Monday, September 26, 2022

The Evans Transcontinental Spectacular

When Phillip was prepping our kids for our family vacation last month, he told them that we were "going to take a car and a plane and a bus and a subway and a ferry" and my 18-year-old interrupted with "and a hot air balloon and it's going to take 180 days."


I don't even know what to call our last family vacation. I titled this post "The Evans Transcontinental Spectacular" but I feel like I should have called it "If You Give a Mouse a Cookie."

How It Started

The initial idea was pretty straightforward: we needed to drop off our newly-minted college freshman at college in Utah. 

Then we decided it was also a good opportunity to visit with our Utah relatives, and the whole family should go.

Then we discovered that tickets to fly directly there from here cost a fortune right now, and that's where the train started to veer into Crazytown.

After some sleuthing, Phillip found cheap tickets from NYC to Las Vegas and wondered: were we willing to drive to New York, fly to Vegas, then rent another car and drive to Utah? 

Well... sure! It could be fun! We could even take a day to sightsee in New York, then take another day to sightsee in Vegas... 

(Phillip even suggested taking a detour en route from Vegas to Utah to stop by the Grand Canyon but I put my foot down. I was already beginning to suspect we were literal insane people, no need to prove it.)

Leading up to the trip, we neatly divided the labor: Phillip handled planning the trip logistics and I handled tearing my hair out getting our daughter ready to leave for college. 

I had no idea how many loose ends there are to tie up before a young adult can move their life to another state. If you don't know what I'm talking about, bless you and I won't spoil it for you.


We filled the trunk of our van with 8 carryon suitcases (one for each of us), strapped two big moving boxes of my daughter's college belongings to the roof, and we were off to New York.

The drive was a little stressful as I thought about the ten million things that could potentially go wrong with so many moving parts on this trip, but once we finally got there and parked at the airport I started to enjoy myself.

Backpacking around New York City

We parked at the airport, packed a changed of clothes in our backpacks, and headed out by subway to see NYC. That night we'd check into a hotel downtown, but we certainly didn't want to be dragging our rollerbags around with us until then.

We took the Staten Island ferry (for free!) and saw the Statue of Liberty. My kids said it wasn't as big as they thought it would be, but were impressed with the size of the pedestal. Go figure.

Statue not pictured, but it was there.

From there we took the subway to the 9/11 Memorial and came up in this futuristic transportation hub that looked like the place where Harry Potter went after he died to chat with with Dumbledore. 

I looked it up and this is called the Oculus, and it was built after 9/11 to replace a destroyed train station.

No offense to the NYC subway system, but it is filthy (we saw actual New York rats crawling on the tracks and they weren't even the yuckiest things down there) so coming up to this Oculus thing was quite a change.

We had some yummy street food and checked out the 9/11 memorial for a bit, then headed north to see Grand Central Station, Wall Street, and Times Square.

My girls are huge Marvel fans so they were really excited to be in the place where Spider-Man did this thing and Captain America did that thing... I don't watch superhero movies so I just did the mom thing where I didn't know what they were talking about but I nodded and smiled, happy that they were happy, and they knew I didn't have a clue but they loved me anyway.

Not the best picture of Times Square, but if you came to this blog for quality photography you'd have left a long time ago.

That night we slept at a hotel and, carrying our clothes on our backs once more like hermit crabs in the morning, went out to explore the city for one more day before flying to Las Vegas. 

This was my very favorite day. We split up and Phillip took the older kids to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and I got to take the little kids to all the fun places. 

They posed with giant creations in the Lego Store:

Danced on the floor piano in F.A.O. Schwartz:

And played in the revolving doors at the American Girl Store until they got yelled at:

After that, our plan was to meet up at the New York Public library. 

Feeding bagels to the pigeons outside the library.

The public library is beautiful but my kids were utterly unimpressed. In fact, they were incensed that there was no children's room, so we ended up going across the street to a regular library branch where they could read Dog-Man comics while we waited for the other half of our family.

