Josh turns seven

Seven years ago today, I was freaking out inside about this baby who was about to become my responsibility. I was scared. I was scared of messing up, and raising a serial killer. I was scared of never riding my motorcycle again, like most of my biker chic friends who had babies.

When I woke up this morning, seven years later, I smiled like an idiot because this little baby who turned my life upside down in the most incredible way is having his seventh birthday.

I am grateful for the many lessons Josh has taught me. He is just the opposite of me. He wears his heart on his sleeve. He is not afraid to show his feelings. He doesn’t care about what other thinks of him. He thinks he is smart, but he is not cocky. He is athletic. He is forgiving. He is not afraid to try things. He is generous.

Josh is my skiing and cycling buddy. He took up skiing 2 years ago, and he was bombing down tree runs at the end of last season. Being the chicken shit that I am, I am afraid of tree runs. He would go ahead of me, and encourage me while he stops to wait for me. “Don’t be scared, Mommy. Just look forward.” He also loves cycling with me, always pushing for another extra kilometer so he can have a new record.

Josh is an incredible swimmer. He can do laps in the pool, and dive to the bottom of the deep end to retrieve things. When we went to Cancun this summer, he did not hesitate jumping into the ocean and swim next to the whale sharks, turtles, and barracudas. When his snorkel mask fell off, he calmly put it back on, blew the water out of his snorkel, and kept swimming. My heart swells with pride when I see all this, because, you know, I cry when water gets in my eyes.

Josh loves to cook. He makes great burgers from scratch and grill them on the BBQ. He also loves helping out when we bake or make smoothies. Recently we have drastically changed our diet to incorporate more whole foods. He has really taken to grinding up sesame seeds to put on anything he eats, and uses sunflower butter on this sprouted grain bread. I still have to disguise fruits and vegetables in smoothies and soups, but it helps me feel like I still contribute to his well-being.

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Savanna turns five

Me: “Savanna, what do you want to be when you grow up?”

Savanna: “A teenager.”

*****

Five years ago, I was so worried about adding another kid into the already crazy mix. Josh was just starting potty training, and reliably sleeping through the night. Now another baby is going to join our family. I could not imagine loving anyone more than I loved Josh.

Then bam. This little girl showed up. All of a sudden, my heart threw a few sizes. There was just no doubt in my mind the moment I saw her. I’d do anything for this little being.

*****

Savanna and I are very similar, and therefore we butted heads a lot. From the moment she can speak a single word, she contradicted me. But if Cliff jumped in to the conversation, she immediately softens and listens to him.

Then we went to Morocco. It changed our relationship. It was the first time we had each other to ourselves. I began to appreciate her patience, her adventurous spirit, her tenacity, and her adaptability. She began to see I’m sometimes right. This year, we went to Costa Rica. I messed up the GPS direction, and turned a 2-hour drive into a 5-hour drive. She did not complain or whine or make a peep. She sang silly songs, played with her toys, munched on snacks, and took a nap in the backseat while I sweated it out driving the mountainous roads in a downpour.

*****

Savanna discovered this year that she can live off of mangoes alone. She loves arts, crafts, pottery, and dance. She does not like playing sports or swimming. She can ride her 2-wheel bike about 10 meters unassisted. She is capable of riding down a green run at Whistler without help.

She has little interest in building a Lego structure, but she’ll play with the figures for hours on end. Her dream of having a real cat was realized earlier this year when we adopted Jewels.

Despite her small stature, she walked into Kindergarten and was not shy about giving everyone else commands at clean-up time. We opened up her piggy bank the other night, and she put a large portion of her savings into the “investment” jar, immediately earning 10% interest from the bank of mom-and-dad. My prediction is that she is going to be a CFO one day.

*****

Savanna teaches me to savour my food, enjoy my surroundings, and not live my life for the expectations of others. She is the most incredible 5-year-old I have ever met.

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A real medal

I have a few “finisher medals” stashed away in a drawer, for having enough grit to finish a sporting event. Even then, I don’t have many of those, since I have spent most of my life “not into sports”. Translation: I am too slow and discouraged to participate in competitive events.

However, I have never had a REAL medal for placing top 3 in anything. Until last week.

A padded envelope showed up in our mailbox from Mountain Equipment Co-op. It was a third place finish medal from the duathlon I did back in August! I was third in my age group. I had no idea, but hey I’ll take it!

