How is our baby boy finished grade five? My heart delights when I think about OC’s journey these last three years since he began this home learning life. We took him out in grade two and truly it was the best time and I think he has reaped the benefits from this courageous decision we took!
OC is truly thriving and discovering new passions on a monthly basis. This year, he was very motivated to learn more about fishing and hunting. He found a love for basketball and volleyball. He played soccer, enjoyed skiing and loved doing trampoline drop-ins at Airhouse. OC continues to truly love everything related to law enforcement or conservation officers, especially if it involves a dog. He would still love a German Shepherd one day, but his Winnie, the golden doodle, gets a lot of cuddles and attention each day. Since he moved into his own room in May, OC is making an epic Lego build on his bottom bunk and has Lego stacked high in bins in his closet. OC continues to love to read, starting each day and ending each day with a book. He loves doing anything that his two big brothers are doing, but especially creating in Minecraft, playing in the pool and building things. One momentous highlight for OC this year was our year end field trip to Innisfail to visit the RCMP canine dog training centre. The demonstration with the dogs and their handlers was inspiring for us all. I highly recommend you take a trip to visit in the summer to see one of their Wednesday demos.
As OC heads into grade six, justice continues to be his middle name. His sense of right/wrong within our family and in the world, is strong. He loves making sure everyone is taken care of and is a thoughtful soul. Learning comes very easily to OC and he especially loves watching videos and being read to. It’s always fun to hangout with OC and get spontaneous hugs and kind words.
Bring on grade six and another year learning at home for OC. I wonder if he will ever choose to go back to a campus school. Time will tell!
P.S. I heard from WordPress and I can pay an extra $10 per month to get more storage. To pay or not to pay. Maybe I just start a new blog page? Egad, what to do. How many monthly subscriptions can one person pay? We currently have Netflix, Disney, Apple and just gave up on Prime! Egad.
Well, I must admit now that as I sit down and type this, that JC is our guy that I was most concerned about and most excited about this year as he was growing and learning. At the end of last year, fourteen year old JC had decided to stop doing gymnastics since starting it at 18 months old. In our experience in watching children as teachers, grade 8 or 9 is not the ideal time to be stopping activities as you have to wonder what will take the place of the activity? He was also getting quieter and quieter as his voice changed and he was our quiet one to begin with. Lastly, he started talking in one syllable words, with the predominate word being “good”. Oh no, what other changes were ahead for us?
This year, JC really grew in so many tremendous ways and it has been so fun to see his passions develop and catch fire. JC developed skills in the media arts, drones, photography, video-making, producing, writing music, pottery, and stunting. JC is now a pro at Adobe Premium Pro, Unreal Engine, 360 degree camera and GarageBand.
After encouragement from people placed in his life at the perfect moment, JC moved from gymnastics to competitive trampoline in September. He had success after success in the gym each week and has been keen to learn new tricks daily (like a half-half and a Rudy-out). In his first in person competition, he stuck all his landings and showed what a ‘gamer’ he is. He won 1st all around for British Columbia (level 1-4) in April and did amazing at Western Canadians in June.
JC continues to really loves hanging out with his brothers and his Winnie, skiing the Prospector Terrain Park, cross country skiing, reading and having time to create! It’s in these in-between moments of time that JC really thrives. His imagination always takes him to interesting and fascinating places. He made a cardboard Ironman mask one day, created a stunt where his younger brother, CC, flew through the air and through garbage bags covering a doorway and also worked alongside his little brother, OC, to make fascinating Lego building another day.
Now that we have made it to the end of grad nine, it is really hard to believe our oldest is going into high school next year, with a hybrid twist! (More to come about the hybrid twist!)
P.S. And yup, no pics again. Anyone know someone that works at WordPress and can give this loyal 10+ year blogger some more storage??
Do you find your middles are always stuck in the middle? I thought that I would begin this sequence of blog posts by updating everyone on our middle guys journey over the last few years of this home learning life. Yeah for middles for adding spice to our lives.
CC moved out of French Immersion in grade four and came home starting in grade five. This was an influential time for him. His confidence was at an all time low as there were some boys that were very unkind and we realized that his learning changes were far beyond what we thought. He was receiving sporadic support at school, but nothing like he needed. He now receives weekly tutoring for one hour plus I work with him daily for 1 to 1 1/2 hours. In all areas of learning, his confidence has grown and he is seeing himself as a capable learner now. WHEW! We dodged a bullet on this one. We really didn’t leave the “campus school system” because we were unhappy. Our sole purpose was to create flexibility to travel with Sexy Neck and to take a “radical sabbatical” from the grind of everyday life. Here’s the full story! God really did have us in the palm of His hand, in more ways than one, when we started this in the fall of 2019, especially for our middle guy who’s life has been enriched by all the people who have loved on him, listened to him and shared in his learning over the last three years.
