The kids are home and “distance learning”; while they zoom and do their work, I zoom and do mine. There’s no shortage of either. The weather is good, bikes and trails beckon, even when motivation wanes. Chores and the minutiae of daily life goes on.
And yet, yesterday I was bored to tears… by 7:46am.
I know full well that I’m one of the lucky ones, so it feels a little bit awful admitting that.
Thankfully, I know that a lot of my friends feel the same way, so when it feels like I am losing my marbles, I’m really not. Usually.
For once, I’m normal!
We’re going on, what, 7 weeks? 8? of living the pandemic life. The novelty has well and truly worn off. Yet, in all honesty, other than a whole lot of family togetherness, life in our little community bubble feels much the same. The global news cycle remains exhausting. Who can keep up? Quite frankly, who wants to? In the bubble I shall remain.
I miss having external goals and adventures to plan. Today, I was meant to be on my way to California to race a triathlon. Maybe I’ll do a mountain bike ride in my race onesie to commemorate what was supposed to be.
Even just writing this (and, I imagine reading this), is boring.
That’s it. That’s my whole life update. Life goes on, bored and boring or not!
It’s been 5 weeks and 6 days since we had Will’s birthday dinner. At his request, we went to his favourite restaurant and had an indulgent family dinner. I had just hours earlier cancelled my upcoming trip; the following day we would make the call to cancel my first big work gig in April; the family was still planning on leaving on their March break trip a few days later – though I was secretly skeptical that this would actually pan out. We kept the mood at dinner light.
Looking back, it’s like that scene early on in the sci-fi movie where the unsuspecting family walks out to their car all happy and oblivious and then gets stepped on by a t-rex.
We really had no idea what was coming.
Every few days, I wish we could go back to that being that oblivious. Or, maybe not oblivious. But to having our blinders on and thinking along the lines of “what’s the worst that could happen?”
Essentially closing the world didn’t even cross my mind because how could it?
My close friends and I all seem to agree that we are on this weird cycle of having 3-4 good or normal-ish day, followed by a day where everything just goes off the rails. No real reason why, it just does. Spectacularly.
I suppose that it is comforting to know that I’m not alone on this shitty, rickety roller coaster.
I want my money back!
We are now starting week 3 of “distance learning”. I refuse to call it home schooling anymore because, let’s face it: this ain’t school, folks. But, we’re managing and finding our system and our rhythm. I have to say that we have some great teachers and support to to help us.
That said, I really feel for these kids, especially the younger ones. This is a lot to ask of them. Using effective time management, being self-directed, finding that motivation, taking initiative… I can barely pull it together to achieve those things. So, try doing it when you’d rather be rolling down a grassy bank or spacing-out, only vaguely listening to the teacher but you do it anyway because, well, that’s school and your socks are bugging you and you want a snack and math is hard anyway.
They miss assignments, which means I missed the assignment and now somehow I feel like I’m thrown back to 6th grade and forgetting to hand in something because I/they/we missed it in the melée of Fresh Grade, Emails, Google Class, Zoom… I mean, I’m pretty sure I’m going to accidentally upload Anja’s math homework or Will’s PE logbook to the Tri Can website by accident one of these days. At least it will be in French.
It’s no wonder I signed off a Zoom call a few weeks ago by blowing a kiss at the screen.
It was a work call, not Zoom cocktail hour.
The kids are more tired than usual (and I am, too). Emotions are running high and things tend to flare more quickly. I know that the constant togetherness is tough on them. In fairness, they have been, generally, really good — which, in this house, means fighting, playing, bickering, creating, ignoring… etc etc. Nothing really new.
That said, this quote from one of the kids sums it up succinctly: “Don’t take this the wrong way. I really love all you guys, but I’d really like to hang out with people I’m not related to.”
You guys! I am so excited to announce that I have a new job, despite the economic downturn and global pandemic. Drum roll, please…
I am the newly minted Administrative Assistant to my children.
This is an opportunity I didn’t even know existed a few weeks ago, but it really just dropped into my lap, so how could I refuse?
It’s quite a diverse role, let me tell you. And rewarding! Gosh.
I get to print things, endless things. I find lost (and very specific) pencils. I assist with managing calendars and appointments. Who knew that I had such profound IT skills? I can reset a password like nobody’s business.
