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!)
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.
WARNING: Nylons and short skirts are back in style over here (coming soon to North America), Canada Goose jackets are more popular here than in Canada, jogging is a huge deal over here, bikes and biking paths rocks and yes you can eat too many croissants. Cleansing tomorrow!
Monday, November 4th.
5 hours of driving, broken into two parts.
2 bags of cookies.
2 bags of Whey Thin protein crackers.
1 bottle of water.
All used as sustenance for this day of transition.
From France to Belgium.
From past to present.
From past dreams to present-day dreams.
We left our cozy, sweet sixth floor Paris hotel room on Monday, November 4th to start out European road trip after picking up this sexy station wagon:
We had two special places we want to show our boys: Vimy Ridge and Harnes, France (which will be furthermore known as the Armpit)
First, Vimy Ridge. A place to remember. A place to learn. A perfect place to be in November (or any time of year!) We went through the tunnel and the trenches, soaked up the information in the new museum and had a private tour of the monument. God even gave us a rainbow, like He did on the top of the Eiffel Tower.
When we lived in Harnes for one year, I used to come running on this land, given to Canadians from the French because of the significance of this Ridge during World War One. Being back in this place as a mother, I was touched by the Mother Canada statue at the front of the monument and all the mothers that have been affected by war. I am grateful for our country. 🇨🇦
After Vimy Ridge, we made a quick tour of the town where Steve and I spend our first year of marriage. Steve was playing professional volleyball for Harnes and I played a bit and coached ten year old boys volleyball. We found the gym with the cement floor and our old apartment across from the canal and coal excrement hill. I wish we had a video running as we drove into the village. At the time, we were surrounded by great teammates and didn’t realize what an armpit that we were living in. No train station. A little rough around the edges, a bit smelly and really in the middle of nowhere. An armpit.
We arrived in Brussels around 6:00pm. With time to checkin to our uber cool, mostly young person’s Meininger hotel/hostel and wander through Brussels and find an awesome Italian restaurant. We closed down the place!
Bonne Nuit sweet friends from room #401. (Every room number is an individual work of art here!)
10,396 steps walk
A quieter day at our hostel hotel.
Buffet breakfast (9.50 Euros for each adult and 4.95 Euros each for the boys)!
Yes, we did have Belgian Waffles. The boys were very surprised there wasn’t any maple syrup.
We had a morning of math and writing in the common area then zipped to our old favourite discount grocery store, Lidl, to pickup food so that we could make lunch and dinner ourselves today.
The arcade games behind us have been a huge hit. Old school driving games and some pinball too.
From living three years over in Europe, we knew that concrete ping pong tables are at every school and almost every park. I tucked four paddles and some ping pong balls into our suitcase. We plan on many days of playing. We had this ping pong table one block away.
Today was CC’s turn to plan an activity and he researched and chose the chocolate store, Leonida’s.
CC didn’t find any chocolate that he liked!
These chocolates looked like a white mushroom with a chocolate, caramel filling. Wow!
We then walked and visited the famous Mannequin Pis. I hesitate to even post a picture because the surprise we received when we visited the statue….hmmm… maybe I won’t post a picture. Nah, I think I will leave the Mannequin Pis as a surprise for all of you.
After visiting the statue it was time for dessert before dinner – more Belgium waffles and some ice cream too!
We finished off the time in the city with a few handstands in the City Hall square and listening to some beautiful accordion music.
Evening was spent cooking together with four other multicultural groups and talking about a hilarious reality tv cooking show in a hostel where no one speaks the same language and there aren’t enough pots, plates or cups to go around. Plus, you are so tall that you keep bonking your head on the vent and one burner on the stove keeps randomly going on. After the hilarious and hot kitchen, dinner tasted good.
Goodnight from Brussels. What a spectacular view our room has looking across the canal towards the city and the lit up Ferris wheel.
Our last full day in Brussels, Belgium involved wandering, waffles and a wonderful adventure to pickup our superfood nutrition from a friend of a friend who we had it delivered to. More room in our suitcases for presents for friends.
After saying “au revoir” to Daddy who will be working in Berlin and Düsseldorf for the next two days, we decided to try and find the Ferris wheel that we have been watching out our window in the evenings. We found the Ferris wheel plus stairs and concrete barriers to do parkour on, a construction site to watch and eat more Leonida’s chocolate at, a skateboard park, and many poles to “kong”. (To think I didn’t even know what konging was a week ago!)
It was CC’s choice for our meal today and he chose a waffle place. Imagine waffles with anything you want on them or in them. Our oldest had a smushed waffle sandwich with hamburger and cheese plus one with caramel for dessert, the other two had ham and cheese and then one with whipped cream for dessert. It was a memory making meal and a favourite for our boys. If you are travelling in Belgium or France with kids, Waffle Factory would be a safe bet for the family (as long as you aren’t looking for any fruits or vegetables!)
After our waffle meal, we went on a cross city journey to retrieve our super food box. This beautiful soul below received our package and allowed us to pick it up at her house. We are looking for partners in Belgium if you know anyone who lives there and is into helping people get healthy and wealthy!
We finished this day off with a hallway workout and a few more races on those old school video games in the common area.
Oh and I have to show you one of the bikes that captured my heart. I love this country for their biking culture: the trails, the bike shops, and the bike themselves.
Gooood morning from Brussels and goodnight from Frankfurt, Germany.
3 hour and 58 minute drive.
18 minutes in the Netherlands.
1 stop at the awesome “rest stops” on the side of the Autobahn. 50 cents for the toilet.
Side note: I was surprised at how many Burger King’s, Starbucks and McDonald’s are now available at these Autobahn rest stops. Twenty years ago, these rest stops were a highlight because of their uniqueness and you never knew what you were going to get.
We did get yelled at for not knowing that the ketchup dispenser had a foot pedal, so that kept things real for us.
Oh ya, on our way out of town, we had CC’s last choice for activity: Driving to a RC Car store, apparently the last RC car store in Belgium. The owner, Bernard, was THE BEST! We were able to hear stories about his story, his family, his businesses and all the trophies that lined the entire store. It was a blast. The boys were super happy and CC was pumped to walk away with a race car he can fix up.
After enjoying the RC car store and our Autobahn experience as well as seeing many churches in the distance, we arrived in Frankfurt!
We are pumped to be staying at Monopol hotel across from the Hauptbahnhof with a breakfast buffet, free mini bar, a bathtub and a hotel that has a door that swings out. (It’s the little things that these boys are finding interesting!!)
After checking in, we took a cruise across the street to the train station to have our first German pretzel and see what a train station looks like. It was as spectacular as I remembered. The book and magazine store was delicious. I loved watching people bustling around and the whooosh as the trains pulled into the station.
Guten Nacht sweet friends. We love you ♥️ and if you have made it to the end of this entire blog post air hug 🤗 and high five!! Leave me a comment so I can send them to you!
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!
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.
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.
I love seeing my boys 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Small space living.
Simple super food.
Grateful on this Thanksgiving 2019 for this opportunity to be surprised on this 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.
Yes, Sexy Neck and I are 100% in this together. (And not divorced)
900 square feet.
On the top of a mountain.
At a ski hill.
With the cows.
Travelling to Europe and Asia.
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.