bikes planes and automobiles · Travelogue · Vietnam · well *I* think it's funny...

Day 1093: Clickbait

If I wrote my blog like clickbait headlines:

We thought we could get away with one fewer backpack, when this happened…
(The seamstress brought us a gift of Vietnamese coffee and one of their metal filters and we had to pull out an extra bag to carry it in.)

This family almost managed to sneak an extra carry-on through the gate, until the airline employee said this:
(“Please put your guitar in the sizer. Nope, too big. Yes, I know it’s a musical instrument. You still have to check it. And how many carry-ons? You’re six people and I see three… four… five… six… seven suitcases. You have to check some of these.”)

A woman with a cane gets onto a crowded shuttle bus to the airplane to find no empty seats. Wait ’til you see what happens next!
(Mr. December asked a guy to move so I could sit down. The guy moved, I sat down, everything was fine.)

The family makes a quick exit from the plane and then THIS happens…
(One of our brand-new spinner suitcases took a went for a spin down the airplane staircase. The pull handle mechanism was irreparably damaged.)

A driver picked us up from the airport as planned. Everything seemed fine…then we saw the car!
(It was an SUV with a folding third row… not big enough for six people, seven suitcases, six backpacks, and a small guitar. We made it work, but it wasn’t a comfortable ride.)

You won’t believe what we found at the end of this long, deserted hallway!
(We went to a restaurant that’s deep in the bowels of a building in the old quarter. The food was very good, but to get to the dining area we had to walk down a dimly lit hallway and through the kitchen.)

She refused to eat her steak, until she noticed it was covered in THIS!
(Fried onions. K loves onions.)

They were desperate to get back to the hotel until Mom said THESE magic words:
(“Anybody want to buy a few snacks? There’s a WinMart right over there and they have that yogurt you like.”)

You won’t believe what’s spiking my website’s stats today!
(Is it clickbait? It’s clickbait, isn’t it?)

Fibro Flares · Travelogue · Vietnam · well *I* think it's funny... · Worldschooling

Day 1085: Rest, Ride, Review

Our neighbourhood continues to be a hotbed of obnoxiously loud karaoke gatherings. I’m starting to wonder if this is common in Vietnamese culture, or do we just have particularly tone-deaf and inconsiderate neighbours?

I wasn’t really sure what to expect when I woke up this morning. Last night (after the vegetable farm tour and 12k of biking) I was basically immobile. I went to bed totally exhausted at 7:00 p.m.—and when I say I “went to bed” what I really mean is that I walked over to the bed and fell into it, fully clothed. Mr. December eventually came in, and this conversation happened:

“I need you to take off my clothes.”

“!!!” Said Mr. December. “Our door is open and the kids are right outside, you know…”

“Oh, for duck’s sake. I’m not propositioning you, I can barely move. Please undress me.”

(On another kind of day I might have reminded him that doors can be closed and locked, and that kids can be bribed to go away for a while; but this wasn’t that kind of day.)

My point is, I was so severely fatigued that my limbs felt too heavy to lift. My brain wasn’t sleepy yet, so I lay in bed doing absolutely nothing (because reading on my phone requires using my hand to hold the phone up) for a couple of hours. Before I fell asleep I wondered what kind of state I’d be in today.

As it turns out, I woke up feeling not too bad. I stuck to short bike rides only, and our 2k bike ride to the beach (and another 2k back) did make my legs hurt a bit, but on the whole I felt pretty normal. See what I mean about flares being random and unpredictable?

On our school days we’ve been learning about world religions using some very entertaining (and pretty accurate by all accounts) videos by Cogito on YouTube. So far we’ve done Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism, Jainism, Zoroastrianism, Shinto, and Judaism (that last one was because—as N pointed out—it would help us get a sense of how well-researched and accurate the other videos were likely to be.)

We still have a few to go. Unfortunately, Cogito doesn’t have any videos about Catholicism or Christianity. I presume it’s because they assume Christianity as the default that every audience will already understand. I became very aware of this as I watched my kids puzzle over things the videos assumed they already knew.

“Wait! pause!” said one kid. “Is there seriously a religion that believes babies are inherently full of sin and will go to hell if they die without some ceremony? What kind of religion would believe that?” …at which point Mr. December and I explained the Christian concept called “Original Sin.”

In short, I need someone to make a “What is Christianity?” video for people starting with zero knowledge.

Before we added any more religions to the mix, I wanted to review what we’ve done so far. I ended up creating a virtual whiteboard and filling it with words and symbols related to the religions we’ve learned about thus far. I mixed it all up and asked the kids to categorize everything according to religion by dragging items into the circles. When they started, the board looked like this:

And this is how it looked by the time N, R, and E had identified all the concepts, symbols, and scriptures:

(And yes, the Judaism circle has far fewer items in it. It was there because we watched the video, but it was the other religions I really needed my kids to review.)

As you can see, we’ve really just scratched the surface of each religion; but it’s a start. When I was their age I didn’t know that any of these religions (except mine) existed.

family fun · Homeschool · Travelogue · Vietnam · well *I* think it's funny...

