Roaming

The City of Fountains: Rome

Worldschooling with the wild bradburys: the city of fountains Rome 11 things to see

In the middle of Italy sits a city like no other in the World; Rome. Also referred to as the City of Fountains, Rome has been calling tourists to its streets for millenniums. With so much to see and do in the city of Rome and the surrounding areas, it is likely that you will return time and time again to experience new things. I have now visited Rome twice and the list I have compiled would leave you exhausted and fulfilled after a weeks visit.

Top 11 Things-to-do in Rome

  1.  Colosseum: On everyone’s list of things to see is the Colosseum and rightfully so. The architecture that comprises one of the World’s most visited sites is absolutely incredible. If you are taking along small children (even if you’re not) it would behoove you to study up a little bit. There is so much information and the tour guides speak very quickly and move even faster. There are kid-friendly tours available through Get Your Guide and Viator. worldschooling with the wild bradburys: the city of Fountains Rome 11 things to see
  2. Aquaducts: Running over, under and around the city of Rome are stunning examples of the human imagination, ingenuity, and spirit. If you are even remotely interested in the city’s history and the development of the city planning as we know it then you must take an aqueduct tour. These tours are available on foot, by bus, and by bicycle.
  3. A short day trip South of Rome lies one of the archaeology world’s greatest treasures; Herculaneum. A wonderfully preserved archaeology site that is significantly less publicized and less crowded than Pompeii. You could manage to see Pompeii and Herculaneum on the same day if you plan accordingly in the right season, but if you have to choose Herculaneum is a much better experience all around.
  4. Roman Catacombs: Specifically the Capuchin Catacombs. If the crowd you travel with is interested in a more Macomb experience the catacombs are a must! Experience underground churches where a beloved community of Friars were turned into skeletal works of art. There is even a children’s tour of the catacombs done in daylight hours so to lessen the eerie factor. worldschooling with the wild bradburys: the city of fountains Rome 11 things to see
  5. Saint Peter’s Basilica and Vatican City: An entire day should be spent touring Saint Peter’s Basilica (better known as the Vatican) and the surrounding buildings and streets that comprise Vatican City (the smallest country in the world). Book these tour tickets online in advance as the lines to purchase tickets are miserably long. Even if you are of little or no faith Saint Peter’s Basilica is mind-blowing in beauty, sculpture, history, and culture. Definitely a must- see. worldschooling with the wild bradburys: the city of fountains Rome 11 things to see
  6. While in Vatican City; those readers who are renaissance art lovers should experience the Sistine Chapel. I will forewarn you that the chapel and Michael Angelo’s Creation painting are small, but the tour itself is wonderful and full of information that helps set the ambiance and connect the pieces. This is a bit of a “stir crazy” situation for small children though so do not enjoy sugary gelato beforehand.
  7. In between heavy adult sightseeing days, I highly recommend taking your children to the Bioparco of Roma. The Zoo! A wonderful little zoo that sits in the middle of the Borghese Family Estate and Gardens. The zoo is full of endangered animals and even ones I had never heard of before. You can run the same grounds and trails that the Borghese family did so many years ago. The park is full of original fountains and aqueducts that you can refresh yourself or water bottles in. When you tire of the animals you can take a beautiful stroll or a tour of the Borghese Villa. rome 15
  8. The Trevi Fountain: One of the most heavily visited sites in the city. An absolute must do event in the dark as its beauty is magnified tenfold when lit up at night. You DO NOT need a tour guide for the Trevi fountain. It is a free open space. What I recommend you do is watch a documentary about the fountain on youtube prior to going. I learned so much more from a 40-minute video than from guidebooks. For those of you who are superstitious, you can help navigate your fate by throwing coins into the fountain. 1 coin=to someday return to Rome. 2 coins= to find Love and Marriage. 3 coins=a smooth divorce. Watch out for flying coins as visitors throw over 3,000 Euros into the fountain daily! worldschooling with the wild bradburys: the city of fountains Rome 11 things to see
  9. Gladiator School: Another fun afternoon for those children and young adults traveling with you! A fabulous experience where you learn the ways of the Colosseum Gladiators through dress- up and weapons training!
  10. Castel Sant’Angelo: Also known as Emperor Hadrian’s Mausoleum. This beautiful fortress and the surrounding bridges comprise one of my favorite spots in the city. Full of history, mystery, art. You cannot go wrong spending an afternoon along the water, learning about Emperor Hadrian’s plans for his resting place. worldschooling with the wild bradburys: the city of fountains Rome 11 things to see
  11. The Pantheon: A wonderful FREE thing to do! The Pantheon does not require a lot of time spent touring and viewing, but it is an architectural wonder and worth adding to your list. You can enjoy it in the same evening as the Trevi Fountain as they are located about a half mile from one another.

The City of Fountains

As much as I hope you are able to see all of the things on this list; I know good and well that you will find yourself lost in wonder on cobblestone streets. Window shopping at every turn, or people watching for the umpteenth hour in a corner chair. There is no shame in enjoying the bustle of Roman life instead of heavy sightseeing. As a matter of fact, if you choose to not sightsee at all this trip all you have to do is throw a coin in the Trevi fountain and you are guaranteed a return to this beautiful mysterious city.

worldschooling with the wild bradburys: the city of fountains Rome 11 things to see

The Dreaded Tourist Experience: Foreign ER

We have all felt this dread. “Should I let them go ziplining? Cave Diving? Cliff Jumping?” “What happens if something goes wrong?” It would be a nightmare no matter where in the world an accident occurred, but especially so abroad right? You would be correct in this fear. It is scary. This fear allows us to not take risks, to not live fully, something happening to ourselves or our children is the scariest thing about parenting. I am here to tell you that it is not the unnecessary risks that will land you in the ER, it is the daily tasks gone array.

In the summer of 2018, while backpacking Europe with my three small children, we had the joy (sarcasm) of experiencing four different Emergency Rooms in THREE different countries! Trust me, I know how it appears, like the world’s most overlooked CPS case, but all three incidences were bizarre and took place within whatever living situation we were in at the time.

