So, exciting weekend for us; we finally agreed on at least one place we definitely wanted to go on our year of adventure (besides Harry Potter World!?!) – Cinque Terre. Friends of ours had been a couple of years ago and showed us their pictures, and we were sold. Hiking from one coastal Italian village to another, crazy cliff top views, lemons growing outside your hotel windows, authentic Italian culture. All this fits the bill. We love the fact that the kids could do the hiking, and it is hiking with a purpose – to get to the next place – so we could probably convince even Liah to do it!
The very next day after visiting with our friends, we started researching places to stay. It didn’t take long to realize why Cinque Terre had sounded so familiar to us; the whole place flooded last October from torrential rains! They are in the process of rebuilding the towns and the trails. Put a bit of a damper on the process. Just made me realize how many unexpected hiccups we will probably have as part of this whole process. Better get used to it, I guess!
I’m starting to obsess just a little bit over what we will be teaching our kids, and whether they will be able to seamlessly transfer into the next grade when we return. At first, I thought, “the world will be our curriculum…” in a kind of hippie-trance like state that comes from things not being imminent. But now, it’s imminent, and all of a sudden, I’m thinking about times tables and science concepts and literacy and project based learning and live binders etc etc, and it’s a bit of a puddle in my head. Of course, my hippie dictum is not that far wrong, and in moments of lesser panic, I can see that. The problem is, I don’t want to mess up. I don’t want to be standing in front of the best educational stimulus there ever was, and not notice it. Or at least, not know what to do with it. I could trip over a math PBL and I wouldn’t recognize it. I can imagine the wonderful writing experiences and real life publishing possibilities when they can blog to the world, but it’s the other stuff that sort of throws me. I don’t want Mairi to be sitting in a grade 9 classroom next September listening to the phrase “Remember when we did this in grade 8…” and stressing over the fact that she didn’t actually do it.
My dream for my girls is that they come back not just well educated and more globally aware, but more confident and self-assured. More ready for the trials of adolescence. More digital – real 21st century learners. More empathetic. More worldly. More everything.
I have had very high expectations for this year off, and I am just beginning to realize the pressure that these expectations are putting on me. I guess I really thought it would all just “happen”. And maybe it will. But in case it doesn’t, I’m feeling a lot of pressure to make it happen.
When I think of backpacking around Europe when I was 22, or camping in the South of France, or even my summer working holiday in Jamaica back in the day, I am amazed at how little I survived on. My personal budget for the Europe trip was $600 for a month, and that had to include food, some transportation, and accommodation – rail travel was covered with the prior purchase of a Eurorail Pass. So, it has always seemed infinitely possible to me to do the same thing with my family. That is, until I started adding up the cost of a plane ticket x5, a rail pass x5, food x5…you see where I’m going with this! It adds up pretty quick. I am constantly searching online for budget travel blogs and family travel ideas, but its hard to curate all that information! The one I read last night made me realize that going to countries where your currency is worth a lot, and their cost of living is very low, is the way to go. The problem is, most of our travel will be in Europe, and there are not too many developing countries around there. It is more likely that we’ll end up spending the majority of our time in countries where the cost of living is actually higher than our own in Canada! So, if anyone has any fantastic tips, I’d love to hear them. I’m starting to feel a little dejected.