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Be on a Radical Sabbatical in Paris

October 31st, 2019 – Paris

The Radical Sabbatical in Europe begins.

3 flights.

22 hours.

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

Plus wifi while flying through the air too!

1 yummy airplane meal.

Copious amounts of water.

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

3 hours of fitful sleep.

1 lost water bottle.

1 lost hat.

1 Uber drive.

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

10:05am Arrival in Paris

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

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

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

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

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

Hot Crepes. Who loves Nutella?

Pain au chocolat. Oh my.

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

November 1st, 2019

14 hours of time in bed.

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

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

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

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

From the hotel.

On the metro.

To the Jardin des Plantes.

A misty walk.

A longer line than we are used to.

It was awe. some.

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

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

14,862 steps.

3 metro rides.

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

5.5 hours of walking, talking, holding hands.

1 museum.

1 French dinner at Alsace restaurant.

1 priceless second day in Paris.

November 2nd

18,971 steps.

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

1 canal boat ride along the Seine River.

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

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

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

Another beautiful day in Paris.

Cobblestone under our feet.

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

November 3rd

2 more Metro rides today.

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

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

Monet

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

Observation Deck
Virtual Reality Machine

16, 673 steps.

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

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

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

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

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

We are very grateful for this day!

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

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

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

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

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

This Mama’s heart is overflowing.

“Acceptance” posture. What will be will be!

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

Be 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