Sweet Bella Vita

a dash of motherhood… a sprinkle of homeschooling… and a pinch of photography ( with a side of compassion )

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We took a day trip to Gibraltar and it was amazing.

One of our highlights of our trip to Spain. ( although Gibraltar is not in Spain)

We went on a boat ride to see wild and free dolphins. Most amazing experience! It was so amazing there were so many of them and they all looked so happy. They surrounded the boat and followed us out to open sea. Apparently they love doing this , it is fun and it is a lazy way for them to get around as they catch the current of the boat. It was a very choppy day so hard to get good pictures but I was so emotional seeing so many of them … and so many babies with their moms… the males apparently stay out in open waters more. We tried looking for whales but we were not that lucky that day. Maybe next time!

We drove all the way to the tip of Gibraltar and had an outstanding view!

So strange how this cloud is almost always looming over the rock … a local told me that it is a good thing as it keeps the toxic crap from the refineries in Algeciras away.

Also kids got a kick out of the fact that we drove across a airport runway to drive into Gibraltar.

If you are in southern Spain I highly recommend a day trip here! Kids will love it!



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physical education & health

This is probably one of my favourite “subjects”…
although we don’t practice it as a subject but a way of life.
During the summer, we join a summer pool where they do diving,  swim team and water polo. They play tons of games in and out of the pool with their friends and the awesome lifeguards.
During the “school year” they take aikido. My oldest is now a proud new orange belt 🙂 While my second just got his first yellow stripe 🙂 and my third is having fun learning at the moment.
They like taking gymnastics on and off. As well as Ballet classes.
We love to tour the parks. There is this great website in montreal area for parks, find it here. We try to look at the map and find a new park to go discover every couple weeks.
My oldest  son’s  favourite pass time is biking .
So as soon as the weather is semi warm, we hit the road with our bikes 🙂 or they are learning to skateboard.
As for health I feel this topic is very important.
We eat all organic foods and we talk a lot about GMO’s and pesticides.
Lately we have been focusing a lot on sexual education. My kids are fascinated with how babies grow and are born and the changes the human body goes through.
In my next post I will share an awesome list of books on this topic 🙂

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Hands On Learning

For me “hands on learning” is getting out in the world and seeing and doing… basically the essence of homeschooling in my opinion.

From museums to stores to nature … you name it … it is all hands on 🙂

I remember growing up and going to school and thinking “while I sit in this classroom … life is happening out there”


This past week we hit the mountain for a hike / bike ride


We are fostering some kittens for a rescue group until they get adopted so my kids have been learning and observing the kittens all week … as cats are very different from dogs.


We checked out a museum we hadn’t been to in a couple of years.

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The boys participated in an Apple workshop all about publishing an ebook.



Among the regular stops like the library, Aikido class,  grocery store and other places just to name a few things we have done 🙂

Please go check out my fellow Canadian bloggers and their posts on “hands on learning” here


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driving in Italy

my random thoughts about driving in Italy


1. Italians are INSANE drivers!

2. Do NOT trust your GPS in Italy; It takes you down dead end roads or makes you take a side street just so you end up back on the main road. 


3. Italians drive FAST… and I mean really fast!

4. Why bother painting lines on the road … Seriously think of all the money the Italian  government could save ?!?! I say this as Italians do NOT drive inside the lines._MG_6696

5. Seriously 130 as a speed limit !?!? What the hell is Italy a race track? What ever happened to “piano piano” ?!?!

6. And really with a speed limit of 130 and Italians still speed?? Wth !?!?


7. Driving IN Italy is insane !!!!!

8. Driving on the highway costs a freaking fortune. All the highways cost a lot of money … basically they charge per km … so the more km you drive on the highway the higher the cost … it cost me over 50 Euros when I got off the first time … I was not impressed  coming from canada where there are almost no tolls, although I knew there was some cost I did not think it was so high :/


9.  Seriously stop honking at me for driving in the freaking lanes !!!!!!! Italians honk A LOT!!!!  I got honked at as I would drive in the lane and someone would want to pass in the 3rd lane yet they wanted me ( in the middle lane) to move over closer to the 1st lane … and they would pass me extremely close pretty much while driving on the line separating the middle and 3rd lane… whereas in north american if one wants to pass a car in the middle lane they simply move to the 3rd lane and pass  … I am not sure how I didn’t get hit by any car … i swear it was a miracle.


10. La vita e Bella so slow down and enjoy it a bit !!!!


bonus 11. parking in one town I stayed in was close to impossible … but love how cars park in either direction when they find a spot … no need to do a u-turn just to park on the other side of the street


bonus 12. after having gotten in a car with my cousins son who is around 21 year old I was totally beyond NOT impressed … the kid drove me a total of 90 seconds … and he did not put his cell down at all … this is very common behaviour for many young Italians that I saw driving …. I think the police should be monitoring this a lot closer  and giving much higher stricter fines … including loosing your license for such behaviour.

bonus 13. roundabouts are just absolutely amazing!!!! in the south I think I barely saw any traffic lights … they have roundabouts every where and they work so well to get traffic to move


a side note… public transportation … like the long distance train  and local trams in cities like venice and florence are really great and I highly recommend them … I traveled alone with 3 young kids and a lot of luggage so I did not feel ready to do the long distance train thing this time… but our next trip to Europe will likely be all public transportation as I do not want to deal with a car in Italy again … at least not for the whole time we would be there; perhaps renting one for a weekend would be a lot less stressful.