Day 1078: DAD* joke ahead

*DAD is the airport code for Da Nang, Vietnam.

We have some decisions to make—and I don’t mean where to eat dinner, which is a daily debate in this house.

We’re scheduled to leave this house in Hoi An on March 18. Our next destination is Japan. There are no direct flights. Mr. December proposed that we fly to Hanoi (we’d have to fly through there anyway) and take a couple of days to explore the city before continuing on to Osaka.

“I don’t know,” I mused, “all that unpacking and packing sounds pretty Hanoi-ing.”


I’ll be here all week, folks.

I don’t know what the occasion was, but tonight a bouncy castle appeared in the parking lot next to the neighbourhood bakery. Mr. December and two of the kids discovered it when they went to buy bread and bubble tea. He texted me to bring the other two kids, so we biked over. There was Vietnamese children’s music blaring from a speaker, one big bouncy castle, and an assortment of small motorized ride-on toys (think Powerwheels.) The rest of the parking lot was empty, and there were a grand total of three families there. I still have no idea why it was there. That’s not a complaint—unexpected fun is always good for morale.

Update: K says it was in celebration of the opening night of the new bubble tea restaurant that they built in two days (they were still painting the steel this morning.) I’d have preferred free bubble tea over a bouncy castle, but nobody asked me.

We had a good school day today. E decided she wanted to do an Elephant project, so we started a few days ago with her listing everything she already knows and then what she still wants to learn. Then we put it all into a powerpoint slideshow, with a few forays into the internet to fill in some of the gaps as E became aware of them. She’s been excitedly practicing her presentation for anyone who will sit still to listen, and she’s getting pretty good at it. Maybe we should put it on YouTube so friends and family can enjoy?

In the meantime, R worked on a program called “Touch Type Read Spell” because although she types pretty well, it never hurts to practice—and her spelling is atrocious. The program has modules about different subjects, so there’s some content delivery as well as skills practice, and she likes it well enough to work at it for an hour, uninterrupted. I call that a win.

Thailand · Travelogue · well *I* think it's funny... · Worldschooling

Day 1061: From Cambodia, with Love

We got up at four-thirty, no lie,
So that we could fly out of Chiang Mai.
Everybody did great
Getting out the front gate.
But then Air Asia weighed our bags… sigh.

In Cambodia right now it’s hot
And tomorrow we’ll tour Angkor Wat.
So that none of us fries,
We must go at sunrise;
So we’re leaving at five on the dot.

Two places in this town are cool:
Our hotel rooms, and the gorgeous pool.
When we’re back from our tour
The heat we won’t endure
We’ll just stay on the swim-up-bar stool.

Keepin' it real · New Zealand · Thailand · Travelogue · well *I* think it's funny...

Day 1054: And the answer is…

Thanks to everyone who played my little bingo game the other day. Here’s the answer card: the pink markers are on things that have happened on this trip (i.e. since December 31) and the blue markers indicate which things actually happened on the day in question. Take a look and see how you did.

Today was a very relaxed day at home; this evening we all went to the night market. We bought enough things that I’m a bit concerned about how we’re going to get it all home with us. I may have to start stuffing small souvenirs into the guitar. Don’t worry, I’ll tie some dental floss around each one so they’re easy to fish out later.

Thailand · Travelogue · well *I* think it's funny... · Worldschooling

Day 1051: When the going gets tough, the tough get hummus

New Zealand and Singapore spoiled us, being English-speaking countries with mostly Western cultural habits. I think everyone is feeling the strangeness of this place, and tempers are fraying because of it.

Our Air BnB host brought us breakfast this morning: Pad Thai (very mild, sauce on the side,) fried chicken legs, papaya, dragonfruit, tiny bananas, and a variety of desserts. It was my first time trying Pad Thai (yes, I’m a bit of a picky eater myself) but I set an example for my kids by eating it even though it wasn’t my favourite. At least R and Mr. December loved it and gobbled it up.

The rest of us spent the day feeling a little food-deprived, so to improve morale I took us to an Israeli restaurant for dinner. A little schnitzel, hummus, and pita really went a long way towards improving everyone’s mood.

Instead of me telling you about today’s little frustrations, we’re going to play a worldschooling bingo game: can you guess which four things happened today?

Keepin' it real · Kids · New Zealand · snarky · Travelogue · well *I* think it's funny...

Day 1046: This isn’t rocket science.

You’d think we’d be great at packing by now, but apparently not (given how many questions I get.) I’m hoping this Q&A post will help my family do their ONE job better.

Q: Will you help me pack?
A: That depends what you mean by “help.” If you mean, will I pack all your stuff for you, that’s gonna be a hard NO. I have other things to do, like submitting our Singapore entry cards for approval.

Q: I’m so overwhelmed! How do I even start?
A: Most experts agree that the best way to get started is to PUT DOWN YOUR PHONE (or Kobo.) Then you might consider picking up all the clothes in your room and separating them into dirty and clean piles.