The Greek ER: When Things Other Than Language Are The Issue

In June, we were eaten alive by mosquitos in Athens, Greece. This was not new to us as we seem to be magnets for them no matter the continent or weather. One afternoon we were walking back from the park in sweltering heat and my oldest son started complaining about his hip hurting. He had had no recent falls or bruising that I was aware of so I didn’t think much of it. Later that evening he was still complaining about his hip and side hurting so I took a look. What I discovered sent me into a small panic attack; there in his right groin area, in the lymph node, were numerous bulging masses. . .

I immediately thought that he had a severe bowel hernia as it had been a few days since his last bowel movement and now suddenly it all made sense. I began doing extensive research for a children’s hospital that would take Tricare. There was one and that is how we came to find ourselves waiting in line in the Greek Pediatric Care Unit over an hour from our then apartment.

I made a decision that day that would set the stage for the coming injuries; go to a children’s hospital if you are able. Luckily that was my first instinct, but unluckily for me, children’s hospitals are not all that common in Greece. It took the kids and I the better part of the morning to get there between walking, then the bus, followed by the metro, then another bus, followed by more walking. We waited for about 2.5 hours to be seen that morning, and then we were seen by two pediatric physicians, followed by a specialist.

Language Wasn’t the Issue

Though language was a struggle, someone that spoke better English than the last was brought in to help translate. I know very basic Greek, but it’s conversational Greek not medical. When the young physician examined our then 5 year old’s groin area, the concern was not the bulging lymph node, but the fact that I was presumed to be withholding medical history because my child was circumcised and that meant that something horrible had happened to this region of his body before to warrant such a procedure! Now our oldest son is our only circumcised child (long story, sore subject) so because I see both styles regularly I didn’t even consider that it must appear very strange to a country that practices intact only.

The conversation went something like this:

Greek Physician “What happened to warrant this surgery?? Has he had an infection before?”

me “No, he is just circumcised per my husband’s decision.”

Greek Physician “(purely stunned) I have never heard of such a thing.”

Foreign ER Visits 2

Hours later, they discovered that there was an infection in his groin due to an infected mosquito bite on his leg. Externally, the mosquito bite looked like any other partially healed bite, but when they lanced it… .well, let’s just say that I had to continue to lance it every 48 hours for three weeks while he took around the clock steroid antibiotics.

Our overall Greek hospital experience was perfectly fine. It was clean. The physicians seemed knowledgeable about everything except cosmetic circumcision. The pharmaceuticals are so cheap it is mind-blowing. I paid 8 Euros total for three specialist examinations, x-rays, and two 7-day rounds of antibiotics.

When The ER is Remote or Far Away

TWO HOURS after arriving via train to a tiny village in Tuscany our third son, then only 18 months old, fell a whopping 18 inches off of a stone wall and landed on his wrist. Thus, fracturing it. In rural Italy, very little English is spoken. In Italy as a whole, very little English is spoken. English only became the national second language in the last generation. All of the generations prior had a second language of French. When our little guy fell there was ONE person working at the castle we were staying in that spoke English and Italian fluently. He was tasked with the job of driving me to the nearest hospital. This man was God sent, would later become a dear friend and I would discover that he speaks 8 languages in total.

Elvys drove the baby and I the thirty minutes to the nearest hospital. They would not take us because they did not have an ER or any kind of Orthopedic specialist. We were sent another hour down the road to the outskirts of Florence to a small hospital there. No one spoke English except my new friend Elvys. He was not allowed past registration so I was on my own with a screaming child. Luckily, hand gestures go a long way if you are calm and coherent enough to understand them. One nurse, in particular, worked with me only using pointing and signs. She and I managed to get us through x-ray, to casting, back to x-ray and through payment without anyone crying.

Foreign ER

 

This hospital did not bill Tricare, it was my only option and I had to pay out of pocket within three weeks of the casting. My whole bill was $75… Nothing compared to American health care. Are you noticing a pattern yet? My bill so far for ER visits in two different countries is now totaled at $83.

The Italian Hospital was significantly more dingy, darker, etc, but ultimately got the job done just fine.

The Third Foreign ER Visit

The night we arrived in Rome, my oldest son pushed the middle son (then 4) off of the hotel room bed, shattering the top of his foot. Because this happened at 10 pm at night, now knowing that I would have to wait at least 3 hours, I opted to wait until morning. The next morning we spent almost 5 hours waiting in a Roman Children’s Hospital ER. They did an initial exam, then x-rays, followed by an open-toed cast and another set of x-rays as-well-as the canceling of 2 tours, the purchasing of a wheelchair and having to opt for the train to Germany because he was not allowed to fly. The cast they put on him would be temporary until we arrived in Germany for the removal of that cast and the creation of another one that he would be in for an additional month.

Foreign ER Visit 4

The Roman ER was very nice and new. I left there paying nothing. As a matter of fact, I asked the lady at the desk if I owed anything and she said “money? Why would you owe anything? No! Please go enjoy the day!” This was not the hospital I was told to go to by Tricare, this is the one I went to based on local recommendation. 

The Straight Lines of the German ER

When we arrived in Germany I found the Tricare approved children’s hospital. A well run, efficient addition to the area like most other things German in design. We went through the Emergency Room to have his cast removed because they would not allow us to make an appointment since they did not put on the original cast. So we waited…again. The cast was taken off, more x-rays were done, then another (non-weight bearing) cast was put on for another month. We left without a price tag. Four weeks later we went back to the same hospital for the cast removal and another set of x-rays. We saw the Tricare bill just last week for $47, which Tricare covered. Our cost for the broken foot was the $150 I had to pay for a used wheelchair through a third party pharmacy in Rome.

Foreign ER visit 6

Most of Germany speaks English fluently. The issues I found with the German medical system were small things that became frustrating later. For example, this particular hospital only does cast removals by appointment on Tuesdays. They only accept walk0in removals on Monday afternoons. Things of this nature were frustrating but understandable. The reason why the German infrastructure runs so smoothly is that everything has its time.

Putting Foreign ER Fears Aside

The scariest thing in the world is something happening to our children. The second scariest is the cost that might come with it. Rest assured that with Tricare insurance you will be able to be seen at no cost. If you are somewhere with an out of network ER and they do not accept Tricare, do not fret. The foreign medical system, especially in Europe, is incredibly affordable. You are not charged for seeing specialists and physicians you are charged for material (plaster, tape, x-rays) even these items are significantly cheaper than the American system. Live and let live out in the world with little fear of what could happen and more trust in the capabilities of the people’s whose country you visit.