In this house, chargers live the same existence as hair ties and Tupperware lids. Who the hell knows where they go, but I hope they are happy. This really just means that I also get do some conflict-resolution when my employers fight over the one remaining charger that is left in the cafeteria (aka Kitchen).
In addition, my role includes that of project management! Some people might call this overseeing homework, but I, for one, was exited to learn that my non-existent bird house making skills would come in handy… I may look to sub-contract this role. If anyone is looking, please do let me know.
I try to draw the line at fixing the snacks they request (a request usually made with a mouth full while eating a different snack) but find myself succumbing to the demand, else they’d quite happily survive on instant ramen and cereal.
I’m excited to see how this new role will evolve in the coming weeks.
I’m also really looking forward to the day I get laid off.
Please note: I am incredibly grateful that I even *get* to help my kids through this. They are doing, for the most part, great. Their school has been super supportive, as have my “real” employers. Writing these silly posts helps me find levity in an otherwise very heavy situation. As a family, we are doing our best – even if some days there’s more yelling and bickering than others. Do what works best for you and yours. For me, what works best is trying to find the humour and to find things to laugh at, even if that thing is myself.
If you’re a Canadian of a certain vintage, chances are you remember these:
I posted a photo on the socials this morning and these badges are like cilantro. You either loved them, or you hated them. There is no in between.
I remember doing these tests. I also remember Hal and Joanne McLeod’s Body Break! But that’s because it was on CBC, one of the 3 channels we had. I digress.
I never achieved that elusive black and red badge. In elementary school, I was about 3ft tall and weighed 80 pounds soaking wet. I did not enjoy exercise. My gym teacher, Roger, did everything he could think of to help me. Ultimately, I failed on the running part. Seriously.
Anyway. Clearly I’ve let it go and I really want to allow my children to experience this delightful challenge. Maybe, they too can be scarred for life!
The Canada Fitness Test was implemented in elementary schools nationwide in the 70s and 80s. To encourage “physical fitness” (and ultimately discontinued because it discouraged too many participants), it was based on this:
Fun fact: in 1979, they replaced the notorious flexed arm hang with a push up. I’m not super old but I still remember the stupid flexed arm hang. Maybe Roger didn’t get the memo.
Here are some delightful illustrations to help explain what the test was made of. To achieve “excellence”, you needed 95% in all 6 challenges.
Bust our your onesies and short shorts!
It helps to have someone right in front of you smacking your shoulders.
Do as many as you can, no time limit.
Ensure that you completely collapse at the end.
Test: Place 1 wooden block at one end, 2 wooden blocks at the other end, 10m apart. Start lying down with your forehead pressed into the gravel (fun!), run to the other side, pick up a block, run back, drop the block, pick up the other one, run back aaaaand time!
I’m pretty sure these are no longer recommended. By anyone.
Plus, this one requires a metronome.
But if you’re game, do them at a beat of “3 seconds per movement” for a max number.
Standing Long Jump
I’m quite fond of the rainbow shooting out of her butt. That’s what gives her the oomph.
The only place I ever long jump is into bed to avoid sharp cat claws hidden beneath it.
So yeah, measure the distance between take-off and landing. Feet hip width apart seems to be key.
Unclear what’s happening in pose #2.
This one made sure to bold that runner had to sprint past the line. I dunno. Whatever. Break out your stop watch.
This is my favourite. She’s like, “C’mon. Fuck. I’m done. WAIT! I’ll prance. Ok fine. I’ll do it but I won’t like it.”
Guidelines indicate that the endurance run must be executed around 50 square meters, and to ensure everyone has running shoes. And then run around said box for between 1600-2400m. I’m dizzy already.
Here’s how many laps you had to run around that dumb square:
God, no wonder so many kids hated this.
Here’s how you measured up. I tried to find the scoring for kids under 12, but no such luck. Y’all are smart, you can probably figure it out. Just click on each one to enlarge.
So there you go. My contribution to your homeschooling. I’m going to see if I can achieve bronze, for old times’ sake.
Might even throw in a flexed arm hang for kicks.
If you guys really want to dig into the descriptions, click here.
Just typing that made me laugh. I had to look up that it was actually Tuesday.
So, with that:
How’s everyone doing?
