Archive | July, 2013

Departure and Week 1: Canada: Haliburton, Ontario

25 Jul

Departure & Week 1

On July 15, 2013 – after months of planning, de-cluttering, packing, sorting and dreaming – we were ready to start our adventure. Stuff (home & office) stored in a 10×20 storage unit and our house in the Beach rented for the year to a family from Washington, DC.

Although I consider myself a person that easily recycles, de-clutters or throws out things – I have gained a huge respect for those that are able to sell or get rid of ALL of their belongings to embark on a travelling lifestyle!  How attached we are to our stuff!  My goal and hope for this year-long trip is that our family can change our perspective on owning material things and will come back learning to live a much more de-cluttered and streamlined life, one that appreciates experiences, love and life over stuff.

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First stop; a week of family time at a cottage outside of Haliburton, Ontario – on Pickard Lake!

When thinking of our year away, many words come to mind: “Relaxation”, “Family & Connection Time” and “Excitement” are certainly some of them.

Relaxation: The cottage we stayed in was a gorgeous two-level vacation home, right on a private lake, on a remote piece of land with absolutely breathtaking surroundings.  It had been months since I last picked up a book, let alone finish one.  That week, I relished in finishing a book, sitting on a gorgeous deck overlooking a stunning Canadian Lake –while enjoying watching Emile and Filou have a fabulous time in the water (jumping, swimming, diving, snorkelling and fishing – even doing comedy shows, using a small floating deck as their stage – they were just on fire, cracking joke after joke – each one followed by a crazy jump in the water). What a joy!

Family Time: Among the many family games at the cottage was a nice big dartboard that served for many a friendly competition (especially between YiaYia (grandma) and Emile).  The outdoor fire pit also facilitated some nice family time, enjoying several campfires (nothing better than a burnt marsh mellow or hot dog in the fresh air, while listening to Papa’s guitar tunes?)!  And yes, if you are wondering, Anthony has brought a travelling guitar (not sure how long that item will last but very nice while it’s with us….)

The other important family aspect to this week certainly was the time with Yia Yia. As an incredible inspiration in the boys’ life, she sees them at least once a week.  The time together away in this beautiful setting was a perfect send-off and goodbye to her as we embark on our journey. We hope to have her join us in Latin America in 2014.

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Adventure: After a week of 30C, sunbathing, swimming, boating and relaxation – it was time for some adventure.  On our last day, while sitting on the deck, enjoying my book – a ferocious wind came out of nowhere.  The lake became wild and angry looking (but beautiful). While I looked up, I saw that a children’s water slide had been swept from the deck into the lake and was quickly taking speed, floating away.

Without hesitation, I took a dive and swam after it – although it took all my strength to quickly swim against the strong winds to reach this item. When I had covered about half the lake, I finally reached it.  My family was having mixed feelings of me “risking my life” and “admiration”.  Luckily, I feel pretty confident in the water (thanks mom & dad for all the swimming lessons when I was young) and with some “mind over matter” attitude, I swam back with the slide in my hand against very strong currents of water and wind.  The admiration of Emile was worth it alone. I truly was his “hero” for the day, and he was encouraging me tremendously from shore….talking  me so sweetly back to safety (never had so many spontaneous hugs in a row from him :).

Once back on shore, huffing and puffing, a few other items needed saving such as a Muskoka Chair (and for those of you that knows what a Muskoka Chair is – you know that it is a fairly heavy chair, not easily swept away by wind)!

Shortly after this lake rescue mission, we closed up the cottage –  that had now gone without power – and quickly departed.  We later heard that we just made it out in time, as the area had received several tornado warnings….we had no idea that we were in a tornado region but we did notice the fallen trees along the road, and the tremendous storm (incredible rain and wind) in which we had to drive back. Thankfully, we made it back safely to Toronto to catch our first flight. Destination: Halifax, Nova Scotia!

So, our first week did live up to expectations: a nice mix of relaxation, family time and adventure. Good start to the year!

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Word Education – 1

23 Jul

WORLD EDUCATION – 1

When announcing that my family & I are going to travel the world for a year, the number one question people ask me is: What about the education of the boys?  Will you be homeschooling them? While it is somewhat obvious to me that travel is an amazing form of education, I have since learned that some do not seem to agree.  For example, my good friend Frédérique in the Netherlands has told me that she cannot take her kids out of school for 1 day without getting a hefty fine, and parents in Germany that want to travel or believe that homeschooling is the way to go for their little ones, better set-up shop somewhere else, as the state does not allow it.

