Susan’s Notes

Greece Top Five – Last But Not Least

Susan : 2013/06/15 21:58 : Susan

Acropolis – Our mid-day visit to the Acropolis was warm and crowded, but definitely worth the time and effort. The Parthenon was impressive despite the scaffolding for renovations. We almost skipped the nearby Acropolis museum and I am glad we invested an hour or two touring the museum exhibits. The top floor of the museum is a to-scale layout of the Parthenon with the saved wall reliefs and architectural parts and pieces from the east and west pediments placed where they were found in the temple.

Warm sun, pool, and beaches – We called our visit to Greece a vacation from our year-long vacation. It was nice to slow down the travel pace and play in the sun and water. The house we rented on the island of Crete had a pool which was heated most days by the sun. We explored many beaches on the south side of the island and found two that we enjoyed and frequented. The waves were not too cold and the beaches consisted of coarse sand or small rocks. After two days of beach-going, we purchased several sun umbrellas, which made our trips to the coast much more pleasant.

Food – Where to begin . . . OK let’s start with desserts. We tried many types of pastries and baklava to make sure we could make an informed decision about which one is the best. 🙂 Our conclusion: dark chocolate-covered baklava “rolls” with slivered almonds sprinkled on top. In other categories, we thoroughly enjoyed Greek salad, tzatsiki, olives, stuffed grape leaves, zucchini balls/patties, grilled red peppers, and tomatoes stuffed with rice and cheese. Since the climate here is warm, we had many choices of delicious fresh fruit at the supermarkets, including cherries, apricots, nectarines, and watermelon.

Cruise – Our overnight ferry from Athens to Crete was much nicer than expected. The large boat was similar to a cruise ship – nice restaurants, activity areas, cabins, bellhops to assist with luggage, etc. This was probably the closest thing I will experience to a cruise, at least for the foreseeable future.

Acqua Plus Waterpark – Crete boasts about their water parks in tourist brochures and websites. We visited Acqua Plus because it had the largest variety of slides and runs. We had an enjoyable, filled with easy to medium-excitement rides for me and adrenalin-causing runs for the kids. And fortunately we visited the park before the official tourist season began in the second half of June. Almost no lines, no waiting!


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Spring in Switzerland

Susan : 2013/05/22 23:32 : Susan

These are a few of my favorite things . . . . . . . .

Steep, rocky mountains partially covered with snow

Green valleys in the high mountains dotted with traditional Swiss houses – If we lived in Switzerland our house would be of traditional style with red shutters and many window boxes.

Numerous waterfalls – Lauderbrunnen is nestled in a valley of 72 waterfalls.

Many spring flowers, especially pink tulips, red geraniums, and yellow buttercups.

Gondola and cog-wheel train rides – These were fun ways to see the landscape up close and from above, move from town to town, or just ride for entertainment. Unfortunately two of the most picturesque gondola rides were closed because we visited just before the summer tourist season begins at the end of May. We will just have to visit Switzerland again!



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France Favorites

Susan : 2013/05/16 01:29 : Susan

Eiffel Tower — This really is a huge, eye-catching structure. We visited it during the day and night, but only went up to the observations decks during a sunny hour where we viewed the city. The nighttime lighting is impressive, especially when the lights flash on and off once per hour.

Pedestrian malls – France is a great place to wonder around the cobblestone streets, look in store windows, eat ice cream at a sidewalk café, and appreciate the many colorful flower beds and pots.

Stained glass windows in cathedrals and churches – We visited many cathedrals and churches to see 13th to 19th century stained glass windows, with the most impressive ones at Sainte-Chapelle in Paris.

Countryside – While staying in Semur en Auxious we drove and biked through the countryside. We saw many acres of green pastures and yellow mustard fields, white cows, ambling creeks and canals, houses with bright flower boxes in small villages, yellow and purple flowers cascading down rock walls, and fruit trees with white and pink blooms.

Pastries and bread – This country knows how to make delicious breads and pastries! We sampled many types because Ethan walked almost daily to a local boulangerie. One of my favorite treats was similar to a croissant with chocolate chips included throughout.

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Morocco Memories

Susan : 2013/04/15 07:04 : Susan

Colors of Fez — The city, especially the Medina area, is filled with colorful things to see (and buy!) Embroidery, woven fabrics of silk or wool, leather slippers and jackets, porcelain and pottery, spices, and tiles.

Landscape — Morocco is not just kilometers of red, sandy desert. We saw many acres of green pastures and pine or cedar forests with snow.

