Sunday, May 31, 2009

another day at the fair

Another local public school had their Fun Fair and of course Jacob was ready to go. What was extra special about today was that my husband had the weekend off from work and got to take part in the festivities.

Jacob having a blast in the bouncy castle. I love, love, love this picture of him. It sums up exactly the exuberant little boy that he is.

Here are the school children playing in the steel drum band. It was fantastic. Jacob was mesmerized. Steel drum bands are one of my favourite sounds. They just put you in a good mood with its sounds of summer.

The local fire truck came for a visit and of course Jacob just had to inspect it even though he knows every truck inside and out. Here's a rare picture of me and both of the children in the same photo:

Jacob learning to skip. I didn't take a picture of him hula hooping because I was doing it along with him. ;)

And the ever easy-going Maiya just taking it all in happy as a clam.

Inside the school they had a bug and reptile exhibit that was so neat to see. There were free arts and crafts activities, folk music, tug of war, sack races, plastic fishing pond. And a great book sale where I snagged brand new hardcovers for 3 dollars.

The only damper of the day was my neighbour who thinks she is better than everyone else kept dissing this fair. Her daughter goes to a more 'upper crust' school and this neighbour said that this fair just can't compare to the one from her daughter's school. She kept complaining blah blah blah that I literally sat up from from where I was nursing Maiya and walked away giving her the cold shoulder although what I really wanted to do was give her a slap for being so ignorant. What kind of message does she think she is sending to her daughter? The irony is that her daughter seemed to be having a blast in the bouncy castle with Jacob. I guess it was ok for her to slum with him? I hate Moms that think certain socio-economic classes are beneath them. When will this neighbour understand that kids can be happy with the simplest of things. I can take Jacob to a wide open field with nothing but grass, birds and butterflies and he can amuse himself for hours. Some people just don't get it.

Thursday, May 28, 2009


One of the things that I absolutely can't stand at work is that the television is on all day. It drives me nuts. That constant drone and all those commercials is enough to put me over the edge. I understand if the Superbowl is on or the Queen or the President is making an address but there is a lot of crap tv out there and frankly trying to eat a meal while watching some gorey newscast or equally creepy show like Toddlers and Tiaras just can't be healthy. I see enough bad news in real life at calls that I just don't want to see anymore at work. Besides, most calls are a bit chaotic. It's nice to have quiet time back at the ranch. We don't have a television here at home. But if I am honest I do miss it at times... like now... when I am folding a mound of diapers, it would be less mind numbing to do it in front of the tv watching something stupid like Bridezillas. These chicks crack me up how nuts they are. I swear they must be actresses or something because who would willingly put themselves on tv to look like a real life crazy chick? I guess everyone wants their 15 minutes of fame. But alas, there is no tv around so I guess I could say a Hail Mary every time I fold a diaper, except that I am not of any religious background and have no idea where to even begin. Oh well, I better get off the computer and get folding cuz that pile ain't going to fold itself and since Maiya has started solid foods I'm gonna need all the clean diapers on deck and ready at the helm.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

firefighter qualifications

When I was a rookie, one of my training officers told me that I wouldn't 'qualify' as a firefighter until I'd been 'shit on, pissed on, and puked on'. Uh... then I guess anyone with children automatically qualifies as a firefighter. Crude quotes aside, I know without a doubt that motherhood has made me a better and stronger firefighter. It all comes from the mental stamina developed from raising children. Climbing stairs in full gear while carrying equipment seems easier now after natural childbirth. Facing a raging house fire isn't as taxing as taming a toddler in the throes of a tantrum. Getting woken in the middle of the night for an alarm is child's play compared to being woken up by your child with an ear infection or a night terror. Firefighting and parenting are similar in the sense that you get better and more confident with experience and although you never ever quite master either, you certainly can get really good at it. It's all what you put into it. Neither is predictable. Both are extremely fun in the challenges that you face. The biggest and most obvious difference is that in a fire there is the potential that you could die. Although I feel like I'm gonna die some days when I am home by myself with both children and they are non-stop with their demands and I haven't slept nor showered in days and it's 4 pm and I'm surviving on a slice of cold toast and tea.

