Thursday, December 31, 2009

living the dream

It's New Year's Eve and my first full shift back at work since I had my daughter. While many are out in their party frocks and thinking of New Year's resolutions, I am at work and there is no place I'd rather be right now. Except snuggled in bed with my children. But it feels so good to be back. The guys have been super helping me get back into the swing of things. What a great way to ring in the New Year. I don't have any resolutions... except to get more sleep. Resolutions in general can be tricky. I don't like to make promises that I can't keep and I am not into redefining myself at the start of a new year. I prefer to build on hopefully whatever wisdom I've acquired the previous year and just keep on going. Keeps my life less complicated this way. I was once asked the "Who am I" question by a writer and the pat answer was that I am a wife, a mother, a daughter, a firefighter, a friend. But the truth is not that simple. I try to live with simplicity. Yet sometimes I am hopelessly more complicated than I need to be. And with this duality it is my constant quest to find balance in my life with humour (albeit often dark and dry) and love. As I get older, I have started to see the world not just through my own eyes, but through the eyes of others. Through the eyes of my children from the moment of their birth, to the eyes of the dying that I witness at work, I see that we are all one and the same and that we are all infinite beings capable of infinite things. Who would have thought this small town girl could grow up to become a firefighter and have a family.

So forget the resolutions. Just believe in possibility because with possibility anything can be accomplished.

Happy New Year. Wishing you a year full of gratitude, health, and childhood wonder.

Monday, December 28, 2009

getting close

Well, Thursday I'm back on the trucks! Since my shift was working today and daycare is closed for the holidays I thought I'd bring him in to help me get settled in to my lockers and say hello to my new crew. It also helps for him to see where I work so he understands when I am not home. And he was in his glory when one of the firemen gave him a thick slab of raisin toast smothered in peanut butter. He was so thrilled he nearly forgot about the firetrucks... but once he remembered there was no stopping him.


We left at 5 pm and he fell asleep during the drive home. I carried him up to bed and he's still asleep... With all the holiday excitement this week plus this trip to the fire station I think he's just tuckered out. I'm pretty sure he'll stay asleep till morning.

And on a completely unrelated topic, Maiya having a bad hair day.

Kind of what my own hair looks like after I take my helmet off.

xo

Sunday, December 27, 2009

uhm... offside?

Now that the the Christmas hoopla has died down, we can focus on the real religion of Canada: hockey! Jacob has expressed an interest in the sport since he was two and my husband and I have been dragging our heels.... only because we don't follow or understand the rules of the game (yes, very un-Canadian I know but heck, he's a Brit and I'm Chinese so that's our excuse). But, we decided to get with the times and dig up our old rusty skates.... and get Jacob some gear of his own.

He's a natural. :)



The best thing about it is how tired he gets... anything that leaves him begging for a nap is great. :)



I guess I'll have to pay more attention when the game is on at the fire house and figure out the blue lines and what offside means. I'm sure I'll figure it out eventually and become a sideline pro.

Oh my god I hope I don't become one of those hockey moms. That will really be the end of me.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

the bestest present

Made it!!!

I survived Christmas mostly unscathed... sure I had a battle scar of two along the way but it's over! Only 364 days till the blasted holiday comes back.

Thankfully yesterday's dinner went much better. It helped that I phoned them and spoke quite sternly after we got home from the 'cookie' dinner as Jacob was in the throes of a sugar tantrum. They might think I am harsh but the health of my son is more important than being polite. I guess they finally got it..and there was nary a sugar treat to be seen at the house and Jacob was as good as gold as a result. I did have to pry away a glass of Kool-Aid that was given to him but I suppose Rome can't be built in a day. He played quietly with his toys and that was that. I was quite surprised how unfazed he was by the mountain of toys he received from the inlaws. He just wanted to play with his toy truck and tool set and his grampa. Goes to show you that my theory that a couple of appropriate toys and some good company is all you need.

Out of all the presents out there in the world. I still think that I received the bestest gifts:
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Their little monkey antics and million watt smiles are all I will ever need in this world.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

hold me back

Sigh... proud of myself that I did not reach out and slap someone tonight. We just got back from the outlaws. Love how they kept giving my son cookies (10 but who's effin' counting) instead of dinner and everytime I tried to step in I got the "oh... it's Christmas" line. And then they look at me like I'm the killjoy or the meanest parent in the world. I wish they would respect that I am my children's mother. And that I have to take them home all spun out, wired, and unhappy. I don't think they understand that spoiling is not love.

Spoiling just creates little monsters.

Ok... rant over.

24 more hours to go.

PETA folks... don't look here

Ok. I might get some flak for posting this but I thought I'd share anyway. I love crafts. I knit, I sew, and these days I've been feeling more adventurous and will be embarking on a hand sewn pair of mukluks. I have some nice moosehide that will be quite nice to work with and I'll trim with beads I think. My most recently completed project is a coyote fur ruff for my husand's coat. I don't know why NorthFace makes such a crummy synthetic ruff on such an expensive coat. So, I got hold of a coyote pelt and ta da! It's soooo lush! And my husand loves it.





I've also been meaning to post these pics for my pal north of 60. Introducing........ my Norwegian Blue Fox pelt!



And blocked and stretched out and ready to cut. (Coyote was done the same way but of course forgot to take the before pictures). Fox is even yummier than coyote!



Next fall, if we ever move into a house with a yard, I hope to tan a moosehide that I can get from the firefighters that go hunting. Tanning is a big, stinky, messy and labour intensive job but how cool would that be! Now before those animal cruelty comments start flooding in, I'd like to state that I am a lover of Mother Nature and all her creatures. I love animals. Especially small ones lightly grilled. And big ones served next to a side of mashed potatoes.

starting to get it

Ok... I'll eat a bit of crow now.

I am starting to remember the spirit of Christmas.

My girlfriend came over with gifts for the children and the look on Jacob's face was priceless as he reverently placed them under his tree. To see this holiday through a child's eyes is something to behold. I had forgotten about the wonderment, excitement and the believing.... where along the way had I become jaded? Jacob believes. He believes in Santa, and that the world is a safe place, that Mommy and Daddy are his heroes, that he can be an astronaut or a fireman or a race car driver. He believes that his world is without limits. And that in one more sleep Santa will make his way to our home.

On another note, my husband came home last night telling me that he took 2 men who earn just above minimum wage, shopping. These men work outdoors and my husband noticed that their clothes weren't warm enough. So he took them to Mark's Work Wearhouse and told them they could pick out whatever they wanted and they were outfitted with proper winter attire.

I am starting to see that Christmas is an opportunity to put a genuine smile on someone's face. And that love, and giving comes in powerful, quiet forms.

So today, on the eve of Christmas, I feel more fortified than I did a few days ago. Maybe I can get through dinner with the outlaws. xo

I just might survive this holiday with a smile after all.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

bah humbug

ugh... thank goodness only a few more days till Christmas. The mall musak is killing me, as are the crowds and the stressed out look on everyone's faces. If I had my druthers, I would abolish this holiday... it bugs me and it's depressing. It's the over consumption and the overabundance that I find disturbing... especially living in a large city when I know so many people are struggling and doing without. My husband and I don't exchange gifts, nor do we with my parents and we love that, it takes the pressure off and as such, we just enjoy an uncomplicated time together. Other members of my family, as well-meaning as they are, go overboard. They inundate the kids with sweets and inappropriate toys that leave Jacob spinning and crying by the end of the day. "Oh... it's Christmas." they say.

To which I wish I could reply "F Christmas." We've lost the meaning of it a long time ago.

But before you think I am being completely Grinchy and Scroogey. I did get into some feeling of Christmas. Note... Exhibit A:
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Made by Jacob and moi. Notice how I replaced the candy with dried fruit and yogurt coverd raisins and coconut snow? And the entire thing is so rock hard that it's inedible anyway... you'd break a tooth on it that's for sure.

And we got a tree... and we put it in Jacob's room so Maiya won't climb it.
No fingers were harmed during the process although we lost a limb or two... tree limbs that is.... ok... bad attempt at humour but hey... I'm trying here... I get grumpy this time of year.



