This Blog Has Moved!

Thank you to everyone who regularly checks out my blog!  I hate to be so wishy-washy but I have decided to change the name of my blog to a name that I feel better reflects what I will be writing about.  My new blog is at www.worldschooladventures.com Notice I sprung for my very own domain name!  Woot Woot!!!  I’m very excited about the move and I hope you move with me!

The blogging process has been a huge learning curve for me and I am now starting to feel a bit more confidence in my abilities.  Thank you so much for your patience and encouragement!

Did I mention how much I love funny faces?

If you like what I write about and want to follow us on our great Worldschool Adventure please subscribe to the new blog and like my new Facebook Page and in return you will have my eternal love and admiration!  Muah!

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Unschooling Update

I’m starting to learn just how much the idea of unschooling is misunderstood.  I think it is the word that turns people off.  Unschooling does not mean unparenting or unteaching….a better word for it would be child led learning.  It is about listening to your child.  Seeing what excites them and equally important what doesn’t excite them.  Then you take that topic of interest and hit the ground running.  It’s the parents job to facilitate the learning and to think of new and exciting ways to get deeper into a subject.  It is also crucial to trust your child and to trust yourself.  I know that Lan wants to learn, I trust him to have infinite curiosity, and I am learning to trust that I am capable of helping him.

Lately, our learning has revolved heavily around fantasy books.  I read The Secret Land of Og to Lan (his very first novel!) and he really got into it!  This had us drawing little green men and discussing the possibilities of secret worlds.  Since he did so well with that book I thought I would try him on the Narnia books.  I borrowed the audio CD’s from the library and just put one in while he was playing Lego.  I was completely amazed when he sat and listened to the entire novel and then asked for the next one in the series to be put on.  On the first day we listened to Narnia books for five hours straight!  This has started a spin off into animals, particularly lions.  We have been drawing lions, I borrowed a How to Draw Animals book from the library, we’ve watched Animal Planet shows about lions, and of course read books about them.

Our days are not about structured learning, we just find ways to integrate learning into what we already do.  We learn literacy from books, magazines, signs, cereal boxes, grocery lists, etc.  We learn math from board games, computer games, lego, baking, counting, etc.  Geography comes in the form of a giant world map, books, and conversations.  Science comes to us by exploring our neighborhood, reading books, doing experiments, and making observations.

Are we learning all the things that other kids in Kindergarten are learning.  Probably not.  Does that worry me? Nope.  We are learning at our own pace in our own way.  Somethings he is learning my not be on any school curriculum or not in the curriculum for his grade level.  But he is learning at lighting speed!

I recently read a post about a mother and child who are traveling the world together.  Read it here. In it she describes all of the amazing things her child has learned through a year of travel.  There were no lesson plans, no coercion, no rote learning, no textbooks, and no schedules.  Basically his learning was unschooling with the world as his classroom.  It really warmed my heart, especially because this mother and child are not life long unschoolers but found the courage to let go of a curriculum and immerse themselves in the learning opportunities that surrounded them.  And the list of lessons learned on the road was truly astounding!

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Buzzing With Excitement

With the ringing in of 2011 comes our countdown to departure.  I’m busy getting wrapped up in my head with all the things that need to be done.

We are putting the house on the market in six weeks so I have been busy with a critical eye, wiping off sticky finger prints (when you really look they are EVERYWHERE!) We will be doing a bit of touch up painting, and re-waxing our polished concrete floors. FYI, two young energetic boys and all their toys reek havoc on a once pristine floor.  There is also a small list of finishing jobs for Mike to get the house to 100% completion.

Once the house is on the market I will have the wonderful job of trying to keep it clean…yuck!  We are hoping for a quick sale.  We live in a very desirable part of Canada that attracts lots of retirees so our housing market is still reasonably strong.  Our Realtor is also optimistic for a quick sale. (In a quick aside, I find it obnoxious that my spell checker says that realtor must be capitalized!)

I also need to apply for a new passport for Kayden as his is about to expire.  I’m filling my time now with research and dreaming.  Once we have a firm date for the sale of the house there will be a mad rush of visa applications, plane tickets, insurance, wills, packing our bags, and packing up the house.  I can’t wait!

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Nasty Needles

So we had our first visit with the Travel Doctor last week.  As usual with Doctors, she was running late.  We got in to see her 45 minutes after our scheduled appointment.  But it wasn’t so bad, as this gave me a chance to peruse all of the in-your-face posters that described all the many terrible diseases we will be exposing ourselves to by leaving our safe little haven.  The fear factor is very crucial in selling overpriced vaccines after all!

So we finally get in to see the Dr and tell her what the plans are.  Her response was “Wow!  You are brave!”  I didn’t know how to take this after all those scary pamphlets and posters in the waiting room.  Internally I was thinking “Does she think we are putting our children in danger or was she giving us a compliment?”  Anyways, I explained that we are unsure of our departure date so really all I was looking for was for the kids to get their first Hep A shots and the rest of them we will decide on when we know when we will be leaving.  So, with more pamphlets and printouts in hand I took the kids, one by one, into the nurses office for the dreaded needle.

