Monthly Archives: May 2014

Homeschool weekend fun

chocolate chip cookies

I am learning that homeschool doesn’t really function on a monday to friday 9-3 kind of schedule. I grab the learning opportunities when ever I can. I am also learning that if I just share something with Hunter, saying something like “check out this cool video” then he doesn’t consider it as part of his school work and we get to learn some really interesting things, with no pushback! (Tricky mom stuff…)

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I came across an article about how to make the best chocolate chip cookies  and it had a scientific bent behind it with respect to experimenting with ingredients and their individual reactions to get different results. OK – this is something fun we can do…Baking is also great for math – all that measuring and combining.

Then I found this Ted-Ed video (I LOVE Ted-Ed video’s as they do such a great job of making information fun) and it went ahead and really explained the science behind baking cookies.

We had fun baking cookies this morning and doing some experimenting. We added extra flour to our standard recipe to get puffier cookies and then also tested out using parchment paper vs cooking spray and the difference between having 2 trays in the oven vs cooking one at a time. For all those that are curious – the puffiest cookies came by using cooking spray and having only one tray in the oven at a time (on the top rack) to capture that consistent heat at 350c.

The school of life – our first BIG decision

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Our first big decision has come and gone with respect to what our “new normal” will look like – we have made the decision to keep going with homeschooling Hunter next year.

I have absolutely loved the experience this year while travelling – it has given us a front row seat to see what excites him, where he is passionate about something and what frustrates him from a learning perspective. It has also made all of us much more aware of the learning opportunities around us every day, and how to make the most of them.

Tim and I do our best to answer every question that is being asked or to guide him to find a solution, rather than blowing them off because we are juggling too many balls or tired.

Last night he announced that he wanted to get a TV, a DVD player and an electronic pencil sharpener and take them apart to see how they work! I am sooo excited that he is now exploring his own curiosity and we are just here to guide and support him.

Last week Hunter and I came across a bike in the ditch down the street. He decided to bring it home to see if we could fix it. He had been spending a little time with Tim working on our bikes but you’re never sure how much kids are paying attention. I put the bike up on the stand and the next thing I knew, he had all of Tim’s tools out and was engrossed in this bike. 2 hours went by and he managed to take the whole thing apart and clean it, grease it etc. It’s such a dump bike that it’s not actually fixable but the experience was invaluable. And the best part was this was in the middle of a “school day”!

I am also loving the peaceful mornings – Hunter gets up when he gets up and there is no more rush to get breakfasts into everyone, lunches made and he and I out the door. The combination of homeschooling and me doing contract work has decreased the stress level at our house ten fold. We will make less money with this approach next year but it will be a worthwhile investment in our family and our selves!

Observations & thoughts from 8 months on the road

10007069_631535413585742_496733676596683208_nWe’ve been home for almost three weeks now and in some ways it feels surreal to think that we just spent the last 8 months living on the road. I can still vividly picture the day in September when we stood in the driveway and took the picture of us all loaded up. If nothing else, 8 months flew by. I am grateful that we have this site to help bring it back to life and keep the memories accessible.

We set off on our road trip for a number of reasons:

  • Tim and I were burnt out from work, life and all of the juggling that came with it
  • We were craving more play time
  • Hunter is getting older every day and really notices when we are not “present” and this was starting to have an impact on him
  • WHY NOT NOW!!!

6ef0554d1f208b807d66a8768f3c65a2So – 36,000 km, many new tires and 8 months later and here we are…

After “what was your favourite thing”, the next most popular question that we get is “are you glad to be home”? My answer is that I’m not sad to be home and I’m not glad to be home, I’m just home and excited for what is to come!

ac759c837e9315d3ff09f405dbfb1adfI LOVED being on the road, for a number of reasons… If you were to ask Tim, he’d say it’s because I am all about “new” and there is some truth to that – there are just so many things to see, do and experience in the world, why on earth would you want to do the same ones over and over and over??? And yet, I do enjoy and appreciate a sense of routine and often found great joy in getting to know somewhere new (not just a quick in and out) and experiencing the nuances and routines of those different places. Just so much to learn in this world!

