Czech Republic

Prague, Abi and Kids

So, after only a couple of days at the Tooth Palace and off I go with the kids, again.  Andrew stays with Maggie for another week to help with the repairs.  Abi arrives in Prague in just a few days so off I go with TJ and Abi for Prague, via Dresden.  No complaints from them.  You see, even though the Tooth Palace has unexpected treasures around every corner it has no Abi and no other kids.  We take the ICE train to Dresden. Hang out with Priscilla.  Watch her play basketball.  See some art.  Sleep a little.  Take a “Flixbus” to Prague.  10914403_1595464224007753_990682238_nA subway, a tram to Zelivka.  Dang, last time we were here we were with Maggie.  Our friends would tour us around the VERY old, VERY dilapidated buildings and tell us their dreams.  Fast forward to today and there are 3 families living here.  That is 6 adults10838373_715525681879692_1421958619_n and 11.5 kids.  Oh yeah!  Are TJ and Hannah in heaven?  I think so.  There are kids everywhere.  Not just any old kids but third culture kids from cross-cultural families that we already know and love.  They talk to us about more dreams that include accommodation for 50+ more people.  We do so love to dream with people, especially when they dream about family, community, business, gardens, beer, 10949064_1413474532279250_524954137_ngenerosity, love and just a touch of anarchy.  Gotta love it.  One thing that is quite funny is that 6 years ago we met one of these families in Portugal.  Hannah had this little stuffed tiger that she gave to a little Portuguese girl way back then.  This little girl now lives here with her family.  When we arrive the mum tells her daughter, “This is THE Hannah that gave you the tiger”.  She looks at Hannah like she is looking at someone of myth, like a Unicorn or the tooth fairy.  Runs up to retrieve one of her favourite toys to show it to Hannah again.

10919511_761197213960626_1121717753_nFirst trip into town and it is time for some smazeny syr.  It is fried cheese and mayo one a white bread roll.  Not very nutritious but very yummy.

10838758_781109785318125_915064714_nWe picked up Abi and brought her back to Zelivka.  The next day another trip into Prague central and we eat another couple of old favourites,  Svickova followed by ovoce knedlicky. That would be root veg sauce over beef and bread dumplings followed by fruit dumplings topped with cream and cheese.  Am I making you hungry.  Dad arrived just in time to be the mad hatter at Hannah’s Birthday Tea Party.


An Artistic Antwerp for Christmas and New Years

train travelJust a couple of days before Christmas and we are aware that Maggie will not be on the move.  So, Derek and Amy let us use their artsy apartment in Antwerp for the actual holidays.  A few trains and a bus later we arrive.  As we walk into the building of our artist loft  ‘home for the holidays’ we are greeted by a large white stone statue of a reclining nude woman.  The small elevator is lined with a mural of more women.  Enormous paintings line the generously sized halls.  Our friends loft is filled with enticements to creativity.  Only the necessities, really, a collection of guitars along one wall, party noisemakers on the mantle, random art supplies and a trappist ale in the fridge.  Thanks Derek and Amy.  treeThe kids want a tree.  Because it is the day before Christmas Eve trees are cheap.  We don’t have a tree stand so we tie the top of the tree to the balcony and have a ‘suspended tree’.  We get some lights and decorate the tree with chocolate, cheese, sausages, tiny waffles and a couple of marzipan pigs, of course.  More Christmas markets mean more gluhwein, gourmet hot chocolate, chips with creamy garlic sauce and waffles.  TJ remembers a special sweetie from last time we were in Antwerp with the truck.  We remember they are little purple cones with a liquid centre.  After a bit of exploring along the tiny streets and in the winter markets nearby and we find them.  They are called ‘Cuberdons’ or ‘red noses’.  They tend not to export them because of the limited shelf life (6 weeks) and the claim that only about 6 people, have the recipe.  You see,antwerp  the liquid centres chrystalise quite quickly.  new yearsWe have Christmas with just the 4 of us.  For New Years, some friends  come for a visit. We down to the river with the masses to watch the fireworks.  deboraThey go.  goWe stay for “Three Kings Day” where minature kings line the streets and sing. We go.  Back to the Tooth Palace. kings


