Yellowknife Roadtrip

imageWe found ourselves restless. Overwhelmed with cabin-fever, stagnant stale indoor air  and bad moods seemingly induced by a lack of sunlight. It felt like it had been dark here forever. We were in serious need of an adventure. If I didn’t get beyond these four walls soon, I was going to explode.

A lot of people would choose to go south and lay on a beach somewhere but we had something different in mind.

North to Yellowknife or Sharpknife as Avery mistakenly continues to call it. The trip served as a sort of a “reboot” for us. Eric suggested it out of the blue the night before we would leave on a  1170 km trip each way, 30 hours of driving. Our weekend of Leg of Lamb and Easter chocolate would have a late start this year.

We threw some clothing, water, a few bags of fruit and baby carrots and some books into the van and off we went.

As we drove out of Northern Alberta we watched the sun turning the fields to a golden goodness that our hearts had craved all winter. Colour – any and every colour we saw outside soothed our nerves. We also saw a cluster of deer grazing along the roadside.

As we continued north we noticed the landscape start to change. There was snow on the fields and ice on the lakes and rivers outside our windows. Tree species dropped off one by one, until all that remained for a long time were Birch and Pine. eventually the Birch dropped off too, and the Pine became spindly and sparse. By the time we reached the Mackenzie river crossing, it was officially mid winter again. It was at least 12 degrees colder, the river was frozen solid and the ground was covered in two feet of snow.

To cross the Mackenzie river on the only road to Yellowknife, they built the Deh Cho bridge in 2012. Before that, to cross you would take a ferry or drive the ice road. During the times when the water was open but the ferry was frozen, you would fly or stay put.

We arrived in Yellowknife at around 8:45pm in full sunlight. We checked into the Explorer hotel, and the kids had some fun pretending to be eaten by a polar bear in the lobby. We cleaned up and headed to the hotel restaurant. It was about to close so even though they were more than willing to stay opened for us, we opted for a Bruno’s pizza instead. It was great.

imageWe got news that there was going to be a northern lights show overhead, so we watched the stars come out outside our window like magic. Then once it was sufficiently dark, we got into our pajamas and hopped into the van for some star gazing. We hit the Ingrahm trail and we were instantly in awe of the magical sky. A level of black we had never seen, dotted with a trillion stars. Unfortunately, the situation wasn’t sustainable because River wanted to go to bed, so we headed back to the hotel and had a great night’s sleep.

The next day we toured the city. We had hit the tail end of a festival and so some of the winter infrastructure was still up, including ice sculptures and a snow castle. The lake was still frozen solid – full of vehicles, cabins and a community of year round houseboat residents who can entertain land vehicular company in the winter. The houseboats were brightly coloured and donned solar panels on their roofs. If I lived in Yellowknife, that is where I would want to live!

We made the obvious tourist stops – The Wildcat cafe, Bullocks Bistro, The Dancingimage Moose, the Ragged Ass Road. They were all closed however because it was Easter Weekend.  Our number one destination in every capital city across Canada has always been the legislature building, and this one did not disappoint. We had a picnic in front of the building, and then the security guard gladly unlocked the door and took us on a guided tour through the building which was very informative. He told us that there had been a bear and a pack of seven wolves hanging around the building, so “keep an eye” outside on the trail.

After the legislature, we decided to head south to the Best Western in High Level, which is our home away from our Grande Prairie home away from home. We had dinner – Avery informed us that our waitress would “really like a kiss”, and so he crouched under a nearby plant waiting for his oppertunity to woo her with his undeniable charms.

And so it goes. We had another taste of the northern highway to satisfy our thirst for adventure until the big one in 59 days.

Driving to the End of the World

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Writing music with Dad

ART

I think all children are artists. From the tiniest fingers all the way up, they seem to love being full of paint and glue and paper mache. They also love to sing and dance and play instruments.

Not only are we trying to organize a morning Waldorf homeschool arts and crafts class at the Creative Arts Centre, but the kids are about to try out a new art form this spring – drama. I stumbled upon a drama teacher while perusing kijiji for a french tutor, and convinced her to teach homeschool classes. Hana has been trying out different character portrayals. Strasberg would be proud. Or…something.

