Day-to-day life, Family, Kids

7 years.

7 years ago, on a sunny fall day that was meant for being outside, soaking in the last bits of summer, mum died.

I write about this and her every year on this day; mostly it’s so that I can contemplate and remember.  Gives me a good excuse to cry, and be sad, but also grateful. The posts get a little easier to write because everything is less acute. They get harder to write, for the same reason.

Maybe 7 years is a good time to end these? I don’t know yet.

**

I recently had the chance to visit with an old friend who ended up knowing mum well, when he and I became friends. We talked about our time together and laughed so hard at shared our memories – in which mum played a starring role, front and centre. We were an inseparable (and unlikely) trio, my friends and I, but for whatever reason, Mum tolerated (appreciated?) our ridiculousness with an eye roll and a glass of wine.

I love hearing these stories, which perhaps time has distorted a little bit, because they make me laugh so hard that the best kind of tears stream down my face.

She definitely had an impact.

**

I miss her less a little less for me, but more for my kids. Anja doesn’t remember her, but she knows the stories. The boys have vague memories that I hope they hold on to. We do talk about Omi quite a lot, still. They are getting old enough now that I can tell them the stories about when Mum (me) would do stupid teenage things that would make Omi so mad.

They absolutely love those stories. Which is a good thing, because I’ve got a lot of them saved up.

**

I think of her most when I am doing something with the kids that is so different than any of the things she and I would have done together. The kids are so active and I try hard to be a part of all they do. I can hear her in the back of my mind, fretting because someone might get hurt and asking me “when are you going to grow up”? But I’m not, really: that’s my way of parenting. It reminds me of how different I was/am to her.

Reading books together on the deck? I look down and my hand rests on my lap exactly the way I remember hers doing. I am my mother.

**

One arbitrary day on a calendar can stir up so many emotions. Today, I’ll hug my people a little tighter. Tell them I love them a few more times than usual. Send them a few excessive ❤️ emojis. Because I still can.

**

7 years.

God, that’s a long time. And no time.

We miss you. We love you.

**

6 years of memories.

Random

First World Woes

I know that blogging is pretty much dead. And that’s fine. But every once in a while, I feel the need to tell a funny (at least, it’s funny now) story.

Last week, the kids and I flew to Hawaii for our long awaited trip. It was their Christmas present and I was proud of myself for 1) keeping it a secret from them for as long as I did and 2) scoring sweet airfare on a seat sale.

Foreshadowing.

Anyway. We were all really excited to leave, and in a fit of organization, everyone was packed and ready the night before we flew, even though our flight wasn’t till 6pm the following day.

I got up early to meet Jen for a run before anyone woke up. It was snowing heavily and I decided to check in for the flight over coffee.

Me, check. Kid 1, check, Kid 2, check. Kid 3? Denied.

WTF? I was barely awake and the message on the screen didn’t register. Until it did: passport expired.

OMFG.

How did I miss this? No matter, I did.

I immediately call Jay in a complete panic (though I’m not sure why, it’s not like he could magically make her passport valid).

He calms me for a second, reassuring me that she can travel on her Nexus.

Saved!

Except, not saved.

Her Nexus is with him. In Las Vegas.

Kick everyone out of bed, c’mon kids, the holiday starts at the passport office!

Fast forward a frantic jostling, throwing whatever in the van, who needs showers, who cares, let’s go! We arrive at the office at 9:30. The man at the door assures me that all will be well, yes ma’am, just go get the photo taken and we’ll be ready for you.

Except. Not ready.

All of Service Canada’s computers are down nationwide and there is literally not one thing they can do to help.

(There are tears, at this point. Actually, there were tears earlier, too).

I’m told to go to the airport and beg.

I, wouldn’t you know, am not above begging. Off we go.

At the airport, I head straight to the Nexus office, hoping that they can help in any way. The lady at the desk is exceptionally friendly, offering hope.

Except. There is no hope.

Government shutdown in the USA means there are no American agents to help.

Off we go to the check in desk to commence begging.

Meanwhile, after 47 phone calls, Jay is at a FedEx desk overnighting the precious nexus card.

At the check in, I get precisely nowhere. And not only do I get nowhere, I discover that those magical tickets I was so proud of? Well, those suckers are non-refundable and non-changeable.

Cue more tears. I’m frustrated and I just can’t help it. Anja’s not exactly thrilled, either. Had it been just me, whatever. But the children.

Are pretty damned resilient and good natured, actually.

At this point, the guilt mingled with the feeling of utter stupidity is making me literally nauseous. It doesn’t matter how many times I get told that this happens every day, all over the airport! It’s not the end of the world! It’s not a big deal! I feel like a big ol’ failure.

