Sunday, September 05, 2010

Wow, this is post #501 on The Writing Mother... and I'm here to tell you that I'm moving... 

You can find my new blog at

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Soooo excited!

Changes coming soon... new platform (Wordpress) and new blog design coming soon from Mamikaze....


Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Keeping Promises

One of the reasons I've never committed to an "exercise program" is because I could never figure out how to PLAN my program. See, I'm kind of a planner. And when I mean I'm kind of a planner it's kind of like saying Eminem is kind of inappropriate.

I'm a planner. I want to see 12 steps ahead at all times. I want to know that doing XYZ will result in 123. It's taken me a long time (9 years actually) to realize that now that I have kids.... things will never follow my plan again.

Oh, I will try. Still I will try. I will make my plans, I will grit my teeth when they go wrong and pat myself on the back when they go right.

And I am trying to change. Just by degrees. Not even my inches but possibly by millimeters... I am in Canada, afterall.

My exercise plan is one example. It's not so much a plan as it is a promise to myself. I promise that I will try find a half hour to exercise every day. I used to think that wasn't enough. And maybe it isn't as much as I should do, but it's what I can do.

Today I left the office with 45 minutes until I had to pick up my son from camp. I ran home, jumped in my work out gear and ran to the gym... which is in the same facility as the camp. I ran for 15 minutes, walked for five and left... red-cheeked and sweaty, to pick up my son.

Not much... but enough so that I can say I'm a step closer to my goal. I can run for 15 minutes and make it 1.26 miles. That's about a 5 miles an hour... all I need to do is keep taking one little step at a time and make it to 1.5 miles in 15 minutes. Next time I'll try 5.1 miles an hour.

But that's not all... I also managed to walk about 5km (I'm totally mixing up my miles and kilometers... hope you can keep up!) which I think is 3ish miles (I know 1.5 miles is 2.4km...) after the kids headed to grandma's.

And I got the living room clean.

I feel productive. I feel good.

And I did it without a plan. I just kept my promise to myself.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Nothing in the closet fits me....

... says my blog.

And so, we're going to go out and get something new!

Details to come! :)

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Sign #593 that my daughter is meant to be IN CHARGE.

Emily: Mommy, can you draw me a picture?

Me: Sure sweetie, what do you want?

You got Balls? No. SHE has Balls.

Sorry for the radio silence there... I had what we'd call a Catastrophic Event. aka...  Mama was sick... I hate the flu but for whatever reason the greater the intensity of the flu, the shorter the duration... and this one was just a day. But a LONG day it was.

I'm sure the reason that it was so intense was the stressed out ball of hell I became on Wednesday and Thursday. Part of my JOB (the one I never blog about) involves getting things to a place on a deadline (kind of sums up a lot of jobs!) and this was an important place and an important deadline and Things Were In Danger Of Missing Deadlines.

So there was crying and pleading and some more crying (mostly on the phone to UPS, some of it may have been fake) and angry words (all definitely not fake) and a speeding ticket for $129 but Lord love a duck the eagle landed and I got them to their destination.

And the next day the flu got me. Blech. I will spare you the details but I will tell you that the next day I was three pounds lighter. I do not recommend this method of weight loss.

But I will digress no further. Have you all met NakedJen? I received a lot of positive comments when I posted the bikini pictures, but NakedJen did THIS. I don't even have words for THAT.

I do have words. Brave. Beautiful. Courageous. Wonderful. Awesome.

I am still investigating the meaning of "own your own glitter"... I think that phrase could find its way into my vocabulary if I could determine the proper usage. And I want to teach it to my daughter. Which will be easy because Glitter is her thing.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The Bikini Dare .... who's with me? ...... *crickets*

I did something tonight. Something horrible. It wasn't eating the last two sugar cookies, though that was pretty horrible ... with a side of stupid.

I put on a bikini.

And took a picture of myself. Three pictures actually. Front, side, back. And I did not suck it in. I let it hang all out.

My intention was to print them off and hang them on my fridge. Except what's even worse than that? Yep, putting them on my blog. The back shot is SO AWESOME with the back boobs.

Are you ready? Have you cleared the room of small children? Whalers?

Friday, August 06, 2010

Please don't use the "make the time" line with me.

I'm having a pity party. There are no swag bags at this pity party. I feel like writing but I don't want to because I hate to give into the weepy anger and put it all out there so random people can judge me.

I want to be in better shape, I want to exercise more but I can't seem to fit it in. The first person who says I have to make time is seriously going to get a gut punch. There's time but there's no ALONE time.

I get up early and my daughter gets up with me. I can't work out with her underfoot because she's a normal almost-4-year-old and she wants things like food/cartoons/cuddles or she wants to work out with me and there's no freaking ROOM. Getting up earlier doesn't help because she just gets up earlier. Going for a run doesn't work because when Major Man works night shifts he doesn't get home until I have to leave and I can't very well leave my kids alone in the house.

I tried to work out tonight and it was a gong show... my daughter kept getting out of bed over and over...

I have a gym membership but I can never get there and back over the lunch hour AND eat. I've gone there starving and nearly passed out.

I try to make a healthy lunch but our freaking 1960's fridge is so small I can't keep a lunch kit in there so I'm always trying to do it in the morning and running out of time.

When hubby is working nights he sleeps until 5pm, then he's a zombie until he goes back to sleep at 8pm and I'm a single mom the rest of the time. The kids take all of me.

I am losing a few pounds on weight watchers but it's slow and I want to get in SHAPE and not just lose weight.

I feel like all of me and everything I want is wound up in other people. Like I need their permission because otherwise it's just selfishness. Or even if I get their permission it's still selfishness.

I would love a personal trainer... I'd love someone who actually cared about my goals. Cared if I achieved them. It seems I only ever get one response when I voice these things: Well, you could do it if you made the time.

It's true.

But the time is there, it's just not time that belongs to me.

Monday, August 02, 2010

Mad EMR Skillz.

It's no secret to anyone who has been around me for the last couple of months that I've been taking my Emergency Medical Responder course. I'm either boring my work friends to death with tales of my awesome EMR instructor or I'm re-telling some story that was told or showing them a new thing I learned... I feel like my brain has expanded, grown four sizes like some intellectual Grinch.

I've always had a bit of a chip on my shoulder that I didn't go to college or university like some of my friends in high school. Although I did go to a different kind of school... that proverbial school of hard knocks where I'd get bucked off and stomped on fairly regularly. I knew how to break horses, castrate bulls, change oil, drive big trucks and many more useful little skills. I sometimes forget to give myself credit for those things because they were useful skills at the time. These days I'm more apt to get frustrated when I can't converse at a high enough level with a political adversary or talk about literature because the last book I read was Goodnight, Moon.

So when the idea came up to make my EMR course, I figured "why not". I had recently had a stint in an emergency room (for myself this time, rather than one of the kids!) and I thought "how great it would be to have some skills to REALLY help someone when they need it".

I think I'm a knowledgeable person in my job... I'm often the "go to" person if you want something analyzed or worked out or fixed.... I hope I'm not one of THOSE people who lords their knowledge over their co-workers, I like to help out.

I was terrified at first to take the EMR class... I am not good with NOT knowing what I am doing. It was soon apparent that I was in over my head. But what was wonderful was that I loved it. I knew I was learning and I liked it.

I'm in my last week now. Just a few days and I'll be writing my final exam. I've passed the written online exams (93% over 18 exams) and now I have a written final and a practical final.

I am going to miss my classmates fiercely. A few are going on to the EMT program and it's hard not to be jealous ... I want to keep up my mad EMR skillz, but even more than that.. I want to keep learning. It's addicting.

But the great thing is that we never stop learning as long as our mind is open to every experience. I'm thinking maybe I'll apply to teach CPR classes ... something that I can do on the side but that will keep my skills up. The other option is what I've been doing now: scouring the streets for signs of car accidents so I can whip out my EMR cape and run to the rescue.

How Do You Define Raising a Child?

There's a tragic story in Alberta this week about an 18 month old girl who was seriously injured in a day home. (story here) I can hardly bear to think about a young baby being abused by someone who was supposed to care for her. So I'm going to leave that where it is and simply say some prayers for her and her family as she fights for her life tonight.

But stories like this always bring out the crazies in the comments. Like this one: "If only people would wait to have children when they can take the time off themselves to be at home all day with them. Im baffled at how people bring a kid into this world, just to let someone else raise it! and then we are all surprised when soemthing goes wrong?! This is sad, sont get me wrong, but who do we have to blame but ourselves. Stop making babies just cause you can! wait until you have the time and money to raise them yourself."