LITERATURE

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Hamming it up with a friend on camping trip

Elijah and Hana are taking part in the “Collins 2014 writing contest”, and listening to all of Hana’s references to the classics makes me so thankful that we’ve been reading the greats. Dumas, Dickens, Twain, Pyle, Kipling. We’ve worked our way through the entire list of 100 or so children’s classics, some of them several times. I can assure every parent, reading the classics with  your kids is so  worth it! Hana is always drawing parallels and contrasts between awesome literature and real life. It helps her explain a lot of what would otherwise be a struggle. Hana’s currently independently reading Anne of Green Gables. Last night I ran upstairs at 10pm to put away the laundry, and there she was teary eyed, nose in book.

“Anne just discovered that Marilla wanted a boy!”

LANGUAGES

Currently the kids are studying French and Spanish. A fellow homeschool Mom offered to help Hana with French grammar and dialogue at the library Wednesday afternoons, which has been great. She also has four kids, two of whom are around Hana’s age so it works out really well. Because of this, Hana now understands the common meaning of the word “homework”.

RAWNESS

image My kids seem to prefer grabbing an apple or carrot to almost anything else I offer them. I used to discourage it, in fear that it would ruin our dinner, my meal plan and our budget. Thats until I got a juicer for Christmas and it took over our lives. We have been juicing kale, beets, spinach, carrots, cabbage, cucumbers. It’s taking us down this road to raw food.

Up until then, we had been on a culinary adventure eating our way around the world. We sort of got stuck in Japan and we never wanted to leave. Now we seem to be eating mostly plant based foods with small amounts of fish and seafood. Everyone seems to be thriving, so we’ll just continue.

EXTRA

The kids are also looking forward to yoga, gymnastics and a new homeschool science group. It’s nice to spend more time “out there” now that the minus 30 weather has eased up. We’ve been skating and sliding quite a bit too, which the little ones especially love.

Travel: 118 days until our “North West Canada Road trip 2014″.

image Here is our plan so far. Make it all the way through the tundra to the Beaufort Sea in the Arctic for the summer solstice in 24 hour sunlight. Then down through the rain forests, waterfalls, hot springs and ocean beaches of British Columbia. We will tent, hike and swim as much as we can. I’m looking forward to spending lots of time with family, and  finally going whale watching!

The True Selves Project 2014

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Our 2013 Vision Board

As you can see from our New Years 2013 “vision” board, we had grand plans. We accomplished almost all of our goals with a little carry over, ie: see a zebra.

We welcomed our newest addition, travelled across Canada (All major cities, landmarks & national parks), studied French & Spanish, downsized our house and carbon footprint (moved to a smaller place), paid down debt, visited with family, camped, met our newest nephew, took yoga, art classes, pottery, acrobatics, dance classes, gymnastics, karate, learned piano, ate fresh lobster, swam in the Ocean, and watched Cirque du Soleil.

Because of our success in fulfilling much of our 2013 vision board, we decided not to wait for New Years Eve to start setting our resolutions.

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Eric in Movember stache

When Eric arrived home from a management development course, it occurred to him that what we could do is apply the fundamentals of project management to our life in order to meet with higher success next year. Out of it came what we call:

“The True Selves Project”

We spent many nights identifying our goals and discussing what was important to us as individuals and as family unit.  We came up with an initial “list”, ie: family, politics, romance, happiness, nature, simplicity, health, travel, learning, creativity, financial freedom, service, minimalism, and adventure. The steps to our project went as follows:

  • Establishing ground rules
  • Developing a clear end statement
  • Developing a strategic goal statement
  • Goal alignment
  • Identifying stakeholders
  • Discussion of priorities
  • Developing a workflow
  • Doing a risk assessment
  • Action on arrow
  • Creating a time chart

We then drafted our financial plan,  5 year travel plan, a family learning plan and our family health plan.

From there, we sprang into motion. We restructured our budget, and purged our environment. We worked out our fitness routines and classes/courses on the family calendar, to ensure that we would maintain the slowness and peace of our home.