All of the NEW news with the Bradburys

 

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Mid-November finds our family of 5 together again. Greg has been approved for 30 days of leave that will carry us through Thanksgiving and the road trip back to North Carolina. After months of searching, praying, and calling we have finally found a livable house in New Bern, NC. Many of you may not know, but hurricane Florence did a number on North Carolina, in particular, the area of New Bern where the storm surge came through. With so many families displaced and swooping up the rentals before they even came on the market, we were struggling to find anything, much-less something large enough to house our family. The home we finally put a deposit down on is the smallest place we have lived in as a family of 5, but considering that we just received news that we are headed to JAPAN this summer we will have to downsize anyway. 

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When we return to North Carolina in early December Greg will be stationed at a new duty station, beginning training on a new aircraft. There are huge changes happening for our family this year. WE are transitioning from one military community to another, a very small specialized community. Then we will assimilate into another later in 2019 across the world. We have established a weekly family meeting to keep everyone up to date on the happenings of the week to come. To give the kids an opportunity to voice their opinions and concerns with us. We hope that by widening the communication lanes for everyone we will be able to make the changes in the year ahead a little smoother. BUT the biggest change of all is having Daddy home. After 10.5 months of travel, deployment, more travel, hurricane separation, house hunting separation, and homelessness we are all together again for the foreseeable future. This is obviously a wonderful thing, but, maybe surprising to my civilian readers, is the hardest transition of all. 

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Every year, I think “this has been the craziest year yet” and just like all the years past 2019 will say “hold my drink.” Luckily for Greg and I, we have been successful in our mission to raise resilient, determined, strong-willed, wonder seeking children who seek adventure almost as much as their parents. We are wishing you all a very warm Thanksgiving week surrounded by laughter and encouragement to do the things that set your soul afire. 

-Lydia

What Homeschooling Looks Like for Us: Homeschooling the Military Child

Once You Decide to Homeschool 

The first major decision that you need to make is whether or not you are going to use a secular or non-secular curriculum. The majority of homeschooling curriculums are Christian in design and content. Finding the curriculum that best suits your family will be one of the more difficult aspects of beginning your homeschooling journey. Our family is not of traditional faith, in terms of the military whole, so pinpointing a curriculum we love took a significant amount of time. Keep in mind that what works for one child may not work for another and it is ok if your curriculum changes every year or every kid. This is not uncommon!

Identifying some key characteristics in regards to play and learning will help aid you in this decision-making process. There are all sorts of curriculums out there; strictly textbook, nature-based, book based, manipulative-based and the list goes on. Using a combination of them all is common as well! There is no right or wrong way to homeschool. There is only the right and wrong way to do it for your family.

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Some families do not use a structured curriculum at all. This is especially common during the elementary years. If you are a hardcore Pinterest mom, you may be able to create it all yourself. In which case, BRAVO TO YOU!

PCS-ing and State Homeschooling Laws

Homeschooling is legal in the majority of the United States. With that being said, each state has it’s own homeschooling laws. These laws vary drastically! Some states have almost no laws at all and others are incredibly strict. If you have already begun to homeschool and are not sure of the laws in your area, do yourself a favor and keep samples of work from each subject. Being organized and having paper trails can be a saving grace in these types of situations.

If you are not sure where to start in regards to the legality of homeschooling at your current duty station then this is a great website to expose yourself to https://hslda.org/content/laws/. This website is full of wonderful resources no matter where you are in your homeschooling journey.

The Flexibility That a Military Family Needs

The majority of homeschooling families follow a standard 36 week or 9 month school year. This works wonderfully for some people. Especially if your military member works standard weekday hours. In our household (pilot family) we have never in the duration of our family’s history experienced standard working hours. Therefore, I began homeschooling our children year round. We take off all major holidays, but for the most part, we follow a 6 week on 1 week off schedule. What this scheduling does for our family is unmeasurable.

Post-deployment leave is spent loving daddy hard. No one is missing out because of school and we just have to do 6 weeks of schooling on either side of it. When family comes to visit we can plan that visit to fall at the end of a 6-week unit study. Even with this type of schedule, you are looking at a 40 to 42 week school year, which is longer than most. The remaining weeks I tend to leave open for sickness and pcs season if that is something on the horizon.

Scheduling Your School Days

When most families begin homeschooling they compare their scheduling to that of a mainstream school. Mainstream schooling is misleading in regards to scheduling. An 8 hour day is not necessary for your homeschool classroom. In all actuality, about 3 to 4 hours a day of actual classroom work is done in mainstream schools. The rest of the time is spent lining up, recess, lunch, etc. In our home, we do about four hours of school on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. We are always learning and creating things throughout the week, but standard subjects of Math, Language Arts, Geography, Living Books (curriculum specific), History, Art, and Science are focused on from approximately 0830 to 1330 Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. The time frame of 0830 to 1330 also includes an hour for lunch.

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Spending time outdoors is a huge passion for our families, but a huge part of our curriculum as well. We do additional learning activities in nature. For example, we keep nature journals, plant and tree identification, animal tracking, and everyone’s favorite fort building. This side of our homeschooling falls closer to the forest school description that you may stumble upon online. I will be addressing forest school a bit more in a later article. Our afternoons are spent outdoors and sometimes our mornings are as well. We aim for a minimum of three hours outside per day.

Every family and every child is different. What is working for us right now may not work for your family at all. With that being said, it may not work for us in a few years either. Homeschooling, sometimes, means being ridiculously flexible. This can also be one of the biggest perks to homeschooling! Embrace it, but give yourself enough time to feel like you are accomplishing things as well.

Homeschoolers Unite

Finding a support system in the form of like-minded friends and group members is huge for new homeschooling parents. Co-ops are a wonderful option. Though we are not currently part of a homeschooling co-op, we have been in the past and loved it. Some duty stations have plethoras of co-ops and others do not. Do your best to be a part of something larger a couple of times a month. It will help you, as the teacher, feel more supported. When we are part of a co-op we typically reserve a weekday (Tuesdays or Thursdays) for those types of gatherings.