It makes my blood boil, it really does. I have to remember that the person writing this just doesn't KNOW. They don't know all the reasons for putting a child in day care. My daughter goes to sleep each night and asks me "do I get to go to daycare tomorrow?"

We seem to have this 1950's definition of "raising kids". It's supposed to mean a mom at home with an apron on who has supper on the table while daddy goes out and earns a living. Nevermind that for hundreds of years kids weren't "raised" this way.... some were married and pregnant by 14. They had to get up and work on the farm and school was a privilege. It's only been in the last century that we defined "raising" kids by having a mom at home and kids having a pretty sheltered life without having to get up and milk cows at 4am.

Raising a child is a long time commitment. It's 18+ years of knowing exactly where your kids are, thinking about their best interests all the time, making decisions with their needs ahead of your own. Raising also means funding and paying for kids. It means sometimes going without so they can have something they want or need.

For some of us it means going to work full time and paying someone else to provide childcare. Childcare is not raising. That's like saying a house cleaner is a home owner. (There's another topic... oh how I'd love a house cleaner!)

But I too once thought I'd never send my kid off to day care. But then I found myself raising my kid on my own and I knew that I had to go back to work to give him the best life. I tried three day homes that didn't work out and finally tried a large "big box" day care. I was terrified to do it - especially when family members were so critical of my decision. I remember words like "institution" and "abuse" being thrown about.

Now I've had at least one kid in day care (the same "big box" company) almost consistently for six years. Both of my children LOVED day care. And why shouldn't they? It's playing with kids their age all day, doing crafts, unlimited supplies of paper, new learning experiences, fieldtrips... they both have gotten to experience way more than they would have if they'd been home alone with me.

And I'll admit something else... I am happier. Yes, I spend less time with my kids than my stay or work at home counterparts.... but we enjoy all of our hours. I have more patience. I have more energy. I can justify relaxing over doing laundry.

I am thankful - so very thankful - that my daughter loves her day care. She loves her teachers. They greet her every morning with smiles and hugs and the smile at me and wish me a good day at work. She finds treasures during the week and wants to save them to give to her teachers. She has a sweet "boyfriend" at day care that she is inseparable from.

So to those who might think like our friend above... who might think that I'm handing the reins over to someone else to raise my kid: think again. Raising involves so much more but I'm sure glad that I have wonderful partners to enhance my daughter's (and previously, my son's) life and bring love and laughter into it.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

In Which I Reveal Myself to Be.... a Crybaby.

I've been sick the past week so posting has been sporadic and I've had my hands full with work-work (that's the full time gig), staying cool in the heat and warm in the cold (seriously in the span of a few days we've been 3C and 30C here in Calgary.... heatwaves then hail...), and fighting off a head cold. But a post has been brewing nonetheless. I just didn't know what I wanted to say.

But tonight, the nice neighbour guy from across our back alley stopped by. He's been friendly, said hi a few times, offered us tools if we needed them (haven't yet), and been a pretty mellow dude (and his other half has gorgeous red hair with about a thousand times the body of mine). He asked us if we thought we might be getting a chance to get to our weeks that are creeping out in the back alley along our back fence. Plus the sticks and branches from the tree that fell apart a couple months ago. I didn't know what to say... he kept saying "I mean, they are looking a little nasty... and it's blowing into my yard, I mean... that's a fair comment, right?" He was extremely nice about it. I knew he wasn't angry or upset... just trying to politely confront an issue that was bothering him. He'd actually asked a few weeks ago if we were going to move the branches and if we weren't, could he move them a bit farther down the lane because he had to get his boat in his yard. (Yeah, I feel like the po' folk in the neighbourhood... me without my boat.)

I agreed that it was a fair comment and sort of choked out "we will get to it".

But the moment he left I started to cry. I feel like someone had just judged me to be messy, dirty, unclean... not fit for the Boats in Our Backyard Neighbourhood. I've tried to fit in, I really have. I've sat on the community board, I've volunteered on the PTA, I've helped out with the community garden... I've wanted to be a part of a community and raise my kids in one community since I was small. Since we moved around so much and I decided that raising a family meant (in part) choosing a spot and raising them...

I mentioned the conversation to my husband, who seemed ambivalent. I had asked him to clean it up weeks ago. When he didn't seem as upset about it as I now was, I figured I'd better do it myself. Now. So I drove around back. I didn't realize that the neighbour was in his backyard... I hadn't meant to make a scene of it. I didn't want to be all "well, 9pm is just as good a time as ever, I'll just do it now... in front of you".

But I wanted to do it in the cool air, not the heat of the day. I didn't want to use up a vacation day hauling it away (I've taken tomorrow off to get some writing and studying done), and I do not like people thinking I'm messy. Ok, I don't like people judging me at all and I want people to like me. There I said it.

I want to take care of my new-to-me home and I don't want to be the white trash neighbours who leave crap out in the back alley. And I thought it was my husband's job to clean it up... I do the cooking, cleaning, laundry, etc... he does the garbage detail and lawn mowing... and this fell under garbage detail and lawn-type chores, I thought... AND, I'd only asked him once and made a point not to nag.

I realized at that moment, if you want something done, you have to do it yourself.

But when neighbour guy approached me and started to say "hey, hey, I didn't mean now... you don't have to do it tonight..." what did this strong, self-aware, empowered woman do?

I cried.

Yep, the guy must have thought that some housewife was cracking. I tried to explain that I have two jobs and I'm a part time student and my husband works night shift and I asked him to do it but.... and I'm sorry it's a mess and it should be cleaned up and it will be hot tomorrow and I don't want to do it in the heat.. and... and...

The guy felt so bad that I felt bad for him and it made me want to cry more. I apologized and said it wasn't his fault I was crying, I've just been sick and busy and I didn't realize it was so bad and that it was bothering people...

He kept saying "please just drive your truck around front and leave it, it's ok..." he said they are leaving on vacation and he'd help haul it away when he returned. I mean - could you ask for a better neighbour?

But I felt.... like I'd failed or something.

Which brings me to My Issue.

I don't deal well with failure.

And it doesn't have to be any run of the mill failure. It can be totally imagined failure as well. Didn't do as well as I thought I should have on that test? FAILURE. (Even though I got a 93%) Kid is upset and it's because I wasn't able to take him to the zoo because his sister was having meltdowns? FAILURE. (Even though we went the next day.) Husband runs out of clean underwear? OBVIOUS MARITAL FAILURE LOOMING.

I mean... I actually feel bad when these things happen. I feel like I must be a perfect person so that everyone is happy. WHAT THE HELL IS UP WITH THAT?

Why when the nice neighbour comes over can't I just say "I'm so sorry, we've been swamped, you are totally right it's an eyesore - we'll get to it as quick as we can." I'm sure there are even people who would have said "we aren't breaking any laws, feel free to clean it yourself" and they wouldn't have felt bad about it at all.

It occurs to me at this moment that I've forgotten to take La Crazi Pills for two days in a row and possibly my over-emotional response is related to that. Well. I've already looked like a crying fool in front of the neighbour... no saving grace there. I'll just go take La Crazi Pill right now and pray tomorrow is better.

Next time on The Writing Mother.... Heather enters a bookstore and feels like a failure for not having a new book on the shelves right now.... THRILLING READING. HOW WILL IT END?

Tuesday, July 06, 2010


Go have your say: Does Breastfeeding CAUSE divorce??

The Summer That Wasn't

It's becoming a bit of a joke around here - first it was "our two months of summer", then it was our "one month of summer" and now it's "summer? what's that?"

I like summer dresses and freckles and having to keep my blinds closed to keep the heat out. I like lawn chairs and sunscreen and the smell of 'bug juice'. I like summer naps without blankets and the sound of lawn mowers.

But what I get is nights when I need to turn the heat on, cool days where I eat lunch with my legs covered by a blanket (because I still wear summer dresses, I refuse to let go), chilly mornings, chilly days, wind, cold nights.... ARGH!!

And then to mix it up... we get some rain.

So at least the garden is growing. But so are the mosquitoes and for some reason I feel more irritated by them when I'm cold.

So come on Mother Nature, please give us a summer we can enjoy - I know I grumble when I have to spend it indoors at work, but I really do appreciate the sunshine!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Rule #1: Go Outside if You Have to Cry

I've been taking an Emergency Medical Responder (EMR) course for a few weeks. It's one evening a week plus a couple of weekends. I've been taking it for a variety of reasons... someone told me it was "just advanced First Aid" and I thought it might be helpful since I have the soon-to-be-4-year-old accident prone child and I want to go on a mission in the spring and having someone with a bit of medical training would be handy when you're in Malawi or wherever we're going to go...

