Dear Dawn · Family · Travel

Should you stay or should you go?

Dear Dawn,  I wish I had the courage to take a year off with my family. But what if the kids miss something valuable and have to repeat a grade?

Dear What if,

I get it. Should you stay or should I go? Good parents always ask themselves the same question when making a decision: “Will my kids have to repeat a grade or require years of therapy as a result of my choice?” Someone wiser than I once said “Work backward from death.” Now ask yourself: “is repeating a grade the worst thing?”  Makes you put things into perspective.

Our family needed a reset button because we were headed in a direction I didn’t like, going from ‘living life large’ to becoming introverted, fearful and hesitant.  Ron and I longed for our kids to discover this wonderful world God had left us, but even more we wanted them to grow to be problem-solvers, independent, confident young men. We had high standards and knew that in life’s game of “Show and Tell,” “Show” was always better than the “Tell.”

It wasn’t easy. Being a family is never easy. But parents,  it is worth the work, worth the investment of time into our most precious treasure – our kids. We saw so much positive change in each of our boys during this adventure.   They seemed to like who they were, which is a strong foundation for life. We solved every problem — as a family.  Together we faced difficult situations, juggled emotions and bad moods, made decisions and determined direction. Everyone had a map – no GPS!

Taking a year off with your family is not for everyone. You must be prepared to become a ‘gap filler road-school teacher,’ which requires a lot of work. But learning takes on a new angle when you do life up-close and personal, as a family. Don’t let your fear of travelling to the unknown direct your steps forward. Don’t wait till your kids need to reset their priorities and principles. Do it now.

So, should you stay?  Nyet.

You should go.  DA!                    Trenton and Colton in  Russia

Great travels!  Dawn

Dear Dawn · Travel

Sign Language

Dear Dawn,

“We’re planning a trip to SE Asia this fall, and I’ve talked to people who say it isn’t necessary to know the language because many people there speak English.  They say the signs are clear.  But because it’s me and my two daughters, I’m a little concerned.  What is your take on this?”

 It’s one thing to plan a trip for yourself; quite another to drag along precious cargo.  The last thing any of us need is to get lost or even worse, look like fools in the eyes of our kids.  I realize that is part of the misperception of being mom, and I get this on good authority.   But I have to say, for us it was fairly easy.

We found most signs to be self-explanatory.  We all had our favorites.  This Japanese remote control toilet was mine:   See?  Not that difficult!

Jap toilet.jpg

Above all remember this:  If you live long enough, you’ll be able to verify that at one point, everything old is new again.  40000 years ago, people left remnants of their existence in caves, with their sepia toned cave paintings.

In Ancient Egypt around 32 BC, someone began communicating using hieroglyphs.   Will your legacy be an emoji?  If so, here’s mine:

images.jpegSee you Friday!


Dear Dawn · Travel

Rules and Regs

Dear Dawn,

 “You asked us to write about our concerns about traveling outside the country with our families:  I keep wondering about the laws we might be unknowingly breaking.  I heard we could be fined in Singapore for chewing gum.  Or spitting.  Thoughts?”                    J.  Gainesville

 Dear J,

The U. S. State Department will set you up beautifully on their site:

Yes!  Don’t chew or spit in Singapore.  The city is pristine!  There are some tricky rules in some of the other countries concerning women, people with disabilities and LGBT individuals, so as I’ve reminded you so many times, plan.   But overall, we easily slipped into the rules. Part of the fun of traveling with your family is that you learn to read the signs even if you can’t read the language.  And yes, there are some dumb laws.

But did you ever check the dumb laws on Alabama’s books?

Bear wrestling matches are prohibited.

You must have windshield wipers on your car.

Masks may not be worn in public.

It’s illegal to impersonate a person of clergy.

And my personal favorite:

You may not carry an ice cream cone in your back pocket. (

If you are planning a trip anywhere, even in the US of A, it’s always a good idea to freshen up on the laws, driving, pedestrian rights, etc.  And by all means, if you and your donkey are driving over to Georgia, don’t let him stay the night in your hotel bathtub.  It’s illegal there!  Florida might also be a problem if you have sons.

Florida fart copy.jpeg

Have a safe weekend.  Stay warm!