Hannah's Writing Travel

Why Doctor Who is the Perfect TV Show for Traveling Families

Doctor Who is a BBC Wales TV show that has been going on since 1963, coincidently the same year Dad was born, It is about a Time Lord, called the Doctor, from the planet Galifrey, and his time machine, the TARDIS, Time And Relative Dimension In Space, (which is bigger on the inside just like all the homes that we have ever lived in, or at least, we pretend so). He travels through time and space, saving civilisations, fighting off bad guys, finding companions to travel with him, and poking things that don’t make sense with a stick.

I started watching Doctor Who in Orkney, mostly without the family although we did watch ‘Blink’ together and all slept in the same room that night, I’d buy Doctor Who Adventures magazines when they came out every Thursday, I had a Doctor Who themed birthday party when I turned 10 (no bananas unfortunately), and I owned a collection of DW action figures. And in the past few months I have gotten all the current truck dwellers hooked. MWAHAHAHAHA!!!

Recently I have noticed a great resemblance of DW and us, no, the truck isn’t a time machine, and no, we don’t fight evil aliens, but we both travel, we both learn from those around as best as we can, we are both trying to discover, and preserve, foreign cultures and traditions, we both find cool people to travel with us, none of those people are ever the same again, in a good way, we both have a fear of being domesticated, we both think bow ties are cool, we are both trying to bring peace to the global (and universal) fringe, and we both have fun while doing it! As well as the fact that Dad would make a great Doctor, right?


New Zealand

Hello Grandma and Nana!

Can you believe we have been in New Zealand now for over 6 months and such a pathetic representation of blog posts. I suppose now that we aren’t traveling quite so much in “dangerous countries” there isn’t as much need to put up a blog post to say, “hey grandparents! We aren’t DEAD on the side of the road or captured by pirates or anything”.But, we do need to catch up to show that we are LIVING!

Let me catch things up. Actually, how about some pictures first. Just for the Grandmas.


We met up with Samuel in Wellington and did some more “hanging”.


We started out living in a great big circus Marquis while we were working on our yurt. Now, who has always wanted to live in a circus Marquis?


After a while we got to move into our yurt.





Here is the story.

First, of all, we are planning on doing some more traveling. We have our beloved truck, Maggie, here to fix her up for some more adventures in New Zealand and beyond. Did anyone say, Africa? Hmmmm, we shall see. All our kids were feeling a bit identity challenged and our older kids were wanting a bit of a softer way to fly the coop than to be tossed on to a plane and flown to the other side of the world. Sure they have 2 passports (New Zealand and USA) but they were unfamiliar with both of these places and were lacking a sense of home. When we flew around the world last year (or was it longer?) we asked them where they would like to call home. Their three main choices were USA, Australia and New Zealand. They unanimously chose New Zealand. So, here we are. We found a community about as crazy as us outside Wellington. Samuel arrived before us and is settled into Victoria University and studying Theatre/Film. Lizzy is moving to Wellington this month and Abi is in Prague learning “Hostel Management”, but plans to return in December and study “random things” at the local Polytech. I am homeschooling TJ and Hannah and trying to restart “Gone2Pot”. Andrew is busy writing some books and together we are trying to start an import/export business. We are living in our yurt with our truck, Maggie, parked next to us. We also plan on working on Maggie, taking advantage of some local “Kiwi Inginuity”, and taking her on her next adventures.

Hope to keep up better from here on out.


Cousins are Important

Last night we got together with the cousins on Andrew’s side of the family. We enjoyed a collection of food of magnificent proportions that grew as each carload arrived through the front door to make their contribution. The stars of the night were Uncle Neil’s lamb chops, Sister Sarah’s scalloped potatoes, Cousin Megan’s roasted pumpkin and pinenut salad, Auntie Jan’s brown rice medley and Nana’s  homemade lemon merangue pie.

We gathered around the table with sisters and cousins and aunties and uncles and nanas. We talked about what we have done since we were last together and some of the heartbreak. We talked about cats, dogs and chickens, a common theme among Andrew’s relations. We talked of nothing mind-blowing or world-changing. We joined with people we were stuck with. People connected by blood and marriage. We did not choose to be related but we chose to be at the table together.

Outside, in the back garden, was the next generation of cousins. Why outside? Because they chose it. After 5 minutes of “Bohemian Rhapsody” being sung at full volume by cousins of mixed musical ability, we understood why it was good they were outside and wondered what the neighbours must be thinking.