So my dear training officer, I've met your strange criteria on becoming a firefighter through the years at medical calls. But I send you an open invitation to my home when Jacob hasn't had his nap and decides that he wants only strawberry ice cream for dinner and there isn't any. Or when he is covered head to toe in dirt and mud and refuses to get in the tub. Or when Maiya has a poo explosion so big it's halfway up her back and there are no wipes in the house. Bring your earplugs and a box of Kleenex for you may shed a tear of frustration or two. You may even want to bring some Jack Daniels to take the edge off. We'll see then who the tougher firefighter is now. ;)

Monday, May 25, 2009


I am so hot. Ok. That sounded really narcissistic. How about I am boiling to death. For someone who hates the heat, I find it ironic that I am a firefighter. Don't get me wrong, I love summer, but where I live it's the unbearable humidity and smog that I can't stand. It gets me all grumpy and well... sweaty. I don't mind purposeful sweat like when I am lifting a heavy load or because I am working out. But I hate sweating for the sake of sweating. I prefer fall and winter. I love woollens, boots, cool crisp air and winter means I get to wear my amauti. I posted a picture about it on March 25. Amautiit (plural for amauti) are very special to me. They are made only in the north of Canada, namely Nunavut and if you are lucky enough to find a seamstress who will custom make you one you will understand why I have this obsession with the beauty of the creation of their work and what it means to carry my children in them.

I am lucky to have tried and owned several.

You can see here how baby is carried deep in the pouch sewn in the back of the amauti, not the hood. Maiya is snug as a bug. I think she was 3 weeks old at the time.

And Jacob even was inspired this winter to fashion his own.

I just had this gorgeous one made for me recently:

But somehow in my mom haze I didn't think of how sticky hot it gets here and even though this one is made of linen I think I will be sadly selling it because frankly I don't want to drown my baby with my perspiration.

So this summer, I'll be using a simple piece of cloth to carry her around. Jacob was already a pro since he was old enough to walk:

And here's how Maiya hangs out with me when I need my hands free to do things. This cloth is lovely. It's made from woven cotton and hemp.

Not as pretty as the amauti but it will do the trick and Maiya and I will be cool as cucumbers.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

a day at the fair

Summer weather is here and we took full advantage of it this weekend. I took Jacob and Maiya to a local public school Fun Fair this weekend and it is hard to guess who had more fun... me or the kids. There were bouncy castles, stilt walkers, fire breathers, a fishing pond, barbecue, bake sale table, ice cold watermelon........ and electric cars to ride... Jacob's favourite of course. I could not believe how well behaved he was despite all the opportunity for naughtiness and getting lost in the crowd. I wish I thought to bring my camera... the look on his face on the electric jeep was pure joy. He kept looking at me as he went around... he was so proud of himself. And in the bouncy castle he was so good about waiting his turn. He asked to go again on the cars but I said no and he was ok with it and amused himself on the big playground. He also asked for a snow cone but since it's pure sugar and food dye I said no and he was happy with a few wedges of watermelon and a homemade oatmeal cookie. Maiya smiled the whole time just taking it all in, enjoying her bare feet and the sun on her face. It was adorable how interested she was in her surroundings. I cannot believe how easy it is to raise her and bring her out in public. She doesn't make a peep... I am still kicking myself for not having my camera with me!!!!!!!!!!!! The kids were so darn cute I could barely stand it myself. I am trying to capture these perfect days by etching them permanently in my mind. These happy childhood days are going by much too quickly. Maiya is just so precious in how cute she is the way she crinkles up her nose when she smiles and Jacob is just so interesting with all the things he says and does. Wish I were younger. I would be having more children for sure but life is great with just the two of them. It's balanced and I will be able to give them a lot of attention without wearing myself too thin. Funny. I crave time alone when things get crazy and when I do, I am itching to turn around and come home after an hour because I miss them. It will be tough to be away from home when I'm back at work on the 24 hour shift that's for sure. But hopefully it will be so busy at work I won't have time to think.

Anyway, it was a terrific day at the Fair. I never thought I would want to go to Disneyland but just to see the look on the kids' faces I think we will all have to go meet Mickey one day. And I will for sure remember my camera.

Saturday, May 23, 2009


I am not usually the type of person or parent to compare my children to others. But for some reason this week when visiting a friend I suddenly realized that Jacob, while he can sing his abc's, doesn't know how to recognize them. Sure, he can name a few letters here and there but my friend's child who is 3 months older than J, can recognize small and upper case letters and is on the cusp of reading. Needless to say I was very impressed and a bit insecure. It never really crossed my mind to teach him his letters. I was always more focused on proper manners and positive behaviour, and just let him run and play like little boys do.

If I think back, my Chinese speaking parents never taught me any academics. They sent me to a French school and they were criticized by their Chinese friends that they would never be able to help me with my French schooling. To which they replied they wouldn't be able to help me with my English schooling either. And I think because they never put pressure on me to be the smartest, but only to try my best, that is why I did well in school and the irony is that the subjects that I did well in were languages. So I guess I was smart, or maybe just a smart-Aleck but the point I am trying to make that I think I turned out ok academically without my parents' tutoring and somehow ended up with a university education.