I really want to do well. I love learning and I love applying knowledge that I've learned to build new skills. And I love a challenge. I really respect the instructor, he's pretty animated and tough, but he's been doing it a long time and knows what he's talking about inside and out.

So far I'm doing well in the written and online tests, but the other half of the class is practical hands on knowledge. I can do all the vitals pretty well but this weekend we really started the scenarios...

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

A Light at the End of the Tunnel

Things have been relatively quiet on the homefront these days. As I type that I look up to see if another shoe is about to drop right on my head. Although there are only 3 weeks left in school this year, we've decided to start M in some tutoring. It just happened that a great tutor became available ... the week I asked her about her schedule was week she'd had a family stop using her services due to one family member being laid off.

So she comes to our house 4 days a week for an hour each time and already M has adjusted to the new schedule even though it's only been 3 school days. He knows that he comes home and the tutor will be there about 4pm.

I am truly amazed by how she works with him. He's almost 9 and in grade three and he is falling behind in many areas mainly due to his behaviour and lack of focus issues, but he's a smart kid and both the tutor and I believe that if he just had confidence in his own work that he'd take more risks and have better self esteem.

At first I was worried about how particular she was with every pen stroke, but she's so positive and encouraging that he just accepts the correction and then tries to do it correctly from that moment on. We're even seeing differences in his printing when she's not with him... She takes his homework and makes it a fun task: pulling up related videos on the computer and talking about all the different aspects of what he's learning about.

She does a few typing exercises as well and has asked that we do just 5 minutes a day of that. And she's made it clear to him that he must bring his homework home or she works him overtime. Yikes! (At $30 an hour I'm hoping he brings that homework home, too!)

For the first time in a long time I feel very hopeful. I see him smile when he's working with her and I see actual pride on his face when he looks over his work.

While I'd like to believe that I could get the same behaviour out of him myself (for free!) I know that at this moment it's not possible. I'm MOM. Or Mooo-ooom. Or *sigh*mom*sigh*. Or Butt Mom. (But moo-oom...)

It's taking a bit of a toll on our finances, I have to cut back (no allowance for me!) and I need to trim some money off of other areas.... but in the end, it's what he needs and that's what matters.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Boundaries of Space and Time

Apparently John Cleese is not a writing mother. For him to be creative he feels we all need boundaries of space and time. Which is all well and good... except when you can't get those things and have a deadline anyway.

Have a look. <-youtube video.

Some Thoughts on Bullies

Recently I came across a post on Facebook by Annie Fox ( and found her web site Cruel's Not Cool.  My son has been mistaken for a bully in the past due to some behaviour issues. In fact he was what some call a provocative victim - someone who kind of gets himself in over his head with kids socially and then can't retreat and tries to fight his way out.

We hosted a Dare to Care session for parents at our school and the administration followed it up with a kid's version. It helped me solidify some thoughts and feelings I have about bullies and bullying and victims and victimization.

I'll give you some background: I had bullying tendencies as a child. I bullied my brother and some kids at school... then somewhere along the way the tables were turned and I became a victim throughout grades 6-9. It was a horrible time in my life and I really feel I got dealt a much tougher deal than what I'd dished out. I think when I bullied as a kid I was a situational type of bully... there was no systematic bullying, which is one of the necessary ingredients to be a true bully. But let me get back on track with my thoughts...

First I think we have to realize that adults can display some bullying behaviour that is masked as "authority" or "demanding respect". They forget that you must give respect to gain it and they write off kids' feelings as moot... so not surprising kids behave the same way to others.

Second, I think we need to consider that no child grows up as a natural bully. they were all bullied before... likely by adults first.

So often we think bullies need to be made to feel worse for their actions but we forget that if they were at peace inside themselves and feeling ok about themselves, they wouldn't be bullies in the first place and no amount of shunning or brow beating will make them choose better actions in the first place, it will just make them bury their emotions for a later date, sometimes in adulthood in the workplace.

As a society we save all our compassion for the victims, we have none left for the bullies. Imagine if we treated them as victims as well, or saved some compassion for them. It's obvious that they are hurting inside and it's just overflowing...

The solution that society finds acceptable is to tell the bully that he or she is wrong/bad/evil/horrible. That in itself is a form of bullying, systematically (a system, society) telling someone they are "less than". It's not discipline, discipline comes from the word discipleship: "One who embraces and assists in spreading the teachings of another".

To me, this means we have to embrace and assist bullies, to help them heal and find their missing pieces. Because when they do that, they can fully understand how their actions affect others and they can fix the wrongs their actions created.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Shoot. Me. Now.

I said I wouldn't do it. I said that I was done. I said I was backing off and taking time out for me.

I said they'd survive without me. I said it was their problem. I said I needed to focus on the important things.

I said a lot of things.

Like today.... when I said "yeah, ok, I'll be PTA Chairperson again this year...."

I don't know what I was thinking. I guess my supermom cape was calling... or I just can't let go of something when there's no one picking it up. 

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Days in LaPorte and Long-distance Parenting

A couple weeks ago we found out that Major Man's best friend's mom was dying. A major stroke and they removed the feeding tube... and we waited.

It felt horrible and morbid and so much like last year when we were waiting for Major Man's dad to pass away.

Do we book flights? Do we tell work? Do we go before they die or after? How can we get the best flight price so we don't go into debt? Can we get childcare?

Thankfully we live in the same neighborhood as my mom and she came through (again).

After I'd been here in LaPorte just one day, my son had a rough day at school. So we texted and phoned and tried to understand what was going on and help the principal arrange for my mom to get him - he was angry and throwing a tantrum and using swear words. He couldn't be in the classroom and I couldn't do anything about it.

It's a helpless feeling - like something is just happening to you and you can't do anything about it. I wonder if it's the same feeling my son experiences when he is having this trouble. My mind races and all I can think is "make it better, make it better, make it better". It's hard for me to put the responsibility on my son. He's eight. He needs to be responsible for his actions. He needs to make his own choices and maybe it's best when I'm not able to help him. Not able to make excuses.

I try to deconstruct what happened. What was said, who heard it, is it he-said-she-said or legitimate? Is he lying? Are they lying? I try separate what happened and his behavior.... try to tell him over the phone that even though he says he's not lying and even though he's mad and even if he's completely righteously angry... he's still responsible for his own behavior. Using swear words and ripping up paper is not the way to go.

At one point he had written two swear words about another child in his notebook and this little voice inside my head started whispering (don't make a big deal about it... shhhhhh). Because I wait for the day that a teacher says my son *can't* write something. Because - helloooo - I'm a writer. Unfortunately I haven't figured out in my own mind how (if) the freedom of expression should be limited in the classroom when it comes to writing. Speaking, yeah... writing? I'm not sure.

As my son gets older, I have to curb my instinct to protect him, to allow him to fall and fail more often when it's within his own power to make his own decisions. But it's so hard. I half expect the teachers to protect him but I know it's not possible in a classroom with 17 other students.

My son (8 years old) gets a long with girls quite well - he is an emotional kid at the best of times and when two girls started whispering and leaving him out of a conversation he reacted poorly. I try to tell him that it's ok if they don't want to play at that moment and it's ok for them to have a private conversation... and the school tells all three of them that it's important not to let others feel left out.

Major Man is good at this sort of thing. He can separate and evaluate what happens at school and identify where a kid should be responsible for his own behavior and when the school needs to step in. Maybe it's because this is his step-son, I don't know... all I know is that all my logical behavior seems to go out the window and Mama Bear takes over and I have to rein her in. It's more frustrating but easier to do when I'm thousands of miles away in another country... and phone calls cost a dollar a minute!

But the funny thing is - I feel the distance whether I'm right there or far away. I feel that there's nothing I can do to cross the chasm between Mother Protector and supporting my son's independence by making him responsible for his own actions. Either way it's parenting from a distance.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Hey, Kid, Are You OK?

I'm really enjoying my Standard First Aid Course this weekend. Weird, I know, but I think in another life I could be an EMT or something... Now I'm a coiled spring, waiting for someone to drop so I can practice my mad life saving skillz.

When I came home I figured I'd pass on my knowledge. Witness my kids' mad life saving skills.

M practices "hey, kid, are you ok?"

Then it's 'chin lift' and look, listen, feel...then Airway check and Breathing check...

CPR or Circulation
I have to admit, he's got some good skillz... he even knew what to do (I'm not sure where he learned them!) and how quick you are supposed to do the chest compressions... and he knew (and made sure to tell me) that when you practice on another person you aren't supposed to do it FOR REALS. Smart kid that one. 

