Halloweening, Familia Style

When I was a kid, there was a minister who lived next door to us. He refused to pass out candy to trick-or-treaters. Instead, they got little Christian tracts on how evil and satanic the holiday was. At the time, I just thought he was weird. But I could do without Halloween now.

In fact, not seeing spider webs, creepy masks, and gravestones all over people’s yards and store windows every October was one of the things I loved about living abroad. Not to mention the fact that I didn’t have to either let my kids gorge themselves on candy for the entire first week of November or be the “mean” mom who takes it all away.… Read more

Casteluzzo Academy 2011, Term 3

My personal bibliophilia has not been the only thing we’ve been feeding with our weekly library trips. We are back in the swing of homeschooling, with a vengeance. We even have a very simple “school corner” set up. It contains a kid-sized table with two chairs, an adult-sized chair, and a few shelves with all our school books and paraphernalia. We are using Ambleside Online’s Year 1, Term 3 as our curriculum base for this term.

Charlotte Mason believed in a curriculum that was both wide and deep. This is the first term I have managed to fit in just about all the subject areas she recommended covering.… Read more

Apocalypse Over

Jet-lag has been vanquished, but I’m still making those last lingering adjustments to post-expat re-entry. (you know, finishing up the spontaneous incineration of the ablative heat shield, also known as “trailing clouds of glory . . .”) So far, I’ve been to Trader Joe’s, the Library, Macaroni Grill, and even (gasp!) Wal-Mart. But I didn’t actually buy anything at Wal-Mart. So does that make it O.K.?

I still don’t have a good short answer (or even a good long answer) for the ubiquitous question, “where are you from?”

I’m not sure what to do about that. Lately I wish I had something prosaic to say, like Wisconsin or Palo Alto.… Read more

Travel Update #3: Not with a bang but a whimper

You know what? I don’t think I have 22 hours worth of memories from our last 22 hours of traveling. I know I wasn’t sleeping for most of it (sadly), so I must just have selective amnesia. Or maybe nothing really happened.

Here’s the little I remember:  We ate guacamole in the Chicago airport. It was as good as I remembered it. (Also, I made a bowl of guacamole yesterday at my mother-in-law’s house, and ate the whole thing myself. I might do that again today.)

Airport security is as paranoid as ever in the U.S.A. At least we were only flying the week of the 10th anniversary of 9/11, and not the actual day.… Read more

International News in My Backyard

International News in My Backyard

The Tunisian police are holding a sit-in today to protest all the police stations that were burned during the revolution, and make sure the 23 police officers on trial for killing demonstrators during the weeks leading up to President Ali’s exit get a fair trial. They’re considering a general strike if the sit-in fails to produce the results they want. Ben Ali’s power base was largely drawn from the police force, and so the police now feel that they’ve been unfairly blamed for the violence during the protests in January.

Unfortunately, the past few weeks in Tunisia have seen a foiled bombing plot by Qaddafi, and fighting and deaths due to rioting and tribal conflict in the south, as well as a rash of muggings and car break-ins in our own neighborhood.… Read more

In Need of a Sabbatical

The time has come. Next Tuesday we will be on a plane to California. Sorry to spring these things on you so precipitously. That’s just the way things seem to work out.

Ever since our business failed after the 2008 credit crunch, life has been pretty difficult and stressful. We’ve had some exciting adventures, crazy travels, and happy times (the kind of stuff that typically ends up on the blog), but we’ve also had some very serious challenges. I can say that I’m physically, mentally, and in every other way worn out. My in-laws have graciously offered to let us stay with them while I recover from a persistent health issue and we sort out our finances and decide which direction we’d like to take our life next.… Read more

I Thought I Could Organize Freedom

It’s that time of the year when Tony and I start thinking about what we like to refer to as “the Northern countries.” This first began when we were living in Saluzzo, Italy three years ago. As in most of Italy, summers there get quite hot. And just when it gets so sweltering that it’s barely possible to even move outside without a gelato in one hand and an Italian ice in the other, the downtown travel agencies start putting up large, tempting photos of gloriously icy blue Norwegian fjords. It had never occurred to me that I might like to visit Northern Europe, but all of a sudden, countries that bordered the North Pole or had names containing “ice” began to sound incredibly appealing.… Read more

Things Work Out

Our internet has been nonexistent since Thursday night. We are told that the internet company has shut down service to protest some injustice or other. Ah, the joys of living in revolution-happy Tunisia. And Tony woke up yesterday morning with his right pinky toe swollen to double its normal size and an angry red rash all over the lower half of his body. Apparently, he picked up something nasty during his last Hammam visit. Fortunately, our landlord and next-door neighbor is a doctor. He looked at it right away, and then wrote up some prescriptions. Alistair kindly provided a lift to the Pharmacy.… Read more

Where should we go first? Libya or Algeria?

I do a fair amount of airing of exasperations about moving on this blog. But there are some delightful things that happen as a result of our wanderings. And one of the best of those is meeting new friends. We just moved to a different vacation rental (closer to the beach. Hurrah!), and our newest friend is a retired British gentleman who lives downstairs. Alastair (not his real name, but I assure you that his real name sounds just as British) is one of the most pleasant conversationalists I’ve ever met. He is unfailingly polite, thoughtful, interesting, and has a brilliant dry wit made all the funnier by by his proper English accent.… Read more

Shifting Providence

“Fool,” cried the witch. “You will suffer greatly for this when I have conquered your world!”

Tony’s latest read-aloud for the children is The Magician’s Nephew. I’ve read the Chronicles of Narnia countless times, and just like with the Lord of the Rings, whenever I read them, I seem to identify with a different character. This time around, the one who impressed me the most was Jadis. Yes, Jadis, the proud, ruthless queen of mighty Charn, and the future White Witch of Narnia. You might think that the arch-villainess of the series is an odd choice for a heroine, especially given my current obsession with the deposition of dictators.… Read more