Category Archives: writing

Be a Great Pyrenees (Post about Friendships)

As a dog, I would previously have been seen as a fluffy, golden retriever.

I love human beings and can talk to anyone, anywhere. I have made friends after a 4 hour plane trip and even made a lifelong friend in a checkout line in Nashville. She complimented me on my shoes. We stayed in contact and then I ended up finding her the same pair of shoes and sent them to her.

My boys often ask me to stop “chitty chatting”!

I might be weird as I will talk to anyone, but I won’t be someone’s friend just because our kids do the same activities , our kids are the same age, we teach in the same profession or we live on the same street.

I love every ONE, but my friends are people who are authentic, straightforward, family-oriented and passionate.

These last three years as I grew through deep loneliness and even discrimination as I wouldn’t share or talk about the greatest science experiment our generation has gone through. My golden retriever spirit died. I have happily morphed into the ever-watching guardian dog, the Great Pyrenees.

I still see you, but I am not going to chase you to hangout with you.

Watching.

Looking for what will happen next, but not engaging.

Watching.

Waiting to see who will “see” me back.

Watching.

I have gotten more mellow, more calm and more still.

Moving from an every chasing Golden Retriever to a watchful Great Pyrenees shifts things up in the friendship realm and many of my friendships fell away in the last three years.

I guess when you are doing a lot of chasing, you can think you have lots of friends, but it is truly the friends that will stand with you in the calm and the storms as a Great Pyrenees that are here to stay.

Thank you to my salt of the earth friends from the past and those to come in the future. I love you and I send you a big virtual lick!

Have an epic Friday folks and love what you do.

xoxo Joanna

Be Saying Goodbye to Home Visit + Report Card Writing Season (2023)

When I worked in the classroom in the campus setting as a teacher, I always felt this sense of angst that I wasn’t spending time or even had enough time to get to know all students equally. I felt like I was NEVER enough.

In the campus system, almost 95% of my time was often spent with 5% of the students.

Sad, but true.

BUT, I came up with a system to at least waylay my own personal angst. For each day of the week, I would focus on 6 of my students and genuinely asking them questions and talk with them. The chat would have been a few minutes to 5 minutes with each of these six students, but I felt closer to my goal of truly “knowing” my students. 5 days per week times 6 students = 30 students in my class. BUT, I was only spending about 5 minutes consistently, authentically communicating with each student each week.

Sad, but true.

As an online teacher with the school that I have a contract with, I am asked to do 3 home visits throughout the year. I also will Zoom with families a few times, on top of these home visits, to stay connected and in tune with any “successes to build on” or “struggles to shift through”.

As of Tuesday, I completed writing report cards after meeting with my eighteen families (39 students in total) between Kamloops and Oliver, British Columbia, plus many towns and cities in between. The total distance between Kamloops to Oliver is around 275 kilometres (170 miles). In the last few months, I spent about forty hours in my car plus over forty-five hours then writing report cards.

Not ideal, but worth every second.

At these home visits, students will read with me, show me work they are proud of and we will talk about math. I will go over their personal goals that we set for the year in September. (This is ALL on top of the weekly/biweekly learning samples they share throughout the year via the sharing platform, Seesaw.) I meet puppies, listen to piano, play basketball, have tea parties with homemade cakes, play Lego/blocks, cook, make crafts and I even paint with some students at their homes.

Overjoyed and true.

I spend HOURS upon HOURS with my students and their families throughout the year. I am privileged to be invited into peoples homes to see “behind the scenes” of the learning that is taking place. It is within this family unit that I am truly given a picture of what learning is like for the student: How they fit within their sibling unit, how their parents work with them and even how things are set up in the home, are all important for learning about how our children learn (in the online world and the campus education system).

Overjoyed and true.

Sometimes people wonder why I have chosen this path for my teaching career and how I can work with so many students.

First, I truly feel like I can help inspire and support my students because I have time to sit with them, listen to them and learn from them.

Second, I really get to “know” my students, which was never possible in the campus system I worked in. In the campus system, I always tried to see/meet my students outside of the unilateral learning environment of the classroom. I always volunteer coached, ran chess club, did breakfast club and spent extra time on the playground to try and get to know my students, but I never felt like I ever had enough time or ever got to know how they fit within their family.