Proud as a peacock:


And Maiya jumped in to help:



The gifts that my husband and I receive we end up donating. And this year we will be teaching Jacob about donating by letting him choose a gift he received to give to a nearby shelter. A 3 1/2 year old does not need a mound of toys and Jacob is old enough to understand that he can help out another child.

Well. Only 2 more days till Christmas and then the madness will die down.

Merry Christmas everyone.

There. I said it. xo

Sunday, December 20, 2009

flametamers

My most favourite firefighters in the world are the old timers. They are who I professionally strive to be. They've seen and done it all, and as such, are so laid back that you would barely think they had an increased pulse rate when the alarm goes. My adrenaline levels still spike a bit the minute I enter through the bay doors at the start of shift. It's always in anticipation of what the day might bring and it is not until I have checked in my breathing apparatus, personal equipment and all the tools I am responsible for on the truck that I start to settle down. The old guys just take it in stride. They come in, relaxed and looking almost half asleep with a mug of hot coffee in their hand. When the alarms go off they hop on the trucks as if going for a Sunday ride whereas I scramble to get into my gear as quickly as possible. And even when we get to the call and a house is burning down they move slowly and methodically to get the job done. They move with purpose and with the confidence one obtains from experience. Whereas I still often fight with the pressure of the hose, they command it, to ultimately still and extinguish the fire like the flame tamers they are. I am almost disappointed when the fire is out because to watch the old guys fight the fire, is pure poetry in motion.

flat

I can walk today. :) Yesterday, however, was a completely different story. After 3 days of being back at work training, etc... I was spent from the knees down. What did me in was my safety boots. At 3 1/2 pounds each they were like dead weights strapped to my ankles and after a year of going barefoot at home I suppose I am not used to boots, let alone steel toed ones. Weird how I can backsquat over 200 lbs but some measly safety boots did me in. And, they were a half size too small. I guess my feet grew? Or they just got flatter with pregnancy? Sadly now that I'm basically done nursing, my chest got flatter too, as well as my arse. I never had booty before and certainly don't have any now. Sigh... off to haul my flat asian arse off to bed.

Friday, December 18, 2009

the more things change...

... the more they stay the same.

Even though I've been off the trucks for just over a year, nothing has changed. Sure there are some new policies and procedures and protocol and equipment but basically, you still put the wet stuff on the red stuff. And I've started to remember how men can natter worse than women. Holey moley... can they ever gossip...My ears hurt so much they are almost bleeding. They're like a bunch of hens at a quilting bee. Ah well. That is human nature I suppose.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

hi ho, hi ho, it's off to work I go

Well, my shiny new bunker gear ain't so shiny any more. :) My first day back at Training was fun... got to put on all my gear and breathing apparatus and go through a confined space maze on all fours or crawling on my belly. One great thing about being smaller than the average fireman is that squeezing through an 18 inch hole fully decked out in gear is much easier when you're 140 lbs vs. 200 lbs. The big guys have to take their airpacks off while still keeping their facepieces on and push the pack in front of them as they go through the pipe and put it back on once they get through it. I must say it is disconcerting being detached from your air supply... dropping it could rip your facepiece right off which would mean bye bye air. Which is why we train in pitch black so we rely on feel as opposed to sight because usually in a fire we can see squat anyway. In the afternoon I went over medical protocol and breathed life back into a rubber dummy.

I still have a bit more to go before I work out all the cobwebs. But it is like riding a bike and it's all coming back to me now that I'm in the groove. Funny how once I get out of my mommy sweatpants and put on my navy blue station wear that I start engaging that work-mode part of my brain. It's not that I don't love my children but during those glorious hours when I lose track of time because I am so focused on work, I feel totally free. It's that happy exhaustion that leaves me breathless and would send me running home during my rookie days bursting at the seams to recount the shift's tales to my husband. It's funny how I see Jacob doing the same thing, running into my arms when I pick him up from daycare... his constant babbling of his adventures of the day which still amazes me how he has grown into his own big little person. And this is one of the reasons why I work. I have my world, and my children have theirs and we all get to meet somewhere in between, melding and sharing everything together. It enriches my life and makes me a happier person. I don't think I would be as happy if I were home full time. And nor would the children. It's hectic and takes supreme organizational skills balancing my mommy world and my fire world but it's working out and the children are none worse for the wear. And the cute thing is that Jacob thinks everyone's mommy is a 'fireman'. Oh how fun it would be if that were true! xo ;)

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

ready for fire

It's the eve of my return to work... tomorrow I head to Training and to Headquarters for the remainder of the week to play around with the trucks and hoses and go over any new medical protocol and policies and procedures and work out the cobwebs. I should be asleep right now but it feels like it's the night before Christmas and I am too excited to sleep. Maiya is tucked in bed at my parents' house tonight, and my husband is working overtime, so I had my favourite little boy all to myself. Jacob was all too pleased as well not having to compete against his sister for attention. As we often do when it's just the two of us, we headed to our favourite local little restaurant for dinner and then like the good mother that I am, I put him to work. ;) He pulled out my fire gear and washed out my facepiece, snapped on my suspenders, sorted my fire gloves from my extrication gloves, and tried everything on for size. He was pretty excited since I normally don't let him try on my gear since it can be contaminated and I keep it at work but no worries this time since we all received brand spanking new threads to meet NFPA standards.

I have had an amazing year off. Since Maiya is our last baby, I've really soaked in all those delicious baby moments. I remember when I went back to work after my maternity leave was over with Jacob I was absolutely freaked out. But this time around I know what to expect and although I am now on a different platoon, which means getting to know the nuances of working with a new crew, I am excited. There is something energizing about new beginnings even if it means something else is ending. I am grateful for the support that I get with the people I work with, and the support I get from my family at home. I would not have the life I have or be where I am without them.

Do not pinch me. xo

Sunday, December 13, 2009

then and now

I get a bit misty eyed when I look back at baby pictures. It goes by so quickly and I already miss having a squishy baby to hold. Maiya is no longer a babe in arms. She is off and running following the footsteps of her big brother and is talking a blue streak. She can say 'ott' (hot), 'ap-daaaaaaaaaw' (up-down), 'bye', 'er yu go' (here you go) and of course 'no'.
Jacob continues to be the ever inquisitive boy, full of questions and a ball full of energy. My husband and I are both pretty ragged by the end of the day chasing after the two. As much as I already miss the baby phase and as much as I loved my pregancies and labours, we are done. It's not the finances, or the interruption of my career, or the diapers, or the time. Simply put, we've just plain old pooped.

But it's nice to look to see how far we've come.

That was then:




And here are the monkeys now:



Sigh... where does the stinking time go?

Saturday, December 12, 2009

weakness and strength

There are many reasons one chooses to become a firefighter. For some, it a family tradition where their fathers and great-grandfathers were firemen. For others, it is a lifelong dream since childhood... and a chance to make a difference and to serve the community.

For me, the decision came to me in a moment of clarity or insanity.... I'm not sure which. I had been working for almost 15 years in an industry where the focus was on vanity, money, unhealthy competition and even unhealthier relationships. Perhaps it was an early mid-life crisis but shortly after my thirtieth birthday after fulfilling a particularly tough contract and after the death of a friend, I quit my job and told myself I'd take a year off to figure out my life and clear my head. I wanted to have a career where I felt like I could contribute something... whatever that something might be. I wanted to get out of the superficial life I felt I had been leading. And maybe even forget a bit about my past. I thought of becoming a police officer but I knew for a fact I'd never be comfortable holding a gun and I didn't have the temperament for conflict. I wanted to be a doctor but knew I was a bit long in the tooth and didn't want to invest the next 10 years going back to school. The next closest thing I could think of was becoming a paramedic so I started on my merry way with courses and applications. But somewhere along my journey of self discovery I met an old-time firefighter who suggested I give the fire business a try. I basically laughed in his face giving every excuse in the book as to why I wasn't eligible... I was female, and comparatively small, I had never driven a truck, and didn't know the ass end from the front of a fire hose. Above all, I was scared. To which this old guy replied with a wry smile, 'Make your weakness your strength.'. And then he walked away.

