I’ll start this week’s chapter chat with a joke my kids told me:
What do you call a person who speaks two languages?
What do you call a person who speaks three languages?
All right then. What do you call a person who speaks only one language?
And, just to be clear. That’s “American” with a derogatory tone. I’m so proud that my kids think this joke is funny! When I was in college, I took a seminar in which we had to describe the three things we really wanted to give our children. I don’t even remember the first two things I listed. Most likely something like “a roof” and “love”. But I remember the somewhat desperate feeling I had about the third thing – “a second language.” I knew even then that my horizons were limited by my monolingualism and it seemed daunting to dream of doing better for my own kids. As you can imagine, when Multicultural Kid Blogs offered up a book club on Bilingual is Better by Ana Flores and Roxana Soto, I jumped at the chance. I picked Chapter Two: Why Bilingual is Better. The discussion of Chapter 1 was sparked by a great post hosted by Spanish Playground. Read more
I just finished a book that I originally really didn’t want to read, ‘360 Degrees Longitude’ by John Higham. Traveling? Awesome! Other people’s travel memoirs? Not my thing. But, my best friend said “read it” and, well, actually I ignored her for over a year but when she said “Seriously, read it!” for the 5th or 6th time, I caved and ordered it. I then carried it around for months and finally opened the front cover a week or two ago. And, guess what? I enjoyed every page!
It’s the story of a family traveling around the world. As they plunge from Silicone Valley into Europe and then Asia and finally into the remote Amazonian jungle and over the Inca Trail, I started remembering travel details, travel lessons, and feelings. By the end of the book, I was sharing in their vision of just how small and fascinating the world can be and spending a lot of time thinking about the value of travel.
The Highams apparently designed the first part of their itinerary around our past travel destinations – England, Prague, Krakow, Denmark, The Vatican City, Thailand. In each of these locations, I could see the place with fresh eyes and yet remember funny anecdotes or similar experiences. For example, I first visited Prague as a refuge from the high prices of Scandinavia. The Highams fled there to avoid high prices as well. In Krakow, they searched medical facilities for a wheelchair. In Krakow, I developed a raging fever Read more
Our affordable London hotel (lower left) was under the Eye!
It wasn’t that long ago when finding a hotel meant pulling out my Lonely Planet Guide and telling the taxi/rickshaw/tuk tuk driver to take me to whichever guesthouse was recommended. Many other travelers used the same method and inevitably places became too popular and overcrowded. Sometimes I found lodging by word-of-mouth and by getting advice from other travelers, but often these recommendations were based on the very same guidebooks. Sometimes lodging solicited me. I remember coming out of immigration at the Kathmandu airport and being accosted by a sea of people offering beds in their various guesthouses and feeling overwhelmed by it all; the sights, the sounds, the hustle, the bustle. But that was in the 80’s, when international phone calls were only for periodically checking in with worried relatives at home and incoming mail was so slow it had to be sent general delivery weeks in advance. Read more
The most recent review of our book, “Family on the Loose: The Art of Traveling with Kids” is on Parenting.com by Matt Villano. His label under the image of our cover? “Family travel Bible, of sorts.” Please let us know if you’re interested in a promotional review copy.
I also adore some of Matt’s other posts. For example, “You know you’re a family travel junkie when …“. After reading it, I was inspired to add a few ideas such as:
- You mindlessly surf the Kayak app on your phone while waiting in line at the grocery store.
- The idea of a stay-cation makes you a little anxious.
- Your friends really don’t want to hear about your trips nor be given unsolicited advice for their upcoming trips (I just can’t help myself) nor, in our case, do they want to hear the dreaded word “book” even one more time.
- Your kids get through the security line faster and more efficiently than the business man with the briefcase looking at them nervously.
- You have a box in the closet full of small plane gifts, electrical outlet converters, bits of foreign currency, and packing cubes to organize your luggage.
- And, once, at a professional meeting, I pulled a tiny sock from in between my ‘important papers’. Teaching your kids to pack themselves take patience. Read more
Seattle skyline – Taken by my seat mate on my last flight
Inflight, I’ve met fabulous people. It’s a funny phenomena. A few years ago, I sat next to a man about my age and, during a long delay, we discovered that we both gave a lot of Powerpoint presentations. We passed the time by opening up random Powerpoint presentations on our laptops and sharing them with each other. How geeky is that? And, who would have guessed that I could have found a seatmate so like-mindedly geeky?
I’ve had four more strikes of good luck recently. First , a young PhD student in environmental engineering traveling home from a college reunion. Next, an undergraduate returning from an invited Microsoft recruitment event. She loved it and was hoping for a job when she graduated. My last flights were particularly lucky. Coming home from North Carolina a few weeks ago, I sat next to a mother of 5 who home schools all her children. We are such different people that we might never cross paths during our regular life but, on board, we found philosophical connections and exchanged parenting advice. I gave her our website and hope she takes a look. On the very next flight segment, Read more
Traveling, perhaps by definition, is the act of covering a lot of place in a little bit of time. What happens when a lot of time is explored over a very small amount of place? Is it a kind of traveling?
We recently visited a friend’s one-room, log cabin. The cabin was built by her great grandfather and has been in her family ever since. Her great grandfather rode out by horse to buy the property, which borders a national park. There is a waterfall out the window, a book of family history on the shelf, a canvas backpack used by relatives on the wall, and a stuffed elk named “Mr. Moose.” The curtains were sewn by her mother and the big rock fireplace was an addition from her grandfather. Read more