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33. take field trips.

33. Take field trips. The bandwidth of the world is greater than that of your TV set, or the Internet, or even a totally immersive, interactive, dynamically rendered, object-oriented, real-time, computer graphic– simulated environment.

– Bruce Mau, An Incomplete Manifesto for Growth

Today marks the return of my Bruce Mau inspirational, exploratory, get-off-your-ass-and-just-go-for-it, prompts.

(For previous posts on this topic, visit my new Bruce Mau Prompts category.)

There has been a bit of a time gap between posts.  Grant it, it was pre-holiday season, holiday season and post-holiday recovery season for the last 6 weeks.  I also let slide my “what I have learned this month” posts for November and December.  In a nutshell: November – rockstar action superhero.  December –  taskmaster hermit Scrooge wannabe turned sentimental fool  cozy home dweller.  In November we wrapped up our school blocks so neat and tidy that I surprised myself.  December was all about the mantra: enjoy the season.  My mental faculties were focused on that in order to avoid being overwhelmed and a little jaded about the whole thing.  I made a point to focus on celebrations, family, and reflection.

Field trips were not on my radar in December unless you count the emergency peppermint mocha latte trips.

However, January is another story.

The first week of January was field trip week.  Traditionally, the Monday after the holiday break proves to be one of the best days to go on a field trip for homeschoolers.

We found that there are no schools field-tripping to our favourite destinations which include the Ontario Science Centre:

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I have never seen that place so empty.  We were able to visit a few mornings that week, greeted by empty halls and helpful staff.

After that first week of January, we were ready to focus our next few weeks on preparing for our next field trip.

A week from today we are heading to Costa Rica for a month with another homeschooling family.

We are simply following steps #4 and #5 in Keri Smith’s instructions in How to Be an Explorer of the World: Portable Life Museum:

#4: Alter your course often.
#5. Observe for long durations (and short ones).

It’s time to shake up our regular routine and embark on adventure.

Why Costa Rica? Why now? Why a month?

After last year’s polar vortex and what seemed to be a 6-month long winter, the decision was relatively simple.  We did not intend on staying in town for the entire winter again.

I recall a discussion with my friend, who is hitting the road with us, last May as we sat in our parkas around a still frozen pond.  There were plenty of expletives but I have censored it to include the G-rated version below which went something like this:

Me: I’m not doing this again.

Her: Me neither.

Me: No, for reals. Next winter, I’m out.

Her: Uh-huh. I’m with you.

Me: 6 months. 6 *bleeping* months of this.

As the summer months rolled around, further conversations continued on the beach as we soaked in Vitamin D to restore the utter depletion that occurred during the winter.  Husbands were included and did not take much convincing as I recall.

If it were up to my husband, we would have sold our home years ago and adopted a nomadic lifestyle.  I, on the other hand, like stability, control, and my own bed which is like an old best friend who knows every inch of you and is always there to come back to.

For awhile, 35 years to be exact, I didn’t mind the winters so much.  Mind you, I wasn’t its biggest fan but I wasn’t its biggest foe either. Winter was expected and endured.  It was a part of our rhythm, welcoming King Winter and Jack Frost with song and story.  Over the last 5 years, I have embraced the outdoors in all types of weather, skating outdoors with the kids last winter every week even when the schools kept children indoors.  We bundled up and bared the wind chill, the sleet, and the thigh-high snow, only to return home both frozen and proud of our heroic efforts.

I have to admit, winter gives us some beautiful landscapes around here.  Some recent photos:

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Last winter, I spent every Friday outside around a fire or watching the children play outside.  What kept me warm was not the layers of woolies or my parka (which has been the greatest investment to-date) or the fire we kept feeding with both desperation and patience.  What kept me warm was the friends and community that surrounded it. At times, the cold was almost an afterthought.

But then March, April, and May showed little signs of spring.

I was done.  I fought the good fight trying my best to embrace the season and its rhythm.  But when I couldn’t put my parka away in May, I could not longer sustain good cheer or a positive attitude to living through another frigid season anytime soon.

I didn’t really care where we went as long as it was south of here, where we would definitely not be wearing wool or socks for that matter, and where we could stay for a long period of time – enough to just take the sting out of winter.

A few places were on the list but my dear friend’s heart has been called to Costa Rica.  She had already done the research prior to our late-May parka discussions so naturally, it was an easy decision to head down there.

And here we are.  A week away from warm feet and a heavy dose of natural Vitamin D.  A week away from adventures and explorations on so many levels.  A week away from one giant escape leap.  A week away from family time to the nth degree.  A week away from a field trip that may in fact change our lives.

***

Over the next week, I will be posting some travel details including our family of 7 packing situation, homeschooling plans abroad, and why we are REALLY doing this aside from taking a warm hiatus from home.

I am a big fan of the field trip as an individual and as a homeschooler.  Please share any local, distant, big, small, actual or dreamed field trips you have been on!  I’d love to create a long database of field trips for future reference…

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