The ladies at the counter are so lovely and kind, but can do little more than take my credit card and rebook us on new tickets for the next night.

We group hug (me and the kids, not me and the ticket ladies). The kids sweetly go get me a coffee (they know what makes their mama tick). We ponder what to do with our 24 hours in Vancouver.

The rest of the day was a continuous series of mini-misadventures and misfires. One of those days where you can literally do nothing right. I could not wait to go to bed and be done with it. We got to spend time with the cousins, so there is always an upside.

Fast forward 7 days… we’re safely and successfully checked in to the flght home tomorrow. The expired passport is a distant memory. We have crushed our tourist game and loved our time together, bickering siblings and all.

There’s a reason I’m not a travel agent.

Aloha.

 

Race Report, Racing, Travel

NYC, take 2.

What a difference 1 week makes.

It’s a day off here, and I’ve just returned from a light trail run with Will. This exact time last week, I was lying on an airport floor, with swollen legs and and tired eyes.

I think my legs felt better on that airport floor than they do today. That’s normal, right?

I’m not much for race reports these days, but I figure 1 marathon every 9 year gets itself a nod.

Highlights (in no particular order…)

  • It’s New York City! Duh.
  • Surprising my brother with the arrival of his best friend – see, we *can* keep secrets!
  • The food. Oh, the food. All of it.
  • Cheering Nick + Steph in their 20,000+ runners 5k!
  • Citibikes. These things made getting around easy and oh, so fun. Dangerously fun.
  • Spending good times with my brother and sister-in-law, who ran the marathon in her imagination and crushed it.
  • On that note, Stephanie wearing my medal and reaping the rewards that came with it (champagne, anyone?) made those 42.4kms completely worth it.
  • The noise. The endless, ceaseless noise that I both loved and made me appreciate my quiet country home all the more.
  • Sitting around on Staten Island, 3 hours before my start or so, watching the German runners enjoy a lung-expanding cigarette, pre-race.
  • Despite the aforementioned 3 hours, almost missing my start. I blame Janet.
  • All of those completely random moments and encounters that happen when you take a trip and make zero plans (with the exception, in this case, of running a marathon).
  • Seeing my crew out on the race course – being able to pick them out of a crowd of literally 1 million people for a high five? Amazing. Bobby, you’re an amazing guide.
  • Getting stuck on the other side of Central Park post-race turned out to be a highlight, too. 1 friendly cop + 1 citybike + 1 foil blanket made for a highly entertaining bike ride on tired legs.
  • Parking that same bike and walking into the restaurant to cheers from my friends, which led to cheers from everyone. It was both embarrassing and awesome. Because, come on.
  • The feeling that everyone in this enormous city is behind this event.
  • I’ve probably left out 47 highlights that I’ll remember at 3am.

 

The race itself, the raison d’être for this whirlwind trip, was unexpectedly, well… amazing. I came into it with low expectations, that’s for sure. I wanted to beat my pregnant time of ’09 (4:14 or so?), and have fun.

Before we even started, I think I had the fun portion pretty dialled. My training had been minimalist (that’s a nice term for short AF), but I got to the start line with no aches and pains, and a plan to eat a lot. That was it.

My train of thought for the entire duration of the race was summed up as: “Hmm. This feels too easy. Should I be worried? This pace seems fast. But it doesn’t hurt. So, now what? Ok. Eat. I’ll eat. High fives to that guy, that kid, that granny. I still feel good. WTF is going on? Am I going to hit the wall? If I hit a wall, Liz is going to roll her eyes so hard. Shiiit.”

And on and on these thoughts swirled. Yet, I never hit that infamous marathon wall. I ran under a banner at mile 22 that literally said “THIS IS THE WALL”… and, nothing. In fact, I kind of sped up. I guess I just wanted to be done and savour that beer.

I crossed the line with a big smile, a time of 3:35 and a feeling of ‘mission accomplished’.

What’s with the Texas                        Longhorns?!

Lowlight

  • Getting sick when we got to NYC sucked. But I think it sucked more for my friends because I guess I could sleep through all my own snoring and also, Sudafed got me to that start line.
  • That’s literally the only lowlight.

I won’t run another (road) marathon for a long while, I don’t think. This one has my heart, for sure.

So, on that note. Boston 2020, what’s your city bike situation like?

Family

Six.

I start to hold my breath at the end of August until September 10th passes. When the anniversary of my mother’s death finally comes, I exhale bit by bit and sink into grief that still, 6 years on, can bubble to the surface unexpectedly.

Good or bad, I’ve created a bit of tradition for myself by writing about this time in our lives every year on this date. I make myself re-read old posts, I look at pictures. I dwell.

11 years ago. The blink of an eye.

