trailblazing and the fires that start

If Rick Mercer can do it, so can I. A rant, and doing it well, is a crucial part of communication and growth.

Many of my readers know that we (my husband, kids and I) decided to educate from a different perspective. Our gypsy relocation lifestyle had given us a fair share of the school system, a passport of sorts. For the past three years our three children ages 14, 12 and 8 years old have been attending #offspringacademy /our home school.

Offspring Academy is a really fancy way of saying, our family wanted to grow in knowledge by blazing our own trail of life learning-via our local community, books we chose, passions we have, being outdoors, travel, the arts…there is no standardized testing or graded reports. We learn from research and experiences that stir us for more knowledge. Sometimes practical, often simple and even abstract. 

Cue <Rant>

I can’t tell you how many times I have to justify (almost defend) our decision to the general public. Sure there are some beautiful conversations that we have with people who ask great questions and seek to understand our journey. But then, there are those who just want to sabotage us with their “questions” stating how we are going to fail. 

Failure is not possible if you are truly allowing someone to learn from what inspires them. 

My three children have been gifted with the opportunity to learn about their world through self motivation in an environment that adores them, encourages them toward greatness and helps opens doors of learning opportunities. So much clarity came after we read this:  

I am so thankful to those homeschoolers that have gone before us and the 1% increase that has been created recently. 

Be encouraged that I am a great learning facilitator that is growing wonderful citizens who know how to live, learn and love well. And if in 10 years I have failed, then we all will have learned something. 

This is my fire.

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school of home

“There is no school equal to a decent home, and no teacher equal to a virtuous parent.”
Mahatma Gandhi

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the uno-verse

Self love is very different from love of one’s self.

I am perplexed with the concept of deserving and being gluttonous.

Thoughts I will revisit…

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a day of perfect

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cue: suburban homeschooling

“If you’re not prepared to be wrong, you’ll never come up with anything original.” Sir Ken Robinson

Life has brought us to suburbia, away from our beautiful Lake Huron, and now I am afraid that I sense a bit of my soul withering from the after effects of a lifestyle that I am allergic to. Big box stores with no local farming goods, drivers who almost take you out at crosswalks, people who don’t smile and say hello. Have we come so far that now we go backwards?

This past month I turned my focus to embracing the good that came before us. Back to basics. Teaching my three children how to creatively learn and grow from home. Homegrown. It was after weeks of them coming home from public school with an aura of anxiety, sometimes teary and a sense of being lost in the system. I realized the system was crumbling and my kids were being educated into a robotic education. No art, no true physical education, no free thinking…everything overscheduled and classroom management consumed their learning environment. Realizing how passionate I was about the injustice, I poured that energy into making the best classroom ever part of their education–our home.

Sure I was scared. Unsure. Maybe even apprehensive. But my unknowingness has made me research and since that time I have discovered endless support for my decision. Everything from TEDTalks to DOC Zone have broadened my outlook of where are we going? All of a sudden I care about things I never imagined I would.

The Education System. Just as my youngest entered “the system” I took all three of them out of it. I am determined to teach them all they are “suppose to know” and then, everything they can’t learn because of curriculum boundaries, oversized classrooms and limited resources.

Our days are filled with lots of who, what, where, when, why & hows. But at the end of the day, we have used both sides of our brain and learned in an environment that loves, nurtures, encourages being wrong and celebrates ideas that are outside the box.

Here’s to recreating the box.

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constant carry on

Days like these, where I take pictures with my eyes and treasure every sound, smell and sight that surrounds me, have become so familiar. Just as I am about to leave a place, I feel as though a relationship is ending and it will forever be frozen in my memory as this wonderful affair. A honeymoon of life.

my dad captures me in the review mirror

Our life has us packing up house again. I think we truly are modern gypsies. As I pack, I filter out the stuff that doesn’t really mean anything, a cleansing of sorts. The benefit of 4 moves in 4 years is it starts to become a way of life that you can’t compare. You only truly know what you experience first hand. People are always shocked when they hear our story-thinking we have very little stability and wish for us to have roots. But in fact its quite the opposite. We are such a close family that is able to recognize change for what it is, and hold on the things that really matter-people.  We are a plant that can root easily and weather all sorts of elements.

In this last year I have learned that I love:  

being able to walk to a community hub, learning life lessons from generations before me, having shop owners know my kids names & ask after them, being able to get away–it’s just as important as wading through normalacy, sitting with good friends & nursing wine bottles till the wee hours in the morning, that my soul is connected to water & beaches, having deep conversations–they are just as valuable as having nonsense ones…

I guess its been a learning year. One that has had constant change and I have managed to carry on the best way I know how. Everyone I meet is part of my story, my life’s journey.

Embracing, again, life’s one true constant–change.

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falling for adventure again

(kate & I in AU together, in fall.)

It never fails, as soon as my toes start to feel a little chilly and summer starts to wind down, I also get the figurative “cold feet” about another year planted where I stand. Fall has always been my fresh start. August 31st is my New Year’s Eve.

I have no idea whats about to happen? I feel on the cusp of something.

We have been living here for a year. Our contract has now ended and my husband’s next contract is in another city three and half hours away from us. So we see Dan only on the weekends. Somehow another little move seems more daunting that a big life change to me. Cue: uncertainty.

I can sense myself dividing. Staying put and growing my roots deeper is appealing, but I also want to run away and fill my cup with more of this world’s greatness. Its not a greener grass issue for me. Simply, being together and moving forward in areas that nurture how we want to grow our family. Newness is stunning and scary all at the same time.

So much to embrace this fall. Can’t get my head around it all.





