Category Archives: Beyond High School

Interview with Maxx Bouillon – Homeschool Graduate

Maxx Bouillon gives an honest account of his homeschooling experience. He is a man of few words, however he manages to get his point us across clearly. 🙂


Maxx building his cabin 

How long did you homeschool?

Until grade 10.

Can you describe your homeschooling experience?

It was great. I am really glad I homeschooled up until when I did. It allowed me to become closer to my brothers and sisters than if we were all at school all day.

What were the advantages of homeschooling?

It allowed me to learn according to my own style of learning which is “hands on”. I had a lot of free time for projects such as building a doghouse and a go-cart with my brother, numerous forts and tree forts, working on bikes and my favourite…. experimenting with things that explode :). On a serious note, we studied so many interesting units while homeschooling, like medieval history, government, mapping and flags, (to name a few) that my socials teacher in grade 10, was amazed at how many facts I knew (and I had never opened a text book.)

What were some of your best homeschooling memories?

Building endless forts and playing in the bush with my friends (when other kids were at school!) I spent a lot of time building circuits and doing electrical experiments. I enjoyed doing school at my own pace so I could the things that really interested me. One memory that stands out as being a lot of fun was putting on a medieval feast with friends during our history unit.

Were there any disadvantages of homeschooling and if so could you describe them?

When I went to public high school in grade 10, I had never taken notes before while a teacher was talking. I found that difficult. I also found it hard to ask for help.

Has homeschooling hindered your opportunities for post-secondary education?

It has not hindered me at all. I am now in my 2nd year at University of Northern British Columbia in Forestry.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

From what I’ve seen, homeschooling works much better if you start from the beginning. To pull a kid out of school and then start homeschooling is possible, but is much more challenging.


Panning for gold



Interview with Kersten Spinney- Homeschool Graduate


Kersten is 19 years old and was homeschooled until grade 9. She was a delight to interview and I really appreciate her being willing to share her homeschool experience! 

How long did you homeschool?

Until I was half way through grade nine.  Then I started going to the public school.

Can you describe your homeschooling experience?

Oh boy. Fun, fun, fun, good, good, nice, not so nice and then it was into the public school system I went. That’s may sound discouraging, I know, but it was really not. I am thankful that I was homeschooled and I think it was a good fit for me. By the time it ended, it was clear to myself and my mom that it was time for me to try public school.

What were the advantages of homeschooling?

I was able to learn in a more relaxed setting which I believe  helped me learn more I than I would have in public school. I am pretty sure if I had been in public school from the beginning, I would have struggled the whole way through, and it would probably have taken a toll on my self -confidence.  Being homeshooled, I was not comparing my progress rate to anyone else. I was learning at my own pace and it worked well for me.

What were some of your best homeschooling memories?

Mom reading to my sister and I. She would read us a story book or a history book while we listened and I always drew. For history, we had timelines that we filled in as we went and those were pretty cool. We had them hanging in our house for many years after they were finished.

Were there any disadvantages of homeschooling and if so could you describe them?

The main one I can think of, is that since it was all more relaxed and deadlines were not really an issue, my sense of time management never really kicked in. When I did go to public school the whole, “homework and assignments being due on certain days”, was a bit of a learning curve.
Has homeschooling hindered your opportunities for post-secondary education? 

I do not think it was a hindrance. I want to get into Medical School eventually. I would love to become a doctor. I know that means four years of post secondary (hopefully that will start this coming fall), four years in Medical School (maybe more) and anywhere from three to seven years working on a specialty which would be actually working in the hospitals .  As you can see it will be a piece of cake ….. I could do it with my eyes closed (cough cough). Seriously, I know it will be a long hard road but I am pretty sure that if it is what God is calling me too, and right now I really feel it is, He will help get me through.



Moving On

It is our last day here, in Wasaga Beach, Ontario. As I sit on a picnic table looking out at the expanse of Georgian Bay, the water is calm and glassy. It is the end of September, still sunny and warm and I reflect on my last three weeks here. Actually I reflect on the last 50 years of my annual summer visits to this lovely place.

When my children were younger, I had hoped and dreamed that we could move here and I could begin my day with a walk along the shore of the longest freshwater beach in the world. Due to my husband’s career and other decisions that we felt led to make as a family, our life has been established in Northern, BC. However, there is something about Wasaga Beach that will forever tug at my heart. Perhaps it is my childhood memories of the cottage, yearly summer beach visits with my own children or for the simple reason that my parents and sister still live here.

Who knows? Perhaps we will retire here. But for now, I am grateful I had the time to spend an extra three weeks here with my daughter, Carlee, and some quality time with my parents, sister and family.

