Category Archives: blogger

Be on a Radical Sabbatical in the Swiss Alps (with a shift)

Feeling surreal in Switzerland.

SURREAL.

GOBSMACKED.

GrateFULL.

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.

We had such an incredible day on the Rigi.

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.

November 15th

Over 25 tunnels. (We lost count!)

One 17 kilometres long.

17 kilometres through this mountain!!
The tunnel! They do things right in Switzerland! **This picture was uploaded while driving THROUGH the tunnel. Unbelievable.

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.

Time Lapse of our 20 minutes ride up to the Rigi Kaltbad

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.

November 16th

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

Keeping our super power juice cold!

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.

How is it possible for a rainbow to be formed in light cloud without precipitation anywhere in sight?
On the top of the Rigi.

Now an afternoon of journaling, postcard writing, eating Swiss chocolate, shakes and German cookies!

Awe sweet boys! They are learning so much about people and culture.

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.

November 17th

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.

Hot pools at Hotel
Kaltbad.
A Berliner (donut) with Nutella. This guy is embracing the European life.
Morning game time after breakfast!
This wall in the restaurant was one of my favourite things to look at.
11:15am Mountain Train back to Vitznau.
1:00-4:00pm Get together in Zurich.

This is the building where we were…

Through that little brown door on the left lies surprises and beauty and bowling!

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.

Be on a Radical Sabbatical from Munich to Milan

Munich.

Alps.

Milan.

Food and toilets too!

Travelling with these boys is ALWAYS fun!

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!

November 10th

Munich.

Biggest toy store (and LEGO section the boys have seen).

Biggest beer.

Oldest central plaza in Munich (Marienplatz)

Walking everywhere on foot.

Seeing Steve at work!

This guy LOVES RC cars.
Yes, more handstands. We will have a whole blog with all of these.
We even made it to the City Hall at noon to watch the clock go round and round.
Hofbrauhaus – our waiter could carry 20 beer at one time!

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.

November 11th

1 final shower in our bathroom/shower room. Have you seen this before?

1 hotel breakfast.

I loved this window where the tea sat.

1 shake for a boys who has eaten too much bread.

The rest of the family getting their breakfast.

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.

11 tunnels.

Clouds, snow and sun!

Switzerland

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. 🤪

Can you see the stream of water coming out of the wall? This is what you use to wash your hands. 😂😂

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).

This is how excited the boys get about a new hotel room!
This is mama asking them to sit still!

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!

November 12th

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)

FYI, we have run into these African men all over Europe trying to give you some string, that they then make you pay for. They were scary for the boys at the beginning but we have taught the boys to be very assertive.

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.

They said no photos… but I could resist taking these. It was a first person story of how Leonardo da Vinci came to be painting this corner of the castle in Milan.

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.

This young man was very brave ordering for our family in Italian.
Fried pizza. Was exciting but the boys didn’t love them.

Gelato in Gallerio Vittorio

Duomo Di Milano (Church)

Just wow!!!
Inside the church! I wish I had taken more pictures! The statue of St Bartholomew had us talking at dinner that night!
More prayers for Nana and Grandma in heaven. They have been ever-present with us this trip in so many ways. They had come visit us when we lived in Europe and we had travelled with them (and our two Papa’s) to many of these places.

Climbing over 200 stairs to the terraces of the Duomo.

FYI, this is on the Terraces is the DUOMO and they will blow a whistle and yell at you if you do a handstand!

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)

Love this picture… anyone know how to photoshop Steve’s eyes open? Reminds me of his Gramps. Xoxo

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.

November 13th

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.

The boys made Daddy’s coffee for him this morning. They are becoming quite the jokesters. It’s hilarious to watch. Look at CC and JC’s faces.

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.

Ah my heart!!!

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.

Lego, this is very cool! Which character are you?

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.

One of the boys doesn’t like the metro noise!
What a man! A water man!
Dinner time!

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.

Next stop the Swiss Alps!

