Hello All – sorry I’m not sure if I have all of your emails, so I have posted some book possibilities here instead:



by Louisa Hall  

336 pgs, Audiobook:8hrs 17 mins



Likely biting off too much, but I’ve wanted to read this while living here:

The Source 

1104 pgs,  Audiobook: 54hrs 33 mins


So, I happen to be a BIG non-fiction reader and included a couple possibilities there.  I apologize for my obvious bias toward heavier, more serious subjects, so we definitely need your input to find something everyone will like!

Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City 

by Matthew Desmond   

418 pgs, Audiobook: 11hrs 10 mins



Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind

443 pgs, Audiobook: 15hrs, 18 mins

Vitamin N

304 pgs, audiobook: 7 hrs, 46 mins


Ghettoside: A True Story of Murder in America

326 pgs, audiobook: 13hrs, 28 mins
Truly wonderful – can’t recommend it highly enough:

Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea

More in the Israel Vein – These 2 are the best Israel books I’ve read), along with “The Israel Lobby”, but I figure that’s not really up a book club’s alley) :-)

The Prime Ministers: An Intimate Narrative of Israeli Leadership

731 pgs, 24 hrs, 20 mins

My Promised Land: The Triumph and Tragedy of Israel

by Ari Shavit

464 pgs, audiobook: 20 hrs 45 mins

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It was so great to go back to London, this time with the family.  I’ve  missed it since I was there by myself over 10 years ago.  I love that we have been Marriott Point hoarders for many years (we had >200,000), so that trips like this are possible.  Dan had a meeting up there again for work, so it was exciting for Ryu & I to come along.  Last time he came, he was unable to spend time really seeing the city, so we went to the places he chose and had a great time together.  We’ve already posted some photos on Facebook, but a list of places visited and a few more photos are below:

  • Westminster Abbey
  • St Paul’s Cathedral 
  • British Museum
  • The National Gallery (Dan & Ryu), which Hannah spent a BUNCH of time at St. Martin in the Fields making brass rubbings (I’m SO excited about these!)
  • Concert that night at St. Martin in the Fields
  • Tower of London
  • Imperial War Museum
  • Churchill War Rooms
  • Shakespeare’s Globe
  • 2nd National Gallery trip (for Mummy & Ryu)
  • Abbey Road recording studios
  • 221b Baker Street – Sherlock Holmes’ house
  • Victoria and Albert Museum
  • Other random stuff:  National Theatre, Shopped on Oxford Street, Ryu & I rode London double-decker buses for one day (his personal favorite), Tower Bridge, HMS Belfast (didn’t go inside – we’ve seen enough ships!), Bomber Command Memorial (while looking for something else), St. James’s Park, Hyde Park, Houses of Parliament & Big Ben, Westminster Cathedral, and a lot of amazing food along the way.  :-)

It was a great trip!  

When Ryu & I got there (separate flight from Daddy and to a different airport), we had to do some walking from Victoria Station to our hotel.  The first photo we took was on this walk after the long flight and front of a very unique church.  Come to find out later, this was the Westminster Cathedral (I had no idea!)  Since the Westminster Abbey is the more famous one, I hadn’t seen this before:

Our confused wandering upon arrival brought us past the Westminster Cathedral (should have gone inside – I LOVE seeing old churches!)


Our hotel ended up being right down the street from Westminster Cathedral, which was an awesome location.  When I’d visited London previously, I visited but didn’t pay to enter either Westminster or St. Paul’s Cathedral.  This time we did – they were wonderful.  I absolutely loved Westminster’s Poet’s Corner, and the Whispering Room at St. Paul’s.  We weren’t able to take photos in either church, so no photos to share.  It was amazing to walk where ALL coronations have taken place since William the Conqueror in 1066, see the tomb of Edward the Longshanks, see where Oliver Cromwell USED-to be buried – before the people flew in there quickly after his death, dug him up, then hung his dead body, then decapitated him and stuck his head on a post on the Tower Bridge.  As with most passionate historical accounts involving those of rank, there is considerable doubt about the details, especially about whether this specific body was actually Cromwell…