E had a different technique. 

"Hey kid, are you ok? Let me maul you, just to check."

Airway check... can you breath when I cover up your face? How about poke you in your eyes?

Circulation via the popular "wrestling" technique:

Makes sense though... usually we're performing some kind of first aid on Miss E. In fact, in my class today I realized I had first hand experience with multiple scenarios... thanks to my no-holds-barred daughter.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Nature & Child Reunion Part 3

The Motherhood Muse literary magazine is celebrating the publication of its second issue by going on a blog tour during the month of April. Bloggers who host The Motherhood Muse will receive a free subscription to the 2010 issues as well as one free subscription to give away to one random winner who comments on their blog the day of The Motherhood Muse post. We hope everyone will enjoy both the post and magazine! The Motherhood Muse blog tour schedule can be found at and

Nature & Child Reunion Part 3
Reconnecting Children With the Natural World
Written by Jodi Hiland of Happy Trails Family Nature Club

The Nature and Child Reunion

While the issue of kids not spending as much time in nature seems like a huge one, the exciting news is that there is a strong Children and Nature Movement building, around the world.  Countries everywhere are experiencing the same issues, and they are collaborating in different ways to create a new reality.

Since there are many barriers to children's outdoor play, the answers will have to be met where those barriers originate.  It will take efforts at all levels of society to make change.  For example, a housing developer in Woodbury, MN purposely included natural spaces for children in his development.  However, children still aren't using these areas.  What will it take for those children to go out?  Possibly a change in the family, such as loosening family schedules, parents working through some of their fears/dislikes abut the outdoors, etc. Or perhaps policy change at the governmental level will bring more balance to the homework situation.  It's probably many things.

Many organizations exist that already are in the business of children and nature, and they need more support.  These include Scouting groups, 4-H clubs, nature centers, state parks, etc.  I didn't realize how little time Scouting groups actually spend in nature these days, including camping!

We need to make our views known to city planners and developers about how we want our natural spaces to look, and how to redevelop other areas.

Homeowners and renters can push for looser restrictions on covenants that prohibit natural play.

We can ask parks commissions to naturalize current and new parks.

Our society needs protection against rediculous lawsuits.

There are many types of organizations who are in a position to educate, and call for change.  Faith-based groups, non-profit organizations, corporations and more, can all make a big difference.

Since school is where the majority of kids spend their whole day, reforms need to happen there.  We can support educators who are already trying to work within the system to bring nature to children.  Schoolyards need to include green space, and natural play areas.  We can support our local nature-based schools, like Dodge Nature Preschool and Garlough Elementary in West St. Paul, the preschool at Tamarack Nature Center in White Bear Lake, and the Michael Frome Academy in Woodbury.

The study of Natural History is vanishing from college course offerings.  These need to be re-established soon, as the nature experts we have benefitted from across the country are retiring.

Health care providers of all types are an important influence in how much nature time kids experience.  This can actually be prescribed to complement, or even replace, other types of therapies or medications.

Let us honor and learn from the indiginous cultures with whom we are fortunate to share the Earth.  May we restore what is theirs, and not remove any more.

I believe the best thing we can all do right now is to... go outside!  I know I feel nature's restorative quality the minute I get "out there".  Let's work together as a culture, within our own families, and in our own hearts, to "go back to the land".

May the future lives of our world's kids be always full of "loose parts" with which to play!

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Sunday, April 11, 2010

Just Some PTA Propaganda

If you have a child in a public school, then you have probably had some glancing interaction with the PTA, even if it was to avoid making eye contact lest they suck you into their cult and wind up the room parent for the whole year. At least that's how I felt about it. I used to see groups of moms gathering on the playground and think "yeah, those are the PTA moms". Except, since I didn't attend any meetings, I didn't know which moms were actually "PTA moms".

So I went to a couple meetings and found out that the population was much smaller than I had originally thought. The entire PTA was less than 10 people. And that included teachers. I attended a few meetings and next thing you know, I was sucked in. Except I wasn't a room parent, I was PTA Chairperson. I think it was due to my past board experience and the fact that I had two legs and a heartbeat.

We have not only helped fund $60,000+ in school resources (field trip buses, math carts, swimming lessons, laptops, etc...) but we have been able give direction to the school in how we want to volunteer and how we feel about non-scholastic issues like security and community involvement.

But the real story is not what has happened in the school. It's what happened in the moms.

Well, I can't speak for all the moms, but I can speak for myself.

In the last year I went from a mom with a kid at school, to a mom who had other mom friends who could read my thoughts with the roll of an eye or the tilt of a head. Mom friends who would ask me if I was OK on the bad days and would actually care about the answer. Mom friends who actually liked my kid and would go out of their way during the rough weeks to tell me good stories about my kid at school. Mom friends who would look me in the eye and say "I don't believe you that you are ok, I think you need to see a doctor" when no one else would stand up and say it.

They sang karaoke at "meeting B" and organized a community garden for 20+ families. They shared wine and martinis and we helped each other through rough points and watched movies together and watched each others' kids (the only moms I'd trust!).

And this past week those mom friends organized a beautiful conspiracy.

They knew about the miscarriage and the dog and they brought me dinner three nights in a row. The first time I thought it was just a one-of. Chicken and Rice that was super yummy and a homemade cherry pie. Day two I didn't realize the conspiracy so I made dinner, but I got apple pie and ice cream for dessert. And tonight I got homemade organic chicken soup and biscuits.

I mean, I love my husband but even he hadn't offered to cook me dinner! (He did have wine ready for me when I came home from the hospital.)

One of the moms is a dog trainer and not only did she take on the burden of  actually picking Finn up and returning him to the shelter, but she brought me chocolate and magazines for my days off work, to ensure I'd keep myself on the couch and relaxing instead of what I was inclined to do: Clean the house! Catch up on laundry! Oooh Yard Work!

Now, could I have met these women if I hadn't volunteered with the PTA? Yes, sure. But we wouldn't have spent so much time together, we wouldn't have had so much to talk about (because you know as well as I do that you can only talk about your kids so much...) because we had problems to sort out, budgets and volunteer shifts and BBQs and field trips and plenty of time to get to know one another in a non-judgmental environment. (Because the playground feels judgmental, thanks to our personal experiences with it as kids!)

With all that is going on in my life, I may not be volunteering as much next year and that's ok... because PTA is not a life sentence. I can't take time off and volunteer later... it really isn't a cult that doesn't let you go.

But it does allow you to make friends who won't let you go. And I look forward to many, many more years with them.

Friday, April 09, 2010

I miss the dog

I miss that darn dog so much that I can't think about him without crying. I know he's just a substitute since I lost the baby on the same day the dog left. I know that my grief isn't just for the dog so I keep trying to remember all the bad things he did. You know, chewing shoes and waking me at 5 am because he thinks it's time to get up and, well, that was about it.

But I keep remembering his eyes when he'd lay his head on my lap. How he'd press his head down on my lap and wrap his paw around my leg. How my daughter would laugh and giggle while she'd try to wrestle with him.

I know it was the right choice to let him go, so my family could be whole and my husband could trust that I'd listen to him.

I know that what I miss is holding a baby. Writing down names. Feeling the kick in my belly. Spending my days with my family and not going to work. Smelling baby breath. Choosing cute outfits. Nursing.

But I can`t miss that because it didn`t happen. It was too early, it was too small.

But I do miss the dog.

Tiger's Remorse

The first time I saw this ad I had the sound turned off and it still moved me.

There was something about how he flinched at the camera flashes. Something vulnerable.

Now the cynical side of me says he knows what he's doing and it's a ploy. But he's using his father's words for a reason. I just cannot believe that he had been so close to his father and he's just using those words to further himself financially. He may be using them as a lifeline. And I think that's ok.

What do you think?

All I can think is - I hope he cleared this with his wife and that he's sought her forgiveness completely before seeking the forgiveness of his fans and supporters. I would not know what to do if I were his wife and I saw him making amends and being forgiven when I hadn't done it yet myself. Because there really truly is only one person he wronged - his wife.

(well, and his kids, but they are still young.)

Thursday, April 08, 2010


Everyone says I need to deal with it in my own way. I am, I think. When I actually deal with it, it's in my own way. Most of the time I avoid dealing with it. I focus on other things. Look! We need wee little fences around the plants so the dirt doesn't get on the patio. Look! I need a haircut. Look! I need to watch every movie I've PVR'd. Look! I need to buy a de-thatching rake.