This year, I won’t be surrounded by my 3 little pillars of support. I’ll be across the world, meeting new people, taking on new challenges. I can only imagine how excited Mum would’ve been for me, how anxious she’d have been for news of my travels (I think I’ve inherited a little bit of her travel nerves). Yesterday, as I dozed for hours on the plane, I could think of little else but her. I was consumed by memories, drifting in and out of dreams that felt all too real. I woke up more than once in tears.

There’s so little I can say about how much I still miss her. How often I think of her.

But as more time passes, there are days where she doesn’t cross my mind. I hate admitting that. Maybe that’s where that stupid saying “time heals all” comes from. One’s ability to move on from the really hard things. I don’t want to forget. The thought of those fading memories is terrifying. What makes me saddest is that she can’t be with us as our family grows and evolves, knowing how proud she would have been. She was a true matriarch.

I will forever be grateful for the time we spent together before she died, but there are so many things I wish I’d told her before she left us. Things I wish I’d asked her. Taken more pictures. It may be one of the only things I regret in my life.

Mum, know that we are doing our very best to honour your memory. Today and every day.

One. 

Two.

Three.

Four.

Five.

 

Random

Boredom begets boring

It’s about 2:30 in the afternoon. It’s smokey out, but beyond that, the weather is pretty summer perfect right now.

I’m on the deck. I’ve been here since I crawled out of bed.

Anja is brushing the dog’s teeth, and just gave the cat a bath.

Rory is attaching zip ties to his bike to make it sound obnoxious.

Not really sure where Will got to.

Every once in a while, they come and check on me.

“Whatcha doing, Mum?”

“Nothing.”

“Are you bored?”

“Kinda.”

“…”

They wander away, I continue my boredom.

It’s pretty great.

July went by in the blink of an eye.

School let out/Canada Day/Denmark/Summer camp(s)/Ironman.

That literally encompasses the month. There was nothing else. Which is why I’m milking this August boredom for all it’s worth.

Oh yeah. August doubles as fat camp (I get it, I’m not fat. But I’m not fit, either). So between books and hammock swings, I’ve returned to some riding, some running. Swimming can wait (beyond the mid-ride, sweltering, I’m-gonna-die-if-I-don’t-jump-in-right-now swims).

There are races to race, adventures to go on, things to eat.

You know what else is boring? This blog. Yeesh.

 

 

Day-to-day life, Family, Kids

The end is near

School’s done for the year in 3 days, 3 hours and a few minutes. I can assure you that I’m not the only one in this house who’s counting down.

Man alive, we are tired.

I can’t really put my finger on it, but it seems like the past few weeks have had a bigger impact on all of us than in years past. Will crosses out days on his calendar. Anja asks every day “how many more days”? Rory quietly goes about just being done, already.

Personally, I can’t wait to take a break from the endless cycle of lunches, homework, and the constant back and forth that essentially sums up life with 3 active, school aged kids.

It kind of feels like we’re all just keeping it together thanks to spit and grit. And band aids. A hell of a lot of bandaids.

These past few days, parenting has been boiled down to nothing more than managing emotions – including my own.

I’ll probably be eating my words in about a week from now… But until then, bring on the sleep ins, heat waves and evenings at the lake.

It’s easier to manage emotions when they involve popsicles and sunscreen. Mine included.

Day-to-day life

Filling in the gaps

How many times in the past few weeks have I cracked open the laptop with the intention of writing something mildly insightful? Plenty. How many times have I gotten distracted by something shiny and left the page open, untouched? Also plenty.

But it’s Monday morning… 9:22am. I’m caffeinated, have been up for hours and would like to continue to ignore the inbox and to-do list and the piles of laundry for a few more minutes. So here I am. Staring at a blinking cursor and wondering what to write about.

Frighteningly, we’re halfway into 2018. In January, I stated my intentions for upcoming year. I’m not one for looking back and looking inwards. But hey, why not see how it’s all going?

  1. More outside -> So far, yes. Spring and summer make me want to be outside always.
  2. Less inside -> See above. And we cancelled cable TV.
  3. More water -> This could use some work.
  4. Less booze -> Yes. Mostly. With a few exceptions.
  5. More extrovert -> Pretty much no. Getting outside of my happy little circle of people is proving tough for me.
  6. Less introvert -> But I’m trying.
  7. More together -> Not as much as I’d like.
  8. Less apart -> But that’s why there are phones. Hi, Lynn!
  9. More yes -> Yes! It’s fun when you can say yes when a no is expected.
  10. Less no -> And it’s scary (see above, #5).
  11. (But sometimes) more no -> I gave a big NO last week. Hard yet liberating.
  12. (and sometimes) less yes -> Learning that the answers don’t need to be instant.
  13. More bravery -> Sometimes, I can surprise even myself.
  14. Less fear -> The older I get, the more I am learning to be less scared. Imagine how fearless I’ll be at 86?
  15. More simplicity -> With objects, this is easy. With people…
  16. Less complexity -> People are complex. Very, very complex.
  17. More doing -> 100%
  18. Less wishing -> But I’ll never stop wishing.

