This is a public service announcement for anyone with children or grandchildren that haven’t yet tried alpine skiing or have children under 5 years old.
It is spring break skiing and the season where we see many young human beings flopped on the side of the mountain screaming, usually while wearing a “dog leash” (aka: ski harness). Insert gif here with child flopping like a fish in the snow while making shrieking noises.
Both Sexy Neck and I received kinesiology degrees before we got our education degrees. When the boys were young, we talked about our children’s physical literacy skills as much as their reading/writing literacy skills. We wanted them to be physically active for life. We introduced them to coached programs for swimming, cross country skiing and gymnastics. I also taught them skating shortly after they could walk.
One of the best things we did for our boys was putting them into the “Bunnies” (skinny ski) program when they were 3 years old at our local nordic ski area. It was parent participation and this program gave the children the skills to move bilaterally on skinny skis at a pace that was perfect for their growing bodies. There was no screaming, flopping, or crying from the parents or the kids. They could go at the speed that they felt most comfortable moving at and could attempt the hills when they were ready. Plus placing teddy bears along the track, kicking tennis balls in the track and gummy bears in your pocket can go along way!
Right now, we are seeing many parents strap on the big, thick alpine skis and attach the leash to their young ones. Then off they go. You can see that these young first timers are moving at a speed that they are uncomfortable with and thus the screaming, flopping and crying. It’s very tough to watch. I believe that even if the kids spend only one season (10 weeks) in a Bunnies or Jack Rabbit program, none of these experiences would need to happen for our young alpine skiers.
PLUS the added bonuses when kids start on skinny skis is that when they start alpine skiing those thick skis are easier to balance on and they even get to ride up a magic carpet or chairlift or t-bar instead of having to climb up the hills on skis. The children will really appreciate this new sport and hopefully have experiences on two types of skis that help them be active for life!
What do you feel when you think of and sit with what happened on March 16th, 2020?
I will forever be grateful for those that walked through March 16th, 2020 and beyond alongside our family:
containing no humiliation, damnation nor discrimination.
with an open heart and open mind to those around them
containing no judgement, harsh words or anger.
It wasn’t easy, I know.
My counsellor explained to me that during this initial period starting from the shock of March 16th, 2020 (we were suppose to be in Vancouver at a gymnastics competition), people couldn’t hide anymore. The levels of appreciation for life became stronger or the levels of anger in life also became stronger. There was rarely a middle ground.
To those who study and “know” science and walked uncomfortably through the ENTIRE scientific method while living through what was happening to us as a country, a culture, a world, I am eternally grateful.
(Plus they didn’t simply jump to the “conclusion” step of the scientific method as that is always the most comfortable place to be. I truly take my hat off to you!)
I will always be grateful for those people who know that personal choice, personal story and personal wellness were always an alternative in this world.
I have no opinion, even after three years of looking at the research being obtained from around the world, on what anyone else should have done with their lives on and since March 16th, 2023, but I am sure very, very, very grateful for our own family’s choices.
Living up at Apex Ski Resort until 2021.
Continuing with home learning.
Spending time in nature.
Keeping up with our community of diverse-minded people with Zooms, phone calls and in person visits when we simply wanted to hunker down and hide.
Sharing my love of home learning with people who were pushed it into and even sharing some tips on how to teach over Zoom.
Hugs whenever we could get them.
Not allowing those living in fear and judgement and “conclusion-making” to bump us out of experiencing the greatest scientific experiment of our time. Three years later, we don’t have conclusions, especially in British Columbia and Canada, with what started on March 16th, 2020.
Happy Thursday amazing folks and love what you do.
P.S. I have never shared my personal “health status” and I won’t, which has caused many people discomfort. I am not a doctor, virologist, nurse or even remotely involved with the health care system. I will not be sharing my status as I believe, as an Educator, everyone needs to dig in and do their own research, especially right now. The beginning of all knowledge are questions. It is a fascinating time folks and it’s okay if we have been wrong during these last few years of working through this “Science”. I know that I have!
