Showing posts with label Article of the day. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Article of the day. Show all posts

Sunday, May 17, 2015

The Health Nut's Guide To Frugal Smoothies

Nothing screams “wellness” more than a cold, creamy smoothie. Packed with fruit and veggies, they are basically medicine in a glass, providing antioxidants, fiber, vitamins. 

They are also extremely versatile. Add some nut butter or avocado and call it a meal. Having a sweet tooth? Thrown in a handful of chocolate chips. Thirsty? Try a detox trifecta: cucumber, spinach, apple. But while making smoothies is a staple of your diet that can boost your general well-being, it can also cause major damage to your wallet. Here are some ways to save money, without cutting back on deliciousness. 

    1. Make the freezer your BFF. Even the tiniest freezer will do the job which is to store your bellowed fruit and vegetables. The best part? Almost anything can be refrigerated. All you need is a dozen of zip lock bags and …Pinterest. The platform is flooded with step-by-step tutorials on how to pack a month's worth of smoothies.

    2. Don't be afraid of those cheap, frozen fruit bags from the Dollar Store. Sometimes, frozen is better than fresh, nutritionists say. For only ten bucks, you can walk away with close to eight pounds of pineapple, berries, mango and peaches – each bag is a little under a pound.

    3. Your blender doesn't have to cost a fortune. For many of us, top-notch blenders like Vitamix are a luxury. Enter yard sales and thrifts stores like Salvation Army; if you're lucky you might find items that were never used. Using someone else's kitchen appliances grosses you out? Then go online to find plenty of options under $20.

    4. Avoid waste. It's tempting to eyeball ingredients, but you'll most likely go overboard. A little bit of this, a little bit of that, and, voilà, you just made smoothies for a small army. Be warned: smoothies are not meatloaf and don't hold up in your fridge more than a couple of hours. We encourage you to stick to a recipe at first, to learn the right quantities. One clever way to save or even make your delicious concoctions ahead of time is by pouring them into ice cube trays. Your Future, Always-on-the-go Self will appreciate this for sure! Still in the dark about the whole process? Check out these awesome tips from The Kitchn.

    5. Hunt sales. Stock up. Repeat. Kale, spinach, green collards – think about them as the foundation of your smoothies. Unfortunately, they can get quite pricey. So what does the Health Scout Manual suggests doing? Hunt sales and start stockpiling. Once again, the freezer will come in hand. Just don't forget to give them a good wash.

    6. Play with your toppings so you don't get bored. We like to dress up smoothies with all sorts of super-seeds: flax, hemp, chia. Other budget-friendly ideas that will jazz up any bland smoothie are roasted peanuts, chocolate chips, shaved coconut plus baking extracts and flavorings. Hint: you can add pretty much anything that goes into cookie dough.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Soul mates, but clashing personalities

If my marriage would be run through the love algorithms used by and other popular dating websites, a blaring alarm would go off and the whole system would instantly crash. I wish it was an exaggeration.

Truth is, we are not, by any artificial intelligence standards - or human for that matter - a match made in heaven. What we really are is the mismatched pair of socks a five-year old would pull out from underneath his bed.

I am a creative soul; he’s a man of numbers. My coffee is an elaborate concoction of syrups and spices; his has nothing but a sprinkle of sugar.
Even choosing a Redbox movie triggers a huge debate. It’s the exact reason why our kitchen cabinets are covered in Post-its; to help us keep track whose turn it is to make date night plans. On the rare occasions we achieve a Vulcan mind meld; it’s usually over big topics, like finances.

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Our contrastive nature is even mentioned in the astrology books, who warn about perils of an Aries-Scorpio romantic alliance.
But here’s the thing: we like it just the way it is. Our close to ten years relationship was built on something more than identical Starbucks orders and similar cinematographic preferences.

