Tag Archives: covid19

Social Isolation at the Ponderosa Part 2

Ponderosa Crew

Our COVID-19 isolation bubble got smaller at the end of April when Kelsey, Jacob, and Nora left the Ponderosa (you can read more about the month we spent with them here). It was sad to see them go, but it also gave us the opportunity to settle into a simpler routine.

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With only one child running around, things were quieter and easier to manage. Astrid usually slept in and I was able to start running in the mornings. My parents have a bunch of beautiful trails around their property and I ran them all. I saw deer and rabbits and almost stepped on a beaver one morning.

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The weather was all over the place. We had a windstorm that ripped siding off the house. We had one last snowstorm – in May! We had one of the most amazing prairie thunderstorms I’ve ever seen with hours of sheet lighting. But it did get steadily warmer and we got to enjoy a lot more of the outdoors (while trying to avoid the ticks and mosquitoes).

Outdoor Pizza Oven

The highlight of the warming weather was getting to use the outdoor pizza oven. It baked the best focaccia and pizzas. My mouth waters looking back at the pictures.

Baba's Little Helper

Astrid spent most of the day following Baba and Gigi around. She was Baba’s little helper, watering plants in the greenhouse and planting in the garden. And Gigi took her into town almost everyday once the Sandy Lake playground opened up.

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It was great seeing how outdoorsy Astrid became. She learned to identify birds, the call of the loon, and the tracks left by deer and the droppings of the coyote. She loved to go for walks and pick up flowers and rocks.

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Without having to leave our property, we saw deer, coyotes, foxes, snakes, frogs, woodpeckers, and prairie chickens. When the national parks reopened, we visited Riding Mountain National Park and saw a black bear and the large bison herd that lives there.

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We went horseback riding and Astrid fell asleep in the saddle 10 minutes into our trail ride. I had onto her so she didn’t fall off the horse.

Canoe Ride at the Ponderosa

We had a few beautiful canoe rides on the lake.

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We did a NYT crossword puzzle almost every day (a tradition Dad and I are trying to keep going on Sunday mornings). And in the evenings we always watched an episode of Lucifer and Community on Netflix (if we missed watching Lucifer Gigi got very cranky).

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It was great seeing my mom get steadily better while we were there. She had good days and bad, but I really enjoyed spending time with her and seeing Astrid and her have so much fun together. With her energy levels rebounding, she was out gardening, hiking, and kayaking with us. Her first round of chemo was punishing and we’re not sure what the future holds, but we’re hopeful she continues to fight and we’ll take any miracles we can get.

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COVID-19 has been really hard on a lot of families, dealing with a scary new disease, hospitalizations, deaths, and social isolation. I’m grateful that for our family, it gave us the perfect excuse to spend a long stretch of time together. We were at the Ponderosa for 2.5 months. It was hard to leave and we kept extending our stay, but with daycare opening back up and Mom going through chemo, it was time we moved back to Vancouver.

More pictures from Part 2 of our time at the Ponderosa (May and June).

COVID-19: Apocalypse Road Trip and Self-Isolation

Ponderosa Sunset

Welcome to our new reality. COVID-19 has upended our family just like everyone else. But unlike most, we’ve decided to take refuge 2000 km away from where we normally live.

Working From Home

Emily and I are grateful to have jobs where we can work from home but it’s been hard juggling work with childcare. Astrid’s daycare is still officially open, but is now an emergency facility for parents who really need it. We pulled Astrid out on March 18 and spent a week looking after her at home, and quickly realized it wasn’t sustainable.

No More Play

Normally, we would ask Grandma for help or spend time outside playing with neighbours, but neither were possible with the coronavirus rampaging around. When they started shutting down playgrounds, our options became even more limited and our townhouse felt smaller everyday. Astrid’s closest companion became her stuffed unicorn.

Only Child Breakfast

This also corresponded with very busy periods at work for both of us. At ArtStarts, the executive director resigned after 9 years and Emily was taking on more of those responsibilities while trying to figure out how their organization would deal with school closures and new physical distancing rules.

Working From Home

At Thrive Health, we’ve had the busiest and most intense month in the company’s history. We were given 2 weeks to build the official COVID-19 app for the province of British Columbia (check it out at bc.thrive.health). We cranked out an early self-assessment website that had 1 million hits within the first 24 hours and built a decent app within 2 weeks. A minor miracle for our small team. But there wasn’t any time to rest, because we agreed to create a fully-translated version for everyone in Canada in partnership with Health Canada (check it out at ca.thrive.health).

The pace of development has slowed a bit in the past 2 weeks, but our team is still working 6 days a week and we’re trying to manage burnout among our employees. But it’s been extremely rewarding being part of this and building something with hundreds of thousands of users. The big challenge has been convincing our government partners to let us push more content out.

Amidst all the craziness, my mom got sick and we made the decision to travel halfway across the country to isolate with them in their rural Manitoba property called the Ponderosa.

Apocalypse Road Trip

Apocalypse Road Trip

It was a weird road trip. The highways were nearly deserted, most restaurants were serving take-out only, and the only washrooms we could reliably find were at gas stations. We drove to Kamloops first and met up with my sister and her kids. We were lucky my aunts in Calgary and Saskatoon were happy to host our convoy. Considering all the uncertainty around COVID-19, it wasn’t a small ask. They gave us dinner and beds, and we gave them rolls of toilet paper as payment. 4 days later we arrived at the Ponderosa.

Treats at Auntie Sheila's

Self-Isolating at the Ponderosa

My parents have a huge off-the-grid home in rural Manitoba that feels like it was designed as a shelter from the zombie apocalypse or a global pandemic. It’s the perfect place to be right now. We’re physically isolated from the rest of the world, Manitoba has very few cases of COVID-19, there are enough beds for the whole extended family, we have a huge cellar full of food, solar panels provide our electricity, and rain barrels collect water.

Cellar Supplies

The only downsides are the satellite internet is slow and laggy, and the weather has been unusually cold with sub-zero temperatures most days since we arrived. Luckily I think winter is finally over here and most of the snow has melted.

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We’re 4 weeks in now and this is the longest I’ve spent with my family since I was 18. We haven’t killed each other yet, even if there have been some heated discussions about lifestyles, conspiracies, which tv shows to watch, and taking games too seriously. The kids have had a blast playing with each other and are basically siblings now. It will be a big change when they are split up again.

COVID-19 Social Isolation

It’s been easier working here than it was in Vancouver. I usually start my day at 9 am, get 3 hours of work in before most of my co-workers start their day, and then have meetings all afternoon. Kelsey has been great about looking after the kids during the day and doing a lot of the cooking. Emily has gone down to half-time at her work so she can help out more with the housework. My mom got out of the hospital 2 weeks ago and has been getting stronger every day. It’s been great having her around again. I try to help out when I can, but I’ve been working a lot. I’ve made a few pizza dinners and an Indian feast one night. I miss being able to go to restaurants, but Emily’s sushi dinner was a big hit.

Roasting Hot Dogs

The kids have been having a blast and what little they will remember of COVID-19 when they are older will probably be positive. They have a ton of room to run around inside and their own playroom full of toys and costumes. Gigi (my dad) likes to wrestle with them and watch cartoons. And now that the weather is warmer they have had even more space to explore.

Walking on Thin Ice Hay Bales Playing on the Stairs Horsey Rides Climbing a Tree Corona Cut Doing Dishes Feeding Horses Sandbox

More photos of our COVID-19 adventures at the Ponderosa.