my challenge

I’m giving up alcohol and chai tea lattes for the month of February. Alcohol because I think I drink too much and I want to prove to myself that I can not drink, and chai tea lattes because I spend way too much money on them. And for the record I am starting off on the right foot because I haven’t had a drink for the three nights leading up to February, which was surprisingly easy to do.

And who knows, I may even write about my little self-challenge…but no promises.

ottawa 2015: slides and beavertails

We are home now (back to the balmy weather), and have been for almost a week, but I wanted to write a final post about our last couple of days in Ottawa.

On Monday we went to the ice slides as planned. These are always a highlight for me. They are built for Winterlude in Jacques-Cartier Park in Gatineau, and they are essentially person-made toboggan runs made out of ice. You slide down on your snow pants, and it’s a whole lot of fun. They are short and fast, and since they are artificially made, they have nice safe endings so you don’t knock yourself out on a tree. They have luge-type runs, wide runs where you can go down with the whole family, and a tube run. This year we got there early on Family Day and it was the most fun we’ve ever had, partly because the weather was perfect (cold, but not too cold) and there were no lines. I lost count of how many slides I got in but it was well into the double digits. We finished up the morning with beavertails and hot chocolate and were home before lunch.

Tuesday was our departure day but our flight didn’t leave until 7:15 pm, so Greg, the kids and I went for a skate. It was another beautiful day, and we managed to go about 7 km, with a beavertail/hot chocolate break in the middle. I’m not ashamed to use bribery to get my children out there! The kids got a little tired but there wasn’t too much complaining. Again, I was really impressed with Amy’s skating.

We returned to the house and spent the afternoon napping (me), packing up (me and Greg) and playing (Amy and Elliot). We had a smooth trip home, and got into Victoria very late on Tuesday night. Even later if you count the time change. Amy went to school the next day but Elliot was still asleep so I let him be. He was a bit of a grump that day so probably a good idea.

And now we’re back to reality, and work, and school, and all that fun stuff. It was a wonderful trip, and I’m glad we went.

ottawa 2015: snowshoes and yurts

We are going home in two days…time flies. We are certainly getting our winter fix. On Friday afternoon Elliot and I headed out with my sister and her family and my dad to stay overnight in a yurt in Gatineau Park. The rest of the gang were skiing in, but Elliot’s never skied before and I figured a 5-km ski in wasn’t a good place to start. So he and I rented snowshoes and walked in. It was pretty awesome (despite the fact that the last 30 minutes were in pitch black and I’m scared of the dark). Elliot and I were on our own for the most part, in a winter wonderland. It was cold (-15), but no wind, and the scenery was beautiful. Elliot did well. He started to fade about 4 km in and the last kilometre was a bit of a push but he did it.

The yurt was pretty well stocked. Wood stove, a small gas stove, table and chairs and room for six to sleep. It was cold when we first got there but it warmed up pretty quickly. We had a hearty dinner, a couple of games of Uno and then it was off to bed — early for everyone.

We snowshoed/skied out the next morning, in about 5 inches of fresh snow. Again, a winter wonderland. I looked back at one point to see our tracks, and it reminded me of walking with a dog. My tracks went straight and Elliot’s curved all over the place. I think he covered 20% more ground than I did!

Today was REALLY cold (-40 with wind chill). We were going to go tubing but decided against it given the temperature. We instead took the kids to “Sky Zone”, an indoor trampoline park. A really good way to burn off some excess energy! I did manage a skate later in the day. I made sure to start into the wind, and a dressed for the weather. It was hard going for the first half, but I’m glad I got out.

Tomorrow we are heading to the ice slides, and Greg is going out for a ski with the adults later in the day, since he missed out on the yurt. He and Amy hung out together that night and watched Frozen. Very fitting!

ottawa 2015: planes and skates

Let’s see if I remember how to do this blog thing…

We are in Ottawa for our annual trip to visit my sister and get our “winter fix”. We weren’t going to come this year because of my imminent re-entry into the world of work, but the stars aligned and we managed it. And all four of us this time. Last year (and you would know this if I had blogged about it), it was just me and the kids. I was in a bit of a low place, and while we had fun, it wasn’t the same without Greg. (I say this as we are sitting across from each other, each at our computers not talking to each other, him with headphones…but he’s working, and if he has to work a bit in order to come, then I’ll take it.)

We flew out of Victoria yesterday afternoon. I hope I am not jinxing future travel when I say this, but things usually go well for me when I travel, with connections, on-time flights, baggage, etc. Yesterday was no exception. Both flights landed early, our bags came out in record time, there was hardly any turbulence, and above all, we didn’t crash! Again! I’m so grateful! The flight from Calgary to Ottawa was less than half full, and Greg and I each shared a whole row of seats with one child. It was lovely, as flights go.