I pondered his words for awhile and thought... 'why not... I've got nothing to lose... the worst that could happen is that I don't get in... and the best that can happen is that I do.'

And I did. :)

I survived the application process and the entrance exams and the laser eye surgery so my vision would meet requirement. I made it through the interviews without stuttering and the physical tests without throwing up. I figured out how to drive a firetruck, climb a 150 foot aerial ladder without fainting, and I now know which is the front end of a fire hose. On my lucky days, I learned how to breathe life back into a still heart... be it a patient's, but mostly my heart that at times, with the life I was leading had stopped beating. Because when I look back at the time when I felt lost and that dark cloud of depression was creeping in, the choice of becoming a firefighter wasn't just to save the life of others, but to save my own.

And even though there are days on the job where I am shaking inside because I am so scared... I still hear the ol' firefighter's words of making my weakness my strength.

And I do. xo

the good ol' days

I don't know what's happened to child rearing these days but it seems as if the media/doctors/product makers have put the fear of God into parents and I think in my humble opinion, it has created a generation of neurotic parents and children. I was criticized by my doctor for choosing a midwife to deliver my babies at home instead of in a hospital, I never used commercial baby food and don't buy in to all the million and one products that will 'protect your child from all the things that could maim, dismember, poison and suffocate. We bypassed cribs and our children slept in our bed or on a mat on the floor. We don't sterilize or use antibiotics... some germs are good... they help build an immune system naturally. The best toys in the world are books and balls, puzzles and simple dollies. Screw Baby Einstein and flashcards and those expensive learning aids and toys that give parents the false sense of security that their children are smarter or getting more of a head start than everyone else.

My husband and I have a simple rule.... to keep life, living and child rearing as down to earth and as simple and natural as possible.

I remembered this article I had read years ago in the newspaper and just stumbled across it online..... I'd like it to be an homage to those of us who were born in the good ol' days....

First, we survived being born to mothers who smoked and/or drank while
they were pregnant.
They took aspirin, ate blue cheese dressing, tuna from a can, and
didn't get tested for diabetes.

Then after that trauma, we were put to sleep on our tummies in baby
cribs covered with bright colored lead-based paints.

We had no childproof lids on medicine bottles, doors or cabinets and
when we rode our bikes, we had no helmets, not to mention, the risks we took
hitchhiking!
As infants & children, we would ride in cars with no car seats, booster
seats, seat belts or air bags.

Riding in the back of a pick up on a warm day was
always a special
treat.
We drank water from the garden hose and NOT from a bottle.
We shared one soft drink with four friends, from one bottle and
NO ONE actually died from this.

We ate cupcakes, white bread and real butter and drank koolade made
with sugar, but we weren't overweight because ...
WE WERE ALWAYS OUTSIDE PLAYING !

We would leave home in the morning and play all day, as long as we
were back when the streetlights came on. No one was able to reach us all day.
And we were O.K.

We would spend hours building our go-carts out of scraps and then ride
down the hill, only to find out we forgot the brakes. After running into
the bushes a few times, we learned to solve the problem.

We did not have Playstations, Nintendo's, X-boxes, no video games at
all, no 200 channels on cable, no video movies or DVD's, no surround-sound
or CD's, no cell phones, no personal computers, no Internet or chat

rooms.......
WE HAD FRIENDS and we went outside and found them!

We fell out of trees, got cut, broke bones and teeth and there were no
lawsuits from these accidents.

We ate worms and mud pies made from dirt, and the worms did not live
in us forever.

We were given BB guns for our 10th birthdays, made up games with sticks and tennis balls and, although we were told
it would happen, we did not put out very many eyes.

We rode bikes or walked to a friend's house and knocked on the door or
rang the bell, or just walked in and talked to them!

Little League had tryouts and not everyone made the team. Those who
didn't had to learn to deal with disappointment. Imagine that!!

The idea of a parent bailing us out if we broke the law was unheard
of. They actually sided with the law!

These generations have produced some of the best risk-takers, problem
solvers and inventors ever!

The past 50 years
have been an explosion of innovation and new ideas.

We had freedom, failure, success and responsibility, and we learned

HOW TO DEAL WITH IT ALL!

If YOU are one of them . CONGRATULATIONS!

You might want to share this with others who have had the luck to grow
up as kids, before the lawyers and the government regulated so much of our
lives for our own good.


AMEN. :) xo

Friday, December 11, 2009

a day in the life

As most of you know, when I clock in for work it is for 24 hours. I often get asked... "What do you do all day?". Well............

My shift actually starts the night before because I am thinking and mentally prepping for my 24 hour tour of duty. I try to get a good night's sleep (which is often restless with the anticipation of work and what unknowns it will bring) and get my station uniform ready.

-alarm clock goes off at 5:45 a.m.
-out the door by 6:15 am
-drive 40 minutes across town
-shift starts at 7 am
-get changed into uniform
-tag off with the person I am replacing from previous shift
-find out what calls the previous shift had and if there are any equipment deficiencies
-check over bunker gear and personal protective equipment and place on truck
-check facepiece and air bottle (don't want to find out I can't get air when I need it!)
-if in the driver's seat, check each and every piece of equipment on truck and inventory medical bag, gage fuel and water level, air brakes, run the pump etc....
-8am... radio checks with Fire Control (aka the Comm (dispatch) Centre)
-grab a much needed cup of tea and a bit of breakfast
-find out what training is required for the day (CPR, defib), ladder drills, etc...
-plan lunch and dinner with the crew (very important!)
-building inspections
-and then we wait for the calls to come.

If we have none... it's called a shut out. Which is sometimes nice but can make for a long day. We pass the time doing a bit of studying, training, cooking and station and grounds maintenance and then start to wind down for the night. Normally we can bunk down after 10pm. Sleeping on the job has come under criticism but a well-rested firefighter is a more effective one. Some of the guys can sleep like babies but I'm not one of the lucky ones... I sleep with one eye open with the anticipation of the alarm bells going off and mostly, I miss having my little ones close by.

Then we're up at 6:30 am to wash the firetrucks and shovel the tarmac if it has snowed overnight.......

Then I head home to do the mommy thing which on some days is tougher than being a firefighter. Raging children vs. raging housefire? The house fire I find less taxing that's for sure.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

so sad...

It's funny how friendships just happen... and when there is chemistry there is chemistry. You see, I had fallen in love with a blog I stumbled upon and became fast friends with its writer. I loved the fact that she is Asian, is a mother of 2. But what is most fascinating is that she is from Borneo but now lives North of 60 in the Canadian Actic... a place I have dreamed about since I was a little girl reading Farley Mowat. This blog that I followed was a glimpse into the white world and its lovely people I have always wanted to visit.

So I am slightly devastated she is shutting down her blog. Thankfully though, we have other means of keeping in touch but her blog to me was as comforting as a hot cup of honey tea. I did get to meet her and her family a few weeks ago when she came to visit me here in the deep south of Canada so that was a big highlight. :)

Aida, thanks for all the cyber laughs and giggles and your honest writing style and I guess I will have to join that dreaded FaceBook so I can keep up with your shenanigans.

Folks, Footprints is her blog that has been an inspiration to me in so many ways. It's worth checking out.

