Family, Kids, Random

Project 2016

“Hey, do you guys want t–”

No.”

“Kids! Let’s go to this pl–”

“No.”

And my personal fave:

“Try this.”

“No! I don’t like it.”

“Have you ever had/done/seen/read/tasted/tried it before?”

“No.”

I don’t know about you fellow parents out there, but this is the basic chorus in this house. They seem to be genetically programmed to want to stay home and inside their wee comfort zones. I suppose, on the one hand, that that’s fine. On the other, dudes, it’s a great big world out there and there’s lots to see!

To that end, I’m trying to make 2016 the Year of Yes.

Some days, it goes swimmingly: we are all on board and totally keen to tackle something new. For example: Will joined the basketball team at school. Rory tried ski jumping. Anja agreed to have her hair tied back every day (see, it doesn’t need to be anything major… just, something new and different).

Other days, like today, it’s hard for me to drive this little project forward because I’m feeling overwhelmed by work and life, it’s raining and it just feels easier to stay home and do our same old, same old. And that’s ok, too.

Regardless, I love that we have a challenge that everyone in the house can participate in. That said… it’s still January. Maybe I should revisit this post in June and see where we are at?

Yes, I will.

 

 

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Family, Kids, Pemberton

My 12 days of Christmas

Or is it 13? Or 11? Who can tell, these days. School’s out, I take some time off work  and then all of a sudden I have no concept of what day of the week it is. It’s kind of neat.

It’s a white Christmas here and what a difference snow makes. Everything’s just that much brighter. The kids are easily convinced to go outside. And running in the snow? Waaaay more fun that running in the rain.

Needless to say, the last few weeks have been a whirlwind of wrapping things up (literally and figuratively), getting into the swing of winter and thinking about the end of 2015 by starting to make plans and hatch ideas for 2016.

Since my brain also seems to be on Christmas holiday, I’ll leave you with a photo wrap of the last few weeks.

Merry Christmas!

Day-to-day life, Family, Kids

Rainy day round up

It’s a rainy Sunday… the day has passed with staggering slowness. Another rain fall warning means even though we go outside, no one really loves it (not even the dog), and the lingering luxury of shooing everyone outside in bathing suits after a week in the sun is still on everyone’s mind.

I hate homework more than all of them combined.
I hate homework more than all of them combined.

 

Case in point: the eldest went to join his siblings outside… in bare feet. It took reminding him that we aren’t on holiday anymore to get his brain re-engaged.

“Mama, the air is all liquidy here…”

Those were the first words out of Anja’s mouth as we deplaned for our holiday together. It was late and it had been a long flight with lots of fidgeting (from me, too). I’d sort of mentally blocked the fact that even though I/We were on a lovely tropical holiday, I still had to parent.

Well, that’s novel.

And let’s be honest. There were days where the level of parenting was low. Like, take care of yourself and go ahead and ignore me, low. Nonetheless, we had a great time and each kid reacted a little differently to their time away.

Anja couldn’t get enough of sitting in the surf, filling her bikini with sand and… sleeping (that’s my GIRL!)

Rory spent hours diving under waves, wandering the beach seemingly aimlessly but always with an underlying purpose.

Will tested his limits (which is very much unlike him) and built things out of sand.

And me? I read books. And it was glorious.

This is a very random fact: I’ve always hated my feet. I don’t like their shape, they are usually missing one or several toenails and always, always have blisters or remnants thereof.

One evening, we were walking on the beach back from the now infamous (in our house anyway) ice cream dinner. I looked down at my foot prints in the sand and I didn’t see my own feet. I saw my mum’s. I stared for a few minutes, and realized that I can no longer hate my feet, because of who I so clearly inherited them from.

IMG_1954

It’s a few weeks out from Ironman Arizona… I thought the feeling of scouring race calendars and making mental plans would dissipate. Well, what do you know. It’s still there and it’s rather strong.

Let the planning begin! (or, you know, continue… as it were).

