We Bought a Giant Bear

by FiveofHearts



As a young fashionista it is hard for me to find people willing to let me make outfits for them and dress them up. Until today. Costco happens to sell human sized bears for only thirty dollars. So after putting one in the cart a couple times we finally broke down and got one. We decided to name it Bruno.

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But before we bought Bruno we took into account his size. We figured that he was so big he could fit in human sized clothes. Then today on our way to Costco to by Bruno we made a quick stop at the thrift store. I helped Mom pick out five outfits for him:

  • A sports jersey for watching the Olympics and other sporting events.
  • A pair of boxer-shorts with polar bears on them for pajamas.
  • A business outfit complete vest, undershirt, tie, and hat.
  • A casual sweater vest for around the house.
  • And a green fleece vest for outdoor excursions.

As soon as we got home I rushed to put Bruno’s new clothes on him. After a little bit of a struggle we tried all the outfits on him. They all fit and I took a picture of him in every single one (which you can see above). As much as I was happy to have Bruno to play with, I was also happy because I finally had someone who never got tired of me dressing them up. I can’t wait till next time we go to the thrift store so I can pick out more outfits for Bruno!




Olympic Offset

Along with an estimated 3 billion people worldwide, we’re tuning into the Opening Ceremony of the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. As with previous Olympics, we have our reservations knowing the billions of dollars flowing into the host city do very little to benefit the people who actually live there. In Rio 77,206 people were displaced to make way for the roads, venues, and public transportation lines that the athletes and tourists will use over the 16 days of festivities.Real Rio Cost

We decided that since we would be watching, Rio would be the focus of our monthly Philanthropy on the Fifth. After some research on charities that make a difference in Rio, we were thoroughly impressed with the BrazilFoundation. Not only does it earn an amazing score of 96.46 from Charity Navigator (the highest we found for any charity with a focus on Brazil), but also donors can choose from a wide variety of projects that are part of their Team Rio campaign that aims “to help create a positive social legacy for the city.”


We hope you’ll join us in choosing from one of the 35 projects helping those in the shadows of the Olympics have a better life once the world stops watching.

The Force Awakens in Victoria


With the excitement of our three December birthdays behind us, we thought the time was right to see Star Wars: The Force Awakens. We made the trip to Victoria to see the movie on the only IMAX 3D theater on the island; thanks to Nana Five who sent us some holiday funds earmarked just for Star Wars!

While not as family-friendly as the other Star Wars films, we definitely had a memorable time feeling like we were right in the middle of the action. Five String prepared a Star Wars inspired mix for the car ride, and we found it got us in a Star Wars frame of mind while driving down. We hope you enjoy it as well either before or after (but probably not during) your own viewing of The Force Awakens 🙂

Banner Years

It’s that time of year again when we update our web site header, which sadly happens about as often as we update our Daily Snapshot on the home page. Instead of merely letting the old header slip away into digital oblivion, we thought we’d take the chance to look back at banners past and tell a little of their stories.

With each header, we try to show in pictures our family motto, “Living, loving, and learning on the fly” from the year to date. The first picture shows something about where or how we’ve lived, the middle is always a family picture, and the final picture offers a glimpse of what homeschooling on the road looks like.


We’ve covered a lot of ground this past year, journeying from Croatia to Germany on our roundabout Train Odyssey that took us through 13 countries in 15 days. The picture on the right of the header is from the Parthenon in Athens, Greece, a windy day indeed. The picture on the left shows our rental in Wyoming upon returning the the US. Though spring came unusually early to Star Valley this year, there were a few small storms that provided enough snow for us to make some smaller creations, just the size for the neighbor’s dog, Captain, to perch upon. The middle picture is from this past June in King’s Canyon National Park in California, where we spent a few days camping among the giant sequoia trees.

In 2014 we spent quite a bit of time south of the border in Mexico. The first picture is from Bahia Concepcion, just south of Mulege in Baja California Sur. We got our fair share of Vitamin D playing on the warm sand beaches and splashing in the water, and when we needed a break from the sun the palm-leaf palapas were just steps away. The right-hand picture is from our time in Chiapas, exploring Palenque and the many fascinating local flora and bromeliads. Finally, our family picture was taken from our back patio in Merida in the Yucatan Peninsula.

This was the year of exploring our neighbor to the north, Canada. The right picture is from the Fortress of Louisbourg in Nova Scotia. Having just returned to the mainland (more or less) from Newfoundland, we were practically living in our rain gear. Louisbourg was having an Archaeology Week when we visited, so we had a chance to get our hands dirty and learn about the process of uncovering, identifying, and preserving artifacts. The middle picture is from Prince Edward Island, where we spent the summer in Stanhope and biked to the red sand beaches every day. The left picture, truth be told, was a hold out from our previous banner.

In 2012 we sold our house in Maine and embarked on our first big adventure, driving the length of U.S. Route 1 from Fort Kent, Maine to Key West, Florida. We camped almost every night of our 2.5 month trip, which gave us many snapshots of “Living on the fly” to choose from. The one that won out was our awesome site right on the lake at Cheraw State Park in South Carolina. Some parts of the route had very few camping options, so that is how we ended up at the Jupiter Beach Resort in Florida and had occasion to get cleaned up and dressed up for a family photo. The final picture is in front of a chunk of coral at Biscayne National Park. Learning about the plight of coral reefs and humans’ impact on them was eye-opening to say the least.

And finally, the header that started it all….
We created this in May of 2012, before we officially hit the road. From Maine to mangroves, we knew we were in for an adventure. However, we couldn’t have possibly dreamed or hoped that after 3 years, the adventure would still be going strong 🙂

Train Odyssey Day 6: Best of Bulgaria

Five String was really excited to visit Bulgaria. He spent a month in college studying in Russia and was excited to return to a country where they use Cyrillic script. Unfortunately due to the crazy pace of this trip we knew that we wouldn’t have a huge amount of time to explore the country. Due to the frequency of trains running from Greece to Bulgaria we ended up with just 17 hours in which to explore Sophia, the country’s capitol city.


Getting through the ice and snow to our hotel was no small feat, but Five of Hearts is a real trooper when it comes to pulling her own bag.

Our first stop was Hotel Favorit, which ended up being a gem of a hotel. The hotel is super close to the train station, and the amenities were fabulous. The room even had a bathtub, which is a rarity in Europe. Once inside the room the kids didn’t want to leave and we had a hard time getting them back out the door to venture into the city.


After a very long train ride from Greece we were ready for a sit-down meal and headed to Restaurant & BBQ Niagara. We had not idea if we would be able to find any vegan options, but the restaurant had a wonderful atmosphere and great reviews, so we decided to give it a try. The gamble ended up paying off and we had a great meal thanks to the top notch staff. They really made us feel welcome and even though they couldn’t understand why we would order a pizza without cheese the chef prepared one of the most amazing vegetable pizzas that we have ever tasted. It had pickles on it, which we never would have thought of, but was amazingly delicious.


Who knew that pickles on pizza tasted so good?

Who knew that pickles on pizza tasted so good?

From there were braved the cold winds and icy sidewalks to enjoy a quick walking tour of Sophia’s landmarks. In a short loop we viewed an Eastern Orthodox Church, a Mosque, and a Synagogue. Each building had wonderful architecture and the kids had fun picking out the different religious symbols.

Sofia Synagogue

Sofia Synagogue

Banya Bashi Mosque

Banya Bashi Mosque

While we were all anxious to return to our hotel and get out of the freezing temperatures, it was hard not to keep walking around Sophia admiring the lovely city. This is one city that is definitely at the top of our “To Return To” list, but next time during a warmer time of year.