Thursday, December 27, 2012

Book review from an International reader

Thank you Lubna for taking your time to review our story, and for your readers' encouraging comments.  And I was grateful for the opportunity to pass forward two copies of our book for your school project in India.  For a former teacher, any chance to encourage reading in youth is a rewarding action, indeed.

The Bookworm Review:

To get our full story, you can either download the six novellas on

Or it is now available internationally on Amazon as a complete set:

When writing, an author puts her soul on paper, open for the world to read.  It is even a greater risk when the subject is not fiction, but her own family who is exposed.  I suppose that is why there is no biography in our story.  It was my hope you would learn to understand the characters though the five months of spending time together as we explored the world in our journal.  Plus, how do you sum up those you love in a few introductory paragraphs?  It is something I continue to struggle with each time I am asked to write a biography.

We are not defined by what we do, or what has happened to us in the past.

We are, I suppose, a hard-working, determined, active living family.  We are blessed to have a lot of opportunity, and the drive to capitalize on it.  We are Western Canadian, and I guess following in that stereotype, we say please and thank you a lot, we drive pickup trucks, can tolerate really cold weather (though we do not like it) and we are self-sufficient and resourceful.  We like both country and rock music and strong-minded, intelligent conversations.  And though we can plan ahead, we are spontaneous, quick thinking and decisive.  We like to have fun, and love to laugh.  And can find humour in the worst of situations... that came in handy on our trip.

Are we rich?  I think everyone is rich if he is counting the right things.  Travel can be done in many ways, and not all of them are expensive.  It costs very little to go camping in the woods.  Hiking is free.  And groceries cost the same (or even less) in any place you may eat, including home.  Did our trip require an investment? Yes.  And a series of choices.  Everything is a trade-off.  It required sacrificing one set of things for another.

Mostly, it required the courage to change our priorities.  And to put time spent with our children first.  Everyone has the same 24 hours in every day.  It is a matter of choosing how you will spend them.  And everyone makes that choice each day.

Time is our most precious resource.  Thank you for spending yours reading our story, and taking the time to encourage others to do the same.  I wish every family could share the world with their kids, like we did with ours, and yet realize that is not always possible.

That is why I wrote the book:  to encourage, to entertain, to educate, and to share the world with you, and yours.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Heartfelt letter from a non-Reader

I opened my email this morning, and received the best present any (new) author might wish for.  Truly, I have read this letter several times, and each time my heart sings anew.

Thank you Pat for taking the time to write to me... I am thrilled you enjoyed our story, and the teacher in me rejoices that I could share with you the world in a book :) You truly made all the (blood, sweat, tears) months of work, worthwhile.  You reminded me why I had to write, and why I shouldn't stop.   Thank you for being my inspiration.  Cheers!  Lisa xox

Good Morning Lisa,

Pat here.

I have just spent the last two weeks with your beautiful mother and I have to say it has been an amazing time getting to know your mother and learning more about each of her two children whom she loves tremendously.  When we were talking about the vacation, I was wondering what in the world I would do for two whole weeks away with doing not much than R&R.  Most people that go away especially women tend to bring a couple of books and read, relax and enjoy quiet time.  Well I would not be one of those women, you see at the age of 56 I have yet to read a book from front to back, as I hated reading in school and was not encouraged when growing up.  Reading to your children is so important when they are young; this gives them a basis of enjoying books and wanting to read more.  

With books you can go anywhere in the world you want.  What a gift any author can pass on to the very young and old.

Well, your aunt Denise had her copy of your book at the Villa we stayed at.  So I thought what the heck I will give it a try and see if it would keep me interested enough to at least read a couple of chapters.

Well my dear Lisa, I have to thank you for taking me around the world in eight days on such an adventure. It is beyond my wildest dreams that I would be so fortunate to complete reading a book of 454 pages in one week.  Your writing is amazing, as it is very very easy to read, and while reading your story I laughed, was scared for you and your family, as well as was speechless at some of your adventures.  

There was a lot of teasing by your uncle as the book went everywhere except to dinner with me.  This is something that is new to me and something that I felt would truly never happen in my life. I did not like reading in school as I was a slow reader and could not complete some exams because of my reading so slow.  That became a thorn in my side and I just left it at that.