These last few months, I have been thinking that our family needs to move back to Vernon…. almost ten years here in K-City and, well, I am not sure what to say about it. In the last three months, I have ran into four friends from Vernon at Costco, the ski hill, for walks and I have realized the deepness of these friendships I really miss.
I miss those friends who:
~ knew me before I was a mom
~ knew my own mom
~ I spent time working with and on vacation with
~ walked through years of change involving birth and death
~ did Music classes with me when the boys were in preschool. (Such a sweet season)
Ten years ago we made the decision to move here as Steve was commuting to K-City, 45 minutes away from our house in Vernon, and he was seeing very little of us due to long hours and evening meetings. One day, yup one day, after we moved to K-city my mom was diagnosed with cancer. Five months later she had died.
As I sit down and have a serious conversation with the family about moving back to Vernon, the boys are all a “hard no”. They were 2, 4 and 6 when we moved to K-City and this is really home for them. They have activities they love, a neighbourhood that loves on them and freedom to move around the city with confidence.
And now I remember a story from a wise uncle. Uncle John owned a fabulous apartment near Commercial Drive in Vancouver. He decided that he wanted to live a bit more freely and travel more than he already did. He sold the Commercial Drive apartment and moved into a great rental apartment on Chestnut Street beside the Burrard Street bridge and one block from the beach. His views were incredible and the accessibility to Vancouver was amazing. If I lived in Vancouver, this is the area I would want to live.
Uncle John loved living in this apartment building and weathered the loss of his parents and his sister. His entire family of origin died in a these short few years. Then Uncle John heard that his old apartment was for sale again, after being fully renovated. He jumped at the chance “to go back”. He rebought his old apartment, moved in and realized he had made a terrible mistake. He had bought the apartment “to go back” to a time where his parents and sister were alive. He wanted to truly turn back time. After a few short months, he resold his apartment on Commercial Drive for a second time and again moved back into his amazing rental apartment overlooking the Pacific Ocean. He was really happy and realized that you never can go back.
…and now as I ponder our family moving back to Vernon, his story has become my own. Why do I want “to go back” to Vernon? It is mostly because I want “to go back” to a time when my mom was alive and we had a wonderful circle of support around us. These have been lonely few years that have developed a deep well of resiliency and perseverance on my part raising three young men without that close support and encouragement as a mom. Even today when I receive a compliment on my role as a mother, I am always surprised because it is so rare. It often brings me to tears.
So we won’t be moving back to Vernon. The show must go on in K-City for this mom of three boys now ages, almost 16, 13 and 11. BUT, you never know where we will end up once the boys are graduated and finding their own paths in life.
Do you find your middles are always stuck in the middle? I thought that I would begin this sequence of blog posts by updating everyone on our middle guys journey over the last few years of this home learning life. Yeah for middles for adding spice to our lives.
CC moved out of French Immersion in grade four and came home starting in grade five. This was an influential time for him. His confidence was at an all time low as there were some boys that were very unkind and we realized that his learning changes were far beyond what we thought. He was receiving sporadic support at school, but nothing like he needed. He now receives weekly tutoring for one hour plus I work with him daily for 1 to 1 1/2 hours. In all areas of learning, his confidence has grown and he is seeing himself as a capable learner now. WHEW! We dodged a bullet on this one. We really didn’t leave the “campus school system” because we were unhappy. Our sole purpose was to create flexibility to travel with Sexy Neck and to take a “radical sabbatical” from the grind of everyday life. Here’s the full story! God really did have us in the palm of His hand, in more ways than one, when we started this in the fall of 2019, especially for our middle guy who’s life has been enriched by all the people who have loved on him, listened to him and shared in his learning over the last three years.
As CC finished off grade seven on June 10th, we realized that he had so much life and love POURED into him this year. He achieved his green belt in Taekwondo at Quest Martial Arts and now has his name on the wall as a member of the Black Belt Club with Mr. Rowe and family guiding CC in such a loving and disciplined way. CC was able to experience his first bus field trip when he went with Daddy and his international students to Vancouver. For fun, CC played soccer and basketball, did his first rail jam event up at Apex ski resort, and started refereeing in soccer. CC also did scuba diving, golf and swimming lessons this spring. CC LOVES his Goldendoodle , his new hat from Village Hat Shop in San Diego and every second with his brothers plus singing with his teacher Janel. He is very proud of the fact that he finished his first album “Sensation” containing 10 original songs. This guy really does love performing! He also staged a strike against a movie choice, strongly disliked our squid and eyeball dissection, as well as skied, skated, hiked and enjoyed every second learning in the world!