I rented from avis and overall it was okay. Do I recommend them? … yes and no. I had a lot of issues contacting them directly while I was IN italy as I needed to speak directly to the venice office which was close to impossible to reach as the direct number would only work after 9 pm and they would rarely answer the phone as they were so busy. Also I had to clear up some issues and had to spend a good 45 minutes with them prior to my return flight as a seasonal employer charged me for stuff she should not have (an error or about 200 Euros)  I got back to see that my credit card was charged for all the mistakes and it took me a lot of frustration to get back in touch with them. Finally twitter saved the day… yes twitter ! Amazing how companies are so helpful when the world is watching!

If you can I recommend taking the train instead … otherwise just search for the best rental rate you can find as I think all the rental companies are the same at the end of the day. and unless you have amazing insurance on your credit card; do yourself a favour and get the full insurance package. I ended up having to pay about 500 euros for some odd scratches when I returned the car; luckily I do have great credit card protection that covered all of them!



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dear parent starting your adventure in homeschooling

Dear parent starting your adventure in homeschooling,

So you have decided to homeschool … first off I want to say it will be awesome and  totally worth it!!!


Yes; go ahead research the heck out of it. Look at every different method and all the different curriculums and then go with your own style … which will most likely be a blend of a few.

Don’t worry about the bad moments or days … they will come and go… and quite frankly bad moments happen to everyone regardless if you homeschool your kids or they go to school. 

Focus on the amazing moments… and you will have many amazing moments!


Don’t worry about keeping up with any grades or school curriculum… each child is an individual with their own learning style and their own pace, part of the joy of homeschooling is going at the pace of the child. And remember your child is not a grade … but a little person learning new things every day.


Don’t sweat the small stuff and don’t compare your child to any other child. 

Don’t worry about what people tell you. You may be one of the lucky ones and live in a community full of supportive, understanding and  open minded people to homeschooling or you may live in a community where you might be the only homeschooler. Don’t let THAT stop you;  you might inspire others to homeschool.

And you may come across negative comments from people … brush them off and move on.


My suggestion is get online and read inspiring blogs of other homeschooling families. Connect with others even if it is online only for the moment. Start your own support group if there are none nearby or if there is one go hang out and meet some homeschooled kids and parents… I guarantee you will be totally impressed.

I went to a homeschooling event with my baby; yes you read correctly, about a decade ago I walked into a homeschool ‘show and tell’ carrying a baby (my first born) and I got some very welcoming comments. I was very curious what it would be like to homeschool and that was a great way to meet both the parents and the kids. I was hooked right away and I haven’t looked back nor regretted my decision one bit, but for those of you who are very hesitant,  just remember you can always change your mind … the school will not go anywhere … so give it a try 🙂


and very important: homeschooling isn’t bout the destination but the journey itself!

And one more thing; this homeschooling journey is not only about your kids but also a journey you are taking with them and you will learn so much about your kids and from your kids and in general on this experience. 

so have fun! 


p.s. want to read a few more “dear parent homeschooling” letters… check out the rest of the Canadian blogging teams posts here 

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5 days of Canadian field trips… day 4

We have been having a crappy summer … lots of rain and very cool with a few exceptions

A creative and indoor outing is to a ceramic art studio


They are all over the place now … I think it is a new trend


If you have kids that like painting or being creative this is a great afternoon outing especially on a rainy day 🙂



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5 days of Canadian field trips… day 3


Next on our stop is the Canadian Aviation and Space Museum

If  your child (or even yourself) have any interest in planes … this is the place for you!



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5 days of Canadian field trips… day 2


One of our favourite museums is the Canadian Museum of Nature 


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5 days of Canadian field trips… day 1


Let me kick start this 5 day series with the parliament of canada !


This is a great field trip for kids studying the government … I would suggest maybe 8 years and up …depending on the child and their interest in architecture and /or government  as they not only learn about the government but the building itself is really beautiful to visit and learn about.

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oh and  by the way it is FREE just be careful as it fills up fast during tourist season and they have limited spaces for visits and close early in the afternoon.




When I started homeschooling; I so badly wanted to just buy a box with everything I “needed” to homeschool. Sadly I never found this magic box… every boxed curriculum I found seemed to contain stuff that was pointless or stuff my kids didn’t want or stuff my kids already knew.

So I get curriculum from many places…

For math I highly  recommend Math Mammoth ; it is well organized and set up and the price is just perfect.


As for other subjects; I have a variety of stuff  we use on and off depending if they are interested in using it or not at that moment.

For french we have Rosetta Stone as our main source; my review of rosetta stone is so/so ; I find it does’t pick up the kids voices that well and kind of goes from easy to expecting them to spell all of a sudden :/ I supplement with story books and shows in french.


For italian I have these great books and italian cartoons are always very entertaining.


For geography and history we use  ‘Canada map books’, they  are a really great place to start. We supplement with books from the library and shows  on history. 



For science I have several kits I bought that have helped my kids learn hands on.


I try to go with what they are into and find stuff to expand on for them to learn more … the internet is always a wonderful resource. 

And I find you don’t always need curriculum in the sense of a workbook with pages to write in but rather hands on learning is essential.  

Do you have any curriculum you love ?

Go check out the rest of the Canadian blogging team and what they use for curriculum also check out and download the FREE printable from the Canadian homeschooler on buying curriculum