Family

3 years gone.

mom

“Erica, it’s time to let go, and tell your family that you love them. No more fighting.”

Delivered by her long time doctor, those words started a conversation I will never forget. Mum’s condition had deteriorated rapidly in the few weeks prior and we’d all flown in from our respective parts of the world to be with her and Dad. We were all sitting on her bed, her doctor looking us each in the eye, patiently and truthfully answering our questions.

Looking back on that day, a sunny September afternoon, what stays with me is how brave Mum was in the face of this definitive statement. She looked at all of us, tears in her eyes and a little smile on her face. She didn’t say anything. I don’t think she could. I certainly couldn’t. We sat quietly for a few minutes, absorbing our new reality until Mum said she needed to rest and shooed us away.

How do you carry on with your day when someone tells you that the matriarch of your family is dying and that you only have days left together? I don’t know… you just do. I remember that we all retreated into ourselves for a few hours. I think I went for a run and cried my way through it. I may have punched a tree and howled. I was terribly sad. And furious. And also a little bit relieved that finally, Mum wouldn’t have to suffer anymore and that our lives would no longer be dictated by cancer markers, medications and the fear of not knowing. That may seem selfish and yet it’s true. Anyone who has been through this will know just how honest that is.

The next few days were a blur. Preparations were underway to move her and time both sped and dragged. In her typical fashion, my stubborn mother declared that she wanted to go to hospice care RIGHT NOW. Not in a few days, or even a few hours. NOW. We did what we could for her and each other. I slept next to her every night. She was in pain and I learned how to administer her morphine so as to take the load off her nurses. I remember asking Dr. Barakett “What if I give her too much?” He said something like: “And? So what. Go for it”.  I guess at that point, it didn’t make much of a difference. She was so fragile by then that she broke her shoulder by rolling over in bed.

Situations like this brought on a certain kind of dark humour and morbidity that some would think crass… unless you’ve lived it. We had to tell her that she’d have to wait a few days before being transferred. We all then joked that the hospice “has a high rate of turnover”… It’s a terrible thing to say… but in the moment it was the perfect thing to say.

What a weird dichotomy her hospice was… I couldn’t reconcile this setting. My brothers and I sat in beautiful, lush country gardens, watching sunrises and sunsets. We had beers and talked. We cried and we laughed. Inside, the most gentle and caring volunteers and nurses took care of Mum with a kindness that cannot be measured.

I will forever be thankful for these days we spent together. It’s an odd thing to say, being thankful for being with someone as they die. But it’s the truth. We didn’t exchange many words, as Mum slipped into a coma the day after her birthday. We sat with her. Held her hand. I spent a lot of time just watching her. I know in my heart of hearts that she knew we were with her. And I think that is what made it ok for her to finally let go, to stop fighting after almost 10 years of constant battle.

3 years has gone by so quickly… and sometimes time drags. Not a day goes by that a thought of Mum doesn’t cross my mind. I’m sometimes caught off guard by a powerful longing or a need to reach out to her, even if she is no longer there. The further we get away from her passing, the memories of her illness fade a little bit and my memories of her when we were all younger seem to prevail a little bit more. I don’t know why. But I like it and I’m grateful for those thoughts.

I miss you, Mum. When I grow up, I want to be as brave as you were.

 

 

 

Day-to-day life, Family, Kids

That settles that.

A few weeks ago, Will asked me if I was a “helicopter parent”. That basically stopped me dead in my tracks. Oh my god… is this what he thinks of me? Maybe he thinks because I made Anja wear all the armour over her onesie for her first foray into the bike park that I’m over protective??

To be fair, she didn't have to wear a full face helmet.
To be fair, she didn’t have to wear a full face helmet.

I asked him if he even knew what that meant. Sure, he said. It’s a parent who doesn’t let you do anything fun.

Right, then.

I followed this up by asking him if he thought this was the kind of parent I was (which would be odd, because generally I only some kind of vague idea of where the kids are at any given moment. They’re playing outside? Super! I hope they remembered sunscreen.)

