Monday, April 29, 2013

Oyster Point

A $4 campground in a beautiful national forest. It still fascinates me how much he loves maps. She asked me to sing her to sleep. H left at 6 am to run 23 k. Sunrise through the tall trees. The premises to a great day.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

This traveling unschooling life of ours...

While we were cleaning our shells at the picnic table at the end of the day, Mathilde casually said: so if I add an uneven number (she didn't say odd number or the French equivalent impair, she simply said inégal) like 5 to another unever number, I get an even number! But if I add an even number to an even number, I don't get an uneven number, I get an even number! Then, we discussed what happened if you had an even and uneven number together... It's just beautiful to see this happen! Children are curious by nature and will discover these things by themselves if we don't make them into teachable concepts all the time... If we let them come to them in their own terms, at their own time.

My girls might not know their multiplication tables by heart (and might never learn them), but I hope they will remember the smell of the ylang-ylang flower at 5 o'clock when it releases its divine perfume. They might never learn the rules of dodge ball in the school yard, but will know what the meat of a freshly pick young coconut taste like (and that it's especially yummy if it's your papa that picked it and opened it with his very own machete!). They have eaten sun-filled perfectly riped starfruit straight from the trees and picked cacao fruits and eaten the delicious sweet flesh surrounding the seeds. With a friend, they picked green mangoes (a delicacy in Central America), cut them, packaged them and sold them at the local market. They have picked black pepper from the plant and cashews (and ate the astringent fruit that sits on top of the smal hard shell where the "nut" that we eat is located).

 :: Ylang-ylang flower ::

:: Cacao fruit (on top) and Cashew fruit ::

They will know the pleasure of going to the same market every week and see the same smiling faces, offering you a mango, a cookie, saving you her last little bottle of raw goat milk (in recycled Coke bottles)... They probably will not know what it feels like to wait for the summer holidays, for Spring break or for the Christmas vacations, because their life feels like a never-ending holiday... and I wouldn't want it any other way.

They know the smell of the Arizona desert after the rain, they know how wonderful the sun feels on their skin after 8 months of winter in the Yukon and how beautiful it is to see crocuses poke the bare land (and how much when you are 4 you really want to pick them all!). They have seen and smelled active volcanoes, have touched one of the biggest Ceiba tree of Costa Rica and soaked in the same hot springs at -30 Celcius at at + 30 Celcius. We have taken daily walks during which blue morpho butterflies came and flew around us at the same place every single morning. They have heard the particular call of the Toucan, the roar of the howler monkeys and the funny sound gecko makes... Sometimes, we just have to close our eyes and it all comes back... the sounds, the smells... We can travel together in our heads...

  :: Waiting for the bus in Nicoya, Costa Rica ::

They might never go to a graduation ceremony or wear a prom dress, but they will have seen the sunrise on a Tuesday morning into the Grand Canyon. They will have walked into a Kiva (an ancien Indian Pueblo underground ceremonial room). They will have slept in a Mongolian yurt in paradise and wake up to snowy mountain tops in August.

 :: Sunrise from Ooh-Aah Point at the Grand Canyon ::

On top of that, they usually have the pools, the bike parks and play parks to themselves during the week. Actually, they have the world to themselves. They have the time and the possibility to really listen to the music of their own life. 

Friday, April 26, 2013

And like the tide, we came back...

On the next day, the temperature warmed up considerably and we wanted to show our special spot to JF, so we went shelling again! We looked for shark teeth in the stilt for a bit but did not find any this time.
The girls had dressed themselves to play in the clay, so there was lots of skating and falling! Of course, we brought a bunch back and made some pottery!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Edisto Beach State Park, SC: Gift from the sea

“The sea does not reward those who are too anxious, too greedy, or too impatient. To dig for treasures shows not only impatience and greed, but lack of faith. Patience, patience, patience, is what the sea teaches. Patience and faith. One should lie empty, open, choiceless as a beach—waiting for a gift from the sea.”
Anne Morrow Lindbergh, Gift from the Sea

 An older couple walked past us with two pails full of treasures. They stopped under the curious eyes of the girls and told us they had been walking since the morning over one mile North to the Inlet, something they had been doing for over 30 years at low tide. They were from Philadelphia, but Edisto beach kept calling them for its amazing gifts. With great care, they pulled some of the treasures from their pails and showed them to us, telling us their poetic names, names I remembered from Ann Morrow Lindbergh's book Gift from the Sea. Names like whelk, moon shell and argonauta. And then, with reverence, they offered each of the girls the 3 whelks they had found that morning. What a gift!