I walked through the house identifying areas that needed organization materials (ie: shelving units, hooks baskets etc.).I also purged the freezer fridge and pantry, ordered a juicer and made a shopping list of materials. I also posted for sale agreed upon items to offset the costs, ie: tv, xbox, extra furniture, books.

I applied for night jobs, so that we can fast track our remaining debt while still achieving other goals such as extensive world travel with the kids. This way, we can continue to homeschool and keep home life at the top of our priority list, while supplementing our income ONLY UNTIL we meet all of our identified financial goals. When we no longer have debt payments, the money saved will be more than my income. I want to be present during their childhood, and there is no compromising that. I don’t want them to notice that I am gone, unless for reasons of personal growth, but not in pursuit of extra money – there is no amount worth more than time spent as a family.

So, here we go. Bring on 2014, because we are ready!

A peek inside of Waldorf math

  • imageMath was never my subject in school. I got by until grade 10. I approached my teacher at a time I was struggling, and he told me he didn’t have time to explain things to every individual student, and fair enough. He had a lot of students. It was at that time that I “quit” math.  I figured I wasn’t “good” at math, and I decided not to take it any further. I was “good at art and english”, and it can only be one or the other, right?

If there is one thing that I feel Waldorf does right, it’s math. Elijah is 5, and is imagelearning all four processes with no problems so far. It isn’t because he is more intelligent than the next kid,  or because he is wired that way, but because of the way Waldorf introduces math.  It doesn’t teach, it uncovers the magic of numbers and patterns. In grade one, the numbers are revealed very slowly through nature, intuition and social conventions, always whole to parts.

  • One is the sun and a circle. It encompasses all other numbers. One is the self.
  • Two is me and you. Two eyes and two hands. Two is opposites; night and day, high and low.
  • Three is a triangle. It is sun moon earth. breakfast lunch and dinner.
  • What is 6? six is the sides of a honeycomb cell. It is 2 3′s and 3 2′s. It is 4 and 2 more.

Hana’s last math block (Grade 3 math block 2, or “November”), was on Measurement of time. I will skim through it here, as an illustration of what Waldorf math looks like for us.

We opened up the month with a discussion of what measurement means. We began in

imageEgypt, Mesopotamia, Iran and the Indus Valley where evidence of the earliest whole systems of measurement have been found.

Next we began to look at patterns of seasonal changes as time markers – animal migrations, temperature changes,  and deciduous   and fruit bearing trees cycles.

Then came moon phases.  The earliest evidence
I could find of recording time measurement is that an ice age hunter 20,000  years ago carving lunar patterns into a stone near modern day Scotland.  We used  lumps of clay to emulate this, and discussed the moons effects on the earth.

Next came constellation based calendars, or zodiacs. We learned some of the constellations, and discussed how they “move” around our sky.

Lastly came the sun.We watched several Youtube videos of the earth traveling around the sun that highlighted different things such as the solstices and equinox, which hemisphere experiences what season when, and night and day.

We explored several calendars including: Babylonian zodiac, Chinese zodiac, Aztec calendar, Hindu calendar, Islamic lunar calendar, Ancient Celtic “Ogham” alphabet/calendar, and we learned the “Song of Amaergin”.

We then focused on the Gregorian calendar and how it came to be.We learned the origin of the names for months and days of the week in the languages we are currently studying.  We spent the last week on clocks and measuring time in seconds minutes hours and days.  We learned about many different time telling devices, such as the sundial and the Chinese candle clock. All in all, it was a great block.

Waldorf has certainly changed what math means for me personally, and I am so glad that my children will only ever see the magic and beauty of it.