So I feel very thankful for living in Canada, a country that understands that gathering knowledge and learning is accomplished in many different ways – and where we have received only encouragement from our children’s school to take them on this wonderful trip to go learn outside the classroom doors.  Nowadays, the school curriculum can be found on-line and books are used infrequently: teachers use on-line resources, many of which I have been able to find – to prepare me for my new job of homeschooling, travelling mom!

That being said, Anthony and I value “education” –aka expanding horizons, learning new things and gathering new knowledge  – so we used Anthony’s extensive network of contacts to line up a few cool things to keep the kids learning and sharing in different ways, while on the road.

ROM KIDS:  The Royal Ontario Museum  (ROM)– http://www.rom.on.ca/en

  • one of Canada’s most prestigious cultural institutions has offered the boys the opportunity to share pictures and stories, which will be pushed out and shared with children all over Canada via the ROM Kids children’s social media sites.

And thanks to our friend Sonia Boisvert, the boys will also be sharing their world travel experiences “en Francais” while doing a French blog for the CBC – Radio Canada (The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) – http://www.radio-canada.ca To kick off this experience, CBC Broadcasters came to the boys’ school, on their last day, to interview them about their upcoming journey. What a thrill for Emile & Filou – who enthusiastically shared their feelings about their upcoming trip and subsequently became the  “superstars” of their class that day.

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And last but certainly not least, we are thankful to Dorothy Blake for connecting us to a Tech International Charter School www.ticharter.org in the Bronx, New York. This forward-thinking institution uses technology to provide children with a “world education” through the active use of skype, email and social media.  By pairing students with peers in Canada, India, France etc. this US based, Charter School facilitates cross border learning, using a medium kids love!  So Emile, will be a “roving reporter” and provide children in this school with travel updates, using various technology.  To set the stage for this learning opportunity, Emile skyped with two of the school’s very bright, well-travelled and interested students who can’t wait to hear where Emile & his family are headed next.

So in both English & French- Emile & Filou will share their cultural, environmental, geographical, religious and language learnings with friends and peers around the globe – by writing, researching, video blogging, photography and social media.

Seems like a great education to me!

Y.O.L.O! Mom on the Go…

23 Jul

Y.O.L.O!  Mom on the go….

Recently, my Dad turned 75 and told me that on his birthday, he reflected back on his 75 years of life and concluded that he was very satisfied with his life…that there were a few small things that he would have done differently….but that all in all, he looked back on a fulfilling life without regret.  This is a man who was very fortunate to travel the world for his work, to see and experience many wonderful things, and to this day still lives by the motto: Carpe Diem!

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He certainly passed the travel bug on to me, taking me all around Europe on wonderful family vacations, always with the mission to show my sister and me that the world was bigger than “Berkel-Enschot” (the small town in the Netherlands where I was raised). So, after high school, I went off to the South of France to learn another language and met my wonderful husband Anthony from Canada.  Together, we continue and  had some of our best times travelling and experiencing life together.  Our long-term goal: To one day travel the world.

So now, at our “midlife inspiration” point, that day has come! We are travelling the world for a year with our two sons: Emile who is almost 10 and Felix (Filou) who is 8. Our journey will start with some family time in Eastern Canada and Europe, then onto China, South-East Asia, New Zealand, Japan and Latin America. I have yet to really grasp what this year will hold for the four of us, but of one thing I am sure: When I am 75, I want to look back on a life well lived, without regret – and for me, this trip will certainly help accomplish that mission.

As I write this first blog, we haven’t even left yet, and already we seem to inspire others. How cool!  Friends are telling us that we are encouraging them to follow their dreams, such as opening up their own business; others are motivated to ponder how they might live life differently!  And then there are those who are motivating us to live “a life without regret”, such as the wonderfully jovial and entertaining court judge who was seated next to me at a restaurant bar, there to celebrate Father’s Day. He kept congratulating us for taking this bold step, and at the end of dinner, gave me the biggest hug and whispered in my ear:  “I was just diagnosed with MS and should have done this with my kids when I was younger. Go have a fabulous time and film everything!”

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So here it is – a life without regret: Carpe Diem. Or as one cool teenager recently taught me, Y.O.L.O!  You Only Live Once.  So, here I go: Y.O.L.O! Mom On The Go… with my three wonderful men – travelling the world. An absolute dream come true!