Check out your local library! Libraries typically have a homeschool meetup, or homeschool events scheduled where you can meet others and learn more about local resources. Libraries also do homeschool resource fairs and bring in speakers and businesses that teach free classes. If you are heading into a new duty station where you know no other homeschoolers, your library is the perfect place to start!

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Child-Led Learning 

One of the reasons that most families find themselves homeschooling is because of their child’s interests, or lack thereof in the mainstream schooling sector. When you choose to homeschool you are saying “yes” to so much more than the time commitment. Homeschooled children get to pursue their interests significantly more than if they were in the mainstream sector. There are more opportunities and time to do so. There is more freedom to suggest a non-traditional subject.

Our 6-year old’s school year goals include learning to whittle. As a mother, probably raised in the mainstream system, you will have to work the most on yourself. I understand that this seems like a strange statement, but children tend to fall into the homeschooling life quite easily. It is the parent that has to re-write their life to fit this new change.

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Child-led Learning for You as well

I never wanted to be a teacher. Are you saying the same thing to yourself? Teaching was NEVER in my life plans. When there is ample time to teach and someone willing to learn, you may discover that teaching can be done anywhere doing anything. If your child wants to cook with you. I challenge you to teach fractions and let them at it, no matter the age.

You may begin a space unit study that is only supposed to take two weeks and turns into a two-year rocket building, room decorating obsession. Go for it. This is what homeschooling is all about! It is not that they will never learn how a snake sheds their skin or the life cycle of a butterfly. It is about a love of learning that they find themselves. When they come across it themselves you are suddenly winning on so many parenting and adulting levels. Give them the structure they need to learn and then loosen the reins.

Not every child, parent, and family is made to thrive in a homeschooling environment. You have to decide what is best for your child. Sometimes, homeschooling is a season. Sometimes it is necessary because of a rough duty station, bullying, learning, and teacher clashes the list goes on. The important thing is your child’s happiness and the happiness of your home. Scour for resources so that you feel supported. Join the groups and go to the events. Get out there so that when you are inside attempting to blow the volcano up for the umpteenth time you feel supported and confident in your choice to homeschool.

 

Living vs Vacationing: The Travel Mindset

When the public learns of our traveling ventures with our children I typically get a response of “how nice! What a wonderful experience! I bet that was amazing!” It is all of those things, but it is also really challenging and significantly more difficult than people realize. The main reason for the difficulty is that I am not on vacation I am living there. The household rules, budget, and ideals still apply. When you are on vacation, more times than not, everything goes. Suddenly, “Yolo” is thrown around everywhere! We all gain ten pounds and drink too much. When you are living at a destination you have to keep yourself in check. Your household depends on it.

How many times have you gone on vacation and not left the resort? Better yet, how many times have you gone on vacation and bought “Christmas gifts for everyone!” Suddenly, you turn into Oprah. A gift for you and you and uncle bud. If I had to pinpoint the largest difference between living versus vacationing, this would be it. I don’t buy souvenirs in my daily life. I think we can all agree that although Target is a difficult place to be budget conscious, we also don’t go there to get souvenirs. Your time abroad should be similar if you want to get the most out of your experience.

Things That Only Happen on Vacation

How many of us have been on a cruise and eaten chicken nuggets at 2 am because we can? I am super guilty too. Vacations are, sometimes, for these types of activities. One of the most detrimental parts about vacationing for yourself and the place you are visiting is when tourist bottleneck into stalls of products and “buy all the things” instead of going further out into the community to find the made by locals products. This is the case all over the globe!

Being mindful of the economy you are fueling with your money is something that no one wants to think about on vacation! Yet, if you were living there you would be genuinely concerned. The majority of the fine families I know, shop local whenever feasible. You do this because it brings some sense of self to know that your money is feeding and clothing the kids at the store.

It is also fueling the economy that you live and work in. You are a huge part of the equation. Why would that mindset not transfer over to vacations? The answer is pretty simple; vacations are for breaks from the ugly parts of life. The ugly part about vacations is that you can be surrounded by what a destination wants you to see. Just miles away, typically in sub-par conditions, is the elderly man carving the wooden sculpture you just purchased from the “gypsy stall” in town. Vacationers are too uncomfortable and unprepared to see these things. They won’t come back if they aren’t “happy” on their vacation.

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Uncomfortable Story Time

Allow me to preface this story with the fact that I was not uncomfortable, but my husband (who rarely travels with me) was beyond uncomfortable. As a college graduation present to my husband, who was then my boyfriend, I took him to Jamaica. Being on a ridiculously tight budget I paid for the flights and hotel and he covered the food. Well, I love traveling. I love people, I am as “one love” as Jamaica is going to get.

Therefore, when we decided that we wanted something small to remember our trip by we went out searching for something we could actually afford. We set out on foot, away from what we were supposed to see. Eventually, we stumbled upon what the government of Jamaica calls “squatter shacks.” All of the residents were making goods that they then sold to the bigger tourist vendors in town.

We watched attentively while the locals made beautiful products. The process of which we were never supposed to witness. Eventually, my husband found a lion head carving that he really enjoyed. They wanted $18 for it, which is probably the price it was going for in town. I told my husband to barter. It is more normal than not and not rude at all. He ran up to me later so excited that he got it for $15! He had done the first bartering of his life and I had done the same bartering on another item and gotten for $8 ahahahaha. There is an art form there.

The point of this story is that by going to the source everyone benefited. The old man made a killing off of my husband, but even the man I haggled with made the same amount he would have going through a middleman to market to the high tourist areas. If living on location and getting to know the locals is not an option for you; then being a responsible tourist has to be.

Living on Location

The desire to do every possible activity and buy all the pretty things is strong. Therefore, when I am living on location I try very hard, to find a happy balance. Usually, that balance comes in the form of experiences and food. You should try to do all the things on your list. They are almost always worth it. Be leery of buying all the things, that is where the peri dime shifts. Because I am living not vacationing I plan out our week like I would if I were stateside. In each week, I try to do an outing (museum, excursion, tour, etc).