Instead, we tirelessly fill each other’s sails. Which, I’ve discovered, sums up pretty much every “How to keep your marriage humming” article out there. It was he who gave me a pep talk and got me to open a blog in English. It was he who cheered me as I was battling anorexia. And while his gestures may reflect devotion, the concept behind them has a name open to interpretations: “self-expansion”

People have a fundamental motivation to improve the self. If your partner is helping you become a better person, you become happier and more satisfied.”, says Gary W. Lewandowski Jr., a professor at Monmouth University in New Jersey in his study of how individuals use a relationship for personal development.
Nitpickers would dismiss the idea as being selfish. And while they may not be entirely wrong, I take comfort in knowing that our couple is the glitch in the highly praised online love formula.

Finally, something my husband and I can both agree on.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Pecha Kucha –A breakthrough for the creative voice of the masses

There’s a moment in the beginning of a PechaKucha Night when you wonder if you mistakenly end up at the wrong show. It happens quite often actually, because for a first-timer, it looks a lot like a TED Talk.
But comparing the two would be like explaining the differences between a red velvet cupcake and a cake pop. While equally delicious, they're nothing alike. On many levels though, PechaKucha (the Japanese word for “chatter”) steals the show.

First of all, there’s almost always booze and snacks involved, and a ticket costs only a few bucks. Second, the mic is handed to regular folks like you and me who want to share a particular story or idea. There’s only one genius rule designed to persuade the wondering human mind: 20 slides worth of presentations, each of them running on the screen for no more than 20 seconds.

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Above all, this no-fuss policy about speakers spurred this format’s popularity. At PechaKucha, an event originally launched in 2003 by Mark Dytham and Astrid Klein, two Tokyo-based architects, nobody gets turned down.
There’s no obligation to prove yourself before coming here by owning a CEO position or being a best-seller author; the status of human being is enough to qualify you as “chatterer”. As the organizers put it “TED is top down, PechaKucha is bottom up!”

From local artists, to stay-at-home moms and even kindergartners in over 800 cities around the world, they all have proudly stepped onto the PechaKucha stages. According to the official website, presentations have been held in any space that can fit in more than a dozen of people. A few examples include homes, bars, churches or universities.

But not even the most welcoming audience can diminish the challenge every speaker faces cramming his or her ideas in a six minutes and 40 seconds time frame. So they can get really creative. Especially when their imagination is aroused by the prospect of an early Midwest spring.

That was the case of a recent PechaKucha event, which took place on a warmer-than-usual night of March, in a tiny Chicago bar. An assortment of snacks featuring pizza bites and beer sips helped build up enthusiasm among the crowd – a hodgepodge of middle-aged intellectuals and rambunctious millennials.

It was quite a struggle to spot a familiar face in the dimly-lighted room. Small candles placed onto the servers’ trays made them half-invisible, so that at a first glance they seemed like fireflies handing out beverages.

Close to 8 p.m., a raspy voice filled out the bar announcing the first orator of the evening. Paula Douglas, a Chicago professional singer, made a strong impression the second she grabbed the microphone and pointed towards the first photo of her slide show: a broken arm X-ray of her five-year old self.
The 19 pictures that followed revealed a bubbly personality: two stuffed animals (reining to this day in her grown-up bed); a travel in Argentina to learn about wine; playing at washboard, on a whim, while out to have some drinks with friends. Her speech was just as expansive as her long, brown curls. The message, straightforward.

You're not just one thing, so don't let your name or job define you”, she concluded as the last image, of a sunflower, was being displayed on a huge screen in the middle of the room.

With every orator, the night got more intriguing. PechaKucha’s “sky's the limit” approach to topics made for some random, surprising choices. Something that one would say only around close friends, and even then soften up by a couple of vodka shots.

Melissa Thornley, “a creative alchemist” in her own words, created a jaw-dropping presentation about her belly button. Watching her blow the lid off some personal stuff like an umbilical hernia and a miscarriage, while simultaneously laughing and crying was like drinking a sweet and sour Margarita on an empty stomach. Somehow, she managed to lead the public back to a happy spot, concluding that “we are all here to belly dance our way through life”. Besides raising their glasses, people rewarded her with unison “Hell-yeah”.

But if a PechaKucher’s success measures in standing ovations, than Jyl Bonaguro, a Chicago multi-media artist, should have received the biggest prize.

