Oh Dear Prague

I have to be honest and say Prague was not my favorite city.  I did not connect to it like I was hoping.  We were really looking forward to seeing this city that we had heard so many great things about, so we were quite disappointed and had one of the toughest weeks of our journey so far.  It is inevitable that this would happen and so we persevered and kept on.  I think a lot of lessons were learned this week.  Maybe it was just the timing that was off, as it was cold and grey outside or possibly our experiences with not so friendly locals, filthy streets and smoke-filled restaurants and cafes or maybe just even the apartment we rented which was dirty, missing essential items and had mostly chipped and broken dishes.  I think it was a combination of it all that just left us with an unfavorable impression.  I will not let this one time experience completely dismay me from ever returning though, as I imagine another experience might be totally different.  Although, I am not sure I would recommend Prague for families, as it is not the most kid-friendly town with it’s Las Vegas touches, in the casinos and “girls” and there is just not a lot for kids to do there.

The Old Town is wonderful architecturally but the tacky tourist shops are one too many.  It is the architecture of the city though, that was my absolute favorite part and makes me want to return under different circumstances.  The city was virtually untouched during the World Wars and so it’s architectural history spans 1,100 years.   You can see Romanesque churches, along with Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque, Neo-Classical and Art Nouveau designed buildings.  There are also many buildings that were built during the communist rule (Functionalism) which is such a contrast to the other architectural styles, it is very interesting.  The city is truly a museum of architectural history.

There are wonderful places to hear classical music, affordable nice restaurants and really really affordable beer.  Incredibly the beer was always the cheapest item on our bill, my daughters’ hot chocolates were more expensive!

I do hope that I can return and give Prague another try one day, preferably without kids and on a warm sunny day where the Vltava River might glisten in the sun with the Charles Bridge in the background, ahhhh!  That I would like!

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Princess for a day!

It was suggested that when traveling with kids, a good idea might be to give them full reign for a day (or two or three).  We decided while we were in Paris, this would be a great place to do it.  There is so much to see and why not change up what we normally would have put on the agenda and let the kids be in charge for a change. Good for them to have the responsibility to figure out what interests them about the city, where to find it on a map and to plan out the day.

First up was our youngest daughter and her day went a little like this:

1. Musee Rodin

2. Walk down the Champs Eysees and Avenue Montaigne for some window shopping.  Or as they say in France, “faire du leche-vitrines” which literally translated means window licking, although we only drooled a little…

3. Stopped for a sweet crepe.

4. The Eiffel Tower at dusk!

It was a truly great day!

Next, it was my oldest daughter’s turn to be princess for the day.  She chose another amazing adventure and it went something like this:

1. Jardin du Luxembourg

2. A special French lunch

3. A visit to the English bookstore Shakespeare & Co. (it was just across from Notre Dame so we stopped in there also).

4. The Sorbonne

I cannot wait to see where they pick to go next!

Claude Monet’s House and Garden

Need some inspiration?  When Claude Monet first started painting, his work was not accepted by all.  He used too many colors and did not paint in the realistic fashion of the times.  It wasn’t until later in his career that he earned recognition for being the “father of Impressionistic painting.”

It was fascinating visiting his home and gardens.  Every room in his home is painted a different color and his gardens’ beds are filled with beautiful flowers, divided by either cool colors or warm colors.  The water-lily pond is magical.

Color filled his world and his painting.  To have walked where this amazing man painted and lived with his family, is just incredible and I am so excited that my daughters have had a chance to be inspired by traveling to this enchanting place.

We brought sketchbooks and pencils and studied the landscapes as Mr. Monet may have a hundred years ago.  Closely examining the dahlias, mums, clematis and sunflowers as we strolled.  We read “Linnea in Monet’s Garden” before visiting Giverny, which helped us have a wonderful introduction to Monet’s world.