When the rest of our family arrive and the 8 of us were all together again, we did a quick walk-by of the Empire State Building (again, they were unimpressed) and headed back to the airport to leave for Vegas. 

I'd like to remind everyone that we still had two gigantic boxes to retrieve from the car and haul through JFK airport, which was not easy, but I loved that it was a late flight so we could see all the lights as we were leaving the city.

The view was worth being dead-tired when we got to Las Vegas.

In Which We Breeze through Vegas

The next day was Sunday, so we went to a local congregation of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We'd more or less randomly picked a ward, so we were surprised when we introduced ourselves in Sunday School and someone on the other side of the room yelled, "Phillip! It's almost like we're cousins or something!"

It actually was his cousin, you guys. (He's got a lot of cousins, obviously.) It was a very random meeting that probably confused everyone in the room, including us.

We also paid a visit to our old neighbors, who moved to Las Vegas about a year ago. We dropped by their place to catch up, have some snacks, and of course, let the kids swim in their pool because it was 115° outside.

And when the sun started to go down, we took the kids and went to the Las Vegas strip to walk around for about an hour. 

We only saw it from a distance, but the kids got a kick out of New York New York section since we were just there.

Las Vegas is such an usual place. I mean, our first clue should've been when we got off the plane and there was a bay of slot machines at our gate. But I think I'm still trying to figure it out. 

You've got this desert. But there's this little strip in the middle of it with flashing neon lights and a Statue of Liberty and an Eiffel Tower and hotels shaped like castles and pyramids and the Roman Pantheon. I mean, what even is Las Vegas?

These were the thoughts going through my mind as we checked out the lights, occasionally positioned ourselves to block the kids' view of naked ladies with feather headdresses, and ended up at the Bellagio fountain to watch the show.

I admit I don't fully get Las Vegas, but I liked it and enjoyed how different it felt than anywhere else I've ever been. 

And now that we know Phillip's cousin lives there, maybe we will go back sometime and figure this place out.

The Drive to Utah

The trip had gone amazingly well so far, but remember those two giant boxes of my daughter's college belongings I won't let you forget about? Well we'd planned to strap them to the top of the rental car, which this morning we discovered did not have a functioning luggage rack.

We tried a few things that didn't work, and finally ended up unpacking the boxes and ferreting away the contents in different locations in the car. (We'd packed boxes rather than suitcases because I'm a cheapskate and wanted to recycle the boxes after we got there instead of paying to fly empty suitcases home, but here was another reason I hadn't quite anticipated.)

It was probably a good thing anyway, because we didn't have to worry about boxes coming loose from the roof while we were blowing through the desert at 80 MPH for 6 hours.

Take a right and go 400 miles. I guess we didn't really need our GPS for this part of the trip.

For such a long drive, I honestly think it went by pretty fast. Most of it was so gorgeous, I wouldn't even mind doing it again.

The view from the window.
Once we were in Utah, we stayed with Phillip's parents for several days. The kids played with their cousins, their aunt and uncle's electric scooters, and Mario Kart while we cleaned out the last of Wal-Mart's stock of XL twin sheets and shower flip-flops with our oldest daughter and helped her get situated at college.

We also took the kids to see a spray park, a few museums, and the Salt Lake City temple of our church, which is currently so encased in scaffolding you can't even see the temple underneath. 

I knew they were reinforcing the foundation, but I had no idea.

So Long, Farewell

This trip was a first for us, in many ways. For starters, we'd never gone on a family vacation before and left two of our kids behind. On purpose.

Our oldest was at college, and the 14-year-old was staying behind to drive with Grandma and Grandpa to Washington state for a "boys' retreat" with his cousins. 

We'd planned to get up early and drive back to Las Vegas to catch our return flight that same afternoon, but we worried about accidentally missing our flight if we ran into car trouble, so Phillip looked for a place to stay for a night in Vegas. 

