It’s the peaceful, silly.

A quick escape.  There’s a  serene and peaceful  je ne sais quoi about the Balinese way of life, that when combined with slow or even no-WiFi access, makes one happy. Heck, could it be the inability to see events going on elsewhere? Perhaps. Whatever the reason, we are grateful to be without. Enjoy a morning Hindu song, broadcast from seemingly everywhere, wafting on the smoke in the burning fields. [The two volcanos in the background are a story for another day. Uploads are often very slow, and that’s okay. The backlog is building] I hope this makes your day… calmer.

What does a typical day look like? There’s no day like “UN-day”

Often people ask, “Hmmm…No buses, no gym, no assembly or home room, one teacher, three grade levels…What do you actually DO each day?

We don’t really have Sundays or Mondays, or Tuesday…or Fridays. So far, we mostly have action filled and eventful “UN-days”. The kids don’t really know what day it is, and “class” is in session for much of every single day.

Much of the process and practices unfold by location, available possibilities and interests. (More on this in a guest post by Professor Gugick later) But suffice to say, after the basic R,R,Rs, the structure of teaching is dictated by the nature and interests of the students themselves. It’s early in the process, but so far the natural flow and attraction of a pliable format seems to have really captured their imagination.

The daily notes for each child are recorded by the teacher upon that days completion. In the example here, on 8/23/2017:

  • Classical music, which is a video containing music behind a science theory
  • Game Theory
  • A paper airplane contest
  • A nature hike identifying 15 Balinese plant species

  • City research on our next destination, Ubud, to identify attractions we might visit. Each child must argue for in presentation format, why mom and dad should choose their activity.
  • Algebra: Literal equations
  • 30 minute reading break

  • Study of rice cultivation
  • Each child must create, draw or find on-line, four icons that represent each of their personalities for business cards that each child will need as a cultural requirement in Japan.

Afterwards, PE choices of soccer on the beach, rice patty or jungle hikes, or swimming are the physical activities. We eat breakfast and lunch together, but often dinner apart.

So far,  a “typical” day. 

Finally, as a matter of practice, we intend to examine what we’ve learned in big picture from our stays. As we leave our current location tomorrow, we have three discussion and writing topics from which each child must choose two about which to think, and write an essay.  These topics below are their choices dictated from our first stop:

  1. Social Studies: Are the Balinese people poor? Are they happy?
  2. Science: Why do the beaches have black sand?
  3. Introspection: How does the Chinese tea ceremony we participated in a few days ago reflected in and pertain to how you live your life? How would you make changes based upon what you learned? 

Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

Oh…and use sunscreen. 

Log, out.

FAQs about this journey.

– Can the kids handle it? We sure hope so. As Professor Gugick says, “i promise you they won’t come back dumber than when we left”.
-Isn’t home school weird? Not really. Its become more and more “accepted” as a method of teaching and learning. We think the personal maturity and discipline from executing this is worth the effort.
 – Rows and columns?  There are no rows and columns in their class. In fact, there really isn’t a class. Collaborative, experiential, interactive, thoughtful and challenging are the signposts.
– Won’t you drive each other crazy? Maybe…errr…probably, but we learned to like being a close knit family while living in Paris. It could be worse.
– Are there weekends? No. There is enough travel time where reading and researching is necessary that we will go most days on, or have partial learning days. And that was the teachers call, frankly. He sets the tone, and so far the kids love it, saying “Learning and doing stuff is just becoming natural”.
– So you don’t like staying married? Ha.
– Why now? This could be the last chance. Ever.
– What about records and transcripts? We have past ones. We are keeping copious records of our processes and progress using some US standards, as well as reading lists and pedagogy from leading public and private scholastic institutions.
– What do schools say, about tests, entrance exams, etc.? Yes, schools are more and more comfortable all the time with non-standard applicants.
– What about sports and physical activities? There are plenty of known and new sports to play everywhere. Soccer, surfing, paddle boarding, scuba, etc.
– What about friends? Trade offs. The kids have international friends because much of the American School of Paris crowd was somewhat transient, but it’s a challenge. We will interact with local kids every chance we get. On the positive side, there will be far more exposure to adults and adult situations demanding responsibility and maturity that hopefully becomes second nature.
– Where do you live? Um, we don’t actually live anywhere. No home, no apartment, not even a car.
– Home address, then? Awkward. We have a P.O. Box that forwards anything necessary.
– What’s your schedule? Indonesia, Japan, China, [Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Myanmar, Bhutan, Hong Kong, Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Cote d’Ivoire, Zambia, Zimbabwe, but please USE PENCIL.
– Why did you decide on Asia and Africa? Our work takes us to Hong Kong and the African Continent, and we have cohorts and contacts there.
– Planning? See Stacia. We’re DOA without her.
– Who was the driving force behind this? My folks still think I was, but in truth Stacia was far more adventurous than me.