I am feeling very lucky and this is just the beginning of our trip…

Keeping on…


As we continue our California journey, we headed up the highway to Chico.  I had heard so much about Chico, since my husband went to college there, so we were really excited to visit!
It is beautiful with a charming downtown and very friendly, laid back people.
All through California, we have seen so much agriculture, with grapevines taking over, but in Chico, the main crop seems to be almond trees. Beautifully laid out rows and rows of trees.
One of the most popular ways to spend a hot day,  is tubing down the Sacramento River.  We rented our tubes and headed off for our adventure.  In days past, my husband would have had a keg of beer floating along with him and his friends but as you know times change…so we opted for a small cooler of beer instead! Had to relive those college days a little.
Floating down the cool river is so relaxing, we loved it!  We did have one crazy moment though, when my oldest daughter got separated from us and was taken into a swifter current where she had to push off tree branches sticking out of the water, it was scary.  Her sister was screaming for her while my husband was trying to swim upstream to help her, we all made it safe and sound.  I hope it helped her to know that in any situation like that, she just needs to use her head and not panic.  She made it through, a little shaken, but lifted herself up and continued the journey.  A good life lesson!

In Chico, we also visited Bidwell Park which is truly a gift.  We spent a day there picnicking and swimming in the river.  It was a wonderful day!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

From Chico we headed down state route 49 to check out the gold country.  This area is filled with history and charming towns.  We ended up spending a couple of nights in a town called Murphys.  So cute!  We rented a sweet cottage within walking distance to the quaint Main Street.  This is such a great area with so much to explore.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We visited Columbia State Historic Park where we panned for gold, road on a stage coach and traveled back in time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Next, a long drive to Palm Springs and here we will stay for a bit before heading to San Diego to spend time with family before our next big road trip…Europe!

 

Schooling on the Road

Figuring out how to school my children while we are traveling has been one of the biggest concerns of our adventure to Europe. There are so many choices for homeschooling but homeschooling on the road, is a little bit different. In many communities there are homeschooling groups that seem to be very successful but for us, a computer and wifi are what we will rely upon.

I only looked into homeschooling because of our extended traveling and may not have looked at it otherwise. Homeschooling definitely is gaining in popularity and since researching about it, I can easily see why. With the unfortunate state of our schools, social issues and the bonus to have such influence on your child’s education, make homeschooling very appealing. We have been fortunate to have had a very good experience in public schools and have been in good school districts.  I have the utmost respect for the incredible teachers and principals we have had.  Of course, there are always “issues” though and I can only imagine how hard it must be for so many.  I definitely now see homeschooling as an excellent option for anyone who may need an alternative type of education. Once we return from our trip and head back into the traditional school system, I will know we have an exceptional “back-up” plan, if needed, and may end up going that route anyway depending on our experience. I have found several traditional schools that are becoming more flexible to the changing climate of education with more independent study programs suited for individual children, I think this is a wonderful trend. It is so great to get out of that box.

We will be using an online homeschooling program, as lugging around textbooks is not a good option. I plan on supplementing with history, art, foreign language, geography and cultural activities in the countries we are visiting. I am amazed on what there is online these days, really a limitless source of education. I have been collecting an incredible list of online resources and have been using some of them as we finish up the school year in our public school (some are listed below). 

We will gather all the required standards for our daughters’s grade levels to make sure all our bases are covered. We also have to file a private school affidavit with the California Department of Education, we become a private school. We have to keep attendance records, as well. All of this seems doable but I will keep you posted on how it all goes.

Obviously, my children’s education is incredibly important to us and their life experiences are as well.  I am hoping the combination of traveling and schooling will open up their minds to the endless possibilities of life.  They can do anything they want to do, no limitations.

Below is a list of resources that I have found.  Some I have used, some I plan to use…  Most are free but some do have membership costs.

www.khanacademy.org

www.time4learning.com

www.brainpop.com

www.xtramath.org

www.cut-the-knot.org

www.spellingcity.com

www.bbc.co.uk/skillwise/english

www.storybird.com

www.chompchomp.com

www.gosocailstudiesgo.com

www.sciencekids.co.nz

www.howstuffworks.com

www.scistarter.com

www.sciencetoymaker.org

www.kidsdiscover.com

www.makingmusicfun.net

www.artsconnected.org

www.web4.audubon.org/educate/kids/

www.pbs.org/teachers

www.superteacherworksheets.com

www.theteacherscorner.net

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