Over here, it’s mostly positive, trying to steer clear of the pit of despair. Ok, maybe it’s not quite ‘pit’. More like, puddle. Regardless, I’m trying hard to steer clear from the edge.
The harsh reality?
We’ve got it pretty easy over here, in the grand scheme of things. First and foremost, we are all healthy (although, today I woke up sniffly and was quite certain that this was the end for me. I pulled it together after a cup of coffee).
We have space here – indoor and out – so we are not constantly on top of one another. I can still safely kick the kids outside when I need a break; better yet, I can kick myself outside. Or, I sequester myself in the basement on my bike, sweat and sing 80’s tunes very loudly.
Work has dwindled but hasn’t halted completely and for that I am *very* grateful. I mean, don’t get me wrong, it looks very different. But that’s ok.
We have food, friends and family. And I have wine.
A thought I’ve had a lot, lately:
When this is all over, and we can go back to “normal”, will we? Are we going to hold on to some of these new norms we’ve adapted to? Or will we quickly forget what this was all like, and go back to worrying about things like bouncy running shoes and where to go for March break 2021?
I hope we hold on to this connectedness (weird word). This feeling of “we’re all in this shit together” seems to have made us more open to reaching out to one another. We check in on each, have virtual drinks, etc. I kind of like it.
That’s my 6-feet-away-touchy-feely feeling for the day.
On that note, I hope to never utter the words “social distancing” again, once we get back to being able to high-5 in real life.
Yet another brain dump! Bear with me, there’s nothing cohesive or exciting to write about, anyway.
On Monday, I started this:
Woof, what a month this day has been.
Today, since all this fun began, it rained. I also decided, after not sleeping, that the kids could do whatever they wanted – even if that meant 7 hours of stupid TikTok and Netflix. It won’t be like that every single day. But Monday, it was the right thing to do.
On Monday night, I added this:
I lie in bed at night and notice how eerily quiet it is. No cars going by. No hum of the nearby highway. No one walking home and getting into an argument at 2:37am.
And then this:
Anja and I went for (another) walk and tried to list the positives. For example, we haven’t driven anywhere lately. So, this is good for the environment in a manner of speaking. We can spend time outside, which is very lucky. We aren’t shopping for anything other than food and fresh flowers (which make me happy, so I consider them essential), so we aren’t spending money.
My dog is getting a whole lot of exercise and attention. He’s tired and confused.
Maybe I’ll finally learn to cook.
On Tuesday, well.
My work has, for all intents and purposes, evaporated.
(I realize I’m not alone in this situation, and I’m not complaining. It’s just a fact). When you are an event planner/producer/person and events cease existing (except virtually), well then, there goes a chunk of my sense of purpose.
Which may or may not have led to a mini-existential crisis.
What can I contribute in these rather surreal times?
I don’t know yet.
Roll to Wednesday. And the only reason I know that is because I checked. It’s very quickly become the new normal to not have an alarm in the morning or a destination in mind for the day. I know it won’t be like this forever, but right now it feels like that stretch of time between Christmas and new years day, except exponentially.
I know that very soon I’ll have to set a schedule for myself and the kids with the premise of homeschooling. I have no idea what that will look like, beyond taking a lot of deep breaths.
I asked friends to send me their thoughts on their current situation. Here’s a compilation, kept anonymous:
“I think I gave my last handshake a few weeks ago.”
“It would be nice if we could play with our friends.”
“It’s like Groundhog Day… I mean I love my kids and the extra time together is for the most part great! But ya, Groundhog Day here! Same but different but still the same.”
“It’s trying to give the kids a real sense of the proportion of this virus yet not scaring them! Then realizing they just don’t understand (or really care….. I mean they’re just kids) so you get upset and then try and scare the shit out of them so they’re on the same page as us adults! ( I’m scared) Then they start calling people stupid and dumb and even though you agree you have to teach them to be compassionate and understanding !! This whole thing feels like it’s compressing the growing up timeline for my kids and I don’t like it!!”
“I actually quite like it! No pressure. Extra family time. It feels like a vacation from life if you just stay home and don’t watch too much of the news. We still have an income though so if that went away I’d be WAY more stressed I’m sure…”
“My thoughts feel random and rapid fire, interspersed with periods of calm nothingness. I go back and forth between manic “do all the things” (house projects, books, shows, home workout routines posted on social media) and a sort of aimless, almost deer-the-headlights existence.”
