Author: Chris Oler

Salzburg and the Ländler

We went to see a play this summer called The Sound of Music and it was amazing! What was even better is someone made it into a movie many years ago and it’s really good, too. It’s one of my new favorites.

The story takes place in Salzburg, Austria. Dad has been there and says it’s the most beautiful city in the world. Hmm, maybe we’ll use the magic suitcase for a trip!

A view of the Alps from the Hohensalzburg Fortress.

One of the scenes from the movie and the play shows an old Austrian folk dance called the Ländler. Those two dots above the ‘a’ mean you say it sort of like “layned-ler.” The dots are called an umlaut.

Anyway, the dance is pretty short so I wanted to see more of it and find out more about it. Videos of the dance are easy to find. What I learned was the Ländler is a dance that no one is sure how old it is, but a lot of famous composers wrote Ländler music, including Beethoven, Mozart, and Bach. Dancing became very popular in Austria in the 1800’s and the Ländler was part of it. There are some other related dances: the Steyrischer and the Schuhplattler. Check it out with your parents!

The City of Salzburg, again viewed from the Hohensalzburg Fortress.

The Anton Valley

Many of you know we went to Panama this year. One of our favorite places was the Anton Valley, or Valle de Anton. That’s pronounced “Vie-yay day Anton.” It is a small town in the center of an ancient, extinct volcano.

These mountains were once part of an ancient volcano!

The old sides of the volcano come up on every side of the town and look like mountains!

We had an amazing time in Valle de Anton and started out at a butterfly sanctuary. There were some of the biggest and most colorful butterflies I’ve ever seen! Later, we had some yummy pizza at a local restaurant. I think the owner was Italian, his accent was different from everyone else’s.

After that, we rode horses and then explored the Nispero Zoo. We saw ostriches, spider monkeys, an ocelot, and even an American Crocodile!

Valle de Anton was a highlight of our trip. You’ll be able to read more about it soon!

All Around the World?

Michael and I see many things around the world. There are so many kinds of music, food, and especially animals. We wondered if there was anything we could find no matter where we went. Michael asked our Mom and Dad and they had an answer.

Ants! There are over 12,000 different kinds! We searched the internet for more information and found AntARK, a place that tells all about ants. You can find out what ants may live near you.

We share music, art, and even games and sports with people around the world, but I never thought about ants. I wonder if they bug everyone’s parents as much as they bother our Dad!

Local Legends

Hi, everyone! Our whole family, not just me and Michael, made a trip to Puerto Rico. There was so much to show our Mom and Dad. We took them nearly everywhere Alana showed us. We also found some new places like the one in this photo.

The statue is called “La Rogativa.” A rogativa is a special religious walk made by a large group of people where they ask for help.

The story of this statue goes back to a time when San Juan, the capital of Puerto Rico, was surrounded by enemy forces. The Bishop led a rogativa that was mostly women and children, but the enemy thought it was more troops arriving and decided to leave! The city was saved by the march!

Almost Mango Season!

April and May is Mango season in Thailand! One of the best things we’ve tried is mangoes with sticky rice. Our friend Yung told us about it, but we didn’t actually eat it while we were there. It was maybe the only thing we didn’t eat!

Yung, Molly, and Michael at a floating market.

Mangoes with sticky rice is just what it says. The “sticky” part of the rice comes from coconut milk and some sugar. A friend of Yung’s Dad always says it “melts in your mouth,” especially with the fresh mangoes in Thailand.

Get your parents to try one of these recipes!

Thai Table



[Author note: When our contributor described this dish, he repeated a few times how good it was. The “melts in your mouth” quote is direct from him, but we can’t reproduce how he said it: lips smacking, eyes closed, arms raised, and the look of relish on his face would convince anyone this is a dish to try.]