Q: I think these clothes smell funny. Will you wash them for me?
A: No. I offered to wash everyone’s clothes once yesterday and once today. If you missed it, you missed it.

Q: Where’s my ________?
A: Beats me, but research has shown that your best chance of finding it would be if you picked up everything else that’s yours and put it away in some kind of container. Sort of like… packing.

Q: Did you see the crazy TikTok I sent you about the flooding in Auckland?
A: I glanced at it. Rest assured, I’ve confirmed that tomorrow’s tour of the Special Effects company’s workshops is still on. Our plans are unchanged.

Q: Can we just watch one music video on YouTube before I start packing?
A: Okay, fine.

Q: Can we watch another?
A: Sure, why not?

Q: Another?
A: I guess so. But I think you’re abusing the Q&A format.

Q: One more video?
A: Nope. You need to pack.

Q: Can’t I just do it tomorrow morning?
A: Hard no. That plan never ends well. Do it now.

Q: Wait, where are you going?
A: I’m going to sit in a recliner and watch Derry Girls. I’m done packing.

Kids · well *I* think it's funny... · what's cookin' · whine and cheese

Day 1014: Nothing to Eat

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard “I’m hungry, but there’s nothing to eat!” today. We’re trying to use up all the perishables before we leave, and apparently what’s left doesn’t count as food. The kids have a point—there’s nothing to eat if you’re not counting the bread and butter, cheese, tortillas, homemade granola bars, nuts, eggs, Rice Krispies, hot dogs, peanut butter, bananas, strawberries, yogurt, and ice cream. These poor, starving children.

If left to their own devices they’d probably air a commercial: “You can sponsor a child in our home for just $2 a day, and ensure they have access to medicine, fresh water, pizza, chicken fingers, and french fries. We’ll send you a photograph of the child enjoying the food, and as a special thank-you, we’ll also include a personalized Rainbow Loom necklace as a gift. These children are hungry—please call today.”*

They’re cute and all, but I have zero empathy for them right now. We made a baked French Toast casserole for brunch today; it was essentially a dessert. We had four loaves of bread to use up and now we’re down to three. It was delicious, too. If the kids turned their noses up at it, that’s their problem—not mine.

*Last time I mentioned my kids wanting some kind of food—probably candy—some friends and family brought them some. Please, don’t bring us any food. We’re trying to use it all up. They’ll survive.

ADHD · blogging · Holidays Jewish and holidays not. · Jewy goodness · Keepin' it real · Teenagers · well *I* think it's funny...

Day 1004: Notes to Self

Dear Me-from-two-years-ago,

Thank you so much for organizing all of the Chanukah stuff after the holiday ended. We opened the box yesterday and I had everything I needed: Decorations, candles, a giant bag of shiny dreidels, even a box of chocolate gelt. Also matches, chanukah-themed stickers, and the Staccabees game. Your foresight and organization made it so easy to get ready for the holiday this year, and I promise I’ll pay it forward to future Me.


Dear Me-from-two-months-ago,

What were you thinking, emptying all the library’s shelves like that? I know, it seemed like a good idea at a time—who wouldn’t want an app that can scan every book, categorize it, and even keep track when someone borrows it—but two months later the library is still unusable. It’s essentially a monument to my ADHD: brilliant idea + zero follow-through = mess.

Do me a favour and don’t start any more projects. I know it’s hard for you, but I’m still cleaning up the library and I haven’t even finished the master bedroom curtains that Me-from-four-months-ago was supposed to complete. So please, go do something absolutely un-messy, like reading more Outlander fanfic. It would be a real help.


Dear Me-from-two-days-ago,

Thanks for coming up with the “make your own polar pizzas” idea for E’s party. It was much better than a regular birthday cake, especially for the picky eaters and kids with allergies. Keep the good ideas coming!


Dear Me-from-two-hours-ago,

Did you write a blog post for tonight like you were supposed to? I can’t find it anywhere on the computer. If it doesn’t turn up in the next hour or two, I’ll have to just post this letter.


Dear Me-from-two-minutes-ago,

I think everyone gets the point. Just stop typing and hit “publish” already. The teenagers downstairs are watching “Hamilton” and you need to either join them and sing along, or move to a different room so you don’t have to listen to their off-key singing.


Guest Posts · Homeschool · well *I* think it's funny...

Day 956: Guest Post

Hey everyone, this is Mr. December. Sara’s hands are hurting so she asked me to tell you that everything is fine other than that.

But not with me – everything is more than fine! First four weeks of my time off work have been great; I’m going to every social event I get invited to, and our recent homeschool Annual General Meeting had strong attendance. Even better, I got cleared in the ethics investigation. The rumour was that the only reason our English teacher (let’s call her Mrs. December.) hadn’t been fired for her poor lesson planning was that she was sleeping with the principal. I successfully made the case that I (as principal) was never intending to fire her, although the rest was true. Case closed.

Oh, one minor complaint: There is a homeschool trope that random strangers will criticize your parenting choices anywhere, like in line at the grocery store. This hasn’t happened to me at all, and I’m really disappointed. Feel free to tell me a thing or two in the comments!