I had explained to the children numerous times throughout the week that they would be getting a needle and why it was necessary.  They seemed OK with it.  Kayden was first and, wow, what a trooper.  He sat calmly on my lap, cried for maybe 30 seconds post-poke and then happily sucked on his green lolly-pop.  Then came Lan’s turn.  He had decided he didn’t want a needle anymore and would not let me expose his arms.  He held his sleeves with all his strength and after cajoling and bribing didn’t work I had to go with force.  I finally pried his sleeve out of his white knuckle grip and the fast as lightning nurse did the deed.  For those of you who have never heard the capacity of Lan’s lungs, let me describe his screeching wale for you.  I’m talking ear-piercing, make all the dogs in the neighborhood howl, and the howler monkeys envious kind of scream.  And it lasted soooooo long.  He was in hysterics!  After calming him back down to a less offensive decibel level, I took him back to the packed waiting room.  With a lolly-pop and drool hanging out of Lan’s mouth, we emerged and had everyone in the waiting room staring at my poor traumatized boy and me.

And the pain was not all for the children this night.  The $160 price tag left me hurting too.  Ouch!

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Where in the world?

We have a very general idea of where we want to go on this great worldschooling adventure.  We will definitely be going to China, Thailand, Malaysia, and Singapore.  Other countries that are on my radar are the Philippines, India, Sri Lanka, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand.  I would really rather not have my children take any anti-malarials so that really limits our destinations.  Australia and New Zealand would break the budget but I’m thinking that if we could get a cheap flight to Australia we could buy a little camper van and tour around that way.  We also have quite a few friends there which would not only make the trip more interesting but cheaper.

So for now I am in the research stage, trying to decide where to go.  As we plan on traveling very, very slowly I don’t want to take on too many countries.  Here is the loosey goosey plan so far:

China

I’m thinking a month will do it.  On the hit list are the Terra Cotta Warriors, Panda Bears, the Great Wall, Hong Kong, and Yangshou.

Thailand

One month in Bangkok (I’m considering getting the kids’ rabies vaccine here as it would be about 1/3 of the cost of doing it in Canada)  I would love to get an apartment here and take in the sights slowly because it is such an in-your-face city.

One or two months in Chiang Mai.  I want to do a cooking class here and hopefully do some volunteer work with the Thai Freedom House.

Many, many months in southern Thailand lazing on the beaches, drinking fruit shakes, gorging on seafood, and admiring the sunsets.

Malaysia

One month in Kuala Lumpor.  The first time we were in Malaysia we didn’t fall in love with it.  However, our friends over at Our Travel Lifestyle have made me rethink our first impressions.  It seems to have so much on offer for children: playgrounds, museums, zoos, science centres, not to mention a wonderful foodie culture. .

One month Perhentian Islands. We missed these on our last trip but I’ve heard good things about them.

A few weeks Cameran Highlands.  Strawberries and tea plantations, how can we go wrong?

Singapore

I’m not going to speculate on how long we will spend in Singapore.  It is ridiculously expensive so it will all depend on if we can find good, cheap accommodation.  I really want to take the kids to Sentosa Island to see their AMAZING aquarium, dolphin shows, light shows, train rides and all else it has to offer.

That’s as far as I have got on our planning stage.  It is so hard to plan for when the departure date depends on the sale of our house.  I have a feeling it will be a real scramble between the time the house sells and the time we leave.

I would love to hear your comments and suggestions.  Places we shouldn’t miss?  Places I should be looking at?  What?  You live somewhere I want to go and you have a spare bedroom and would love to be our tour guide?  Definitely drop us a line!

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First Step

Goodbye Family Car!

Well, it is all starting to seem a little more real now.  We sold the car!  It’s our first step in a long to-do list to get ready for our adventure.  This is the car we bought when I was pregnant with Lan.  Before that we had a two door sprint and we really wanted a four door “family” car.  This is the car that we drove to the hospital in for both my deliveries, the car we used to usher the kids to Dr. appointments and playdates, shopping trips and dinners out.  And while there is a small part of me that is sad to see it go, the rest of me is shouting WOO HOO!!!!  It has begun!  It is real!  We are on our way!  Now all we have to sell is the Westfalia and the house.  Should be easy right?

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I don’t want to rag on you…..but

Last weekend the boys and I spent the night at my brother’s house.  I get teased every time I go over there because, well, I pick through their garbage.  It’s not like I do it on purpose, I go to put something in and then I notice so many things that can be recycled.  I feel comfortable enough in my relationships with my relatives that I can pull out the offending piece of recycling and then give a light-hearted lecture about recycling.  What set this weekend apart from other visits is I started to get angry.  I mean really angry.  I even swore.  Because if it is so bloody hard for my brothers family to figure out, what about every other family in the world? How can one not take the time to bring the empty toilet paper roll from the bathroom to the recycling bin, or rinse out that yogurt container or tin can?  I know I am not alone in my quest to live lightly on the earth.  There are millions of us out there.  I guess I’m just wondering…..where are you all?

For me, I’ve moved past the recycling issue in my house.  My next step is to actually reduce my recycling.  No, not by putting it in the garbage but by choosing products with less or no packaging.  I’m inspired by the blog at http://plasticmanners.wordpress.com/.  A woman who is living life without plastic.  It is possible.  Certainly not easy though.  I’m taking baby steps but feeling really good about it!

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