An Unexpected re-entry into Europe

towtruckTwo months away from Maggie.  Naively expecting to just jump in and drive her away to the south to get away from the wintery north.  Ah yes, it was not to be.  Maggie was reluctant to begin her journey and had to be towed.  After an eventful couple of weeks we towed her to a place she could be worked on.  Where is a good place for her to be worked on?  A reasonable truck would be taken to a mechanic’s garage.  But not Maggie.  The unorthodox journey of Maggie means being towed to a ‘Tooth Palace’.  We walk into the ‘Tooth Palace’ only a few weeks before Christmas.  santaWe are greeted by Santa precariously dangling from a rope in the middle of the staircase.  elephantFurther exploration reveals lots of Elephants of various sizes lining the hall.  Elephants are the theme for this ‘Tooth Palace’.  There are even other bizarre features like animals that once had a very different life, antiques, artwork and teeth.  bearThe owner of the house is a collector.  I can’t help thinking of the stories C.S.Lewis would have come up with here.  peterOur friend, Peter, lives in the top room while the remainder of the house is used to make teeth.  Mechanic friends are already planning on what needs to be done for Maggie.  It is actually only minor repairs but lots of little minor repairs.  The Mechanics and Andrew now have some trust issues to sort out with Maggie so a thorough examination is recommended.  Looks like Maggie will spend Christmas at the ‘Tooth Palace”.  oxWe are treated to a few Winter Markets in Bielelfeld.  Yes that is an Ox roasting.  Oh my, the taste.  Even the memory of that little Ox sandwich makes me salivate.  No they are NOT drinking Gluhwein, even though Hannah is legal drinking age in Germany.  Well, maybe just a sip.  drinkAll in all, A good lead up to Christmas.  After all, we are in Europe, it is cold, we are surrounded by good friends, family, Winter markets, new tastes, gluhwein, ox sandwiches.  Sure, Maggie is having a bit of downtime.  Sometimes it takes something like that to get us to slow down and enjoy and unexpected treasure…or two.  Hope your Christmas season has been as good, or better than photo


USA 2014


We went to USA for a couple of months.  Here are some non-linear highlights.

Andrew, Hannah and Ben became comic book heroes and went to ‘APE’, an alternative publishing event.


We made new friends and found some new tribe.  One even had a matching tattoo that he got in Egypt as well.


We got to go to our old house in the middle of the Redwoods.  We were living there when Hannah was born.


And who goes to the Redwoods without driving through a tree.


We went on a magical cupcake tour with Lizzy, our cupcakeateer daughter.


We traveled by plane, by bus, by friend, anyway we could to get to where we needed to go.


We hung out with some hippies and other vehicle dwelling people.


We got to see alot of family, including….

got to see



We got together with family and friends and had lots of great food together. Here we are enjoying some gourmet ice cream at ‘Bi-rite” in San Francisco.  Later on we will tell you where we found the best BBQ on our America trip.  I think you will be surprised.

ice cream

Hannah studied ‘very’ hard for her GED and passed….at 16 years old!  Booyah!

hannah ged

We learned about, made and distributed “fair-trade hot sauce” with Michael Toy himself.  And, the answer is yes, he does live at Toyland.

hot sauce

We celebrated Halloween up north and went on a Halloween parade with people we love and a whole lot of strangers through a ‘Pirate Town’.  That is TJ dressed up as a sugar skull.


We celebrated Thanksgiving in California with more people we love.


Actually, we had lots of meals and parties with lots of people we love.


At one of the parties TJ got to learn some magic from a real live professional magician.  Can you believe his name is Mike Toy, do you see a theme here?  And, no, he does NOT live at toyland.  At least I don’t think so.