Ancient History 101: Treasure Uncovered, circa 1975

Yeah yeah, I hear it every day. “Dinosaur Dad”, Nicholas says. Anything pre-iPhone is Neanderthal.  And then it happened. Ancient treasure washed ashore, like gold doubloons from ancient sailing ships.

A cassette tape! Likely something from an ancient Deadhead, with protruding forehead, and deep set eyes. It was in the  explanation of the utter simplicity that drew the greatest interest from the charges.

The concept of Fast Forward >>, Reverse <<, estimating where the song you wanted was located. And then the concept of a magnetic tape that became unwound, and required the primitive ‘MyPencil’ tool,  inserted in the grooved slot to spin and tighten the loose tape. The sympathetic  looks made me feel old.

SIX Off Piste? I thought you guys were 5?

So, we were in the process of applying to a school, and were typically uncertain as to our future location vis-a-vis it’s overlap with work projects in Asia and Africa.

Well, here’s the genesis of the journey, to the day, in the form of an email I sent to Arthur Gugick,  a friend, former Penn classmate and teacher extraordinaire teaching in Ohio.

On Thursday, February 9, 2017 5:34 AM, Michael Balog <> wrote:

“Arturo. Bonjour and i hope this finds you well.

 I have a wild question out of the blue. Due to some work demands, Stacia and i are considering taking the next year off and homeschooling our 3 kids. They will be in 2nd, 6th and 8th grade. Here’s the thing. If we do this it will be in Asia and Africa. A wild in region learning experience. Part history. Part science, math and so forth in different countries but based in say Japan or HK for 6 months and Zambia for example (not set in stone) but traveling out of base to Laos, Vietnam, China, Uganda, Tanzania etc. A weird world  school in essence. We have contacts all over that could make it incredible. Chimp sanctuary in Uganda, bamboo bike builders in Zambia, robots in China, etc.  etc. You get the idea of how amazing it could be. Its kinda the last chance year we could ever do it. My kids are really good folks and pretty worldly. We’ll set up sport and physical activity etc. in each place. So…here’s the question…
What we need to find is one great teacher in math and English that can design and execute an accelerated disciplined and documented curriculum  and who is willing to travel for a year with our family. I think for the right person its the adventure of a lifetime.  The program itself, in my opinion, can be remarkable with the right fit.
Question. How/where do i search for teacher availability for such a teaching job?  I need one great educator that has vision, energy and cahones. I am searching for the perfect match. Thoughts?
Merci. Gracias. Grazie
And here was his reply…

On Feb 9, 2017 06:18, <> wrote:

I know the perfect person for you. 
He started his career working at a K-4 Montessori elementary school (4 years) so he has experience working with younger children. The Montessori paradigm is one of individual curricula dependent upon a student’s personal needs and strengths. I know he took these ideas when he raised his own children. He taught both his children to read by age four. (one is an honors OSU student and the other is a gifted musician heading off to CIM)
He has worked in Middle schools (6 years), and in High schools (14 years). Perfect for your children: He’ll know what’s appropriate for their age and has the knowledge to push them to beyond their potentials. And although he’s taught mostly mathematics, he has also taught Computer Science, middle school science, high school astronomy and physics, reading, writing, and everything in between.
Great sense of humor. Strong family values. Excellent resume. Amazing references. Vision, energy, and, yes, cahones. And as a bonus: he’s a Lego master.
Lets talk more about this.
He had me at Lego master…And so it was.



American Idiot: The Journey Begins (in fun)

Let me be clear. THE  VIDEO THAT FOLLOWS IS MEANT TO BE HUMOROUS AND FUN. Period. Unfortunately, in today’s climate, it requires a brief preface.

