Well, it’s New Year’s Eve, December 31st 2020, a time to reflect on the last 12 calendar months. Why? I’m not sure. It’s just something that most of us have always done, or have done for so long that it’s ingrained into our psyche, so let’s continue to follow the crowd. Buckle up, grab some refreshments & enjoy the long winded read, coming up is the last 365 days in review, for our little family of 4. It starts out by month, then all the days melded into one, so it becomes one big mess of thoughts.
We started the year with a bang! This time last year, we (Geoff, his brother Steve, the kids & I) were on a plane from Montreal to Lima, Peru. We arrived very early, new years day. I’ve spent a great deal of time this year, grateful for the fact that we jumped at the opportunity to go to Peru when we did. Peru has been on our list for a while, in fact we were originally planning to go in March this year, (around March break), but brought it forward with Steve here, as he was keen to come along & the plans that we did have in February changed that were were accounting for financially, so we figured why not do it when we did? Best decision!
It was an amazing trip, we spent time in Lima, Cusco (where I even got to check out the hospital facilities when I was admitted for salmonella poisoning, boy was I sick, the kids were amazing, even though they were so bored & I really appreciated the hospital staff there too), Machu Picchu & the Amazon Jungle to name a few. So many wonderful memories & great for the kids to experience another different culture to either Canada or Australia. I’ll have to finish my posts on that trip soon, it’s long overdue (clearly, being a year, since we we were there).
After we got back, right around Australia Day, Geoff’s brother, Steve, flew back to home, to Australia. I’m glad that he came over when he did too, because little did we realise that would be the last time we would see any family in person, for an undetermined period of time. I think we will be lucky to see family from either Germany, the UK or Australia by 2022, or as I like to type it 2020 (2).
In early 2020, I was part of the Animal Rescue Collective, here in Canada. With all the bushfires that were raging from late 2019 to early 2020 in Australia, a request went out for people worldwide, to help wildlife carers with handmade items such as pouches & the like. So of course I was part of the collective that helped not only financially, but with organising getting physical items to those in need. It was a lot of work, but I’m happy I helped in the small way I did & appreciate all the other friends & family that also helped in making items & even delivery to different places in Australia as well.
February, saw L have the last of his appointments for his concussion that he received near the end of 2019, at school & Geoff went to Berlin, Germany, for a conference that he had been keen to attend for some time, again something he was really happy he managed to go to, given the current state of affairs.
Then came March. To be fair, what unfolded wasn’t an entire shock. I wasn’t oblivious to what had happened in China at the end of 2019 & the news articles that described a new deadly virus. I’d been tracking it for months (hard not to miss the stories) watching as news reports of it’s spread to different parts of the world occurred & the devastation in Italy was heartbreaking, but even I hadn’t quite fully grasped what this could mean, mentally, I knew what was logically going to happen though. This was unchartered territory though.
The kids had their last day of in person schooling, by the local school board, on Friday March 13th, which humours me greatly (the date, NOT that it happened). I had told them (the kids) that morning to bring everything that they could home that day, as I expected they would not return for a long time. Logically it made sense, even if my brain was saying WTF? They did bring home some stuff like their pencil cases, but they left shoes & other things, which was to be expected. They haven’t set foot in their old school since. They did distanced learning at home until the end of the school year (which is June here) & now they are fully home schooled, as I pulled them from the school board entirely. BTW, we did get the rest of their stuff back, by appointment, just before the “summer holidays”.
I know that I don’t OWE anyone an explanation for why I pulled the kids, but I get that people are curious. Basically, it was the best choice for us. I knew that in reality, they could NOT attend school in person. There would be certain risks to them attending in person, that we didn’t want to take. I also knew that the expectations for online learning at over 4 hours a day, for each kid wouldn’t work either (we actually try to limit their screen time, & find that too much screen time can be hard on them, just like sugar, we don’t ban either, but we are mindful of it. As well as the large amounts of screen time, we knew we would have technology issues, having 2 kids streaming video whilst G needs to work, which I know would be an even bigger disaster than it was from April – June) was not something I wanted to do again. The other option on the table, would’ve been to get packets of printed materials from the school, every week or so, also wasn’t ideal. If the kids weren’t attending in person to reduce contact, having to pick-up packages every week or so, seemed like it might be a little counter-productive. Logically, after all that, the only option left, was left home schooling. I had to prove to Geoff that it could work, as he was skeptical, so in July I started to do research in ernest & by August, I started doing proper homeschooling lessons with the kids, to get the rhythm going.
