Category Archives: radical sabbatical

Be Grinding It Out

With the inundation of the outside world into our regular lives through social media, I want to remind everyone reading this today that “Grinding It Out” is divine work.

We don’t need to sell our homes and fly off to some beachside destination.

Unless, we want to.

We don’t need to be shopping and buying the latest iPhone or shirt from the new Adidas store on 4th Avenue.

Unless, we want to.

We don’t need to get a new man/woman to be fulfilled or happy.

Unless, we want to.

We get to wash dishes, listen to our children talk about cars for the 1, 378th time and tell a bedtime story to keep away the nightmares.

Yes, we get to “grind it out”.

We get to drive hours in our cars back and forth to drop off, pick-up, make dinner all while your husband sits beside a pool in Bangkok, Thailand drinking lemon water.

Yes, we get to.

We get to do laundry, load the dishwasher, scrub the toilet, wipe down the light switches, vacuum moldings all while refeereeing fighting matches involving nerf guns and sponge swords.

Yes, we get to.

The grind is for real. It can be a grind, if we don’t see all of these things as a privilege.

Actually, the definition of grind according to Oxford is “hard, dull work”. As I write these words, I am actually not sure we can call it a grind anymore compared to decades ago. Maybe I need to call this post be: “Be Organizing Electrical Devices to Grind It Out.”

Oh where our minds go late at night.

I love you.

Have an epic Sunday folks and love what you do.

Xoxo Joanna

Imagine ~ Campus Education System vs. Home Learning Education System

Imagine a learning world where you are amongst 29 other young humans that are your age, not your learning ability, but simply your age. Next add into this scenario one or two adults, that we call “teacher”. This is the campus system.

Now, imagine a learning world where you are amongst your family, learning in your neighbourhood, community or even travelling around the world. Next add into this scenario people of all ages, that we call “teacher”. This is the online learning system.

Imagine a learning world where you must be “present” and ready to learn between 8:25am and 2:30pm every Monday through Friday. Next add into this scenario when you are able to have holidays or days off.

Now, imagine a learning world where you can listen to your body and wake-up later in the winter and earlier in the summer. Next add into this scenario that you are able to take holidays when you choose to.

Imagine a learning world where you are required to follow a certain book or program because everyone else is doing it in your group. Next add into that your individual learning style that is different from how the book or program teaches.

Now, imagine a learning world where you choose the book or program based on your learning style and what you are interested in. Next, add into the program, deletions or additions that continue to build on what you already know and don’t know.

Imagine a learning world where you are embarrassed to go to the washroom or able to eat when your stomach is growling. Next, add into the program other young people that might verbally tease you or simply comment on these two natural functions of being a human being.

Now, imagine a learning world where you have cold or hot food available to you all day and your personal washroom is just down the hall. Next, add in an environment where listening to your body and your bodily functions are encouraged and praised.

Now, imagine this woman writing this post growing up in this campus learning world and now being blessed and fortunate enough to give her children a very different learning world.

That’s what I did.

I am privileged to have discovered this second world in 2014 as teacher. And now, I have had the privilege to experience it with our own three boys the last four year. It is very humbling and it is incredibly profound. I do not take these years learning in the world with our boys for granted. I do know that this isn’t for everyone, but I am FOR everyone to have an incredible campus or home learning experience whichever system you choose.

I love you.

Have an epic Sunday folks and love what you do.

xoxo Joanna

Be Surprised (with a bit of Mel Robbins sprinkled in)

As I walked into 2023, I remember listening to a Mel Robbins podcast where she shared about her podcast that she started in September. Mel said that even if just one person would be inspired/affected by her podcast, it would all be worth it.

Well folks, who knew that my little ramblings and writings would affect others and more than just one person.

Since writing my New Year’s 2023 musings where Sexy Neck and I shared the 3 lessons we learned from the second hardest year of our lives, I have heard personal and encouraging words on what I wrote from:

  • Karla, from our volleyball days in Germany in 2002/03, whom I used to help coach and whom I met with weekly in our town of Bad Saulgau to do a Tankstelle.
  • Cathy, Sexy Neck’s old Head Secretary from when we first moved to K-town in 2013.
  • Cyndi, a teaching colleague from our pre-kid days in Vernon and a fabulous mom of girls.
  • Bubba, the oldest friend I have had on this earth.
  • Shell, one of our newest and greatest friends here in K-town.

And that’s just a few highlights from the last week.

I am literally on my face humbled and very surprised that after my few year hiatus, because I was too cheap to upgrade my account, that people would take the time to read my words that pop into their inbox. Thank you for sitting with me on this blogging journey.

Your time is a gift. I don’t take it lightly when people stop to read, comment or reach out to me to share that they read what a wrote, plus what resonated with them. You, yes YOU reading these words, have make every second that I type these worth it.

Thank you.

You are a gift and I wish, today, that every single person reading these words would know that they are LOVED by the Creator of the Universe, my Heavenly Father, and that my mom is shining her love and light upon us all.

