Orville & No Name


Here are the kids getting fitted in their packs.  Julia has named hers Orville.  Hmmm.  Kid’s got an itch for popcorn.  Sean chose not to name his because “boys don’t name things.”  O-k-a-y.  They think this is fun now because the packs are not filled with 30lbs as we trek in 90 degree heat through Northern Vietnam.  The kids were given an option to pick patches to distinguish their packs.  Julia picked a brittany spaniel Mickey-look-alike patch and a Valkyrie patch (a female warrior AND the name of her soccer team).  Sean chose not to pick a patch because “boys don’t do that.”  What a shame he wasn’t wearing his scouts shirt with a dozen or so  patches on it when he told me that.  I could have looked at him cross-eyed.

Bring on the Japanese Encephalitis

A colleague I admire recently did a spot on re-enactment of Seinfeld’s car rental reservation bit.  So I had Seinfeld on the mind when I called the Public Health Travel Clinic.  I had first consulted the CDC’s website to determine immunization recommendations.  If you at all wary about international travel, the CDC website is sure to keep you grounded.  I expected the need to vaccinate against malaria but Japanese encephalitis?  What is that?  It conjures John Hurt in The Elephant Man movie exclaiming “I…am…not…an animal. I…am human!”

The state Public Health Travel Clinic provides an assessment of what immunizations are needed and then provides the shots.  Easy, right?  I call.

PHTC: “I just need to let you know that there’s a $120 charge for the assessment.”

Me: Oh, ok, makes sense, the government needs to cover their costs.  So I explain that I’ll be bringing my husband and two kids.

PHTC: “Ok, so we’ll make four appointments and it will be $120 per family member.”

Me: “Hmmm, we really only need one assessment – there’s four of us and we’re all going to the same places.”

PHTC: “Yes, I understand but we do an assessment for each person.”

ME: “Hmmm.  But wouldn’t the assessment be the same for the four of us?”

PHTC: “As I said, each assessment must be a separate appointment and each appointment costs $120.”

ME: “Ok, well we really only need one assessment, so once I have that assessment, can my family get their shots?”

PHTC: “You can only get shots if you each have had an assessment.”

Understand these shots will cost mucho dinero anyway so to pile on a $480 for four identical assessments just seems wrong.

Aug 17 immunization update: Kroger pharmacies have a travel clinic. In the Seattle area, the Kroger brand is QFC.  Yushi Li is one of the two travel clinic specialists in the Seattle area.  She met us at our local QFC for the initial consultation and follow up visits for the vaccines.  I can’t say enough good things about this service — Yushi was extremely thorough, she came to our neighborhood & the cost was a FRACTION of the other local travel clinic options.   Definitely use this resource: http://www.qfc.com/pharmacy/Pages/travel_info.aspx.

BTW, Julia did her 1st grade science fair project on which band-aid was the best value for the money, so no assessment needed on which to use post-shots…tough strips!

future rocket scientist

future rocket scientist

Siblings: Friends or Foes?

How are you really feeling? (by S&J's memere)

How are you really feeling? (by S&J’s memere)

Somewhere along the way, S & J — who shared my belly and then a crib for months on end, who shared a room and were best playmates for years – somewhere along the way, they fell into sibling stereotypes.  The annoying brother and the “oh please, I’m so much more mature” sister.  It seems they only forget the parts they are playing and become buds again when just the four of us are on vacation together.  They let their roles slip away and become each other’s playmate once again.

I have no illusions…there will be times on the road when all four of us are foes.  However, here’s hoping to many more times building a strong friendship and mutually respect for each other.


How do you handle emergency situations?  Me…not so well.

On a trip to the Italian Dolmites, then 7-year-old Sean fainted at the top of a high mountain pass and I screamed “Ayudame!  Ayudame!” into the faces of calm, disinterested Italians. As the guidebooks warn that the altitude can be difficult for the young or old, I imagine a fainting tourist was a common occurrence.  It probably did not help matters that I was screaming in Spanish, not Italian.  Whoops.

Thus part of our trip preparation is a first aid and CPR class for the four of us.

The hope is that between all of us, one will think clearly to act if we’re in an emergency situation.  History has proven that likely it won’t be me.

Passo Sella, Italy

Passo Sella, Italy

Meet Fancy

Turtle.  Pickle.  Froggie.  Esmeralda.  Cricket.  And fancy…as in footloose and fancy free.


These were the name suggestions for my new appendage…my Osprey Aura 65 backpack.  Hard to imagine that I’ll carry everything I need in here for eight months.   Not so fancy.

From this to a 65 liter pack...bring it on!

From this to a 65 liter pack…bring it on!