Back from Hornby

Hello everyone,

After a week of being “single”, I joined my boys on Hornby Island for a week of holiday. It took me about 8 hours to get there (bus, bus, ferry, bus, bus, ferry, then Zak picked me up on Denman Island and we took the last ferry together) but I made it, and although my son was happy to see me, he hadn’t missed me too much either, which is good.

We had a “restful” week with some more fishing (I was in the canoe for my son’s second fish, a green ling that was pretty fierce), some wildlife viewing (bald eagles love when we leave fish heads on the beach in front of the cabin for them to pick up) a little bit of hiking, some free store looting (found a few more pajamas for the baby) and a lot of tide pooling. The crab trap Zak bought was a bust – it’s probably just not the right season for crabs, but all we caught was sun stars, HUGE starfish that were really hard to shake out of the cage. It was hard getting our boy in bed before 8 or 8:30 pm, but luckily, we slept in a windowless room and he slept in until 8 or 8:30 almost every morning. Less luckily, the room is also airless and we were warm, warm, warm! But we had a great time with Zak’s family.

Of course since we’ve been back our boy has reversed to waking up at 6:30 or 7, which has not done wonders for his mood. We came home on Saturday just in time for supper, I did three loads of laundry that evening, we unpacked, went to pick strawberries and raspberries on Sunday, and now I’m back at work. We have one more week of holiday planned in Kelowna, and very soon it will be the beginning of my mat leave. Time flies!

Future fisherman!

So Zak and our son are doing great on their holiday and they don’t seem to miss me too much… The big news is, on his second outing, our boy caught his very first fish all by himself! He needed a little bit of help to reel it in, but he did most of it, and it was on his $20 Canadian Tire fishing rod! It’s a rock cod, which apparently tastes pretty good according to Zak.

I’m glad he’s having fun. He was so eager to go fishing, I was afraid that he’s get bored when he got started and realized how long you had to stay put without much happening. But catching a fish on his own – that will increase his enthusiasm!

That’s the fish Zak caught the day before, but I suspect it looks very similar…

The fishermen

Creating childhood memories

We just came back from a long weekend in Kelowna, where Zak’s grandmother, who now lives in an old folks home, still owns a beautiful orchard property. I love going there for several reason, but one of the most important ones is that Zak has wonderful memories of spending childhood days playing there, and I love seeing him share them with his son and create the same kind of memories for him. I have great childhood memories, but all from places that have long since been sold or even leveled to the ground! I cannot take my son to the three cabins my uncles owned side by side on a lake in Abitibi, near where my grandparents used to live and where we would go fishing on the dock, because the cabins were sold. I could show my son the alley where I learned to bike and hit a baseball, but the house we used to live in right next to it has long since been sold. Zak can go back to the orchard and show our boy how you climb a ladder and pick apricot, or cherries, or plums, etc. It makes them both happy and I just love watching them share those moments.

This time it was too early to pick fruit, but that didn’t mean we couldn’t create lifelong memories. We went to Value Village on our first day there and found a bike that was just the right size for our boy. It is old and a bit wobbly, and pink, but our boy really doesn’t care, it works good enough, and it is a real bike with pedals and no training wheels. After a year and a half of riding his push bike, our boy seems ready for a bigger challenge, and the bike was $13, so we decided to buy it and leave it at the orchard – make it the “orchard bike”. It was also a test to see if he was actually ready for a pedal bike, as we don’t want to get him a bike with training wheels, but he is so young – not quite three yet!

Well, he went on his first bike rides on a big bike with his dad, and we have the videos to prove it – if I figure out how I’ll embed one in here. He is far from being able to do it by himself, but he’s not doing too bad, all things considered. I watched as they went down the hill, then tumbled down – but all in good fun without ever actually getting hurt. We left the bike there as we are planning on being back in July, and now I guess we’ll have to look for a real bike for home…

We also bought a water rocket at Value Village, a cheap plastic toy that shoots out in the air pretty good – especially when it’s Zak pumping it. My boys spent hours – well, at least a couple – with Zak shooting the rocket at least 100 feet away, then our son running after to bring it back. I know it’s that kind of silly activity that will create warm fuzzy memories that our son will cherish forever. It feels especially important now because I suspect he is old enough to remember at least some of what happens for years to come. I know I have a few memories from when I was that young, so he may keep them too.