As CC finished off grade seven on June 10th, we realized that he had so much life and love POURED into him this year. He achieved his green belt in Taekwondo at Quest Martial Arts and now has his name on the wall as a member of the Black Belt Club with Mr. Rowe and family guiding CC in such a loving and disciplined way. CC was able to experience his first bus field trip when he went with Daddy and his international students to Vancouver. For fun, CC played soccer and basketball, did his first rail jam event up at Apex ski resort, and started refereeing in soccer. CC also did scuba diving, golf and swimming lessons this spring. CC LOVES his Goldendoodle , his new hat from Village Hat Shop in San Diego and every second with his brothers plus singing with his teacher Janel. He is very proud of the fact that he finished his first album “Sensation” containing 10 original songs. This guy really does love performing! He also staged a strike against a movie choice, strongly disliked our squid and eyeball dissection, as well as skied, skated, hiked and enjoyed every second learning in the world!
If you ever can’t find him, CC would be found working on his remote control cars or building one of his ideas in the garage using his hot glue gun or one of his daddy’s tools. It is a fun ride with this guy’s quick wit and super sense of humour. CC’s current goals are to be a truck driver, inventor or “puppy hugger”. As you will see over the next three blog posts, we definitely aren’t raising robots or mini-me’s. Helping the boys find their passions while exposing them to as many different situations and activities is our mission. This homelearning life has literally and metaphorically exploded since taking the boys out of a large box called “campus schooling”. We are grateful we were brave enough to give it a shot and grateful that our country allows choice for how students learn. Thank you Canada!
P.S. Sorry for the no photos. WordPress is really not allowing much storage on my ten year old ++ blog and I don’t want to stop this writing train now that I have gotten it started again. TOOT TOOT!
What happened after the “Radical Sabbatical in Europe” Joanna? I have been asked this question many, many times in the last 2.5 years. November, 2019 feels like a few months ago. So much has changed, hasn’t it? I wonder what has changed for you?
First, before we get into the newspaper headings from our lives, I want to send you a big hug with my eyes with the few more well-earned wrinkles around them. HUUUUUUG!
Second, here’s a few highlights since November of 2019 (and WordPress cut off my blog because I had used up all my storage!):
We are now on year three of our Radical Sabbatical and we are calling it “Best of Both Worlds”. After living at the ski hill for TWO, yes count them TWO University school years, we moved back to the city in May of 2021. We have been living here in the city and commuting on weekends to the ski hill, hence “Best of Both Worlds”.
The home learning life continues. We are going into year four of learning outside of a physical school setting and I truly wish that I had done it when the boys were younger. The boys are thriving and finding their true passions. The boys and I work together, as a team, each morning on specific learning mostly related to writing, numbers, French, Social Studies and Science. Afternoons are full of outside time, art, music, making things in the garage, hanging out with neighbours, classes and activities. It truly is a richer life than I could have ever expected. (Future blog post coming on the pitfalls and blessings of this type of learning!)
Sexy Neck has changed jobs! He moved back to the city where our house is to be one of the leaders in charge of a large 400+ student International Program. Coming from a program he led with 100+ students, this move has been a huge shift for him and our family. Yes, we are still happily married and we celebrated 25 years in May. WOOP WOOP!
In the spring of 2020, I was getting asked many questions about home learning and as a teacher, I felt called to head back into a school to help other families. Next year, will be my third year working with Heritage Christian Online School (HCOS), working with 15+ families per year (@40 students). I guide each student’s learning, meet with them, suggest resources and report on each child’s learning twice per year. I have done this job previously in 2015-2017 and I feel a real “calling” to be with this school, at this time, working with my exceptional, lovely, amazing, fellow home learning families.
Another questions I often get asked, are you still with Isagenix? Yes, yes, yes, yes. I am a lifer and we enjoy the #isalife every single day. My life sharing Isagenix looks a bit different now, as it fits in the corners of my days behind my faith, family, friends and teaching, BUT I will always be passionate about health, helping people with their goals and guiding people on how to use the Isagenix products. After doing 12 events in 5 years, I don’t see many events in my future, but one thing I have realized in these last years is that I truly love one-on-one contact with other human beings. At the events, I would have preferred to be stacking chairs or helping people register or wiping down sinks in the bathrooms that speaking or standing on a stage. I love these products and the people it has brought into my life. If you are one of those people that has asked me about Isagenix in the last 8 years, I am truly blessed that you asked, trusted me and shared your health journey with me. Yup, I am truly a lifer.