Now it is time for Carlee and I to head out on our next adventure….our writing conference in Edmonton. Feeling blessed today for what feels like bonus stolen time with my lovely daughter who will before I know it, be flying off on her own adventures!

My sister Linda and I

My sister Linda and I

Unexpected Montreal University Tours

McGill University

McGill University

It wasn’t our in our plans to check out universities in Montreal. It was just going to be a girl’s getaway, celebrating the beginning of Carlee’s gap year with little four day side trip from our visit with my family in Ontario. A few days of shopping, cafés, sushi and a show or two.  But since her dad went to McGill University, we thought we would book a tour for fun. When my cousin Karen said, “If Carlee went to McGill she could live with me!” it got us thinking…..

I seriously underestimated my girl. I knew she would be delighted to experience the cultural aspects of Montreal, but I figured she would be turned off with the crowds and hustle and bustle of city living. I am a big city girl who raised small town kids. Carlee’s a country girl, loves her horses and quiet living. Isn’t she? I have never known her to desire to live in a big city. I also thought she would be completely overwhelmed with McGill. Not at all! When I asked her what she thought about McGill she thoughtfully replied, “Big and intimidating and awesome!” Huh? She liked it? She could see herself possibly going there? She liked the old buildings, the academic energy, the diversity amongst the crowds, and the challenge of the competitive admission standards. Sooooo…..

Carlee at McGill

Carlee at McGill

We thought we might as well check out Concordia University as well. We booked a tour which we thought would be an hour and it ended up being 3 hours long! We had the sweetest tour guide, a second year fine arts student. It was only Carlee and I, so we had her undivided attention. The campus is very different from McGill. It is spread out in buildings throughout the heart of downtown Montreal. It is all connected underground so in the winter you do not even have to go outside. The buildings are 13 stories tall! This university had its own appeal; definitely strong in the arts with programs such as  Creative Writing, Journalism, Studio Art and Design, to name a few. Our guide took us to her favourite study areas, one being the greenhouse on the 7th floor. This lovely hideaway is full of greenery (cared for by students) little water fountains, tables to sit and study, or, if you just want a little time out you can fix yourself a herbal tea at the tea station. Another favourite spot to study was on a floor which had couches overlooking a view of the skyline.

We opted to take a 20 minute bus to the other campus, Loyala, which offers the Humanities program and the Science & Arts programs. It has a completely different feel to it with its beautiful historic buildings and out of the hustle and bustle of downtown.


Concordia the heart of downtown, Montreal

Concordia University…in the heart of downtown, Montreal

Overall, both universities held an appeal for Carlee. We found Montreal as a possibility that we would have never considered had we not decided to take this little impromptu side trip to visit cousin, Karen! Some thought and prayer will be on the agenda in the days to come 🙂

Carlee with our cousin, Karen Potje

Carlee with our cousin, Karen Potje

Montreal Adventure

Montreal 2What a treat to get away with my daughter, Carlee (18) for a side trip to Montreal. Even the train trip from Toronto to Montreal was relaxing and fun. We debated whether to bring our laptops but now we are very glad that we did. Who knew the train would have wifi? We will be ending our holiday in Edmonton at the Inscribe Writer’s Conference and we both had some pieces that we wanted to polish up so we used the time for doing just that.

My cousin, Karen arrived at the train station to meet us. We took the Metro (subway) back to her place, which is the upper floor of a beautiful 1930’s home in the Westmount area. It is very deceiving from the outsisde.…much larger than one would expect, as it has 3 bedrooms plus a living room, which we are staying in. The living room is just like another bedroom; a closed room on its own with a pull out couch so we have our own space.

While Karen worked today, we went out on an adventure! We had to navigate around using the Metro (subway). I let Carlee take the lead and we did very well (with the help of “google maps” on my phone). We went to “little Italy” to a market called “le marché Jean-Talon”. It was enormous in size with many interesting vendors. We thought we would pick up a couple of goodies for dinner. We went into the cheese shop and bought some award winning sheep cheese! Also, to satisfy our sweet tooth we bought a slab of hazelnut strudel. To make us feel healthy we visited a fruit vendor and samples about 8 different types of plums, peaches and mangos so we bought some fruit as well.

We hopped on the Metro again and found our way to this specialty bagel bakery which made authentic Montreal bagels in the fire ovens so we bought some of those too.

We walked for a while to St. Laurent street, found a little café and stopped for lunch to relax for a bit. Feeling re-engergized, we ventured out and did some shopping. We stumbled upon and very non-descript store (still don’t know the name of it) that sold “reject” clothing. Designer type clothes with something not quite right about them. So cheap! Carlee bought a denim trench coat for $20 that was missing a belt. What a find!