We didn’t get in until midnight local time, and everyone except me was up early this morning after way too short of a sleep, so we are all a bit bagged. And those of us who have not yet learned to control our feelings when over-tired (naming no names) were a bit grumpy. But we managed. I have an old friend from Bishop’s who came and visited for the day, and she and I went out for a skate with Amy on the canal ( It was a gorgeous day. Then it was out for lunch sans kids, followed by dinner with my dad (who arrived from PR this evening) and a final skate in the dark. I’m really impressed with Amy’s skating. I signed her up for lessons knowing we would be coming here, and she’s had a few chances to skate with friends and out-of-school care. She’s improved a lot, and even tonight skating with no light, she managed really well.

Not sure what’s on the books for tomorrow but hopefully you will hear from me again…I’m off to bed for some much-needed sleep.

number twenty four: the mum update

I figured since I associate the number 24 with my mother (her birthday is September 24th) I’d dedicate post 24 to an update on how she’s doing.

[Side note: If anyone’s keeping track, I started this 52 posts in a year on July 1st. If you do the math, I have 28 posts left to do in 69 days. Pretty sure that’s not going to happen.]

My mum is doing remarkably well. She was told three months of recovery time for the pelvic break, which would take her to the beginning of June, but here we are nearing the end of April and she’s already walking on her own again. No walker, no cane. She moves a bit more slowly than usual, but you wouldn’t know she’d hurt herself, and she says she barely has any pain. The ability for the human body to heal itself is an amazing thing.

I have stopped worrying about her, and perhaps have fallen back into a state of blissful ignorance that our lives will continue along smoothly. There will be another incident of some kind, whether it be a fall or an illness. She is almost 80 after all. But I don’t think there’s anything wrong with me not thinking about what COULD happen (I worry about enough as it is!). I have no control over what she does, and I wouldn’t want her to stop living life the way she does simply to ease my worrying.

I am very thankful she has moved to Victoria, and it sounds as if she has no regrets either.

number twenty three: only problem was that it was too short

A little bit of sun goes a long way…this past weekend was beautiful here in Victoria. Sunny and close to 20 degrees, although in my front yard it got up to 25 degrees, and I was actually complaining it was too hot. Could have been the black yoga pants I was wearing.

Friday night we had a games night with the kids, something we’ve been trying to do more often. It started a bit rough with Amy screaming and being exiled to her room for a few minutes, but she apparently took a deep breath while she was up there (so she told me) and came down a new girl. The rest of the night went fairly smoothly.

Saturday morning we had swimming, and then the kids and I met friends from school at the bike part near the SPCA. We had a short visit there, and then we headed back to Bamfield Park for a play in the playground. We must have spent close to two hours there, and the four kids got along great while D and I lay on the grass and did nothing but relax and watch them. It is so fun to see a group of kids getting along so well.

Sunday morning the four of them got together again at our place as D and I headed to a free brunch at the Victoria Golf Club (one of the benefits of being part of the school PAC — it was a promotion for a coupon book). Amy was not home for the whole time, but the other three, especially the two boys, played together for over three hours. At one point they (the two boys) had the “Frozen” soundtrack blaring in Elliot’s room and they were both singing along to it.

I managed to get some gardening in on Sunday afternoon, Greg mowed the lawn on Saturday so I didn’t have to do it, and I hung my laundry outside for the first time this year. Then late Sunday afternoon Greg and I sat in the hot front yard and had a drink, watching the cars go by.

And now I’m back to work, which does not make me happy, but I’m going to hold on to the weekend. It was the best one I’ve had in a very long time.

number twenty two: sloth no more!

I kind of fell off the fitness bandwagon over the past few months. Last year I had my half marathon in May and then the Tour de Victoria in September, so the year went well. But after the Tour I did very little. I think I ran for a bit while the weather remained nice, but it didn’t last long.

I always take a bit of a fitness break around the December/January time frame but this year it was far longer than usual. I did buy a commuter bike and I was riding to work for a while (all of 5 km) but then the weather got gross, or I got sick, or my mother broke her pelvis, or something…

And of course I’ve been eating and drinking as much as I usually do so I haven’t exactly felt that great about myself.