Also, each week I try to have a “no spend” day. The no spend days help make the other things possible. There is almost always a stay home day. Not necessarily for spending purposes, but because my small children need a chill day. Especially when sightseeing regularly and navigating busy cities. This schedule is similar to anything you might do in the U.S. So many families that I know have regular weekly appointments with friends and libraries, or never leave the house on Mondays just because everyone benefits.

In my personal opinion, the best place to funnel your tourist money into an economy is via food. This will also prove to be one of the greatest ways to make memories. When you eat abroad most of the time you can shake the hand of your cook. You become not a tourist to that person and build a report with your surroundings. These good intentions are especially magnified when buying local produce and eating street vendor food. The same emotional and consumer benefits that you get from shopping at your local farmers market in the U.S. is available everywhere in the world. One of my favorite things to do is return to the same person time and time again. You are let into their lives and a relationship grows.

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The Happy Medium

The best place to start changing your travel habits is with your food. Like I mentioned before, eat locally. Go to the questionable tables. Smile and shake hands with people. Compliment the cook. These are simple tools for improving your travel experiences for the rest of your life. If the sight of some food on the street makes you queasy you should probably buy some. If you see an elderly woman manipulating a vegetable or harvesting something on a sidewalk (cactus fruit in Mexico for example) you should stop and watch. Show your children what is happening. Ask questions. You will make their day! When you walk past tomorrow they will wave. You have just invested in the lives of everyone around you with almost no effort.

“But that scarf! Everyone needs one!” I completely understand this. They probably do “need one.” What I am asking of you is that you step off a few streets. Find the less trafficked areas and buy those scarves. The best way to stay in control of your spending is to decide ahead of time what it is you would be most willing to buy. I say this because, when you are surrounded by beautiful, unique to that country products you will want it all. We do not go without souvenirs, but we do control it. My children get keychains from most destinations because it attaches to their packs and is easy to move around.

Changing the Mindset of Travel

All the things I have mentioned in this article are tangible, real results from traveling. You can affect the lives of your family and globally in a positive manner while still “relaxing” on vacation. The treat yourself mentality that seems to be prominent these days is poisoning not only us but everyone everywhere. The change that the world needs can be done on your vacations as well. If we all made a few comfort adjustments when planning vacations we would all be able to afford to take more of them. Living versus vacationing can be done anywhere and the long term effects of building relationships that bring you back time and time again are invaluable. It is possible to enjoy yourself and do good as you go. Get out there.

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Finding Your “Non-Traditional” Tribe

On Being “Non-Traditional”

Since the birth of our first child, I have been categorized and labeled at “hippy, crunchy, granola, alternative, free range, attachment” mama. I am that “weird” military spouse that everyone typically avoids until they need me in the form of advice. Over time, I have made an unintentional name for myself as “Ask Bradbury’s Wife” has become something people discuss amongst each other. I am perfectly ok with this. It has taken a lot of time and a lot of self-love practice.

Now on my third child, I feel confident in my advice giving. Confident in my parenting practices and rather hippy lifestyle. I now look forward to young moms seeking me out for advice. It brings me a lot of joy to help them recognize their situation as “normal” and not the end of the world. With that said, finding like-minded mom friends has been a struggle, but I have continued to put myself out there through numerous avenues to meet people. Most of those avenues have been successful, but not because they are all like-minded moms.

Fueling the Different Facets of Your Personality

As “self-help” as it sounds, making a list of your passions is a good place to start. My first list looked something like this;

  • Natural Birth/Homebirth
  • Breastfeeding/Cloth Diapering
  • Running
  • Reading/Writing
  • Dancing
  • Natural Living/Essential Oils/Chemical Free Home
  • Home Schooling/World Schooling
  • Nature/Forest School/Hiking
  • Non-traditional faith. We are Baha’i.
  • Homemaking Goddess
  • Baking/healthy families
  • Career identity outside of motherhood
  • Massive sense of rather inappropriate humor

It seems simple enough, right? Most of us have different facets of our personality that we enjoy equally, but not all at once. From this step, I begin my search for a well-rounded tribe. I joined a local Nature Homeschooling group that meets weekly to hike and do nature crafts. I went to a book club, which you can find anywhere in the world for any genre imaginable (a great place to start if you love reading). While stationed in California I learned to love running by joining Stoller Warriors. Therefore, when we PCS-ed to North Carolina the first thing I did was join that Stroller Warriors chapter. Big Surprise- I didn’t like the North Carolina chapter, but I had to try it to find out.

What happened next was rather simple. When a group of women get together they tend to talk about kids, birth, schools, food. Boom. Natural minded mamas tend to levitate towards each other. I am certain that this is the case for most genres of moms.

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The Different Tribe Members

One of the biggest mistakes that I see young spouses doing is putting all of their eggs in one basket. Expecting ONE person to be their BEST FRIEND FOREVER. Expecting ONE person to be passionate about everything that they are. This is not a one person job. Tribes typically consist of numerous people. For visual purposes I will describe my tribe (names changed);

Anna: Feeds my mama soul with her love of reading and writing. She is a domestic diva that makes me a better mother, wife, homemaker. She homeschools her kids. Loves good food. Finds comfort in the tradition that is the Marine Corps and always has time for our friendship.

Bethany: Hardworking career woman that never says “no” to a new experience. Fabulous sense of humor and loyalty. Semi-crunchy. Views my hardcore crunchiness as a personality quirk that she adores. I feel accepted by her entirely.

Chris: My foul-mouthed workout buddy. She takes her health very seriously and helps motivate me to reach my own goals. She is not a runner at all but understands why I am. We can laugh forever together.

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Debbie: My go-getter, hardcore Liberal Lesbian friend. She embodies the diversity that I try to instill in my children. Truly loves all of mankind and helps me be a better person. She finds my need for religion amusing but doesn’t judge me for it. She is the first person to tell me she is proud of me.

Erin: My friend found through faith. We share a religion that is very uncommon on Marine Corps bases and then discovered, through that connection, that we were both very crunchy, similarly spiritual mothers.

NONE of the women above meet all of my emotional needs as an individual. This is why the tribe exists. Their common interest is ME!

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Avenues for Meeting People

There is a stereotyping that occurs when people meet others online. Fear not, a lot of those online groups that meet occasionally are full of regular people. I have had wonderful success with Facebook groups that meet up at different times. I have danced with strangers and discussed books, mothering, and babywearing with people I have met through meetup.com.