It was a lot of hard work to start, still is to be honest, mostly I think because I have been so focussed on trying to make sure that the kids don’t fall behind, but I am starting to relax a little more. I find that the kids learn so much more when I am not pushing them constantly to do everything I hoped to cram in, which makes complete sense, but then I have moments of doubt. I’m sure that some weeks I am cramming more information into them then they would be getting at school, but I’ve appreciated that there’s cramming & then there’s retaining information & actually learning & both are often very different. Homeschooling your kids is definitely more of an investment in their education than sending them off to a bricks & mortar school, but so worth it too. Homeschooling in the middle of a pandemic, is an entirely different ballgame to normal too. To be fair, I’ve always liked the idea of homeschooling, but until I got the push to do it, it was just something in the back of my mind. Over the years many have thought that we were homeschooling because of all the things that we typically do with the kids, which always amused me. Now, that I have stepped into what I felt was the impossible, I really want to keep going with it after the pandemic, just to see what it COULD be like if you had more access to different resources, other than the web & books. I really missed the physical experiences, like museums & Upper Canada Village & I know the kids have too.
One of the things that I have appreciated about COVID & our decision to restrict our movements, is that it also limits the outside influences that the kids would typically get from their peers, especially within the school setting. I don’t have to hear that xyz has lmnop toy & how awesome it is, even though they know very little about it. E has had so many toys bought for her by other kids for birthdays & she gave away most of them this year to other kids in need, because she realised she didn’t really want them. Honestly, it’s been a great 10 months to re-evaluate things & simplify. Not only material things, but some relationships with others. I have less of an inclination to put much effort into some things & it’s liberating. I have also gotten a bit lazy with putting effort into the relationships I do want to maintain, so there is that downside, I guess. I am also getting older, so less inclined to do much, totally catching up to Geoff on that front.
I, like E, miss the company of some though & hugs, boy do we miss hugs, but 10 months in & we’ve mostly settled into the acceptance stage of the stages of grief with the pandemic. We get hugs from those in our bubble (when we can) & of course the 4 of us always make sure to give each other daily hugs. Even without the hugs though, there is a stronger sense of community & a stronger connection with some (even though I have let some relationships be), which I also appreciate.
Some of the other things of significance, that have happened this year, would be L asking me to cut his hair, after E asked to have all of her’s cut off (L had been growing his since birth, although he didn’t really get hair until he was 3). I as surprised that he decided to cut it all off, but was really happy that it appears to have been his decision.
Geoff & I also organised getting our PCOC cards for sailing, which was fun over a couple of weekends. I was incredibly nervous, but the guys that we did it with were really good with following covid protocols.
E did a 22km bike ride & raised $550 for the Terry Fox Foundation, something that she decided to do on her own, not sure if she will do another 20km ride again like that, but we were all really proud of her.
With basically no travel, other than Peru, this year, we have been doing reno’s in the house & are currently in the process of switching up the house, so that Geoff will have the kids old room, the kids will have the room that I had as my creative space & homeschooling & my creative space will now be in a slightly better layout, downstairs (we have been painting the last few days & need to paint tomorrow).
Some big news for Geoff was that he left his job, where he was for almost 10 years for a new job. As part of that, we started a new business, which we managed to organise just before xmas this year (basically, it was all sorted within a couple of weeks, damn it was crazy).
One of the other big things that we have been doing this year, is planning our next adventure, not sure when it will happen, but I think it’s important to have something to look forward to, after so many disappointments in our family (more so the kids & I). I was especially cut up that I missed my brother’s wedding this year. Unlike, times gone by, when you could just hop a plane, I have no idea when we might get back to Australia. Then again, if we were living in different states to family in Australia, not sure it would be much better (it would actually be better, but let’s not focus on that, because it’s not happening). Anyhow, our latest focus, is to plan sailing adventures, at least that has the potential to happen here & isn’t reliant on air travel.
Whilst doing home schooling & trying to run the house, I have been doing my sewing & other creative arts too. There was a bit of a slump with it all, at the start, whilst I was trying to get my head around the whole pandemic, but looking back at pictures & notes, I still managed to create a lot. I donated hundreds of items, mostly headbands, masks & aprons, as well as made a lot of little gifts for kids for birthday’s to make up for the lack of birthday parties, to the tune of a few thousand dollars in product, which I am pretty proud of & appreciate the support that I received from others to do so.
Overall, it’s been an interesting calendar year. Not sure that I would necessarily like to repeat the last 10 months, but I don’t really see 2020 (1) haha /2021 as anything more than an extension of 2020. I know a lot of people are holding onto this coming year being so much better, but in reality, the current state of things will be in place for at least this next year. Expectation is the source of disappointment, so if you have low expectations, everything else is gravy. 😉 I appreciate many of my experiences in life, for what they have taught me & this year, I have realised that as much as I enjoy the company of others, I also enjoy the lack of commitment this year has afforded me (let me tell you, October’s birthdays were more manageable than any other year, without a multitude of kids to entertain haha)
Anyhow, on that note, I will sign off for the calendar year, play some minecraft & head to bed.