Because it was a weeknight AND most people were back in school AND we were booking at the last minute, Phillip scored a fantastic deal at this posh resort.

There were several pools, some waterslides, a waterfall, and a game room. It was definitely the fanciest place we've ever stayed, and probably the fanciest place we ever will stay so I hope the kids didn't get used to it. 

We enjoyed everything except the way our bare feet immediately melted to the molten ground when we got out of the pool.

Let me tell you, though, when you're used to 6 kids, 4 feels like basically nothing. I kept looking at the four little ducklings trailing behind us and thinking, "Wait, this is it?" 

We hung out at the pool for the rest of the night and the next morning until it was time to check out, and then we went to the airport.

We arrived at midnight in NYC and then drove straight now. Well, not quite straight home. 

We had to stop once for a bathroom emergency, and even at 2 AM I found the humor in the signs distributed throughout this rest stop along the freeway:

The employees seem like "glass half-empty" people.

Never have I seen such comprehensive signage in a bathroom stall.

Less than a week after we returned, school and all 500 of the kids' fall activities started, and I've felt ever since that I've been shot out of a cannon into the center ring of a circus of my own making. 

But it's my circus and I love it, even if it does make me incredibly tired. At least we didn't try to squeeze in a visit to the Grand Canyon.

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Friday, September 23, 2022

7 Quick Takes about Wise Words about War, the Investigation Board on My Dining Room Table, and Stressors for 6-Year-Olds

It's 7 Quick Takes Friday! How was your week?


Fall always happens so fast. Like, our air conditioners are still in our windows but the other day I had to break out my electric lap blanket (which I'm using as I'm writing this because searching for the right affiliate link to put in this post made me realize I'm cold right now.)

Maybe that's a good thing for some people, but not for me. I hate every minute of below-65° weather.

Also, I somehow got sunburned at my son's soccer game on Saturday...? While I was wearing a sweatshirt and fingerless gloves. Go figure.


Our youngest son has reactive airway disorder, which could turn into asthma as he gets older or he could just grow out of it. He's been doing great, but his pediatrician jinxed it at his physical on Tuesday. She was talking about how great it is that he hasn't needed to use his nebulizer in two years, yada yada yada, and I think you know what happened next.

He woke up on Thursday wheezing so hard he could barely breathe. There's been a little cold going through our house and it triggered a flare up.

He stayed home from school that day and, after unearthing the nebulizer, were able to get it under control. As long as certain people keep their mouths shut from now on, maybe we won't need it again.


My 16-year-old is writing her first paper of the school year for her homeschool English/history curriculum. It's an analysis of World War I using the novel All Quiet on the Western Front

As an incorrigible perfectionist myself, I know that writing a first draft is, well, rough. It's almost physically painful to write something unpolished and not go back to fix it up before moving on to the next paragraph, but you have to trust the process.

To that end, my daughter decided she was going to write her rough draft in Comic Sans to remind her that it's not supposed to be good. 

In fact, a rough draft should be embarrassing for other people to read. The point is just to get your ideas down on paper so you have something to revise. 

But... maybe she took that concept a little too far:

Just kidding. She wrote this as a joke for the blog. I'm sure her actual finished conclusion won't make my eye twitch like that.


I've come to dread sitting down every week to write a menu and shopping list. It's tedious, and of course when I ask the kids for suggestions I get "I don't care" and "Food." (Actually, no one says that anymore because when they do I turn into the Incredible Hulk and smash up the entire kitchen and it's quite frightening.) But anyway, you get what I'm saying.

For a long time I've been thinking I should put together several weeks' worth of meal plans with associated shopping lists for each, but it required so much upfront work to put together I didn't know how I could do it.

I finally decided that I couldn't, but the whole family could. 

This weekend, each member of the family picked 5 dinners they like and was in charge of writing down the ingredients in that dinner. When they were finished, I collected all of the papers and arranged them on the table into 5 weeks' worth of menus.

