

Sol 14 for the Gurrs currently on the Gold Coast in Australia. We have gone through some ups and downs over the last days. All good in the life of adjusting to being location independent and living our dream of round the world travel/living. 

IMG_4042.JPG

Canyon staring down the pesky birds at Surfer’s Paradise

The time travel time warp of travel from Hawaii was a doozy. The journey to the airport was a mess of traffic at 4:45am. At one point, we even had chickens that were strutting by us faster than we were moving. But, we made it and our host the rented us their car from Turo was a complete angel by meeting us at location near the airport and dropping us off. We couldn’t have done it without him.

He and his family was amazing to us in Hawaii. Meeting us on his day off and hosting a wonderful afternoon at the beach. Never undermine the binding power of families loving travel. We have already been helped out a couple of times that is amazing and I count that in my gratitude list every night!

IMG_3976

Pretty good for a 4am wake up and harrowing trek to the airport!

Australia is 20 hours ahead in time so, we lost a whole day but, I thought we might be okay with the time of day being only four hours different from Hawaii. However, it took a bit of an adjustment for all of us. We are still ironing out the sleeping and eating. Little Oakley had such a hard time of it he got sick the first night and vomited all over without even knowing it, waking only when he had a bloody nose. Poor lad. Whew!

On Sunday, Kelvin got to have his second Father’s Day this year and we celebrated by wandering around the local mall to get first day supplies….sim cards, groceries, adapters, notebooks for schooling and a tasty lunch.

IMG_4025

Kangaroo Patties anyone?

The children helped us shop in the local grocery store as we searched for staples while eyeing some unique options, like Kangaroo patties (we passed this time).

We have been sorting out our world-schooling schedule with the boys. We touch on: Math, Writing, Journaling, Free-Draw, Research on a Local Subject and, what’s that? Lego building? Well, some things need to have special billing in order to stave off homesickness.
Canyon researched the Red Kangaroo and now we are all hoping to find one hopping nearby. However, they don’t really live near here due to their penchant for drier climates which we learned from the research. All is good in a day’s work!

IMG_3931

Oakley during Free Draw in Hawaii

Both boys have talked a lot about what they miss now that they know their friends are back in school. We had one FaceTime with a couple of dear friends and that helped. We are currently planning the Skype with the class. I sprung out the secret stash of Legos I had for such a homesick occasion and now furrowed brows are relaxed. At least for this moment.

House and Pet sitting is going wonderfully. I can’t say enough about the magic connector of Trusted Housesitters . We are currently on a house/pet sit taking care of three furry kitties of various temperaments. One lets us love him all day, the second on occasion and the third has come out only at night and being jet black makes for a ghostly encounter. We love being able to be in a home, cooking our meals, bathing when we need, feeling relaxed and having space to write, study and rest.

Today, Kelvin had is first stage at a local butchery. He worked alongside some local folks breaking down lamb and beef. You can follow his own process on his blog at Degrees of Kelvin. It is a great way for chefs to make friends and contacts. Also, he got paid in meat product so, that is a great bonus as well!

We are figuring out our schedule as we not just traveling around. We are trying to ‘live’ each place we are at. We go out to explore but, also setting time for learning, living in house and playing. We realize that finding playgrounds is an important part of our plan. IMG_4064Yesterday, we found the giant bouncy pillow and it rocked! Also, made quick friends with  a local lad on the zip-line. These are playground toys that would likely be inaccessible in the US due to our litigious culture. It was fun to watch the boys bouncing all over the place.

The surprise of everything thing feeling ‘normal’ for familiar then trying to drive a manual transmission on the ‘other’ or left side of the road, drinking some tea outside and then hearing the most amazing bird calls. It’s early days for us here and so far. Magic.

IMG_4052

Surfer’s Paradise

IMG_4018

Oakley having lost the plot at the airport as we sort transportation.

IMG_3877.jpg

Loco Moco in Oahu!

Expectations family travel hawaii kids travel learning mom blog Parenting round the world travel travel travel blog world schooling

We are Doing it! Location Independent at Last!

I’m sitting under a Plumeria tree and a cactus-like bush listening to the roosters crow and I think, we have really made it. We launched on the road on Wednesday and now it is Sol Four. It is a down day as we work to figure out our travel/international life. We are officially Location Independent.

First Plane Ride They Remember

We are figuring out how to manage our online Traveling Mailbox where we ‘receive’ our mail everyday. Still sorting out the ends of our responsibilities in Oregon. Paying the last of our utility bills this way gives a whole new view of mail sorting, for sure.

I went for a sunrise walk and Kelvin went to the farmer’s market for dinner supplies. The boys are adjusting

to our schedule of writing, math work sheets and reading, reading, reading on their kindles.