Be on a Radical Sabbatical in Frankfurt and Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany

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.

November 8th

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!

Thanks for humouring me and taking this photo Sexy Neck!

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.

2 bridges.

2 playgrounds.

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.

November 9th

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.

Cobblestone roads.

Staying in a family-owned Gasthaus inside the walls.

Pedestrian friendly.

And oh so beautiful for a one night stop.

The boys were pumped about the Medieval Store.

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.

Unlike our hotel in Frankfurt, we have enough beds for everyone in this hotel.
Our view to the left.
Our view to the right.
Our oldest cutie playing in the window.

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.

November 10th

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.

1 Sneeballen.

3 toques and 4 pairs of gloves.

2 degrees.

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!

Fruhstuck!

Our Gasthaus from the back
The boys love the churches and they love lighting a candle and saying a prayer for their Nana and Grandma in heaven.

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.

Yes, I actually drove through this!
What an incredible playground just outside the walls.

214 km drive to Munich.

Driving 150 km/hr in the slow lane.

1 stop at a resthof.

70 cents to pee.

Another playground.

Check-in at Brunnenhof Hotel near Marienplatz, the centre of Munich since the 1200’s.

We are very happy we have enough beds.

Be on a Radical Sabbatical in Paris

October 31st, 2019 – Paris

The Radical Sabbatical in Europe begins.

3 flights.

22 hours.

Pure excitement for the screens with movies, tv shows, podcasts, games and music on the seat in front of us.

Plus wifi while flying through the air too!

1 yummy airplane meal.

Copious amounts of water.

Lots of veggies from home, 2 meal replacement vitamin-shakes so no one gets a bungled up but.

3 hours of fitful sleep.

1 lost water bottle.

1 lost hat.

1 Uber drive.

1 random security screening and tears from our eight year old. (It is the second time he has been randomly selected for hand swabbing)

10:05am Arrival in Paris

1 hotel in Montmartre that actually looks exactly like the pictures in the online photos. (Hotel Migny Opera)

Sacre Coeur, the highest point in Paris and very close to our hotel.

Danone pudding cups. Oh man, do I love these delicious things. I would never eat them at home, but the dairy products and bread here are just oh so delicious.

Gotta love parks that have workout equipment. Plus fooseball, two playgrounds, a fenced in soccer/basketball area plus a ton of benches to sit on.

Amazing multi-purpose random parks where Sexy Neck ends up in a “dip” contest with other dads.

Hot Crepes. Who loves Nutella?

Pain au chocolat. Oh my.

In bed at 5:00pm to get our bodies onto this new time zone.

November 1st, 2019

14 hours of time in bed.

We made a mockery of the incredible French breakfast buffet and showed our boys where our love for jam, ham and cheese on bread came from.

We have the smallest elevator in our hotel! This is an actual real-life photo.

In our travel with our boys, we have realized one event per day is the perfect balance for us.

Today’s event was a Natural History Museum our eight year old picked out.

From the hotel.

On the metro.

To the Jardin des Plantes.

A misty walk.

A longer line than we are used to.

It was awe. some.

From the garden and zoo surrounding the museum, to the century old building that house the museum, we were in awe.

Then another metro ride to the Champs d’Elyssee for dinner.

14,862 steps.

3 metro rides.

One where I saw a man watching Steve buy our metro tickets. Then I saw the same man go through a turnstile with a woman, pickpocket her phone out of her jacket then proceed to give it back to her. I have learned that pickpockets use distraction and bumping into people to take things. The women didn’t even know he had gone through the turnstile with her. She thought it was just sticky.

5.5 hours of walking, talking, holding hands.

1 museum.

1 French dinner at Alsace restaurant.

1 priceless second day in Paris.

November 2nd

18,971 steps.

3 sweaty subway rides which were a nice reprieve from the cold wind.

1 canal boat ride along the Seine River.

3 bottles or Orangina and hot drinks by the “contained” Notre Dame Cathedral. There were high barriers around the property. We told the boys they will definitely have to go back.

