Thursday, September 29, 2011

First Day of School

At my first day of school in Guadeloupe it was very hot. In the classroom it was so hot I could barely work. Class starts at 8 o'clock in the morning, but we get to go home for a long lunch break. I'm in a split class with around 20 kids in grades CM1 and CM2. They made us write so much just for math, like 4 536 923 = 4 x 1000000, 5x 100000, 3 x 10000,   6 x 1000, 9 x 100, 2x 10, + 3. My hand was tired after that.

At recess I met a kid that originally came from Montreal, and has also spent a few years in New York. This is his fourth year in Guadeloupe. There were a lot of Beyblades out at recess.  They just came out here in Guadeloupe and are really popular at my new school.  Almost everyone has them. I should have brought mine from Canada too.

After recess we had lecture silencieux which we also did when I was at  class in TFS too.  Mine was about music people. An artist drew a picture of five musicians. The teacher speaks french clearly and not that fast, I understood most of what he said. I was only at school for the morning today, but  I'm looking forward to going to school all day tomorrow.

My New Class

I met my new class and my new teacher and I had a snack.  I had a very loud class and a big class.  We were supposed to have 26 children in my class, but today was only 23 children because some kids were away.  My classroom is warm.  I did easy work and fun work at my class. At recess we got to play football. That's what they call soccer.  And that was all about my new class in Guadeloupe.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Homeschooling Fantasy

I've always harboured fantasies of running my own home school, nurturing my children through personal curriculum catering to their interests, strengths and weaknesses.  Coming to Guadeloupe has given me the opportunity to do just that. We started mid August, and have been working every day (minus a few travel days); a combination of old school table work and independent studies inspired by the world around us.

With daily negotiations Xavier diligently completes math, and language arts tasks from the grade 4 curriculum.  Current events and the island itself, are the source for many of his independent studies.  He has come to love reading books, and right now adores the Animorphs series.
Quincy has a voracious appetite for workbooks, and has fired through all the books I brought with us including the grade 1 language arts curriculum and Xavier's grade 3 math review.  He also loves to draw pictures of our surroundings, and write about them in his journal.
Odin completes our daily weather calendar, which always starts out sunny and hot in the morning.  Lately he comes back in the afternoon to change to rain.  He's also working on writing numbers and letters at the table, but he generally keeps busy learning through play.
Milo? Well, he sits at the table in a high chair putting baby toys in his mouth, and then rolls around on the tile floor grabbing more toys and putting them in his mouth until its time for his nap.

Now, how am I keeping 3 active boys reading, writing, drawing, typing in the hot Caribbean sun? With my positive teaching style and dynamic personality? For the love of learning? Sadly, no.

I have resorted to bribery. "Finish this and then we get to go swimming in the pool."  "Finish that and then we can go to the beach."  And the most important bribe of all: "When you reach the day's goal, it's free time"- translated into boyspeak - video game time!

Not exactly the way I pictured the fantasy, however, spending time learning with my children in this new environment is a challenge I'm grateful to experience.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Our New House

I  am swimming with my brothers and parents in our pool. I am at my new house in the country. Our neighbour has a cow.  My dog Stanley likes to bark at the cow. There are lots of bugs to see here. There is a mosquito net on my bed so mosquitoes won't bite me at night.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Hermit Crab

My name is Xavier. I am working on a Hermit Crab. I saw one at my house and I measured him. He was small, measuring 3.7 cm. Hermit Crabs are born in salt water. They live close to the water. Hermit Crabs can live to be ten years old. He has two claws; the right one is smaller than the left. They can climb really good. The one I saw had a white shell and inside his body was red. They can move back and forth, and sideways. Hermit Crabs are amphibians. They live in the Caribbean. They are fun to watch but they can get scared easily of people. I like Hermit Crabs.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011


Tip: don't leave crayons out in the Caribbean sun.
My name is Quincy.  It is hot in Guadeloupe.  My clothes are hard to get on because I am sticky.  My crayons melted outside.  The wind helps me cool down.  I drink ice water.  I take showers and go swimming almost every day.