It only reminded me slightly of this:

I did kind of feel like this. I would say "Wait, we can't have potatoes three times in one week!" and then I would switch it but it would cause some other imbalance in the fabric of the universe that I had to try to correct again.

When I finally had everything arranged, all I had to do then was copy down the ingredients on the cards and put them on the computer. Now we have 5 weeks of permanent grocery lists I never need to make from scratch again!

Also, the cards the littlest kids made were cute because they include ingredients like "tomato sos" (tomato sauce) and "sulantro" (cilantro.)


My kids' elementary school includes an SEL (social-emotional learning) unit as part of their curriculum, which is about feelings and how to manage them.

Apparently this week they're talking about anxiety, because they read the picture book Wemberley Worried and my 6-year-old brought home this writing prompt:

I appreciate the teachers trying to connect the text with the kids in a way that sheds light on their concerns and fears, but it appears that my first grader's life is just not high-stress enough for that.


Speaking of putting a ton of effort into school assignments, my 5th grader recently approached me with some questions about where our ancestors came from for a project they're doing for their immigration unit.

She wrote my answers on an official-looking worksheet and then flipped it over, explaining that she was supposed to represent my answers with pictures. I was a little alarmed when she proceeded to make the sloppiest 5-second sketches I've ever seen. "Hold on, this paper's not your actual assignment, is it? Like, you're not turning this in, right?"

Her paper.

(For reference of how much she was phoning it in, I submit this picture of the actual Welsh flag:)
photo credit

"Well, these are just sketches to remind me of what to put on the real project later..." Or so she claims. 

Knowing her, I wouldn't put it past her to call these good and just turn them in. She's not really the same kind of perfectionist as her sister and I. 


I found a cute YouTube channel of read-alouds for kids, and several of them are English-Spanish so I watched one with the younger kids this week.

They know I'm trying to learn Spanish so they're always asking me "How do you say __________ in Spanish?" (50% of their questions are about how to say bathroom humor words, but at least they're curious.)

This is the only one of Kid Time Story Time's bilingual videos I've watched so far, but it was just educational enough for them to learn a few words and entertaining enough for them to have enjoyed it:

If you're looking for something for your kids to watch that doesn't involve someone unboxing something or playing a video game, I recommend giving Kid Time Story Time a try.

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Friday, September 16, 2022

7 Quick Takes about Educational Field Trips, Overanalyzing Children's Films, and Bad Words You Find in the Bible

It's 7 Quick Takes Friday! How was your week?


When I wrote last week's 7 Quick Takes, I was just about to go on a field trip with my homeschooled daughter to a war history museum. 

I'd heard good things about it, but it exceeded my expectations. I learned a lot about the wars the U.S. has been involved in, the museum volunteers were amazing repositories of knowledge, and I liked looking at all the artifacts on display.

If you will, please take a look a this German SS uniform

—and tell me it doesn't immediately remind you of this sketch:

I saw this sketch years ago and thought it was funny but assumed the skull thing was an exaggeration for comic effect. But no, their uniforms actually did look 100% like that. You'd think that would have been a clue.


Browsing through the museum gift shop was an entertaining way to end our visit, because of war history themed toys like these:

Let your kids' imaginations take flight with this miniature Panzer tank and evil SS henchman!

This is a tank plushie, you guys. I'm dead.

Seriously, though, it was a really well-put together museum. If two non-history enthusiasts like us could stay interested and engaged for three hours, you know they did a phenomenal job.


Phillip was out of town for most of this week and just came back last night. It was rough

First of all, the van died about two hours after he left. Luckily, he'd decided to take an Uber to the airport and leave the other car here, so I wasn't stuck with no transportation and 5 kids who need rides everywhere.

On the other hand, maybe having transportation and 5 kids was the rough part. I had to drive solo to drop off and pick up for allllll the activities. Basically I just drove around from 5-8PM every night and everyone was still late to everything.