Anyway – It was wonderful to see memorials or the actual graves of so many literary & other greats, (be still my fast beating heart!) including Geoffrey Chaucer, C.S Lewis, Lord Byron, Charles Dickens, T.S. Eliot, John Keats, Rudyard Kipling, Henry James, John Milton, D.H Lawrence, William Shakespeare, Christopher Marlowe, George Frederick Handel, Sir Walter Scott, Alfred Lord Tennyson, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Lewis Carroll, William Wordsworth, Henry Percell and Oscar Wilde, (and definitely NOT the least in this male-dominated place of recognition!) memorials to Jane Austen, all three Bronte Sisters, George Eliot, (annoyingly Mary Shelley is not there but her husband is…but anyway)  Scientific giants including Sir Isaac Newton and Charles Darwin are also interred there.  It just warmed my soul to walk in the same area as these who have altered humanity’s outlook.  Amazing.  

We then went out to see the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben a bit closer up: (and yes, these ads for the Book of Mormon Musical were EVERYWHERE!)

We HAD to document that we love Mormon(s)! :-)


We didn’t really get any good photos of us in front of Parliament, :-(  This bedraggled shot is the best we got:


Mummy and Ryu in front of Parliament in the shot that probably shouldn’t have been (had been up since 2am or something flying…)


Next we headed to St. Paul – the cathedrals and other churches have early opening hours, so they were easier to fit in during the mornings.  Dan and Ryu getting some hot chocolate before going in to explore St Paul’s (right behind them):

Daddy & Ryu getting hot chocolate and eating pastries across the street from St. Paul’s Cathedral


St Paul’s was great – I had no idea that they had all the incredible mosaic work on the ceilings in there – I previously assumed the whole building was Baroque, without any additional decoration.  They were truly sunning, even after those we regularly see in the Holy Land.  We were unable to take any photos inside, but this is a photo of part of the ceiling between the 2 sides of the Organ that I found online.  You can also see the paintings on the ceiling of the Life of St Paul on the left – if you look below these paintings, you’ll see people up inside the dome – this is the Whispering gallery, there you can whisper against the wall and everyone with their ears along the wall will be able to hear.  That was pretty neat to experience (reminds me of that room in Washington DC, right?):

Some of the many incredible Mosaics at St Paul’s Cathedral, London – truly stunning.


We then moved on to what I think is one of the best museums in the world – the British Museum.  They have a HUGE collection of artifacts that were stolen during colonialism, including their very impressive Egyptian and Assyrian collections.  They have the Rosetta stone, as well as large parts of Greek ruins as well.  Ryu is interested in mummies and pyramids right now, so seeing the mummies here was right up his alley.  He also saw cuneiform, hieroglyphics, decorations from Mastaba tombs, and plenty of carvings & sculpture from various ancient world societies that go right along with our current home school work.  We got only 1 or 2 pictures at the British Museum (too many incredible things to see!)  Ryu fell asleep on me for a great portion of the time – here we are seeing Greek Ruins that had been lifted and reconstructed:

Sleepy Ryu has been tired out by all the Greek Ruins at the British Museum


I think I’ll  have to come back to post more in the future…(apparently Ryu is into this eating dinner thing), so I should go do that. It was a wonderful trip.  We’re not sure when we’ll be able to take a trip like this again in the immediate future since we’ll have suddenly have two more toddlers with us.  It was good to do this before we bring them home.  Hope we get to explore more of Europe with them too – (it’s SO close and SO comparatively cheap for us to do while living in Israel!), but we’ll see.