Some of the best parts of being on the road were:

  • We smiled and giggled more than we had in ages (and we weren’t really a grumpy house to begin with) and just had FUN
  • Learning to be in harmony with each other. As hokie as that sounds, it is about giving everyone their space, being empathetic and yet also being there to help and support each other. Nothing like trying to have a foot stomping rant about something and just being hugged in response. That sure changes the dynamics fast.
  • Teamwork – acting as one unit vs three individuals and knowing that you didn’t have to do everything yourself
  • living in the moment and letting go of the need to plan everything
  • taking the moment to BREATHE, slow down and create space for ourselves to think

a8cedcd7f26730f795b5e4b8ce57e665We have this wonderful shared basket of memories that we already finding ourselves using as framework references when in another situation. They mean so much to us and nothing to anyone else and that makes them extra special.

We learned that some days “Chasing the Sun” was more literal than philosophical and that patience plays a big role in life. Bad weather always gives way to good if you can wait it out. How you wait it out makes all the difference in the world.

606bb75ab03e893c1a0c5738a6ee0e7cOur biggest learning is the validation that we don’t want to go back to the old “normal” and that we have the ability to define our new “normal”. So far that has entailed the clarity that we don’t want to work as much as we used to, that we need to ensure we have family fun time every day and that we want adventure to be an ongoing part of our life. We are also working on being open to the questions that we find ourselves seeking answers to. I am already catching myself slipping back into “busy” and just remind myself to breathe and that I don’t have to feel that way – it is soooo freeing!

More to come as we continue to embrace adventure in our every day and contemplate the road ahead.

Our favourite things from 8 months on the road…

lee tim hunter water fall

We have been home now for 2 weeks and are still transitioning back into things. The first question that EVERYONE asks us is “what was your favourite thing?”. That is a really loaded question and one that just seems impossible to answer, other than with the simple statement of “spending time together” or “visiting family”. In 8 months we saw and did so many different things and had so many amazing experiences…

We’ve broken it down into favourite things by segment, to help highlight some of the top things:

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Favourite Mountain Biking

tim hunter in the surf

Favourite Kayaking

Hunter loves his new surf/boogie board

Hunter loves his new surf/boogie board

Favourite Surfing

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Favourite Skatepark

lee & hunter fisherman's wharf

Favourite Touristy thing

I’m still working on a wrap up post so stay tuned for “Our learnings from 8 months on the road”!

Where are you from???

alaska yukon map

The most common question that we were asked on the road was “where are you from?” To most this is a fairly simple question to answer – not quite so for us.

To begin with, we live in Whitehorse, the capital of the Yukon Territory, which is in the far north west corner of Canada. Unfortunately there are some Canadians that don’t know where this is, let alone the majority of Americans.

By default, we seem to have created a multi-tiered strategy to answer the question:

1) if we were in Canada, then we would answer “Whitehorse, in the Yukon” (just to help cover the gap of where is Whitehorse… although not many people give provincial context to Edmonton, Victoria, Saskatoon etc.)

2) if we were in the USA, then we would start with “the Yukon, up near Alaska”.

  • 90% of the time, people responded to that with “WOW – ALASKA, that’s really cool – you are a long way from home!” To which we just went with it and said “Yep”, not seeking to clarify and explain
  • 10% of the time, people would respond with questions or comments related to their trip to Alaska or the Yukon as part of their bucket list adventures and we would happily explain more

3) Sometimes a judgement call was made on the spot and we would just say “Alaska”  and not even make the effort to explain the Canadian component of things.

  • On the rare occasion we got questions, we would then take the time to explain that we were from the Canadian side of Alaska – unfortunately, there weren’t a lot of clarifying question on that front. Definitely a lack of north american geography knowledge out there!