“Math is art, math is movement, math is nature…math is everything!” – Hana

Friday Challenge: Always Something to Prove

imageI have been researching homeschoolers’ academic achievements lately to diffuse some expressed concern about what options will be available to my children later on. I am a public school supporter, and we are registered with the public board therefore I consider us “public schoolers”, and I don’t like comparing in-school students with home school students. There are brilliant teachers out there who benefit the lives of children everyday. Unfortunately, comparative analysis is the format within which I find much of the evidence that homeschoolers have a great chance of academic success. For instance:

  • Homeschoolers score 30-40% higher on standardized achievement tests than imagetheir peers. Homeschoolers score in the 89th percentile, while public schoolers score in the 50th percentile (“Homeschooling Works” and “Progress Report 2009″, http://www.hslda.org)
  • According to the U.S. department of education, homeschoolers on average test 1 year ahead of their peers. The longer they homeschool the wider the gap. By 8th grade they score on average 4 years ahead of their peers
  • The best schools in North America including Harvard, Princeton, Yale, Stanford, Berkley, MIT and Duke actively recruit homeschoolers. In Canada there are homeschool admittance policies for every school I looked into, including McMaster, University of Toronto, University of Ottawa, Carleton University, Brock university, WIlifred Laurier and Mcgill with the exception only of Queens. According to the “Ontario Federation of Teaching Parents”, Canadian universities also actively recruit homeschoolers
  • A higher percentage of homeschoolers graduate from colleges and universities than their peers, and once in college or university, homeschoolers maintain a higher GPA than their peers (“homeschool population report 2010″ – http://www.NHERI.org).
  • In public school, socio-economic factors correlate with the success of the student. Not so in homeschooling families. The educational outcomes of homeschoolers do not correlate with factors such as parents education or income levels, (“Homeschooling: From Extreme to Mainstream”, http://www.fraserinstitute.org ).

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A great example of whats possible: The Colfax family.

For you veteran homeschoolers out there, this is old news. For the rest of us, inspiration.

Dave and Miki Colfax homeschooled their four boys through out the1980′s. As described by them, it was mostly self lead learning, ( similar to un-schooling), accompanied by hard work helping to build and maintain their farm. So, what became of them?

Grant Colfax graduated from Harvard medical school. He is an infectious disease specialist. President Obama recently named him the  director of the White house office of  National Aids policy. John Colfax earned his MA in biological anthropology as well as a law degree from the university of Michigan. He then earned his MD from Harvard medical school specializing in emergency medicine. Reed Colfax has an A.B. from Harvard, and a law degree from Yale. He specializes in civil rights litigation. Garth Colfax is currently a computer specialist, who works with the developmentally challenged.

There is a long list of notables who were homeschooled, or imagehomeschool their children including  but not limited to: Benjamin Franklin, Albert Einstein, Taylor Swift, Venus and Serena WIlliams,  Abraham Lincoln, Michael Bolton, Franklin Roosevelt, Leonardo Da vinci, Alexander Graham Bell, Kristen Stewart, the Wright Brothers, Mozart, Hans Christian Anderson, Margaret Atwood,  Mark Twain, Robert Frost, C.S. Lewis, Louis Armstrong, Charlie Chaplin, Charles Dickens, Katherine Hepburn, Kristen Stewart, Elijah Wood, Claud Monet,  Winston Churchill, Margaret Mead, Julian Assange, Leanne Rhymes, Justin Bieber, Agatha Christie, Michelle Kwan, Florence Nightengale, Thomas Edison, Louisa May Alcott, Condaleeza Rice, Hilary Duff, Tim Tebow, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Dakota Fanning, Justin Timberlake, Christina Aguilara, Pearl Buck, Theodore Roosevelt and Virginia Woolfimage

Celebrity homeschoolers: Jada & Will Smith, Bill & Melinda Gates (while travelling), Angelina Jolie & Brad Pitt, John Travolta & Kelly Preston,  Lisa Welchel, Katie Holmes & Tom Cruise, Gwenyth Paltrow & Chris Martin.

The idea that homeschoolers do not take education seriously is perplexing. Whether we un-school or homeschool, we make that level of commitment and dedication because it is in the best interest of our children. We sacrifice time money and sometimes our sanity, because imagefor whatever reason, our kids would benefit from doing something different than attending public or private school. Sometimes the reason is autism, attention deficit or another special need. Other times a child needs extra attention in a certain subject. There could be time conflicts with traditional school hours and a parents work schedule inhibiting sufficient family time. Some people travel a lot, or want to study different material than what is covered in the common curriculum.There are language barriers that keep a child from reaching their full potential that wouldn’t exist at home. Some children are born athletes or musicians who want to focus their time and energy on nurturing their talents. Finally, Some families simply prefer learning together in the comfort of their home, and are able to do so.