Jyl Bonaguro

Her speech could have been boring for a lot of reasons, yet she delivered a modern fairy tale. Her soft voice carried the public through an unexpected adventure. Despite crushing photo evidence, it was hard to believe any of it. How this petite, milky white-skinned woman with wavy hair could have possibly hitchhiked across France, in a quest to find the chateau where her theatre play’s heroine once lived? Her mission abounded in challenges. “When I finally got there, the castle was closed. Eventually, a door opened”, she told the public, bursting into laugh.

Turns out, she was onto something big. That voyage inspired the writing of Urania, a brilliant play revolving around Emilie du Chatelet, a French mathematician, physicist and author who lived in 17th century. 

Shortly after, the script benefited from a stage reading at Loyola University in Chicago, which only made Jyl more relentless in spreading the word about Emilie du Chatelet. A person of many hats herself, she used her presentation time to dust off the memory of a timeless role model for women everywhere.

And that’s the whole point of PechaKucha– to hook us up with ordinary people whose lives couldn't be more different than ours; people we may otherwise never had the willingness or guts to start a conversation. The magic happens somewhere between the fourth and the seventh speech, when participants become antsy to take over the stage. Because they suddenly get that each and one of us is a natural born storyteller.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Four ways moving to another country is like being born all over again

There are a couple of fundamental moments in our development that we don’t find out about until later in life. That’s only possible by scrolling through photo albums of first steps, first words, first bath etc. These firsts are our parents most treasured recollections, but have little to no significance to us.

Despite our best efforts to remember, our brains will bring to the surface nothing more than blurred, often distorted bits and pieces of information. Like the smell of your mom’s sweater as she carried you in her arms or a mental snapshot of dangling toys over your crib.

Some people though, get to have a born-again experience when they move to another country. I am one of them and can tell you right off the bat, that there’s a pretty good reason for not remembering how we surmounted the challenges of human growth. If we were to do it all over again, learning to walk and talk, we would feel vulnerable…self-conscious…Terrified.

That’s exactly what most people go through when they attempt to adjust to a new country. Here’s why:
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1. You have to learn not only the language, but its intonations and social meaning. When I moved to 
Chicago, I thought I had a good grasp of English. I could carry a conversation; that wasn't the problem. What made me cringe every time I opened my mouth was how rigid I sounded. Not much different than a baby spitting words. It took me a while until I figured out that speaking like an American requires relaxing the tongue and throat muscles, while dropping the jaw a bit. With that out of the way, I still had trouble choosing my words. Back home, when someone says “How are you” they expect to hear a detailed report of your day including what you had for breakfast. Here, as I quickly learned after having people avoid me, is this question is just a longer version of “Hi”.

2. You discover novelty in everyday life.couldn't tell you if I was happy or rather annoyed when my mom exposed me as a baby to the sun light.  But I sure knew the adrenaline rush I had when I had a cocktail on the 95th floor of the Hancock building in Chicago. Or how stunned my husband and I were to see the Cloud Gate, a bean-shaped mirror sculpture placed in Millenium Park. It was like this part of the world had just risen minutes before and was luring us in to discover its charm.
Retraining your taste buds can be a blessing in disguise. You probably don’t remember transitioning from purees to solid foods, but there is a big chance you cried for your pureed veggie concoctions for the first couple of days. My first morning here, I almost threw away our milk carton after having a small sip because it tasted like dirt to me. Gradually, I grew to love many American food staples I’d never even considered trying such as ribs and S’mores.

3. Get used to your new environment. The snow storms everyone warned me about weren't a deal breaker for moving to Chicago. Romania, my home country, goes through four seasons a year, so I was prepared to brave the hard weather. What really took me by surprise were the tornado-like storms. My first one caught me completely off guard. I was riding a CTA bus, when the sky suddenly got darker and violent rain drops began striking the bus roof, as if they were bullets. In the distance, a lightening show awaited us. When my station came, I ran through puddles like my life was at stake and made it home soaking wet and scared to death. While I couldn't say I got used to such weather events, I did learn to prepare accordingly.