Monday, December 7, 2009

blue flu

Forget the swine flu. My single girlfriends have the blue flu. They are always asking me if I can hook them up with a firefighter. They have this thing for firemen. They find them hot (no pun intended). And sexy. Maybe because I'm married, or maybe because I've been working with the guys for so long but I'm so not attracted to them that way. They are like brothers, father figures, and uncles to me. We live at the station like an extended family and perhaps as such I can't ever see them as sexy because I know way too much about them. They do stuff at work that they would never ever do on a date... at least I hope not. Case in point: There's one guy (now retired) who would floss his teeth at the table. Another guy would clip his freaking toenails. There's always the farter and the belcher... and the guy who wears way too much cologne or the other guy who doesn't wear enough. There are the knuckle draggers and the chick-chasers, the partiers and the poets. The thing is, they are just guys. But I can see the appeal... they are blue collar handymen who run into burning buildings and are in the business of saving lives. And it's hard not to look dashing in bunker gear. And a soot smudge across the cheek doesn't hurt either. So here you go gals... for your viewing pleasure... may I present to you Fireman Specimen A and B:
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I do have to admit, these guys are cute and they probably don't pick their nose. But sorry gals, I have no idea where to find them as they don't work on my department but they are Canadian so that should narrow down the search a bit. ;)

Thursday, December 3, 2009

rookie blues

I think the most stressful time I had on the job was the time I was a probie. Knowing that I could get dismissed at any point during that first year was nerve wracking. It has happened before where a new recruit has been sent home packing and you don't want to be THE ONE... especially after all the time and hope invested....

While in Training, everything was pretty sterile and everyone on their best behaviour. The drills and tests were routine. I was up to snuff physically. We did live-burns but it was controlled and predictable and I was playing dress-up. It wasn't until I got on the floor that it really hit me where I was. My experience was sorely lacking. Driving a 40 foot long ladder truck lights and sirens to a call at 4 a.m during a snowstorm was crazy. The calls were real and loud and bloody and hot. I'd follow a senior crewmate around at calls like a little duckling grateful he had taken me under his wing. Thankfully I also had a firefighter friend in New York who would give me pointers... be the first one up and the last one down... watch your back for pranks, and always carry Vick's Vapo-Rub in your pocket to rub under my nose for those really nasty smelling calls.

There were days I felt like a total screw up and I'd go home and want to cry. My husband, unfamiliar with fire territory but familiar with blue collar work would sit and listen. And he would remind me that there might be weeks of bad days but that one call where you save a life makes the difference.

I wasn't part of this boys club and wasn't sure if I would ever be. I didn't understand or like hockey (I know... very un-Canadian of me), car talk bored me, I wasn't into going for beers or breakfast after shift, and I didn't smoke Colts.
The harder I tried to fit in the more out of sorts I became. .... until I realized that yes, I was different and that was an asset. I was a gal and no way was I about to start peeing standing up to fit in. As soon as I started being myself and stopped trying so hard I felt like I belonged.... and as they saw that I was no longer uncomfortable with them, they started being comfortable around me. I worked hard and wasn't afraid to ask for help when needed. I did the dirty work no one wanted to do. And when they pushed, I wasn't afraid to push back.

Eight years later here I am. And the weird thing is, somehow along the way, I became one of the boys.....

... all without having to pee standing up.

have mercy

Can someone tell me how a 23 lb. 1 year old girl can outrun a 145 lb firefighter?

I am drowning here......

Ack! Gotta go.... Maiya is tearing up the joint.

Help.

Monday, November 30, 2009

high and dry

It lives! He he....

I left my dropped-in-the-toilet cellphone out to dry for a few days and just reassembled it and ta da!....... it works!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

paleo party

I was at a party last night with some wickedly cool CrossFit friends and it was so damn fun. I wore my 'big girl' shoes, legs were shaved (finally!!!), brows plucked, lips glossed. I felt like I was Cinderella.... ha!

It was nice to see people in clothes! It's not that we work out naked or anything... it's just that at the gym we're all sweaty in our old T's and Chucks and we don't have much time to socialize and hold a conversation during WODS because we're either panting or swearing.

My husband stayed home to watch the kids so I was able to stay out. I think I had the most fun out of everyone even though I was the only one not drinking. Just the fact that I had a 'get out of mommyhood' pass for a few hours put a spring in my step.

The only damper of the evening was dropping my cell phone in the toilet. Kinda forgot it was in my back pocket. Oh well.

By 1 a.m. I could barely keep my eyes open and was close to turning into a pumpkin so back to home I headed.

Thanks Sio for being the hostess with the mostess. And great seeing everyone! xo

Thursday, November 26, 2009

uncivilization

I am living with Neanderthals.

Maiya, who cannot yet speak, will point to something she wants and just grunt at me till I hand it over. She'll sit and somehow, on her own, strip off all her clothes down to just her diaper so that it looks like she is wearing a loin cloth. And since she is new at running, she uses her arms for balance and as they flail about she looks like a running baby orangutan.

My husband is the carnivore. It is virtually impossible to get him to eat a fruit or a vegetable. And he is pretty good at hiding out in his man cave when he wants to get away from the craziness of the household.

Jacob is the simian monkey primate. He can eat with his toes. No kidding. And he leaps and swings from one piece of furniture to the next with such reckless abandon that I am winded just watching him. My goal is not to teach him his abc'c... but to keep him out of the ER.

I'd like to think that I'm the most civilized amongst my brood but I fear that I am not. My unibrow and unshaved legs are not civilized. Nor is wolfing down dinner using my fingers as a fork while standing over the sink.

sigh... I give. If you can't beat 'em, join 'em.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

countdown begins

November 25th today. Exactly one month until Christmas. I never liked Christmas in general in part because I am a heathen, but mostly because I find the commercialism and the saccharin sweet muzak played throughout the malls the second Halloween is over to be simply nauseating. And Santa, wasn't his image as we know it invented by Coca-Cola?

Although I don't think I will ever be a fan of Christmas, I was slowly won over by the spirit of Christmas when I became a firefighter. Christmas Day was the first shift I ever worked. I had just graduated from Training and finally came on the floor as a full fledged firefighter. It was the best Christmas present I could have ever asked for.

There is something magical about working on Christmas. We set up a tree... usually some plasticky (and I am sure flammable!), lopsided, sad looking Charlie Brown tree that someone found in their Aunt's basement or at the local Goodwill but I love it all the more because it's the firehouse tree. Neighbours of the firehouse always stop by with cookies and clementines and hot chocolate. Turkey and all its trimmings get started soon as shift begins. And I have to attest that it is far better and more civilized sharing a meal with the boys than some of my relatives from my extended family. There is less baggage... that's for sure. And even if we get interrupted by a call during our meal, we don't care. It is Christmas after all and somebody needs us. And I think that is why I love working the holidays..... it is nice to be needed... and nice to be of help. And when I can help, that is when I am the most centred and at peace.

Now that I have children, I get to see Christmas through a child's eyes. Last year Jacob picked out his own real tree and his face shone like the North star. And for reasons like this, I won't be working Christmas this year. But I may just have to swing by the station with kids in tow anyway.... Christmas or not, you can't keep me away from the firehouse for long. ;) xo

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

words of wisdom

I read this quote a few days ago and it is still cracking me up.....

"In all of sport, the highest power outputs ever measured occur during the second pull of the snatch. I would guess that the lowest would occur in the posedown at the Mr. Olympia, but I may be wrong." — Coach Mark Rippetoe

Coach, I think you're correct as proven by exhibit A:
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Uhm, guys, at least put on some decent underwear. Please.
And uhm, that fake and bake tan can't be healthy. Wow.
And kind of scary when your family jewels can be hidden beneath a post-it note.
Ok... I'll stop now.

Monday, November 23, 2009

RX for when you're in a funk

There are some days I look in the mirror and just shake my head. I have dark circles under my eyes, unplucked eyebrows that would give Einstein a run for his money, crowsfeet that look more like teradactyl feet, and my soccer-mom haircut is greasy and increasingly going grey. No matter how precisely applied, no amount of make-up can save me. When I start feeling down, that's when I head for a workout. During that one hour, I can forget about whatever is ailing me and just focus on how great it feels to move. And breathe. And for a few moments I feel like I can conquer the world.



For those of you who haven't, ya'll seriously have to try Crossfit.
It's so much damn fun. Thanks for the pic, Paul. It will remind me that I am not the frenzied mama mess that I am during the other 23 hours of the day. Just don't look too closely at my legs in the picture..... I haven't had the time to shave them in weeks.
Eeeeeeeewwwwwww.

Friday, November 20, 2009

potty mouth

The closer I get to starting back at work, the worse my language gets....