Your book has given me a reason to continue to find books like yours that has taken me on adventures that I could imagine in my mind.  The colors were so vivid to me while reading, it was almost like a movie in my mind.  I could not put the book down, as I could hardly wait to see what was going to happen next.  Your writing is so clear and helped me to visualize so much of the world that I will probably never see, other than through the words in your book.

Your children are so very fortunate to have parents that put their day to day lives on hold so that the family could really get a chance to know each other on such an intimate level that would have never happened at home with everyone being so busy.

Lisa my dear, your book has inspired me at 56 years old to start to read books, a whole new world has been opened to me just waiting for me to experience journeys that only one can imagine while reading a book.  How my life would have been enriched if I would have been fortunate enough to have had a teacher like yourself while attending my first years of school.  You have a gift for writing, I hope you continue to write and open up the world of reading to lots of others that are just like I was before reading a book cover to cover.

Mom! There's a Lion in the Toilet, has opened a door for me that I have never opened. Now I don't want to close it. I am beyond grateful for your book and your decision to write it.  WOW I had such an adventure, all because of going on holidays with your mom.

Again, thank you and take care. I am using your mothers Facebook because I don't have one.  Too much confusion for me. LOL

Pat Racine

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Travel Tips - Educating Kids through Travel

Our kids were thrilled this week to find themselves on the front cover of the Edmonton Journal, our largest newspaper in our local city.

Chris Zdeb spoke to us about the impact of long term family travel, and how leaving our traditional school setting for extended travel may have hurt our children's education.  It seems some people hold the belief that the only place learning can happen is within the walls of a classroom.

Thank goodness our school district disagreed.

Deciding to take our children on a trip around the world was a personal decision.  It came from a deep realization that life was worth living, now.  We worked, and had worked hard, for many years.  And though we had built a great "normal" life, we were not completely satisfied.  It seemed that life was passing us by.  I love the quote "we travel not to escape our life, but so that our life does not escape us."  That pretty much summed it up.

Our schools, thankfully, understood.  Yes, it did help that as a trained teacher, I was able to assure the administration that the five months away would not be a big "waste of time."  But truly, I didn't need an education degree to be able to teach our children about the world.  I believe strongly that life is about learning.
Every day, we should learn at least one new thing.
Seek out knowledge.



It is our philosophy of life.

The knowledge our children gained may or may not have matched the specific curriculum of each of their grades in our specific region of the world.  But they learned about culture, history, geography and life in a way that was relevant and meaningful.  And not to mention, fun.

And most importantly, they learned how to learn, which for us was the most important lesson of all.

Try these Family Travel Tips to make your next vacation a learning one:

1. Choose a new destination.  If you love to travel, you can share that love with your children.  It doesn't have to be only "kid places" like Disney.  Choose activities you love, and pick a new place to try.

2. Do something new.  Pick an activity your family hasn't done before, and learn it together.

3. Don't overpack.  Kids don't need to have everything from home. Laundry is done everywhere, and you are their favorite toy.

4. Hire a local guide.  Often the cab driver or waiter would love to share his city, or take you to her family's favourite museum or surf beach.  Don't be afraid to ask to discover the best local "haunts".

5. Let the kids help with the planning.  Older children can have great ideas, and will often enjoy the trip more if they are given some control.  You will share in their interests, and they just might surprise you!

And my favourite place for recommendations:  TripAdvisor.  Just search for the "Top 10 things to do with families" in your destination, and let the ideas inspire you!

Happy Travels!  6 Andersons 1 World

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Read in Week classroom visits

"Was there really a lion in the toilet?" asked a sweet little first grader at the fifth school we visited during Read In Week in October.

"Yes," Katie nodded.  "There really was."

Katie and I toured several schools in the Edmonton area, sharing stories of family adventure with children ages 5 to 15.  Every age was captivated, whether it be by the tale of swimming with sharks at the Ningaloo Reef, or what happened when the kids took their mom sandboarding down the dune of Huachachina outside Ica, Peru.