Back in 2001, when I was 25, I did the Crescent Beach duathlon. Even with my missed mileage, my time was:

5 km run: 47:48

20 km bike: 1:06:58

5 km run: 58:19

Total: 2:52:44

As you can see from above–this is not very good. At all. Most people can walk 5 km in 1 hour, and that was pretty much my running speed. Almost 3 hours of agony, with the officials closing the course right behind me.

16 years later, I quietly signed up for the MEC Langley Duathlon. I really didn’t tell very many people about it. Knowing my history of how slow I was in 2001, I was not going to advertise my slowness again.

The difference this time, is that I actually have been training pretty consistently, following a schedule. Also, I’m now a few pounds lighter. That always helps.

My time for the MEC duathlon was:

5 km run: 27:27

20 km bike: 44:48

5 km run: 28:34

Total: 1:40:49

I shaved almost 72 minutes off my 2001 time. 72 minutes!! Yeehaw!

I was very happy with the results. Just knowing that I did better than 16 years ago was a huge victory for me. I didn’t really care about how it compared to other people. These kind of victories are pretty private for me to savour. I am happy that I am stronger and faster as I age, and being an example to my kids for being active and loving it.

Then to get this 3rd place medal in the mail, it’s just icing on the cake.

My mom happened to be in town visiting, so I dragged her to the race with me. That was the best part for me. I will forever remember her cheering for me loudly every time I looped back to the transition area, holding her phone in front of her face to take pictures of me. She is so cute and she just warms my heart.

Look, Mom, we got a medal!

 

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Savanna goes to Kindergarten

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I swear that one minute she was just a little baby, and next minute she chooses what she wants to wear for her first day of school. How did this happen?

The night before school, Savanna told me, “I’m going to be too shy tomorrow.” I said that’s fine, I’m shy too, but sometimes I pretend that I’m not shy. She said, “I don’t want to pretend.” I said, that’s fine too. You don’t have to pretend.

When I went to Kindergarten, I clearly remember refusing to nap next to the other kids. The principal eventually caved, and let me sleep on the couch in the office. Out of the entire school, I was the only one who got to sleep on the office couch, while the other kids napped on the floor. And look how I turned out? I’m 41 and still a socially awkward introvert. But hey, I manage. So what if Savanna decides she’s gonna be too shy? Oh well. Who am I to judge?

According to Cliff, though, Savanna was shy the first day when I went with her. Starting the next day, she had no problems talking to the teacher or the other kids. Apparently this week she is initiating to help the teacher in the classroom. This kid is going to do so much better than her mother.

 

Shit show bike ride

One evening last week, I took Josh on a bike ride down to Spanish Banks. He was determined to make it all the way to the anchor and back home. It would be a 14-km round trip, with some decent hills on the way back. Since he was so determined, I was happy to oblige.

It was a beautiful evening with the perfect temperature for riding. We stopped along the way a few times to play at a playground, throw rocks in the ocean, and climb some logs on the beach. All was well.

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On our return leg home, we had about 4 or 5 km to ride along the ocean, mostly on gravel. Josh wanted to lead the way back, and I was happy for him to set the pace. I’m not very good with gravel riding, but I didn’t expect him to go too fast anyway. I trailed behind him about 7 or 8 feet at a leisurely pace.

There was one narrow part of the trail that was occupied by some pedestrians. Josh went off the trail, riding between some trees, bumping along over some roots. He did great. Just at that time, another cyclist came up from behind us and past us at a pace much faster than ours. Josh let him past. Shortly after that, Josh started speeding up his pace. I thought he was just having fun, so I started riding quicker too. After a kilometre or so, I can tell he was straining to maintain the fast pace. I was starting to struggle with keeping up.

Firstly, I’m lousy on gravel. Secondly, I couldn’t figure out why he was riding so fast. I called out for him to slow down, but he kept flying down the gravel path, mashing down hard on his pedals. He nearly took out a few pedestrians, but he didn’t hear me yelling for him to slow down. WTF?

Finally, we got close to the Jericho Sailing Club, as the trail cuts through the edge of the parking lot. He slowed down before entering the roundabout. I was finally able to catch up to him, riding up beside him. I barely finished my sentence of, “Hey buddy, why are you riding so fast?…” His face was all twisted up, showing all sorts of emotions all at the same time within a fraction of a moment, and he started bawling. I quickly scanned him from head to toe–no blood anywhere–ok, what can be the problem? He was crying so hard that he couldn’t say a word.

I made him pull over. I asked him what was wrong. He was sobbing and snot was flying. He said, “I thought you left me.”