Cousins are important.

Most of the cousins, from last night, will be joining us for our family outing to the Perth Zoo. Once it was all decided and the meeting place and time were set they must have remembered that they forgot to invite the parents.

I am sure they will have a great time.

You know, cousins are a big part of why we took this flying part of our trip. Our kids had cousins they have not met. That should not be.

Cousins are important.

The biggest heartache of last night was talk of one of the cousins who married a woman who has severed ties with the family. A nana that will never see her grandchildren. Cousins that will never meet

Cousins are important.

I was closest to my cousin, Terre. Her parents had split up and she was making life difficult for Aunt Fran. Terre came to live with us in high school where my mom snapped her into shape. Anyone who knows my mom can effortlessly imagine this, I am sure. I am so glad that Terre came to live with us for those years. It has been so nice to see her grow from troubled teen, to beautiful young woman, faithful wife and doting mother.

My cousin, Terre, died of cancer last night. I was woken up by a tap on the shoulder from an unknown source at the moment of her death.

She is survived by her husband Mitch, together for 29 years, her  boyscout son, John, and she just missed her daughter, Ruby, becoming a teenager.

Cousins are important.


Learning on the Road.

We slowly make our way out of the car to find Andrew standing on the front porch with another tall and skinny man. This one with steel gray eyes. It is as if he emerged from the black and white photo of Andrew’s grandfather. Neither man was moving. Both were just staring with a slight smile mixed in with a look of shock. The family resemblance was undeniable. Cousins who don’t remember their last meeting.

Kit was eagerly downloading his recent trip to Zambia. “I don’t think they need handouts. It has warped the culture. They need professionals to come in and form partnerships. Change their thinking. We shouldn’t be so lazy. We need to do our homework before we give.” All the girls are sitting on the sofa, listening. All but TJ. She is laying on my lap asleep. No wonder, she was up at 4:30, milking cows with an Allan. Allan wanted to be a dairy farmer since he was her age.

Celia looked over at the girls on the sofa. “Your girls are getting an amazing education in your travels”. I hear that a lot.

After spending some time with the family. Keith said, “your kids are so smart”.

We have some workbooks that we go through to make sure they can go back into a “normal school” someday. Make sure there are no gaps. The hour a day it takes to go through the workbooks. We changed our math to “Life of Fred” because my kids hated math. Now they love it. Workbooks are great, but think the best learning happens outside of the workbooks.

One day I was feeling like our kids weren’t getting “educated” enough. Not enough time hitting the books.  I decided to write down what they were learning that particular day. That only lasted one day. Too much to write down. Our lives are full and rich.

I think the unseen and immeasurable education is the most valuable.

This post is part of the FOTR blog carnival.



New Zealand

Friends on the road

One of the first questions we get asked frequently is “What about friends for your kids”.

I know the image that is in their minds. A lonely child traveling the globe with only their shadow to play with. That would be very sad indeed.

However this is the reality. Friends are EVERYWHERE!

Here are some of my observations.

In some ways it helps traveling with a big family. It is more expensive ,not as much as you would think, but you get to bring friends with you.

Our kids have developed an ability to make friends naturally. If they want friends they need to make them. If there is a language barrier they need to find a creative way to get past it. We have frequently heard parents say, “your kids fit in so well – as though they have always been here”.

They make friends with all ages – even adults, sometimes. They don’t have that age breakdown in their heads. They make a broad range of friends and I think they are richer for it.

We know that keeping friends is an important skill.

A great way to keep a friend is to know how to keep your sister as a friend.

Many times we go back to see friends.

We invite them to join us, with or without their families.

We facebook. A small security note here. They are not allowed to get a new facebook friends that are adults without mum and dad knowing them. Obviously, building and keeping trust is important here.

Our older kids have ipod touches. The younger kids share “the girlpod” with mum. This is for the main reason of keeping up with friends.

Abi shares a “traveling sweater” with some friends she made in Alabama. Each girl gets the sweater for 2 weeks. She sews on it or draws on it, writes notes in the book that comes with it and then send it on to the next girl.

Just some thoughts. I think my kids are quite good at making friends and delightfully creative with keeping them. There are lonely times. Times of missing those we love. The birthday party that can’t happen because your 8 year old just listed 10 friends for the party that are all from different countries.

Yes our life is a bit different. It is rich and rarely boring. We have friends around the globe and love it.