Back to our hotel and 118 steps up a spiralling staircase to our room for a pre-dinner rest. We chose to be on the sixth floor. Steve and I decided that we will choose a place with a ton of stairs when we are 70 years old to keep us active!

Dinner at the highest point of Paris, Montmartre beside the Sacre Coeur.

Another beautiful day in Paris.

Cobblestone under our feet.

A quick pop-in to the LEGO store for the boys and H & M for me.

November 3rd

2 more Metro rides today.

We went to my favourite museum on earth, and it was free because it was the first Sunday of the month. If you love museums, checkout their free days and always note what day they are closed. It’s usually one weekday.

Off to my pick for this part of the trip: Mussee D’Orsay.

Monet

Two hours in the Museum D’Orsay was a hit. We climbed up to an observation deck on the fifth floor of the old train station and we asked the boys to see if they could recognize any of the artwork as we wandered around. We had a fun treasure hunt. But, I will admit that the biggest hit was the free virtual reality machine that gave the boys a two minute tour of the museum from the train station’s development over time.

Observation Deck
Virtual Reality Machine

16, 673 steps.

Over 700 of those steps straight up to the second floor of the Eiffel Tower.

Up in the day and down in the night is highly recommended.

Also, instead of accessing the Eiffel Tower from the plazas, come in from the side on Avenue Silvestre de Sacy. My boys found the sellers quite noisy and strange when we came from Pont d’lena yesterday to check out the Eiffel Tower.

The Eiffel Tower truly was an inspiring and incredible place to visit and I know it will ignite many future conversations with our family.

At 6:30pm, we arrived back home to our hotel for a simple picnic dinner while writing in journals and looking at and sharing photos amongst our devices.

We are very grateful for this day!

We saw concrete evidence of art in action and what a “rough draft” and “final copy” looks like! Yup, always a teacher!

We discovered a rose placed on a fence below the Eiffel Tower that reminded us of our beloved Nana in heaven:

We stumbled into an obscure Starbucks after a very rainy walk from the Museum D’Orsay to the Eiffel Tower:

The sun came out for our trip up and down the Eiffel Tower and we even saw a rainbow🌈:

Steve and I have THE BEST travel partners in the world!! No complaints. Easygoing. Flexible. Great communicators of their needs. And so MUCH FUN!

This Mama’s heart is overflowing.

“Acceptance” posture. What will be will be!

🚙 Today, we are off to visit the town used to live in in Northern France and also Vimy Ridge. Then Brussels, Belgium tonight for the next three days.

Be Taking a Radical Sabbatical to Europe

Do you have any teeny tiny dreams that are wriggling around in your heart right now? I have had one for years. I didn’t know how it would be possible, or even if it would be possible, but it was wiggling and jiggling around. I wanted to take our boys to Europe. To see, smell, taste how we lived for three years in Europe before they were born.

We spent our first year of marriage, at the age of 23, in a northern town in France called Harnes. Sexy Neck was playing professional volleyball and I coached and played a bit too! I used to go running around Vimy Ridge, carefully staying to the trails as I didn’t want to detonate a latent bomb from WWI.

We spent our 29th and 30th years on this earth in Germany and Switzerland.

At 32, I discovered I was pregnant with our first son while travelling in Europe for our friend’s Patrizia and Roman’s wedding in Switzerland.

And now, we are 45, our boys are 12, 10 and 8, and we are taking our radical sabbatical on the road…. to Europe!

29 days.

5 countries.

Hotels, hostels, a bible school, a mountain resort only accessible by tram, the Oberamerhof where we lived in Germany and dear friends’ homes will be our abodes for this adventure.

Over 3000 kilometres in a stick shift European automobile and on the autobahn to boot! Those little towns we lived in don’t even have a train station, so its car travel for this family.

Plus some gymnastics training thrown in for fun!

Where would you go if you could choose an adventure for your family?

