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.>
Isn’t it funny how a few days flat on your back allows you the privilege to reflect on health? February flu season is wafting through the house and it happened to grab on to me last Friday. The weekend was spent trying to breathe, staying warm and lying in a slightly upright position. Fun time for this jet engine energy girl. One thing about me, though, is situations like this help me grow.
These last seventy- two hours have afforded me the opportunity to think deeply about what I put into my body. Over four years ago, I was forty pounds heavier than I am today. Over four years ago, I was on a deep growth journey working through the grief of my loving mama. Over four years ago, I discovered, by my own willingness to never sit or lay in a pit too long, the best fuelling system for my body. And I want to stress “system” because there are no miracle products. Sorry. There are no one week detoxes that are going to fix your eating habits. Sorry again. And there are no amount of counting calories or points that will teach you how to nourish and listen to your body. Truth.
I now have partnered with the company that formulated this system over fifteen years ago. I have left my full time teaching life that I was very passionate about because I think all children are a gift from God. I now help match people’s personal goals to a system of products that support the systems that work within the body. And yes, we even touch on poo! After my mom died, as well as weekends like I just had, I know with 100% certainty that if we don’t have health we have nothing. If we don’t get a handle of how to fuel our bodies, we don’t have energy. If we don’t understand what our individual bodies need, we will have “dis ease”.
Here are my few gems from lying in the couch with “dis ease” if you truly want to learn how to fuel your body:
First, before you even try to uncover the food dilemma, how is your water intake and what amount of sleep are you currently getting? Furthermore, are you drinking enough water and sleeping enough for your body? How is your sleep hygiene? Are you able to sleep without your “handheld computer comforter” beside you?
Second, what do you LOVE to eat? Do you enjoy plants, meat, soups, fruit? Just because the current rage is to eat no fruit (no carbohydrates) or only eat meat (protein), you decide what is best for you personally and build your fuelling system around that.
Third, are you moving between the eating habits of starvation and overindulgence. Most people do. My company’s name literally means “balanced life”. This is your ultimate destination with your fuel. Eating every couple of hours with a balance of variety of foods that nourish you and bring you energy.
The four pillars of a healthy fuelling system.
One that doesn’t rely on feelings or emotions.
One that doesn’t flutter in the wind depending on the current ‘famous food’ that you can’t pronounce or diet plan you really only can follow when motivation is high.
Something that relies on you nourishing and listening to your body.
Something that allows your body to become more alive as you age and continue to grow.
Until we breathe no more.
Fuelling with water.
Recovering as we sleep.
Nourishing with lovely food.
Finding balance in all areas of our life, but especially with our food.
Comment below with your favourite fuelling tips.
Follow me on Instagram: @cannjoanna
If you need support in your fuelling, be free to ask me for more information at firstname.lastname@example.org
In April, I am going to be sharing my experience with technology and our three boys to a group of parents, professors and community members at the local University. I will be on a panel with four experts that have immersed themselves in learning and being awake to technology.
Here is my speech, your comments are appreciated:
When I was growing up I had a neighbour named Michael. He was not allowed to eat gum, candy or anything that had sugar in it. When he became a teenager, he always seemed to have a piece of gum in his mouth as soon as he walked down the end of his driveway. He was focused on when he could have his candy and gum. He was a sugar zombie. As I now raise three boys in a overtly technologically driven world, like sugar was for my generation, and ponder them as teenagers, this has been in the forefront of my mind. As parents, my husband and I always “start how we want to finish”. We don’t want to do anything that won’t help our young children grow into adults.
Our discussion around technology began when our youngest was four months old and I flipped on a children’s television channel and saw an Oil of Olay commercial. I asked myself if I wanted my son to grow up thinking that women looked like that? The answer was no and the cable was taken off the television. Our boys are now 11, 9 and 7. They have access to technology but have maybe seen the nightly news five times in their entire life. My husband and I have come up with four guiding questions or tips about technology that have helped us as we parent our boys.