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my butterbeetle

my butterbettle

Artwork by Sara Blake|ZSO
Tattooed by Mel Wayland

Yep. Tattoo no. 5 and 6 just decorated my body this week. It was a skin passort journey with so many great bits to it. It started with wanting to get a tattoo for my birthday done in Australia (when my husband and I go next month) to seal some of the life stories I have lived in the last year. I stumbled across the artist Sara Blake|ZSO through my friend Sophie Ward’s article . I fell in love with her art and sought permission to use one. It was difficult to cut it down to just one…but this is it.

Next was the task of finding someone to ink me in AU, of which I knew no one. I started blindly looking for an artist. Not something I recommend. I felt unsure. That was when Dan said “why don’t you get it here so you can enjoy it more there, without wasting precious vacation time healing with bandages.” Good call hubby–the man with no tattoos (yet).

I couldn’t be happier about my decision on both artist fronts. So proud of my tattooist on this, Melanie Wayland (she had done several of my friend’s tattoos). Without going into detail as to the layers of meaning for me (I save that for personal conversations when people want to know) it encapsulates shadows of yesterdays and points towards that next step in life. Noteably, my biggest tattoo (yet) and the first time with colour. So happy I added more ink and colour to my life.

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our oz pot of gold

It seems that dreams really do come true. No “over the rainbow”, no following yellow brick roads or wearing ruby slippers. For the last three years I have wanted to return to Oz (Australia). My visit there opened windows of my heart that I had never opened before. I took deeper breaths, stopped to smell flowers and listened to birds in the wild that I was used to seeing in cages.

The trip happened after meeting a friend via Facebook that lived in AU. Yes, it was so random that it lead me to believe it was providence. The hows and whys are not as important as the beautiful possibility that exists now that we can meet kindred spirits via the phenomenon that is social networking. We had started a friendship that led to a visit a year later. After selling my Denby (an incomplete set at that) and whatever else I didn’t really need, Sage (my one year old and youngest of three) and I were on a plane to Sydney.

During my visit there I realized some moments seemed incomplete without sharing this beautiful country with the rest of my family. I was driving near Terrigal Beach, NSW listening to Geoffrey Gurrumul in my Holden rental and tears started to stream as I envisioned us all there together. That was November 2008.

Fast forward to a month ago. Dan and I talking about a time when the two of us could take our first trip together (after 13 years of marriage of which 11 of those have been consumed by raising our wonderful brood). We realized it would be a while before we could afford a trip to Oz for two of us. So he selflessly said, “I think you need to go back, visit Kate and have a break”. After looking into a ticket and discovering I couldn’t do that to our family right now, I let it go.

My version of letting it go was entering a contest. After seeing a commercial on CBC to win a trip to AU–I entered. I spent hours refining my 250 words to be “just right”. Only to discover that they wanted 250 characters-under two tweets! This was my response to why I thought they should pick me:

“A Father that is an artist. One sister a designer. Another a fashion writer. I am a mother. For the last 11 years I have folded my creativity into raising my children into being the next generation of artists. In the interim, I have lost the artist in me. Over the last 3 years I have doused myself with Ready Steady Cook, Wombat Stew, Missy Higgins & every good Oz Shiraz I could I try. This opportunity would be like a mother’s paycheque! Seeing one of the most artsy cities in AU with two such committed “Designer Guys” like S & C would be life changing.”

Nothing ventured, nothing gained, right? So I pressed send and hoped for the best.

Upon Dan getting home from work that day, I told him about my contest entering day. He said, “Can I enter it too?” And so he did, to the tune of this (with help from his writer wife):

“To win something for the woman who has made my life a full cup, a road worth going down and a trip I’d want to take all over again-would be an honour. Our home relishes in all things Aussie–Archibald, ARIA, AU Vineyards and an over all “no worries” lifestyle. After 13 years married this would be the dream honeymoon we never took.”

Well I am glad I am married to him, cause his entry won!  CBC contests called him to confirm the win and when he texted me “We are going to Melbourne!” I was excitedly confused…thinking it maybe had something to do with work? but maybe the contest? It was the latter.  Out of 60,000+ entries, it came down to our write-ups being the number one and two choice to win. Dan’s won! And I screamed and danced and my kids looked at me like they were the adults.

A dream come true. A time for Dan and I to invest golden moments into our lives as a couple together. Amazing. We will see Melbourne, hang with Steven & Chris, tuck in Tasmania and meals at vineyards. Even add a chunk of time on to go see my Kate in NSW. Truly a pot of gold delivered to us this month–thank you Tourism Australia & CBC.

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a lot to wine about

I am not sure what took me so long to fall in love with the nightly glass. It probably was the years of nursing my kids that wrote it off.  After many conversations with parents of young children, we all secretly admit that the witching hour requires an antidote. Our cure: wine.

After my travels to Australia, I realized that our Westernized culture doesn’t embrace or appreciate the love of food like my good friends Kate and Iain did. I was witness to a romancing of the kitchen that I had never experienced before. The music went on (we played a lot of fleet foxes and geoffrey gurrumul) the wine was poured, the kids played or participated in meal preparation and we all had a role that turned into a privilege. I wish my eyes had the ability to record memories in slow motion cause it was an event that was worthy of a replay to catch it’s beauty.

This event was one I have tried to re-enact over and over in my home. Whether a week night dinner or a feast for 10. It was such a beautiful thing to have my extended family over for Christmas this year. We planned on taking turns making meals which then led us to the Liquor store “ooing and awing” over all the wines we could pair with the amazing culinary creations. 350 dollars later we had a week of meals planned with the antidote well thought out.

Wine pairing and mealtime is something I have come to appreciate. The shared table, a lost resource. When the table becomes all about the connection and nutrition, I find I whine less.

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