So after I got over my initial fear that I wasn't teaching my son enough, I realized that he is learning about the world through his play. He will have years of schooling ahead of him. Now is his time to have fun. My job is to provide him with a happy, healthy, and safe home environment where he can nurture his interests. Besides, if I teach him everything now he will be bored at school. So, no, I won't be doing flashcards. That's just not my style. My husband and I believe in child-led learning at this age. If Jacob shows an interest in something we carry it through. My friend's daughter is interested in reading so that is what she excels in. Jacob can talk a blue streak and his manual dexterity is something to behold. He can keep up with the boys 2 years older than him at the park... and even at this young age his athleticism is apparent. He also has an uncanny recollection of people and events, and his sense of direction is so good it borders on the spooky: he can tell you how to get to my parents' house even though it's a 30 minute drive away.

Jacob might have zero interest in letters but park him on the side of the road and he can name practically every make and model of car, construction and emergency vehicle that drives by.

Now that, my dear readers, is something to brag about. ;)

Friday, May 22, 2009

uh... more food.

I fell off the wagon today.

CrossFit bootcamp ended today and I have to say I have never had so much fun in my life working out at such a grueling pace. I feel rejuvenated and more confident and much leaner and stronger. I've been eating really clean all month but today I went to a firefighter work function with a fantastic luncheon and broke down at the chocolate mousse. So I figured in for a penny in for a pound. And just downed my homemade crepes with ice cream, real maple syrup and fresh raspberries, a few cookies (like 9 or 10... but they were small... ha ha), toast and peanut butter and the night's still young so I'm going to sniff out some more no no's.

I will pay for it in the morning I am sure and will probably have a wicked tummy ache but hey, it's Friday night and this firemom is going to party. I know, partying ain't what it used to be but I'll take what I can get. Last time I partied I ended up happily pregnant but since we are done having more babies just pass me the Haagen Daaz and a bowl and a spoon, crank up the music, and get this party started. Actually, the kids are asleep so skip the tunes and forget the bowl, I'll just eat straight out of the carton. :)

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

important psa

I don't mean to frighten anyone but I want to issue a warning about an inherent problem if you have an internet telephone system like Voip/Vonnage. I am not bashing Voip/Vonnage but merely stating the facts using an actual case that I witnessed.

One of the most frustrating and tragic medical calls I attended was due to the fact that we were not able to respond in a timely manner. The person in need of help was was subscribed to the above-mention system. The problem with an internet phone line is that there is no direct link to 911. Let me explain. What traditionally happens when you dial 911 from a hard land-line is that the call goes directly to an emergency dspatcher/calltaker. The phone number you are calling from as well as the address will pop up on the dispatcher's screen and police/ambulance/fire will be dispatched immediately within seconds. If you are unable to speak or need to get out of your location in a hurry, all you need to do is call 911 and help will be on the way whether you hang up or leave an open phone line. If there is a language barrier or you are too scared or confused to get the information out, help will still be on the way. With Voip/Vonnage your call is sent to a national emergency call centre (which could be anywhere in the world) at which point the call centre operator asks you to confirm your location then transfers your call to the emergency dispatcher in your city who still does not have your phone number or physical location yet. You must tell them. And if you lose your connection Voip/Vonnage tells you to redial 911 again to start the process all over. You can see the problem here. During an emergency, there is no time to chat on the phone. If your house is on fire or you're in distress and cannot speak under duress, or you're a child with limited vocabulary, how do you communicate your information? Voip/Vonnage states if you are unable to speak during your 911 call, the call taker will contact emergency dispatch on your behalf but that is only provided that the information they have is current and on file as you can take your Voip number with you when you move. So then why do they ask you to call 911 again if you lose the connection?

Like I said, I have witnessed what can go wrong with this phone system. The emergency we had resulted in loss of life. The caller lived in a townhouse complex and was only able to give the street address and lost consciousness before the unit number could be conveyed. We literally had to divide up our crew of four along with two police officers and go knocking door to door. But if you are unconscious how do you respond? Our trucks are mandated to arrive at a call within 5-6 minutes. Because of the problem with the phone system, it took us over 20 minutes to just to find our call. Which was too late. Seconds do count and I think had we had the proper information without delay, the outcome could have been positive.

By the way, children old enough to understand what a true emergency is should be taught how to dial 911. Do not shelter them by worrying that you might frighten them. Empower them with the knowledge of what to do should the need arise. I don't recommend putting 911 on speed dial because if you accidentally hit that button the police will show up (in my city anyway) even if you tell them it was an accidental call.

So, this was a bit of a heavy post but an important one. I personally would never install an internet telephone system in our home. Those of you who have one, think about this: the money you save with a system like that could very well cost you your life.

Monday, May 18, 2009

electronic babysitter

I am guilty as charged.