Attending a public school is superior to home schooling for many reasons for many people. Academics is not one of them. I think that homeschooling is a viable option, and it is the best choice for us. I am convinced that homeschoolers such as my children have every future opportunity that children who physically attend the school do.  So for all of the people who have questioned the future opportunities of homeschoolers, I hope this helps ease your mind.

The Journey: Cooling down

imageI welcome the cooler weather every year with open arms. To me, it represents big hearty meals, sweaters, darker days lit by candle light, howling winds, and eventually the clean sparkling snow. I just want to cuddle up in a pair of big socks, with a cup of tea and a great book.That time doesn’t often come, but when it does, it’s exquisite.

I have decided to start doing 2 posts a week. Tuesday posts will be about the Journey of homeschooling & Family life, and Fridays will be the about the current Challenges we are facing.

Homeschool: “Block 2″

Where block 1 (September), was Language Arts, Geography/History, Art & French, Block 2 (October), is Math, Geography/History, Science & Spanish. After our main lesson everyday, we have been spending most of our time outside, walking the trails, climbing trees and exploring the parks. There have also been several afternoon play dates, and a homeschool field trip during which the older two learned about the fur trade.

Math: Hana has been working on review work, most recently long divisionimage. Next week we go over basic fractions and decimals.Elijah has been going through number values, and is now being introduced to the four processes through the Christopherus “Squirrels”.

Foreign Language: Instead of switching from French to Spanish I simply added Spanish. The kids have no trouble at all keeping them separate  so far. Besides reciting poems and songs, doing vocabulary, Living Languages, Duo Lingo, Mango and Rosetta Stone, the kids have been watching movies and identifying words and phrases that are familiar. Hana also summarizes the movies in her notebook with an accompanying drawing. Elijah is working on basic phrases and common words.

imageGeography/History: We have completed our unit on prehistory and the journey through Hominid evolution, and now have begun the story of human civilization. Currently we are studying Mesopotamia, modern day Syria/Iraq/Egypt. We have been discussing how and why nomadic people started to settle, early language and writing. There has been a lot of map work, which the kids seem to love.

Other: We are trying to put our family cookbook together, so that I can bring it into the print shop. It is full of the children’s art work, favourite child-friendly recipes and photos.

Travel:

We just returned from a week long trip through central and western Alberta;image Edmonton, Calgary, Banff and Jasper through the Glacier Parkway. We got to visit with our family, as Eric’s parents were in for a family wedding, and we got to see cousins and his step Grandmother (the bride-to-be). It was a great time sharing meals especially the Dim Sum, and swimming in the hotel pool. My brother lives in Banff so on the way home we stopped by to have lunch with him and take a tour to Bow falls. We also had a meeting with the kids school board facilitator in Edmonton which was wonderful. Our facilitator is an integral part of our homeschool journey, and I am very grateful to the public school board for the way they have organized their resources for homeschoolers.  I enjoy discussing education philosophy, techniques and materials with a fellow homeschooler/public school teacher. She has a broad perspective and a lot of experience that is very helpful to me.

We are road tripping up to Yellowknife in 8 weeks to try out some dog sledding and northern lights. Hopefully we will get to eat some local foods and enjoy some art and culture.

Block 2 or These Days

imageThe air has turned to that exhilarating cool. The one that fills you with a knowing that something is coming. The kids have been making leaf art, knitting hats, building forts and climbing trees at the park. There may not be the Maple and Oak trees that I ache for, but autumn here is a brilliant yellow dotted with the deep red of crab apples, both of which are nice markers before the starkness of winter.The chill in the air has inspired me to knit mittens, socks, hats, and a Christmas sweater for River.