“The boys” are now going into grades 6, 8, and 10 in September. I cannot honestly even explain the growth that they have had the last 2.5 years. Our oldest is now taller than me! Our middle guy is going for his blackbelt in Taekwondo and our youngest is thoroughly enveloped in learning about Policing and being a Conversation Officer. They are such fun kids to hangout with too! More coming on “The boys” soon.
December of 2020, we introduced Winter, a goldendoodle, into our family of five. Winnie is truly each of the boys’ first love and they shower her with attention, walks, cuddles and lots of time together while they learn at home. (If anyone remembers our labrador, Summer, the name will make perfect sense!)
Lastly, tonight, I wanted to tell you that I will again be regularly blogging, sharing the journey that I have been on these last few years and also what’s coming. I realized the other night that often we talk about the pregnancy, baby and toddler stage way more than the teenager stage. Who remembers talking about breastfeeding, first foods, which diapers to buy, organic crib mattresses, milestones, toileting and so much more ad nauseam? As our second guy turns 13 this weekend and we are going to have two teenagers in the house, I want to use this energy they are creating by talking ad nauseam about this important stage in children’s lives. Strap yourself in folks, it is going to be a fun ride.
I love you all dearly, back soon! (well at least sooner than 2.5 year. HAH!)
Happy Sunday Funday Folks! This journey started on Friday morning.
The 11 months and 10 days we lived in Switzerland in 2004 were some of THE BEST and the darkest time of my life (besides watching my mama die!)
The darkness of living through depression and having no energy but to sleep, to be working in a difficult teaching environment, having Steve away training for volleyball each night and living in a country that is clean and exceptionally beautiful for a reason. They ‘control’ each other. I have never been yelled at more in my life.
The BEST moments meeting friends and students that are still in my life today, living in a pristine natural environment, travelling easily and learning more about myself.
Being back here now in 2019 with our boys is truly sublime.
Drove from beautiful Milan to the Rigi in the Swiss Alps.
With one stop in Locarno for our last Italian pizza and Calzone.
Over 25 tunnels. (We lost count!)
One 17 kilometres long.
We arrived in Vitznau about 3 and a bit hours after leaving Milan. What an indescribable drive. I am not sure my pictures can even explain.
One Mountain Train (Rigi Bahn) straight uphill into the Swiss Alps.
We have snow folks!
Meeting old friends that we taught with and their wonderful eleven year old daughter.
A gorgeous place, an incredible meal and amazing hot pools. Kaltbad Rigi
Guten abend von de Schwiez.
Guten morgen friends!
We started off with opening the hot pools before breakfast at 8:00am. We had a solo swim and play in the pools.
Then it was fruhstuck time here in the Alps. First, our super juice that helps our bodies deal with stress and goes everywhere with us. #partner
After a buffet breakfast, we decided to head to the top of the Rigi via the Mountain Train and then hike down. What a gorgeous three hours. And God even gave us another rainbow, like He did on the Eiffel Tower and at Vimy Ridge.
Now an afternoon of journaling, postcard writing, eating Swiss chocolate, shakes and German cookies!
PLUS another swim in the hot pools before dinner:
Dinner was many hours long, but the boys rocked it and luckily our friend’s play games like we do.
This is THE shift! This morning at 7:20am, Steve headed down the mountain on the train to take two buses and another train to the Zurich Airport as he heads home, then travels to Mexico in five days for another fair.
I had tears this morning as we said goodbye. I love this man on so many levels.
We decided I would stay here with the boys until Steve is done his trip to Mexico. I will travel with the boys for 8 days in Germany visiting old friends and then back to Paris for 3 more days for some tourist activities. And surprises for the boys. 😉
BUT FIRST, one more morning on the Rigi, a get together with some Swiss friends at an old school bowling alley with a jukebox near Zurich, then back to Germany.
This is the building where we were…
Then a 1.5 hour drive to one of our favourite spots in Germany with people living God’s plan through their lives and delivering a package from a mother’s heart to her daughter.
Finishing off the night with one of these… Sexy Neck would be proud! It was as good as I remembered.
Goodnight sweet friends from the Bodensee. Thank you to everyone for your kind words and for truly living these simple moments of an unfolding dream with us. I wish I could give you a HUGE HUG.
Truly an amazing time. No social media fluff and puff.
Take a scroll through and see what we have been up to as we have wanders from Germany to Italy. Please leave a comment too!
Biggest toy store (and LEGO section the boys have seen).
