Friday, September 26, 2008

Happy Autumn!

I can't believe it's the end of September! How does that happen? Crazy...

The first month of school and unschool has gone really well. Riley is enjoying grade 7 and likes the changing of classes and teachers. She is playing trumpet again, and hopes to join the after school jazz band. She is running in the cross country races for 3 weekends and successfully ran her first race, taking 1st place in her school and 6th overall for grade 7 girls. Her scores from this year and last always hover around 6mins 3 seconds so she is trying to get under 6mins before the end of this session! She also made the volleyball team and looks forward to her practises and games getting regular and serious.

Bridger started drum lessons on Sept 14th and took to it very quickly. He starts by practising on random soft areas so it's not too loud yet! He has very good rhythm and is quickly learning the music theory required. He is doing well in his school work but having a hard time with what I affectionately call "laziness." *sigh* He has been using an Ancient Egypt workbook to learn English topics, Math and Creative Writing. He is also doing long division and angles.

Nikolai started guitar lessons last Sunday and is very excited to get learning. They told me the lessons would have to be on a trial basis because he is so young but he seems to be doing fine. He is trying hard so I think that'll make him succeed (as long as he doesn't get discouraged!). He is also doing well with his work, learning subtraction with borrowing, habitats and mapping. Right now he is doing English work using a new Robert Munsch book each week.

They have both asked me to do some Harry Potter studies, but these aren't really available in the way I want them to be, so I am writing my own. Should be fun! Will keep you posted... maybe I'll sell them!

For activities, the boys are starting basketball next week which runs at the elementary school and will go all year. They also start next Friday a 10 session set of swimming lessons with the other homeschoolers. It'll be nice because the classes will be so small. We also try to go to Judo on Thursday night. Barton is a bit concerned about the violent aspect of the sport... so I guess that will also be on a trial basis!!!

I have been really busy and by the time I go to bed I am completely shot!! It's a good dead tired though... I had plans for the boy's room, I have told them since we moved here that I would paint it! I bought some stuff in Vancouver for decorating because I knew what I was looking for, but now I don't see any time to paint in the near future. I didn't want the things I got to be sitting in piles (trying really hard to NOT leave unfinished projects lying around!) so I decided to everything but the wall painting. That way, at least it'll be fun for now and if I ever get the time, I'll paint. So, it's almost done and I'll post pictures when I'm finished. At the same time I ended up making a few slings for friends and because I had a borrowed serger, I figured I should do a few other projects at the same time. So I have a skirt and the boys have curtains! Unfortunately what happens when those projects are going? NOTHING else gets done!!! Every once and awhile I'll tidy so I can project away with a clear conscience but the rest of the house is getting pretty desperate. I am almost done...

In 8 months, Barton will be done! It's insane how quickly that has gone! We are still trying to make the huge decision of life after school ends (What? School ends?) and it's starting to drive me crazy. He's doing well though! He's working at the smaller St John's hospital right now, which means an easier schedule and home call instead of overnight in the hospital. His emergency shifts were great because he had so many days at home and with the boys home they got lots of extra time together. He has started studying with his classmates so they're getting serious! No turning back now... After having his old (favourite) bike stolen in Kelowna (strike one for Kelowna!) he received an insurance payment and bought a fast new bike. He has been enjoying his rides to work since picking up the bike this week.

Mattea... what do I say about Mattea? She is something else! She's hilarious and brings constant joy to everyone in the house. The novelty has not worn off for the older kids so they still love paying attention to her and always tell her how much they love her and how "they can't stand it" that she's so cute! She's walking all over now and getting into everything. She's such a climber, so I'm pretty sure she'll be the one we find sitting on the fridge! The other day she picked up an onion peel and opened the cupboard and put it in the garbage which I thought was really funny. She still says "bobbi" all the time, with all the different intonations that it can be used for. She has a few other words though. Bobbida, bobbiya, mommy, daddy, hot, and the kid's names.

Well, I guess that's it for now! Have a great weekend!!

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Back To Basics

At some point I said I had more to say and here I am almost a week later! I can't believe it's been a week since we arrived back on The Rock. So much has happened in so little time! This week marked the start of Riley's first year of Junior High, I started homeschooling the boys (more about that later!) and Barton did a bunch of shifts in the emergency, his current rotation. In and amongst that we have unpacked almost everything and have found 'almost' everything! We've semi settled back in and almost feel normal again.

It was very bizarre to come back home after being away for 2.5 months. In fact, it still feels weird to say we're 'home' after 2 months in a place that houses all of our family and most of our live's memories. When we got back we just kept wandering around the house going, "this is so weird!" The colours looked off, the smells, the stuff. It was really odd. Anyway, I think we've settled back in. We've mostly cleaned up our stuff but it seems like there's always something I can't find, or something else to throw in the laundry.

So here we are. Ready for another year and counting down to the end of Barton's long years of training. He is 9 months from finishing grade 25 and has a lot of work to do this year in the shadow of a very large exam in the spring.

Like I said, I have the boys home from school this year, so we have a lot to learn and adjust to. I'm really excited about it though and am really hoping it goes well. Pray for us!

Riley started grade 7 at the junior high this year. I am pretty hesitant about the whole process but we'll give it a go, at least until Christmas.

