Happy holidays, 2021!

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2021 was...an adventure.

 

If 2020 was the year of Covid, 2021 was - at least in BC - best described as the year of the (natural) disaster.  In addition to Covid, we've suffered through wildfires, heat domes, "atmospheric rivers" and now flooding.  All of this has come on the heels of continued Covid issues, and we're exhausted.

 

It's been another year of adventure, that's for sure.

 

The beginning of 2021 saw more of the same - continued Covid restrictions, limited activities, etc.  Restrictions lessened slightly around spring break, and Josh celebrated his November birthday in March with his two closest friends.  Ben finished out grade 3 and Josh kindergarten, both in-person throughout the school year.  Josh started up gymnastics.  Our international student graduated from high school after a year of hybrid in-person/online learning. Justin and I got vaccinated.  To spice up our lives, we went for the mixed dose of AstraZeneca followed by Moderna two months later.  Side effects for both of us were minimal, although we'll be sticking with Moderna/the mRNA shots in the future. 

 

Restrictions loosened again over the summer, and my parents flew in for a visit.  After two weeks of quarantine - restrictions that were loosened two days after they completed it - they spent a month with us sightseeing and enjoying time with the family.  After 18 months apart, it was a welcome visit.

 

In August, Covid outbreaks and wildfires caused us to cancelled our planned camping trip to the interior of BC and switch it up to a trip on the ferry - trusty tent trailer in tow - to Vancouver Island.  Half of our area had the same idea, so campground spots were few & far between...but we put our heads together and came up with some great options.  We ended up at a beautiful lake for two nights followed by a campground on the ocean for another week.  Our days were spent biking along the beach, roasting s'mores (on our propane fire tank), sightseeing, kayaking, visiting Victoria, and watching pods of orcas swim by the beach.  We certainly tried our hardest to make the most of another year staying in the province.

 

Unfortunately, the last-minute bookings of our campgrounds meant that the oceanfront campground - which advertises itself as having bathrooms - was a little overly generous in its description.  After a week of portapotties and a complete lack of showers for a family with two very grimy little boys, we were checked out.  We came home from Vancouver Island and promptly traded the tent trailer in for a trailer with four walls and...to our complete and utter delight...a bathroom with its own set of walls and a door.

 

The new camper made its debut on three smaller camping trips in our area in August & September, and we're in love.  Beyond the bathroom that brings us adults so much joy, the camper has its own small full kitchen, large closet and tv/dvd player for rainy nights.  We jazzed up the interior with new paint and lighting as well as stick-on tiling, and we look forward to many happy memories in it in the future.  It's amazing how happy solid walls and a toilet can make us.

 

As September rolled around, we saw additional restrictions lift.  BC has been lucky that we've been spared the worst of Covid - public support for public health measures is quite widespread, and vaccination rates over 90% have helped.  In September, the province introduced a digital vaccine passport that uses QR codes to connect to the BC CDC website; the passport is mandatory to access all non-essential indoor services such as exercise facilities, restaurants, etc.  (Masks are also still fully required indoors for all public facilities.)  We've started resuming some meals out, swimming in the public pools, etc, and are enjoying having a bit more freedom.

 

Our new international student arrived from Japan (also fully vaccinated!), and the boys returned to another year of in-person learning.  Ben is in gr 4 in a split 3/4 class, and Josh is in gr 1 in a split 1/2 class, with Ben's former grade 1 teacher.  The classes are really good fits for both boys, and they're enjoying school once again.  To add to classes, Ben has started swim club and Josh has returned to gymnastics...another dose of normalcy for the kids.  Josh mastered a 2-wheel bike, and until the weather turned to autumn, we regularly were going out for family bike rides in our area.

 

Birthdays rolled around for both boys with small parties of 4-5 kids in our yard/house.  In early November, we made our first foray outside of BC in 20 months by traveling to Washington to get the kids their first Covid shots before they were approved in Canada.  The trip down and the vaccines were easy - coming back into Canada was difficult due to stringent testing and a border guard who didn't believe our test results were real.  Despite this, with both boys having been exposed to Covid in their classrooms the past few months, we were relieved to be one step closer to keeping them safe.  (The kids' Pfizer vaccine was just approved here last week.)

 

Justin's been working from home for another year, usually with kitty Yoda piled in his lap.  My business has continued growing steadily...after relatively flat growth in 2020, post-Covid business spiked.  I'm now trying to figure out where I can pull back - it's simply more than I can tackle comfortably.  My goal for 2022 is more time with family and friends.

 

Our land border fully opened this week for Canadians to visit the US for day trips without expensive testing upon our return, for the first time in 20 months.  (We live 5 miles north of the border, and essentials like gas & milk are usually double the cost up here...day trips are a way of life for people around here.). We celebrated by sending Justin across Thursday evening for gas, milk & good Mexican food.  Unfortunately border kinks aren't quite resolved, and he waited in a line-up 1.5 hours long to get home.  Still, the Mexican food was well worth it.

 

...and as 2021 draws to a close, our province continues to suffer from one disaster after another.  Late June saw us with a "heat dome" - temperatures that broke all records and mimicked Florida temperatures for an entire week.  We spent the week hiding out in the only room with air conditioning and spending high-tide swimming in the Pacific.  (Yes, swimming in the ocean in the Pacific Northwest in June - that tells you how hot it was.)  The summer was full of wildfires that, while not affecting metro Vancouver directly, destroyed entire towns.  This autumn has been the wettest on record.  November was one heavy rainstorm after another, causing localized flooding in our town and utterly destroying the city of Abbotsford, three towns away from us.  Much of our farming/ag industry is based in that area, and hundreds of thousands of livestock were destroyed.  For the past few weeks, we've faced food/gas shortages as every highway connecting Vancouver to the rest of Canada has been shut due to the flooding and ensuing mudslides/erosion.  The main highway through Abbotsford and the only one that serves the entire country, Trans-Canada Highway 1, reopened yesterday for limited traffic.  Hoping it improves things.

 

When piling on top of the Covid craziness, 2021 has just been...exhausting.  We've made the most of what we can do comfortably here, but it has been exhausting.   We are happy here, but after 20 months of not being able to leave the province, let alone visit my home country (beyond our one random day trip) and 2.5 years of not traveling on airplanes/airports/to my parents' house, I miss home.  Still, we are thankful that we have stayed relatively safe.

 

Hoping that 2022 brings renewed opportunities for travel, hope, family time and normalcy.  And please, no more natural disasters.

Wishing you much peace, joy & love in 2022.

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Happy holidays!