Then, on the next day, we packed a lunch and followed the advice the older couple gave us. After only two minutes, Aisha found her very first whelk.

When we reached the crossing before the inlet, the tide was still too high to cross and we happily recognized our passionate shelling friends from the day before with their pails already half-full. They were glad to see we had taken them on their words and had more gifts for us: a dead starfish and a mermaid's purse (an envelop that used to contain fertilized shark eggs). They showed us their amazing finds of the day: a pre-Columbian (3000 years old) piece of pottery (there was an ancient Indian settlement here a long time ago and there are lots of artifacts to be found) and a huge channeled whelk. We then proceeded to cross to the inlet. We had water up to our knees (thighs for the girls!) in strong current, but once we reached the other side, we had about two hours to explore and fill our pail! And we were pretty much alone!
 :: Pre-Columbian piece of pottery (circa 3000 years old) ::
  :: Channeled whelk ::
 :: Olive ::
 :: The girls found clay! ::
On our way back, we met another homeschooling family and we chatted a bit, the kids played together briefly and they showed us the best spot to find shark teeth (we found two!). What a wonderful day it was! We might miss our community when we travel, but those spontaneous encounters fill our hearts with much delight!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

The choices we make for our children: sports...

When your child goes to school and you live in one place, he usually does sports at school and can pick one or two things outside of school, like music or more sports, like ski for instance. When you travel and homeschool/unschool, the possibilities are endless and sometimes you have to stop and think about how every decison you make has an impact on your children's future (or not...). 

For instance, if we choose to keep traveling in warmer climates, it is unlikely our girls will get very proficient at skiing at a younger age... but they might become pretty good surfers! If we are not in one place for a full season, they cannot try a team sport, like soccer for instance (they haven't asked so far...). Not that any of this is a big deal, but we have decided to give this some thought...

If we'd live in the Yukon, the girls could be part of a great orienteering team (a sport JF adores and that the girls like too!).

We also noticed that it is easier to have active children in a setting that is constantly changing because we are always in exploration mode. It is more tempting (even for us!) to go hike a new trail, try a new bike ride, etc. than go for a walk behind our house at home (even if we have beautiful trails right in our back yard: it's the same trail every day). However, we also noticed that it is motivating to get moving when friends are there!
A concept that is really fun that seems to be growing in the States are the Fitness trails. It's pretty much a short hike with exercise stations along the way. In Skidaway Island State Park, GA, there was one designed for families. You had to do ten pushups as if you were a turtle with a big shell on your back!
Then hop on one foot like one of the local birds, run like a deer in the forest and touch 10 trees and run back and touch 10 more.
Jump like a frog, of course!
And jumping jack like bats (there were more...)!
Sherbrooke has a great rock climbing gym where we could go, but rock climbing and mountain biking are sports we can easily do on the road.
So, what am I saying here? I am saying that of course our girls are the ones who decide what activities they want to pursue. Our job as unschooling parents is to give them as many opportunities as possible to try different things and see what they like. And this is easier said than done when you are mostly nomadic.

Should we choose to stay put and not travel in case they ask to play soccer? Well, no. I don't think so. But we are putting a lot of thought into our next moves because we realize that our girls are growing and that the decisions we make today are influencing who they are becoming more and more. And sports are just one aspect of it, of course.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Earth Day in Savannah, GA

**All photos and descriptions by JF.

On Saturday, we went to Forsyth Park to see what the Earth Day celebrations were like in Savannah, while Cat was working on a big contract.

Earth Day tights!
Mara wanted to hold the python. This fellow was fully grown.
Aïsha was focused on the musicians on stage playing folk music.
Beautiful fountain in Forsyth Park.
Thes street across from the park that looked so much like Old Sherbrooke, in Quebec (most of the old part of town did).
The schedule of activities at the park included talks on urban gardening and medicinal herbs (quite classic for this type of event...), but also an interesting series of talks on silent sports done in nature, which included talks on sea kayaking, kayak fishing, rock climbing and trail running. We listened to the guys presenting the rock climbing coop, but they were so unorganized and so bias on bouldering that they were saying trad climbing was for crazy people...

Nice Vespas! The old and the new!
Entrance gate of the historic Wormsloe Plantation.