Last, the online learning world gives me time because I oversee each students program individually, yes one-on-one, while their parents or even grandparents on the ground working directly with the students and also managing any behaviour. What a gift! My students don’t exist within a classroom setting with other students, I am working directly with them. Their learning plan is individualized and truly their own.

Sitting.

Listening.

Learning.

Knowing.

Being.

Individual.

Students.

The gift of one-on-one time!

I am NOW enough.

Overjoyed and true.

I am grateful for the time with each of my families these last months of home visits. I am blessed to write report cards, yes official documents about each of my students, detailing all the amazing things that they can do and things they will continue to grow into.

Thank you Jesus for calling me back into this world in 2020. I am eternally grateful.

Have an epic Sunday folks and love what you do.

xoxo Joanna

P.S. We also had a Ministry of Education Inspection on the day BEFORE our report cards were due. This means that everything needs to be up-to-date in our student portals including all communication notes and individualized student learning plans. It was seriously “full on”. Time to sleep and ski now!

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 on a Radical Sabbatical from Munich to Milan

Munich.

Alps.

Milan.

Food and toilets too!

Travelling with these boys is ALWAYS fun!

Truly an amazing time. No social media fluff and puff.

Take a scroll through and see what we have been up to as we have wanders from Germany to Italy. Please leave a comment too!

November 10th

Munich.

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

Biggest beer.

Oldest central plaza in Munich (Marienplatz)

Walking everywhere on foot.

Seeing Steve at work!

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

With help from a friend, I was able to find gymnastics training for the boys in Munich. It was a cool experience for them and made them appreciate their gym back home even more.

After training, we were able to zip to where Steve was doing his Fair talking to families in the Munich area about his school district. We were very grateful to see what he does. CC bought a new jacket at H & M today which matched his Dada’s.

After the Fair, it was time to get back to the hotel, get packed as we had a 5 and a bit hour drive to Milan, Italy the next day.

November 11th

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

1 hotel breakfast.

I loved this window where the tea sat.

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

The rest of the family getting their breakfast.

1 more walk to Marienplatz.

1 more visit to the toy store.

Purchases of 2 Porsche’s and a German Shepherd figurine.

1 solo shopping trip to H & M for ME! I found some awesome Christmas gifts for the boys.

11:11 in Italy. Remembering.

1 final squeeze through the driveway from the hotel garage to the street. The rental car was beeping like crazy. Sexy Neck is a genius to work the angles to get our station wagon in and out of this garage.

5.5 hour car ride to Milan, Italy.

Through 5 countries.

From Germany to Austria, by Liechtenstein, Switzerland and then finally into Italy.

11 tunnels.

Clouds, snow and sun!

Switzerland

1 panic attack by ME! (The first 5km tunnel freaked me out and sent me into fight or flight even though cognitively nothing was wrong! It was a learning experience.)

1 very strange toilet. You pushed the toilet seat down to make it flush and the water to wash your hands went into the toilet. 🤪

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

Another toilet for 50 cents.

5 amazing slices of margarita pizza, some gnocchi, a calzone and some gelato to end off this beautiful day.

1 awesome room at the Meininger Hotel/Hostel. (The same brand of hotel we stayed in in Brussels, Belgium).

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

Steve is working hard to catchup on email and prepare for morning meetings. The boys are watching cartoons in Italian. I am doing laundry… Hence the huge pile by my feet!

Bongiorno from Milan, Italy!

November 12th

I had completely forgotten, or maybe I didn’t realize, how much Italians LOVE children. From the waiter ruffling our son’s hair and shaking their hands last night to the free metro rides and free entry to the museums, wow, I love you even more Italy.

Today was the day that our oldest son, twelve year old JC, has been planning for months. Tying in with his study of Ancient Rome, this would be as close as we would get. Milan. He rocked his negotiation of the metro system and got us everywhere he wanted to go. We even saw a movie being filmed by the fountain outside the Castle.

Today’s plan was a fun one! I love seeing my boys plan, take charge and speak with the locals along the way. Jackson even ordered our lunch in Italian and paid for it.

Parco Sempione (Park)

Castillo Sforzeaco (Castle)

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

Museum featuring the mind-blowing work of Leonardo da Vinci. Hallogram videos and sitting in the room he worked on for many years was incredibly awe-inspiring.

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

Fried pizza for lunch. There was a HUGE line at Luini’s, so we knew it must be good. JC found this place on the internet through watching videos about Milan.