And with that, I shall wish away Juneuary…

Above, a visual recap of sorts of life since January.

Random

Spring musings

It’s currently 6:18pm. It’s still light out, and miraculously not raining. Spring has been slow in coming. I’m answering emails from the comfort of the couch, glass of wine in hand. All I can hear is screaming kids on the trampoline.

It’s blissful, in its own weird way.

I love this time of year if simply for the fact that the kids just instantly drop everything the minute they come in the door to go back outside (I mean this, literally. Daily, I trip over backpacks and shoes when I come in the door and have to yell “PICK YOUR STUFF UP!”)

Neck breaking hazards aside, it’s liberating. No one asks for TV or whines about boredom. The backyard collects extra kids for trampoline time but just as quickly empties when a game of street-wide manhunt starts.

Every once in a while it goes eerily quiet… it takes me a few moments to notice the change. If I peer over the deck railing, it’s usually to find that the boys have scattered, and there are a few girls sitting on the trampoline, quietly talking about who knows what. I retreat as I don’t want to intrude whatever little world they’ve created.

It’s evenings like this that make me appreciate, even more than usual, the community that is created by small town living.

 

Random

My Modern Family.

A few weeks ago, Jay and I had a standard parent conference with one of the kids’ teachers. When it was done, Jay left ahead of me and the teacher pulled me aside.

(If you’re new here, Jay is the father to my 3 insane children).

Awkwardly, she broached the topic of our family life: “Are you?… I, um. I heard that you aren’t together anymore? Is this true?”

I confirmed, that yes, she was correct. She looked baffled for a minute and then said that she was surprised to hear this because we seemed to get along well and that the kids are doing well. Then she kind of congratulated me and I left, now the one feeling a little awkward.

Did she just congratulate me on not being a bitch?

People get divorced all the time. I get it. Did I think I’d ever get divorced? No, of course not. You don’t get married expecting it not to be permanent. At least, I didn’t. I fully expected to emulate my parents, married for a billion years.

Yet, here we are!

The kids are currently on their way to California for March break without me. They’ll be getting some quality Dad time, doing things his way without my interference and hovering.

But! Guess what? I’m flying down as a surprise to join them and spend a few days all together.

Fear not, I’m not ruining my own surprise. My kids don’t read this. They don’t even know what a dumb blog is, anyway. Maybe one day they’ll find it and be sooooo embarrassed, mooooom.

We’re going to spend a few days over spring break doing kid and family stuff. Together.

And you know what? I’m super excited.

Has life been as I planned it? Hell no. Is it easy? Also, no. Since we separated, I’ve experienced, in various forms: rage, anger, sadness, frustration, elation, joy, disbelief, and every single emotion in between. It continues to be a terrifying roller coaster.

But now, in its current iteration, our family ‘format’ works. Is that to say it’s perfect?

Of course not.

Does it change all the time?

Yep.

Do we know what we’re doing?

Nope, not really. Isn’t that what parenting is, anyway? Winging it?

Do people judge me/us and question what we’re doing?

Probably.

And so what.

I’m really good at being self deprecating, but this is one of those times that I can say how proud I am of how far we’ve come.

Our kids are happy, healthy. Normal. They love us, we love them. We’re in this together, like it or not. There’s days where we like it, days we don’t.

But we move forward.

In our own, weird, modern family way.

 

Day-to-day life

(Not so) Sparky.

I haven’t broken a sweat in weeks.

And I can’t say that I really care.

Most of the time, I love training for endurance events. But lately, I haven’t. I kind of feel like I’ve lost my spark.

The last 6 weeks or so have been a mix of mini-injury and illness. I guess I should count myself lucky, considering it’s been a long time since I’ve been sidelined for anything other than my own choice. Normally, when I’m not doing anything, there’s a itch to get going again, to sign up for something, to find a challenge of some kind.

But not this time. And it’s… weird.

That perpetual guilt most of us endurance nerds feel about not getting a workout in has pretty much evaporated. All those little red boxes in Training Peaks? Meh.

I was feeling fired up after an awesome little bikes-only getaway to Maui. Strong and happy.

But since then, the inconsistency that comes with not being able to get off the couch due to coughing like a life-long smoker has totally stalled me.

And now, I feel like it’s really hard to get going again.

I’ve given myself a 2 week hall pass to do whatever I want, whenever I want to. I’m hoping to reignite the spark by putting myself on a start line that I’m totally unprepared for.

That should work, right?

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