I never thought I would be the type of parent who relies on an electronic babysitter. Although we do not have a television set in our household, we do have a collection of children's programming on dvd. It is the only way I can get Jacob to sit still long enough to wind down and eat his dinner. I lock him in his highchair with a tray full of nutritious food and on goes Bob the Builder or Wonderpets via the laptop on the kitchen counter. I personally like Old School Sesame Street. It is still as good as it was when I was a kid. Remember Wanda the Witch and Ladybug Picnic? And we also have the Mr. Dressup collection. Anyway, I digress.

I use the electronic babysitter as an aid. It is a lazy aid I know but this is where we're at. With my husband working late into the night, and me alone with both children it is easier and safer knowing that Jacob can't budge from his perch while I am changing Maiya's diaper or putting her to bed. Sometimes when my husband is home we still use it so we can enjoy a few minutes of dinner together in peace. Not ideal but either that or he'll be racing around and jumping all over the place. I know all the experts out there say tv is bad for children but we watched way more television when we were kids. And if you know my son, apart from sleeping, watching programs is the only time he sits still. He runs like the wind, happy and active, exploring, and always inquisitive like an almost 3 year old boy is supposed to be. Watching Backyardigans slows him down.

He was in that highchair for hours tonight... to the point he was asking to get out to go to bed. Works for me.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

firefighting beans

If I do the math correctly, both of my children fought fires while still in the womb. The fire that Jacob was in was in a flop house. Maiya was in an apartment fire.

It certainly wasn't intentional. What I thought was indigestion from one too many helpings of firehouse food was actually pregnancy. As soon as I found out I was pregnant I pulled myself off the trucks and went to modified duties which included obtaining and maintaining personal uniforms, gear, and fire equipment on the trucks, as well as maintaining medical stock and stores for each firehall. So even though I missed riding the trucks, my real job was to keep the little beans safe.

It is eerie to think back that I was in working fires with both children but because I found out early on that I was pregnant, the risk and exposure to contaminants was minimal. I am also very proactive in leaving all my gear on including my breathing apparatus until the call is completely over. The overhaul period when we clean up the mess of the fire is actually as dangerous, if not more so than the working fire itself because of the off gassing of the burnt material. Modern fires are so much more toxic than they were even 50 years ago because of all the petroleum based plastics and synthetic materials.

So looking back, I should have guessed I was pregnant. Margaritas all of a sudden were vile to me, I'd go through a box of tissues while watching Grey's Anatomy, and I was hungry.

One of my crew mates suspected I was pregnant with my second child before I even realized it. He was teasing me about my voracious appetite. Must have been when I downed a giant block of baker's chocolate at the firehall. Unsweetened. Ick.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

family pics

Too pooped to write tonight so here are some pictures of our past week...

I love these photos... I left the house for a few hours and came back and everyone was so relaxed and just takin' it easy.

This is how we get around quickly... beats lugging a stroller. My grandmothers wrapped their children the same way... with a long piece of cloth... I carried Jacob the same way up to the day I delivered Maiya.

Jacob expertly working the outriggers.

And my ever-smiling baby girl... xoxoxoxoxox

Saturday musing

sigh... why is it when children get tired they spin around like speed demon Tazmanian devils? Wish I had Jacob's energy and drive when tired... I would be a super hero both here at home and on the fireground. sigh... like I've said before, he is my sunshine tornado.

Friday, May 15, 2009

new obsession

For those of you who know me, I tend to get obsessed about things... I'm all or nothing... including fashion items. I think perhaps it is because I wear a uniform at work that on my days off I want to wear items that are comfy and somewhat funky without being dowdy yet still reflect my personality. I was seriously into Lululemon yoga wear for awhile until they sold out and went corporate and now the quality isn't there anymore. They are overpriced in my opinion but so comfy without looking like a sack of potatoes. But again, their quality has gone way downhill now that they don't make it in Canada and is outsourced to China. I wore Ugg boots for a bit (yeah... I know they are freaking Fugly and stupidly expensive but they are soooooo comfortable after wearing steel toed safety boots all day). Again, outsourced to China.... you're lucky if you can find a pair made in Australia these days. My jewelry of choice is Chamilia beads. From Europe I believe.

And now my new obsession is the classic Chuck Taylor High Top Sneaker. Made in America so at least it's domestic. Ack! Just checked inside the shoes... sigh... made in China). Oh well. Here they are anyway:
Ta da!

Never thought I'd be so excited about a simple shoe. (yeah, yeah, I need to get out more......)