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As I grew up in the US’s northeast, surrounded by woods, mountains, lakes, rivers and streams, a bit part of my life was hiking trips, camping and long-term canoe trips through the Adirondacks, Appalachians and Catskills and elsewhere.  I also recently (re-) finished reading Bill Bryson’s “A Walk in the Woods”.  It is such a wonderful pick me up book for me.  I’ve probably read it at least 6 times.  I just keep coming back to it since I first found it languishing on a “Free Books” shelf at a library in Korea.  I love it – it always feels like coming home in a life that has taken such unexpected turns toward places that look entirely different than the Northeast.  

That’s why I picked up the trail manual “Hiking the Jesus Trail” a while back while touring in Jerusalem.  I was SO excited to do this – it breaks down different hikes around Galilee into VERY manageable segments (since I’d be likely doing them myself with a 4 year old), as well as names lots of sites around each area, goes through some of the history in each place, and seems to have great pictures and maps.  

The Trail itself runs from Nazareth to Capernaum (Kfar Nehum) on the Galilee and is only abut 62 km.  It has some great views and runs through various ruins, hitting some of the towns that are mentioned in the life of Jesus, including Nazareth, Cana (site of the first miracle of turning water–>wine), old Roman roads that crisscross the area, Mt Arbel, Magdala (hometown for Mary of Magdalene – see the town name in her name), Ginosar (Gennesaret in the Bible), Tabgha (Church of the Multiplication of the Loaves and the Fishes), and finally Capernaum (Christ’s adopted hometown where he performed many miracles, including healing the Centurion’s servant, healing of a paralytic, and the driving out of a demon).  These events can be found in Matthew 8:5-13, Mark 2:1-12 & Mark 1:21-26)  Christ also regularly preached in the synagogue there, (Mark 1:21), and today there are the ruins of a second synagogue built upon the ruins of the one Christ taught in.  

This book is the Sunday plan when Daddy is working and can’t go on an “adventure” with us.  This last week and this week he’s had a big visitor here, so we haven’t really seen him, so this book filled out a day perfectly.  

If I were hiking this on my own or only with adults, I could probably plan on doing 2-3 segments a day, but starting a bit later with a 4 year old meant that I planned on doing 1 segment, POSSIBLY 2.  We decided to stick with 1 just since we planned to get a cab back to our car after walking it and wanted to see how that went and figured getting a cab to come to Zippori would be easier than trying to explain what random street we were on in Cana (the end of the 2nd segment).  Come to find out, I’m glad we only did one segment.  

I’ll include a few photos and videos below so you can see a bit of the trail that we covered.

A couple memorable moments:

  • A (very) big sweet Arab Christian guy who saw us come in and stand in the back of the packed Basilica of the Annunciation during Mass.  I explained to Ryu how the members here take the Sacrament, how they call it communion and a couple other things, we watched a bit and then left.  He followed us outside and did his best to explain in Arabic that we were welcome to come in and set in his seat.  He was so sweet about it – it actually didn’t seem inappropriate or weird at all.
  • Got lost twice – needed to walk down the side of a fairly busy road with minimal shoulder and no gutter in some places.  I was grateful for that gutter as long as we had it.  
  • Bunch of Arab guys riding their horses all over the agricultural land surrounding Zippori that we were hiking through.  They would stop here and there and chat with us, but again, amazingly it wasn’t inappropriate.  They looked like their were on their way to various picnics in the fields.  There were tons of families out there enjoying the amazing weather and time together.  
  • Took our taxi literally an HOUR to get to us after our hike and bring us back to the starting point.  Ride back – 6 minutes.  It always amazes me how quickly cars can cover ground after spending a significant amount of time walking or running.   Got a sunburn waiting for the guy, though.  And he made us pay the white-person tax or whatever you want to call it.  Fine.  Just get me to my car.  Thank you for FINALLY showing up.  