It seems that my potty mouth has returned.
I've started swearing like a drunken sailor.

Perhaps it's because I am headed back to work soon and I'm morphing back into that firefighter mode. It's not that the boys at the fire station swear a lot. In fact, I think I am the one who swears the most. Not classy, and definitely not ladylike but hell, saying the F word is just so damn satisfying. Especially after all this time singing lullabies and nursery rhymes and basically minding my p's and q's while singing abc's, swearing just feeeeels good. When you're up to your armpits in laundry and dishes and in bed by 10pm and up at 6, I get my kicks where I can.

I just have to watch myself swearing around the children... especially around Jacob. I don't need him coming home from daycare with a note from his teacher that he was cussin'. I couldn't really wash his mouth out with soap without me gargling along with him. ;)

Sunday, November 15, 2009

another milestone

Jacob came home from daycare all breathless from excitement. He worked hard all day with his friends to make the perfect birthday card for his baby sister. And of course he wanted cake. So even though it was close to bedtime we figured... why not? A nice sponge cake never hurt anyone and since we didn't put icing on it we didn't have to worry too, too much about sugar spins.

The birthday girl:


Cake is going...


...going


...going...


Gone!

Maiya had more fun feeding Jacob which was fine by him... lol

Happy Birthday my little one!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

when I grow up.

As a parent, I sometimes wonder what my children will want to be when they grow up. It never dawned on me to become a firefighter until I was 30 years old and had many jobs and several careers that led me to where I am today. Youth is a perfect time to explore....

Will Jacob be a construction worker?


Or a team mascot?


Perhaps a car jockey?


Or a cross dressing ladder operator?


Who knows? I don't care what he wants to do as long as he is deep down happy and isn't living in my basement when he's 35.

Maiya is 2 years younger than her big brother thus has had less time to explore career options. One thing I do know for sure though....

She is a ham.


And she already has the requisite skills to become a great plumber.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Remembrance Day

Even though they are too young to understand, I tell my children that they have won the birth lottery... for they live in a country where they can speak any language and follow any religion without persecution. They have a health care system that won't turn them away at the hospital door. They can go to school. They can grow up to be anything they want to be. They have food. They have clean water. And most of all, they are not growing up in a country at war. Granted, we have soldiers in Afghanistan but so far, I am able to shelter them from that.

I was listening on the radio to the Remembrance Day ceremonies and there was a lump in my throat. I cannot imagine what it would be like to have a loved one at war, or worse, to have lost a loved one. I am far away from war. And my experience is limited to what I read and if I search, I may hear a story from a veteran and from someone who lived through it. Jacob's great-grandfather (my husband's grand dad) fought in World War I. He is still alive to this day at the age of 95 to recount events during a time before internet and ipods. My paternal grandmother lost 4 of her children during the Second World War because there was no medication available to treat them. They died from illnesses that easily would have been cured today. My maternal grandmother sewed the family jewels inside the stuffing of my mother's dolly. I have one of her rings that I will be giving to my Maiya dolly one day.

So today, I give thanks to those who have fought, and to those who are still fighting in wars they did not start. I give thanks that my children can sleep peacefully at night. Every year I buy a poppy and proudly wear it. But this year I was given an extra special poppy from Jacob. It is a little construction paper poppy with its centre askew and a teeny heart sticker and sprinkled with glitter and glued to a pin. This is one of those things that I will keep forever because this little poppy is my symbol of hope.... that my son and daughter grow without fear in a world of peace.

To all the soldiers of the past, present, and future, thank you and God Bless.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Zena

Looks like Princess Warrior Maiya is staking her territory. Baby or not, she knows what she wants. She is fearless. And she has a grip. Wrestling something she shouldn't have out of her hands is like wrestling with an alligator. And oh you should see the crocodile tears that roll down her face when she doesn't get her way. And when she does get her way she grins like the cat that ate the canary. She's a good actress. She will squawk like a teradactyl to let you know that what she has is hers.... she has made her big brother scurry away in fear once or twice. He's a smart boy. He knows already that when girls are moody it is best to just walk away or go hide in the man cave with Daddy. ;)

That's my girl..... xo

Monday, November 9, 2009

uh oh

We've all had bad days at work. I've had my share but whoever was driving on this particular day, well, he'll have a bit of explaining to do. Yikes.

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Friday, November 6, 2009

roaring fire

A friend of mine recently witnessed a housefire. She said it was an incredible thing to watch but what she described as most striking was not the visual of the flames but the sound. She said the fire sounded like a roar. It was an interesting observation since although I have heard of the term 'roaring fire' I have never really listened to the sound of the fire at the call. Instead, I hear the blood rushing through my ears, I hear my heartbeat pound in my head. I hear myself trying to slow my breathing through the regulator.. which to me sounds a bit like Darth Vader. I hear the sirens. But most importantly, I listen for any voice commands from my Captain and my crew mates. They are my eyes and ears to help keep me safe. I also listen for anything that is transmitted over the radio channels giving us further instruction. I will listen more carefully for the sound of the fire next time. And if it roars, I'll just roar right back. ;)

Thursday, November 5, 2009

never in a million years

I swung by work this morning on a whim since I needed to pick up some gear and my shift was on anyway. I just about peed myself when I walked in. The boys were in the throes of downward dog and pigeon poses. Yup. They were doing YOGA. Not typically what you'd expect firemen to be doing at the station. Normally you'd see them pumping major weights but nope... they were doing that stretchy stretchy stuff. And they weren't the least bit embarrassed. If I stop to think about it... it really is the perfect thing to do. It strengthens core muscles and keeps injuries at bay. Yoga I guess isn't for sissies.... heck... if it's good enough for Sting then it's good enough for my firemen. Not sure if I'll be jumping in though. I'd feel a bit weird trying to get myself into those pretzel positions in front of the guys.

Never in a million years would I have guessed that there would be yoga at a fire station.

oh my how times have changed.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

pics... finally!

I finally found a second to upload pictures of Halloween.... Jacob wanted to be Bob the Builder which was nice and easy for a costume. Maiya refused to wear anything that remotely resembled a costume and was just happy to play with the pumpkin. I don't know who had more fun that night... me or Jacob. At first he would stand at the doors stiff as a board waiting for the treats to drop in his bag but after a few houses he was a pro running up the steps and standing proudly with his treat bag wide open. We only did one street that was wonderfully decorated and I wanted to stay out longer but my husband had to drag me home otherwise I would have kept Jacob out another hour for sure. It's just something about the crisp fall air and trudging through the dry leaves with my son that made it so much fun. The best part was that Jacob didn't care about the candy. I said he could have 'just one' that night and he chose a little lollipop and was happy as can be. Shame we have to wait an entire year to do it again.

inspiration

I was watching my children play today and I wish I could recapture the time when I was that brave. Jacob flies through the air with the rush of pleasure three year old boys get from discovering the world around them. He is fearless and his only boundaries are my 'no's' and 'please be carefuls'. He'll wipe out smack dab on his bum or end up sprawled across the floor like a rag doll only to pick himself up and dust himself off and resume full speed ahead. Perhaps it is just his little boy nature that he doesn't feel pain or perhaps it is because we have never overly coddled bumps and bruises. I believe that if we always try to stop our children from falling, they will never learn how to get up on their own. Speaking of which,
Maiya is taking her first unassisted steps! She will take three dainty, beautiful, perfect ballerina steps before toppling over. She'll laugh then attempt three more steps. When she gets tired she crawls. Maiya and Jacob live more in the moment than I have in the past ten years. They do not think about tomorrow, or yesterday, or what ifs, or have to's. They are my reminder that life is now... that it is a steady, patient, natural progression of crawling to walking to running to flying through this world of unlimited possibilities. We just need to trust in ourselves and let nature take its course. xo

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

been awhile

Ack! I cannot believe an entire week has gone by without me posting... Needless to say, it's been busy, busy, busy. Halloween was a blast... pics will come. Taking the entire H1N1 hysteria with a grain of salt. New bunker gear ordered and fitted... pics to come as well. Paperwork completed for my official return to work which is November 12 although my first tour doesn't happen until New Year's Eve. Still working out like a fiend which is my refuge and my fun. Am pushing more weight than ever before in my life. And best of all, finally catching up on some sleep. Which means no time at night to blog or do anything creative since I'm in bed by 9pm. I struggle with having a life or being well rested but these days rest trumps fun. My brain just functions better this way. And a rested mommy is a happy mommy. ;)

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

my babies

With my daughter quickly approaching her first birthday, I reflect on what an incredible year it has been since her birth. There's a part of me that still mourns the displacement of my first baby... meaning Jacob. He is, and always will remain, the most significant little man in my life. I know it was hard initially when his little sister came along since all of a sudden he was the big brother and he was barely two years old at the time. But they are thick as thieves now, and best of friends. He dotes on her and it is beautiful to watch. See him brushing her hair?