Our task was to challenge young writers to put pen to paper and share their stories, the same way Katie did in her journal and now her coming picturebook "Katie Rounds the World."  And several schools responded with envelopes that delighted us in their efforts.

If children are passionate about their topic, writing can be easy.

"Have you ever been on an adventure to see an animal in the wild?  Have you ever played in the sand or the jungle or the ocean?  Have you been caught in a storm or lost in the wilderness?  What happened?  Did it turn out okay in the end?"

Hands waved wildly in the air.

"Will you write us a story about your adventures?"

The excitement was barely contained as the classes returned to their desks, in immediate search of paper and a pen.

Thank you AL Horton in Vegreville and Lamont, Pollard Meadows and Woodbridge Farms.  You have inspired us to write more, too.

And yes, we would love to visit you again, soon :)  Send us an invitation, and we'll be there!

Friday, September 28, 2012

The birth of a series of e-Books

Any one who has delved into the new world of publishing will probably tell you the writing was the easy part.

After completing the story (writing and editing, over and over), there is still the task of format.  How should this story be made available to its audience?  There is more to books, than books.

"Mom! There's a Lion in the Toilet" is a global story, and it has, by its very nature, an international audience.  How can we best get that story to Peru, Greece, Sweden, Bali, Australia and New Zealand?  Well, we could print it in Canada, and then ship it there.  That is pretty expensive (but still do-able).  We could contact in international print-on-demand company, and have the book printed in its destination, and we are looking into that.  And we could make it instantly available as an e-book, which is a growing, economical (and environmentally friendly) phenom.

Did you know that more people will read a book in e-format than in paperback this year?  Wow.

So, that learning curve got steeper, and the formatting got more complicated.  Thank goodness I am related to a great computer-guy... when the "simple" directions made my eyes cross, I can "phone a friend."

We decided that it was best to bite off the e-book market in small chunks rather than all at once.  We wrapped up each continent of our trip into a novella, and created an e-book series of six.  Each novella is about 80 pages long, and features all the stories that occurred in one part of the world - easier to "Tag" as a non-fiction travel destination, and easier to market for the same reason.  Once all six novellas are completed, we will "bundle them" together as the whole e-book, "Mom! There's a Lion in the Toilet" which will be available in print form.

We published the series first on, which distributes to Apple, Barnes & Noble, Nook and other smaller market e-readers.  To access Amazon, we had to publish directly with Kindle Direct Publishing (Thanks to Rob, my PC buddy, I bow to your expertise!)  And once we managed to have one "clean" e-book up and running, we can continue with the next in the series.  Sorry, eager readers, for the slight delay, but I promise my progress is steady, if slow.

Book 1 - "Americas North to South"
Book 2 - "A Whirl Through Europe"
Book 3 - "Gasp! The Middle East"
Book 4 - "Southeast Asia for the Holidays"
Book 5 - "Off to the Land of Oz"
Book 6 - "Paused in Polynesia"

I hope this is an affordable way to reach the world!  Happy travels!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Early Praise for Mom! There's a Lion in the Toilet!

We are honored to receive such encouragement from our Advance Reading Copy reviews.  Thank you for your time, and your feedback.  Merci! Gracias! Shukran! Kah Poon Krap! Ta!


"Mom, There's a Lion in the Toilet" is thoroughly enjoyable and a must-read for travel lovers of all ages. The stories of the Anderson's fascinating cultural encounters and remarkable travel experiences are so good they're better than fiction.
Andrea Phare, Communications Specialist, Elk Island Public Schools


Mom! There’s a Lion in the Toilet! is a fun read for families and those who love world travel. The book might bring back memories of your family vacations... the good, the bad and the happenings that made great stories. In fact, after reading this delightful book, you might just start packing for your ‘round the world adventure. This book weaves in memories from the family blog, the children’s journals and the family’s recollections of a trip that has painted memories that will last a lifetime!
Charmaine Hammond, Bestselling Author of On Toby’s Terms.


An inspiration to all those who seek to follow their dreams and those who are struggling to find "lift-off". I can't wait to read the whole adventure!"
Vicki Barnes, Christchurch, New Zealand

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Take a Look at the Book!

With the help of an amazing graphic designer, we have the cover to our book.  Thank you Katie Dooley for sharing your talents with us.  We love it!