Cooking Class — Eryn and I took the all-day Moroccan cooking class at Café Clock, just a one minute walk from where we stayed for three weeks in the Medina. We had a wonderful time getting acquainted with our four classmates, all from the US. And the food we made was much more flavorful than what we had sampled at area restaurants. The lentil soup and date rolls were delicious! Souad, our entertaining and knowledgeable instructor, told many stories and shared interesting facts about food, shopping, and life in this country

Fruit — One of our guides told us that Moroccans name their seasons by which fruits are ripe. We visited during orange and strawberry season. Yum!! We often enjoyed fresh oranges or strawberries for breakfast and just-squeezed OJ with dinner.

Donuts — OK, donuts don’t seem very Moroccan, but two street vendors in the Medina made and sold these amazing treats which we greedily consumed on at least two occasions. We learned during our month in this country that the locals love their desserts! We tried many varieties of yummy, sugary creations. The only down side is that chocolate is not often an ingredient in their tasty snacks and after-meal treats.

Cast off — Finally, after 8 weeks my arm was free of a cast!! Recovery of strength, movement, and flexibility is a slow process, but fortunately I see improvement each day. I experienced three weeks of physical therapy at a large medical clinic and the therapist taught me stretches and exercises I can do for the rest of our trip. I am not doing pushups yet. Maybe that will happen in France.

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Peru Favorites

Susan : 2013/04/15 06:38 : Susan


Reaching the summit and then the base of Huayna Picchu at Machu Picchu — This was quite the hike! In the picture Huayna Picchu is the tall steep peek in the background. The trail includes over a thousand stone steps, steel cables in spots for assistance, and at the summit one wooden ladder to climb. And I did the whole thing, even with a cast on my arm. Doing the hike wasn’t necessarily fun, but finishing it was great.

Visiting my brother in Arequipa — Richard researches earthquakes in Peru and it was fun to learn more about his project. And he was very gracious to be our tour guide and translator while in this city.

Chocolate Cooking Class in Cusco — The kids and I took this class at the Chocolate Museum. It was fun to learn more about cacao, but even more fun to make chocolate candies with a wide selection of “mix-ins.” My favorite additions were chili powder, nuts, coconut, and coffee nibs.

Colorful clothing of women living in mountain villages — Each geographic area has a unique hat and often a specific wool jacket or sweater as well. Red was a common hat color.

Many, many flowers in plazas or gardens and along mountain roads — We were very fortunate to visit this country in spring when the flowers are more abundant.

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Best of Our Time in Chile

Susan : 2013/04/14 06:50 : Susan

Colors in Valparaiso — This town is saturated with color, which I love. We hiked colorful stairs up the hillside neighborhoods, admired vivid murals along walkways, and observed many blue/red/yellow/green/pink/purple houses from lookout points.

Eating Ice Cream in a Plaza – We especially enjoyed this pastime in Valparaiso and San Pedro de Atacama. The ice cream was usually yummy and watching the many locals and tourists was never dull. On the weekends the plaza we frequented most in Valparaiso had a fair atmosphere – street jugglers, face painting, roller bladers, trinkets for sale, popcorn, and cotton candy. And an abundance of dogs meandered by.

Street Life in Valdivia — Each day food, entertainment, craft, and tourist-service vendors line the river-front roadway towards the outdoor fish/produce/meat market. We tried the blue cotton candy and the traditional peach drink along the street and several times purchased yummy cherries and blueberries at the open-air market.

Quinoa – This is a staple food in Chile and we enjoyed it in salads, guacamole dip, and soups and as a side dish. It is a great source of protein and grown abundantly in the high plains. I was inspired to find online quinoa recipes to try when we get home. Ethan said he would love to have quinoa salad in his school lunch next year.

New Animal Sightings — We observed viscachas, vicunas and guanacos, which are three varieties of animals that we had not seen on this trip or prior adventures. Viscachas look a lot like rabbits and the other two mammals remind me of llamas.

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Argentina Favorites

Susan : 2013/04/14 06:08 : Susan

Buenos Aires – Central District — The main or government section of town is very interesting because of the fountains, ironwork on balconies of old and new buildings, political posters or signs, and many dog walkers since a major part of the population lives in apartment buildings. One dog walker we observed had 12 dogs on leashes.

San Telmo area of Buenos Aires — This is the area where we stayed and is the oldest neighborhood. I loved the cobblestone streets, outdoor restaurants, and smaller plazas.

Ice Cream — Argentinian ice cream is delicious and we made sure we had some of this calcium-rich food each day!! I think my broken arm was an indication that I need to eat more. 🙂 My favorite flavors included a variety of chocolates, blackberry with cream, and lemon mousse. Each town we visited had a variety of ice cream shops and most made their own flavor creations. We had a good time sampling flavors from the different vendors.

Chocolate — Bariloche is the chocolate town in Argentina. In just two blocks there were over 12 chocolate shops that catered to locals and tourists. One store even sold chocolate cell phones and cameras We sampled goodies from two shops and decided that this would be a great place to retire!