My normally short attention span has been contracted to that of a sea cucumber.
The world feels like it is shrinking daily. Our little physical bubble gets a little tighter with each new press conference and news release. Oddly, rather than feeling restrictive, I’ve found it a little comforting.
And yet at the same time, the virtual bubble gets a little bigger. I’m grateful for my friends who put up with my endless texts, who send me stupid videos, who check up on me.
Don’t get me wrong – the online news feed is like a fire hose of pure crazy, and it feels good to turn it off every once in a while and stick my head in the sand and pretend life is 100% normal.
I look out my window, everything looks normal: it’s a nice spring day. Kids are on the trampoline. People are biking by, walking their dogs. Just an average day.
But it isn’t, really.
I think back to this day, one week ago, and it was all systems (mostly) go: kids were planning their trip for March break, I was still going on mine (though wondering if we pull the plug, given that the US seemed, well, yeah). Work was normal, but I was making contingency plans. We celebrated Will’s 14th birthday with a terrific family dinner. Oblivious.
Business as usual.
But it wasn’t, really.
If you’d asked me, what would a week later look like, there’s absolutely no way I could have predicted this. NO WAY.
Cue the global pandemic. And the endless Covid-19 memes.
And the giant “?” floating over all of our heads. I mean, COME ON.
So, explaining this to the kids is interesting. Their little bubble of bliss hasn’t changed all that much, expect that they can’t ski. Oh my word. What a hardship. I don’t know how many more times I can say “wash your hands”. I encourage them to go outside and to stop eating my supply of snacks. I need someone to hack Fortnite and Tiktok, stat.
I try to explain that no, I don’t know what the fuck is going on, I have not lived through something like this. The closest thing I can relate it to is 9/11… and even that had us on a plane “business as usual” about a week after those planes flew into the towers.
This feels different. However, the need to be near people, to be close to those important to me, feels very much the same.
Buzzword of 2020: “social distancing”. How quickly we’ve adopted it into our vernacular.
I’m freaking tired. I’d like to think I’m handling this well, but the constant, minute-to-minute change is rough (this isn’t me whining. This is fact.) Anxiety is pretty high. I want to keep my routine but that seems selfish, somehow? Staying off social media and reading too much news helps. Going outside helps. Seeking normalcy helps. Squeezing my people helps. WINE HELPS.
Today, we found out that school is closed indefinitely. Kids were all stoked until they realized… I’m the new homeroom teacher.
This quote popped up in my social media a few days ago and when I read it, I realized that I felt like it was pointing an imaginary digital finger right at me.
In a newsflash to absolutely no one, parenting is tough and relentless. Good days, bad days, great days, terrible days and everything in between.
No matter the phase you find yourself in, be it the newborn, the terrible twos (uh, hello terrible threes!), it can feel like it’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done. Each phase is hard, different and challenging in its own unique and all consuming way.
I look at my friends with younger ones and don’t really find myself missing those days (except for the cuddles). I see friends who are now happy empty nesters, who seem to be relishing their new found freedom (what do they do with their time, I wonder?)
Meanwhile, my foreseeable future is entrenched in the tween/teen phase and let me tell you…
I was not prepared for how challenging I’m finding this particular phase. Whoa.
Maybe because I’m a control freak and seemingly suddenly this house now holds 4 very distinct and vocal personalities that don’t always mesh?
Maybe it’s because I set unrealistic expectations, do a crappy job of voicing them and then am annoyed when these aren’t met?
Maybe it’s because – and here’s where my irrational voice really takes over – time is flying and what if I’ve messed them up and it’s too late and they are moving out too soon!
Maybe because I try to draw on my own experiences as a teen… but the realization that my upbringing could not have been more different than theirs dawns on me (catholic boarding school, anyone?) and, well, kinda flailing around in the dark over here!
Fellow parents, how often have you gone to bed at night hoping you haven’t ruined your offspring? Asking for a friend.
I’m grateful to my parents for granting us so much freedom (even though at the time we were probably desperate for more); that much I can pat myself on the back for passing along to our trio. But as for the rest, it’s a steep learning curve for me, and the kids. It feels like we’re in the same class, together! I hope we pass the final.