4. Connect with people. Making buddies on the playground or in the daycare must feel like second-nature. How complicated can it be to babble your way into a group of toddlers, maybe even share a half-chewed rubber toy? But when I got my first job with an American company, I almost had a panic attack. My first day was the worst. I kept stammering through conversations, nervous, like a sheep facing a pack of wolves. My head was spinning. “Should I shake hands?” “Do they even do that?” “Don’t stare, don’t stare!” I survived and eventually, trust settled in between myself and my coworkers. They taught me how to connect better with Americans and I became willing to let go of judgments. 

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Rediscovering family through Skype

A year ago, I viewed Skype as merely a tool of communication. Today, with over 5000 miles standing between me and all things once familiar, this little gem of technology proves to lessen homesickness, one session at a time.

When my husband and I decided to trade Romania, our small European country, for the glamour of Chicago, there was nothing holding us back. No kids, no loans and, thanks to our upbringings, (I grew up without a father, while his was an alcoholic) no strong family ties. We loved our parents, but not in a “7th Heaven” kind of way. Instead, there was a mutual agreement to make weekly phone calls and twice a year visits. For years, it worked out just fine.
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But then we moved and all of the sudden, none of these rules applied anymore. Although I wouldn't call it a typical case of homesickness, we did found ourselves longing for familiar faces. So after two weeks of landing in our new country, we gave Skype a shot.

First, we spoke with my mom and her husband. They huddled together in front of the laptop, with beaming smiles, pressing wrong buttons on the keyboard, in an attempt to turn on the web camera. The conversation went smoothly, no awkward silences. They had a lot of question; we had a lot of things to brag about. Our visit to downtown Chicago, buying a car, the arrival of our Green Cards were all examples of our new life in America. When we ran out of things to talk about, my husband suggested a tour of our house. They enthusiastically nodded their heads.

In the same way we would do in real life, before having people coming over, we tried to tidy the one bedroom apartment we rented in Chicago as fast as possible. Mismatched socks, dirty laundry and old editions of Real Simple magazine were crammed into the nearest closet. I even lit up a scented candle to make the living room more welcoming.

But when my husband swirled the laptop around the kitchen, he almost blew our cover by getting dangerously close to a pile of greasy dishes sitting in the sink. I'm pretty sure I had a mini heart attack.

An hour later, as we said our goodbyes, we realized we have had one of the few, if not, the first normal, heartwarming talk with them.
This therapeutic experience got me thinking about how Skype acts like a psychological cushion for millions of people around the world. That web camera is the closest thing to a face to face encounter with our distant loved ones. In some cases, like ours, it’s even better than that. Somehow, seeing each other through 16-inches laptop displays, made us even more aware of the 5000 miles between Romania and Chicago. We were then more inclined to ditch the drama and keep things light and fun. And that’s just the way (online) family time should be.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Going off the beaten path to adjust in a new country

Last year, just before packing my whole life in two blue suitcases and moving from an ex-communist European country to the cosmopolitan city of Chicago, I did what most people would do. Opened my browser and type in “How to adjust to a new culture”. Thanks to some handy tips from Chicago bloggers, I prided myself on knowing both the good and the ugly about my soon-to-be home country. Yet, I was still clueless about how to immerse into the actual cultural American habits.

According to journalists, academics or just regular immigrants from all around the world, in order to fit in America, I had to make local friends, try new foods and learn all about my surroundings.  Later, I realized, they had left out something paramount for anyone who seeks to grasp the habits of a new country. Embracing the quirks - or what foreigners usually see as hiccups - of this society could possibly be the cornerstone of successful relocation. It made me feel like I belong, which in return paved the way for friendships and job offers.

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The first habit my husband and I swore not adopt from our fellow Americans, happened to provide a bonding experience with them once we caved in: hanging out at fast food restaurants.  Sipping a small coffee at McDonalds, every other day on my way to work, helped me let go of many unfair labels I had attached to my fellow residents. 

One of the perks of growing up in a poor country is eating more of what grows out of the ground. Hamburgers were actually an expensive treat from where I came from, so we turned to veggies and fruits as our main source of food. 