Writing time at Chez Fred

Writing time at Chez Fred

After stopping home to grab our laptops, we ended our afternoon at Chez Fred’s for an authentic chocolate croissant, an espresso and some writing time. Some friends commented on Facebook how they envied my relationship with my daughter. It is something I don’t take for granted 🙂

My Favourite Things


These are a few of my favourite things! Brisk walks on the longest freshwater beach in the world, swimming out to the buoy, the stunning sunsets, juicy corn and peach crisp, evening card games with the family….Summer in Wasaga Beach, Ontario; a little slice of heaven.

Every summer, we travel from British Columbia to Ontario to my parents “cottage” (which is the Ontario term for a dwelling near one of the great lakes, even though it is actually a four-season home). This year, my daughter, Carlee (18), and I are staying an extra three weeks longer, after the Canadian Labour Day weekend. The rest of the family goes back to their busy lives in British Columbia, while we get to stay where the beach gets quiet, the lake is warm and the weather remains perfectly summer!

This is Carlee’s “gap” year, meaning she has graduated, however she is not moving on to post-secondary education until next year. She has decided to do a “victory lap” which means she is going back to high school for a couple of extra courses but her year will be more relaxed. For our remaining time here  we will enjoy staying up late, sleeping in, leisure mornings on the front deck reading the paper and spending some quality time with Grandma and Papa. We will be taking a couple of day trips as well as a couple of little adventures: one to Montreal by train, and the other to the Stratford, Ontario to see a Shakespeare play. I am grateful to have this quality time with her before she leaves the nest. I know it is a gift.


Carlee”tubing” with a neighbour friend

Today, I am feelng very blessed and grateful to my hard-working husband who made this lovely time out for Carlee and I possible. Love you, hon <3!

One Gone….Another Returns!

Carlee off to Mexico

So I saw my girl off to Mexico. Carlee is on a six week adventure in Puerto Escondido. Just a recap (of a previous post): Carlee will be travelling with her online school class, Heritage Christian Online School with the 2015 Global Citizenship Program. The grade twelve class of the “brick and mortar” school (Heritage Christian School) out of Kelowna, BC, join up with several of the online students for a four week stay in Puerto Escondido (the west coast) where they will be doing a combination of high school courses, fun adventures such as snorkeling and horseback riding on the beach, and part-time missions work (building a soccer field, working in an orphanage and an after school program for the local children). She will travel inland for two weeks to Nopala and do a homestay with a Mexican family to experience the language and culture. Here, they will also be doing a children’s ministry and various work projects. The class will take in activities such as a trip to the Mayan ruins, visit an artesian presentation on rug weaving, attend a native dance and dinner, visit archeological sites, to name a few.

So much preparation and excitement went into the trip and then we had this challenging week of not knowing if she would even be well enough to go! It was a week of keeping our eyes on God, trusting that whatever His plan was, would be good. She is now on her way, about to make memories of a lifetime. I am going to miss her like crazy. Homeschooling Carlee has been a joy and a privilege.  We are mother and daughter but she is my best friend, my encourager (not to mention my editor J). We love spending time together, however I knew there would come a day where I would need to release her to become the woman of God that He is calling her to be. Now is that time. She has had to travel down to Kelowna to meet a group of kids that she barely knows and then fly to Mexico with them. Although she has had an online connection with some of them through homeschooling, and she did go down to Kelowna in October to get acquainted with the group, it really is out of her comfort zone, meeting so many new people and basically living and travelling with them for six weeks! I am so excited for her and grateful for this opportunity.

It does not seem like long ago I was writing about my woes of Maxx leaving for university! This weekend we are going to Prince George to pick him up and bring him back home for the summer. In September, I didn’t know how I would make it through the year without my sweet-natured, yet strong-in-spirit oldest boy. And here we are. I survived without him and he certainly survived without me! He had a challenging but fantastic year. He held a very heavy workload of first year science and math courses. He adjusted to living in a residence setting. He figured one year was a good experience but has had enough of living life on campus 24/7. Is it possible for a Christian young man to weather the typical university life, faced with temptations like partying and immoral behavior (which is the world’s norm)? Absolutely.

Maxx hunting and gatheringMaxx playing at City Center Church

He will tell you that it was not easy. However, from the very beginning he told his friends that he was a non-drinker. He got it right out on the table. Smart move. He also, hooked up with some like-minded friends, joined a bible study, joined the gym, played on an intermural basketball team, joined the forestry club, took a search and rescue course, found a church, joined a worship team and acquired a very lovely Christian girlfriend. Who has time to party with a schedule like that J? Makes a mother’s heart sing. God is so very faithful.

So the timing is actually perfect. Carlee has just left for Mexico, and Maxx returns a few days later. God knows me well. He is emptying the nest in gentle stages…very slowly and mercifully!