I’m trying to take little steps back from time to time and try to take a view of the bigger picture ahead. Forcing these little people out of their own comfort zones and into the mold of my expectations isn’t working. I’d never let anyone do that to me, so why should I expect them to let me do it to them?
Trying being the operative word, up there.
The point of this post? None, really. Except to hope that someone will tell me that the next phase is easier?
I did a pretty deplorable job this year, keeping this thing up to speed. Every time I’d start to write, I’d get about 3-4 lines down and the- ooh something shiny over there! And voila! Another unfinished draft post added to the list of topics I started to write about but couldn’t quite finish.
So, mostly for myself, I thought I’d smash 365 days worth of thoughts/events/recaps/listicles into one year-end post. That way, I figure I’ll have something tangible to look back on for 2019… rather than all those judgy, unfinished drafts staring back at me, waiting to be tackled.
(editor’s note: I will delete them in 2020. Clean slate!)
These past few years, I’ve tried to give myself a vague goal of planning something fun each month. I’ve learned that I love having something – big or small – to look forward to. Some of these are clearly a little more look forward-to worthy than others. I can’t truly remember what 2017 or 2018 ended up looking like, hence me forcing myself to commit it to … the screen. I debated about posting this. While proof-reading, it really drove home how lucky I am. I felt this vague need to apologize for all the fun (or at least, I consider it fun) stuff I get to do. But then, I’d be apologizing for living my life. And that’s silly.
Please be forewarned that this post will read alternately like:
A very poorly edited travel blog;
A scented journal written by a 12 year-old in sparkly pen (wink, wink @bopstardom)
Utter nonsense to anyone but myself. Which I’m completely fine with. ‘Tis my domain, after all.
So, without further ado, here’s a peak inside my very own memory lane.
I really thought I’d kick off January with a bang. I think I succeeded… but not in the very best way.
Things turned around when we hit the beach. I relished the time with the kids somewhere that saw them really just act like kids, and less like small humans trying to be too cool to be with mom. We read books, built sandcastles, ate fish and checked off one “touristy” thing a day. I get in trouble for saying that “holidays with kids is just parenting except somewhere hot” and yet… it felt different. In a good way.
The sunrise attempt that failed
I like to say there’s nothing redeeming about February (sorry Brad). It’s dark, it’s cold and incomplete. It feels like spring is far away, and winter has only just really set in.
But, there’s a silver lining! It also kicks off the race season. In 2019, the First Half was unseasonably cold but I got to run it with the 2 running partners I’ve had the pleasure of knowing since we started these runs with 1 shared gel 17 years ago…
I also travelled to Montreal for my dad’s 80th (!) birthday and what would end up being my final trip to Tampa (foreshadowing)…
2 big deals… my first born turned 13 #ohmygodihaveateenagernow. He’s taught me a lot about the world and myself, he knows how to push my every last button, he’s almost taller than I am and… I love him to bits and hope that one day he will read this and blush.
Then, I ran my first Ultra! It was snowy and sunny and not what I expected in any way. I had no expectations and 50k is a long way to go on your own 2 feet. I can say that I am proud that I actually pulled it off.
March was topped it off with a visit to what triathletes affectionately call the “Dirty-T” to ride some trails that are really all just out to get you, with 2 of my favourite people. I learned lots of new things about Phish and the Grateful Dead and yet I’m still here to tell the tale. I’m also plotting my return.
Up, and up, and up….
And then it was hard to get up.
Rocks and pokey plants abound
My groundhog day event that also kind of lets me be a tourist in my own little hamlet. It was my 4th or 5th… maybe 6th? Whistler Cup.
And then we wrapped that up and moved right along to…
The first work trip of the season was a dream. Great company (hi, work husband!), amazing country and, really, I could go on and on about the coffee. I won’t, I’ll spare you.
I think my favourite thing about travelling somewhere completely different is how quickly we are able to adapt to being out of our element. Day 1? Fish out of water. Day 4? I feel local, ask me a question as a test. On my way to catch my flight home? Oh, I live here now, sí.
You know when you find those colleagues who make you laugh for absolutely no good reason? Find those colleagues and hang on tight.
Just doing my job. NBD.
Another year, Another cup
An overlap with April really, since I didn’t get back from Spain (literally and jet-laggy) till mid-May.
Problem solved by a quick mission to the Sunshine Coast and reintegrating into real life with my people. The kind of getaway that only involves plans insofar as “what will we ride today?” and “is there any more coffee?”