Any advice on travelling Europe with kids?

Here we go folks.

The dream is unfolding in under a week!

We know we will get lost.

Meet the most interesting people.

See castles, villages, forests and cities.

Eat interesting food.

And get hug after hugs by our amazing friends.

I am MOST excited about this last one.

Friends we have known before we had children.

Friends who grew with us through living overseas, travelling and having children.

Friends who have walked the gift of grief with us from across the Pacific.

Friends who just “know”.

The words aren’t always known, but the feeling is unexplainable.

And now they get to meet our boys.

Dreams do come true!

Let this 3000 kilometre adventure unfold in His will.

With His ways.

Unfolding before us every day.

Amen.

And Amen.

Be surprised by a radical sabbatical

Do you like surprises? Have you ever been surprised so much that it makes you jump and shriek? (I used to love surprising my mama!)

I am jumping for JOY over this radical sabbatical right now.

As a volleyball player I was never known for my vertical, but I think I can fly right now.

The boys driving their “learning”!

I love seeing my boys happy.

Truly happy.

No more morning stomach aches before school.

I love living this small space, small refrigerator and no dishwasher life.

Hands in the warm water and our family working together to get cleaned up.

I love wandering with no direction.

Walking out the door, into the woods and then deciding which direction to head.

I love being so far away from town that I don’t pop anywhere.

At. Any. Time.

I love the relationships I have that are growing deeper through fascinating conversations and not just two minute fly bys in the school parking lot.

Facetime. Phone Call. Texts. They all keep us genuinely connected to those people who are embracing our radical sabbatical and supporting us on this journey.

I love perspective brought on by the time and space of stepping out of life’s routines and the mundane moments of life.

Time.

Space.

To do the work that I need to do to accept the death of people I have loved deeply, to accept the direction that my family of origin has taken, and to accept where I am right at this moment.

Acceptance.

I love learning acceptance.

I love less laundry. We wear pretty much the same thing every day, except when we go into town.

I love making a weekly meal plan, ordering my groceries, picking them up and sticking to it.

Like I mentioned, we don’t pop anywhere. Nothing is open at the ski hill right now, so we are flying solo or relying on the generosity of wonderful neighbours, if we forget anything from the grocery store.

I love our simple super food nutrition that gets delivered to our door.

I love saving money.

I love being stretched to try new things. Living a small refrigerator life has caused me to find an alternative to the gluten free Costco pizza crusts we used to devour. I have been making sourdough spelt bread and pizza crust from scratch. Can you believe it? And I love it. It is incredibly simple to do and takes only a bit of prep time either the night before or the morning of. Small spaces need simplicity and I am finding it through baking.

Our family loves to walk, no matter where we are in the world. We love to explore on foot and see what we will see. No agenda, no timeline, just walking, talking and seeing what is around us. We have noticed that there is a rhythm in the mountains that is more in touch with the seasons. There is a flow that reminds me of squirrels. Right before the season change in autumn, people were bustling around chopping wood and preparing their homes and cabins for winter. It was a beautiful thing where families worked together and often ended the day with time around a fire. The city doesn’t really have this flow. It seems that most people have similar routines and rhythms no matter the season. I encourage everyone, as you read about our radical sabbatical, consider the seasons of the year that exist where you live and what could those different seasons look like. I believe that change is a great things for human beings to feel fully alive, and noticing the seasonal changes can help us live in the present moment.

I love watching my boys learn and seeing where their learning takes them. I am surprised at how much they love learning. My boys previous love of schooling involved recess as the highlight.

Amongst ALL of these surprises the largest have been my absolute delight to step outside of the “school system” and the holiday of Halloween.

I am jumping and shrieking as I write these words.

Eeeeeekkkk!

These were scary to jump out of culturally, but oh so wonderful now.

The “school system”.

All Hallow’s Eve.