I hope the family will be able to keep the property. It’s hard as there is nobody who lives on-site to take care of the fruit trees and all the maintenance needed on the house. They have to hire a neighbor, but he’s himself an aging man, and when he gets too old to help out, the family will have a hard time affording the real value of the work he has been doing at a discounted price out of friendship. Hopefully they’ll find a solution. I would really love it if my grandchildren could go pick up fruit on those same trees and learn to ride a bike down the grassy orchard hill.

Our next trip will be to Horby Island, where our son absolutely wants to go fishing, and his dad and grandpa are more than looking forward to taking him. I’ll let you know how that goes!

First skate – Updated

Since the Olympic Games have begun, our son has been asking to go ice skating. Partly because he saw figure skaters, speed skaters and hockey players on TV, and partly because we went to Robson Square where the Olympic mascots were giving a show on ice three times a day. Zak ended up going many times. Sometimes more than once a day. Our boy loved it. I think they know the show by heart at this point.

So yesterday we headed to Robson Square again to see if they rented skates small enough for our boy. The smallest ones were exactly his size! We suited up, spent 10 minutes adjusting a helmet to our boy’s head, then jumped on the ice.

Stumbled, I guess, would be closer to the truth. How do you teach a 2-and-a-half-year-old to skate? I can skate pretty good, although I have certainly lost most of my agility on ice, but I couldn’t for the sake of me teach my boy. I was trying to tell him not to walk on the ice, to keep one foot on the ice and push sideways with the other, but either he couldn’t understand what I asked, either he just couldn’t do it. I guess as soon as he felt a loss of balance he would walk to stay upright. He still love it, so we had a great (although short) time. After half an hour of going around hanging for dear life (to us or to a specially made stand), he was ready to put his shoes back on. And to be honest, we were ready to: our backs were hurting from trying to keep him vertical.

I don’t really care how good he did, I just wanted him to have fun, and he liked it, so the objective is reached. Zak will see if he can find cheap, used skates as the skating is free – only the rental is not. But I would really like some advice on teaching a toddler to skate. Anyone out there knows how to do it?

First skate with Zak First skate

First skate with Sophie

Summer is over!

We had a wonderful summer. I don’t care what the whiners will say: I don’t remember any rain stopping us from going hiking or swimming, playing outside in the evening or biking around town. But it could not last forever. And now it’s definitely over.

After what seemed like months of sun and warm weather, the sky opened up last night. And today, there is a torrential downpour with a mere 11 degrees. I know people will complain, but it is officially fall now, and there is only two days left in September. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that the temperature will go down, and so will the rain. After all, the grass certainly needs a good watering, and if we want snow for the Winter Olympics, we have to start somewhere.

I’m still hoping for a break on Sunday so we can do the last Great Ride of the season. But if it’s not possible, then so be it. I’ll enjoy the warmth of our apartment and the roof over my head. I’ll dig my Gore-Tex pants out of the closet and our son will be glad to finally wear his rubber boots. There is always a silver lining!

MEC Great Rides

The Vancouver Area Cycling Coalition and MEC organized 4 bike rides this summer to showcase the wonderful bike trails of Greater Vancouver. We heard about the Great Rides after the first one had already happened, and we were in Kelowna the weekend of the second one. But we were not going to miss the third one, which was yesterday in Port Coquitlam. The fact that it turned out warm and sunny, probably one of the last summer days of the year, only added to the excitement.

We had to book a car with a bike rack from the Car Co-op, and we found out that there are only 2 in the Co-op’s entire fleet, which is something we are planning on complaining about if we ever get around to it. But despite my skepticism, the rack actually worked, and we made it there at a reasonable time to tackle the 24 km ride. It was flat and easy, although mostly on gravel so I had to borrow Zak’s gloves because the vibrations were killing my hands in the beginning. Some of it was near the river, some more inland and some in forested trails. The landscape was beautiful, the signage was mostly good (although we did have to backtrack once after missing a turn that wasn’t indicated) and there were stations every 6km for water, snacks and mechanical help.