Oldest central plaza in Munich (Marienplatz)
Walking everywhere on foot.
Seeing Steve at work!
With help from a friend, I was able to find gymnastics training for the boys in Munich. It was a cool experience for them and made them appreciate their gym back home even more.
After training, we were able to zip to where Steve was doing his Fair talking to families in the Munich area about his school district. We were very grateful to see what he does. CC bought a new jacket at H & M today which matched his Dada’s.
After the Fair, it was time to get back to the hotel, get packed as we had a 5 and a bit hour drive to Milan, Italy the next day.
1 final shower in our bathroom/shower room. Have you seen this before?
1 hotel breakfast.
1 shake for a boys who has eaten too much bread.
1 more walk to Marienplatz.
1 more visit to the toy store.
Purchases of 2 Porsche’s and a German Shepherd figurine.
1 solo shopping trip to H & M for ME! I found some awesome Christmas gifts for the boys.
11:11 in Italy. Remembering.
1 final squeeze through the driveway from the hotel garage to the street. The rental car was beeping like crazy. Sexy Neck is a genius to work the angles to get our station wagon in and out of this garage.
5.5 hour car ride to Milan, Italy.
Through 5 countries.
From Germany to Austria, by Liechtenstein, Switzerland and then finally into Italy.
Clouds, snow and sun!
1 panic attack by ME! (The first 5km tunnel freaked me out and sent me into fight or flight even though cognitively nothing was wrong! It was a learning experience.)
1 very strange toilet. You pushed the toilet seat down to make it flush and the water to wash your hands went into the toilet. 🤪
Another toilet for 50 cents.
5 amazing slices of margarita pizza, some gnocchi, a calzone and some gelato to end off this beautiful day.
1 awesome room at the Meininger Hotel/Hostel. (The same brand of hotel we stayed in in Brussels, Belgium).
Steve is working hard to catchup on email and prepare for morning meetings. The boys are watching cartoons in Italian. I am doing laundry… Hence the huge pile by my feet!
Bongiorno from Milan, Italy!
I had completely forgotten, or maybe I didn’t realize, how much Italians LOVE children. From the waiter ruffling our son’s hair and shaking their hands last night to the free metro rides and free entry to the museums, wow, I love you even more Italy.
Today was the day that our oldest son, twelve year old JC, has been planning for months. Tying in with his study of Ancient Rome, this would be as close as we would get. Milan. He rocked his negotiation of the metro system and got us everywhere he wanted to go. We even saw a movie being filmed by the fountain outside the Castle.
Today’s plan was a fun one! I love seeing my boys plan, take charge and speak with the locals along the way. Jackson even ordered our lunch in Italian and paid for it.
Parco Sempione (Park)
Castillo Sforzeaco (Castle)
Museum featuring the mind-blowing work of Leonardo da Vinci. Hallogram videos and sitting in the room he worked on for many years was incredibly awe-inspiring.
Fried pizza for lunch. There was a HUGE line at Luini’s, so we knew it must be good. JC found this place on the internet through watching videos about Milan.
Gelato in Gallerio Vittorio
Duomo Di Milano (Church)
Climbing over 200 stairs to the terraces of the Duomo.
A clean toilet in McDonald’s. (Probably the only reason I will take my boys there).
Meeting Steve spontaneously in between his meetings. (I almost hit him when he came up from behind and surprised us)
2 metro rides.
Many kilometres of walking.
Dinner back at a very Italian restaurant by our hotel in the Lambrate area. The boys declared that this was the BEST pizza they have had in their life. (Sexy Neck and I thought last night was better!)
And MORE gelato and a play at the park in the dark before we head to bed at 10:00pm.
Cake and pie for breakfast. Sure why not! We are in Italy after all! This is how our boys started their day. We are finding our rhythm with a buffet breakfast between 8:30 and 9:30, then a mid-afternoon snack and then dinner around 6:30 or 7:00. We are all feeling GREAT and are truly eating our way around Europe.
This is our second and last day in Milan before we head north to meet friends in the Swiss Alps. We have been asking the boys each morning what they would like to do and it was unanimous that today would include:
Heading back to the Parco Sempione, a stroll by the Duomo again, a stop at the largest LEGO store in Italy that just opened on the 11th, a visit to the main train station and dinner there too! And yes more gelato too! We even convinced Sexy Neck to take the boys back into the Museum to see the Leonardo da Vinci exhibit. He missed it yesterday when we went because he was working.
As the boys went back into the museum, I sat outside with a hot drink and got caught up on the blog. Now this is what a hot chocolate looks like:
It was hot and thick and absolutely delicious.