BUT, before I share these tips, I want to give you a bit more depth of insight about our vantagepoint as parents. All of the information in the world, is now in our pockets, we can also take pictures, communicate immediately, count our steps and even open our garage door. When we grew up, we had to access a library, find someone, or have a gigantic set of encyclopedia Brittanica on our shelves at home to access information. With this power in our pocket, we also know that it lights up our brains like cocaine. Oh it feels good! Technology gives us instant gratification. And we have observed that most people spend more time with their technology (than?) with any human being in their life. Therefore, we don’t take technology and our children’s connection to it lightly.
NOW, here’s our four questions we use to guide us. I implore each of you to steal our questions or be inspired to create your own. May you find a healthy relationship with technology for you and your family.
First, how do we want technology to look in our family knowing the average usage of screen time is 6 hours per day for children?
We held a family meeting to discuss this and we talked about our weeks as well as the activities that we live to do. We decided on 4.5 hour per week. Yup, per week. The boys created Tech Coins so that they could personally keep track of their time. We know they will soon be teenagers and I don’t want to be keeping track of their technology time. I want them to be able to know when enough technology is enough. Remember my neighbour and our motto for parenting: “Start how you want to finish”.
Second, we wondered how do we help grow creators using technology not just consumers. Like good food, alcohol, shopping… we believe you can consume too much technology. Have you ever met a young child that can only talk about technology? I believe we are dealing with an overconsumption! In our boys, 4.5 hours of technology per week, they do play a few games that are apps. They mostly will create skits that they video, make cartoons, build things or make stikbot movies.
Here’s the big question, number three: How do we engage in social media as a family? I use it sparingly for work, after I overcame my own addiction. My boys don’t do it at all. Common Sense Media recommends that children aren’t ready til 14 years old. And as my husband has worked as a Vice Principal at both a middle and high school, I don’t know if our boys will have access to social media before they leave our home at 18. Haha. My husband estimates that 70% of the issues he dealt with were at least partially connected to social media. It’s a platform that creates communication and a life that isn’t real. I read things personally, that I know that person wouldn’t say to another living human beings face but the technology had caused a disconnect. We are all about connection.
Our fourth question was one from my journey, do we crave technology? Can we leave it for an hour or two or a day or a two? I am proud to say that I now can. But now I am very careful to see if my boys are being seduced into the instant gratification of technology. If yes, we talk about it, then take a break for a day or two.
People worry about zombies coming to the earth, but I think they are already here… mouths dropped open, head down, phone in front of their face, running into poles on the sidewalk, ignoring every human being around them. To prevent a generation of zombies, I ask:
1. How does technology look like for you and your family? What do you want it to look like?
2. Are you using technology to create or consume?
3. How do you engage with social media?
4. Do you crave technology?
A few questions to ponder as we live in an ever changing technological world and strive to raise awake, creative human beings and not zombies.
Overconsumption rules the world right now and, in my opinion, is ruining the world.
From the plastics that are flooding the earth and waters.
To the devices that are flooding our brains and bodies.
On to the food that is stripping our lands of minerals and then not giving our bodies what it needs even when we think it’s good for us.
Overconsumption has taken over!
Did you know that most teens now spend more time on devices than an adult spends at their full time job per day?
Did you know that some family’s have their children signed up for activities every single day of the week?
Has anyone else noticed that rarely do we talk about reducing or reusing what we consume, instead all our energy has gone into recycling?
Tonight, I lift my glass and say cheers to finding a balance life.
Harmony within and around.
Time and space to be.
Energy and effort to do.
Balance between men and women.
Testosterone and estrogen.
Our three boys ages, 10, 8 and 6 receive four hours of screen time PER WEEK. Today, their brains were flooded with the sounds and sights of skiing on snow. Their bodies climbed trees, hammered rocks, played piano and even jumped on mattresses in the basement later in the day.
My husband and I don’t allow screens anytime on Mondays and Wednesdays when the boys have activities. The rest of the week, they are free to choose when they use their “tech time”. They are open to choose how to spend their free time. It is in these in between time that is so fun to see what they create.
Imbalance is killing us.
Overconsumption is killing our planet.
Each of us, can find ways to create balance.
Individually it is easy.
Collectively it makes a difference.
Balance in mind, within our bodies and through our spirit.
Imagine this place of balance for you, what it would look like and feel like.
Who would be around you?
What would you eat?
What activities and moments of stillness would flow through the day?
What would you do tomorrow if you lived a day in balance?