No, no, he assured me. You’re pretty ok.

If that isn’t a ringing endorsement, I don’t know what is.

Fast forward to tonight. I tell the kids to go blow off some steam so I can tidy up and get ready to end the day. It’s pretty loud outside… but not tears or screams of terror so essentially, all good. I wander out onto the deck to spy on them, and… behold:

IMG_0678 IMG_0680

Asked? And answered.

Family, Kids, Random, Travel, weekend

I did what the Lululemon bag said to.

one thing a day

It’s true. There are things that scare me. One of which consists in sleeping on the ground surrounded by a millimetre of nylon, with 3 children. I’m a creature of comfort, so forgive me if I prefer to parent my children in the comforts of my home, knowing that I get to collapse into my cozy bed at the end of the day.

When friends planned a camping/biking trip a few months back, I thought little of saying YES. In fact, I kind of forgot about it until the week before — when I realized I’d have to borrow a LOT of gear and then started checking the weather like some crazy person (or like a triathlete with a race coming up).

I had mentally decided to pull the plug on the whole adventure until the morning we left… the weather looked bad, we were all tired and at each others throats. So that was when I pulled on my big girl pants, packed the truck and… followed friends up the Forest Service Road to our destination because I was sure that  1) I was bound to get lost 2) I’d get a flat in the middle of nowhere and 3) I’d get eaten by bears which fixing the flat.

What do you know – none of those things happened and we had a fantastic weekend. I even – dare I say – enjoyed the sleeping on the ground wrapped in nylon.

The riding was spectacular and hard and fun and I’m pining to go back. The kids were happy, dirty, tired and ate meals with their helmets on their heads between bike laps. My friends bent over backwards to help me manage the team and give me the chance to ride.

And at the end of it all, I was brave enough to do the drive home down the service road all alone. We only got lost once.

Day-to-day life, Family, Racing, Triathlon

But Ironman is glamourous!

Said no one training for one, ever. The chafing. Oh my lord, the chafing.

But the eating! All of the eating is glorious! And a bit exhausting.

I suppose I’ve been pretty quiet around here for the simple fact that life has been rather monotonous in its form of kids/eat/train/eat/work/train/eat/work etc… How’s that for riveting reading? Told you… all glamour, all the time.

Sidebar: did I shower today?

I’m starting to get anxious for this start line. It’s been 8 years since my last Ironman and – not unlike childbirth – I’ve kind of blocked out how hard getting ready for this thing is. I’ve been unceremoniously reminded of that fact, however, in a few of my last key workouts. Not to mention, my deep, deep desire for sleep. Case in point: 

Last week, I was lying on the floor as the kids were watching a movie (apparently, it was too trying for me to heave myself onto the couch). I’m yawning and stretching, wondering aloud when the movie will end so we can call it a night.

Anja turns to me and in her 5 year old wisdom says: “Mama, it’s ok. You got to bed, we’ll tuck ourselves in.”

I suppose I needed that reminder to put on my big girl pants.

Words to live by.
Words to live by.

I’ve set a lofty goal for myself, one I fully intend to achieve, even if it means going way to the back of the hurt locker to get there: a Kona slot.

Doesn’t that just mean the post-race beer will taste that much better?

3 weeks to go…

Family, Kids, Race Report, weekend

April Fools Run

We took the opportunity last weekend to zip over to the Sunshine Coast for a change of scenery, some training and the April Fools half marathon.

In the days leading up, my motivation was waning, I was tired and the forecast looked dismal. So dismal that I packed the trainer, anticipating a Saturday morning cranking out indoor miles… albeit in a new setting.

Regardless, I loaded up the ‘burb and the boys got to skip an afternoon of school which, right there, made the trip for them. Picked up Lizzie and Henry, drove onto the ferry and we were off.

Because nothing says quality training weekend like 2 moms and 4 kids!

Lo and behold, the place we got on Airbnb was awesome (I’d give you the link but that’s like giving away a good babysitter’s number so, no.) and the weather ended up being sunshiny pretty for the entire weekend.