But the situation would be much different if I would have spent my entire life in a place where fast food restaurants are as ubiquitous as grass. I started looking past the overweight bodies waiting at the front counter and I saw a different picture. People who don't know differently or don't have time and money to find better ways of nourishment. I noticed people like me, who stretched their coffee as long as they could, in an attempt to warm up while waiting for the bus. Or immigrant couples giggling with their kids over what could literally be the only happy meal of the week. These fast food places are no doubt, harming their physical health. But avoiding them, might rob newcomers of a great sense of social acceptance.

The same thinking applies to yoga pants. “Lazy” and “sloppy” were popping into my mind when I saw women wearing them basically everywhere. That was before I entered the workforce. Being a part-time server meant I had to be comfortable with throwing my clothes away after my laundry detergent could no longer remove the three cheese soup or ranch dressing stains. Or that I would need to move like Speedy Gonzales for hours on end. The last thing I wanted was to have a waistband digging into my muffin top. Stretchy, dark-colored and cheap, these pants have now become an essential piece of my daily wardrobe. 

Every night, they are replaced with sweatpants, as my husband and I plop down  in front of the computer and proceed to do another thing ranked high in “Top Ten Worst American Habits”: binge-watching Netflix. This one, we don’t do it to blend in. We just like it.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Your Valentine’s Day? None of my business

Last week, while on a break at work, a friend asked me what seems to be the most pressing question of the month: “So, how are you planning to spend Valentine’s Day?”  Her hushed, secretive voice, suggested she expected me to come up with something naughty, illegal even.
In the past, this issue would have been a no-brainer. Nowadays, when my husband and I are close to celebrating four years of marriage and a total of nine being in a romantic relationship, it prompts me to search deeper for answers. All too often, when facing the same query, people end up taking sides.
Usually, older couples think something along the lines of “It’s just another Hallmark holiday”, while new sweethearts can’t seem to get enough of the “roses and chocolate covered strawberries” trend. Why, though, make a debate out of a tradition initially designed to be filled with, well, love.
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I’m the first to admit that my teenage self still gets thrilled to the idea of dinner and flowers kind of Valentine’s Day date. Most women I know feel the same, but that doesn’t make us shallow. It makes us human. It’s particularly hard to resist such temptations when you’re being bombarded, a month in advance, with flashy reminders from your local stores, TV shows and Facebook friends.
Five or seven years ago I would’ve succumbed to this pressure, forcing myself to dress up and lock away my inner homebody. A couple Valentine’s Days ago, I remember feeling extremely uncomfortable on our way to a restaurant nearby. My bum was freezing in an otherwise cute skirt; my feet, normally happy in sneakers, were wobbling on high heels. I ended snapping at my husband when he asked to top off the night with a quick stroll around the neighborhood. 
At the other end of the spectrum, the dearest recollections I have of this holiday from recent years are the ones requiring two ingredients - pjs and beer.
What changed over time is the emotional journey with a man I now call husband.  It nudges me to focus on something other than what people might expect me to do on this day.
Like the way he cared for me last week. A horrible cold kept me bed ridden and I was frantically sneezing into my pillows, sheets and pretty much every piece of fabric I could find around the house. Or how he surprised me on January first of 2015 by waiting outside the building I work in with a bunch of flowers gently tucked in his coat.

That’s not to say Valentine’s Day should be scratch off the American holidays list or any other country for that matter. If you can name at least one person you love (your family members included), then you have endless reasons to celebrate it. It’s none of anyone’s business whether you choose to do that at home, watching Netflix, or in a fancy restaurant, popping champagne. As cheesy as it sounds, love is all that matters. 

Monday, January 19, 2015

The terrible way people shun grief after a breakup

Let’s say you’re about to run your first ultra-marathon - which is usually nothing less than 30 miles. They say it is just as hard and exciting as it sounds.

 A dozen of race medals are already neatly line up on a wooden hanger, in your bedroom, but this one will be special. You want it so badly you spare no effort to assure your success. 

So you prepare your workout gear every night before bedtime, wake up at 5 am to do those grueling tempo-runs before going to office, religiously track macros using fancy apps and chug loads of not-so-tasty protein powder concoctions. Despite sacrifices, pounding the pavement feels right and it gives you a purpose. Running makes you a better friend, a more patient parent, and a supportive co-worker.
People who ran similar distances in the past swear it will be the most difficult, yet rewarding experience of your life. You’ll cry a little, laugh a little and you’ll probably reach some mental breakthroughs along the way. 

