Why I Write This Stuff Down

Right now we work full-time, send our kids to school, play soccer, and do all the things "normal" people do, but we want more. We want to show our kids the world and learn along the way. This blog is me trying to figure out how.

Monday, July 30, 2012


I've started reading books and blogs about families who have taken time off to travel, kids and all, and they are pretty inspiring.  There are A LOT of them out there, but I thought I'd list some so anyone else who is interested can take a look.  Maybe I can convince some of you guys to come with us :)  This list is not even close to covering everything out there, but it's a start.


Edventure Project  The Millers are a family of 6 (two adults, four kids) who sold their house in 2008 and hit the road.  They biked across Europe and Africa and have been all over the world.  They are homeschooling their kids, which is something I never had any interest in until now.  If we did something like this where we were gone for a year or more, we'd have to figure out two things:  how to educate the kids, and how to make money.  This family has figured out both.  Oh, and the kids are starting to develop their own travel blogs as well!

World School Aventures Traveling Families Blogroll  I'm working my way through this giant list of other families doing what we want to do.  Overwhelming, but fascinating and inspirational, too.  Lots of variety in family structure, from single parents to a family with 6 or 7 kids including one in a wheelchair.  If these guys can do it, we can, too.


One Year Off by David Elliot Cohen.  I checked this out from the library, and my husband started it before I could, so I've yet to get into it.  It's about a family with three kids and a nanny (not in our economic stratosphere, but still interesting) who travel the world. 

Travel Happy, Budget Low by Susanna Zaraysky.  Lots of good tips for keeping costs down.

How to Fit a Car Seat on a Camel by Sarah Franklin.  Collected essays on family travel by a large variety of families.  Funny and touching.

Various Websites:

Lonely Planet  The ultimate in budget world travel.

Meet Plan Go  A resource for travel planning.

We Just Got Back Another resource for family travel planning with lots of good tips on packing, hotels, giveaways, etc.

Families Go  Yet another family travel planning site; this one have lots of vacation giveaways as well.

I also follow a ton of pages on Facebook, including The Great Family Escape, The Family Adventure Project, Almost Fearless, The professional Hobo, and about 20 more.  Once you find one, it leads you to others, and you can see how this takes on a life of its own.

It's easy to spend hours drifting through all these sites and books and never really planning anything, so we're going to let ourselves do that for a little while.  Our next goal is to nail down where we want to go.  We are currently doing research on Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam, and I'd like to look at some African countries next, though that may be a different trip entirely.  We really have no idea yet how long we'll be gone, or how much money we'll have saved, so that makes planning harder.  It's nebulous right now, but that's OK!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

It's All Coming Together . . .

I've been thinking a lot about how I got to this restless, squirmy, unsatisfied moment.  And I've come to realize that some subjects I've been interested in for the last year or two seemed random at first, but now they are coming together for me.  It might seem like a stretch, but stay with me here.

First, as my girls started school (they are 6 and 8) I started reading a lot (A LOT) about school food, and that led me to food in general and the modern American food system in particular.  We've opted out as much as we can from corporate food because after all my research we just don't trust the system.  Plus I don't want to eat something that is developed in a lab and then assembled in a factory, though that is the norm for our generation.

Meanwhile, all my food blogs got me interested in a homesteading, or let's say, homesteading-lite. We expanded our garden, joined a CSA and started cooking more from scratch. We really want chickens, but we don't have the infrastructure (privacy fence, coop, etc.), so it would be a bit of an expense up front. I've considered a beehive as well, but some neighbors just aren't into that.

At the same time, I became interested in minimalism and started reading some blogs about it (http://www.becomingminimalist.com/, http://zenhabits.net/, http://www.theminimalistmom.com/, etc.).  It inspired me to start getting rid of some of the STUFF we have around the house that really doesn't mean anything to us, like books, clothes, some of the kids' older toys.  There's still so much more we can do without.  Minimalism brought me back to Buddhism, in which I've always had an interest, so I started reading a little by the Dalai Lama and Thich Nhat Hanh.  Budhism and Minimalism go very well together, in fact.  If you can overcome desire, you can rid your life of unnecessary baggage (things, people, stress).

OK, here's where it gets weird, but I promise to tie it all together at the end.  I've also been reading lots of books about zombies and vampires (but not the romantic, Twilight kind).  Some of the better ones have been Zone One by Colson Whitehead, The Forest of Hands and Teeth series by Carrie Ryan and The Passage by Justin Cronin.  These are all about some manmade plague that wipes out most of humanity and leaves the survivors walled off in small villages basically fighting off the hoardes for eternity.  Oh, and we're also watching The Walking Dead on AMC.  Pretty bleak stuff, but for some reason it appeals to me right now. 

Last but not least, we've just decided to quit screwing around and pay off our debts, and to do so I've been reading Dave Ramsey.  He's very conservative for me politically, but what he says about finances makes a lot of sense and is doable for us.  We don't owe a lot, and we can do it pretty painlessly in a year or less (except the house).