Mattea started walking this summer and is such a climber! She climbs EVERYTHING. Luckily she has also learned how to back off of most things...

So, that's the nutshell! I am going to write about my decision to home-school, that'll come soon!

Monday, September 1, 2008

NORTH SYDNEY TO PORT AUX BASQUES AND HOME - AUG 30-31

We got up early and (learning our lesson from last time!) called to check the punctuality of the ferry to Newfoundland. Once again it had been delayed, so instead of needing to get to the terminal at 8:30, we should arrive around 11. That was nice, our morning was more relaxing and the kids braved one more swim in the freezing pool. We arrived at the ferry and played around a bit before Mattea napped in the car. The boys went for a bike ride to pick up bagels for lunch and we ate in the lineup. We loaded at left by 1:30pm. The small glitch we encountered was our van not starting, of course right when they were trying to load our lineup. While the entire production of loading and unloading the ferry is one of the least organized and efficient things you'll ever see, clearly they have many people with dead batteries at the last minute. All of a sudden a truck was there and we were off! They gave us some space behind the van so that at unloading they could send the line around us and then give us a boast at the other end. Upon landing we had at least 2 or 3 crew ask if we needed another jump but fortunately we didn't.

The boat ride was 7 hours. I must say that it is one of my least favorite things to do. There is quite a rock to that boat on the best of days and I don't have much for sea legs. Like I said last time though, it's worth every penny to book that cabin, there's even a shower so you can freshen up before de-boarding. If you plan on doing it, call long in advance.

We docked at 8:30pm and though it is advised up and down not to cross Newfoundland at night - at this point we just wanted to get home. So the kids fell asleep and we drove. I took the first shift, though considerably shorter in length. Barton drove the rest, once again hopped up on Red Bull. The driving was slow and unpleasant. Rain either intermittent with or coupled with fog made it less than ideal. There was one long clear stretch where thanks to our high beams we saw two moose grazing the middle of the road long before they launched over our hood. They were quite beautiful, does their coat change through the summer? That was the only close call and the roads were dead empty. We arrived home sweet home at 6:30am. The kids had slept all night as did Mattea so we were the only ones desperate to sleep. Barton earned the first shift in that department so I did some van emptying and tea drinking.

It was very strange to be home! It was 2.5 months that we were gone. Everything just 'looked' weird. Like the colour of things in the house, or the arrangement or the smells. Funny. There really isn't much like your bed though (although some of those hotels had darn awesome beds!) and all in all it was good to be home.

I count this trip as a success as the first thing the kids said when our van touched solid ground on Saturday night was "That was an awesome trip!" We were already discussing options for our next adventure and that has to be a good sign. We all learned so much and some day the kids will realize how grand of an adventure it truly was. For now, they just think we went on a cool holiday, not realizing the true uniqueness of the whole thing.

Well, I have more to say and I will keep this blog going as a family thing but I should go have dinner with my birthday celebrating husband!!! I have our photos ready as well and will get all those links up shortly.

Thank you for following along with us on our epic journey. It was truly a blessing to have this opportunity with our family, but I also know that your prayers and thoughts and sometimes your literal food and bed, kept us going the whole way. We were safe, healthy and happy.

WE DID IT!!!!


Kelowna BC - 0 (about 350 from Abbotsford)
Banff AB - 501
Oyen SK - 999
Broadview SK - 1795
Winnipeg MN - 2255
Fargo ND - 2728
Menomonie WI - 3236
Chicago IL - 3765
Bancroft MI - 4268
Oakville ON - 4694
Ottawa ON - 5238
St Jean Port Joli QC - 5792
Waasis NB - 6292
Pictou NS - 6765
Deer Lake NL - 7306
Goobies NL - 7796

MONCTON AND NORTH SYDNEY- AUG 28-29

Well, we did make it all the way to Moncton!! It was a long day but we were ready to get on with things. We arrived in the evening and had a swim and snack. We definitely had our smallest room yet, but no one complained! In the morning we were late getting going but headed down to the Hopewell Rocks to see the tides. It was raining but we walked down to the lookouts and watched as the ride rolled in. Unfortunately we missed the super low tide and didn't get to walk around the ocean floor, but we did see it at it's highest.

While in Moncton we figured out that our plans for Halifax were not quite panning out so we decided to make a run for it and bump our ferry sailing up one day. We drove all the way to North Sydney and found a cute little motel close to the ferry terminal. We ate a really nice dinner there and had another swim. It's always worth finding a place with a pool as the kids can burn off some steam and get a good sleep. The bad side is you're always dealing with wet bathing suits!!!

We definitely had intended on camping more. We realize now that we should have ditched some of our superfluous belongings to make room for mattresses and pillows etc. The only problem with camping is you want to show up early enough to set up camp, but in the evening when everyone is getting sleepy and it cools off is always the best time to drive. We were always keen to push on a little more, so it would just end up that we'd show up somewhere at 10pm. Our plan for the next time (we'd go again if we moved and take more time to go one way) is to be more intentional with that.

The trip was quick and uneventful. New Brunswick is very beautiful so it was a lovely drive. It was cooler which is always nice for driving and ending at Cape Breton Island was gorgeous.