Just days before, the race is cancelled without noticed. “Oh, and forget about the refund”, a squeaky voice bluntly announces over the phone. “Why?” “How can it be possible?” “I was so close?” All that enthusiasm bubbling inside you is washed down by an ocean of desolation.

That’s basically how being dumped on the way to the altar must feel. Only multiplied by a thousand. But the traditional way people used to cope with such fiascos (gallons of ice cream and floods of tears) has taken a turn for the better. Or so it seems. 

Between August and December 2014, two men and a woman became famous after going public with their breakups or for calling off their weddings. The more heartbreaking the stories, the more viral they became.
However, it took a lot more than just an e-mail to a producer or editor for an intimate, not to mention pretty common event like a split up between two ordinary people to become a TV sensation. Just like in a romantic comedy plot, they had to convert their own misery into a spectacle that will either make people go “Aww!” or cheerfully shout “Hell, yeah!” 

Take the example of Phil Laboon from Pittsburg.
At the end of August 2014, he appeared on, Daily Mail and even on CBS This Morning, though not because he’s the CEO of an Internet marketing company. Not even close. Mr. Laboon, 32, became widely known as “the guy who broke up with his fiancée and turned their $15,000 reception into a fundraiser”.  “It was obviously pretty heartbreaking for everybody involved,” he told CBS Pittsburgh, adding that it “ended up becoming a really good scenario". The money he managed to raise went to Surgicorp, an organization providing free surgery in developing countries.

Another guy who became suspiciously generous when suddenly found himself single?  Jordan Axani. This handsome, 28, Canadian guy, came up with an idea that could easily trump many top-notch marketing strategies. His offer? An around-the-world trip, which was initially planned to be taken this past Christmas with his now ex-girlfriend, Elizabeth Gallagher. Changing a name on the ticket was almost impossible, so Axani started looking for a vacation companion with the same name as his previous date and a Canadian passport. “It’s just about a ticket not going to waste”, he explained. The announcement grew famous beyond Canadian borders into America and soon enough he stumble upon a perfect candidate. They are already back, though no signs of love butterflies.

Likewise, Shelby Swink, 23, did interviews for several TV shows including “Today Show” and was featured in several newspapers such as Huffington Post after destroying her wedding dress with paint. This was meant to be a cathartic experience. A counter reaction to being left by her college sweetheart five days before saying “I do” in their hometown, Memphis, Tennessee.

“I felt free of sadness, free of disappointment, free of anger”, she claimed. Pictures of Shelby covered in a rainbow of paint, flexing her biceps like a warrior goddess, are now being used as an example by feminist advocates who call her gesture “empowering”. It’s also philanthropic. The dress was displayed for a few weeks in a local bridal shop in Memphis, which donated a portion of its sales to local nonprofit called Be Free Revolution. 

In the process of healing their love wounds, all three, Laboon, Axani and Swink received hundreds of marriage proposals and gained thousands of Facebook friends; even a movie deal for Axani. That’s not to say they don’t suffer. Quite the opposite actually. After a breakup, any human heart goes through various stages on the road to recovery. One of them being grief. But can they really feel the scientific proven stinging pain in their chests or perhaps get to the roots of their separation while constantly rushing to appear on-air? Can speaking to reporters, no matter how friendly and well-intended, replace the need for a deeper conversation with a specialist? Not really. 

Studies show that grieving, which can take up to several years in case of a death loss, is a normal step when curing heartache, see postdoctoral research at Brown University. More importantly, skipping grief can backfire later. 

“We might like to skip grief, but we cannot. Even when we can temporarily deny our pain, it still exists. It may eventually erupt, maybe at an inappropriate moment or during another upset or illness”, points out Judy Tatelbaum, an expert on overcoming grief and emotional suffering. So, sure, throwing a breakup party with your closest friends and family might be a good idea. Making it a national matter, however, could have the same effect as using pain relieving gels to numb a rooting tooth. It will still hurt like hell after a couple of hours.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Mom, are we there yet?