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

Gelato in Gallerio Vittorio

Duomo Di Milano (Church)

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

Climbing over 200 stairs to the terraces of the Duomo.

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

A clean toilet in McDonald’s. (Probably the only reason I will take my boys there).

Meeting Steve spontaneously in between his meetings. (I almost hit him when he came up from behind and surprised us)

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

2 metro rides.

Many kilometres of walking.

Dinner back at a very Italian restaurant by our hotel in the Lambrate area. The boys declared that this was the BEST pizza they have had in their life. (Sexy Neck and I thought last night was better!)

And MORE gelato and a play at the park in the dark before we head to bed at 10:00pm.

November 13th

Cake and pie for breakfast. Sure why not! We are in Italy after all! This is how our boys started their day. We are finding our rhythm with a buffet breakfast between 8:30 and 9:30, then a mid-afternoon snack and then dinner around 6:30 or 7:00. We are all feeling GREAT and are truly eating our way around Europe.

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

This is our second and last day in Milan before we head north to meet friends in the Swiss Alps. We have been asking the boys each morning what they would like to do and it was unanimous that today would include:

Heading back to the Parco Sempione, a stroll by the Duomo again, a stop at the largest LEGO store in Italy that just opened on the 11th, a visit to the main train station and dinner there too! And yes more gelato too! We even convinced Sexy Neck to take the boys back into the Museum to see the Leonardo da Vinci exhibit. He missed it yesterday when we went because he was working.

As the boys went back into the museum, I sat outside with a hot drink and got caught up on the blog. Now this is what a hot chocolate looks like:

It was hot and thick and absolutely delicious.

Ah my heart!!!

The boys wanted to checkout the largest LEGO store in Italy and along the way, CC decided to buy the Swatch Watch he had been looking at since we were in Brussels.

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

We decided to head home to our hotel/hostel via the metro to cook dinner for ourselves. We had soup and salad. First, we went to our favourite grocery store, Lidl, to pickup some supplies.

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

A few handstands before bed doesn’t hurt! Right? JC attempting to walk around the room on his hands.

Ciao! Italy, it’s been a very fun couple of days. We want to own an apartment in Italy one day.

Next stop the Swiss Alps!

Be Taking a Radical Sabbatical to Europe

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

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

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

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

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

29 days.

5 countries.

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

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

Plus some gymnastics training thrown in for fun!

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

Any advice on travelling Europe with kids?

Here we go folks.

The dream is unfolding in under a week!

We know we will get lost.

Meet the most interesting people.

See castles, villages, forests and cities.

Eat interesting food.

And get hug after hugs by our amazing friends.

I am MOST excited about this last one.

Friends we have known before we had children.

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

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

Friends who just “know”.

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

And now they get to meet our boys.

Dreams do come true!

Let this 3000 kilometre adventure unfold in His will.

With His ways.

Unfolding before us every day.

Amen.

And Amen.

Be surprised by a radical sabbatical

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

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

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

The boys driving their “learning”!

I love seeing my boys happy.

Truly happy.

No more morning stomach aches before school.

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

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

I love wandering with no direction.

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

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

At. Any. Time.

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

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

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

Time.

Space.

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

Acceptance.

I love learning acceptance.

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

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

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

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

I love saving money.

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

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

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

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

I am jumping and shrieking as I write these words.

Eeeeeekkkk!

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

The “school system”.

All Hallow’s Eve.

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

The boys meeting with their teacher.

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

Jumping for joy.

Happy boys.

Small space living.

Less laundry.

Simple super food.

Saving money.

Shrieking.

Jumping.

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

Be Living a radical sabbatical

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

5 people.

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

900 square feet.

Condo living.

8 months.

On the top of a mountain.

At a ski hill.

With the cows.

Travelling to Europe and Asia.

Homeschooling.

Not volunteering for anything.

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We celebrate one month of this radical sabbatical.

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

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

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

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

A band of brothers.

Sexy Neck.

A homeschooling entrepreneurial Mama

Walking on this path.

Every day into the unknown.

With routines, that are flexible.

With surprises along the way.

Watching who shows up.

What lights them up.

And what this radical sabbatical will look like.

I pray for more days like today.

Love.

Joy.

Peace.

Patience.

Kindness.

Goodness.

Dignity.

Grace.

Living our best days.

On this radical sabbatical.

xoxo Joanna

Be 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!