Homeschool: 

These kids are insatiable. I have come to conclude that no matter the chosen methodimage of homeschooling, (Classical, Reggio, Montessori, Un-schooling, Waldorf, etc.) there are some things I must do to ensure their continued success and love of learning:

  • Keep in mind the type of learner I’m dealing with, ie: auditory, visual, etc.
  • Keep out unhealthy distractions
  • Fill their environment with high quality resources
  • Be outside as much as humanly possible
  • Set a good example*
  • Let them lead when possible
  • Be adaptable, and stop or change when things aren’t working

* This point doesn’t only apply to things like self dicipline and organization. I sometimes think that pursuing my own interests and passions can be selfish because it takes me away from necessary work, until I frame it in the context of their experience of watching their Mom achieve goals and be a lifelong learner. Then, it becomes not only alright, but necessary. Things like getting lost in a book, taking a course in Greek history, painting a picture or learning a new language  are all very valuable not only to me but to my children. I want them to live every moment fully, and not settle for the status quo. I hope to still be studying and learning new things when I am in my 80′s & 90′s learning along side my great grandchildren and my great-great grandchildren, sharing ideas about classic literature, politics and art.

imageWe have just begun our 2nd block, which is Math, Science, History/Geography & Spanish.

Math: Hana is doing a lot of review work of the four processes while Elijah is beginning to understand the value of each number. Throughout the day, he keeps running up to me saying things like: “I know what else six is – eight minus 2!”.

Geography/History: we are at  the time when hominids Left Africa, and we are mapping out where and when they went, and who “they” were at what times; Homo Habilis, Homo Erectus, Cro-magnun /Neanderthal or Homo sapien. To better understand how information is gathered about these ancestors, we have been modelling fossils and artifacts out of clay.

Spanish: We are currently beginning greetings and basic conversation, ie: “Hola, Buenas Dias”, and beginning basic vocabulary and numerals. Strangely, they don’t find it confusing to switch from French to Spanish as I thought they would. It almost seems as if it has made it easier. Even Avery is counting in three languages, understanding that it all means the same thing. Two, deux, dos.image

Science: we are exploring Autumns effects on nature, discussing anthocyanins, caratenoids and the loss of chlorophyll in leaves.

For our afternoon crafts we have done tissue paper stained glass, water colour, started a rainbow braided rug for circle time, and worked on our knitting.

Extracurriculars: Hana is currently in jazz ballet and acro, and Elijah is in karate. They would say their highlight of the month was sleepover night at a friends place in the middle of the week.

I LOVE the fall.

Last Days of Summer

imageRain pelts the window pane above my head as I finish up Avery’s book with him. Suddenly, a cold breeze blows in through the front door as it flies open before being slammed shut again, by a muddy little duo donning mischevious smiles and crooked bike helmets. River nuzzles deeper into my neck. My senses tell me that Autumn has finally arrived.

We finished the summer with a gymnastics camp, an art camp and a trip to the berry farm to pick raspberries with friends, before deciding to get back to our schedule. With the beginning of the school year I had foolishly assumed that the knocking on our door to “come out and play!” would die down, but it hasn’t. It has simply been delayed until 3:15. Between homeschool activities, play dates, sports, classes and neighbourhood playmates the question of socialization blows my mind. Everyday brings hours of outside play with random neighbourhood kids. I was skeptical of the studies showing that there is no evidence of homeschoolers having socialization issues, but now I have no doubts. (Interested in these studies? Message me!)

This weekend we went to Pipestone Creek to check out a dinosaur dig. We hiked up the creek bed, and then up into the cliffs looking for fossils and interesting rocks. It was a lot of fun.