Parents worldwide are reinventing the notion of family trips by logging hundreds of adventuresome days and miles across the Globe with only a backpack. Are children better off in a swinging hammock or sleeping in a cozy, predictable bed?

Imagine being 15 and waking up in a tent, your dad gently humming while studying a map, your mom chopping fresh bananas over peanut butter sandwiches. Mid yawn, distant elephant trumpets break the silence. Finally, your brain catches up with a shocking, yet exciting reality. You are in a South African national park, just one electric fence away from hundreds of wild animals. That’s probably what happened to Miles Maurer, a ninth grader from Flagstaff, AZ, who embarked on a 10-month trip around the world along with his adventurous parents and 12 year old sister. 

Their project is hardly unique. More and more parents are putting a spin on traditional family trips, by driving, biking and even sailing across the Globe. But the bravest thing of all is taking their kids on board. Sometimes, as many as 9 kids are along for the adventure, like in the case of this so-called "full-time RVing" family.

What do these families have in common? Blogs. A large part of their journey is documented via online diaries with moms being the main storytellers. Though they are willing to share their struggles with road-schooling or a tight budget, other troubles remain private.  How long, for instance, can a child last living on the road, before home-sickness strikes? What do you do when he or she longs for a best friend? Or worse, when they’re sick and you’re camped in an Asian remote village?

Most nomad parents like to think of these as rare occurrences; nothing can diminish the importance of equipping kids with valuable lessons and physical skills.

Maurers are no exception. 

When the family was featured in this New York Times article, a couple of months ago, Miles mentioned that “it’s much more impacting to learn about the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia than in class”. “It’s difficult to disagree”, writes Seth Kugel, the author.
And it sure is, especially with a bunch of studies showing kids who travel do better in life. Keith Bellows, editor in chief of National Geographic Traveler magazine, went so far as to say “the passport is the new diploma”.
They are all, to a great extent, right. Watching zebras on a iPad, in a regular classroom, doesn’t measure up to observing these wild animals from the window of a Land Rover, a staple activity during African safaris. But it’s a whole lot safer.

For every study out there reinforcing the importance of traveling for child development, there are also legitimate threats lurking at every step of an international expedition. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention mentions abduction, infectious diseases – Malaria, Yellow Fever- and let's not forget about natural catastrophes such as tornadoes or tsunamis.



Sailors Eric and Charlotte Kaufman learned it the hard way. They needed to be rescued earlier this year, while sailing from Mexico to New Zeeland, after their youngest daughter Lyra, age 1, became seriously ill and the boat’s power and steering malfunctioned. According to the New York Times, “the rescue involved three state and federal agencies and had California Air National Guardsmen parachuting from airplanes into open waters”.

The joy of being alive was shadowed by a major public backlash for putting daughters in danger. However, a handful of parents stood up for them.

One woman named Diane Selkirk wrote an article for explaining how traveling offered context for better education in case of her own daughter. “At 12 years of age, Maia’s now put in more sea hours than shopping hours and is more familiar with the stars in the sky than the ones in the tabloids. She’s graceful and self-assured, in no small part because of her unconventional childhood,” describes Diane, a Canadian writer and photographer. She goes on giving examples of other fellow travel bloggers whose lives on water seem to follow a Hollywood script. However, between blissful recollections, a bitter memory slips: “One night, when Maia was 8, a weather bomb hit our Mexican anchorage”.

Is the whole “self-development” thing worth the risk then?

Every bit, says Diane. “Yes, there is risk involved in daring to show her the world—but the alternative, the one where we never share our passions with our child and never show her the value in pursuing her own, seems far more dangerous”, she concludes. 

Perhaps, this all or nothing mentality is what endangers children going on a world tour the most. A mild form of “helicopter parenting”, attempts to control a kid’s experiences come from a place of fear. Fear that by staying at home they’re missing out precious moments. Yet, at times, what children really need is some more laid back parents and a “Life of Pi” DVD to explore the world from the safety of their bedrooms.