Available for pre-sales now.
Official launch October 27, 2012.  Alberta Litfest International Non-fiction festival.  Strathcona Library, Sherwood Park, Alberta.
Stay tuned for upcoming book events in and around you!  Now taking requests!

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Book Release Date October 2012

Life is about accomplishing your dreams.

We are not here just to survive, but to contribute something that might be timeless, a legacy that shares our gifts, whatever they happen to be.  Some can build, others can lead.  Some people enrich our lives in wisdom, kindness or strength.  Everyone must follow their own pursuit to happiness.

Our eldest son graduates from high school next week.  This has made me feel very reflective (and honestly, rather old as well).  I worry if we did enough to prepare him for life, because the world can be a cruel place.  Does he have the tools in his toolbox that will enable him to be not only successful in the material sense of the world, but also HAPPY.  It is an elusive goal we all chase, and some are better at that realization than others.

As parents, we all wish to show our kids the way, and help them find their own path.  I think one of the most important ways to do this is to model it by following our own.  We each have a "life list", or a "bucket list" of things to do before we, well, kick the bucket.  And since we don't know when that day will come, it is best to be already working it through.

What inspired us to travel around the world with our kids?  The fact that we are aware life is finite.  Everyone is born, and everyone dies, and what we do in between those things is in our control.  The only limiting factor we have is TIME.  The rest is just attitude.

We each have different dreams.  What we have in common is the desire to fulfill them.  And the wish to see our children do the same.

I always dreamed I would one day write a book.  Thanks to Linda and Dream Write Publishing, my dream is now a reality.  The book is written, and will be released this fall.  I am learning about all the hard work involved in the process, and am appreciating all the brave authors who exposed their souls in their work.  They achieved their dream, and now I am following in their footsteps.

My wish for our children is that they, too, will follow their dreams, each and every day of their lives.

Monday, April 2, 2012

How Sharks Clean Their Teeth

It took everything I was made of to let go of the side of the boat and drop down into the blue water of the Indian Ocean.  Rick was following close behind our carefree guide, swimming with our youngest Katie on his back.  In spite of my nerves, I smiled at their resemblance to the stacked frogs we chased in Thailand.  Travis and Jaclyn were paired together, with our oldest son acting very brotherly as they headed out toward the "shark zone".  That left the two most reluctant swimmers at the rear; our cautious Derek, and me.

Derek has a right to be cautious.  When he was about five, he had a negative experience while we visited my brother and his family in Grand Cayman in the Caribbean.  Aaron had treated us to a day trip to Stingray City, a large lagoon in the center of the island where the rays congregate in shallow waters.  Unfortunately, the water was rough and Derek had been swarmed by stingrays anxious for the squid lunch most visitors offered.  In his panic, he ended up perched on Rick's shoulders, balancing on his head in an effort to be as far out of the water as was possible.  Ever since, he is not a big fan of the creatures in the sea.

"Are you sure this is safe, Mom?" he asked me as we swam towards Asher's Gap.

"Well, the guide said the sharks are sleeping," I answered.  I'm not entirely buying the line myself, but I wanted to put him at ease.  I mean, if this was dangerous, I would think that the tour guide would not be leading us in this direction, right?

Derek looked at me with all the skepticism I was feeling reflected in his eyes.  I know, son, I am nervous too.

"I see a shark!" Katie yelled from her position on her dad's back.

"Look!" Travis lifted his head out of the water. "Derek, you gotta see this!"

Derek and I continued our swim.  We admired the beauty of the corals beneath us, and the water was still shallow in the bay.  All of a sudden, the sea floor dropped away,the water dropped a few degrees in warmth, and the blue color deepened.  This was Asher's Gap.

A large cabbage coral was the main feature, looking, well, just like a gigantic cabbage, with its "leaves" gently opening to provide shelter for scores of small fish.  And, as promised, there were the sharks.

I raised my head in alarm, trying not to swallow the large mouthful of water I involuntarily inhaled in my panic.  Don't choke.  Don't splash.  Don't wake the fish.  Oh, god, how far to the boat?