HOMESCHOOL:

Our school week runs Monday-Thursday. We begin our main lesson block (language arts or Math) around 9am and we usually finish our school work around 1pm. This year we rotate through the Romance languages (French, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese), however I try to work french into their core wherever I can. We also have some fun unit studies this year: homes & house building, the natural medicine cabinet and herbology to name a few. I started the year with a week-long block of form drawing and nature study to establish a rythm. Then I started into a rotating four week period as follows:

First 4 weeks:

  • Circle
  • Nature Study – walk in the woods/nature journal and weather observation
  • Language Arts – Christopherus gr.1, Bearth Institute gr.3, Spelling Power
  • French – Rosetta Stone, Living Languages, Grammar lessons, eventually a tutor
  • Geography/History – I began the year at the beginning. We started with our place in the solar system and the creation of the earth. This works especially well with the Waldorf grade 3, because of the creation theme. It seems to fill them with even more wonder and excitement about the unknown. From here we went into the Precambrian including maps of the shifting continents. Weaug19 019 will move quickly through pre-history in both geography and history as I plan to review it at the beginning of every year, and then slow down when we get to the evolved human, where I will begin the Smithsonian timeline. Eventually I plan to work our meal plan into our area and time period of study using resources such as “Eat Your Way Around the World”. We are also using “Geography through Art”, and doing “Story of the World” Activities. We will read corresponding classic literature, and historical biographies.
  • Art – Artistic Pursuits Book 1, classes at the Centre for Creative Arts
  • Sports/Extracurriculars – Ballet, jazz, acro, karate, skating, gymnastics, swimming

Second 4 weeks:

  • Circle
  • Nature Study
  • Math Christopherus gr.1, Bearth Institute gr.3, Miquon and Mammoth math
  • Spanish – Rosetta Stone, Living Languages, Grammar lessons
  • Geography/History (Continuation)
  • Science – Building Foundations of Scientific Understanding Volumes 1 & 2
  • Sports (Continuation)

TRAVEL:

We have postponed our Costa Rica trip, because our strategy is now to spiral outwards from Alberta, and we haven’t seen the United States yet. Not to mention our short trips around Alberta and B.C.,we are currently in the process of planning three major trips.

The first is to Yellowknife North West Territories for the winter solstice in December. We are hoping to catch some great aurora borealis, and the 20 hours of darkness!

The second trip is a road trip through the United States starting next June. We plan to go down the west coast, across the bottom states, up the east coast, and then through the middle and northern states on the way back to Alberta.

The third is a road trip to Whitehorse Yukon, Dawson City Yukon, and all the way to Tuktoyuktuk and the Beaufort sea once that final stretch of highway is completed. Stay tuned!

Roadschooling Adventures: Day 25-30

imageDay 26:The Giant stone cliffs piercing up through the ground against the aqua blue waters of Lake Superior are truly breath taking. The kids got to see the Canadian Shield as no textbook could describe. We swam in Lake Superior at each opportunity, and then we spent the night in Thunder Bay.
Day 27: We swam in Kenora and then back to Winnipeg. I am fairly certain that Winnipeg is my favourite Canadian city right now. It is wide open and airy. There is a vibrancy and energy here that I experienced nowhere else. There was a non-living garden contest going on throughout the city, and the kids played in one beautiful interpretive entry, with moveable bright yellow mesh tent-like pieces on a chess like board painted onto the grass at the edge of the forks.We again discussed Louis Reil and the colourful history of Winnipeg, and walked through the forks and downtown at dusk. We then had dinner at a great Mexican restaurant.We plan to go back for the museum of human rights, for it was closed during this trip. We also walked through the theatre district, which is another exciting area of Winnipeg. Did I mention I love Winnipeg?
Day 27: We travelled the Prairies this time in the full sunshine. It turns out there was a tornadoimage warning practically following us that we were unaware of. We stopped at a playground, and then visited the Regina farmers market which was fantastic, and picked up some goodies in order to have a picnic at the park. The boardwalk was nice, however it was filled with hungry Canadian geese who asserted themselves immediately. We found a clear bench, and enjoyed a fresh local picnic on the water. Then we let the kids run wild through the garden sprinklers at the legislature buildings before hopping back into the adventure van. From here we headed to Buffalo pound provincial park for a swim and to take in the gorgeous scenery. It turned out that the water quality was questionable but there was a great pool.We drove as far as we could, which ended up being Swift Current Saskatchewan. We got a hotel for the night, and had a great sleep.

imageDay 28:We were Drumheller bound, when I noticed that Avery had some strange spots on his leg that could have been poison ivy or something else. We decided not to visit family in Drumheller, as they have a young daughter who had just undergone a kidney transplant and the risks were too high. We decided to drive straight to B.C. We rented a log cabin in Kootenay national park, and it was so beautiful. We had late night snacks, read Nancy Drew, and then drifted off to sleep.