Schools are filled to overflowing with delightful teachers and parents as well as amazing kids. But anywhere that there are more than a few people gathered, there are bound to be systems in place to make things “easier”. A system meaning “procedures, principles or methods in which something is done”. These ‘procedures’ and individual teacher’s ‘principles’ often are there for the greater good of a class. From personal experience as an elementary school teacher, I know it is really hard to truly individualise learning in a school system and to really see our students every single day. Not every child’s needs can be met on a semi-regular basis. Teachers do need to have eyes on their students, so they can’t have them zipping around the neighbourhood or even the school grounds during class time. We are truly grateful to be outside of this system for this year of homeschooling. As I write these words, my eight year old is researching bakeries in Paris, my ten year old is learning about “Game Theory” in Math and my twelve year old is zipping around the online program IXL learning about Grammar. It’s a beautiful thing to watch. They are fully immersed in their learning. Soaking it up and working hard. The past seven years in the school system, I have 2 times per month, taken my boys out of school to ski or enjoy a day at home or to go visit relatives, but I didn’t feel good about it. There was this tension that they would “miss” something. As we have stepped fully away from the “school system”, I don’t feel that we are missing ONE. SINGLE. THING. Truly.

The boys meeting with their teacher.

My other huge surprise this fall has been realising the energy and thought that went into the holiday of Halloween for our family. How do you feel about Halloween? For me, it has always been a holiday with a spiritual ramification that I try to ignore. Is it a dark holiday that creates more bad than good? We may have to ask a law enforcement officer to answer that one. I don’t know the answer to this question because the optimist in me always creates good from every situation that I encounter. I have chosen to embrace Halloween because I love the opportunity it provides for my boys to be creative with their costumes and meet our neighbours. How often do neighbours get a knock from a child to say “hello”? Yes, my kids do love the candy too, but for me, I love the opportunity to say hello and get to know our neighbourhood. I wonder if my boys will miss it this year. We will be standing on the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France on October 31st and most likely walking up the 674 steps. We thought this would be a fun alternative to Halloween this year! We did have our eleventh annual pumpkin carving get together with friends, which is always a highlight. Other than that, we are stepping aside from Halloween this year. Whew!

Jumping for joy.

Happy boys.

Small space living.

Less laundry.

Simple super food.

Saving money.

Shrieking.

Jumping.

Grateful on this Thanksgiving 2019 for this opportunity to be surprised on this radical sabbatical.

Be Living a radical sabbatical

What does this radical sabbatical actually look like and is Sexy Neck working? Are we divorced? Where are you? What are we doing? These have been the pervasive questions over the last month as we have lived this radical sabbatical. Some people have been inspired, some people have thought we are crazy and others have just looked at us with wide eyes as we explain how we are living.

5 people.

Yes, Sexy Neck and I are 100% in this together. (And not divorced)

900 square feet.

Condo living.

8 months.

On the top of a mountain.

At a ski hill.

With the cows.

Travelling to Europe and Asia.

Homeschooling.

Not volunteering for anything.

Taking a radical sabbatical from the life we previously knew in the city.

What does this radical sabbatical actually look like for our family of five?

The boys do formal schooling Monday thru Friday from 9:00am to Noon. This formal schooling involves the 3 R’s – reading, writing and math! And I am hitting them hard. Going over basic facts, teaching them grammar and helping them understand the basics of the english language. They are writing in a journal, writing stories and doing research. Our 12 year old is researching Ancient Rome and Tesla. Our 10 year old is immersed in simple/complex machines and robots. Our 8 year old learned everything he could about Bobcats. Did you know they pee in the water so that they don’t leave a scent? Previously, the boys have been in French immersion, so the older boys have been doing their math in french and our youngest continues to write in french. But, I haven’t been stressed about it. If we decide to dive back into french next year, we will do a bootcamp in the summer to help them get back up to speed. This year is all about filling in some educational gaps that I see and having fun learning about what they are interested in.