Stroller Warriors and Stroller Strides are wonderful resources for moms with kids in tow that really want to do group fitness. You do not have to look far to find a bible study or book club they are in abundance. For my crunchy mamas, your best bet of friendship is joining a babywearing group or attending events during breastfeeding week.

For those of you saying “I am not very outgoing.” There is a simple, yet potentially anxiety-inducing answer; simply rsvp “YES” to everything you are invited to. I mean it, everything. Yes, this means you will attend a lot of pyramid sale in-home gatherings. You should go because you know what? When they are finished you will get time to get to know each other better and you will forever go down in their books as “the friend that showed up.” A lot of relationships develop from that sense of loyalty that can be earned just by showing up and eating the food they provide.

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Get out there and be raw without being rude. People respond well to honesty, especially in a military lifestyle like most of us lead. This life is difficult. It takes a special kind of person to thrive in this type of environment. The vulnerability is difficult, but it pays off when it comes to building your tribe. For what it is worth, my door is always open to new friendships. I cannot guarantee that we will love each other, or that we will have anything in common, but you are always welcome. Go show the world what you have to offer.

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When Travel is Torture: Adjusting your Expectations and Comfort Levels

We flew out of Baltimore on a 7 pm flight to Reykjavik, Iceland. Final destination Amsterdam, Netherlands. I deliberately planned this flight as a sleeping overnight flight. By leaving at bedtime I thought for sure that my children would sleep and wake up magically refreshed in Amsterdam…I know you can see where this is going. The children did sleep three of the five hours of the first flight, but when they woke up to enter the Schengen security in Iceland they did not go back to sleep on the second flight. Instead, they spent four hours making best buddies with an Icelandic farmer who had pictures of her ponies.

At this point, you are probably wondering what I did, but the answer is nothing. Gauging what is within my control versus what definitely is not is one of the most challenging parts of traveling. When we landed in Amsterdam I had some very irritable children that were then struck in the face with fierce cold and a very long wait for our bags. The result is the photo below, my oldest son falling asleep with his pack on next to the baggage carousel.

When Travel is torture: adjusting your expectation and comfort levels

Adjusting Your Expectations

As Americans, we tend to look at Europe with eyes studded in gemstones. Everything about Europe seems glamorous because “only the wealthy can afford to go.” Europe is not as glamorous as we believe it to be. Actually, most Europeans are prone to believing the same about America because as Americans we live in a land of convenience. Most of Europe is without the conveniences that most Americans take for granted. Also, many Europeans do not think twice about what they are missing because it is the way it has always been. They have always been without certain amenities and therefore don’t need them.

As an American coming from a home that has things like a microwave, dishwasher, and dryer there was a learning curb for me on how to run a house well without those things. I was humbled and empowered, but FIRST I was made very uncomfortable. I had to find extra time in my day for things like hanging laundry. When a child was hungry after the meal had been cleared away, I had to re-dirty dishes in order to heat leftovers back up on the stove top. It was not easy if anything it was frustrating.

How My Comfort Levels Changed

Now, I find myself hand washing dishes because it’s the natural next step. I find myself wishing for sunny clothesline weather. There is an adjustment period when you travel. It is very possible to find places that accommodate those standards, but it is not the norm and definitely not an authentic European experience. You will also pay heavily for amenities like that.

Instead, I challenge you to make cost-effective plans that allow for a lot of learning. It will give you a plethora of stories to tell. Some of those stories are really funny now that I have amenities at my disposal again, but mostly I now miss the simplicity that is spending extra time caring for your things. It sounds silly, but you appreciate your belongings more when you spend that additional time caring for them.

Adjusting Comfort Levels

We finally made it to Denmark via train and then had two bus connections before we were dropped off at the beginning of a road leading through farming fields in a blizzard.

When Travel is torture: adjusting your expectations and comfort levels

In this photo, you cannot see the snow blowing sideways. You cannot see the child in front of me crying nor can you hear my elderly grandmother cursing my name. There’s also a child on my back and one following me crying about his gloves not fitting right.

We are walking to house number 71, the first residence we come across on this road is number 4. . . This is the type of situation that I spent months researching trying to avoid. This photo was one of the scarier days. This was early on in my Euro trip and there was no food at our destination so I had to turn around in the cold and hike back to the nearest market in the snow.

It Doesn’t Always Go According to Your Plan

Sometimes, despite your researching efforts, the dots don’t connect perfectly. I was told the bus would take us right down the road from the hostel. It did not. I was told the weather would be a low of 54 degrees. It wasn’t. There were no taxis, no uber, no help to be found so we did the only thing we could and we walked. We were wet, cold, highly uncomfortable in a country where we didn’t even know the word for “hi.”

It all worked out, but that day I definitely had to do a few things that I never want to do again in the name of adjusting my expectations and comfort levels. Now, I can laugh hysterically at the entire experience, but only because we survived. This particular experience would begin the conditioning that I needed to withstand many uncomfortable situations in the months to come.

When Travel is Torture you Adjust and Overcome

As cliche as it sounds, there are very few things in this life that come easily and without discomfort. I am confident that many of you have done something that really really sucked in the name of getting the job done. Traveling is ALWAYS worth it, but if you are anything like me, you need to cut costs where you can. I could have rented a car. I could have hired a car and driver. I could have taken a $60 taxi, but I didn’t. Instead, I  mapped out my plan and didn’t plan on awful weather and country roads.

Things happen. They will happen if you choose the adventurous route. That is part of the adventure. Adjust your expectations of what the world owes you and focus more energy on what it doesn’t and you will suddenly have lower expectations. You will also have a much better time if you lower your expectations. Enjoy the journey no matter the weather or road and get out there.

 

Airplane 101

I will be perfectly honest with you. Flying with kids is not my favorite thing, but it does not need to be scary either. There are many ways to survive flights with kids. Whether it be a 1-hour flight or a 9-hour flight I have included some tips and tricks to achieving the best experience possible for everyone.