Did we mention the great coffee?  We stumbled upon ‘free coffee friday’ at Bicycle coffee.  I mean what coffee shop does that?  A whole day offering fantastic free coffee.  Andrew was VERY happy. The inner scotsman and the inner kiwi were smiling.


All in all, a great time.  Thanks everyone for putting up with us, pampering us and especially for loving us.














New Zealand

Leaving New Zealand

jonesberriesAfter a few wonderful years in New Zealand we have departed.  We boarded our truck onto a container ship bound for Europe and we make our way back to Europe through the U.S.A. We should reunite with our truck in December.  Realizing that the one thing about having a stationary ‘home’ is that you miss it.  Badly.  Dang, didn’t see that one coming.  Good-bye New Zealand.  Good-bye lovely anarchist friends.  See you in a few years when we come to visit or sooner if you come to visit us.

New Zealand Truck


So here we are, still, hanging out with patient Al and Anita.  They keep assuring us we are not wearing out our welcome but we are not sure if they are just being nice.  We are working on our truck through the New Zealand winter.  Maybe not the smartest.  Right now as the wind is howling and the rain is pelting the outside of the truck I sit here at the computer and write this post.  The drydock do-over of the truck is infectious and when we aren’t working on the truck we might be working on the website.  We hope to take some nice photos before we load her on the ship to send her back to Europe/Africa.  We will post them and you can oooooh and aaaaaah at how pretty she looks and you might even say, “thank God they finally learned how to do that bit right.

Living mum's rants New Zealand


I would like to tell you a bit about where we are staying right now. We are staying with Al and Anita in a small beach town in New Zealand. They have 5 acres on the edge of the poorer part of their town. If there is a crime in this town, this is where the police go first. Al and Anita live in a housebus on their land. The toilets are outdoor and composting with buckets to empty. The shower is outside, the firebath is warmer or too hot when a fire is made. They have their bus, an extra housebus, a caravan, a couple of shipping containers connected by a roof, a small shed, a garage and our truck on the land. They make the housebus, caravan and shed available to whoever needs a place to live. The only legal structure on the site is the garage. Nobody complains about loud music or housebuses in this neighbourhood because nobody cares about their “property values”.

photo 2

We love staying here. We can work on our truck and make a mess while we are doing it. Since we have been here we have ripped off part of our roof and Al helped us weld on a roof rim that won’t let the rain in. Lovely Al, motorbike riding, loud rock music playing, tattooed and bearded wildman that literally wouldn’t hurt a fly, opens his garage for some neighbours to fix their motorbikes and never questions giving generously. What an amazing man filled with generosity and love without judgement, without reserve.


Anita collects and shares. Lovely Anita who loves her neighbours without reserve in her own, more hippie, way. She won’t even kill a mouse who keeps her awake at night, while I buy small black traps that resemble tiny sharks to trap my unwanted pets. Who lets the spiders spin their webs in the corners of her home undisturbed. She has friends who have food to give away. She collects it and gives it out to others who need it and those who know others who need food so everyone knows the joy of giving. There is leftover bread and cakes from the cafe, produce and meat from the organic grocery, apples and limes and walnuts from local farmers, fejoas from a neighbour. All is here, literally spread out on a table of plenty under the shelter between the two containers for all to share in. You need milk? There is a cow that needs milking, just sign up for a day to milk the cow and share in the table of plenty. As you drink your tea at the table in the sun the dog and the cat and the chicken and the pig wander around your feet. On another day local women and children gather to felt hats from the wool of the sheep in the paddock. Another day we are making soap, or cheese. Anita and her nephew are drying apples in her dehydrator or juicing some overipe fruit. Anita teaches and shares, gives from her table of plenty for all to enjoy without agenda, without judgement, there is abundance. Not much money seems to move around as this place appears to mainly be run on love and a gift economy. Many would consider Anita a freegan as she can’t remember when she last bought food from a grocery store. When we think about needing beets for dying wool we don’t go to the shops she thinks about planting some in the garden.  What an amazing woman filled with generosity and love without judgement, without reserve.

