Category Archives: Parenting

Be Writing a Letter to Trampoline and Artistic Gymnastic Parents (April 16th, 2023)

It’s been an incredibly busy season for athletes involved in trampoline and artistic gymnastics. From February til now there have been many competitions. Since February Family Day weekend there have been three major competitions for our oldest son. The highlight was two weeks ago at Provincials where he achieved his goals for this season by moving up, aka mobilizing, into the National levels in all three events: trampoline, Double-mini trampoline and tumbling. He also achieved fifth all around for both male and female athletes in British Columbia in the national level. WAHOO! This young man will now represent British Columbia at Nationals in July.

This letter is being crafted to all the parents of these hardworking athletes, including myself, who have achieved their goals in months, years or failed to reached them by a score of 0.1. Yes, this sport is won and lost on very fine margins. I am throwing out some advice from my background in Kinesiology today and topping it off with some insight from Education.

Please give your child a week or two or even a month where scores or wins/losses don’t come into account.

Read to them or have them read to themselves, if they don’t see it as a chore. You could even buy them a copy of their favourite graphic novel.

Put out some clay, play dough or slime for them to play or create with.

Do a puzzle together.

Have a kitchen dance party and play their favourite music.

Draw together. They could draw what they feel or what they see. We love the Art for Kids Hub Youtube channel as you can find almost anything you would like to draw with helpful video lessons that are geared for kids. Even I can follow these directions! It’s so fun!

Go for a hike in nature together. This is our favourite and we try to do this weekly throughout all seasons of the year.

Build something together – Do you have Lego? How about the project you have always been wanting to build together in the garage?

Last but not least, why not embrace an old classic and play the cloud game. Sit on your backs in the grass and look for pictures in the clouds?

And that’s it folks! I hope that these amazing gymnasts that compete with such incredible intensity can steal from this list to calm their nervous systems and create a body and mind that can compete for years and years to come. What an incredible sport. We put out children in gymnastics at 18 months to build physical literacy. We never thought nor imagined that we would be fortunate to have a gymnast in the family. What a fun and exciting new sport to learn about and ponder today post-competition.

Have a marvellous Monday everyone and love what you do.

xoxo Joanna

Be Talking about Anger/Sadness (A Letter to My Boys)

Hi boys,

Do you remember Thanksgiving 2023 when you boys were in grades 10, 8 and 6? Do you remember the Friday night when I drove away to give myself a few hours “timeout”? I am sure you do as I know that this was an upsetting moment for you as you could sense my sadness and could feel that I was angry.

Before I throw a piece of paper in the garage that I hastily wrote on, with stick people drawings, once I came back home, I wanted to enshrine it here:

What do you do when people feel sadness or anger?

  1. Be annoyed and get angry back?
  2. Try to make them happy?
  3. Allow them to feel. Show empathy?
  4. Any other options?

After I shared my little diagram, I love that all of you were able to to allow me to feel what I felt and even show me empathy. Oxford Languages says that empathy is “the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.” Before my timeout, all three of you tried one of these different strategies above when you saw my sadness and anger. One of you started getting angry with me, another tried to tell a joke and lighten the mood and one of you was looking at me with sadness in their own eyes.

After I shared this diagram and we talked, you were all solidly in the empathy category with what I was experiencing in that moment and it was such a gift!

Allow people to feel.

Hold space for them.

Allow people to heal.

Be empathetic for them.

Allow people to deal.

Give time for them.

To be.

To rest.

To process.

Thank you boys for walking that weekend with me and for being open to learning about empathy.

Enjoy your day. Love what you do.

xoxo MAMA

Be Finished Grade Seven

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!

😘 Joanna

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!

Be July of 2022

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!)

xoxo Joanna

Be Starting a Radical Sabbatical

Our Radical Sabbatical – Chapter Two

And it begins… THIS IS day one! Truly, we really started two months ago when we rode away from school.  We rode away from a structured school system with times and schedules that often aren’t in the best interest of our children.  We rode away from preconceived notions of a 9 to 5 daily life.  We also rode into a life of the unknown, a life of exploring, a life where every day of the week can be similar or wildly different.  A new and familiar way.

Finding our rhythm.

Exploring new places.

Learning about our boys.

Closer to nature.

Closer together.

Our radical sabbatical.