It will take a bit to sort out the best balance to assure we keep up with our goals and living tasks (remember that I have been worried about getting enough learning in?). I feel confident we will figure it out.

So, the first days. The boys took their first plane ride that they remember, an afternoon swim with Green Sea Turtles, a visit to the USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor(free!), take out at  Barbeque Kai

We made it!

(local recommendation) where you get an amazingly yummy cheeseburger for $2.75 and many locals came in after the local high school footbal game to get theirs too. I felt we were in the right place.

We are really trying to keep our budget in check by making pack lunches and snacks. We are trying to spend about $40 a day (after accommodations and car rental). We know that Hawaii is likely to be on of the more expensive places in our trip. We brought a zillion Cliff Bars, a jar of Adam’s No-Stir Peanut Butter and have wandered the aisles of local grocery stores to get some basics.

We are staying in a house (AirBnB) and have a kitchen, washer, and while it is cozy we love the lizards in the yard and the three-minute walk to the beach. Our neighbors rock out to reggae, zoom by on their scooters (one holding his beloved chicken) and hang out their wash as we nod to each other across the fence.

Last week, at the last-minute, I realized we would not be able to make it to the airport in time by bus (none leaving at the needed 3:30am) so, rather than endure a costly Uber ride we rented a car from Turo .

Swimming with the Green Sea Turtles

It’s like Airbnb for cars. For $17 a day we have a trusty Toyota and the owners meet us right outside baggage to deliver the car and an offer to meet up later in the week for a swim at the North Shore. I don’t think that can happen at Hertz.

So, the next steps. I am wrestling to sort out my to-dos, wants and needs. I am trying to follow my own advice in setting a low expectations so I don’t get overwhelmed with the FOMO. Here is to the next steps.

SaveSave

eclipse family travel kids travel mom blog round the world travel travel travel blog vulnerability

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.

IMG_3583

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.

IMG_3595

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.

IMG_3554

Oakley checking out the morning sun.

The

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

IMG_3571

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

anxiety Expectations family travel kids travel mom blog Packing Parenting round the world travel travel travel blog

Moving on Out! Lightening up the Load! On the Road!

We have been counting down the days until we fly out on the 23rd but, we realize that our first big departure day is tomorrow when we leave our house. We have been scurrying around for weeks trying to get all in place. The packing, sorting, donating, selling, scrapping and now, the cleaning.

For me, it feels like one of the most emotional parts. Packing up our lives means going through all the things that are around us daily. IMG_3120The regular coffee cups, the choices of shirts to wear, the boys Legos, that favorite pillow or cuddle blanket. Even going through shampoos, a lucky necklace or board game. We have been reducing our possessions to the smallest of piles to take with us.

 

The pack list is rather minimal. Pack what you can carry. IMG_3129
We still have some honing down to do and we will, however, it is certainly a fraction of what we have had access to everyday.

I have been impressed to see how our kids have been coping with the change and they have shown us, over and over again that they are very resilient kids. Most kids are. They live in the moment better than most adults. They are playing with what is in front of them even if it has been reduced to that last box of Legos and their Kindles.

These last days we have been feverishly cleaning surfaces and taping up boxes. Now the pod is gone (much to our

Good bye Pod!neighbor’s relief, I am sure) and our halls echo with our voices, we are aware that it is really us that makes a home. We ever we are, we will be fine.

We did have one of our two Bon Voyage parties. We had a give away area where folks sorted through some of the items we couldn’t yet donate or dump. It was a fun night where we also drank some of those really nice bottles of wine we have been saving for how long? Literally decades for some of them.

Lightening up the load. Today, we take our kitty to her new home with a long time friend, Ace. We pass the keys over to our patient renters. We return that final batch of library books. We use that borrowed vacuum for the last time.Growth chart measurement! Last for awhile We check the mail. Return keys to my office, measure the boys growth on the wall for that last time for a while and return that leftover dish from our Bon Voyage party.

Tonight we sleep the last time on our pile of blankets on the couch and the last bed left  in the house.

Tomorrow we drive to Idaho for a week of visiting family and friends. Our renters move in and we are officially on the road. Our journey in the contiguous 48 States starts our journey.

Bon Voyage! IMG_3077

IMG_3296

IMG_3130.jpg

anxiety Expectations family travel kids travel mom blog Parenting round the world travel sensory issues travel travel blog vacc vaccinations vulnerability worry

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.

 

 

 

Sharing is Awesome, Do It!

Share this post with your friends
close-link

FOLLOW ME!

Keep Tabs on the Gurrs on the Road
SUBSCRIBE!
Give it a try, you can unsubscribe anytime.