If you ever can’t find him, CC would be found working on his remote control cars or building one of his ideas in the garage using his hot glue gun or one of his daddy’s tools. It is a fun ride with this guy’s quick wit and super sense of humour. CC’s current goals are to be a truck driver, inventor or “puppy hugger”. As you will see over the next three blog posts, we definitely aren’t raising robots or mini-me’s. Helping the boys find their passions while exposing them to as many different situations and activities is our mission. This homelearning life has literally and metaphorically exploded since taking the boys out of a large box called “campus schooling”. We are grateful we were brave enough to give it a shot and grateful that our country allows choice for how students learn. Thank you Canada!
P.S. Sorry for the no photos. WordPress is really not allowing much storage on my ten year old ++ blog and I don’t want to stop this writing train now that I have gotten it started again. TOOT TOOT!
What happened after the “Radical Sabbatical in Europe” Joanna? I have been asked this question many, many times in the last 2.5 years. November, 2019 feels like a few months ago. So much has changed, hasn’t it? I wonder what has changed for you?
First, before we get into the newspaper headings from our lives, I want to send you a big hug with my eyes with the few more well-earned wrinkles around them. HUUUUUUG!
Second, here’s a few highlights since November of 2019 (and WordPress cut off my blog because I had used up all my storage!):
We are now on year three of our Radical Sabbatical and we are calling it “Best of Both Worlds”. After living at the ski hill for TWO, yes count them TWO University school years, we moved back to the city in May of 2021. We have been living here in the city and commuting on weekends to the ski hill, hence “Best of Both Worlds”.
The home learning life continues. We are going into year four of learning outside of a physical school setting and I truly wish that I had done it when the boys were younger. The boys are thriving and finding their true passions. The boys and I work together, as a team, each morning on specific learning mostly related to writing, numbers, French, Social Studies and Science. Afternoons are full of outside time, art, music, making things in the garage, hanging out with neighbours, classes and activities. It truly is a richer life than I could have ever expected. (Future blog post coming on the pitfalls and blessings of this type of learning!)
Sexy Neck has changed jobs! He moved back to the city where our house is to be one of the leaders in charge of a large 400+ student International Program. Coming from a program he led with 100+ students, this move has been a huge shift for him and our family. Yes, we are still happily married and we celebrated 25 years in May. WOOP WOOP!
In the spring of 2020, I was getting asked many questions about home learning and as a teacher, I felt called to head back into a school to help other families. Next year, will be my third year working with Heritage Christian Online School (HCOS), working with 15+ families per year (@40 students). I guide each student’s learning, meet with them, suggest resources and report on each child’s learning twice per year. I have done this job previously in 2015-2017 and I feel a real “calling” to be with this school, at this time, working with my exceptional, lovely, amazing, fellow home learning families.
Another questions I often get asked, are you still with Isagenix? Yes, yes, yes, yes. I am a lifer and we enjoy the #isalife every single day. My life sharing Isagenix looks a bit different now, as it fits in the corners of my days behind my faith, family, friends and teaching, BUT I will always be passionate about health, helping people with their goals and guiding people on how to use the Isagenix products. After doing 12 events in 5 years, I don’t see many events in my future, but one thing I have realized in these last years is that I truly love one-on-one contact with other human beings. At the events, I would have preferred to be stacking chairs or helping people register or wiping down sinks in the bathrooms that speaking or standing on a stage. I love these products and the people it has brought into my life. If you are one of those people that has asked me about Isagenix in the last 8 years, I am truly blessed that you asked, trusted me and shared your health journey with me. Yup, I am truly a lifer.
“The boys” are now going into grades 6, 8, and 10 in September. I cannot honestly even explain the growth that they have had the last 2.5 years. Our oldest is now taller than me! Our middle guy is going for his blackbelt in Taekwondo and our youngest is thoroughly enveloped in learning about Policing and being a Conversation Officer. They are such fun kids to hangout with too! More coming on “The boys” soon.