Jacob wears them and they are so cute on him. I always thought they looked a bit juvenile on adults and the red ones remind me of clown shoes but I thought I'd give them a try anyway because there was a sale on them. Holy Crap they are so comfy. I'm in trouble because I am generally obsessed with shoes to begin with... now I want one in every colour. A girl has got to match you know. ;) And it doesn't help that the Converse website has a section where you can custom design your own shoe. Thankfully they will only ship within the U.S. My pocketbook has been spared.... for now.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

there's no I in Team

For how tough the job of firefighting is, I was pleasantly surprised when I 'enlisted' how friendly and down to earth the guys were. There is the odd gym ape pumped full of testosterone who manages to annoy the heck out of everyone by always trying to be the hero or uses his badge to pick up chicks but really, from what I've seen in my fire department, every one is so cool and nice I wish I had them as next-door neighbours. Most of the guys are educated, well-read, have nice families. I think this job is conducive to that. Helping other people just lends itself to making you want to be a better person. I think it's the totally insecure guys that are the Schwarzenegger wannabees. And all their machismo quickly alienates them. There is no room on the truck for guys who are self-centred. In rookie training the saying 'there is no I in Team' was drilled in our heads daily and it's so true. It takes a team of firefighters to work a call safely and efficiently. And the people in dispatch are integral to how the call plays out. You get in tune with the dispatcher to the point that you can tell if it's a big call just by the tone of their voice. I am finding that the strongest crews are the ones that have a certain cohesiveness that is developed over time from working together. Often at calls few words are exchanged between crew members because each individual instinctively knows what role needs to be played. I personally find it a bit devastating when crews get switched around after being together for years or when your crewmate retires because it's like learning how to dance all over again.

Maybe my sentimentality is showing but there are some really good eggs out there on the trucks. You don't normally get to meet these kind of people everyday but I am lucky that I work with them. It makes going in to work so much easier leaving my children and husband behind when I'm on shift. It would suck to be stuck with people you despise and you certainly wouldn't be able to trust them to watch your back at a call.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

you're not my friend

'You're not my friend' is what Jacob said to me tonight after supper. Then he promptly walked away to play with his toys on his own. I tried not to laugh out loud because it was kind of cute how he said it so matter of factly. He wasn't getting his way and when I wouldn't give in that is what he said. I was actually impressed by the logic of his thought process. I'll take not being his friend over a tantrum any day. I've never heard him say that before. He might have picked up that line from one of his friends at daycare today.

I may come under criticism with what I am about to say but I don't believe in parents being friends with their children. A parent's job is to parent. I see too many kids in our neighbourhood walk all over their parents acting like spoiled brats because the parents are so afraid of being disliked by their children. No child, especially a toddler inherently dislikes their parents. We are their world. We can teach and guide them to exist in a world where there is love and boundaries. Or we can teach them that it's ok to manipulate to get what they want. The tail does not wag the dog. I do not tolerate children whining, hitting, screaming, or shouting. Jacob knows how to push my buttons but he also knows that my No's mean heck No. The end. All the whining in the world won't budge me. I don't believe in spanking but I do believe in good old fashioned manners. I think we are over permissive as a society these days, including the legal system but that is another topic for another day.

I may not be Jacob's 'friend' tonight but I will always be his mother.

It is so exciting to watch him grow.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

paleo diet?

Well, I've completely lost count what week I am in for CrossFit bootcamp. I have to say I am really loving it... it has given me a new lease on working out and it's making my body move in ways I never thought it could. I am feeling really strong and this method of training suits my needs for getting back to work on the trucks......


There is one big problem. Well, two, actually. I'm supposed to sleep nine to ten hours a night..... uh.... with a six month old and a toddler... that is so not happening... wish it would though.... The second problem is a biggie for me.

CrossFit advocates a Paleo diet. Basically a caveman diet which means no dairy (what? bye bye smoked gruyere, no yogurt? no ice cream?), no grains (no bread? no toast with butter? my beloved crepes? no Captain Crunch? no pasta?????), no rice (that one is killing me... I am Chinese after all!), no beans (my beloved tofu!), no dried fruit (how can I give up sharing a box of Sun-Maid raisins with my son? it's like a ritual in our home), no starchy root vegetables (bye bye my sweet, sweet potato). Just lots of protein coming from eggs, fish, seafood, or animals and lots of veggies. We eat really well at home as a rule and I can see where we can cut back on some packaged and processed foods but holy crap that diet requires discipline. I did it for a week and felt awesome but lost 3 lbs.... not something I want to do.... I actually want to bulk up a bit.... there's no room for Kate Moss on the trucks. This diet works for those who want to trim down because protein and veg is really low in calories. But I need and want my calories.... good calories. But I am also happy to indulge in a Pringle or three and have a scoop of gelato.

Oh well. I'm working out and getting really strong so that's what's important. Off to bed for me... The kids are up at six am so that leaves me... oh... about 7 hours of sleep but throw in a couple of nursings in there and a pee break or two and maybe I'll get six hours? Oh well....