Fresh Orange Juice — A glass of fresh squeezed OJ is one of my favorite drinks. All restaurants we patronized offered this selection on their menus and we were even brave enough to purchase this fresh drink from a couple of street vendors after watching them squeeze the oranges. Muy delicioso!

Mountains, Lakes and Rivers — Even though I have vivid and painful memories of the Andes mountains in Argentina because of my broken arm, the area is very beautiful! My favorite river was Rio Azul, with very blue waters, as you might guess from the name.

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New Wardrobe Accessory

Susan : 2013/01/27 06:11 : Susan

Three days ago I added another accessory to my wardrobe for the next six weeks — a cast on my right arm from the palm of my hand to four inches above my elbow. Since I am typing with just my left hand, the summary below gives the highlights.

*Steep, enjoyable hike up part of a mountain in the Andes to a lookout and rest spot

*Impressed by many flowering lupines plus beautiful views of the town of El Bolson, Lago (lake) Puelo, and snow-capped mountain peaks across the valley

*On hike down I slipped on loose gravel and sand. Put my right hand behind me to lessen the impact of the fall, not a good idea!

*I heard and felt a large snap in my right wrist. Then LOTS of pain and funny looking wrist

*45 min hike down to the car and a 60 min drive to no-charge (we found out later) government hospital, most of which was on a bumpy, gravel road

*Two very painful tries by two different nurses to get me hooked up to an IV with some pain medication

*X-rays and diagnosis of a broken and out-of-alignment radius

*No bone doctor on duty that day at government hospital so I was transported via ambulance (with lights flashing) to not-free private clinic to see bone doctor there. (An ambulance was required because of my IV, which I did not want removed at the hospital and then re-inserted at the clinic. Two pokes was enough!!)

*Bone doctor takes 30 minutes to manipulate bone so joint is in alignment again and put on cast while I am under anesthesia

*Start to learn how to survive as a lefty and keep cast dry in upcoming rainy weather

*Make plans to get two more x-rays in two different towns – at one week and two weeks after break to make sure joint is healing properly

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Dubai Favorites

Susan : 2013/01/27 04:30 : Susan

Wild Wadi Waterpark—This park has many fun rides, even for a non-daredevil mom like me. A new experience was riding inner tubes on the water slides that propel you uphill between the downhill slides. You do not have to get out of the water and carry your tube up flights of stairs.

Tall buildings with very unique shapes and features–One high-rise apartment building looks like it has been twisted to give a spiral effect and the base of the building rotates once in 24 hours so each apartment has an ocean view for part of a day. Dubai has many “ests” including the tallest occupied building in the world.

Dubai Mall – Wow, what a mall this is! It includes an aquarium with a huge window of a fish tank in the mall, decadent cake and cupcake shops, the largest candy store in the world (about the size of a grocery store in the US,) a Versace Store just for children, and a four-story indoor fountain.

World’s largest dancing fountain—Each afternoon and evening the Dubai Mall presents a water fountain show with Arabic and pop music, colorful lights at the night show, and choreographed sprays of water on a 30-acre manmade lake just outside the mall buildings. We did not get to see the evening performance, but we enjoyed one of the afternoon shows.

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What are the kids doing for school?

Susan : 2013/01/22 11:35 : Susan

That’s the first or second question people ask us when they learn we are travelling throughout the world for 12 months. And some of you asked that question too before we left home. If you want to know more, here are the details:


I did not subscribe to or purchase a specific curriculum program for our 7th grader and our 8th grader. Rather I looked at the specific learning outcomes their teachers would cover if they were at their brick and mortar school. Then I found materials that covered the educational outcomes. For all subjects except math, they have the same curriculum, including assignments and tests, even though they are in different grades. As you can see from the lists below, the books come from a variety of sources and most of them, fortunately, are available on kindle or other e-readers.


Math Books for Eryn:

Algebra II Essentials for Dummies (kindle)

Algebra II Workbook for Dummies (workbook)


Math Books for Ethan:

Algebra I Workbook for Dummies (workbook)

Algebra Practice (workbook)

8th Grade Use It! Don’t Lose It! (workbook)


Science Books:

Spectrum Science Grade 7 (workbook)

Spectrum Science Grade 8 (workbook)

Elements and the Periodic Table (workbook)

Mystery of the Periodic Table by Benjamin Walker and others

Phineas Gage: Gruesome But True Story About Brain Science by John Fleischman


Writing Book:

Fearless Writing Essay Guide (middle school level) by Danielle Denega


Reading and Religious Books:




Adventure, survival Lost   in the Barrens Farley Mowatt
Responsibility Red   Kayak Priscilla Cummings
Perseverance Eric   Liddell: Something Greater Than Gold Janet Benge
God’s Leading Finding   Waldo Ken Smith, David Smith
God’s love, survival Child   of the Crossfire Ruth Alycon Fleck
Faith, perseverance Zion   Champion for God Joy Matthews
Perseverance, survival Far   North Will Hobbs
Literature Holes Louis Sachar
Intelligence, Fortitude, Courage Adventurous   Women Eight True Stories Penny Colman