December of 2020, we introduced Winter, a goldendoodle, into our family of five. Winnie is truly each of the boys’ first love and they shower her with attention, walks, cuddles and lots of time together while they learn at home. (If anyone remembers our labrador, Summer, the name will make perfect sense!)
Lastly, tonight, I wanted to tell you that I will again be regularly blogging, sharing the journey that I have been on these last few years and also what’s coming. I realized the other night that often we talk about the pregnancy, baby and toddler stage way more than the teenager stage. Who remembers talking about breastfeeding, first foods, which diapers to buy, organic crib mattresses, milestones, toileting and so much more ad nauseam? As our second guy turns 13 this weekend and we are going to have two teenagers in the house, I want to use this energy they are creating by talking ad nauseam about this important stage in children’s lives. Strap yourself in folks, it is going to be a fun ride.
I love you all dearly, back soon! (well at least sooner than 2.5 year. HAH!)
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!
Biggest toy store (and LEGO section the boys have seen).
Oldest central plaza in Munich (Marienplatz)
Walking everywhere on foot.
Seeing Steve at work!
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.
1 final shower in our bathroom/shower room. Have you seen this before?
1 hotel breakfast.
1 shake for a boys who has eaten too much bread.
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.
Clouds, snow and sun!
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. 🤪
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).
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!
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)
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.
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.
Gelato in Gallerio Vittorio
Duomo Di Milano (Church)
Climbing over 200 stairs to the terraces of the Duomo.
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)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Imagine biking away from school on June 28th knowing that you would not be returning to that industrial looking school building and schedule for over a year?Imagine being able to design your learning, travel the world and live at a ski hill with the foundational goal of skiing every single day of the ski season? Imagine moving into a nine hundred square foot home with five people and no dishwasher nor in suite laundry?
What would your radical sabbatical look like?
This imagining above is the reality we are creating and that I will be writing about during our radical sabbatical. Our family of five is riding our bikes away from grades two, four and six and walking into grades three, five and seven as homeschoolers living in a two room condominium, overlooking the ski hill.With the addition of two trips, one month long trip to Europe and one two week vacation in the spring, you now have the big picture of what is going to unfold over the next twelve months and corresponding chapters of this book about our life yet to be written.
Could you imagine?
Would you ever step out, take a time out and shake up your reality to press pause on life?
Stopping all activities except skiing and gymnastics.
Withdrawing from all volunteer positions on boards and activities in our community.Renting out our main house and only bringing the bare essentials into our small living space.
Inspired by the gift of grief given to us by my beautiful mama over five years ago.
Fanned by the gift of grief given to us this year by Sexy Neck’s mama, grandma, grandpa, my aunt and our Labrador, Summer.
Walked out first and foremost, by Joanne Kraft when her family took a year off from activities outside of school. Her book, “Just Too Busy: Taking your Family on a Radical Sabbatical”, jumped off the library shelf last winter and cemented this idea in my mind.
Watered and lovingly supported by our friends who live our freedom and growth lifestyle.
Practically supported by our teacher friends and the school that we will work with to educate our boys over the next twelve months.
Divinely inspired by our Father in heaven who knows our hearts and allowed everything to seamlessly and truly effortlessly unfold.
Now, we create space for us to live in a nine hundred square feet condominium.
Building a learning space for three creative and hardworking eight, ten and twelve year old boys.
Building a triple bunk bed so that we have more space to play.
A radical sabbatical.
Twelve months to pause and change our routine.
Finding our rhythm.
So, I sit here and ask again: What would a radical sabbatical look like for you? It doesn’t have to be as extreme as what we have done, but maybe it’s something as simple as eating dinner together every night or what Joanne Kraft did and taking a break from extracurricular activities. Whatever speaks to you as you share our journey with us, may it be meaningful to you and light up your life!
These are exciting times my friends. Truly exciting!
<Note: Joanna is currently seeking a publisher to partner with to publish her book as she helps people be free on their own journey as she shares her radical sabbatical with others.>