So. It’s been on my radar for a while now to get cracking, but once you fall out of the habit it’s really hard to find the time again. I’m not sure how I managed to train for a half marathon last year, it doesn’t seem possible. But with the weather getting better and me feeling more and more pathetic about my lack of movement, I finally kicked my butt into gear. It was a low gear to start with, just one or two runs a week, but I’ve since been riding to work more often, I swam on Saturday morning (and will continue this as the kids have swimming lessons for a few weeks), I went for a run AND hiked up Mt. Doug on Sunday, and I just went for a 25 km bike ride. As I was riding home this evening I felt that I’d turned the corner, the corner where I make exercise a priority again.

I’m back, baby.

number twenty one: already missing them

Two years ago our next door neighbours moved away. They were really great people and we held our breath waiting for their successors, hoping they’d be okay. The driveways of our houses are very close together and the division between our back yards is quite fuzzy, and it would be an awkward situation if we didn’t get along with the people in that house.

Our new neighbours moved in shortly after. First impressions were good as they had a daughter Elliot’s age, a son Amy’s age and another daughter two years younger than Amy. We introduced ourselves and chatted occasionally as our paths crossed in the driveway. Having children helped break the ice, but it was winter and we weren’t outside much, so it was a slow process. We were invited over to their house for a New Year’s Day open house, but we did very little socializing otherwise throughout the next few months.

Summer came, and it became easier to connect as we were outside more, and the kids really seemed to get along. Often (actually I think pretty much all the time) all five kids were playing together, using both yards as one big play area. Their kids do not go to the same school as ours, which I think made things even easier, and the kids started to develop a sibling-like relationship.

Over the past two years we haven’t spent a whole lot of “scheduled” time together. We’ve shared a few dinners, usually around birthdays, and a couple of summer BBQs, but most of our time together has been spent outside in our yards, with impromptu cups of tea (or beer, depending on how the day was going), sitting on the patio while the kids played. It’s evolved into one of the easiest relationships we’ve ever had with another family. We trade eggs, butter and whatever else we’ve forgotten from the grocery store, we occasionally look after each other’s kids, we say hi to each other almost every day, we lend out our truck, we watch each other’s houses when we’re away and we thank our lucky stars that we have such good neighbours.

A few weeks ago (you know where this is going) they informed us that they’d taken a job offer in Bangladesh, and they would be gone for a year. While being very happy and excited for them (what an adventure) I was really disappointed. I was looking forward to another summer of patio drinks and easy company. They left early this morning after a whirlwind of preparations, and I’ve been looking at their empty driveway all day this morning with a feeling of sadness. I will truly miss them, and I’m crossing my fingers that they don’t get the overseas bug and stay away longer than a year. I have a feeling they might. They’ve rented their house, so they still have ties here, but I’m trying not to expect too much. They are adventurers and I can see them not coming home for a while.

The new tenants move in April 15, and it’ll be very odd to have strangers beside us. We are hoping the strangeness doesn’t last long.

number twenty: was supposed to be a bit more about my mother…

Last Monday night my mother had a fall and ended up breaking her pelvis. She is doing okay and is home today after spending a week in the hospital, but I feel like it’s just the beginning of something new for me…taking care of my aging mother.

It’s stirring up all sorts of stuff for me…some selfish thoughts around how this will impact my already depleted supply of “me” time, some worrisome thoughts as I imagine her in her house alone, navigating with a walker (I’m with her now and Greg will be here tomorrow and we’ll take it one day at a time on that front, but I will have to leave her at some point!), morbid thoughts around how this is probably the beginning of a series of setbacks for her, and her death seems closer now…nothing really uplifting. However despite all this I am thankful she has moved to Victoria, because if all this was happening in Langley it would be much more complicated.

The other aspect is I’ve just spent a week dealing with the medical system, and while I feel we actually had a good experience overall, I am reminded of the fact that I feel inferior to those in the medical profession, especially doctors, and I have trouble advocating for myself, much less my mother. I am thankful I have my physician sister and brother-in-law to back me up if needed (it hasn’t been needed), but really I wish I could just get over it. It drives me nuts that I feel this way. I’ve been sitting here fuming all day because my mother’s doctor said no when I asked her for a copy of Mum’s various test results — hospital policy is to send them to the family doctor. What’s the point in fuming? I don’t actually need the records — my sister asked to see them if she could, and she can follow up if needed. They will be waiting at my mother’s family doctor’s office when Mum goes to see her next. The appropriate actions have been taken, and the results would be meaningless to me. I guess it’s just the principle of it. I asked for information that is rightfully my mother’s and was turned down.

Anyway, not sure what this post was supposed to be about, but I’ve gone off track…I think I’ll stop here and hope my little rant was therapeutic.