Thus, travel!  Get it?  No?  Well, I may be stretching things, but I think all of the above interests stem from a desire to get out of the system, "outside the box" (I hate that phrase), out of what mainstream American society tells us is good, normal, worth striving for.  I feel like we're in the zombie apocalypse right now - everyone just stumbling toward the "American Dream," which seems to consist of a giant house full of stuff, lots of electronic gadgets that you play with instead of talking to your loved ones, two huge SUVs, maybe a boat or a camper the size of a tour bus.  Never mind paying for it, because you can just charge it!  All of this STUFF is what we're supposed to want, supposed to work for.  We get in a job and we just stay there, even if it's killing our souls.  That sounds dramatic, but honestly, after working in the same job for the last, say, 10 years or maybe more, do you really feel like the same person you were when you were in college?  How about high school?  Didn't you defer some dreams because you needed to keep your income?  Maybe you had kids and bought that house that's a little too big, and maybe you could have kept your previous car a few more years, but you wanted a new one.  And when you redid your kitchen, you didn't really need new appliances, but you were redoing everything, so why not?

We finally stepped back and realized that we don't really care about any of that stuff, and we don't want our kids to care about it either.  We want them to see that there are other people out there, other dreams, other possible futures.  God Bless America and all that, but this isn't the only way to live your life, and I don't think it's the best way, either.  I hope I'm not insulting anyone, but this has been a bit of a revelation for us, and we're excited.  So we'll pay off our debt and start saving, and hopefully we'll have enough to go somewhere for a month next summer as a sort of test-drive.  Then who knows!  By the way, if anyone can think of a job I can do from "the road," please comment!

Don't be a zombie!

Sunday, July 22, 2012


Cripes, passports are expensive!!

$110 for adults and $80 for children.  I guess we'll have to get one a month or something.  What's a passport card?  Do we need those?  They are an extra $15 for kids and $30 for adults.  There is so much I don't know.  I had a passport back in the 80's (in my photo I have assymetrical hair and one really long earring!  Totally tubular!), so it is long expired. 

I went to Europe for a month with a group from my high school, and it was such a good experience.  I really want my kids to get out of this country for a while and see how other people live.  You don't need a giant drywall mansion, SUVs, Nintendo DS or a TV in each room to be happy.  In fact those things can be a weight on your shoulders.

Have I mentioned that my husband is awesome?  He's all in.  We went to the library yesterday, and he came back with travel guides on Thailand and Vietnam :)  We don't have any real plans, but we are investigating every avenue, including teaching English in a foreign country.  Yikes!!!  Maybe we'll just start off with a month somewhere and see how that goes.  I'm terrified of leaving my job and never being able to get another one that pays as well.

We just started the process of paying off all our debts (everything but the mortgage).  We don't have a lot of debt, but we'll be paying it off for almost a year, so none of this will happen in the very near future.  That's actually a good thing because I'm freaking out a little.  It's nice to have something to look forward to, though, even if it's a complete mystery what it will end up being.  Looking into the future and seeing myself sitting in an ergonomic chair with a large monitor forever is depressing.  Looking into the future and seeing me (and my family) with elephants or something is fantastic!!  We're loosely shooting for next school year.

I'll do a post soon on travel blogs I'm following and books I'm reading about family travel and taking a "gap year."  It's inspiring to me, and maybe it will inspire you, too. 

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Mid Life Crisis?

OK, I made this page a LONG time ago thinking I was going to be some sort of mommy food blogger.  Clearly that didn't happen, and in the interim I've become interested in other things as well.  Mostly I'm becomming restless, and I'm trying to figure out why.  My job is fine, I love my husband and my two daughters, I have great friends, I live in a town that is just OK, but I can handle it for now, etc., etc., etc.  So what's the problem?

The problem, my friends, is this:

This is Giraffe Manor.  See that lovely old house?  It's sort of a bed and breakfast.  See those giraffes?  Those giraffes live on the grounds of that house and stick their heads through the windows to say hello or try to eat your breakfast or just lick you with their big, squishy tongues.  I really want to go see those giraffes in my lifetime, and the problem is that they are located in Kenya.  Kenya is a long way away, and the only way to get there is to TRAVEL.

I think travel is my problem, and I'm at a bit of a loss.

When you get to a certain age (40 for me), you start to realize you are no longer 20 or 30, and all the things you thought you would do in your 20's and 30's didn't get done.  I realize I still have time left, but I'm not getting any younger, and I want my time here to matter.  I want to DO SOMETHING with my life.  I want to be someone when I grow up.  And I want to set an example for my girls.

So here's the thing:  I'm thinking about something crazy.  What if my husband and I quit our jobs (or took leaves of absence, or figured out jobs we could do from anywhere, or SOMETHING), pulled the girls out of school and went on the road for a year?  Could we do that?  Could we make that happen?  Even if we didn't go to Giraffe Manor, we could just drive around the US and maybe Canada or Mexico and see all sorts of things and meet all sorts of people and have adventures we would talk about for the rest of our lives.  People do this kind of thing all the time.  There are quite a few blogs dedicated to just this sort of life.  But are we those people?  I hope the answer is yes.