An american family

escapes, explores and exhales in southeast asia

Who are we?

DSC00052Tom, Melissa, Big-sis (10), Bro (7), Lil-sis (4).  Tom is a high school English teacher.  Melissa directs a performing arts camp. We are from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Word to the city of brotherly love!) We love our home and our people, and we’re discovering that we also love traveling far and wide on a shoe-string budget with our kids. This blog is our scrapbook, and a way for us to share our thoughts, experiences and creations on this adventure with others.  The world is magnificent!  We feel honored to be catching a glimpse of this corner of it with our children.  Thanks for joining us!

What are we doing?

Tom teaches 9th grade World Studies, and is on sabbatical (his blog) to explore Hinduism, Buddhism, ESL teaching, and human rights in SE Asia. We are worldschooling/homeschooling our kids, and making sweet music wherever we go. We started in Bali, and plan to journey through Thailand with possible trips to Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, who knows?  This is our first world traveling journey as a family – hopefully not the last.

Why are we doing this? (As if we need a reason)


Arrival after 30 hours of travel

To Escape – We are getting away from our over-scheduled, overstimulated, urban-American lifestyle.   A break from school, work, lessons, meetings, events, housework, and people (you know we love you!). We are escaping the stresses that clouded and weighed-down our daily lives. It had become clear that we weren’t our happiest selves, that the kids were growing up too quickly, that we needed to change our path and pace.  So we left what we knew – to see life elsewhere – to get a grip.   Maybe you can relate?



Hiking the ricefields

To Explore – We are discovering a corner of the world together that is foreign and exotic in many ways: culture, language, religion, climate, landscape, food, wildlife, people (the people are the best part). Everything we do is an exploration of something new, from the sighting of a weird bug on the wall to trying to communicate with a cab driver. Each experience is informed by the 4 year old and the 42 year old’s perspectives. We’re not only exploring new lands, we’re also exploring parenthood, our marriage, ourselves.  Imagine having time for that.



Resttime on the lumbung

To Exhale – We are living fully and breathing deeply. We are, dare I say, relaxed most of the time. We don’t think much about what’s already happened or what’s happening next. Our plans are flexible, and our schedule is clear – for months and months. It usually takes us a minute to figure out what day it is. When we’re hungry, it’s time to eat. When the sun goes down, it’s time to sleep. When we’re bored, it’s time to travel onward. When we’re cranky, it’s time to slow down (and eat ice cream). We’re in a part of the world where meditation is practiced and massages are plentiful.

Taking this trip was not a small decision,

but it was an easy one.

Melissa’s Disclosures:

  1. I’ve often thought personal blogs were self-indulgent and narcissistic.  I guess I’m coming around on that.
  2. IMG_1848I’m the head honcho of this blog.
  3. I’m an over-sharer.
  4. I’m secretly (oops) scheming-up ways to continue traveling the world with my kids in the future.

A request:  We’d love to read your comments and answer your questions! Since many of you know us personally, we ask that when you comment you use the kids’ blog names: Big-sis, Bro, Lil-sis.  Until they’re old enough to decide whether or not to publicize their names, we’d like to maintain their privacy.  Thank you!!!

“We ran as if to meet the moon” – Robert Frost

35 thoughts on “About

      1. So there are these fun things called widgets…I’m learning! Anyway, I added one at the bottom of each page where you can sign up to get emails whenever I add a post. That’s how yo subscribe.


  1. I can’t begin to imagine how amazing this experience must be. Being a techie, I must ask the following questions: Were you able to replace your wet iPhones? Do you have WiFi for writing this blog and posting on Facebook?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Gary, we’re going to see if our iphones can be revived now that we’re in Bangkok, but we’re not optimistic, and we’ll probably buy new ones here. We tried putting the phones in a bag of white rice, but that didn’t work (duh). We often do have wifi, although sometimes it’s really slow. WE can only do blog and Facebook when we have wifi.


  2. There are no words to express the pride, love, passion and determination it must have taken to slow down… I’m not sure if is your influences, heritage or generation that creates 5 individuals as wonderfully gifted, loving, open-minded and lucky however you are seeking the moon. Hope this is just the beginning. Love you!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. It’s been so exciting and inspiring to read your posts and watch your family go on this journey. As we sit in our over-scheduled, over-stressed world, know that we are living vicariously through you. Your kids will cherish these memories for a lifetime, as will you and Tom. Thank you for sharing this with everyone and we will continue to have fun watching you enjoy the adventure of a lifetime!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Bridget, One of the really nice aspects of sharing the trip via blog and Facebook is being able to connect this experience with people from my past. Thanks for following along! When I wrote about what I’ve experienced in education on the School Schmool page, I was sooo thinking of all my “old” SRS friends, and wondering what my perspective would be if I’d kept teaching all these years.


  4. How amazing are the Churches!!! Miss you all tons and please do some deep breathing for me. I go back to school in 10 days!!! The trip looks unbelievable and I know you are having the time of you lives. See you soon.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Emily! You’re pretty amazing yourself. Meredith will be thrilled to get you back, but I’m sure it’ll be an adjustment..one day at a time. Bro has been doing lots of creative writing – you’d get a kick out of his stories.


      1. Mrs. Lieber! I basically get all of my stories from when you taught me when I learned all the words with you, and I imagine them and write them. You’re the best teacher in the whole world. – Bro


  5. Sounds as if you are embracing both the joys and challenges of “single-tasking”. Teaching the bro and sis’s the discipline of stopping to breath is likely the most important lesson of all. There are so many messages urging us all to ” hurry up and get it done” and so few inviting us to ” just be”. I miss you all greatly but then again greatly admire your willingness to pick the tune you choose to dance to.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Rabbi Lauren, There have been so many times when I learned something about Hinduism in Bali and it made me reflect on Judaism, and I thought to myself, “I wonder what Rabbi Lauren would think/say right now….”


  6. Your family’s journey reminds me of the song “Since You’ve Asked” by Judy Collins. Its been in my mind, playing in the background on and off, for several days:

    What I’ll give you since you’ve asked
    Is all my time together
    Take the rugged sunny days
    The warm and rocky weather
    Take the roads that I have walked along
    Looking for tomorrow’s time, peace of mind

    Liked by 1 person

  7. You have a new fan. Love love love this. I’ve traveled the world and have been trying to figure out how to do exactly what you’re doing with my 4 children. I believe there is no better experience or way to educate. I would love to pick your brain. Continued success to the fam on your journey!


    1. Thank you! I’ll look forward to following your adventures, as well. Of the three things we intended the trip to be, to explore, escape and exhale, I’d say escaping and exploring were achieved more than exhaling, though we did relax as much as we could. Our curiosity took over and had us moving around more than we had originally planned. Escaping our own culture and experiencing new ones was amazing for our family, and gives us much to bring home with us.


  8. Hi Missy!!! Been thinking of you guys. Are you back home? It is so fantastic that you actually did this! Let me know how you are…


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