The other day my kids were watching How To Train Your Dragon 3, so I went downstairs to watch with them for a little while. I haven't seen all three movies (or even most of the third one), but I am sort of in love with the relationship between Hiccup and Astrid. 

If I see one more independent-tough-woman-who-doesn't-have-time-to-be-nice heroine I'm going to vomit. I like Astrid because she's always encouraging Hiccup to be a hero. She shows that being nurturing isn't a weakness. In fact, I think it is a woman's real superpower. A woman's love can move mountains by inspiring everyone in her sphere of influence to do great things.

I'm sure this is WAY too deep of an analysis for an animated movie, but it's something I wish I saw much more in kids' shows and the media in general, you know?


I mentioned a while ago that the one and only game I play on my phone to kill time, Drop 7, stopped making an app for Android and I was really sad about that.

My teenagers recommended a game called 2048, and I tried it out but was really unimpressed. I just didn't get it.

Well, I finally figured out the strategy behind it and now I'm addicted. The point of the game is to get to 2048 and then you win, but you can keep playing beyond that until you die if you want. 

This week I made it to 4096, so I think I've got it.


My 6-year-old brought this home from school the other day:

The really cute part is how he even drew Phillip's messenger bag in the picture. (I asked if that's what it was and my 6-year-old confirmed it, but he called it "a work bag.")


A few years ago, my 16-year-old put a profanity filter on her computer. You choose which words you don't want to see, and designate an acceptable replacement word for them. Then every time you visit a website, it goes through and makes the changes.

Which is fine, but sometimes it makes us laugh. 

Last night, she was using her laptop to read the Old Testament for her religious study class and it replaced an archaic KJV word for "donkey" with "butt." 

It really takes some of the fire out of Isaiah's call to repentance if you think he said: "The ox knoweth his owner, and the butt his master's crib; but Israel doth not know, my people doth not consider."

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Friday, September 9, 2022

7 Quick Takes about Looking Like a Little Kid, Back to School, and a Schnauzer Discovery

It's 7 Quick Takes Friday! How was your week?


Our Labor Day weekend was just the right mix of having fun and getting stuff done. I cleaned out so many closets.

We also biked a rail trail near us which takes you to an ice cream place after about 4 miles. It was a hot day and the ice cream melted fast, though. Good thing we were outside.

Impressively, he ate while leaning over the grass and didn't get anything on himself except for his hand. And wrist. And a little bit on his arm. And all over his face.


The other day my 10-year-old hugged me and then giggled, "Hey Mommy, I come up to your chin just like you come up to Daddy's chin!"

I looked down at her and saw the she was right. The small child was hugging me with the top of her tiny little head just level with my jaw, the same relative height as me to my husband. 

Horrified, I turned to Phillip and asked, "Is this what I look like to you? How can you take me seriously??"

He just laughed and said, "Kind of."

My daughter is growing so fast she'll probably be as tall as me soon. The other day I had to run out to the garage for a second so I slipped on the first pair of flip flops I saw by the door and realized that (1) they were hers and (2) they fit.


Our pet rats are getting... weird in their old age. 

They keep sleeping in really bizarre positions. I imagine it's because elderly rats, like elderly people, get achy and usually have some body part or other that is hurting them. (I myself am sleeping on my back for the first time in my life to relieve the discomfort of suspected bursitis in my shoulder.)

So I get it, but even so it's unnerving to walk by the cage and see something like this:

Lying on her back with her feet in the air, cardboard house flipped upside down and being used as a blanket. We didn't pose them like this. They actually chose to sleep this way.

This is why it's become a normal occurrence for someone to walk by the cage, then stop to tap the bars and say "Piper, are you still alive?" before continuing on their merry way.


Phillip is our go-to tech guy in the house, so when I realized I wasn't getting the texts people said they'd sent me over the weekend, I immediately went to him.

"Why am I not getting texts?" I asked him.

My teenager sitting nearby looked up and helpfully suggested, "Because you don't have any friends?"

I laughed and answered, "Well, yes, I mean besides that."