I went to get my hair cut today and after she washed my hair she asked, "did you just have a baby?" I knew right away why she'd asked, my hair was falling out in clumps. Usually that happens about 3 months after I have a kid, the hormone levels drop and my body lets go of lots of hair. But with the miscarriage and the surgery, all hormone production seems to have stopped. It actually started about a week ago and I thought "hmmm, this is hormonal. this is probably not a good sign."

I stammered a bit and then just blurted out "um, no, but I had a miscarriage and so it's kind of the same, you know, with hormones". I felt bad even saying it to her because she was just making small talk and I don't know her from Eve. She said sorry, I said "no no it's ok" and then she gave me a cool haircut that I like very much.


We went bowling together. The family. I had told Major Man last week I was unhappy with the amount (or lack of) family activities. So when I suggested it he was up for it. My three year old daughter legitimately beat me at one game.


The power went out tonight as our city experienced a lovely little storm. For about an hour we hung out around candles and read our books and I put the kids to bed. It was starting to get a bit chilly in the house and I was bemoaning the fact that I couldn't watch TV, sad, sad, sad. But I wasn't tired and I didn't want to read my book by candlelight.

Most of the candles I have are smelly ones. So my house smelled like Gingerbread-Apple Pie-Strawberry-Fresh Meadow all mixed into one. It was actually pleasing.

And I'm glad we drink ourselves a bottle or two of wine. Otherwise we'd have no place to put the un-smelly candles.

And don't ask me why santa is still up on my wall four months after Christmas. It was snowing you know.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

If ever I wanted a Mulligan Week....

Prologue: I've had a few weeks of depressing posts. Anger, bad times, grumpiness. Permit me one more please and then things will start looking up around here. I promise. Because I don't give up. I look UP. 

I guess it started last week. Hubby admitted to me (through much arguing and yelling) that he did not WANT the dog. That he felt I had ignored his wishes. That I bowled him over and just did what I wanted. I had to admit that part of that was true. He seemed ambivalent. I should have realized that ambivalence would lead to problems if we got the dog. But we got the dog.

I didn't want to get rid of the dog because we were already bonding, he was good with the kids and I had made a commitment. But my husband had not, it was causing problems. We'd basically gotten the dog and found out we were pregnant in the same week and he'd tried to stop the dog purchase but I pushed on.

But over the weekend I agreed that we'd take the dog back. I spoke to the kids and they actually handled it better then I thought they would. I explained that family was more important than a dog and our commitment to each other was also more important. As a friend of mine said:

Look, to me, pets are like MATES. You can’t just have any old cat or dog in the pet slot----a good pet is a part of the family and they need a personality and temperament and yes, even stage of life, that fits in with yours. There's this sort of DEMONIZING of people who give up pets... like YOU SHOULD HAVE KNOWN YOU WERE NOT READY FOR A DOG NOW YOU ARE GOING TO HELL AND YOU MUST WRECK YOUR MARRIAGE OVER A CANINE. I think that’s crap and shows a lack of empathy for HUMAN circumstances. Sometimes a dog is the wrong dog, are you supposed to live with the wrong dog for 13 years, unhappy and stressed, because he looked cute to you when you met?  Please, we do not do that with dates.

I was having a rough week and a dear, beautiful friend (who happens to be a dog trainer) offered to take the dog back for me. I was not strong enough to do it myself and hubby would have given them the Cole's Notes version of why when they needed to know how amazing the dog is and how he's crate trained and sweet with children and waves and loves cats (but not to eat) and hardly barks.

That happened today.

What else happened today?

Surgery. Yesterday I started bleeding, not just spotting. I was in the late stages of the first trimester with #3.


I had a miscarriage and they had to do surgery yesterday to finish the job. Just a procedure, painless and simple. Painful and complicated. My husband had not been happy about the pregnancy. He didn't want any more. But unlike a dog, he couldn't give it back.

At first I didn't tell him. He was sleeping after his night shift so I went to the Emergency Room myself. After tests and ultrasounds and being briefly forgotten by the staff and shuttled from room to room to await results, a nice doctor (who met me for the first time as he) told me that the pregnancy was no longer viable.

There was the question of what to do, wait it out and risk infection, finish the job or finish the job somewhere else. I called my husband. Now, as upset as I'd been about the dog and our lack of communication and knowing he had not wanted the baby in the first place, I have to give him the credit he deserves. He was there for me because I needed him to be. Just like he was supposed to be. He didn't promise me we'd try again, he didn't say much at all. He was just quietly there. Which was all I needed.

I wondered if I should post on Facebook or Twitter or something, but as a writer I needed to process things first and then write it out. But Facebook proved to offer some wonderful words of wisdom. A friend was just diagnosed with breast cancer and she said:

God has a plan for my life and now it just happens to include breast cancer. Our experiences in life mold us into what God wants us to be, teach us lessons and how to cope, and most importantly to be a witness of His grace and mercy. Bad comes to everyone, whether they are good or not--and no one is good, not one. The... difference in someone with faith in God is that they have HIM to lean during the tough times.

I could say the same thing. God has a plan for my life and it just happens to include no dog and two kids instead of three. That is not such a bad thing.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Which Came First, the Victim or the Anger?

It is no shock to most of my family that both my son and I have what we shall call "anger management" issues. Heck my daughter may have them too but at three years old, the state of being outraged at the world seems pretty normal. Like, Oh My Gosh My Pony Tail Is Falling Down!! The future looks bleak for my calm, mellow, introverted hubby.

Again, if you asked my family, they would probably regale you with stories of Heather's Temper. I remember it too, but probably not as well since anger tends to boil up your memories into a pot of remembered injustices and the sneaky voice that tells you how horrible your life is and how wholly unfair the world can be. It took me a long, long time to get my temper under control. I masked it for a while. I could seethe and rage quietly and then stalk off and deal with it in whichever way I felt necessary. There was a pattern of self destructive behaviours that repeated themselves all the way through my teenagehood and into my early twenties.

But I've dealt. There has been a lot of prayer. A lot of grace. A lot of starting over. Thankfully my husband is still along for the ride... it will be five years of wedded blitz this September.

Earlier I spoke about the fact that I started taking Cipralex, medication for anxiety/depression to treat Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder. Well, then there was that little WHOOPS called baby #3. And the Lord Sayeth No More Cipralex. I know there are other options, but I'm not ready to try them and deal with the side effects while dealing with morning sickness and the (really, truly called) hundred day cough.

But I had an epiphany this week. One that has left me reeling - in a good way. I read an article about Ladakh: A Society with No Bullies and I found this line:

What few people understand is that anger is a victim feeling. We only get angry when people do things against us.

I had never though of anger that way before. I mean, with all my son's social skills issues I'd said to him "when you get mad like that, you let someone control your reactions" but they were words. I didn't get it. I didn't understand.

Of course it is! Of course it is! I can't believe I've never connected the dots.

(You may be thinking I'm a simpleton right about now, but let me explain...)

My anger has been a defensive mechanism, a way to prove that I cannot be hurt, that I will win, that I'm tougher and stronger and super woman/mom/wife and a way to reassure myself that I'm still in control. When a neighbour makes a judgement about me, I get angry because Who Does She Think She Is and I Should Show Her and I rant to my husband... but it wasn't about the crazy neighbour lady... it was about me. It was about proving to myself that I was still ok, I was still a good person, I was still whole. The anger was the wall that went up so I could take my own inventory and think "yep, we're all good in here".

I was acting like a victim. Someone Has Done Something To Me. WTH. Life Isn't Cool. I Have Been Angered!

I don't like being a victim. That feels weak. That feels powerless. That feels life fear.

(I'm going to go a little religious on you all now, bear with me!)

I'm a new creation. I'm saved. I'm forgiven so that I can forgive. The same power that raised Christ, resides in me. The spirit of Christ, lives in me. I can't harbour the feelings of fear and powerlessness because the spirit of Christ cancels that crap out. It's incompatible.

And plus, being a victim doesn't help anyone. It simply identifies the wronged party. And even if I'm legitimately wronged, living like a victim (living with anger) doesn't do anyone a bit of good. It doesn't even bring justice. It brings pain and hurt and multiplies it. Exponentially sometimes.

Before, I could justify being angry. I could weigh the wrong against my reaction and think, yeah, I'm the one who is RIGHT here.

Now, I can't justify being a victim.

And I can look my son in the eye and tell him that he's not a victim either.

(Now, there is a thing called righteous anger. See Temple, Moneychangers, Jesus. But that topic is for another day.)

Friday, March 26, 2010

Rude + Jerk = UNFOLLOW <- Yeah, that's my kinda math.