Zak had to stop, of course, to help a damsel in distress (well, ok, the lady with the flat was actually in her 50s, so I wasn’t really jealous) and we took the time to take some photos and have a picnic in a park, where our son enjoyed the playground. He then fell asleep for the last hour of the ride, which made it all the more enjoyable… It took us 4 hours to finish the loop, although only 2 of those were actual biking. We had a wonderful day and we definitely want to go back on that trail. It would be a great place to take some visitors, rent some bikes and enjoy an easy stroll (oui, Mireille, c’est à toi que je pense).

Next weekend is the Bikennale, the last of the 4 Great Rides, and we are planning on participating, although we will wait until the last minute to register because it is supposed to rain all week. This one is offered in two versions, a short one (13 km) or a long one (36 km). To Zak’s dismay, I am definitely aiming for the short route. My legs were fine after 24 km yesterday, but it was on flat ground and my bum was quite sore at the end. There is no way I could ride 36 km when it includes Vancouver’s hills…

But there should be a fun party at the Vanier Park, so let’s hope the rain stops on Saturday!

Back from camping

All in all, we had a great time camping, except…

***Warning: following are gory details of illnesses. Read at your own risk***

Friday night I was dehydrated. That happens to me way too often: I get a headache, I’m a bit nauseous and I need to go lie down so I can get better. Then at 3 in the morning, our son woke up crying and I just had time to lift him up from his sleeping bag before he started throwing up. I luckily caught the first batch of vomit in my hand (!!!), then Zak reacted really quickly and grabbed our “dirty diapers” bag to catch the rest in. We then walked to the washroom to clean up, came back to the tent and our son threw up again (this time partially on the tent floor), so I sat up on a chair with him to help him sleep upright, hoping it would help him sleep better and make it so I could react quickly when he throws up again. Which happened twice. At 5, our boy asked to go lie down, which came as a relief since I had been awake since 3. He slept until 7.

He was fine the next day, except for a bit of diarrhea. But he was laughing and running and eating normally, so we were able to go hiking and geocaching with him and our friends. The three toddlers had a long nap in the afternoon, then we all went to the playground. A quiet, relaxing day. The babies went to sleep tired and happy, and so did we. Our boy’s bum was getting a bit raw from the diarrhea, since we had forgotten the diaper cream, but he seemed to be doing better and we just felt so lucky he hadn’t thrown up in his sleeping bag!

Our boy slept through the night, but woke up at 6 and when I pulled him out of his sleeping bag, this time, he was dripping… with poop.  It had leaked from his diaper and from his clothes and was all over the (brand new) sleeping bag. Luckily, this was our last night! But we had to strip him down outside (and it was quite cold), wash him with diaper wipes (the campground had no showers or warm water), waking up the neighborhood of course because strangely, he didn’t enjoy it at all! He kept having more diarrhea – I think we changed him 6 times in 2 or 3 hours – and it started really hurting his bum. We were out of wipes, but luckily we were able to borrow some from our friends. On top of that, I was starting to feel nauseous again, so Zak ended up taking down the tent and putting everything away by himself while I could only sit down and try to entertain the toddlers.

We were supposed to go have a picnic with our friends after we left camp, but we figured out we had to get home ASAP to get some bum cream for our boy… who fell asleep about 90 seconds after the car started. I fought nausea the whole way home,  dozing on and off myself (very enjoyable drive for Zak). Of course, there was an accident on the Port Mann Bridge, so it took us 3 instead of 2 hours to get home. We finally made it,  but I lied down or slept all afternoon and evening, barely could eat anything and ended up quite sick myself. I took a sick day today as I cannot be more than a few feet away from a washroom.

I still enjoyed our weekend. We had a blast and I will do it again. We were not even bothered by mosquitoes! I just hope next time we’ll all be feeling good!