Day29 : We slept in, but still made it to breakfast in Banff with my brother & cousin and their girlfriends. It was so great spending time with them.  We headed to Takakka falls in Yoho national park to hike, explore and play in the water. Eric and the kids actually climbed up the side of the mountain. We  were going to head to Revelstoke and Glacier park, and then tent in B.C. but decided instead to get a suite at the Fox hotel and let the kids relax there for the remainder of our stay. They swam in the underground “cave pool”, and then just lazed around watching movies. My brother and his girlfriend came over for pizza and boardgames. Perfect night.

Day 30: Breakfast with my brother and then The Miette Hotsprings in Jasper national park. It was wonderful. We were driving the Glacier parkway all day, viewing wildlife and deaking in and out of mountains and glaciers, and we realized that the spots on Avery were probably not bug bites or poison ivy, because River and Hana now had them also. Chicken pox? Homeward bound to Grande Prairie!

Adventures in Roadschooling: Day 15-25

imageWe woke in Fredericton and headed downtown to have breakfast at the Creperie. Fredericton was a pleasant surprise; a bit of a hidden gem. It is bright and clean and steeped in  deep history, straddling the banks of the St. John river. We played at the legislature and then headed to Quebec. It was raining, but we were determined to make it to the free Cirque du Soleil show in Quebec City, which runs 5 nights a week during the summer months. We waited in line in the rain as others dropped off, concluding that they could come back to tomorrows show. We couldn’t, so we stuck it out and it was worth it. The sky opened, and  it remained dry until the completion of the show, at which point it started to rain again. It was however, as beautiful and magical as anticipated. We then decided to drive through the night to get home, so that the kids would have the surprise of waking in Arnprior. It had been almost two years since we left . Being in the Ottawa valley was bitter sweet. It was wonderful to spend time with friends and family, but it was a reminder of how much we are missing by being away. We hit all of our favourite restaurants – Jim’s, The Prior Sportsbar and the Blackbird cafe in Burnstown. Hana celebrated her birthday by having a bowling party  and going to high tea at the Chateau Laurier. We shared meals with all of our loved ones – Parents (grandparents), Aunts and Uncles, cousins and dear friends. The place we are from seems to be an intrinsic part of who we are, and it was just as hard to leave this time as it was the last. The week was jam packed with sharing time with those most important to us. Hana was overwhelmed by the fact that her childhood friends have gotten bigger and older. Elijah was overwhelmed by the people he thought he was imagesupposed to know, but couldn’t remember because he was so young when we left. He is truly in his element when surrounded by family. All in all, it was a reminder of how important it is to keep family and friends close even when you are far away. We said our goodbyes on Saturday, and vowed to be back soon. On our way out of town the kids wanted to stop by our old house, and knock on the neighbours door one last time to see if they could say hello and goodbye to their friend Dakota. Seeing him was to be a highlight, but unfortunately he wasn’t home. I could go on and on about how wonderful it was to be with family, all of the great food and great times, but as the trip and life itself, the story must go on. The experience of saying goodbye, and one important goodbye being unfulfilled made Northern Ontario especially grueling. We all cried and travelled silently wondering if we had made the right decision moving out West for work. I wondered if I had robbed my children of the riches of life surrounded by loved ones. Bitterly, we concluded that we had no choice; there was simply no work in the valley and drove on. It was extremely difficult to appreciate the beauty around us. We stopped at Science North in Sudbury for a few hours to stretch our legs and play. Then we stayed at Eric’s sisters again hoping it would ease some of the pain but it meant we had to say goodbye to her and her family again. We left Kelly’s in the morning with a haze of gloom engulfing the van. We remained in it until we hit Pancake bay. The magical sparkling waters of Lake Superior seemed to wash away our sadness and invigorate us. There we began the next chapter of the great Canadian Road Trip.