Carpe diem quam minime credula postero – “Seize the day, trusting as little as possible in the future”.

Carpe annum – Seize the year…That’s our twist on Horace’s poem.

We are a family of four embarking on a “mini-retirement” year which started at the end of the 2009-10 school year. We live in the town of Perth in the province of Ontario, Canada. Here’s us:

  • Marco (the dad) – I am a 45 year old school teacher in the Upper Canada District School Board. I teach French immersion and phys ed classes to elementary school children. I am fluent in French. I love photography and well…travel.
  • Shannon (the mom and almost as old as Marco) – I am a Professional Engineer and Project Manager. I quit my soon-to-evaporate job at Nortel Networks to leave on this trip. I am an avid runner and cyclist.
  • Anique (first born) – I am 12 years old and LOVE reading!!! In the winter, I downhill ski and swim with the Perth Stingrays. In the summer, I waterski and swim in my grandparents’ lake. My other grandparents live near the beach on Lake Huron, so I love to hang out there, too.
  • Owen (last born) – I am 8 years old. I love cars, bikes, planes, trains, and boats. I also downhill ski and swim. I am a huge Top Gear fan. I like computer games, too.

Why take a year off? We wanted to introduce our kids to travel, while keeping it safe. We wanted them to expand their horizons. We wanted to spend a lot of time together creating family memories that will last a lifetime. We wanted to slow down, escape the rat-race. We wanted to visit Europe. We wanted to live.  How can we do this? We have been planning a year off for several years now, so we have been putting money aside faithfully every month. As well, as a teacher in the province of Ontario in Canada, I have the opportunity to self-finance a year off. I put away a percentage of my pay for a period of time and during my year off I continue to be paid. For example, I deferred 1/3 of my pay for two years and will continue to receive 2/3 pay during the third year. It’s what we call a 2 over 3. We can also choose 3 over 4, or 4 over 5. In teacher lingo, it’s called an X over Y. Whatever you choose to call it, it’s a great opportunity that we couldn’t pass up.

Why now? The timing was right. The kids are old enough to travel well (ie: carry their own stuff) and yet young enough to want to hang out with mom and dad. Shannon’s job at embattled Nortel Networks was soon going to end. Our immediate family members are healthy. It was the time to seize the year…carpe annum.

Why this blog? This blog is a record of the preparations leading up to the sabbatical and then a chronicle of our family’s adventures during our time away. This adventure has been brewing for a long time. Pre-kids, we travelled with the military (Africa, Europe, Greenland) and on our own (South-America, Asia, UK). But since the birth of our two children (in 1999 and 2002), we haven’t travelled much at all. The travel itch just got stronger and stronger over the years. A year away was inspired, in part at least, by Peter Mayle’s wonderful book A Year in Provence, by much more adventurous families (like the German family of 5 we saw in Bangkok…the youngest still in diapers.), by countless travel and adventure books, and by a keen imagination.

We hope you enjoy the blog, but even more importantly, I hope our adventures inspire you to live a life less ordinary, to take the path less travelled, to gather ye rosebuds while ye may…you get the point.


  1. Will miss you … but does open up two more lower spots in the Glen Tay Block results ! (hope you both/all try to get a few races in Europe … that would be fun!

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