As we stepped away from school, the first step was to find a distributed learning school that would meet the needs of each of our boys.  I phoned and emailed many schools. There were some that would send you weekly assignments and others where you could decide exactly what you could do with no teacher direction.  There is even “unschooling” where you don’t follow any curriculum and don’t work with a teacher. We chose something in the middle, partnering with the school that I used to work for before becoming an ‘accidental entrepeneur’ with the nutritional company that changed my life and I chose to partner with.  I am a trained teacher, but I know where I want my focus to be: Coaching my people to their best life and supporting my boys. The teacher we have the privilege of working with was my vice principal when I worked with as a Homeschool teacher and is also a very good friend.  Once we decided on the school, the teacher and I created a student learning plan for each of the boys.  These are individualized plans where myself, Sexy Neck and each of our boys would sit together and talk about our goals, and what are the strengths and needs of each of them.  It was rich!

Sabbatical schooling.

Personal goals.

Individualised plans.

Rich conversations.

Dreaming big.

Keeping things simple.

One wants a Youtube channel.

Another wants to complete a standing back flip.

And our youngest just wants to play with Lego.

Every child will be heard.

Every one of our son’s will get opportunities to lead.

We will get the opportunity to learn.

More about our boys.

More about their ways.

More about what fires them up.

More about what slows them down.

Sabbatical schooling.

Once we created a plan around schooling, we knew the next step was to find renters for our home so that we could live in a smaller space, closer to Sexy Neck’s work without having to worry about being away from a house for long periods of time.  We knew we were ready to live in our two room 900 square foot ski condo.  Imagine a hotel with two adjoining rooms, one with beds and a bathroom and another room with a kitchen and hide-a-bed. Eh viola, you have exactly the picture of what we would be living in.   We divinely found renters for our home through an old friend who reached out and said, “Hey, do you know anyone who is looking to rent out their home, my daughters are coming to university?”  Oh ya, we do!  We have know these daughters since they were wee ones and we knew that they were the perfect fit for our home!

The right people.

The right timing.

The right place.

Everything falling into place.

Unfolding effortlessly.

Without worry.

Without stress.

Walking out our dreams.

With this radical sabbatical.

In this small space.

With big dream.

Our radical sabbatical.

Once we had the school chosen and the house rented, it was time to declutter and start planning. And oh the decluttering we did. Following Dave Ramsey’s sage financial advice, we proceeded to sell more than $1,000 in clothes, toys and even a bed we weren’t using. I went through every single storage box in the basement and every cupboard and closet in the house. It was freeing! Stuff entangles me! Lastly, I went through all of my teaching boxes and found the resources that I knew I wanted to use. Four boxes widdled down to two boxes of treasures that I knew would help my boys learn.

Simplicity.

Freedom.

From stuff.

From clutter.

From chaos around us.

Freeing.

Simple.

As our radical sabbatical begun, the only thing left to ponder and pray about was what would we do to start the first day of school! We decided that a 1766 kilometres round trip road trip was in order. We visited two very special cabins for two nights each and ended up stepping into the 1800’s in Barkerville for the first day of school.

Stagecoaches.

Gold panning.

Old fashioned candy.

Cowboy boots.

Large hats.

Heavy guns.

Singing in the street.

King House B & B.

Three happy boys starting this first day of school in grades three, five and seven.

The Radical Sabbatical has begun!

Boys living their best lives.

Happy Mama.

Smiling Dada.

Dreams do come true.

Hold your visions.

As I hold mine.

Dream again if you haven’t recently.

Tell a friend.

And ask them to hold yours.

Radical Sabbatical.

Ahhhhhhhhhhh!

Be Creating a King/Queen Culture (Top 3 Tips)

Lessons are everywhere if we look for them! Especially lessons about the culture we want to create for our kids.

After watching my boys learn and negotiate playing ping pong with each other, I have become clearer on exactly what I want for the culture within my family and business. Imagine a little white ball going back and forth, off the roof and walls, teaching us about culture. Yup, that’s how I roll! Lessons are around every corner and at the end of every ping pong paddle.

Here are my three tips for anyone that wants to create a culture where everyone is treated like the royalty they are.

A king.

A queen.

Uniquely created.

Individually gifted.

God-given talents.

Royalty.

My King/Queen culture is:

1. Calm & Strong.

2. Focused & Fierce

3. Humble & Proud.

When my boys were hitting the ping pong ball back and forth, the boys that were calm and strong were the most successful. Flailing, getting annoyed, crying, having temper tantrums on the floor and flopping around like a a leaf in the wind, didn’t help move forward the skills my boys were trying to learn in ping pong. In my life, when I have allowed my emotions to run rabid and guide me, I am neither calm nor strong. In the culture I am creating, calm and strong must reign. The ability to be present exactly where you are, as exactly who you are. The ability to look at situations and what’s happening around me with a peace in my heart and knowing I can handle anything.

Calm & Strong.