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Tips and Tricks for Flying with Kids

  1. Plan the flight time around the child that needs the nap the most. Yes, I expect you to forfeit one child’s potential happiness for another’s. If your toddler is going to be the more difficult child to fly with then plan it for a nap around take off.
  2. Do not over pack with entertainment. Give the window view its time. When that joy wears off then bring out one item/game and so on. Do not give your children ALL OF THE OPTIONS in the first thirty minutes of the flight.
  3. Pack snacks and water even though they give out snacks and water. When all else fails bribe.
  4. Do not freak out about ear popping. If you are nursing a baby then nurse during take-off and landing. If you are not then pack something chewy (gummies, fruit leathers, etc) for them to chew during take-off and landing. As a pilot spouse, I can tell you that this is even more important during landing. If they are asleep during landing do not panic more than likely it will be ok. Suckers tend to work very well for younger ones who are not quite old enough to chew well and who are not nursing. We like the ‘Yum Organics’ lollipops.
  5. You do not need to pack the pillows and blankets. Most airlines will gladly supply those.
  6. As I mentioned before, a bag of games is not necessary. Keep it simple. We love our boogie boards, magnetic faces and we try to make the face look like other passengers. We also enjoy card games and one deck of cards and provide a lot of entertainment if it needs to.
  7. Something I had to learn the hard way is to reserve your seats if they give you the option. Also, you can speak to the flight representative at your gate to move seats closer together. It is worth the money to not start your flight off with a seat situation mess.
  8. Foreign airlines tend to take the children on board into special consideration. When flying with Aegean air the flight attendants supplied my kids with coloring books about Greece.

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Before You Fly

These days it is fairly common for a flight to be delayed, canceled, or just not moving as quickly as a panicked mother needs it too. One of the saving graces that I have used almost every time we have flown this last year; Paper Planes. Yep. They are a mom’s best friend. We left the U.S. with a brand new Usborne Paper Plane book and ran out of paper planes the day we flew back to the U.S. six months later.

Such a simple concept and yet so effective to buy you a solid hour or more of happy child time. Most of the waiting guests will play along too. Do not worry too much if your child’s airplane dive-bombs sleeping people. Our middle child once hit a sleeping man in the head with a paper plane and he had to creep over to retrieve it and the guy scared him half to death. It was hilarious. People are not typically out to ruin your child’s good time.

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Keeping it Real

It is emotionally challenging to wait to board an airplane with small children. Because we are conditioned to feel guilty about making the other passengers feel uncomfortable over our child’s presence. I have seen loads of blog posts about the cute little “I’m sorry” bags that moms make for the passengers around them. Unless your child is notoriously obnoxious these bags should not even be under consideration on your part. Your child has just as much of a right to fly as the man who will take his shoes off next to you. Your child has just as much of a right to fly as the woman choking everyone with her perfume.

Do not feed the mainstream culture’s ridiculous notion that kids shouldn’t be on planes. People quickly forget what it is like to be sleep deprived and doing your best to keep people alive and happy. Do not let them get to you. Their happiness is not your problem. Simply do your best to keep everyone from crying at the exact same time and that is enough. You are enough. You can do fly alone with your kids. Get out there.

Getting Around the Most Famous Greek Postcard Destinations

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In the Land of a Million Islands

Greece as a whole includes 6,000 islands. Only 227 of those islands are inhabited. Of those 227 only 2/3 are truly accessible by tourist. Every Greek island is entirely different and worth its own trip, but most people daydream about the most popularly photographed Greek islands and those are the ones they tend to visit first. From the beautiful white mountains on the island of Crete to the red sand of Santorini, the options are unlimited and bring people back to Greece time and time again.

Getting around the most famous postcard islands

CRETE: what I like to refer to as the Gateway Drug of Greek islands is situated between Southern Mainland Greece and Northern Africa. I call it the Gateway Drug because it is significantly more affordable than most of the other “postcard” islands. It also is home to a Naval base, which tends to make traveling military members feel safer. Safety is not an issue in the majority of Crete. Actually, while I was there I was curious as to how the crime rate of Chania, Crete compared to where we were stationed at the time (Camp Lejeune, NC) the crime rate of Chania was less than the Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune. Safety is not an issue in the country of Greece as a whole but should be the bottom of your worry list on the island of Crete for sure.

Getting Around Crete

Getting to and from Crete is very simple. There are daily ferries from mainland Greece to Crete, but it is cheaper to fly from Athens and only a 50-minute flight. Once you are on Crete it is incredibly affordable (30 to 40 Euros) to rent a car for the day and drive all over the island. This is a must do to get to secluded beaches and monasteries. The bus system on Crete is very efficient but timely and you see more by car.

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Elafonissi Beach Southern Crete

Getting to and around Santorini

EVERYONE that comes to Greece wants to go to Santorini and/or Mykonos. Aside from my opinion on these islands, there are very specific ways to get there. Typically, tourists visit both islands because they are close in proximity to each other. Getting to Santorini can happen in a few ways. The first is a flight from Athens or Crete. This is a very pricey option. The second option is a ridiculously long ferry ride from Iraklio, Crete. There are no ferries to Santorini from Chania, Crete you must ferry from Iraklio, which is 2.5 hours on the other side of the island.

When I say that the ferry is ridiculously long I mean 3 to 9 hours depending on what kind of ferry you take. Most recently, I took the high-speed ferry with the kids and it was about 3 hours. Normally, there is not a huge price difference between the two different types of ferries so take the speed if you are able. From the adverturer perspective, the long overnight ferries are a great way to meet people, but a bit stressful with kids and luggage.

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Perissa Beach (the Black Beach) on the island of Santorini. The color black is not Perissa in Greek, it is mavros just so you know.

Getting around Santorini is best done by car. Here is the tricky part. The cars are cheaper to rent at the bottom of the mountain at the port, but then you have to drive a manual in stopped traffic going up a very large very steep volcanic mountain. If you are not a manual professional this is a nightmare. You can rent vehicles at the top, in town, but they are about 15 Euros more per day. Renting a car is definitely worth it to get to all of the amazing secluded spots that Santorini has to offer. If renting a car is an absolute NO for you then there are public buses.