The boys wanted to checkout the largest LEGO store in Italy and along the way, CC decided to buy the Swatch Watch he had been looking at since we were in Brussels.
We decided to head home to our hotel/hostel via the metro to cook dinner for ourselves. We had soup and salad. First, we went to our favourite grocery store, Lidl, to pickup some supplies.
A few handstands before bed doesn’t hurt! Right? JC attempting to walk around the room on his hands.
Ciao! Italy, it’s been a very fun couple of days. We want to own an apartment in Italy one day.
Ahhhhh Germany! I am sure I have ancestors here because it always feels like home. Most of my ancestry is English, but it is possible that I could be German as my grandfather Jenkins was adopted.
Steve arrived here late last night via train from Dusseldorf to Frankfurt. He has another fair tonight in Frankfurt showcasing his school district. What a cool job he has!
We all slept in this morning then enjoyed a multicultural buffet breakfast where one child had sausages and egg, another noodles, another rice and sausage. I had miso soup and granola with yogurt and Steve had his traditional croissant with ham, cheese and jam.
We decided to do a walking tour to see what we could discover and find some lunch. We followed the red line starting in the west at our hotel across from the Hauptbahnhof. It was a magnificent walk. Cities were built around water here. Not like Canada where most were built around train stations in the middle of nowhere.
1 self-driving bus.
1 Maclaren seen in real life.
Copious amount of steps. ( My Garmin is dead and I can’t find my charger!)
1 lunch in a restaurant above the Markethalle.
5 lit candles and prayers for Grandma, Nana and our boys at the church.
3 more handstands.
1 chamomile tea ordered that ended up being a karmel alcohol-free beer. (I don’t even like beer 🤣 and it wasn’t too bad!)
One thing I LOOOOVE about Europe are their parks and non-vehicular spaces. The symmetry of the trees and the imperfect spaces as well as the non-cement paths feel good for my soul. I think we use way too much concrete and spend too much time maintaining our parks in Canada and we have too few defined spaces and too much grass. 🤪
We had an amazing time just walking along the river and through the pedestrian paths of the old city today. Even in the sprinkles of rain, it was beautiful and divine.
My very creative husband took the next couple of photos. Man, do I love this man. He is such a genius in so many ways: in business, in education, as a man, with photography, with drawing and even guitar playing!! What a gift to spend this day with him in Frankfurt.
Friends, what is it about boys and farts…🤣 this is the exit sign in German… which will now become a permanent sign in our home.
1 failed attempt to find another RC store.
1 awesome park found instead.
Daddy dropped off at the airport for a flight to Hamburg.
2 Berliner (donut) and 1 pretzel eaten today.
1 large “STILL” water bottle.
1 bag of Haribo coke bottles.
208kms to our next “field trip”.
Going back to 1272 in the German medieval city of Rothenburg ob der Tauber.
One of Steve and I’s favourite German cities.
Walls all around it.
Staying in a family-owned Gasthaus inside the walls.
And oh so beautiful for a one night stop.
We decided to try the Gasthaus Goldener Greifen. It didn’t disappoint. Take a look at the view from the third floor looking down on the street and the dinner was delicious. The boys are loving the potatoes pancakes, apple sauce, cheese and bread.
In the evenings, we have been doing stretching and writing in journals. I bought all the boys each a special black journal and wrote a blessings for them for this trip. It’s beautiful to watch them immerse themselves in writing and drawing. It’s such a great way to debrief our full and fun days. I am enjoying spending some time each evening, connecting with my customers, looking at photos from the day and recapping what we’ve done. The boys have told me they want to do this whole trip again.
Guten Nacht with a final handstand photo from today and our walk to see what the wall around the city actually looks like. It’s thick!
Tomorrow, we will walk the mile around the wall that encloses the city and see what we discover, before heading farther south into Germany.
Traditional German breakfast at our awesome, cozy hotel in the centre of town.
3km walk around the city, mostly on the 500+ year old walls.
3 head bonks.
3 toques and 4 pairs of gloves.
1 Christmas store with automated teddy bears and a very cool woodworker.
1 church visit.
Many church bells ringing on this Sunday morning.
A walk in the fog and the sun.
Oh what fun!
When we were walking around the city walls, the boys were pumped at what they could see through the archer’s windows. One thing they spied was a wooden castle playground. After driving out of the city walls, we went to play at the playground before heading south to Munich on the Autobahn.
214 km drive to Munich.
Driving 150 km/hr in the slow lane.
1 stop at a resthof.
70 cents to pee.
Check-in at Brunnenhof Hotel near Marienplatz, the centre of Munich since the 1200’s.