Have you every played ping pong or tennis or any other racquet sport? How do some players just smash the ball into the corner of the court? How do they always seem to hit the exact spot that you can’t reach? They are one hundred percent both focused and fierce. They seem to not hear nor see anything happening around them but the object they need to hit. This is the culture I want to create. And something my oldest son has mastered in ping pong. He can really hit that ball. In this King/Queen culture in my business, the focus is first on the person being helped or served. Nothing else matters, I listen without judgement or preconceived notions. I am fiercely focused on finding out what they need and how I can help. Looking for that exact spot where they might have a nutritional hole that needs to be filled.

Focused & Fierce.

Lastly, in this culture the one that will be the most successful must be both humble and proud. When I was watching my boys play ping pong, I could sense the happiness and sense of pride in a shot well done and I knew that they were humble when they won. No showboating or boasting would have been tolerated by the other brothers. Isn’t it amazing to see people that love what they do, take pride in what they do, but are also willing to learn. I truly believe that having a humble heart that knows there is more to learn is such a beautiful thing.

Humble & Proud.

A culture of people willing to learn. A culture of people open to what’s happening around them.

Living as human beings that are:

Calm & Strong.

Focused & Fierce.

Humble & Proud.

In all areas of life, but especially while playing pingpong.

😘 Joanna

<Pop over to Instagram to say hi! @cannjoanna>

Be Giving Four Tech Tips to Parents (speech preparation)

In April, I am going to be sharing my experience with technology and our three boys to a group of parents, professors and community members at the local University. I will be on a panel with four experts that have immersed themselves in learning and being awake to technology.

Here is my speech, your comments are appreciated:

When I was growing up I had a neighbour named Michael. He was not allowed to eat gum, candy or anything that had sugar in it. When he became a teenager, he always seemed to have a piece of gum in his mouth as soon as he walked down the end of his driveway. He was focused on when he could have his candy and gum. He was a sugar zombie. As I now raise three boys in a overtly technologically driven world, like sugar was for my generation, and ponder them as teenagers, this has been in the forefront of my mind. As parents, my husband and I always “start how we want to finish”. We don’t want to do anything that won’t help our young children grow into adults.

Our discussion around technology began when our youngest was four months old and I flipped on a children’s television channel and saw an Oil of Olay commercial. I asked myself if I wanted my son to grow up thinking that women looked like that? The answer was no and the cable was taken off the television. Our boys are now 11, 9 and 7. They have access to technology but have maybe seen the nightly news five times in their entire life. My husband and I have come up with four guiding questions or tips about technology that have helped us as we parent our boys.

BUT, before I share these tips, I want to give you a bit more depth of insight about our vantagepoint as parents. All of the information in the world, is now in our pockets, we can also take pictures, communicate immediately, count our steps and even open our garage door. When we grew up, we had to access a library, find someone, or have a gigantic set of encyclopedia Brittanica on our shelves at home to access information. With this power in our pocket, we also know that it lights up our brains like cocaine. Oh it feels good! Technology gives us instant gratification. And we have observed that most people spend more time with their technology (than?) with any human being in their life. Therefore, we don’t take technology and our children’s connection to it lightly.

NOW, here’s our four questions we use to guide us. I implore each of you to steal our questions or be inspired to create your own. May you find a healthy relationship with technology for you and your family.

First, how do we want technology to look in our family knowing the average usage of screen time is 6 hours per day for children?

We held a family meeting to discuss this and we talked about our weeks as well as the activities that we live to do. We decided on 4.5 hour per week. Yup, per week. The boys created Tech Coins so that they could personally keep track of their time. We know they will soon be teenagers and I don’t want to be keeping track of their technology time. I want them to be able to know when enough technology is enough. Remember my neighbour and our motto for parenting: “Start how you want to finish”.

Second, we wondered how do we help grow creators using technology not just consumers. Like good food, alcohol, shopping… we believe you can consume too much technology. Have you ever met a young child that can only talk about technology? I believe we are dealing with an overconsumption! In our boys, 4.5 hours of technology per week, they do play a few games that are apps. They mostly will create skits that they video, make cartoons, build things or make stikbot movies.

Here’s the big question, number three: How do we engage in social media as a family? I use it sparingly for work, after I overcame my own addiction. My boys don’t do it at all. Common Sense Media recommends that children aren’t ready til 14 years old. And as my husband has worked as a Vice Principal at both a middle and high school, I don’t know if our boys will have access to social media before they leave our home at 18. Haha. My husband estimates that 70% of the issues he dealt with were at least partially connected to social media. It’s a platform that creates communication and a life that isn’t real. I read things personally, that I know that person wouldn’t say to another living human beings face but the technology had caused a disconnect. We are all about connection.