Our one exception to all of the above was if we were mountain biking. We would always take the time to explain where we were from, that we have top rated trails in North America and many times I would haul out our trail maps from my camel back and show them off! We proudly gave out Boreale Mountain Biking’s contact info to many bikers and bike shops…

catching last turns at the Fraser summit

tim hunter snowmobile summit

While I missed my friends and my bathtub while we were on the road, Hunter missed his friend Gareth and snowboarding. He was greatly concerned that if he didn’t board this year that he would forget how and have to start all over again next winter.

IMG_1629March and April in the Yukon bring these amazingly BIG bluebird skies which make the snow and the mountains sparkle. We usually spend easter weekend up at the Fraser Summit camping and snowboarding/skiing/playing with friends and then get in one or two other weekends as well. The scenery makes your jaw drop and it is out of this world spring skiing conditions.

The weather this week has been great and driving back through the Yukon on the weekend you could still see a decent amount of snow on the mountains. We made the call to get organized and head out to the summit on Wednesday. This meant pulling out all the winter clothes + snowboards + getting the snowmobile running!

The snow was all plowed and melted from the roads and our normal parking lot was closed. We looked at each other and said…. 50/50 – what do you want to do? It was a 2 hr drive to get there and we had all our stuff and the sun was shining so we loaded it all up and headed into the mountains. Hunter and I boarded for 1.5 hours while Tim generously ran the shuttle snowmobile. We decided to head back when our legs got tired and the snow became a bit punchy (causes the snowmobile to fall through the crust).

A fabulous day in the mountains! We rounded it out by stopping at a country friends house on the way home and spending the afternoon having drinks on the deck in the sun and catching up.

22 hours & 2000 km

IMG_1601Leaving Williams Lake we pressed the “home” button on the GPS and were told it would take us 22 hours – UGH… Nothing like a long long long drive to cap off our 8 months! The spring transition was an interesting one. Harrison Hotsprings was definitely spring like with lots of green on the ground, daffodils and tulips out and cherry blossoms in full bloom.

IMG_1603Williams Lake was just starting to green up – the snow had been gone for a few weeks and you could see the green poking through the brown layers of grass. By the time we hit just north of Quesnel, we were seeing snow in the ditches. A few more hours and we were into full fledged snow in the fields and on the roadsides. Really interesting study in latitude and altitude and the impacts they have on weather.

We were really happy with the amount of wildlife that we saw driving as we struck out on the drive south in the fall. A mother bear and 3 brand new cubs, a healthy 3 year old bear, fields of deer and elk, handfuls of caribou and a number of roadside bison clusters. The bison are definitely the most amazing – seeing these 1200lb animals just laying in the ditches or at times, wandering up and down the road – you have no choice but to pause and admire them.

Our first night of the drive we slept in the rest area at Mile 80 of the Alaska Highway (after 9 hours of driving). Our second night we made it to Liard Hot Springs Provincial Park. It is the second largest natural hot springs in Canada and a must stop when driving the Alaska Highway. We all agreed that we preferred it to Harrison Hotsprings as this has no commercial structure or feel to it – the pools are right at the source, and you feel like you are in the middle of a river. There have been some infrastructure upgrades (new change rooms, new deck) over the last few years that have improved the experience. We didn’t take any photos but there are some good images that you can see on this Yukon site. The hot springs is open all year long and is incredibly peaceful (except for weekend evenings). We took a dunk  when we got there at dinner time, just before bed and again before breakfast.

IMG_1622Day 3 of driving was a straight haul up the Alaska Highway 7.5 hours to Whitehorse. The bluebird skies were out and you can’t help but admire the rugged beauty of snow capped mountains and bright blue skies. It’s how you know you are in the Yukon in the spring.

IMG_1619Everyone was happy to pile out of the truck once we got home. This 3 day push is the longest stretch of driving that we did in the entire 8 month journey. Our house sitters did an amazing job and we came home to a house with minimal wear and tear and a fresh loaf of bread on the counter… can’t get better than that!

I will write more about the whole aspect of getting home, settling back in etc. later this week.