Overall, it was a great trip and Ryu was an awesome hiker – he probably walked for at least 25% of the 8.5+ miles and had an awesome attitude as always.  At one point while we were waiting for our truant taxi driver, I said “This is frustrating – it feels frustrating to wait this long for a car to show up.  I feel a little angry about it.”  He says:  “Yeah, well, ummmm…I love that it is nice outside today!”  Then he said, “I like being here with you – you know, this is a good time to talk.  Let’s talk about cars.”  lol!  Cuddle bear.  He just can’t possibly get enough hugs.  

See some of the selfie videos we took below – I’m looking forward to segment 2!  Glad that the second segment seems to be more in the open instead of in the city – we’ll see.  

Ryu loves chasing the birds that are always in a square just down the street from the Basilica of the Annunciation:

We stopped to chat a bit on video before we found the 406 steps – we were totally lost and I had given up using the map at that point.  I just began walking in the direction that felt correct and then we found where we needed to be really quick.  

Done with the steps but still not to the top of the huge hill!

Next 2 videos show the Muslim call to prayer, which was quickly followed by the Christian churches ringing their bells.  The religious groups get along pretty well here, but it always is a bit funny to hear the quick succession of religious institutions calloing at





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We are so excited to go to Beit She’an as our first trip on Thursday, February 23!  


My bias is always to leave as early as possible – 9 or earlier would be best.

It’s about a 2 hour drive to get there from Hertzliya (Google says 1:50), then we’ll spend 2-4 hours at the site, hopefully we can find a good restaurant for about an hour, then a 2 hour drive back.  The biggest thing I need to know with planning is when people need to be at home to put kids on the bus and when they need to be back to take kids off the bus!  

I’ll plan on driving – we’ll set a time and you can either come to my house or we can pick you up on the way if you’re in Even Yehuda that morning.  :-)


2 Minute Historical Overview:

Beit She’an has been inhabited by various groups pretty much continuously since the Copper age (~5000-4000 BC-ish).  The Egyptians used it as a power headquarters when they controlled Israel, the Canaanites used it, the Philistines used it (mentioned in the Bible as where King Saul and his sons were hung from the city walls), the Israelites used it, the Assyrians burnt it to the ground, then the Scythians used it, then the Israelites got it back at some point, then the Romans stole it and used it as their Provincial Headquarters when they ran the show, and you can see what each civilization has left.  There was also a major earthquake around 800 AD, so you’ll see a lot of the pillars laying, but mostly all pointing exactly the same way.  All the following conquering groups used it as well (Crusaders, Mamelukes, Ottomans, British, then Israelis again,but I’m sure I’m missing other groups!).  

Anyway, it’s a nice area with a lot of water (relatively), so everyone wanted it as a power base to either rule from or launch military operations out of.  It has a huge Tel (settlement mound) that we can climb up if you’d like to see a great view.  Most of the remaining ruins are Roman, including a Theatre, the Cardo, tiled floors, and tons of larger columns. 

Beit She’an Info here:

The Israeli National Parks Beit She’an page

Tourist Israel Beit She’an Page

Bible Walks Beit She’an Page

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TLV Travel Group!

by Hannah

Some of the ladies I know here in Tel Aviv want to begin traveling around the country on a more regular basis to see the sites and experience Israel.  We’re thinking we’ll plan 2 days/month, during the week and plan to go out.  Below I’ll put some of the places we’re considering going to and some info about each so we can better make our plans:

Rosh Shanikrah  -up north near Lebanon 

Tiberias hot springs – on the Sea of Galilee

Beit She’an – I’ve been before  – it near the Jordanian border and is the ruins of a city that is quasi-comparable to Cesarea. This would be a good trip to combine with Gan haShlosha, which is right next door
We’re planning to do Beit She’an on  Thursday, Feb 23 – I’ll add a separate post to show the planning.  :-)
Gan haShlosha – National Park near the border of Jordan, has natural hot springs and supposedly it is very fun to bring kids so they can swim.  :-)
Mt Hermon – some of you ladies have been here, but I haven’t yet!  I’d love to go see it.  
Nimrod’s Fortress  (my family is planning to visit next week, so we’ll let you know how it is!) – on a mountain very close to the borders of Lebanon and Syria – the largest ruins of a crusader castle in the country, but it was a castle/fort long before they got here.  
Bethany – site of the of raising Lazaru – I’ never been able to find this, but would love to see it!
Yardenit – this is the baptism site on the south edge of the Sea of Galilee  – likely not where Christ was baptized, but I hear it’s fun to visit (maybe as an add-on to somewhere else?
Artist village (Joann has the details on this!)
Jerusalem market – Joann has the details on this!  
Israel museum – this is awesome and basically a whole day right there.  :-)
Yad vaShem – awesome and probably a whole day
The Convent where the Nuns make that amazing Pottery – anyone know how to get here!?  I’d LOVE to go!
The Baptism site (near Jericho) – I’ve been before and LOVE this.  :-)
Let me know what you’re interested in and we’ll do our best to make it work!  :-)

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#Add1Challenge 22 – Learning Mandarin in 90 Days Day 0 Video

I feel much more optimistic about  this challenge – I remember much more Mandarin than I expected I would and I still love the language – it is so different from the others I have studied in the past.  The #Add1Challenge itself is a great thing and a wonderful support for someone learning a language […]

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#Add1Challenge 22 – Learning Mandarin in 90 Days Application video

I have again begun an Add 1 Challenge ( my 3rd!!) after DNF’ing on 2 previous challenges due to major family obligations: The 1st time, was showing people around the Holy Land for essentially 13 weeks straight while completing all the Chinese adoption paperwork – (it was just too much!) The 2nd time I was […]

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LDS Primary 2017 Music in Mandarin Chinese!

Last year we spent a lot of time helping Ryu to learn all the Primary songs in both English and Spanish.  This year, now that we are planning to bring two more little boys into our home from China, we will be adding Mandarin to the mix.  I’v been working on Mandarin for about 6 […]

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#Add1Challenge 18 Day 8: Learning Mandarin in 90 Days

OK – this is the first of what I hope will be weekly videos updating / documenting to the wide world (or likely just myself) on my progress in learning Mandarin. Since I began learning Mandarin, I am THRILLED!  It feels different than any other language I’ve ever worked on.  I can’t explain how happy […]

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Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day

I have gotten really into trying different versions of the “Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day” trend.  I don’t own the book (think it might be worth buying!), but I have been pretty impressed with the recipes I’ve tried.  Initially I got drawn into making the bread because I needed fodder to test our […]

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First Jerusalem Trip!

I had a hard time waiting – I HAD to get to Jerusalem and see all the big sites right away.  I waited as long as I could – 3 or 4 weeks, and then we finally went.  Looking back at these photos makes me so glad we live here and that I can come […]

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Ryu’s Awesome Attitude in our New Israel House

The whole time we waited in our new house in Israel, Ryu was SO positive and had such a great attitude about having (essentially) no toys in the house.  He was so creative with what we did have and you can see in the photos below that he was making every possible object in his […]

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New House in Israel

We love our house here in Israel! We were so thrilled when we first got the info about our new house in Hertzliya! We got a PDF prior to arriving in country that showed photos of the house and the floor plan. We got it while Janae, Tyler and I were visiting Grandma Miller in […]

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Ryu on the Beach

Before Dan had to leave to go to Korea for a month, we had a fun Saturday together – we started out by going to the beach.  Ryu actually seemed to really like “swimming” in the East China Sea.  He was also quite interested in playing with/eating the sand.  We got a few cute photos […]

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Ryu’s First Pool Day

We decided to go to the Pool on Foster one day that Daddy was with us  – Ryu was unsure for only a few minutes, then definitely began liking it.  Too bad the camera ran out of battery very soon after we arrived – at least we got a few photos:

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