Books about Countries or Continents We Visited:




Australia (optional book) New   Great Australian Flying Doctor Stories Bill Marsh
Namibia Hyena   Nights & Kalahari Days Gus and Margie Miller
Botswana In   the Company of Cheerful Ladies Alexander McCall Smith
Botswana (optional book) 20 Chickens for a Saddle Robyn Scott
South Africa 50   Flippen Brilliant South Africans Alexander Parker
South Africa (optional book) Don’t   Look Behind You Peter Allison
South America The   Case of the Monkeys that Fell From the Trees Susan E. Quinlan
Greece Galen & the Gateway to Medicine Jeanne Bendick
Greece Archimedes & the Door of Science Jeanne Bendick


Social Studies Books:

Homework Helpers US History 1492-1865 by Ron Olson (kindle)

Homework Helpers US History 1865-present by Ron Olson (kindle)


Social Studies Books – Additional Reading:




USA Horrible   Histories – The USA Terry Dreary
Colonial Horrible   Histories – Cranky Colonials Elizabeth Levy
Elizabeth I Beware   Princess Elizabeth Carolyn Meyer
Mary Queen of Scots Mary   Bloody Mary Carolyn Meyer
Ben Franklin Ben   Franklin (10 Days) David Colbert
Revolutionary War Funny   But True History – Revolting Revolutionaries Elizabeth Levy
Revolutionary War American   Revolution Bruce Bliven
Revolutionary War Secret   of Sarah Revere Ann Rinaldi
Abigail Adams Abigail   Adams Girl of Colonial Days Jean Brown Wagoner
Late 1700’s – Yellow Fever Fever   1793 Laurie Anderson
Sacajawea Sacajawea Joseph Bruchac
War of 1812 Billy   Green Saves the Day Ben Guyatt
Industrial Revolution1780’s + The   Industrial Revolution: How Science & Technology Changed the World Carla Mooney
Texas Alamo Victor   Lopez at the Alamo James Rice
Davy Crockett Davy   Crockett: Young Rifleman Aileen Parks
Underground Railway The   Freedom Stairs Marilyn Weymouth Sequin
Civil War Shades   of Gray Tim O’Brien
Civil War Hear   the Wind Blow Mary Downing Hahn
Civil War Across   Five Aprils Irene Hunt
Civil War Elijah of Buxton Christopher Curtis
Reconstruction Era The   Coffin Quilt Ann Rinaldi
West Exploration Jason’s   Gold Will Hobbs
Early 1900’s – Ukraine Days   of Terror Barbara Smucker
1900s – Typhoid Deadly   Julie Chibbaro
Theodore Roosevelt Theodore   Roosevelt Up Close Michael L. Cooper
20th Century Horrible   Histories – 20th Century Terry Deary
Women’s Suffrage You   Want Women to Vote Lizzie Stanton? Jean Fritz
WW1 Horrible   Histories – Frightful First World War Terry Deary
WW1 Unraveling   Freedom: The Battle for Democracy on the Home Front During WWI Ann Bausum
Great Depression The   Mighty Miss Malone Christopher Paul Curtis
WW2 Horrible   Histories – Woeful Second World War Terry Deary
WW2 We   Were Heroes: Journal of Scott Pendleton Collins, a WWII Soldier Walter Dean Myers
WW2 Pearl Harbor Under   Red-Blood Sun Graham Salisbury
WW2 Rosie   the Riveter: Women Working on the Home Front Penny Colman
WW2 Navajo Code Talkers Nathan Aaseng
Holocaust I   Have Lived a Thousand Years Livia Bitton-Jackson
Holocaust Shadow   of His Hand (Daughters of Faith   series) Wendy Lawton
After WW2 The   Circuit Francisco Jimenez
Civil Rights Movement My   Louisiana Sky Kimberly Willis Holt
Civil Rights Movement The   Watsons Go to Birmingham 1963 Christopher Curtis
Civil Rights Movement I   Am #4: Martin Luther King Jr. Grace Norwich
Vietnam War All   the Broken Pieces Ann Burg
Vietnam War The   Cracker: Best Dog in Vietnam Cynthia Kadohata
Cold War Smuggler’s   Treasure (The Wall book 3) Robert Elmer
Communist China Red   Scarf Girl Ji-Li Jiang
Communism The   Seventh Escape Jan Doward
Reagan Ronald   Reagan Up Close James B. Sutherland
9/11 Thunderdog Michael Hingson


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1 thought on “Susan’s Notes

  1. How are things? Enjoy the bike ride? Take any pictures of Laos?

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