I was searching for math videos online and found a plethora of different sites. See the boy child learns best if he can see something demonstrated and follow along. And since I'm super un-math-tastic, I felt videos might be best. He loves searching on The YouTube.... which is great. Except when you think he's looking at lego videos and it turns out some sicko has uploaded lego porn... but I digress.

I found a great looking site and started watching his videos... and saw one that was a parody of Sarah Palin teaching math.

Now, let's get a few things straight.... I'm Canadian and I really don't care if you like Sarah Palin or not. It doesn't affect me.

What does bother me is when someone purporting to teach math posts a video that shows him pretending to be a stupid person who can't do math.

Really, dude?

I am a writer. I've taught writing to kids. I would not even think of being so disrespectful as to create a video that parodies ANYONE who couldn't spell, read or write.

After sending the guy feedback, he responded to say that I shouldn't judge him on that video. Um, when you are selling a product online... a video product... and you put up a video that is rude and disrespectful, you're darn right that I'm going to judge.

He then responded to say how stupid Sarah Palin was and oh why don't I just go and quote him, "She does not deserve your defense of her. She creates fear, uses scare tactics and lies to the American People. Oh, but *I* am the bad guy in your eyes. You missed the whole point of the video. Sheesh..."

Apparently all the guy knows to do is try make others feel stupid so that he can feel smart. Sorry dude, my kid won't be watching your videos. He needs positive encouragement, a friendly, smiling face that says "it's ok if you don't know the answer, buddy" and NOT what this math dude has to offer. 

And no, I won't be giving him any links. 


Tuesday, March 23, 2010

When will it clear...

The last few weeks have been hard. Just when I thought I’d overcome one problem or filled my quota of issues, another monster would rear its head. In a way, I began to feel like the world was collapsing upon me. Nothing was as it should be. I began to identify with Natalie Grant’s song, Our Hope Endures.

Sometimes the sun stays hidden for years
Sometimes the sky rains night after night
When will it clear
But our hope endures the worst of conditions
It's more than our optimism
Let the earth quake
Our hope is unchanged

And in that song (see video below) I realized that there was nothing to fear. Issues in parenting, school, former relationships, jobs, life changing moments…. all that is fleeting but the one person I could go to now and forever was the same as he’d always been. (Um, that would be God.)

See, I have this control issue. I must be in control, I must be (dum dah dah dum) Master of My Own Destiny… (as opposed to, you know, master of my own domain). Not surprisingly my son is very similar and in seeing his struggle I’ve seen my own. Seeing him work to overcome I see what I can do. Part of having a controlling personality is being certain that you can handle anything that comes your way just because you are good enough. You can rock this. You got it all in hand, yo.

In reality, you just rely on setting all your plates a spinning and using your super awesome balance to keep everything going. You rely on yourself and your situation. Because you are good enough, you are prepared enough and darn it.. people like me. Wait, wrong speech.

It has seemed that every aspect of my life was under attack by some force or another and it was almost like all my usual crutches were being taken away. All my houses built on shifting sand were being destroyed. All my cool spinning plates were crashing around me (nevermind the poor sod I was trying to balance on my head.... I think I'm taking this metaphor a bit far, ya think?).

Oh I suck at being PTA President, huh? Well at least I’m a good employee. Oh. Crap…
Well, I suck at being an employee, huh? Well at least I’m a good wife. Oh. Crap…
I suck at being a wife, huh? Well at least I’m a good mom. Oh. Crap….
And on and on…

It took me a while to realize it, but that’s kind of how God works in us sometimes. He needs to remove the crutches from those of us most stubborn so we are forced by circumstance to rely on him. I imagine him sitting up there saying, “now Heather, I’ve told you to rely on me and you’ve said you are… so why do you start to act so wobbly when I remove these crutches? If you aren’t relying on them, you shouldn’t require them.”  Word to yer mama, God.

So I really hope I’ve gotten it. I hope that I’ve figured it out…. because I can only take my earth being shaken every other year or so.


Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Letter re; Cascade Aerospace or "You're Not Safe in the Sky".

I am writing to inform you of a significant, unresolved situation regarding what could be the largest mass poisoning of personnel in a federally regulated industry in Canadian history, which has and will impact thousands of individual Canadians for generations.

This case involves the Air transport industry. As you are aware this federally regulated industry falls under the jurisdiction of Transport Canada and HRSDC. The company involved is currently a contractor with the Department of National Defense. Workplace wage replacement benefits are in this case provided by a Workers Compensation Board which falls under provincial jurisdiction.

A massive chemical poisoning incident occurred in March 2002 which left five employees permanently disabled. Following outlined procedures injured and non injured workers submitted written and verbal complaints to the local HRSDC/Labour Canada office. For reasons yet to be determined the representative from the office who was assigned to investigate these complaints, missed the opportunity to initiate appropriate enforcement action as outlined under Part II of the Federal Labour Code.

Poisonous chemical exposure incidents continued at this employer’s facility on a regular basis until the fall of 2009. When after examining the situation a second official representing HRSDC/Labour Canada issued a Direction pursuant to Part II of the Federal Labour Code. The company, a major Canadian Defense Ministry Contractor is by all indications following the issued Direction.

However it must be considered that during this time frame the number of employees who received poisonous chemical exposures and became disabled increased from five in 2002 to approximately seventy. This approximate number does not include employee’s children born with birth defects. Or the small but significant number of employees diagnosed with various forms of cancer. Well over eleven hundred employees of this company received well documented poisonous chemical overexposures for over seven years without intervention by the regulatory body responsible for oversight.

Formally submitted complaints with applicable reference material alleging multiple serious contraventions of Part II of the Code, naming the company as well as the company’s insurer and representative WorkSafe BC have been made since 2002.

The lack of response from HRSDC/Labour Canada has been a major contributing factor in this issue evolving into the crisis it is today. It should be considered that this lack of response has caused these employees to be denied the fundamental right to what is known in the industry as a Bill C-45 Hearing, or more appropriately known as Section 217.1 of the Criminal Code. In taking seven and a half years to initiate a Direction since first receiving complaints that a “danger existed” at this workplace. HRSDC has allowed the statute of limitations to expire on several important issues. The ability to prosecute the company as well as its insurance provider has been severely compromised.

It should be noted that this lack of an issuance of a Direction when first notified a “danger existed” at this workplace, allowed the companies’ representative and insurer WorkSafe BC to legally circumvent its responsibilities as wage replacement benefit provider by stating; “a lack of causation existed” between the workplace and the employee’s disabling health & medical conditions.

The exact number of employees who have become disabled due to these poisonous chemical exposures is not accurately recorded, however is estimated to be approximately seventy. After viewing the eight yearlong battle for wage replacement benefits by several employees. Current employees of this company are simply not applying for wage replacement benefits as they are not financially, mentally or emotionally fit to enter into combat with the company’s representative and insurer WorkSafe BC, an organization well known for human rights violations. As the outcome of these claims is predetermined, employees in this federally regulated workplace are aware they will be denied disability benefits regardless of all efforts. The sheer volume of previously denied claims has not gone without notice and is in itself generating considerable public interest.

The right of employees to receive wage replacement benefits was also blocked by HRSDC failing to prosecute the company’s representative, WorkSafe BC for acts of non-disclosure under Part II of the Code, which are criminal offences. Again no employee disabled at this company by poisonous chemical exposures has received wage replacement benefits.

The following quote was taken from a January 2009 CBC News report on the situation; “After a tour with company safety representatives, Melinda Lum of HRDC concluded "there are no violations in the regulation or code." indicating the level of competence as well as performance of Due Diligence applied in this matter by HRSDC.

Enquiries and complaints regarding this HRSDC employee to her supervisor were dismissed with a standard “you need to work this out with her” response. Indicating a clear lack of quality control or checks and balances to prevent a single individual’s failure in job performance to initiate a crisis as it has in this case. It has not gone unnoticed that the only individual to receive the benefit of protection by Part II of the Code is this single HRSDC employee. The appearance that this HRSDC employee is also shielded from Section 221 of the Criminal Code has now become a matter of public interest.

Enquiries identifying criminal activity allegations of WorkSafe BC, supplied with reference material to subsequent BC Provincial Labour Minister’s offices since 2002. Have consistently resulted in the following cookie cutter, not my department reply: “I am advised that the company in question, Cascade Aerospace, falls under federal jurisdiction for occupational health and safety issues”

In October 2009 then Federal Minister of Labour, R Hon Rona Ambrose responded to a letter from R Hon Maria Minna, Opposition Labour Critic inquiring as to the status of the situation. Her response in writing was that there is an ongoing investigation and as such she could not comment. However, six months into this alleged investigation, no representative from HRSDC/Labour Board has contacted any individual or organization involved in this crisis. Which when examining everything as a whole, unfortunately calls into question the integrity of not only the Ministry but the Minister as well.