Maiya continues to be the ever-smiling dolly and having a daughter makes me feel this joy that I cannot describe. I am amazed at how my children are thriving... the world to them is a place of wonderment and exploration. I should learn to look at the world through my children's eyes and take life a lot less seriously. They are their own little beings that are as perfect as the morning sun. Even with my mistakes they are gentle, and forgiving in my mommy meltdowns. And like my husband, my children are incredibly patient with me. And through them, I am healing my tumultuous past. They love me simply because I am their mother and they love me even in those moments when I don't love myself. I cannot take credit for how delicious they are because I am simply following their lead and merely guiding them in a way that I hope one day makes them proud that I am their mama. Because I am beyond proud of them. And perhaps I am getting soft as I get older or maybe I am just feeling sensitive becauase I am tired and sleep deprived but writing this post brings a tear to my eye. I have said it before and I will say it again, I am on lucky lady and I have no idea what I've done to deserve this. xo

Monday, October 26, 2009

loving the dark

Hallelujah!

I must say I am LOVING life as the days get shorter. Autumn has always been my favourite time of year... no bugs, no hayfever, no sticky, hot, humid grumpy days... just cool and crisp and fresh and crunchy with all the fallen leaves. But what I love most about fall is that with night falling sooner my children are in bed EARLY. Maiya now begs for sleep by 7pm and Jacob follows at 8. During the summer they would be up till 9 and 10pm respectively. Now I can actually have some me time. (insert happy dance here) xo

Sunday, October 25, 2009

the bucket list

There's a movie out there called The Bucket List. It's about doing things you've always dreamed of before you kick it. Here are some of mine that I"ve accomplished or have yet to accomplish.

-become a firefighter.... check
-kiss Mark Wahlberg.... check (don't worry... this was pre-husband...although I wouldn't say no given the change again... lol..)
-have natural homebirths.... check (although there were moments narcotics might have been nice)
=have children... check (although there are days I wish they would go live at grandma and grandpa's)
-live in a loft.... check
-work in Europe, Africa, Asia..... check
-have some property for my children to roam.... working on it
-travel extensively within my own country.... the places that I really want to see are Nunavut, the Northwest Territories, PEI, the Rockies/Lake Louise...
-see the Northern Lights... I can't believe with all the camping I've done I still have yet to see them.
-work in an orphanage in my retirement

That's a good list for now..... there are always other things I would love to do but working on the above will keep me busy for awhile. All are attainable I think. Oh yeah... there's one more thing I would love... and perhaps not so attainable right now....... I would LOVE to get 8 straight hours of sleep. There are days I wonder if I will ever get a full night's rest before I kick it. One can hope though....

Saturday, October 24, 2009

country bumpkin

I know without a doubt I could solve the world's energy crisis if I could just figure out how to harness Jacob's energy. He is a Wiggle Bum. He does not sit still and is constantly moving through space like a superhero that never tires. I have never known my son to walk. He runs at breakneck speed or at the very least skips when I tell him to slow down, but meander along... nope... not my kid. You should see him on his bike now.... Lance Armstrong... you may have met your match. He's fast. Thankfully, Jacob knows how to read the Stop signs and crossing signals. But it's the always-in-a-rush-talking-on-their-stupid-cellphone drivers at busy intersections that terrify me.

Sometimes I wonder if we should move to the sticks. I grew up in farm country where there were swamps and ponds and creeks and miles and miles of forest. You could play amidst the crops and feed farm animals. I could run like the wind and pick wild strawberries, and read by the light of fireflies that I'd caught in a jar. As a child, I had the freedom to roam.... how much trouble could I get into running through a field? And I'd get dirty... but it was good clean dirt. Not the city grime and pollution and weird people that I am beginning to tire of. It's strange how the city never bothered me until I became a mother. My husband and I are country folk hooked on the convenience of downtown living. We love the fact that we everything we need is within walking distance... schools, groceries, post office, gym, bakery, butcher, coffee shop, shopping..... But I miss having space and growing my own food. And is it weird that I want my own chickens? And an alpaca or three?

So we'll see. Thankfully children thrive wherever you place their roots. And Jacob is one of the happiest children I know. That's all I could ever ask for.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

I'll pass on the cake thank you

As some of you may know, I am known as the resident baker at my station. My task prior to going off on mat leave was to make as many sweet things that I could out of the 25lb sack of flour someone brought in. For all of you Paleo-ites and worshipppers lean body mass blah blah, this is when I say screw it.... a little sugar and flour go a long way for morale at work. When you've been getting dirty at calls, there is nothing like the smell of fresh baking and a cup of hot tea back at the station.

A friend and fellow firefighter thought he'd send me this link. He said it vaguely reminded him of me even though I wasn't going to China anytime soon. Now as a huge fan of baked goods there is no way I would get near that cake. That hose. I couldn't eat a bite with a straight face.

I'm sticking with plain ol' oatmeal cookies. ;)

Monday, October 19, 2009

oh brother

Most people I work with are a joy. However, there are a few fellas I find exasperating. There's Lance Romance and Scottie Too Hottie who are always flexing their muscles and shaving their chests and constantly talking about their latest conquests. There's Chair Mold... who won't budge an inch to help out with chores. And I can't forget about Ten to Ken... he's the one who is the last one to start shift, and the first one to leave. Pig Pen's the guy whose locker is a mess and leaves a trail of clothing-magazines-equipment everywhere he goes... even the helmet he wears is askew. I am sure I have more than a few qualities that the boys, in turn, find completely annoying, but that's part of communal living I suppose. I don't have any brothers but with me being on the fire department, it seems I have hundreds of brother siblings. Some annoy the heck out of me, some nurture, some make me laugh, but we're all bonded by what we do. And that makes us often closer to one another than real blood siblings. And just like in real families, there are times when we may not like each other, but when push comes to shove, we always have each others backs. We have to. Our lives depend on it.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

fire


Fire is physical, spiritual, and metaphysical all rolled into one giant ball of burning energy. There is nothing like standing in the middle of an inferno watching the flames roll over my head. It's hot, but not unbearable. And I thank my lucky stars that the bunker gear, which is just as thick as a winter coat, is doing its job keeping me from being vaporized. It still blows my mind that I can basically stand in a furnace and feel fine. And sometimes during the middle of a fire I will stand stock-still for a split second and stare at the flames in amazement because more often than not in the next split second everything will get smoky with zero visibility and I'll have to drop to my hands and knees and feel my way around while never letting go of the hoseline. I was taught to never, ever let go of the hose...although heavy and awkward to manoevre, it's the only protection you have against the flame.... and it's my lifeline leading me back outside to safety. When the fire is finally extinguished, as strange as it sounds, it's a bit of a letdown when it's over. I am not sure if it's the fatigue from the physical exertion, or the slump after the adrenaline surge. All I know is that once one fire is out, every firefighter is waiting eagerly for the next one to start. I guess we're just weird that way.