Al and Anita think they are just normal people doing what anyone would do. Imagine a world in which they were just normal people. Where everyone gave like this. Thank you, Al and Anita you have blessed us beyond measure. You have fed our bodies and our hearts. You have given us refuge and love. We are grateful.


New Zealand

Lizzy Embarks On Her Own Adventures

The family has now dispersed just a little bit more. We came into Wellington three weeks ago to send off another young adult of ours to the other side of the world. Lizzy flew away on Easter Sunday to go to Texas. In Texas she will go to the wedding reception of a very dear friend, Jessica and hang out with her brother, Sam and his wife, Jenna. The plan is that she stays in the states for a month and then comes back downunder to go to patisserie school in Melbourne, Australia. The school starts in July so there is plenty f time for diversions. I am privy to information that Sam and Jenna have plans to lure her into spending more time with them in Texas.

Very proud of our lovely oldest daughter but very sad to say goodbye at the airport. Unsure when the family will all be on the same continent.

This is definitely the greatest sorrow of having a nomadic family.


New Zealand Roadschooling

A Young Adventure-Zoologist’s Fantastic Weekend

Sometimes you look and see a great time unfolding for your roadschooled/worldschooled child and can’t help smile right down to your soul. Last weekend was such a weekend for TJ.

Blue penguin in nestbox  |  Photo: Dave Houston

It started by finding some Conservation Zoologists modifying nesting boxes for the small blue penguins while wild camping around the edges of Wellington. TJ took off for the morning to replace penguin boxes and do some research to find places to put new ones. The penguin boxes are needed because of the city inhabitants taking over more of their native habitat not to mention an improved roadway to cross at night. The new penguin boxes had thermostats, improved ventilation and more secure braces to keep the roof from becoming dislodged.

TJ came home from her zoology outing with just enough time to pack her backpack and took a train to Waikanae. The next day she was climbing Mt Kapakapanui with Joyia, Lydia, Amanda and Laura. They spent the night in a hut with other trampers discussing the local shortage of marshmallows around the bonfire. They were lucky to score beds as the 6 bed hut had 20 trampers to house. Luckily some brought tents and others happily slept on the floor. The next morning they tramped down that mountain. (probably quite a bit easier than up on the previous day).

On Monday evening she was back at the truck exhausted but glowing and full of stories to tell her proud family. Well done TJ!!!


New Zealand

TJs 12th Birthday

Back on the North Island of New Zealand just before TJs 12th birthday.  Lizzy’s flatmates were all gone for the weekend and offered us the run of the flat, thanks guys.  We also got to park the truck just 2 doors down at the Newtown Bowling Club.  Excellent!  You know, sometimes it doesn’t hurt to just ask.  The 4 girls were planning the party long before we even got on the ferry. The theme was ‘Rise of the Brave, Tangled, Frozen Dragons’. Apparently it is a combined ‘fandom’ (fanatic domain).  I know, I know.  This is what whale a when you have a geek daughter (Gwennie).  Such an education.

After our breakfast of waffles and strawberries and checking out ‘the boyfriend’ (Abi’s boyfriend) we wandered around Wellington in costume.  The funny thing about doing this in Wellington is that people don’t seem to realise you are in costume. They just seem to think you are normally like this.

We rushed home from the town centre to get ready for the party. We were planning on throwing this party from the truck but Lizzys flatmates were all out and offered us the run of the flat for the weekend. To make things even better the Newtown Bowling Club, two doors down from lizzys flat, let us park in their lot. How great is that. You know, sometimes you just gotta ask. So, the flat filled up with big kids and little kids. We played games , ate sweets and blew out candles from the beautiful cake Lizzy made.   One of those great days.