Monday, May 11, 2009

food glorious food

As you know every firehouse has a resident chef. There is always at least one firefighter who is passionate about food and cooking. Our resident chef is so passionate about meal planning and food that he needs to be escorted into the grocery store lest he blow the food budget for the day. We pitch in $5.00 per person per meal. It's not a lot of money for a healthy home cooked lunch or supper. Some of our faves are calzones from scratch (we buy the fresh pizza dough... easier than making our own and waiting for the dough to rise, stuffed with sausages, bacon, pepperoni, green peppers, mushrooms, cheese, hot peppers and olives), cheddar tuna melts (so deelish with a touch of chopped cilantro mixed in), chicken Caesar salads, massive 1/2 lb hamburgers, and of course the requisite pasta. At Christmas we'll pitch in some extra funds for a turkey or a roast. There's no lying... we eat well. Although often the food is cold because we get dispatched... and it may be hours until we can eat again. And when we do, we tend to eat with caution. By this I mean we don't gorge until we can't move. I mean, you can, but I don't recommend it. I witnessed early on in my career 3 firefighters down a party tray of Sheppard's Pie. Then we got a call that involved climbing stairs.... lots of stairs in a hot environment wearing full bunker gear and carrying equipment. I do not have to explain what happened next except that the firefighter needed to order a new facepiece. And will probably never eat Sheppard's Pie ever again.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

eat your heart out Hallmark

Sigh....... another day on the calendar invented by Hallmark. Kids get it... they make the best homemade cards. Fathers and husbands, I could save you five bucks and a trip to the corner store with some of your own homemade mother's day card ideas like: Happy Mother's Day ! You look great for not having showered in 3 days and not sleeping more than 4 hours in a row. Or how about: Happy Mother's Day! Don't worry... those skinny jeans in the back of your closet will fit you one day soon and I still love you even though you wear saggy track pants now. And: Happy Mother's Day! I don't miss your gourmet cooking from scratch one bit... Kraft Dinner and take-out pizza is just fine.

The concept of Mother's Day is noble but I pity the folk running around town trying to find the perfect bouquet of overpriced flowers or try and make a reservation for brunch. I think today should be Mother Theresa Day. She was one heck of a selfless Mother although she bore no children. Or today could be more aptly name Motherload Day for the cash that the florists and Bell long distance are raking in... Or Mother Tucker's Day... for those of you who know that restaurant, they make one heck of a buffet. But alas, it is Mother's Day. For me, so far it has been a day like any other with a 6 am wake up but what is extra special is that my husband isn't working today and we went to the pool to take Jacob swimming and we had lunch.... with Maiya not making a peep as usual so we could enjoy it. And now my husband is driving in circles around town to get our son, who would rather play all day, to nap. I am fortunate that I have a husband who is so hands-on with child-rearing. I don't know how I could manage without him. I will take the togetherness of our family today over any perfectly written Hallmark card or trip to the spa..... well... maybe a trip to the spa if I haven't showered in 3 days. And at that point it wouldn't be a gift... it would be a big hint.

But, kidding aside, I dedicate this day to all the single mothers out there doing a fantastic job raising your babies and to the children and to those whose mothers are no longer part of this realm. And to the caregivers who 'mother' my son so beautifully while he is in daycare. And of course to all the mothers simply enjoying motherhood. It is certainly one fantastic roller coaster ride that no Hallmark card can even begin put into words.

Saturday, May 9, 2009


I am not sure if a little part of me dies every time I witness tragedy. It gets etched in my brain and stored somewhere in the back of my mind. Ask any firefighter to tell you about their first 'bad' call and they will be able to recount it with complete accuracy... whether it happened yesterday or twenty years ago. And they will describe it with alarming detail down to the time of day, the weather, who they ran the call with, the smell...... the smell is what gets to me the most.

Forgive us firefighters if we develop a sordid black humour. It is our way of protecting ourselves and bringing levity to a horrible situation. We are not robots, we feel just like everybody else except that we have developed our own coping mechanisms through the necessity of the work we do. If we can somehow find a way to laugh, then we have stopped or at least delayed the callous growing thicker over our hearts.

But a part of me also lives every time I witness tragedy. Because it is a sober yet great reminder that life is precious and fragile and life, most of all, is to be lived. I am not sure yet how I feel about death and dying... except that I cannot imagine what it would be like to leave my children motherless. Just the thought of it brings tears to my eyes. I get asked a lot if I am afraid at work. And yes, when I look back at certain situations, they were downright spooky. But at calls the adrenaline takes over and all I can think about is the job that I need to do. It's not until I get back to the safety of my own home that I might have a bit more than just a little bit of the shakes.

