A week in Kelowna

In 2015, we took the family to Kelowna for the first time and the kids had a blast. We have returned pretty much annually ever since. The kids love picking fruits, going to the beach, and visiting various farms. This year Josh and I also biked the Myra Canyon portion of the Kettle Valley Rail.

We’ve been back in town for a week now, and we’re still enjoying the fruits we picked from Kelowna. We eat them fresh, make smoothies, make popsicles, and make kombucha with them.

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Water slide

Josh and I went swimming on the weekend. It’s partly to have some “mommy and Josh” time, and partly getting me more comfortable in the water.

We were merrily going along, trying different stroke in the pool, playing games in the water, and having a good time. Half way down the 50 metre lane, where the pool is the deepest, Josh notices a slide on the side of the pool. His eyes lit up.

“Mommy, I want to try the slide!”

“Sure, go ahead.”

The slide was maybe only 6 feet high, and the bottom of the slide was maybe a foot above the water. I knew Josh can handle it. He quickly climbed out of the pool, up the ladder, and came down like a cannon ball. Splash! He surfaced with a big smile on his face a few seconds later. (This whole time I’m clinging onto the edge of the pool for dear life.)

“Mommy, I want to do it again!”

“Sure.”

This time, he wanted to come down without his goggles. Splash! He surfaced again with a smile. I was so proud of him. He is such a great swimmer, and so brave.

Then, he asked me the deadly question.

“Mommy, do you want to try the slide?”

Instantly, I thought about 100 reasons I could give him why I should not try the slide, ranging from my ass is too big for the narrow slide, to I’m too full from lunch. Oh, I know, how about I’d rather not die?

It took me maybe eternity to answer him with a whisper, “No, I’m too scared.”

You read that right. I’m 41 years old and too scared to come down a kids’ water slide. I am much happier to jump out of an airplane, or bungee jump off a bridge, ride a motorcycle solo across North America, or hike up Kilimanjaro. But no, no water slide into a swimming pool.

Let me just take a second to remind you the fact that I am struggling to learn to swim. Each time I have my lesson or go practice swimming, I drink so much pool water that I can taste the chlorine in my mouth all day. Choking on water half way down a lane and then panicking to grab the pool edge is my specialty. To willingly go down a steep slide, and throwing myself into the deep end of the pool is just asking for trouble.

With all the wisdom he has accumulated in his 7 years, 2 months, and 14 days of life, Josh said in the most gentle and non-judgmental voice, “Remember last time you were scared of that tree run at Whistler? You tried it, you had fun and liked it. Maybe you will like the slide too if you tried it.”

Bam!

May this moment always serve to remind me that despite my irrational fears and parental failings, Josh is turning out pretty freaking awesome.

Sigh. “You’re right,” I said.

I climbed out of the pool, up the ladder, sat at the top of the slide, hoped I don’t drown in front of my kid. I cursed the “setting an example for your child” thing. I took a deep breath, pinched my nose hard, and slid down towards my death. Splash!

I recall lots and lots of bubbles, then I surfaced. OMG, I survived! Somehow I did not die. In fact, I had so much fun that I did it two more times.

Josh, one day when you’re old enough for swear words and scarcasm, I’ll let you read my blog. I want you to know that when I finally conquer my fear of water, you are a large part of that process, and I will always be grateful for that January Saturday afternoon when you encouraged me to try the slide.

Swimming

Me and Josh at the Vancouver Aquatic Centre

Swimming 2

Guess which one of us the better swimmer?

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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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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Day 44/365 {Family Day}

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Today is BC’s Family Day. I was very tempted to go to work, as last week’s conference just means a backlog of work sitting on my desk. In the end, I decided to spend the entire day with the kids. Josh and I did a workout together (well, I worked out, he sort of did a few minutes before running off), we went to the theatre and watched a movie, made some homemade food at home, and crammed in some time at the park to ride our skateboards.

Day 35/365 {Baby Bear going strong}

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If you have been following this blog for a while, you would have read about Baby Bear. If not, here are some links to get you caught up.

The first blog story about Baby Bear

My own reflections of Baby Bear

Adventures of Baby Bear

As Savanna gets older and we “baby” her less, Josh also babies Baby Bear a little less. Having said that, he still takes Baby Bear to the park in the summer when we go play, and always brings her on vacations and ski trips.

Today, we were going out to run errands, and Josh brought Baby Bear. He likes tucking her in his jacket facing out, “so she can see where we are going.”

I love it that he hasn’t outgrown Baby Bear.

Monsters & farts

“I am scared of zombies because they take your brains. I run away from them.” Art work by Josh. Age 6.

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When Josh was 3 years old, one day he told me he couldn’t sleep because he was afraid of monsters. I had no idea how to respond to that, so I blurted out the first thing that came to my mind: “Oh don’t worry, baby, we don’t have monsters in our house. You fart so much, and the monsters stay away.”

I don’t know where that came from, and I was grasping for straws, but it worked. He took comfort in the fact that he farted constantly, and it protected our home from monsters. Over the past few years, I had to repeat that a few times, and also make sure Cliff tells the same story. I always wonder how long this story will last.

Two nights ago, while snuggling with Savanna in her bed, she said she was afraid of monsters. I said, “don’t worry, Josh’s farts keep the monsters away.” She asked if I was sure, I said absolutely. I also asked Josh to confirm that he has never seen a monster in his life. She then was happy to change topics.

Today, I saw Josh’s teacher post a blog on the kids’ drawings and writing. Josh wrote on his, “I am scared of zombies because they take your brains. I run away from them.” On one hand, I am relieved that he didn’t say he farted so much and the zombies ran away. I wouldn’t want to have to explain to the other parents how we teach our kids at home. On the other hand, I’m a little sad that he didn’t talk about using his farts to scare away the zombies. It makes me wonder if my fart-and-scare-the-monsters story is going hold up much longer.