School started up this week for my kids. 

This year more than ever, stepping back into the madness of our regular fall schedule feels like getting shot out of a cannon. One minute we were having fun on vacation, and the next minute I'm running around at 6:30 AM throwing shoes to my kids and yelling "Why would I  know where your lunchbox is?!?" 

It's probably even more disorienting for my 14-year-old, who stayed behind on our last family vacation for a "boys' retreat" with the Evans cousins and got home jetlagged about 18 hours before the start of his first class.

All is can say is, thank goodness it's Friday. We all need naps.


After sending the little kids back to public school, I also started homeschool with my 11th grader. By the end of last year, she was so burnt out she could hardly stand it and asked to homeschool. 

Luckily, 11th grade was coincidentally the same year I homeschooled her older sister so we're reusing a lot of the same curriculum (taking my older daughter's criticisms of it in mind to make some tweaks.)

While I know now that no schooling system is perfect, I feel confident we can make this work and more importantly, that she can fill her tank back up this year and focus on enjoying learning. In fact, after I finish this post we're headed on a history field trip to the war history museum. Wish us luck.


This actually happened last week, but I have to mention something my son said while we were visiting Phillip's family on vacation. 

His sister and brother-in-law's have this miniature schnauzer puppy named Walt. Walt preferred taking naps on Grandpa Evans's lap, but if Grandpa wasn't around then Walt decided Phillip was a good second choice and slept in his lap instead. 

After it happened a few times, I commented on it and my 8-year-old nodded, "Yeah, Walt likes old men."

Me trying to change the subject ASAP.

The night before we left, we saw something really strange. We stayed at a resort for just that night, and someone in the pool area brought their dog on a leash. It looked exactly like Walt, but blown up to 100 times his actual size. It was as big as a Mastiff.

I was so intrigued at what this giant schaunzer could be that I went and asked the owner what kind of dog it was. He said it was  wait for it  a giant schnauzer. That's right. I had no idea that breed existed.

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Monday, September 5, 2022

The Educational Summer Vacation: Studying Nepal

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For our final week of The Educational Summer Vacation, my 14-year-old chose Nepal. If you're new here, my kids and I ages 6-18 learn about a new country every week of the school summer break... kind of like homeschooling, but without the pressure.


We started off by finding Nepal on our big wall map. The kids have little passport books that I made and printed out (you can download them for free here) and they fill in a new page with info about the country of the week.

My 14-year-old was adamant that we study Nepal this summer. One of his siblings had already chosen Bangladesh so I asked him, "Are you sure you don't want to pick somewhere else? Sometimes when countries are nearby their culture overlaps, so you might be hearing some of the same things twice this summer."

He was sure, he said, and it was because he really likes Nepal's flag:

This shape is called a "double-pennon."

I guess there's some complex trigonometry involved in getting the proportions right, but eyeballing it served our purposes for this week.

I read the book N is for Nepal with the kids, and then we watched this 4K video to give them an eyeful of the country:

For a snack that night, we made chatamari. If you make this at home, don't make the mistake of telling your kids it's 'Nepali pizza.' They will be really upset when you end up making something with a weird egg on top that is decidedly unlike any pizza they've ever eaten. Trust me, I know from experience.

Really pretty and tasted good.

As far as ethnic recipes go, this was a relatively easy one. But I think I need some practice to perfect the art of not cementing the rice flour crust to the bottom of the pan so hard that we contemplated just throwing it out afterward instead of cleaning it.


The picture book I See the Sun in Nepal was a great introduction to today's topic, the Nepali language. Because the book was printed in both English and Nepali, the kids could see what it looked like as I was reading.

With the help of this video, we counted to 20 in Nepali and then watched this video and copied down the Nepali alphabet. Yes, all 46 letters. My kids were like "Finally!" and threw their markers across the room at the end, if they hadn't already given up and gone to play with some matchbox cars.

One of the proud survivors.

The 8-year-old.