Now, to talk about Sexy Neck! Right now, he is in Mexico City sitting at a fair, promoting his school district to families considering international education. And he LOVES it! Sexy Neck isn’t taking a radical sabbatical this year, but we are one hour closer to his work, so he does have a shorter commute! We are looking forward to joining him on a few trips that he is going to be taking for work. Sexy Neck LOVES his job and couldn’t imagine leaving it. It is truly what he was meant to be doing: a combination of education, business, travel and working with people. His dream life! We are happy that our radical sabbatical works alongside his dreams and brings him freedom from his commute and a more relaxed mountain life. He also loves backcountry skiing, which he can do every day after work in the winter. Truly his dream life!

Everyone who knows us, knows our backgrounds in Kinesiology and our love for physical literacy. All of our boys have done gymnastics from very young to eight years old. After eight they could choose to continue in gymnastics and our two older boys have. They love the community of boys, their coach and being able to achieve their personal goals through gymnastics. Thus, our radical sabbatical involves two days per week commuting one and a half hours each way back to the city so that the boys can practice with their team. Other than gymnastics, our sporting life will involve exploring the ski hill we are living on and embracing every day of winter. The boys have a goal of skiing every single day of the ski season. We know it will be “Canntastic”!


Lots of people have been wondering about our daily routines. To recap, here are a few of our routines that we have established for this radical sabbatical:

The 3R’s Monday thru Friday from 9:00am to Noon. And yes the boys say it is hard. And yes, we do have a lot of fun and flexibility. The boys take a recess break when they choose and they also choose where they work within our 900 square feet. Sometimes it’s on the floor, on our bed, at the kitchen table and often it’s at their desk. Sexy Neck is teaching them guitar and I am doing the rest with their teacher and our friend, Michelle, from Traditional Learning Academy.

Sexy Neck is fully involved in his work as a Principal of International Programs. He continues to embrace his role working with his students, the homestay families, his amazing staff and of course travelling to promote his program.

The boys are continuing with gymnastics and loving every minute of it. It is very motivating and they love the goals they have set: our ten year old wants to do an 8 second handstand and our twelve year old wants to do a giant on the high bar all by himself. WOW!

Outside of these routines, I have been personally surprised by four different pieces of this radical sabbatical:

1. Our garbage and recycling has reduced significantly. From one large black bin of garbage per week, to one medium-sized black bag. To one large blue recycling bin every two weeks, to one medium blue Tupperware per week that I will sort at the recycling depot in about five minutes. This surprise feels pretty amazing.

2. It’s outstanding to see the people who have stepped up to support us on this journey. We know that it truly does take a village to educate our children. Not only did we take the boys to Barkerville, a town from the 1800’s to kick off the school year, we took them to Science World and the boys got a welding lesson from their beloved Papa in his beautiful garage. The two older boys learned to weld, drill, grind, sand, paint and create a rebar coat hook with their initial on it. This was really incredible to see!

3. Living in a condo with no balcony and no private outside space, I was worried about what our outside time would look like. If you know us, we spend a ton of time outside during a day, even when the boys were in brick and mortar school. The boys and I have LOVED the mountain life. We love the exploring on foot and by bike. We love the terrain. Sexy Neck has loved climbing to the top of the ski hill. Bring on the snow! I cannot wait to see what that life will be like covered in white!

4. As the daughter of a teacher and a teacher myself, believe it or not, schooling has always been a thoughtful, somewhat worrysome process. The interesting thing about homeschooling is that I am being more intuitive: watching the boys learn, seeing what lights them up and letting them lead. No yearly plans, just living in the moment and finding resources as I need them. No stress of the September startup: Wondering which friends they would be with and which teacher they would have. Throughout the boys schooling, I known the importance of a teacher and their influence on their students. We have been fortunate to have incredible teachers and we have grown through some excruciatingly inflexible and mediocre ones. I am incredibly proud and honoured to be my boys’ teacher this year for grades three, five and seven. We don’t know if we will continue homeschooling next year, but for this month, it has been magical. I have learned that my boys LOVE to learn. They have embraced all the new skills I have thrown their way, including making a meal (spaghetti and meatballs), taking them to my health and wellness conference (anyone need more energy, want to sleep better, perform better or get rid of your fluffy tummy I am your girl) and learning to sew (curtains for their triple bunk!) alongside those 3 R’s that I talked about. I have seen where my boys have gaps in their learning and I have been able to fill them: capitalization, divisibility rules, number patterns, phonics, oh my! My heart is full. And only two pencils have been thrown in the process by my ten year old! A boy after my own heart with his emotions right at the forefront. I feel very grateful for this time together. I am not surprised at how much I truly LOVE being their teacher.