And although I am not a religious person, that is when I thank the Big Guy or Girl upstairs for keeping me and my family safe and allowing me to continue to do the work that I do with some really fantastic people.

morning musing

Why is it that we as people and as a society waste so much money but will make sure we get our quarter back from the shopping cart.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

uh.. no thanks

I hate junk mail. A total waste of trees. I opened my mailbox today to find an ad offering a deal on botox treatments. It was addressed to my name. How these idiot marketers got my name is beyond me because I am their least likely candidate... not because I have perfect crease free skin, but because the idea of being a human pin cushion sticking needles full of botulism in my face is the dumbest thing I've ever heard. Not only painful I am sure but a waste of money and time... I think celebrities and such trying to obtain skin as smooth as my baby girl's bottom is self-defeating... how long do you try to keep it up? Why is it in this culture people are so afraid of ageing? It's going to happen. But I do have to admit, if botox floats your boat then who am I to argue?

Ol' Hilary seems to have come out ok.....

She (It?) did not.

There are no words... except... why? And what the heck were you thinking? Oh.. and do you kiss your kids with that mouth?

So freaky deaky. I hope I don't have nightmares tonight.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

slowing down to smile

I am a colour-within-the-lines kind a gal. I like punctuality, neatness, order, efficiency, and speed. Routine is my security blanket. That's why I love the paramilitary organization of the fire department. There is a policy and procedure for everything from the correct way to charge a radio battery to how to doff your breathing apparatus. There is even a policy on proper handwashing technique. There is a place for everything and a binder to tell you where things go if you've forgotten. Heaven help you if it's your shift that has put the stethescope in the wrong pocket of the medical bag. I, unfortunately have carried over some of the regimented way of doing things to home but now that I have children, I see the necessity of becoming a bit more laid back. I don't want soldiers for children. I want to nurture creative spirits. I've been so preoccupied with running the household that I didn't notice my baby girl cut her first teeth today. It was my husband who pointed it out to me. I need to stop and be present with my kids instead of worrying about some mundane thing. Before I know it they will be all grown up. So I am trying to see the world from a child's point of view. Children don't complicate things like adults do... like I do. They don't have rules or policies. I love that Jacob mixes all his playdough colours into one big glob with reckless abandon. He could care less about aesthetics and neatness. He is about having fun. Which is what I need to think about these days. So today I said screw the chores and just played. And let Jacob ride his tricycle to daycare even though it took us forever as he inspected every ant, twig, tulip along the way. He is a good influence on me and because of him I have become less of a stick-in-the-mud. He has changed me in the best of ways. He is a child who could get even the toughest of firefighters to fingerpaint with him in his guacomole. He is just that kind of endearing kid. And I am so blessed to be his mama.

Monday, May 4, 2009

my heart, my soul

It's interesting how two children borne of the same parents can be so different.

Apart from Jacob being a boy and Maiya being a girl, they are like night and day. Jacob gave me hints of his personality when he was still in the womb... he never stopped moving or kicking. On that hot summer day when I went into labour, it took a long and hard 21 hours to meet him. I birthed him naturally at home as planned although there were moments when I thought that I wouldn't be able to. On the other hand, even in the womb Maiya was easy-going... she never kicked but instead, she wiggled. Her birth was less than 4 hours and it was so easy I didn't even know I was in real labour until the midwife arrived racing to our home at which point I was already at 9.5 centimetres. Out Maiya popped 45 minutes later and nursed hungrily and efficiently. She only nurses to eat and sucks her thumb to sleep. It took weeks for Jacob to latch. When he finally did, he would nurse literally for hours, day and night... He did not suck his thumb for I was the human pacifier.

Jacob is really my son... by this I mean he is stubborn and strong-willed like me. Gets cranky when underfed and overtired, is a maniac if he doesn't get enough fresh air and exercise, and gets overemotional and dramatic when he doesn't get his way. I know these traits came from me for it's like looking in a mirror some days.

Maiya takes after my husband. She is calm, gentle, and easy-going and can wait patiently until I have the hands free to nurse her, change her, or play with her. When she is overtired she just waits until I can put her down and she falls right to sleep, thumb in her mouth. She is content to sit and play on her own. She is Daddy's girl.

I am grateful for Maiya because it has been so easy to raise her. Maybe second babies know how exhausted the mother is. Jacob requires much more creative parenting but I am also grateful for him because the buttons that he pushes in me challenges me to grow to be a better parent and a more patient person.

Jacob is my heart. Up until the minute he was born I did not know what unconditional love was. There are days when I lose my patience with him and feel like I am failing as a parent. I realize he was born to me to help teach me that I am OK... and that I am the perfect parent for him even with my imperfections.

