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.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Karate Drama

Yesterday was M's first Karate tournament. I was nervous for him, but he had been showing such confidence in class, volunteering to do his kata in front of his classmates. I'd been encouraging him about being confident, doing his best, yelling loudly... but I'd forgotten to prepare him for actual competition. Where not everyone wins.

He did a great job in his kata and then we had sparring. For Christmas he'd gotten sparring gear but he didn't want to bring it with him, I didn't remember that it was required (argh!!) so I didn't bring it along. We realized it was required but he could borrow some - but it was huge and this affected his sparring. He didn't place.

But he did get a 3rd in his kata.

However. Medals were awarded for katas and TROPHIES were awarded for sparring.

Oh the drama. Oh the pouting. His dad and I tried to encourage him and explain that he'd gotten a THIRD and he'd done really well. It was frustrating and hard to not say STOP POUTING!! DON'T BE A SORE LOSER! But I didn't, because I can remember how devestated I used to feel when I hadn't done as well as I wanted to. Before I realized that competition is only ever between you and yourself.

I enlisted the assistance of his karate teacher. She had a good long talk with him... before she told him she was going to take away his medal... for pouting.

He wanted to go home shortly after that conversation. But someone had to tell him. Someone had to snap him out of it.

When he got home, he phoned a friend and told him about his third place. Proudly.

He still wants to go to tournaments, still wants to compete and practice. I think it was especially tough that his best buddy in the class beat him in both kata and sparring. His best buddy who lives with a black belt... who gives him some extra training. How can we compete against that?

So we focus on the personal best, focus on fixing mistakes like forgetting his sparring gear and not getting a full night's sleep. Focus on having FUN.

Monday, February 01, 2010

Coal Tar, Anyone?

I was never a stellar cook. This is a fact, despite working AS A COOK at a local diner. It was pretty easy to do it there because the customers were all redneck, roughneck, 'dead truck drivers' and truckers. Was it warm? Check. Did it give me the runs? Nope. Allll good.

And I had a storehouse of ingredients so if i screwed up I didn't have to cry over $20 of wasted groceries. Plus I had a few tired and trues that I could fall back on: spaghetti, sloppy joes, fancy mac and cheese.

But now that I have a family, I'm finding that I kind of like to cook and make them yummy things to eat. The kids are not always appreciative of my experiments (jambalaya FAIL) and I still have some fall backs: Jambalaya.... with a side of mac and cheese!

Now that my son has these "attention issues". I ... what? Shiny object.... where was I?

Now that I'm searching for ways to help my son focus better in school, his diet has come under scrutiny. I think I've done a pretty good job. I make them healthy breakfasts of bacon or sausage with eggs or maybe crepes. I don't use white sugar (I use splenda or a natural sweetener), I make their cookies instead of buying them.... I've even been known to make a yummy bread from scratch. The worst thing my husband could find was the store-bought granola bars. I just haven't figured out how to make homemade ones yet.

But tonight I decided to investigate food colouring. Those dyes that have been rumoured to be horrible and the source of all evil.

Yeah. I think they are right.

COAL TAR DYE, anyone?

I am feeding my children petroleum products? Come again?

Here's a WebMD article that says:

Can food dye cause hyperactivity?

A recent study by the United Kingdom’s Food Standards Agency in 2007 showed that the consumption of foods containing dyes could increase hyperactive behavior in children. In the study of 3- 8- and 9-year-olds, children were given three different types of beverages to drink. Then their behavior was evaluated by teachers and parents.
One of the drink mixtures contained artificial food colorings, including:
  • sunset yellow (E110)
  • carmoisine (E122)
  • tartrazine (E102)
  • ponceau 4R (E124)
It also contained the preservative sodium benzoate. The second drink mixture included:
  • quinoline yellow (E104)
  • allura red (E129)
  • sunset yellow
  • carmoisine
It also had sodium benzoate. The third drink mixture was a placebo and contained no additives.
The researchers found that hyperactive behavior by the 8- and 9-year-olds increased with both the mixtures containing artificial coloring additives. The hyperactive behavior of 3-year-olds increased with the first beverage but not necessarily with the second. They concluded that the results show an adverse effect on behavior after consumption of the food dyes.

Now my son does not have hyperactivity issues, he has attention issues. Does anyone think that these might be related? I do ... except I don't know the reasons behind it yet, but I imagine if it increases hyperactivity in regular kids then my Winnie the Pooh child would probably become hyperactive.... AND distracted. Great combo, huh?

So it's my intent to figure out a way to change his diet (and really, our diet, since we'll all have to change with him) and we'll see if it helps.

On a side note, it's kind of mind boggling to me that I have to fill out two forms with doctor's signatures if I want to send any vitamins or homeopathics to school with him. Instead, I just zip over to his school at lunch and get him to take a vitamin. I may enlist some family to help with that too eventually. Or I'll just spike his soup with vitamins and not tell anyone :)

I guess we'll also be removing: bacon, ketchup, lunch meat, mustard... dude, what am I supposed to feed this kid!?!?

Any good recipe help is appreciated.

It's funny that I fed him bacon tonight (and lots of it, I might add, since he got into the leftovers) and he's Very Hyper With a Side of Illogical.