As most of you know, I detest hypocrisy nearly as much as I detest the main stream media of all colors and stripes whose sole task it seems  is to create distraction and discord among it’s fellow citizens to a point that it destroys the very fabric of our nation. And for what, to sell papers? To generate more clicks? “Brand America” be damned, right?

Nicholas and I  discussed the tone and angst and messaging of “American Idiot” by Green Day, which  captures so much of the current madness we observe. Personally, I find myself humming it often, as if it was written last week. I sometimes feel alien to, and in, the land I love. And the questions one gets all over the world like,  “what the heck is going on over there?”, makes it clear that “Brand America” is under assault.

Make no mistake, America has given us fantastic opportunities whose rightful credit accrues to our immigrant Great Grandparents, Grandparents and Parents who toiled, saved and in some cases died for our good fortune. Be they forefathers who died in WWII, or died in a coal mine, under the shadow of dirty unsafe working conditions, we owe everything to America, and those who came before us. And to you Dear Reader, as I strive always to find a pony under a pile of poo, this too shall pass. America will thrive. She has faced far greater foes than the internal strife from our unhealed internal wounds. In the mean time, let’s try not to kill the goose which has been so good to so many all over the world.

Thus, the use of American Idiot here is a subliminal a call not to arms, but a call for the use of brains, and hearts, and goodness. It in no way shades thoughtful citizens anywhere. Moreover, this song selection is in no way meant to point fingers at anyone or anything in a manner as to convey high minded elitism. THE SONGS MESSAGE IS SERIOUS, THE VIDEO IS NOT!  We hope you enjoy watching, as much as Nicholas enjoyed making it.

American Idiot, Green Day, 

Don’t wanna be an American idiot…Don’t want a nation under the new mania…And can you hear the sound of hysteria?…The subliminal mind-f$ck America…Welcome to a new kind of tension, All across the alien nation
Where everything isn’t meant to be okay…Well, maybe I’m the fa$$ot America, I’m not a part of a redneck agenda…Now everybody do the propaganda…And sing along to the age of paranoia
Welcome to a new kind of tension…All across the alien nation…

Where’s Waldo Been?


The first sign we saw was, “Welcome to Bali, Wander Where the WiFi is Weak”

Somehow this got taken literally and created some difficulties for our video team, aka Nicholas.


These problems seem to have now been resolved by our crack IT team.


And Finally, A Word Of Thanks to Our Sponsor…

“You cannot explore new oceans until you have the courage to lose sight of the shore” – Andre Gide

In what seems like a millennium ago, I first heard the above quote from Stacia, when she and I met back in 1999. It goes without saying, but I’ll say it again. So much of our existence and experience would not be possible without her. She is smart, kind, patient, thoughtful and lovely to look at. A true vagabond and intrepid traveler, with the chops, organization, patience, good nature, sense of humor, and persistence to not only attempt, let alone master, an epic one year, 3 adult, 3 child undertaking. It involves army scale logistics, school structuring and records, medicine, doctors, shots, passports, visas, all the while keeping kids and husband happy, and miraculously seeing around corners and anticipating the unknowable (more on that later), all whilst performing inside her own mind, chained in her own self-imposed perfectionist’s jail.

Stacia, You are a dream. And not a day goes by that neither me nor the kids are confused about the engine that makes, no allows, this ship to set sail and journey as smoothly and rightly as it does. We are eternally grateful.  

Thank you, my love.


As we sail West high over the Pacific, new oceans await. We are all a crucible of giddiness, excitement, apprehension, joy and humility.  And Dear Reader, do not think for a moment that a day goes by that the good fortune which we as a family embrace, is not deeply understood and appreciated at the core of each of us. We fully expect that the ultimate proof will be on exhibit in the contributing citizens which spring up from these children and all children who we are striving to teach a better way, be they our biological, as well as the “adopted” we encounter along on our way through life. The kids are well versed in the precept that, “of those that have much, much is expected.” And there is much that needs to be done.

Our first place of orientation is Indonesia, where our tutor (more on him later) will become oriented to the kid’s levels. In advance, he gave the kids one assignment to learn about each of them. The new teacher asked them to each do a video of their choosing about “who they are”. Always interesting to learn how your kids reflect on their lives and personnas.