Friday, October 16, 2009

rejuvenated

As sleep deprived as I am, I feel completely refreshed right now even though it's late. You see, I was in a funk from really missing some friends and finally got to see them tonight. At a pub. Sans kids. My husband was a doll and stayed home with them and for the first time in a long time I felt like me again. Not mom me. Not firefighter me. Just me. And some great pals. With great conversation. So without getting too mushy, Lady G, Sweet Pete, T Dot Sio, Daddy Ty, and my favourite militia man for making the 4 and half hour drive to join us, thanks for a lovely evening. And of course Mighty Mouse for getting the gang together. Sorry I had to leave early... got a text saying that Miss Maiya was awake and looking for moi... or rather, my boob. So of course I rushed home and she'd already fallen fast asleep again. Just as well I'm home now I guess because mornings come quick around here and at the stroke of midnight I turn into a pumpkin anyway. Actually, I turn into a mean ogre when the kids are up at 6 so off to bed.......

hugs and love... gnight... xo

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

help!

Today is one of those days that I can't 'figure me out'. At work, I can run into a burning building to try and save life, limb, or property but I find it virtually impossible to ask for help at home in my private life. Stopping a house from burning down, preventing someone's heart from never beating again, and putting my life at risk during a rescue is something that I don't think twice about. But it is difficult for me to ask for help at home whether it be from family members or babysitters. I am not sure why that is. Perhaps it is this fierce 'I want to do it on my own' sense that I've had ever since I was old enough to tie my shoes. We have never had a nanny and we hired a cleaning lady briefly because as lovely as she was, I felt odd that someone else was cleaning my mess and moreover, it was a bit uncomfortable having someone in 'my space'. I have always been fiercely independent and I think my weakness is the backwards thinking that asking for help is, well, a weakness. I crave more hours during the day when I can lounge in a hot bubble bath or read the newspaper uninterrupted or enjoy a cup of tea before it turns stone cold. I get to 'escape' for a few hours here and there but often, soon as I am away from the babes I start missing them. The fact is, I love spending time with my children. I just need a breather now and then. Especially on days like yesterday when mobile Maiya decided to use the dresser drawers as steps and ended up stuck. So with my husband working overtime last night and me alone with both children, I decided to give my parents a call to come over and give me a hand. I cannot tell you how smoothly the evening went and how I didn't have to say the word NO at all. :) This asking for help thing.... I will be doing it alot more from now on. And if my fairygodmother presented me with a personal chef and a chauffeur, I definitely would consider it. ;)

perspective

Ok. I think I get it now. I was totally dumbstruck by the giant tv my husband brought home as per my last post. But I guess it's all in how you look at it. Rewind some 18 hours ago, my vacuum decided to blow up. It was a 10 year old vacuum so it was time... especially with the fact that I am obsessive about clean floors. Soooooo. I bought one of these. Yup. It's a Dyson. Creme de la Creme of vacuums. Leaves Hoovers and Dirt Devils in the dust. If he can have his tv... I can have my vacuum. ha ha.

Monday, October 12, 2009

go big or go home?

We've been without a television for almost 3 years and a I must say that I didn't miss it much. With all the drivel and bad news on tv what was there to miss? And my favourite shows I could stream on the computer. I was happy listening to CBC radio. But my husband, not content with that, decided to come home with a new tv. 52 inches at that. Flat screen, LCD, blue ray... blah blah blah and a bunch of other lingo that I don't understand. All I know is that this huge monstrosity is in my den and I worry that my kids will get irradiated and go cross-eyed because that screen is so massive. Oh well. I should know my husband by now. He means well. He thought I'd be impressed but honestly, I'd be more impressed if he scrubbed out the toilet once in awhile. Like I said, oh well... you know boys and their toys.........

Thursday, October 8, 2009

happy anniversary

Between diaper changes and dinner duty, and our overall crazy busy lives, my husband completely forgot our wedding anniversary. You'd think I'd give him crap for forgetting but the truth is, I did too. Not only did I forget our anniversary, I have forgotten the date we were married. It was either October 3/04 or October 4/03. I think it was the latter but I will have to look at an old wedding invite or something to make sure. We lived together for a few years before getting married so it's a bit of a blur. The last time we celebrated our anniversary we were in Venice, Italy and we stayed on the nearby island of Murano, where I sat and watched glass blowers for hours on end. It was the year before Jacob was born. Since we've had children, we don't get out much. But that is more by choice. The children are small for such a short period of time that we're trying to drink it all in. If I look back on our wedding day, apart from the birth of my children and getting the phone call that I was hired on the fire department, it was one of the best days of my life. I am not the easiest person to be married to and I thank my lucky stars my husband has always been incredibly patient with me on my sleep deprived grumpy days and is always an incredibly hands-on father. He is ready to jump in like the cavalry on the days I am slowly going crazy with the children, when I'm pulling out the increasing and alarming number of grey hairs on my head. So, nope, we didn't do anything this year but I think the 'celebration' is living life one day at a time, getting through the ups and downs as a working married couple with young children, and keeping our sanity through it all. This to me is worth more than a fancy dinner in a snooty restaurant. As I type this I can hear my husband reading Jacob a bedtime story in his best Lowly the Worm voice and Jacob giggling softly. I think this is how our love grows... steadily and sometimes even shakingly as we both raise our children.

Now for a walk down memory lane:

Doesn't this picture make us look so young and un-tired?

Happy belated Anniversary. I'll try to remember next year once I figure out what day it was. xo

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

scary face

This picture totally cracks me up:



It's a picture of yours truly taken during a Crossfit Fight Gone Bad workout. You can read the details of the workout on this page. (This Crossfit website by the way is the best and most comprehensive site I have ever seen in terms of training. I highly recommend giving it a go.)

Now back to the picture, I was on my last round of sumo deadlift highpulls and just trying to suck back some air into my lungs. The look on my face is pretty scary but like I said, the grimace is from simple oxygen deprivation. But I will remember this face and save it for when my kids are misbehavin'. That face will stop them in their tracks, that's for sure. ;)

Friday, October 2, 2009

just one of the boys

I found it mildly amusing when I first became a firefighter that the moment I walked in, an uncomfortable silence would descend. The guys all of a sudden would start minding their p's and q's and conversations would shift. Some of the guys would actually leave the room. Not exactly great for my ego. Was it my ponytail? My lipstick? The fact that I would be sharing a dorm and a locker room with them? That they would feel like they had to wear clean socks and underwear? That management installed a sanitary napkin dispenser in the station? What was the big deal? All these men had wives, sisters, daughters, girlfriends.... I thought they'd be used to some estrogen in the firehouse. So there were days that I'd be sitting by myself reading while they would be standing outside the bay in a huddle smoking their Colts. I should not have been so naive to think that I would immediately become accepted to this boys club. After all, there never were any women in the fire service up until quite recently. It was their 'place' to just hang, and work and be men and itch and scratch and do whatever the heck men do when women aren't around. And in some small way, I felt guilty that I was 'upsetting the apple cart'. And after awhile during all that 'alone' time during which I did some heavy thinking, it finally dawned on me that I had earned my badge just like the rest of them. With that realization, I started to feel comfortable in my skin and knew that I deserved to be there as much as the firefighter next to me. And it's true, once I was confident in my work, they became confident with me. Once they saw how I performed at calls, they forgot about the 'girl' and instead I was just another firefighter and became part of the 'brotherhood'. I think they all breathed a collective sigh of relief the first time I dropped the F-bomb.... it meant they didn't have to worry about minding their language anymore.

Oh... and it wasn't until years later that I found out why some of the guys would leave the room when I walked in.... it was because they had to fart and were too embarrassed to do it in front of me. lol....

Sunday, September 27, 2009

it's not a ghost

My husband thought he'd be a help and start folding laundry while I prepared dinner. When I walked by to let him know it was time to eat I just about peed myself because I was laughing so hard at what I saw... He was wrestling with the duvet cover and I swear it took him forever to get it folded. I don't know what he was thinking but he was actually inside it.

Needless to say he wasn't amused by my laughter.