I love you peeps.

Sidenote: I took social media off my phone (Instagram and Facebook) for 2022 and I still haven’t put it back on. I love sitting down at my computer, opening those pages and interacting with people. I realize I love this virtual connection that I am able to have with people all over the globe. I don’t love the “mindless scroll hole” when these Apps sit on my phone. I don’t think these Apps will be coming back for 2023!

xoxo Joanna

Three Lessons from the Second Hardest Year of Life (2022)!

In 2013, our boys were 2, 4 and 6 years old. The second half of 2013 was arduous to walk through as it ended up being my mom’s end days on earth, bravely breathing through cancer. I remember my mom’s desire for a bath, shaving her head and cutting her nails, the ever-present pain and then the soft look in her eyes each time the boys were in her presence. December 26th, 2013 my mom ended her days here on earth.

Now, we have walked through another year with entirely different challenges that have brought us to our knees and make us appreciate even more what 2013 taught us. Since this date in 2013, we have lost Sexy Neck’s mom, his grandparents, his uncle and my uncle. All beloved and all dearly missed. We have moved homes twice, changed two different jobs, walked through a fascinating time in history (2020 + 2021) and have had other people come and go from our lives.

In 2022, our boys are ending the year at 15, 13 and 11 years old. I am unsure if I can use words to express the feelings of utter frustration and “loss” that we experienced in this one year which was compounding for many years. When you journey through someone with cancer you are at the mercy of so many things: the health care system, fatigue level/capacity/expertise of very human doctors and nurses, the disease itself, and the actions of others. Now, we have become enveloped in other “systems”, have been affected by our own and others post-C@vid fatigue, and simply have gone down paths where we have had to shifts our dreams and goals. We had to let go of many dreams (sport and business related) as we choose to keep our family our priority.

As we slam shut the door on this year, Sexy Neck and I have sat down and done what we do best: connect. I then did what I do best: write.

Here are our musings about 2022 and how we are going to shift into 2023 with our hearts, eyes and minds wide open to what we want this one short and beautiful year to look like.

The 3 life lessons that we have painfully learned this year are:

  1. Be clear in your vision so that if it’s not aligned you can say no. 
  1. Give things to God. 
  1. Keep your family first. 


  1. Be conscious what you fill your mind with (Books, movies, podcasts, friends…) and stay away from the “scroll hole”.
  1. Be disciplined with your time because it is the highest currency. (Value your time and treat it as THE GREATEST resource you have) 
  1. Be more conscious of your blessings. Express and show gratitude.

And that’s it folks. I am not going to get into the nitty gritty of the year because it’s now, thankfully past.

Whether 2022 was a growing, sowing or loafing year, may you have kind-hearted, authentic people, including yourself, surrounding you to help you turn 2023 into anything your heart, desires, soul and mind need.

God bless you my beautiful friends.

xoxo Joanna

Be Finished Grade Five

How is our baby boy finished grade five? My heart delights when I think about OC’s journey these last three years since he began this home learning life. We took him out in grade two and truly it was the best time and I think he has reaped the benefits from this courageous decision we took!

OC is truly thriving and discovering new passions on a monthly basis. This year, he was very motivated to learn more about fishing and hunting. He found a love for basketball and volleyball. He played soccer, enjoyed skiing and loved doing trampoline drop-ins at Airhouse. OC continues to truly love everything related to law enforcement or conservation officers, especially if it involves a dog. He would still love a German Shepherd one day, but his Winnie, the golden doodle, gets a lot of cuddles and attention each day. Since he moved into his own room in May, OC is making an epic Lego build on his bottom bunk and has Lego stacked high in bins in his closet. OC continues to love to read, starting each day and ending each day with a book. He loves doing anything that his two big brothers are doing, but especially creating in Minecraft, playing in the pool and building things. One momentous highlight for OC this year was our year end field trip to Innisfail to visit the RCMP canine dog training centre. The demonstration with the dogs and their handlers was inspiring for us all. I highly recommend you take a trip to visit in the summer to see one of their Wednesday demos.

As OC heads into grade six, justice continues to be his middle name. His sense of right/wrong within our family and in the world, is strong. He loves making sure everyone is taken care of and is a thoughtful soul. Learning comes very easily to OC and he especially loves watching videos and being read to. It’s always fun to hangout with OC and get spontaneous hugs and kind words.

Bring on grade six and another year learning at home for OC. I wonder if he will ever choose to go back to a campus school. Time will tell!

😘 Joanna

P.S. I heard from WordPress and I can pay an extra $10 per month to get more storage. To pay or not to pay. Maybe I just start a new blog page? Egad, what to do. How many monthly subscriptions can one person pay? We currently have Netflix, Disney, Apple and just gave up on Prime! Egad.

Be Going into Grade 10 (High School)

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!)

XOXO Joanna

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??

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