On September 26th, we celebrate our youngest’s eighth birthday.

We celebrate one month of this radical sabbatical.

We sit atop this peaceful mountain and ponder the adventure to Europe in November.

The projects that we want to learn about and where our questions will take us.

I have always believed that the beginning of all knowledge is asking a question.

And I wonder where this radical sabbatical will take our family.

A band of brothers.

Sexy Neck.

A homeschooling entrepreneurial Mama

Walking on this path.

Every day into the unknown.

With routines, that are flexible.

With surprises along the way.

Watching who shows up.

What lights them up.

And what this radical sabbatical will look like.

I pray for more days like today.

Love.

Joy.

Peace.

Patience.

Kindness.

Goodness.

Dignity.

Grace.

Living our best days.

On this radical sabbatical.

xoxo Joanna

Be Thriving with the six to eight day per year peeps

Summer 2019 is here!

And its SURVIVAL mode for those people being inundated with company, people they see six to eight days per year. I had an epiphany to share with you, one to make you THRIVE this year.

First, start by thinking about those 365 day per year peeps in your life. Who are the people you live with or choose to have in your inner circle? What do you have in common with them and why do you choose to hangout with them? What do you talk about and what do you love to do together?

Now, think about those six to eight days per year people. Next proceed to throw everything that you thought about and love about your 365 day per year people and fling it directly into the bottom of the swimming pool. These peeps that are in your life six to eight days per year, may be old friends or family. They may be colleagues from your spouses work that you attend conferences with or neighbours you only see in the summer.

Here’s my secrets to not only SURVIVE but THRIVE with these peeps.

Remember that everything that you thought and love about your 365 day per year peeps has been flung to the bottom of the swimming pool, now throw any negative thought or judgement about the six to eight days per week peeps in there too!

Get ready to look at you: What are your standards for healthy relationships and how do you want to interact with all people, no matter how often they are in your life? For me, this is pouring love and bringing the joy. I don’t share much about my life or even feelings at all, with my six to eighters, I save this for my 365 days per year peeps. But I do have fun with everyone. We eat nourishing delicious food. We go on and find adventures. We talk about travel. We discuss health. But I do not go into the deep end! Remember all that stuff that you had flung down into the deep end of the pool? Don’t go there! Oh I used you and boy what a mess it made.

These six to eighters can’t keep up with the change that happens in the other over three hundred and fifty days of your life. They can’t embrace the change because it would be like getting hit by a fast moving train. The people who can keep up, are on the train. Invested in you. In your inner circle. Those every day peeps who support and love you. The six to eighters receive the benefit of your high standards and love-filled hospitality. But that’s it folks. You may end up talking about things you don’t give a shit about for hours, but you ask questions and listen. You probably will end up doing mind numbing activities that were never on your wish list, but you will discover the joy and enjoy the ride. You will create space to recharge with who you are as you live these six to eight days per year. I exercise. I read. I spend a lot of time locked in the bathroom. I bring games I enjoy playing. I bring up new topics of conversations and then change it back once I see the six to eighters eyes start to gloss over.

Imagine….

Pure joy.

Overflowing love.

Judgement thrown away.

Negative thoughts too!

Thriving with the peeps who show up six to eight days per year.

Staying on your train, but diverting long enough to embrace other peoples rides.

THRIVING!