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The Red Beach Santorini

Getting to and around Mykonos

Mykonos is a very small island and a great starting place for most tourists. I have heard from readers that they really enjoyed starting their Greek island journey in Mykonos because it is so Westernized. The whole island is entirely dedicated to tourism, even more so than other postcard-perfect places like Santorini and Crete. Mykonos exists solely for tourism and therefore no car is required to get around. Everything you would want to see is within 3 square miles. There are ferries available to Mykonos from Santorini, Iraklio Crete, and Athens.

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Getting to and Around Rhodes

I tend to refer to Rhodes as a “secondary island” because it is not in the top three that most tourists visit. Rhodes is my favorite island, so much so that I named a child after it. One of the many reasons why Rhodes is a secondary island is because it is really difficult to get to affordably. There are 16 to 18-hour ferries from Iraklio, Crete, and Athens or you can fly in, which is very costly. You have to really want to go there to make it happen.

Visiting Rhodes is more worth it than I can put into words and I hope that you will be inspired to make it happen based on my recommendation. A car would be nice to have to explore the island but is not necessary in order to see the bulk of the high tourist sites. Also, hiring a car and driver for the day is more affordable in Greece than most other places. If you are uncomfortable driving in a foreign country this is a good option for you.

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Getting to and Around Zakynthos

Ten years ago no one I knew was traveling to Zakynthos. Facebook ads have made Zakynthos’ shipwreck beach famous. A rather large island, Zakynthos requires a car to get around and can be accessed by car/ferry and flight. You can rent a car in Athens and drive the 6 hours to the Western most coast of Mainland Greece. You should definitely visit Olympia (site of the first Olympics in 776 B.C.). Then just north is the ferry port to cross over to Zakynthos. The other option is to fly out of Athens to Zakynthos and find a car upon arrival. Zakynthos is still developing as resorts are popping up everywhere.

Getting Around the Most Famous Postcard Destinations

Do Not let the logistics get the better of you. It all sounds very complicated I know, but it is not as bad as it appears. During high tourist season, approximately mid-may through September, the ferry schedule is very frequent. There are a lot of things that the Greek people do perfectly, logistics and timekeeping are not among them. Do not fret. Book what you can online. You will have to go to the ticket offices to pick up tickets. These offices are not next door to the actual ferry. Give yourself ample time and flexibility to learn the ropes. If you get stuck on an 18-hour ferry bring a deck of cards for the ride.

What is up with the Bradburys?

Hello there Edventurers! 

What is going on with us? Well, everything and nothing, all at the same time. If you haven’t noticed; we have left Europe and are back on U.S. soil… .You will be hearing extensively about our European stops for the next 8 months, but in the meantime, we are trying to establish a new life stateside as well. A lot has happened in the last four months. The biggest thing is Greg switching aircraft. I’m going to go into detail about this a little bit as most of our family, friends, and followers are not military. Back in July, Greg was selected to transition to flying his dream aircraft the C130 Hercules. For the last four years, he has been flying the UH1 Huey helicopter. 

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He was flying the helicopter in the photo and is now transitioning to fly the big airplane in the photo.

This is RIDICULOUSLY exciting news, BUT it comes with its own slew of new issues. The main thing is that it requires him to go back to “school” known as FRD for 5 months. This school is located in Cherry Point MCAS, which is the area you have recently seen on the news under 40 inches of rain from hurricane Florence. His FRD program begins in January, but he is supposed to report there October 1. Issue number two, because we forfeited our on-base house back in May, my husband is now homeless and living in his car in between switching duty stations and awaiting orders. Once he gets orders to the new air station he can get a house. . .

Issue number three: hurricane Florence swooped in. The area we were planning on moving to for FRD is now under water and we have no idea what housing will actually be available to us when he reports October 1. Issue number four: we still do not know the status of all of our material possessions. It is in a storage unit in Jacksonville, North Carolina. It really doesn’t matter at this point, but it is an extra factor in the already complicated equation. Finally, issue number five: we still do not have fleet orders. So we do not know where we will be going next summer when Greg’s training is complete. Our fleet tour will be 3 to 4 years. Though this is a little farther out date-wise, it would be nice to know where we will be stationed because it may ultimately change the housing options for us in North Carolina. If we are to be stationed there, we will most likely purchase a home. If we are only there for 5 months, then we will rent, etc.

The kids and I did not return to North Carolina from Europe. There has been some confusion from readers asking about our evacuation. The kids and I did not evacuate at all, we have not been there since mid-march. My husband and our storage unit are there though and of course the dozens and dozens of friends and military sisters that we call family. 

There’s No Place Like Home

The kids and I are settling into a routine of sorts back in Kansas and Missouri. We are spending half the week in Bonner Springs, KS with in-laws and cousins and the other half in Boonville, MO with my dad and brother (these are just over 2 hours apart). The absolute best thing for us right now is routine. It distracts from the culture shock a bit and helps the kids feel “settled” during this time of pure upheaval. Old family traditions are being mandated back into action (i.e. homemade pizza Fridays). We are busy visiting, playing and decompressing. I am getting MUCH needed alone time after months and months of 24/7 on-call mommin’. The kids are getting much-needed attention from other adults and building on those cousin and family relationships. 

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The 6 younger cousins. All boys, alternating years, ranging from 7 to almost 2.

They are growing in leaps and bounds. Lux is losing teeth and the other two are cast free and playing hard trying to catch up on lost time. We are excited about what the year holds; forest school, new homeschool curriculum, baseball, holidays, two moves and being back with daddy on a consistent basis. We are also constantly planning the next big edventure.

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What are the Future Travel Plans???

EVERYONE wants to know what we are doing next! I love the enthusiasm and interest. We will be stateside for the next year. That is an absolute, as we desperately need time as a whole family and we have two moves on the horizon better done together. What I do know is that Greg and I are hashing out an international travel plan together that allows for the boys to play sports and not miss out on everything stateside while still traveling consistently. The most recent conversation was stateside March through November and traveling December through February. This is not a bad plan at all and may be entirely feasible. Time will tell. A perfect scenario, in my opinion, is four months stateside and two months gone rotation. Right now we are not planning anything until after our summer move, but a Spain, Portugal, and Wales trip with good friends has been proposed and a fall Mexico trip is highly likely. All of the readers will get a chance to vote on future Edventures once we know what coast we would be flying out of! In the meantime, we will be covering the U.S. by car, hopefully finding a home, loving on each other and learning everything we can.

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