Time to go and have some breakfast. New friends to be made. Hey, who is that trying to steal my breakfast! A weka! Naughty bird, sounds like a pig.



A Special Birthday going across the Dateline

Andrew always jokes about skipping someone’s birthday.

Well, this year it almost happened. We celebrated Hannah’s 13th birthday on a dramatically shortened Friday the 13th as we flew across the dateline from U.S.A. to New Zealand. The plane took off, in LA, on the 12th of January and we landed, in New Zealand, 13 hours later, on the 14th of January.

We had a multiple day celebration as we sometimes do when we just can’t fit all the fun into one short day. It started with a Birthday Party at “Chuck-e-cheese”. This is a noisy, child friendly pizza parlor that most parents try to avoid whenever possible. We brought in gifts, balloons and a cake. The balloons and a plastic birthday crown became the common denominator over the next several days. Hannah was hardly seen without them as she enjoyed multiple birthday cakes over the next few days. She had a ladybug cake at Chuck-e-cheese’s, a brownie cake on top of a swingset, an ice cream cake at Johnny Rockets and some chocolate cake left over from first class by some very nice flight attendants. Many people loved her big gift of “five-fingered” shoes. I think she had a good birthday.

mum's rants USA

Dancing Skeleton’s at the Christmas Table

It is early Christmas morning. I am the only one awake. We have been having such a great time with my family. The month has just raced by. You know, we haven’t gone back home for Christmas in America for 10 years. The last time the kids have been back was about 5 years ago. Yeah, I know, we should come back more.

So, I watched the sun come up, laying on the floor with my family in my dad’s study. Thinking about the talks, family dynamics and the individuals. We are quite a diverse lot. I am the oldest of 4 kids. We have gone on to collectively bring 16 grandkids into the family. I want to go off into multiple tangents of wonderful and serendipidus experiences at this point but I am determined to stay on target so I can get breakfast started.

This is my thought.

At these family gathering points we contemplate family history.

We laugh and play.

We reminise and cry.

We give and receive lots of hugs and kisses.

At least in my family.

Inevitably skeletons come out to play with us. You know those skeletons most families keep shoved in the closet. Well, ours seem to like to come out and dance on the table. Some seem scandalous to us and we have a childlike giggle. We like to think of it as a knowing smirk but it always becomes a childlike giggle.

Some skeletons make us want to cry. Some make us angry.

It is the angry part that woke me up early this Christmas morning. We have a choice you know.

One of the biggest wounds in our family happened about 25 years ago. We have talked in detail about where we were and how we have reacted. The wounds still seem so fresh.

If we allow the anger to continually visit the fountain of youth we give it power over us. Power to control our lives and our destiny.

The deal is, if we are completely honest, we get angry because love has made us vulnerable.

I choose love and a life of trying to live in that love rather than to live a life of bitterness and anger.


Busing from NYC to Washington D.C.

Here we are in NYC. At the “Borders” next to Penn Station. We are waiting here bags and people piled high in a lump against one of the ceiling to floor windows waiting for our “Bolt” bus that leaves in little over an hour across the street. We did not get the van we were hoping to get so we are busing it. It seems that people won’t sell us their cheap cars if they know we are planning on driving it across the states with our kids. I am thinking now that we will be doing some bizarre combination with walking, busing, catching lifts with friends and occasionally renting a car. It will keep us on our toes and from collecting too much. We plan on sending schoolbooks and other treasures back to friends in Prague when we accumulate to much. We have had a great time in New York.

Mauricio was kind enough to drive us from their home in Poughkeepsie to “Radical Living” in Brooklyn.

Here I am at the crepe breakfast talking again. Do you recognize the guy in the middle. It is Sasa! from Prague! Dang, that guy sure gets around.

We had a great couple of days with my brother, Eric, and his lovely, and VERY pregnant wife, Jenny. They both live and work in NYC. They work in advertising. Jenny works on the Maybelline account (note advert behind Jenny).

Went to central park. My kids chose playing on the rocks instead of the very large and impressive playpark.

Took off to our buses with fellow nomad, Becky. She is in the blue and carrying all her earthly possessions. She is a writer and has no home but what she carries with her and where she lays her head at night.

I think one of my favourite things about NYC was seeing all the different cultures rubbing shoulders with each other.  Lots of Jews with ringlets and furry cakes on top of their heads. Lots and lots of beautiful colours and dress codes. Small armies of kids in matching clothes. Girls in long black skirts racing around the park on bicycles.

All in all a great time in NYC.