I shouldn't laugh while he's doing any chore to help me out. Don't want to discourage him from ever giving me a hand again. Sorry honey.. I just couldn't help it. xo

just a few pics

Thought I'd post a few pics of the family since it's been awhile:

Maiya in the Circle of Neglect:


Jacob in a rare quiet moment... (he just woke up... lol)


And I think one of my favourite photos.... Daddy and Maiya enjoying the sunset together from our window... xo

Saturday, September 26, 2009

eat your heart out Einstein

I've made a discovery that would make even Einstein himself proud. Sure he figured out the theory of relatively. That's child's play compared to mine that will make every mother realize she is not going insane... which is that the quantum theory of happiness is directly and proportionately relative to the behaviour of your children at any given moment in time. When Jacob has finished all his veggies and is not jumping-climbing-shouting as 3 year olds love to do, and Maiya isn't suction cupped to my boobs and sleeps through the night, I have the patience of Mother Theresa and the will of Ghandi. I can whip up a meal that would be worthy of Cordon Bleu, clean the house better than Molly Maid. And most of all.... I can get through the day without nagging my husband and perhaps even have some energy left over to entertain the thought of being Linda Lovelace. But if the kids are being naughty.... it's take-out food for dinner, and the home is doomed looking like a bomb went off. My husband's theory is simpler..... if the house is clean when he walks through the front door after work, he knows I'm in a good mood. But if it's a raging mess, no chance of Linda Lovelace... more like Linda Loveless. Sorry honey... but that's how we ended up with 2 children in the first place... lol. xo

Friday, September 25, 2009

smell of home

Despite the 7am start time, when I go to work, there is always that exciting rise in adrenaline soon as I walk through the bay doors. It's the combination of the familiar smell of axle grease, truck wash soap, bleach, and windex. And the smell of fire. I know when the previous crew had a fire because the scent of smoke still lingers in the bunker gear. That smell is addictive. And we'll gather around the coffee maker as we tag off with the other crew asking for details about the call hoping that we'll get a fire call to attend to as well. It's not that we wish that the city burn down.... it's just that we hope it's our shift on duty when it does. And each and every time I start a shift, my heart skips a beat for what the shift might bring. Ask any firefighter. It's the best job in the world. As I've said before, don't pinch me.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

the journey

Some moms worry about losing their post pregnancy baby weight. Me, I was more worried about losing my mind.

Neat freakiness aside (that's a whole other issue that borders on OCD.... lol), I was more concerned about lack of time... and sleep of course. But ironically, having children has kept me sane. Apart from running into burning buildings, I am living a healthier and safer life because of the two little lives that depend on me at home. We eat nutritious whole foods because I won't keep any junk in the house. I no longer do high speed rappelling for fun, use my bicycle to commute through crazy downtown traffic(yep... I used to bike 1 1/2 hours each way to work), or party and imbibe the way I used to during my single days. And because time is always precious, I choose to spend it wisely. I have consciously decided to let some friends go by the wayside because their negativity would bring me down.... I do not have the time nor the energy to listen to whining and needless worrying and complaints about the past or a future that hasn't even happened yet. Having children has taught me how to live in the 'now' and enjoy every little hiccup and the ups and downs that come with motherhood. I am not perfect. There are days when I think I am going to lose my mind if I have to cook one more meal or pick up one more wayward sock, or break up one more fight over toys between the two children. And I look back with longing the ability to just pick up and go where ever the mood suits my husband and I. Our camping trips into the backwoods and trekking through Europe are on hold for awhile. But we have those memories. And we are creating new ones daily with our children. My journey with them continues to unfold. xo

Monday, September 21, 2009

egg on your face

I am so happy I am not a rookie anymore. You tend to get the brunt of the 'dirty work' at calls and in station. It is a right of passage and a way to earn not only the respect of your colleagues, but it's also a way to earn your stripes and pay your dues. We've all gone through it. As a rookie you're the first one up and the last one to sit down. Anything that needs cleaning or overhauling is done quickly and without complaint (ha..... if only I could have carried that attitude about chores at home).

Or, you can be a human shield.

When I was a rookie we responded to a med call classified as 'difficulty breathing'. The patient had a stoma with a breathing tube where a tracheotomy had been performed and he had trouble clearing it due to congestion. When we arrived he was coughing through this hole in his throat to try and get the phlegm to clear. Cough and cough he did until the 'muck' was launched and airborne. My Captain decided to grab me and use me as a human shield to stop to phlegm from hitting him. Except I was faster and ducked at the last second and my Captain got a little gift in the face.

I have to admit, I was never great at following rookie rules but in some instances like this it pays to be a bit of a rebel. Saved me from getting 'egg' on my face... lol. ;)

Monday, September 14, 2009

living together

I know my children inside and out. It's a symbiotic and intimate relationship. Their body language and idiocycracies are easy for me to read simply because I am their mother and because we spend so much time together. And they, in turn, are able to read me. Jacob knows from the narrowing of my eyes if I am not pleased with naughty behaviour. And I swear even at her young age, Maiya kisses me when I am sad or upset. We feed off each other.... if I am stressed the kids start spinning out of control.... so I try to stay mellow when things get crazy at home. Jacob is a sensitive child and when he spins he is just trying to get some attention. And in that moment I need to be wise and forget about the million and one things I need to do around the house and stop whatever I happen to be doing and just give him a hug.

At work, it's much the same. Minus the hugs... we tend not be the most touchy feely kind of people. Regardless, there is a level of intimacy that develops simply from working and living together in the same close quarters. At calls we move about doing our jobs with very little need to speak to each other because we each know what needs to be done. We know when to back off and give space if someone is having a rough day and we know who can take harder ribbing and practical jokes. We know about each other's spouses, children, hobbies, likes and dislikes... down to our favourite pizza toppings, cars, dogs, and movies. We know what grosses each other out, what makes us laugh and what to do or not do to piss each other off. One observant crewmate knew that I was pregnant before I did simply by noticing how much food I was scarfing down.

Again, this is one of those posts where I have no idea where I am going or what point I am trying to make. I think I am really, realy missing the guys at work though I know once I get back to work I will be homesick. Mostly at night when I want to snuggle with my children instead of share a dorm with a bunch of snoring and farting men.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

another bestest weekend

With the baby getting most of the attention these days, I love it when I can reconnect with my first baby.... Jacob. He is one of the greatest joys of my life and I remember clear as a bell the second he was born and I looked at him and I laughed out loud because I was so happy to finally meet him. I will have to dig up that picture. If I could capture that moment of pure bliss for a minute everyday I would be the happiest person alive.

This weekend my husband was working overtime and not home till late until the evening. So on Saturday, with both children in tow I set off on our morning trek to the bakery etc. But in the afternoon, I asked my parents to watch Maiya during her nap and I took Jacob and off we went exploring the city. We found a great little street festival and Jacob was just thrilled to be able to walk around and take in all the sites. There was a gentleman making animal balloons and you should have seen the smile on Jacob's face when he got two of them! The thing that I love about my son is that he will never whine or cry when we are out browsing. He saw a ton of those cheap toys and candy from street vendors and I could see him look at them longingly but he never once asked. He would oooohhh and ahhhhh and say he liked them and continue on. We came across another vendor with a display of Hot Wheels cars and I could see Jacob lingering and I said he could have 'just one'. His little face lit up and in that moment I could have bought him that entire collection. Jacob looked them over carefully and ended up picking the Hot Wheels ice cream truck.... lol. We went home and I made dinner for my parents and they bathed the children and it was one of the most perfect days.

Today I was on my own with both children and with Jacob in the stroller and Maiya on my back we walked a half hour to an outdoor art show and petting zoo. And as much fun we had with all the exhibits and children's activities, the best part was crossing this pedestrian overpass bridge just as the stock trains were passing underneath.
I let him walk on the bridge and he stood stock still in awe for 20 minutes as the trains passed beneath him. He looked so small yet so self assured and I wish I could have let him stay there until the very last train passed but alas, it was time to go because he could barely keep his eyes open. And there was not a peep from Maiya all day. This little dolly of a girl will stay perched on my back and look around contentedly and when sleepy, just place her cheek on my back and sleep.

Both children tucked in bed and as exhausted as I am, I can say it was truly a great weekend to be a mother. xo