My mind was going at 100 miles an hour. Left you? Left you for what? Dude, you’re the one who left me behind! I was smiling and trying to figure out what the hell he was talking about. I said, “Hey, buddy, I was behind you. I never left you.”

He said, “I thought you went so fast that you left me.” He was still sobbing.

The light bulb went off in my head. I stopped smiling. That other cyclist that past us a few kilometers back! Josh thought that was me passing him, riding fast and leaving him behind! That makes sense now. No wonder Josh was riding so fast all of a sudden, trying to catch up to that other cyclist this whole time!

Oh, my little guy!

We sat down on a log, while Josh finished crying and riding through his feelings. I felt so bad for him. I held him, and repeated told him that I would never leave him behind.

We slowly made the rest of the way home. We had to walk the last kilometer uphill, because he just had no energy left to ride the hills. He fell asleep in record time that night.

Me, on the other hand, couldn’t sleep that night. The scene of what happened played repeatedly in my head. I looked for any crack in the logic of what happened, but I couldn’t find any fault. I couldn’t have guessed that he had mistaken the other cyclist for me. Once I decided no one is really at fault, and I couldn’t have prevented this, I let myself go through all the feelings that came with the event. I cried and cried and cried.

My heart broke in a million pieces, just thinking that my son thought I left him behind. What a horrible feeling for him to go through! He was straining so much to keep up, and the person he thought was his mommy just rode faster and faster until she was out of sight.

Life is kind of funny sometimes. It turns a perfectly great bike ride into a shit show. But what other occasion will allow me to look my son in the eye and say, “I will never leave you, ever!”?

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Happy Father’s Day

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Josh and Savanna are lucky beans because they have Cliff for a dad. He is an awesome dad, not because of the once-in-a-while heroic moments, but in the day in and day out grind of life. He is there for the kids from the moment they were born, changing more diapers than I have. He is there when Josh took his first step. He is there packing the school lunches, picking up and dropping off. He is there to catch Savanna’s vomit in his bare hands when she was sick. He picks up all the tiny pieces of Lego before he vacuums the rug.

There is no glory and the job is not sexy. But when I see the adoration in the kids’ eyes, I know Cliff is their hero.

 

 

 

 

Costa Rica with Savanna

Savanna and I came back from Costa Rica late on Tuesday night last week. We came back with some coffee and chocolate in our suitcase. But I also came back with a load of great memories of hanging out with this little human.

We stayed at a B&B owned by an older couple. The house was designed by the husband, the garden designed by the wife, situated on their family’s coffee plantation. We were surrounded by greenery. They  had two dogs and two cats, which is the equivalent of heaven for Savanna.

We were fed amazing fresh mangoes, juice from their own orange trees, and locally made cheese every morning. We went to the local farmers market to get fresh produce, drank coconut juice, and ate watermelon. When the monsoon rain started in the afternoon, we would stay in and do puzzles, coloring books, play with the host’s grandson’s toys. We took one cocoa farm tour where we gorged on chocolates made from the farm’s own cocoa fruit, and drank hot chocolate from freshly ground cocoa nibs.

In general, we spent a ton of time together enjoying each other’s company. I tried hard to savour every minute of time spent with Savanna, and memorize her still-baby’ish cheeks. I know how fast this time goes by, and I am in such denial that she’s going to kindergarten in September.Angela Chang Photography Costa Rica San Jose trip

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The house we stayed at

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Farmers market

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A fresh bean. My first time seeing one.

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Giant papaya

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Freshly made tortilla

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Savanna spent lots of time playing in the yard with branches and twigs.

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We did hours of coloring and puzzles.

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Churro filled with caramel. I ate most of it.

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Oranges that are great for juicing after they ripen. The smell of the orange flowers is a.m.a.z.i.n.g.

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Savanna collected walnuts in the yard

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On the cocoa farm tour, Savanna got to crack open a cocoa fruit.

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This is what the inside of the cocoa fruit looks like.

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Dried cocoa beans.

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Once dried, the cocoa beans are roasted to intensify the flavour.

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Then you crack the shells open.

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Grind up the cocoa nibs, make hot chocolate, and give it all to Angela.

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This is a story for another day. It’s a story about how I turned a 2-hour drive into a 5-hour drive on the twisty-est and rainy-est mountain roads in Costa Rica.

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And this is how patient this kid is about her mother’s ability to mess up the Google map directions.

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I am totally crazy about this little human being, and absolutely in love with her.

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Every morning, the sweetest and juiciest mango greets us.

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A stroll on the coffee planation with the B&B host.

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Savanna said, “Look Mommy, I found a heart!”