Given the overall size, impact, to serve public interest as well as the public interest generated, and the allegations which indicate HRSDC is a major contributing factor in this crisis. The mere perception of HRSDC investigating itself in this situation gives the appearance of being unethical.

In response to a request by Opposition Ethics Critic, R Hon Marlene Jennings under The Access to information Act for information related to this crisis. HRSDC applied a time limit extension of up to 90 days in accordance with paragraph 9(1) (a) of the Act which states:

9. (1) The head of a government institution may extend the time limit set out in section 7 or subsection 8(1) in respect of a request under this Act for a reasonable period of time, having regard to the circumstances, if

(a) the request is for a large number of records or necessitates a search through a large number of records and meeting the original time limit would unreasonably interfere with the operations of the government institution,

The utilization of this reference again highlights the perception of an unethical self-investigation of HRSDC’s role in this crisis. Also the utilization of this reference infers one should question the conduct of HRSDC personnel as well as the Minister involved as it raises two important points:

A)    If the amount of records pertaining to this company and this situation are in substantial of size as to require up to 120 days to compile, is not an explanation of why it took an HRSDC representative seven and a half years to issue a Direction is past due?


B)    As it is HRSDC/Labour Canada’s mandate is to be responsible for Part II of the Canada Labour Code and Canada Occupational Health and Safety Regulations. And with the current investigation being conducted in name only: How is it possible that poisonous chemical overexposures of over one thousand employees of a single company could unreasonably interfere with the operations of this government institution when its mandate is to protect these same employees?

As the company which is the center of this investigation has received DND contracts valued in excess of one half billion dollars of taxpayer money, the information formally requested under The Act, is of significant public interest.

Current and newly appointed Minister of Labour R Hon Lisa Raitt or personnel from her office have as of yet to respond to multiple written and verbal enquiries.

This crisis has not gone unnoticed by the company. After receiving multimillion dollar loans and contracts from both the British Columbia and the Government of Canada: Cascade Aerospace the company at the center of this crisis has recently divested itself of its facility in British Columbia Canada. Restructured its corporate entity and distanced itself from its former parent company Conair Group.

While laying off hundreds of employees in Canada the company has invested heavily in new facilities in Washington State USA. And also has moved specialty tooling along with aircraft parts out of Canada to this new facility. The company is essentially a shell of what it was when this crisis began. Other than ten year old office furniture the company has little to no assets in Canada.

This crisis reinforces criticism from the US Department of Defense of flaws in the Canadian DND contractor procurement processes. As the DND has awarded this company which is a leader in a consortium, two additional multimillion dollar contracts on top of the existing 450 million dollar maintenance contract after this crisis became public knowledge.

This has now become a national unity issue as jobs were lost in the provinces of Alberta and Quebec by DND’s decision to grant these contracts to a company with a known and abysmal safety record, and as documented questionable ethics.

The treatment of these disabled employees by the company, the Province of British Columbia and Canadian Governments; has contravened even the lowest of constitutional and human rights standards in Canada. As the company is in an exporter of goods and services and has not been charged under the applicable regulations. It therefore has received an unfair advantage by the Provence of British Columbia and the Canadian Government over its competitors in foreign countries which has resulted in job losses, clearly indicates the spirit of Canada’s commitment to NAFTA, The World and other free trade agreements.

This crisis combined with Transport Canada’s efforts to implement aspects of an SMS program without parliamentary approval. Demonstrates an unacceptable reliance on the complacency of traveling Canadians to assume they are safe on a Canadian registered aircraft when this is no longer true.

Heather Cook

Monday, March 15, 2010

For Mickey, a good dog.

This is a poem I wrote for a friend's dog ... or for my friend. We were all involved in stock dog trials at the time and she had this dog that spent his life just being her dog... while all the other dogs were doing "important" things like working sheep or cattle and competing for prizes and money. They had to put Mickey down this year and I needed to find this poem for her.

Porch Hound

In the dog world there are many breeds
Well known and world renowned
But none know their calling in life the best
As a true, purebred porch hound.

Some may scoff at his questionable lineage
His only papers she housebroke him on
And he does things like sit and roll over
And sings to his favourite songs.

He’s caused the odd wreck in the sheep pen
Puttin’ a paw in just to help out
If there’s two commands he listens to
It’s “git yer butt home” and “git out”.

But he knows who home belongs to
For all others he sounds the alarm
He reads strangers like an open book
Known’ the good from those who mean harm.

He’s kept her feet warm in the winter
And on long nights when she couldn’t sleep
He knows her better than she does
And knows secrets he’ll always keep.

Through the winding road of life he’s stayed
Glued right to her side
He’s bounced and played when she’s laughed
And nudged her hand when she’s cried.

Damn near human he gets quite incensed
If kennelled up at all
How can he do his lifelong job
Surrounded by four walls?

I’m sure the average working stock dog
Feels he couldn’t walk the ground they tread
But when it’s 40 below in their kennels
He’s cureld up at the foot of her bed.


Thursday, March 04, 2010

Three Things

Getting a puppy last week seemed like such a great idea. And he is still the sweetest puppy even if he's a bit of a... ahem... humper. He was only neutered last week so it will be another few weeks before all the hormones are gone. Until then... woe unto the child who finds herself crawling on the floor playing with a toy.

And heaven help me but the first time it happened I was laughing so hard that I could hardly tell him to stop. After the tenth or eleventh time... it's getting a bit much.

Then last weekend our hot water heater broke. And it's still broken. That's five days without hot water. Thank goodness mom lives close by so we can head over to her house for showers and baths in the evening. I still miss my morning shower though...

And then, the topper of it all.... I found out I'm pregnant.

This was so not planned. This was a big OOPSIE. I had just recently made peace with the fact that my husband did not want any more children. My job was going really well and I felt like I was making career gains there. A child was not in the plan.

But now it is. And hubby is not thrilled. (Yeah, I know he was there for the oopsie!)

When I told my bosses, I totally broke down. If all the men in my life are upset with me, this is going to be a loooong pregnancy.

I know my husband will come around. I know he's upset and disappointed. He has retirement plans. He's 42 this year and will be 60 at this kid's graduation and that upsets him. I get that.

But I'm still happy. :)

Even with the broken water heater.

Friday, February 26, 2010


We've welcomed a new family member: Finn.

He's from the Humane Society of Calgary and he's a super sweetheart. At 4 months old he's already a big boy - and he's got big paws as well so I'm sure he's going to be a big boy! We got him this massive crate for him to sleep in... I hope he grown into it!

The cats frighten him more than anything. He went straight up to the big cat (Zorro) and if he could speak English he'd have been saying "a friend! a friend! you're my friend, right?"
Zorro batted him across the nose four times before he could back away and has been stalking him ever since. The poor dog can't go into a room without both cats following and sitting in the door way, blocking his escape! 

This is Ziggy, the younger one, starting to feel brave. He even reaches out a paw and taps Finn on the paw... but Finn does not move. He knows. 

He's a total sweetheart.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Why Does Tabby Have to Die?

This is the question my daughter asked me tonight.

Luckily, I was prepared. For the second time in about a year, we prepared to put one of the old dogs down.

Last year it was Madison, a border collie cross who'd lived a great life. Some of it with me as I'd rescued her when I was 16 years old. She was about to be shot because she couldn't chase sheep properly, but I brought her home. Eventually I gave her to my mom - it was kind of a forced adoption, I left the country to work in Europe and couldn't bring her with me. She lived with mom since then. She was 16 when we put her down.

Tabby was my little baby. A puppy that I rescued from an idiot who didn't know how to take care of his dogs. I gave him a bag of dog food for her. I used to keep her in my jacket pocket as I drove. She'd stick her nose out the top of my jacket and breathe her little puppy breath on me.

I tried to teach her to speak, but she would not. I think she felt it was rude to bark inside.

But she was a fierce protector. Woe unto you if you stuck your nose or hand into our yard and didn't heed her warning barks. She was also a tough dog. She once got lost in the city and spent 3 weeks out in the cold with temperatures hovering at -40C (-40F). We finally found her on a golf course and mom's husband had to track her across the snow... she was so fearful she didn't recognize him at first, but eventually she saw through her fear and came home to us. Skin and bones.

