As we left Ohio, the kids started playing the Diddy song “I’m coming home” on repeat over and over again. We were truly excited to be returning to Toronto after almost 12 weeks on the road. We’d covered just under 23,000 km and almost 300 hours of driving. Leg #1 was coming to an end.
So why were we coming home? Well, a few things. We have rented out our house to a Norwegian family and we needed to meet them and get a few things sorted before leaving for 9 months abroad. It was also Isabella’s birthday and we wanted to let her have a birthday party with her friends. Thirdly, we wanted to spend some time with our families and have Thanksgiving together before we left again.
As we drove into Toronto, everything felt strange. We were home but not in our home. We settled into my mom’s basement. Well actually, Mike and I settled into the basement while Izzie and Julie made themselves comfortable in their nan’s bedroom with her. We did many loads of laundry and washed the kids thoroughly in a bathtub. We watched the Blue Jays fail in the playoffs and ate home-cooked food (thanks mom). Isabella even got to go to a real play with nan and see “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” (sat on the edge of her seat for three hours). It was a really nice break.
Somehow the kids got to go to school for the full two weeks we were home. I had not put their attendance on hold yet so they were still registered in their classes and were welcomed with open arms. Isabella got to spend a full 6.5 hours a day with her friends each day and I did not have to arrange playdates (which would have been complicated given that we do not have our own house right now).
Here are some random thoughts as this first leg of the trip comes to a close.
We will miss you Canola
For those of you who do not know, we normally drive a small electric car which would not have been the right vehicle for this adventure. Instead of renting something, my father-in-law gave us his Jeep Grand Cherokee for the journey. This was a hugely generous gift that I appreciated every day. The girls came up with the name Canola somewhere near Yorkton, Saskatchewan. Canola truly became our home away from home. Especially when we were camping, we felt a sense of security every time we were finally fully loaded in our seats and on the way. We are somewhat scared about what will replace her in leg two. We’ll have no air-conditioned, comfortable home base and we’ll have a lot less room for stuff. Thanks, Grandpa for lending us Canola (and we hope you’ll keep her name!)
School so far
How did we do? Leg 1 taught us a lot about how to teach. We learned what motivates our two kids is very different. Virtual School memories (although painful) also helped us. We adopted the “Mr. Stoch Morning Work” which is independent work to begin the day to get in the school frame of mind. We also used workbooks and some of the hundreds of worksheet pages I had downloaded and printed. Overall we realized we loved teaching geography and math but hated language and writing which is completely related to what our kids like and therefore how they behave when learning.
My mother was truly horrified when she saw how little stuff we were taking on the next part of the trip. Two backpacks, day packs and one mini suitcase – that’s it. Mike and I are carrying less for ourselves than when we backpacked in our twenties because we now have 2 kids’ stuff to carry as well (plus way too many electronics and school materials). We decided to bring less and buy what we need which meant our clothes and toiletries were halved. We’ll see how it goes
Where we stayed (five words or less)
Nan’s basement: Quality time, Jet Tub, Our Cat
By the Numbers
- Friends at Isabella’s Bowling 8th Birthday: 9 plus her
- Thanksgiving Dinners: 2
- Rides Paige went on at Canada’s Wonderland Halloween Haunt with Sister-in-Laws Katie and Steph: 6
- Rides Mike went on taking kids to Camp Spooky at Wonderland: 2 (but kids went on many more)
- Relatives who gave Isabella a Harry Potter Themed Birthday gift: 5 (Grandma, Auntie Donna, Katie, Steph/Andy/Luke/Zoe and Nan)