For dinner, we made dahl baht. It was easy and filling and a good way to use up my lentils, so I'll probably do it again sometime. The kids' reaction was fairly neutral and that's about all I can expect from a family dinner at this point in our lives so I'll take it.


One unique feature of Nepal is how well its largest religion, Hinduism, gets along with the second largest religion, Buddhism. 

According to this video (a 180° video where the kids can move the mouse around and move the picture while they're listening) some temples in the capital of Kathmandu simply serve both religions. It was short and taught the kids about prayer wheels and other temple features.

One of the most famous temple complexes in the area is Swayambhunath, also known as 'the monkey temple.' I knew the kids would love this video of it:

But it isn't called 'the monkey temple' just because monkeys live there. (Monkeys live everywhere in Nepal. They're the pigeons of Asia.) No, legend has it that a Buddhist deity once let his hair grow so long he got lice, and the lice turned into monkeys that roam the area today.

Okay, then.

Next, the kids each chose a Hindu coloring page from this site, and they worked on them while I read some basic Hindu beliefs and practices:

Aside from briefly learning about a few of them when we visited Thailand last year, the kids are totally unfamiliar with most of the characters associated with Hinduism, so I gave them the book Little Book of Hindu Dieties to peruse on their own time. The illustrations were so cute, you guys. I can't get over it. 

As a bedtime story that night, we read Chandra's Magic Light together. It's a picture book set in Nepal that is mainly about a girl and her solar-powered lantern, but includes a nice little shoutout to the Hindu deities at the end that made it perfect for today.


We kind of already started talking about the animals in Nepal with all the monkeys yesterday, but today it was time to focus on a few others.

Did you know that in Nepal and India, it's illegal to slaughter a cow? Cows are considered sacred to the Hindu majority there.

We also learned about yak facts with this fun video. The narrator seems so sweet and the kids really did learn a lot from her. (Case in point: when we visited the natural history museum the next week with Grandma, my 6-year-old pointed to one of the taxidermied mammals and said, "That's a yak. And it's a boy because it has long hair on its belly.")

Lastly, we talked about dogs. I thought people in the United States loved their dogs, but did you know that in Nepal there's a whole holiday for them? It's called Kukur Tihar, the second day of Diwali, and everybody is encouraged to do a little ceremony for their dog or even go find a stray to do it for on the streets. We watched a video about it and then read the picture book A Dog Named Haku.

Next, we headed outside to play a Nepali game called Tigers and Goats. It was sort of like checkers, but not.

Something in me loves games that require no equipment you can't just find outside.

After we got the hang of how the game worked, whoever was the goat won every time, so maybe we were missing something about the strategy of the game. 


Today, the kids were a captive audience in the car for about an hour and a half today and my husband was driving, so I read to them from the book Where is Mount Everest? (from the "Who Is" book series, which I love.)

I also gave them the books True Stories of Everest Adventures by Paul Dowswell and Everest: You Decide How to Survive. Both were appropriate for kids in the 9-12 age range. The Abominable Snowman: A Story from Nepal was a cute beginning chapter book for my 6-year-old.

My kids have a slight obsession with an educational YouTuber called Mr Demaio, and when I announced we were talking about Mount Everest today they all shouted, "Are we going to watch Mr. Demaio??" 

Of course we were.

When we got home, we made mountain climbers using this tutorial. We didn't have plastic straws for the back, but we used some plastic tubing my husband had in his workshop and it worked just fine. 

The 6-year-old made his mountain climber rainbow-colored (for surrealism) and added an oxygen tank (for realism):

I showed them how to put the mountain climbers on a doorknob, but the part they really liked was when they discovered they could put the climbers around their neck and have them climb up their bodies instead.

This week, we learned a lot while studying Nepal. The kids were introduced to new food, a new alphabet, a new religion, and a new flag shape they didn't even know existed. All in all, it was a nice close to the summer; we'll see you again next year with more of The Educational Summer Vacation!

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