Most days

It's been interesting learning to balance Vacation Life with Regular Life. Normally when you visit a place, you're there for only a short time, so you pack in as much stuff as possible. For us, that means visiting historical sights and museums, walking miles and miles around a city, eating out, etc. Our Vacation Life speed is actually pretty relaxed, as we've learned that with our large family, it's better to lower expectations than to push ourselves too hard and end up exhausted, cranky, and ready to kill each other. I'm a big fan of lowering expectations! But even with our comparatively relaxed Vacation Speed, we still get tired and it can be quite expensive. It's not a sustainable way to live for more than a few days at a time. So for our Home School Field Trip, we balance the Travel/Sight-Seeing/Culture Days with days of Regular Life.

Gittin' history at Scarborough Castle:

Until fairly recently, a Regular Life day consisted of the kids doing school work (math, foreign language, reading history and literature, etc.; our school subjects are fairly streamlined for the duration of the trip), chores, work for Zed and Phin (interns at Jon's company End Point), more chores, then doing whatever kids do -- reading for fun, playing the guitar, drawing, elaborate imaginary games for the younger kids. We are taking our summer break now, which normally would mean no school work at all, but since this is an unusual year, the kids are still working on Czech and reading history and other stuff that's pertinent to our travels. When we return to Prague in three weeks, at least some of us will probably take more intensive Czech classes.

Most days I make everybody leave the house for a while, too. Not all together, but maybe in pairs or alone. They can go for a bike ride or a walk or the younger kids go to one of Pocklington's parks sometimes. There are three within walking distance.

Mira at the park on the street called The Oval, which is indeed oval-shaped:

There are also plenty of opportunities to go grocery shopping, sometimes several times a day. I love that a round trip to any of the grocery stores is about half a mile, so I can send a kid to the store to get butter and not think at all about what else we might need, because when I think of that next thing, I can just send another kid. The extra trips cost nothing if you figure that the exercise (=good) cancels out the possibility that we're buying more treats because we're at the store so often (=bad).

Speaking of which, we've recently discovered Ye Olde Little Sweet Shoppe, which has an amazing array of bins of candies, confections, fudge, toffees, etc., all for 89 pence/100 grams. We didn't actually discover it, of course. It's just down the road and we noticed it right away, but I managed to postpone actually entering it until about a week ago. Which is a small triumph.

There are these candies called bon-bons that I really love! Usually I'm not much of a candy person (where "candy" doesn't include chocolate, because I'm definitely a chocolate person!), but I love these! They're kind of like a cross between Skittles (without the hard shell) and salt-water taffy. Anyway, you take the bin up to the counter and the guy measures out the candy onto a scale, scoops it into a little paper sack, and twists the top shut. The shopkeeper is a tough-looking, bald, tattooed guy, but though he might have seemed intimidating to the kids at first, he's really friendly.

On another topic, we have recently re-instituted our Video Game Day, which is how we've regulated video games at home for many years. One day a week, the kids do tons of chores and get the whole house clean, and then they play video games for the rest of the day. Since we've started our trip, our rules have fluctuated quite a bit. For the first couple of weeks, no video games at all were allowed. Then we were splitting up the video game time over a couple of days -- the older boys were getting up early once a week (6:00 am or even 5:30 a few times) so they could play certain games with friends back in Idaho who were playing really late the night before (6:00 am Prague time was 10:00 pm the night before in Idaho). Modern social life, I guess. Then the younger kids would play on a different day in the afternoon.

I never did like splitting up the time like that, but also, in the way of Chaos, the screen time was mysteriously increasing to three or four days and driving me and Jon crazy. So we've gone back to our tried-and-true Video Game Day. I like it because the house gets clean and then things are relaxed and quiet (mostly) for the rest of the day while the kids get their video game fix.

Seth and Mira rotting their brains while the "big kids" are at Young Women/Young Men (church youth group):

We are still watching some American TV, thanks to the modern miracle of the internet, as shown by Mira and Seth above. Of course, we could just turn on the TV in the living room and there's some American stuff we would see, but we mostly forget the TV is even there. We never forget our computers, though!


  1. How's the weather? During the day does the weather often change and are there any problems with allergies to new areas you travel? Glad to hear the stories.

    1. JoLea, the weather is hot and sunny right now and has been for several days. Which is pretty weird for this part of the world, I hear from the locals. A couple of weeks ago, the weather did change throughout the day -- it kind of reminded me of a cooler Virginia because it would be sunny and then cloudy and then rain and then be sunny again. But now we're having the odd hot/sunny streak.

      We don't suffer from allergies normally. There have been a couple of tiny instances that might have been allergy-related (like a rash around one of my eyes that lasted for several weeks but is now gone), but otherwise, there hasn't been much.

  2. Thanks for not using your kids as an excuse to always only make boring decisions. You guys are among the very few good ones. --bkd

    1. Now I'm going to start using boring/not boring as a decision-making factor.

      The other day when I told Mira to straighten the shoes in the entryway, she freaked out and said she didn't want to do it because "it's boring!" Which is a funny (ineffective) way to try to get out of doing something.

  3. This was a fun read. :) Mira looks cute. Video game day. I should probably do that and hide the controllers on off days. Ian finds hours to play EVERY day because he just goes downstairs and no one hears from him. I bet he's doing it now. urrrr.r...

    1. Ooh, hiding the controllers! That's a good idea.

  4. Hide the Wii controllers! Great idea!


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