Saturday we left the littles behind to forage for crabs on the beach and rode our bikes for a while…

 

Not as flat as I expected.
Not as flat as I expected.
Post-ride recovery
Post-ride recovery
Lizzie flushing the legs
Lizzie flushing the legs. Photos courtesy Will.

The next morning, we had the best laid plans for the half. You know, healthy breakfast… good sleep… solid warm up.

Instead, we ate nutella, got some broken sleep and showed up with just enough time to win the bathroom locator race (again).

Helping auntie Lizzie
Helping auntie Lizzie

We took off on tired legs, a bit unsure on how it would all go. My goal was to have fun, say thanks to all the volunteers and try not to have a disaster of an outing. Plus, we were wearing matching shirts aka our license to go at whatever pace we feel like.

1:36 and change. Mission accomplished on all fronts!

P.S.

They didn’t forage for crabs alone. I’m not *that* irresponsible.

 

Day-to-day life, Family, Kids

My dilemma.

I’m the first to admit that I loathe the homework that the kids bring home from school.  I grew up going to a small, rural school and never had homework until grade 7. When we got off the school bus, we spent our time playing outside when the weather was good, doing who-knows-what when it wasn’t.

At this age, I don’t see much value in the homework the boys get assigned (except for reading – we do that every night because, well, it’s a pretty basic skill and we like doing it together). It’s also a bit ridiculous to me that the 1st grader has WAY more work than the 3rd grader, but that’s not really the issue here.

It’s spring now and the weather has turned for the better; the days are longer and it’s as if all the kids on the street have discovered that they have neighbours their own age. On any given afternoon, there’s anywhere from 3 to a dozen or more kids running around, playing on trampolines, zipping through each other’s backyards and just generally being kids… outside.

No, as a matter of fact I cannot name all of these children.
No, as a matter of fact I cannot name all of these children.

 

Herein lies my dilemma.

Should I be *that mom* who does the “responsible adult thing”, and calls them in early so that they can sit down (again) and do homework for 30 minutes, or do I ignore the stack of workbooks and teacher’s notes and let them stay outside and burn off more of the endless energy they seem to possess?

Maybe it’s my own laziness coming though, but lately I’m far more inclined to let them skip it and play outside till it’s almost too dark to see… Maybe we can save the homework for rainy days.

After all, sometimes it’s nice to be the “Fun Mom”.

Nothing to see here... Except maybe those damn abs.
Nothing to see here… Except maybe those damn abs.
After school...
After school…
I caved tonight.
I caved tonight.
This one is just going to add more homework to the pile!
This one is just going to add more homework to the pile!
Family, Kids, QOTD

QOTD: Rory saves the day

me and rory

Earlier today, the kids and I were having lunch outside in the sun at Whole Foods in Vancouver.  We’d had a busy day and I was tired, but no more than usual.  I noticed an older woman watching us but thought nothing of it.

As we were getting ready to leave, the woman came up to me and asked, in heavily accented English, if I was the kids’ mother.

Me: “Yes?” (Obviously she’s going to tell me how delightful they are, right?)

Her: “Oh! But you are so old! I thought you were their grandmother.”

Me: “…” (Um, what the hell do you say to that?!”)

Her: “And why they are so close in age? One year each?  Why you are in such a hurry?(Jesus, lady.  You just said I was their granny and now I have kids too quickly? Make up your damn mind.)

Me: “They are 2 years apart.” (As if it’s any of your business and why am I compelled to continue this conversation?)

Her: “It is clear you don’t eat well and don’t drink enough water, you have so many wrinkles.”

She then patted me on the shoulder and mumbled “Sorry” as I stood there, completely dumbfounded.

Who says that?! 

The kids were looking at me intently and asked “why did that lady say those weird things, Mum?”

I replied that I didn’t know, that I didn’t think it was very nice and that she had hurt my feelings.

Rory looked at me and said “Mum, I think she needs to go to the eye doctor.”

And just like that, he saved the day.