Swimmingly docile, they circled, round and around.  Eyes open, mouths relaxed, they did have the appearance of sleeping.  I stilled as best as I could, using my arms and hands to scull backwards, away from the Gap.  I looked across at Derek, and signaled him "Okay?" under the sea.  He nodded.

We stayed there, on the edge of the Gap, watching the sharks circle around the cabbage coral below.  How many are there?  At least ten, no, more.  Twelve, sixteen?  They were swimming in a pattern, all the same direction, from small two foot versions, to larger than Rick times two.  Maybe 12 feet long?
And sure enough, the little fish swarmed around their mouths.  Little fish were actually swimming inside their partially open jaws, picking off the bits in between the sharp, jagged teeth of the large predators.  The longer we watched, the more we watched this bizarre fish behaviour.  

"It was like a shark visit to the dentist."

"A shark spa."

 "How sharks clean their teeth."  The kids all joked about today's highlight.

"That was amazing!" Travis gushed when he returned to the boat.  "Now let's find the Rays!"

Thank goodness for kids.  Their spirit is what keeps us encouraged, to push the limits on what is my "comfort zone".  There was nothing scary about this experience, except for my own preconceived notions of "Swimming with Sharks".  No cage, no vicious attacks.  Just a calm, peaceful swim.

Do something that scares you every day.  After this day, I think I was covered for a year.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Let's hear it for Ningaloo!

There was a documentary on Oasis last night that brought back many happy thoughts.  Jaclyn, now 14, was particularly fond of this remarkable reef in West Australia, where the water is as warm as a bathtub and the fish school in abundance.  Here, she had the amazing experience of gliding with the Mantas.

We hired a day tripper to take us out from the Coral Bay docks up north toward the reef.  This area of Australia is virtually uninhabited, as the desert is merciless and the sun extreme.  We had traveled for a full day to reach this destination, to experience the sense of swimming in an aquarium with the tropical fish like Nemo.  We got that, and more.

The whale sharks are the real attraction at Ningaloo.  The biggest fish in the sea, they open their four-foot wide mouths and calmly swallow everything that swims in their path.  But after we arrived, we learned we were too early.  It was January, and the whale sharks are only visiting Ningaloo from March to June.  The Manta Rays, however, frolic here year-round.  The largest of the Ray family, they grow over eight feet across and though able to sting, they are not aggressive.  Dive boats take tourists out to their "play place" daily.

Our first stop was a brief snorkel to get used to the equipment, at an area abundant in cabbage corals and massive clams, which would close when we cast our shadows.  All six of us jumped in the water, Katie with a floater to help her navigate in the waves.  We partnered up and followed our guide as she pointed out her favorite spots, then had a bit of time to explore on our own.  The two boys came back with a tale of spotting a reef shark off in the distance.  Travis was excited.  Derek was not.

"Sharks?" Jaclyn asked.

"You like sharks?  Great, have we got a treat for you then.  On to Asher's Gap," she called up to the Captain.

Whale sharks are out of season.  Those are the harmless kind.  I'm here swimming in the deep blue sea with my four kids.  Did she just say she is taking us to swim with the sharks?

That is not what we signed up for.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

The Book is Almost Complete!

Almost a year has passed since we have returned from our incredible adventure, and our life has returned to the normal routine, with the exception of incredible stories and photos to share.  I think, too, that all six of us has been changed by the experience.  I would say that yes, it was life-changing.

The blog itself began as an on-line journal.  I wanted to be able to document our travels and the stories of the "road trip", since the details and possibly entire events could be easily forgotten with passing time.  I also wanted to share our experiences with family and friends both back home and those we met along the way.

The project has grown, and I now wish to encourage other families to take a page from our story, and dare to try something like this themselves!  Yes, there will be obstacles since everyone comes from a different situation, but there are also many solutions, many opportunities that can be embraced.

The key is to remember that how you live each day is how you live your life.  You have the power to make a change.

Lots of things happened along the road that I didn't post, due both to security and in order not to alarm our "Moms" back home.  I am looking forward to sharing our story (in its FULL version!)  If you are interested in purchasing a copy of the book, please let me know and I can put one aside in your name.

Thank you for your encouragement.   It's so good to be home!