Family Time During a Pandemic

March 30 to June 11, 2020

While most grandparent are feeling blue not being able to spend time with their kids and grandkids during this period of social isolation, we are among the lucky ones. Ours chose to shelter with us.

When COVID-19 struck, our son and daughter-in-law, Christopher and Emily, found themselves working from home with an active 3 year old, Astrid, to keep amused. If you have to work from home, why work from a townhouse in central Vancouver when you can you can work from the Ponderosa. The Ponderosa seemed to have been built especially for a pandemic. A big house with lots of room for little ones to run around in, a big yard, grandparents itching to spend more time with the grandkids, a root cellar and pantry still brimming with last year’s garden harvest, miles of trails to hike and no neighbors for miles. We even converted my meditation room into a nap room; however, Baba was the only one who napped, the kids never did.

Coinciding with the outbreak of COVID-19, was a pancreatic cancer diagnosis for me. Lucky for us, our daughter Kelsey and our grandkids Jacob (4) and Nora (2) also agreed to come shelter with us as well. They all provided a splendid diversion for Ken as I spent 2 weeks in hospital recovering from a Whipple procedure. No time to worry or fret when you have 3 toddlers running around.  My step-daughter Kerry kept Ken company after I went into the hospital until everyone else arrived. Kelsey, Jacob and Nora stayed for the entire month of April. Christopher, Emily and Astrid stayed on into June. Kerry and her wife Megan, who self-isolated in Winnipeg, came out for weekends. Even Katie and Tyler were able to come out for one weekend. There is nothing better for recovery than being surrounded by those you love.



Wrestle time with Gigi

While Baba was a little low on energy, everyone chipped in with the cooking, cleaning and childcare. Gigi’s daycare is a going concern and the kids enjoyed spending the afternoons with Gigi in the upstairs of the shop playing pool, ping pong, watching old home movies of their parents,wrestling with Gigi, and just plain running around.




Kelsey, Jacob and Nora left back to Kamloops on April 30. All of them were anxious to get back home and see dad Matt, who was still back home working. The house was a whole lot quieter but we surely missed having them around.



Christopher, Emily and Astrid stayed on for another 6 weeks as Astrid’s daycare had still not opened. Astrid had to be content with Baba and Gigi for companions while Mom and Dad worked but Baba and Gigi loved her cheery company. There are many things you can do with one small grandchild that you can’t do with three.


Astrid loves being in the greenhouse. Give her a watering can, a pail of water and some earth and she is happy. She was my little helper in the morning.  While Baba napped in the afternoon, Gigi and Astrid visited the newly opened playground in town. Before leaving they all helped put in the garden, except for the transplants.








They came when there was still snow on the ground, lots of snow, and when the left, it was warm out. Only in Manitoba could you stay 10 weeks and see 3 seasons. They experienced snow storms and thunderstorm, made snowmen and sandcastles.

Roasting weiners in the wood cookstove

They used the big woodstove for cooking and weiner roasts when it was cool out and electrical appliances and the outdoor clay oven (fire roasted pizza) when it was warm. They learned first hand how to live off grid, how to think about power and water usage. We had weekly pizza and sushi nights and so much other great food.




Playing Sequence For Kids

We played board games, Jackbox TV, family (Astrid’s invention), the instruction game (Baba’s invention), wrestle time (Gigi’s invention), tea parties, dress up, play dough, hide and seek and sardines.

Adults playing Jackbox TV









Kerry gives Christopher a unique CoVid Cut

We even had a great laugh while the boys got Covid Cuts (curtesy of Kerry and her trusty hair clippers). The playroom, balcony and sandbox got great use and the house has so many places to hide in and so much room to run around in, no one ever felt housebound. It was exactly the type of family time we envisioned when we built it.

Balcony Playroom




We have not been together as a family for this long since the kids were, well kids. The grandkids have never been together for so long either. It was interesting to watch them grow from playmates to more like siblings. When I first got home from the hospital I spent a fair bit of time in my bedroom resting. I used to lie there listing to the sounds of my house. Noisy at times but in a very good way. I loved to hear the kids’ conversations as they played.

Now that everyone has left, the Ponderosa is a very, very quiet place. While we enjoy the quiet, we do miss all of them and are so happy they were able to spend so much time with us. It was a wonderful gift of their time to us.

You can also read Christopher’s version of the visit and more pictures on his blog

Nora and Baba

Jacob, Astrid and Nora enjoy a rest during a walk.

Yoga time in the livingroom

Tea party with Baba

Little Milk Maid Astrid

Building forts in the Media Room

Art time, making big hugs for the people back home

About Darlene & Ken

Experiencing life off the grid, building a home, and trying to live sustainably.
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1 Response to Family Time During a Pandemic

  1. Jeannette Manchur says:

    That is the best kind of self isolation. Hope you are doing well Darlene. Ken, I’m practicing with a men’s team just to hit and shag balls. We still don’t know if we can have a season here yet. I’m not allowed to play on this team but I’m sure holding my own with them. Hope you picked.lots of smoorzshi this year. Take care of each other.

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