When we put Madison down last year, Tabby really started liking the kids. She was never overly fond of them but suddenly her tail would wag when she'd see them.

Even tonight as we went to say good-bye, she flopped her tail at them weakly, something she hadn't done for a week.

I prepared the kids. My son is 8 and my daughter is 3 and I can't stomach lying to them about what happens with dogs when they are too old.

"Tonight we're going to gramma's because Tabby is getting put down," I said. The kids froze in their seats. My son said "awww" but he knew why. He remembered Madison. My daughter asked what "put down" meant.

"Well, Tabby has lots of owies inside of her and she can't tell us where it hurts and we've tried to fix it and we can't. So we have to help her be free of pain by helping her die."

I let that sink in as the kids fell silent.

"Why does Tabby have to die?" My daughter didn't understand just yet. My son started to explain how dogs can't tell us where it hurts and we have to be responsible pet owners. Exactly what I told him last year and it choked me up so much to hear him explain it to his sister.

"It's a really hard decision to make, but we know it's the right one because she's in pain now and the only way to help her be free is to help her die. But we'll see her again, she'll go to heaven where she'll be free of all pain and she'll be really, really happy."

Lord, I don't know if dogs go to heaven, but it's all I had.

My daughter skipped into gramma's house and said "Tabby has owies inside her and she's going to die". Matter of fact. We went into the room where Tabby lay on her doggie bed. She looked horrible, like I've never seen her before.

Dehydrated because she had stopped drinking last night. Breathing funny. It was the right time.

My son kept it together. He understood what it meant. It was heartbreaking to see her tail flap as the kids came in, she hardly raised her head, but she saw them through her grey-blue, 14 year old eyes.

As we sat there with her she started to pant and mom decided that instead of waiting for the morning they would take her tonight. After we left they took her. "She went as peacefully as she lived," mom said on Facebook. I chuckled to myself because I thought of her biting that lady on the nose when she stuck her head in our yard. Not funny to laugh at but, dude, the dog was going bats and not in a good way and this silly lady reached half her body inside.

Tabby was a good one, she was a happy dog who had a good life.

What is making me extra sad tonight is that my kids don't have that canine influence in their lives. Sure we have the cats for a little fuzzy company... but dogs were always the best childhood companions in my life. *I* miss having a dog. We haven't had one for a while since we were renters... but now that we own our home it would be perfectly ok to get a dog.

We'll wait. The perfect one will come into our lives.

Until then, I'll keep staring at the hole that Madison and Tabby have left in our lives.

Monday, February 15, 2010

This Kevin Smith Thing Has Me Thinking

.. if I were to go get another job/career/life, I think that the best one would be a fitness trainer or a health coach... I mean, have you seen the size of us these days? If it's not Kevin Smith getting kicked off a plane for being too fat it's the incredible marketing power of The Biggest Loser
and our fascination with the size of Oprah.

We all know that society is getting older, so any industry catering to the elderly (housing, medical products, etc..) is sure to do well for the next few decades. But I don't see us all getting collectively skinnier any time soon.

The first step, of course, would for me to get my butt in shape first before telling anyone else how to do it. Which of course means my boss has nothing to worry about.

But exactly why should a company make seats that are larger to accommodate travellers? They make an average size seat (which fits my size 14 butt) to fit most people, but since we are all getting fatter (if the average weight of our kids is anything to indicate that) then when does it stop?

It's not like we have a RIGHT to air travel. If we really need to get there we have options.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Pillow Talk

Just watching a House episode that begins with Cuddy (Dean of Medicine: the head woman in charge, single mom and type A craZy) waking up early to exercise, her child wakes up with a fever and she rushes to get ready, even shower with her toddler.

Ahh, that sounds like my life!

Every night, between midnight and 2 am, our daughter slinks silently into our bed. I used to wake up and put her back in her bed but she learned to be silent like a little chubby ninja. Sometimes my son has a nightmare and despite the fact that he's 8 years old, will still come into our bed... he chooses to bring his own blanket and cuddle up near the foot of our bed... in the 1/6th of our bed that isn't taken up with a body.

And still I don't wake up when the come into bed. I do wake up when it's about 5 am and I KNOW that if I were to try put the kids back in bed they'd decide to punt and just stay up... Mother Nature is now trying to PWN! me by making the sun come up earlier so the darn kids can tell that it's close to morning time. So while I don't wake up when they come in, I do end up tossing and turning for the last few hours of sleep.

I'm not really complaining, I'm super lazy about one thing in my life: sleep. I could sleep and sleep and sleep because it's the only place that I am completely without pressure. The only place I can be alone with just me and my thoughts.

There are times I get to travel for work - writing conferences, sales meetings, etc... and the one thing I always enjoy is the hotel bed. I LOVE sleeping by myself in a big bed with the blinds closed and the heat turned up as high as I want it. I go to bed early, I don't set an alarm.

I'm looking very forward to my upcoming work trip in March. Just two nights in March. To catch up on three weeks of sleep.

Monday, February 08, 2010

Is "BUSY" your biggest complaint?

I make no bones about being a busy mom. I've often cataloged the reasons I'm busy....
  • Full time sales manager
  • Author of two books (Green Guide for Horse Owners/Riders & Rookie Reiner)
  • Mom of two
  • Wife of one
  • Ex-wife of another! :)
  • PTA President
  • Volunteer at Church
  • Writing Group Presi-secri-treasurer.
  • Avid reader and writer, karate and dance mom.
But let me be clear.... I'm not complaining.

I used to complain. "I'm soooo busy, I'm tooo busy" used to be my mantra. It used to just roll off my tongue the minute I became stressed. But then I had to look at exactly what I was doing with my time. I had taken on too much. I was volunteering on four different boards (community association, local gov't official's, writing group and PTA) while trying to write every night and improve myself at my day job by taking on more responsibility and reading work-related books wherever I went.

Then last summer my father in law passed away. I spent a couple of weeks with family and realized that there was a lot in my life that I could let go. And I admitted that the world would continue spinning if I dropped some balls, I also discovered that I'd have more time for things that were actually important - family!

I realized that I was overcommitted and it was not making me happy. I was too tired, had too much on my plate and it was making me do one thing that is sure to sink a marriage and a family.

I was trying to raise my expectations for everyone else's behaviour to match my own.

So when my husband was playing his video games and enjoying himself, I was all "why can't you see all the things that need to be done! why can't you do seven things at once and help me out!"  When someone wanted to sleep in, I was irritated that I couldn't. When I had too many appointments in a day, I was irritated when others weren't offering to help.

I mean, weren't we all in this together?

No. We weren't. I had forgotten to check with my family and see if they were happy with my schedule. I had been thinking only of myself and my self-satisfaction when I put on that supermom cape each day.

So what's changed?

I'm still busy. But I'm not too busy. I've found a pretty good balance between bored and too busy. I certainly haven't found 30 hours of leisure time like some people would have you believe.I realized that my default was to say "I'm busy" when what I really meant was "I'm not happy you're not helping me out of this quicksand". I was the only one who had control over how much I took on. And when it came down to it, I knew that I had to be happy with just being a mom and a wife before I could add anything to my load.

So I hung up the supermom cape and gave myself permission to be happy. To be happy without needing to be busy.... and I found that I could then ENJOY not just my family, but also ENJOY being busy! It was no longer stressful because I was choosing to add things of value into my day.

Here's a typical day:

5:45 alarm goes off
6:30 crawl out of bed and get into the shower, daughter usually comes with me
cook breakfast, make lunches, get ready for work, drop daughter off at day care
7:30-8:00 get to work, eat lunch at my desk, try be a good boss, love my job (I do, it's weird!)
4:30-5:00 go get daughter from daycare, go home, start supper.
5:30 eat supper
6:15-7pm take son to karate, read a work book or report, finish up some writing.
7:30 bath time for short people, homework, book reading to the kids
8-9pm tell the kids to get their butts back into bed
9:30 sit down for "leisure time" which usually consists of blogging (work!) or research (work!) or writing (work!), while watching whatever I've recorded.
12 (midnight) head to bed.

Keep in mind that my husband works crazy and constantly changing shifts, so sometimes he's dropping the kids off, sometimes he's picking them up, sometimes he's sleeping when I get home from work and we try be really quiet until about 6 pm when he gets up! Also, I schedule most of my writing on the weekend or in the evenings, just like I always have and I've given myself the OK to not write every single day. I'll still be a writer just like a cyclist will still be a cyclist if he doesn't ride his bike EVERY day.

And I remind myself that "busy" is just a state of existance, it's not a complaint and it's not a badge of honor. It's just busy.