Then I broke a few ribs (whoops!) and didn’t finish a mountain bike race that I started.
We could do this for hours…
And this, too.
The pace seems to change in June. We’re all anxious for school to be done (each of us for our own reasons). The calendar gets a bit busier and a little less predictable. The days get blissfully longer and warmer. Events and work ramp up.
The flip of the calendar also meant the start of triathlon season! Xtri Whistler was a great return to dirt – I highly recommend it!
And Will, my aforementioned teenager “graduated” from his elementary school.
There aren’t a lot of kids anymore who get to experience their formative school days with the same tight-knit group of pals for 7 years. I hope that one day, they will realize how lucky they are. Living is a small town has many perks; I consider this to be one of them.
Whistler X Triathlon
He blames me for the discrepancy.
For the last 6 years, July has been a lycra-clad, sleepless, spreadsheet-hell blur. Ironman Canada would trump all, I’d work a ton and essentially let my children parent me/themselves and rely on everyone in my world to help in any way they could.
Sidebar: my friends are truly incredible and know how to make me laugh in the best possible and also most inappropriate ways.
This year was no different, but it came with the added twist that this was to be the race’s final iteration in Whistler.
It was… bittersweet. That’s it for now on that.
That’s all she wrote
Final race morning
A fitting end
The greatest part of August is that we challenge ourselves to cram 8 weeks of summer into the remaining 3.5 weeks before the return to class.
We spend a lot of time at the lakes while baking in the Pemberton heat… we bike… we do a whole lot of nothing (in fact, my most favourite day last summer was an afternoon spent on the deck with the kids and their friends, during which we did exactly nothing. Absolutely glorious).
I capped it off but a European adventure that melted into September. We have (dangerously) cracked the seal on racing in Europe (foreshadowing on September)…
The Euro Redemption tour of 2019 started with some lost luggage and delayed flights (my travel mojo follows me closely), a visit with one of my oldest and greatest friends, exploring the countryside on two-wheels and rekindling my love affair with rosé.
From there is was a work trip to one of the prettiest and also priciest (!) spots over there. Trains! Chocolate! Tiny hotel rooms! Belly laughs! Police escorts (long story)!
To kick off Europe!
Sticking to my day job
France is awesome.
Hence the escort…
Cut off my access to the bakery
I like to be juvenile and pretend that September is my birthday month (because it is). What better way to celebrate a birthday than racing a World Championships in the south of France with your twin? Yeah, I pretty much nailed my birthday month.
The race itself wasn’t a performance of a lifetime. But it was memorable for the venue, the company and the experience. Say what you will about triathlon and its odd little community, it has brought me fantastic opportunities and introduced me to my closest friends.
Plus, I got to come home to some spectacular trail runs with my village.
We went to Kona and it was ridiculous. In a good way! Sun. Coffee. Bikes. Underwear. Volunteering. A fake wedding. All things triathlon. Will we top this in 2020? It’s gonna be tough but I am willing to work for it.
ALSO! Anja ran her first 10 k trail run which was both awesome and adorable.
I can’t believe we did this.
Here come the bride(s)
Proud mom moment.
November is like February’s ugly red-headed step child. Seriously. Out here, it’s dark and gloomy. Kids are tired. I’m tired. I scour the internet for last-minute get aways.
I pretty much nailed it this year… a restorative girls trip to Montreal with a surprise detour to New York. To watch Anja wander, wide-eyed and amazed, through the crush of NYC was so worth it.
Tip: make sure your life includes people who are there for you, not matter what. The kind of people with who you can reconnect after not seeing each other for a year or so and it feels like no time has passed. Everyone needs people like that.
Happy Holidays, y’all…
While this journal entry was completely self-indulgent, writing this made me realize that I really do lead a charmed life. I have my share of tough bits and heartache (don’t we all?) My highs are high and my lows are low – just like everyone else out there. I’m not unique, or exceptional in this way. I am learning to be grateful for all of it.
Most importantly, I am surrounded by people who know how to pick me up if I am down, whom I can lean on when I need to and I’m learning to ask for help (sometimes. This is a work in progress). I’ve got a great “modern family”, who alternately make me laugh and make me crazy and because of that, my sense of humour remains intact through it all.