My name is Xavier and I am working on an animal named anole. They have six legs, their eyes are blue and they can blow a bubble with their neck. They live in Mexico, Florida, the Caribbean, Texas, Georgia and Venezuela. The male is green and and the female is brown. They eat little bugs like spiders and bees. Anole are reptiles. They live near houses and they are fast. If you see one, do not say a word, only whisper. Do not move an inch unless you are trying to capture one for a pet. It will scare them. I like anole. I do, I do.

Home for now

We are living in a two bedroom apartment in a villa in the town of Gosier, just outside of Pointe-a-Pitre. This is located at a dead-end street (good for ball playing) on top of the cliffs of Gosier with an epic view overlooking the ocean, the seaside communities across the bay and the mountains of Basse-Terre. On a clear day (which is almost every day) our vista includes the outer islands of Les Saintes and even Dominica in the background. Every morning as we dig into our cereal and fresh mangoes on the outside terrace we can watch the colourful sailboats bobbing in the water, and hear the waves crashing into the rocks. I look forward to drinking my coffee out here as I guide the kids through their morning school work.

Apartment living comes with it's expected challenges; walking our dog Stanley for washroom breaks instead of the in/out privileges he is accustomed to at our home, being vigilant with the kids behaviour and treatment of property (ie no scooters indoors and please stop yelling) and living on top of each other in a small space. The most onerous of all has to be washing the baby. No bathtub here, so I'm standing naked in the shower stall, holding a 25 lb slippery, wet Milo under the water spout with one hand, and using the other hand to stretch out his rolls to clear all of his nooks and crannies of accumulated salt, sand, dirt and dog hair. Did I mention we are usually joined by Odin - the very persistent 3 year old, demanding his turn under the water? Needless to say, I am hoping our next home has a bathtub.

We take daily excursions in our 9 seater Scudo around the islands of Basse-Terre and Grande-Terre. The purpose is to explore the seaside communities as we continue our househunting, however, the highlight of each trip is always the beach - long stretches of unspoiled landscape with the promise of a refreshing dip in the sea. We've been swimming at over ten different locations already, each a unique combination of sand, water, and idyllic nature.

My first comment on our Guadeloupe experience would not be complete without a mention of the most challenging aspect of all, and that is the heat. Intellectually I knew to expect hot, and people warned me of the sun's unrelenting shine, however I really did not understand how uncomfortable it is to feel that hot, wet, and sticky day in and day out. Even as I sit at the computer now rivulets of sweat are running down my back, and my eyebrows cannot keep the perspiration from dripping off my nose onto the keyboard. We were so relieved to experience overcast skies and even some rain with the threat of Tropical Storm Maria. Storms and sunshine aside, I'm going to continue sitting here on the terrace, with fresh passion fruit, bananas and limes within arms reach, and finish my rich coffee sweetened with some island sugar cane. Let the dog bark and the kids bicker, I'm going to savour this moment at our home for now, with a view!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Arrived :-)

It was a whirlwind, but the family has arrived in Guadeloupe!

Xavier, Quincy and I started the long drive down to Miami Friday August 26  to kickoff  "Operation Airlift Stanley". With the mini-van loaded up with boxes and street hockey equipment, we passed through US customs without incident.  Strangely, the US customs guy didn't question me much about taking two kids, a dog, and a car full of stuff without Samantha.  No matter.  After passing through 8 states and skirting hurricane Irene, we arrived in Miami on Sunday evening. 

Now here comes the complicated logistics for getting a large dog to Guadeloupe.

On Monday, Samantha and the two little ones took an early flight from Toronto to Miami, while original drive-to-Miami team flew down to San Juan, Puerto Rico ahead of Stanley.  Just before 10 pm, Stanley followed us to San Jan and was put on an overnight cargo.  Due to temperature restrictions when transporting animals, an overnight flight is pretty much the only way to get a large dog to the Caribbean by air.

On Tuesday morning, the drive-to-Miami team greeted Stanley at the San Juan airport.  Needless to say, Stanley was happy to see us!  And it was the kind of happy that only dogs can pull off - dog happy.  With Stanley safely in San Juan, it was a race to Guadeloupe.  Samantha and the little ones hopped on an Air France flight to Guadeloupe while the drive-to-Miami team flew on a 6-seater island hopper. Stanley was sitting next to me in the middle row.

By mid-afternoon, we had all arrived safely in Guadeloupe. Now it's time to get everything in order for day-to-day life in Guadeloupe.