World Trip Family

September 2015 (Month 3): Sabbatical Lessons Learnt

And just like that, the first quarter of our sabbatical ended and we are off to Asia. We had a really hard time leaving Europe: We felt right at home and could have stayed for (a) year(s) although according to Eilam that is only because “we didn’t experience winter”.

September Retrospective:

  • Kahn academy is awesome and addictive: the kids keep watching their points, avatars and overall “% of grade completed”.
  • Even though most of our homeschool now happens online, we still carry a huge pile of school books, including math, because we are worried to be “disconnected” one day (it is a little iffy in China …).
  • Usually homeschooling is great, like when Liv and I read and discussed “The Giver” and “Breaking Stalin’s Nose” together, or when we did an architecture field trip and learnt all about how to design for people with alzheimer (thanks Nicole!).
  • Every other day during homeschooling one child or another will throw himself on the ground crying: “I will not do it.”, “You are a stupid teacher.” and “This is too hard”. The punishment is a ten-minute “time-out”. Ironically, then they will cry: “I want to do school NOW” since screen time happens only after school is done. It’s like the terrible twos all over again.
  • The day we tried to get Milo to do homework on an airplane will be remembered by all on that flight for the rest of their lives. I followed through but we will probably not try that again.

Optimism: I started using “Headspace” to meditate as planned but haven’t gotten into a reliable routine yet. On the plus side, the kids are getting in on the action and initiated a great session at the Great Buddha on our first day in Hong Kong.

Writing: My goal was to improve my vocabulary actively. However, I read mainly in Dutch, so I will carry this goal forward. I am surprised how little time there is to read when evenings are filled with school- or trip-preparation, but I did a little better than last month:

  • Vele Hemels Boven De Zevende (thanks Anton and Renate for the tip!)
  • Me, Myself and Prague (another travelogue, but I didn’t finish it)
  • The Giver (with Liv for school; we had great discussions about dystopian literature)
  • Breaking Stalin’s Nose (with Liv for school; prompted a great discussion on communism – link)

Also, Eilam started reading “Boy” (Roald Dahl’s autobiography) to the boys at night. He’s such a great storyteller (and teacher) that he has me listening and enthralled as well. The book is now finished and we’ve moved onto “Going Solo” the continuation of Dahl’s autobiographical story.

Countries: The Netherlands, Check Republic.

October Lookahead


Optimism: Asia is a good place to continue mediation and Liv has requested to add Yoga to our routine. New this month: I want to teach my kids (and myself) about the growth mindset; I found some materials on Kahn Academy (did I say it’s awesome). Does anybody have more tips?

Premenstrual dysphoric disorder and caffeine

As a side note: I’ve started an experiment to eliminate caffeine (all tea, coffee, chocolate) (and alcohol) from my diet. Since Milo was born, I experienced premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) symptoms: I am extremely sad, inexplicably and suddenly, for a couple of days each month. My doctor suggested anti-depressants one week a month but I decided “I can live with it”. Now I read an article that links the peaks and valleys of female hormones to depression, but also overall pessimism. The good news: several women cut out caffeine and are now completely symptom free. So here we go … it’s worth a try and fits my sabbatical project. I am past the caffeine withdrawal headache, which lasted for a little over a day, but still miss the ritual and the taste.

Writing: I am continuing my vocabulary project and plan to read a book on writing. I am currently reading a book by Dutch author “Renate Dorrestein” and the same author also wrote a book on writing which is next up on my reading list. I’m also looking into writing courses on Coursera, inspired by our former au pair Lenka, whom we visited in the Czech Republic.

Countries: China, Japan

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