Maiya is my dolly that lights up the room with her smile. She is my daughter and I feel complete with her. She is my soul.

I can barely remember what life was like before my children came to me. I am sure it was a lot quieter. But definitely not as fulfilling.

Sunday, May 3, 2009


Maybe it's because of the visit to the firehouse yesterday that I am suddenly, overwhelmingly wanting to go back to work. I miss the job, the camraderie, the excitement. I miss feeling valued in a different way than what it means to being a housewife and a full time mom right now. I want to take someone's blood pressure, and check the gauges on the firetruck. I want to put on my uniform and my bunker gear and roll hoses. Paperwork and building inspections would thrill me right now.

I am just so bored with the monotony of motherhood. The cooking, the cleaning, the constant toys underfoot, the clutter, the just-one-more bedtime story, having to split my time between both children thus not being able to give either 100% attention... I understand that parenting is selfless but today I resent my needs coming last. I have been on my feet nonstop since six a.m. It gets to me sometimes. Not all the time. Not even most of the time. But on the weekends when I am by myself with both of the kids I have had enough by Sunday night. Jacob is STILL awake and whining for me to go to bed with him.

I've barely begun figuring out the childcare situation for Maiya for when I do go back to work. I don't know if I can bear being away from my baby girl for over 24 hours while she's still so young and still nursing. Maiya and I cosleep... it will be hard not to have downy head beside mine and seeing that big smile on her face when she wakes up. I am not due back to work for at least another six months but I may head back earlier for my own sense of self worth and sanity.

But after a good night's sleep tonight I am sure I will be feeling better in the morning. Like I said, weekends for me are tough. In the meantime, I am going to find some great gourmet cheese to go with my stellar whine.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

first visit

Jacob has been asking forever to see where I work. So Maiya stayed home with my husband so she could have Daddy all to herself while me and my little man hopped in the pickup and drove the commute to my firehall. Except Jacob didn't make it. Well, technically he did... but he fell asleep before we got there and as much as I tried to wake him up, I couldn't. So I carried him in and plopped him down in a chair.

And Jacob slept.

The guys were in the middle of lunch so I dug in of course. It was so nice to have a meal cooked for me, eat in peace and not have to do the dishes.

And Jacob still slept.

The guys took turns calling his name. He didn't budge. We cranked up the tv.

And on he slept.

See the drool?

After almost a two hour nap he was up. He was a little disoriented trying to figure out where he was since he had never visited my station before. We were checking out the trucks (his favourite being the ladder truck) when the pumper got a call. It was a bit ironic because I had just finished explaining to him that the truck might need to go out and that it would be loud and not to be scared. Jacob watched the guys jump on the truck and race out lights and sirens. It was loud and he was a bit frightened. I told him to push this button on the wall and it triggered the bay door to close. I put him in the driver's seat of the ladder truck and he was scared to the point of shaking... very common in young children since they are used to playing with their toy firetrucks that when they actually see how big it is up close they get a bit nervous. These trucks are big but when you are 2 and a half they are gigantic. Look at him beside the rear tires.

And at the pump panel.

I think he was still figuring out why the pumper raced out with such urgency. He watches the firetrucks near our home race by from our window but he's never seen how the truck actually leaves the station for an emergency.

He finally warmed up and asked to sit in the rear jump seats. Then I couldn't get him off. So like the good mother I am I had to bribe him with a chocolate ice cream cone that I took out of the firehall freezer secret stash. A firefighter won't get his share of dessert tonight but hey, it's all for a good cause.

It's way past his bedtime and Jacob just fell asleep. Maybe it was because of the great nap or that he was overdosed on adventure or sugar today, I don't know. But it was a great day for a little boy I must say.

Friday, May 1, 2009


I was stopped by a stranger today asking me if I was a nanny. I actually get that a lot. Maybe because I am Asian? Maybe because my children are mixed and they don't look like me?

I wasn't insulted... just bemused. This desperate man... a father... was on the hunt for a good nanny. And I guess I fit the bill. Believe me sir, I understand your pain. It is hard to find great caregivers these days. You hear the horror stories. And waitlists at good daycare facilities are so long mothers are putting in their names when their babies are still mere embryos.

I am fortunate that I was able to take the full year off for maternity leave with Jacob and have the opportunity to do so as well with Maiya. When Jacob turned two we enrolled him in a fantastic daycare because the social interaction is great for him. He has his friends, activities, bikes to ride...... it was the best thing we ever did and money well spent. Maiya will go too when she is older. So we don't need a nanny... plus it's just not our thing.

So, kind sir, I wish I could help you out. I really do. But I am no Maria, Mary Poppins, or Mrs. Doubtfire. And I'm not for hire.