Our fourth question was one from my journey, do we crave technology? Can we leave it for an hour or two or a day or a two? I am proud to say that I now can. But now I am very careful to see if my boys are being seduced into the instant gratification of technology. If yes, we talk about it, then take a break for a day or two.

Image from http://www.rearfront.com

People worry about zombies coming to the earth, but I think they are already here… mouths dropped open, head down, phone in front of their face, running into poles on the sidewalk, ignoring every human being around them. To prevent a generation of zombies, I ask:

1. How does technology look like for you and your family? What do you want it to look like?

2. Are you using technology to create or consume?

3. How do you engage with social media?

4. Do you crave technology?

A few questions to ponder as we live in an ever changing technological world and strive to raise awake, creative human beings and not zombies.

Be Keeping SH*T Real

There is a pervasive message in our culture that is saying “stay positive”, “think positive”, shift your mindset to be more positive and everything will be AWESOME!

Those that know me, know that I do have a positive mindset, but I did not, I repeat, I DID NOT, get there by being positive all the flipping time.

Rails and Trails, 2018

Let me tell you a little story about these three geniuses above:

My boys were 7,4 and 2 years old when my mom was dying. This grief experience would become the greatest gift that our family has been given! Plus, isn’t it amazing to know that we all having the incredible Nana waiting for us in heaven. When we were given this gift of grief, I spoke with my counselor, a tremendous amount, about how we grieve as human beings She taught me, and my children showed me, that the very best grievers are actually children. What they do is feel things very deeply, stay in each moment and move in and out of grief very quickly. This was exactly our experience. They would see or remember something from Nana, wham, the tears would come. Then they would see their favourite LEGO and wham, they are smiling and playing again. My counselor taught me that the best thing I could do for them, and myself, was to sit with them in their grief, feel things with them and wait for them to shift or helps them slowing shift after being present with them. Rarely, did I need to do anything but merely sit and be present with them.

Imagine this same grief journey, if I constantly put on a positive face, ignored their feelings and told them to be positive. “Just be positive” said over and over and over again.  In a child’s world, this would be completely invalidating their feelings and not give them the permission to feel or grieve. I wonder what counselling they would need later in life to get over not feeling the feelings they had during this time?  

This year is going to be our fifth Christmas without my marvellous mama and I must admit that I have become an expert at negotiating grief. I sit with myself. I feel things deeply and then gently move myself when I know I am ready.  I cried in the pool this morning while swimming lengths. I feel the feelings, I let the tears flow. 

Germany, 2003
Robyn’s wedding, 1998

I am blessed because I can now see and sense this grief process working in others and I easily give them space to move through the process. We do this often with relationships, situations, and even with our food.  I can see people giving themselves lashes for not being positive enough or at all.  I can see people trying so hard. 

This brings me back to the positive rah rah that is overpowering our culture.  I WANT TO BE A PERMISSION BEARER.  As I observe and grow a business in this culture of a constant positivity, my message has clearly become “keep sh*t real”. The more honest my customers can be with me, the more I can walk with them. The more we can sit with each other in the real sh*t that exists in this world, the more we can move each other into positive places. We have to sit together, listen together and then move!

Feel the feels. 

Sit in them. 

Then look, seek and find solutions and that positive place. 

When you look around and feel like sh*t because you aren’t positive enough, pretty enough, doing enough or…. <insert what it is for you here>… keep it real and sit with your sh*t. And realise that when I look around and see the pervasive positivism overwhelming my feed, it’s usually being put out into the world by men, young couples or empty nesters. You don’t often seen mom’s waking up to puking kids or having to put every single thing they had planned that day on hold because of a child with a fever, spewing the positivity message 24/7.

It’s about keeping sh*t real. Finding a way to keep taking one step forward every day towards where you want to go. Surrounding yourself with people who will cheer you on and be positive even when you have spit up on your shoulder and haven’t combed your hair.  Find that tribe that keep things real and can be positive when you can’t be.  

If you aren’t feeling that you are good enough, positive enough or that you are doing enough, STOP that sh*t.  Remember my lessons from grief that my boys taught me.  

God has given you many talents that you may not be able to see right now.

That’s okay.

God is taking you through a season that is going to give you great strength.

That’s amazing.

God is going to reveal everything to you in EXACTLY the right time.

That’s incredible.

BUT, life isn’t always okay, amazing or incredible.

But you “Cann”: 

Always hold hope.

Always brings peace.

Always hold love.

Always keep sh*t real.

Even when the positivity police try to overtake you.

Learn from my greatest teachers, my boys, in this upcoming season.

Sit exactly where you are.

Feel things deeply.

Move when you are ready.

Always hold hope.

Always bring peace.

Always hold love.

Always keep sh*t real.

😘 Joanna Cann