Wednesday, July 29, 2009


I am often asked if I fear for my life doing what I do for a living. And although I do have a healthy respect for all things 'dangerous', firefighting is a calculated risk that I am more than willing to take. 5% of our calls are fire calls. The rest being accidents, carbon monoxide calls, water rescue, high angle, confined space, hazmat and anything else ol' Murphy and his Laws can think of.

The majority of our calls are medical ones and this is where there is great potential for catching anything from a simple cold virus to the flu to other life threatening blood borne or airborne disease. Remember SARS? A lot of us were under quarantine for 10 days ( but really, if you look at the statistics, more people died in Canada from the influenza virus than SARS). It is mandated that we practice universal precautions at each and every call but you really can't obsess or worry too much about it... you could catch them standing in line at the checkout counter... and really, as the saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth more than a pound of cure. The key I believe is keeping one's immune system strong and healthy in the first place.

Fire calls have the potential for really devastating injuries but our training, fire equipment, and protocol help to keep us safe. I think, especially with the way people drive these days yapping on their cellphones, the biggest risk for me going into work is the commute to and from. This is why I prefer driving my huge Ford pick-up and would never set foot in a mini-Cooper. But having said that, you could perish crossing the street or anywhere really if you happen to be in the wrong place at the right time. As I've said before, I am not a religious person but I do believe that when your number is up, it's up. So no use wasting time worrying about dying and living small trying to always play it safe... it's far more worthwhile and valuable to concentrate on doing what you love to do and living up to your fullest potential.

So in answer to the question: no, I don't fear what I do. It would be too paralytic. If I was afraid I would be doing something else. I sometimes get the jitters or the shakes after a freaky call but it makes my heart beat with a resonance that makes me feel alive. And the fact that I get to help others while pushing myself to face the brink of my own fears is what is helping me grow.........

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

free runners

I spend my time these days protecting my children from themselves. They are fearless. And I am running ragged... lol.... I need an extra set of eyes on the back of my head and at least 2 or even 4 more arms to keep my children out of harm's way. Jacob thinks he can fly and is constantly jumping off of things. His latest thing is jumping from halfway down the stairs which is about 4 steps and somehow, he always lands on his feet. Still, my heart stops a moment as he flies through the air and I feel a brief sense of panic until both his feet are firmly planted on the ground until the next moment he takes off in flight. I do not want to practice my medical skills at home. Somersaults, handstands, headstands, banister sliding, bike skidding, wheelies, curb hopping.... all in a day's work for J.

Maiya seems to be following in her big brother's footsteps. She wants to dive headfirst into a full bathtub or off the couch. She can squeeze herself into the smallest of spaces. She thinks it's hilarious to stand in bed holding the wall and fling herself backwards... fine on our cushy mattress but not so much on the hardwood floor. And EVERYTHING goes into her mouth. Maiya explores the world by tasting everything... be it the morning paper, Daddy's icky sock that he hasn't picked up, and of course, Jacob's toys which we have to be so diligent about making sure the pieces aren't small enough to choke on. And if she can't find something to teethe on, heaven help you if you're sitting next to you... she'll make small work of your shoulder or arm.... a parental hazard I never took into account before. She takes great delight in leaping and flinging and rolling and commando crawling under furniture when she can't get over it or divebombing on top, when she can.

Sigh... this is a glimpse into my children's future. I am glad my job has good medical benefits.

Friday, July 24, 2009

notable quotes

My motherhood marathon continues and not much free time to write these days so I am quickly posting some of my favourite quotes that keep me going during my CrossFit training which I joined to get me ready to get back on the trucks after mat leave but seriously, has made me a better mother chasing after my kids..... If you have a CrossFit gym in your neighbourhood, really check it out....I don't flog a lot of things but this is one thing that I insist on.......

Only people willing to work to the point of discomfort on a regular basis using effective means to produce that discomfort will actually look like they have been other-than-comfortable most of the time.
— Coach Mark Rippetoe

Most of the problems with the bodies and minds of the folks occupying the current culture involve an unwillingness to do anything hard, or anything that they’d rather not do. I applaud your resolve, and I welcome you to the community of people who have decided that EASY will no longer suffice.
— Coach Mark Rippetoe

Stick to the basics and when you feel you’ve mastered them it’s time to start all over again, begin anew – again with the basics – this time paying closer attention.
— Coach Greg Glassman

There is never an absolute answer to everything, except of course that you have to do your squats.
— Coach Mark Rippetoe

Strong people are harder to kill than weak people, and more useful in general.
— Coach Mark Rippetoe

…we have not spent the last 65 million or so years finely honing our physiology to watch Oprah. Like it or not, we are the product of a very long process of adaptation to a harsh physical existence, and the past couple centuries of comparative ease and plenty are not enough time to change our genome. We humans are at our best when our existence mirrors, or at least simulates, the one we are still genetically adapted to live. And that is the purpose of exercise.
— Coach Mark Rippetoe

No, it doesn’t ever get any easier. You wouldn’t want it to either.
— Coach Greg Glassman

I agree with all the quotes except the last one. Please tell me motherhood gets easier. Please......

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

ya' got a fire hose?

... because my kids at mealtimes need one...

This is Jacob when he was wee fine dining on frozen blueberries....

And Maiya today chowing down on fresh blueberries and roasted sweet potatoes...

Clean up is a pain in the arse but I am happy because both my children are such good eaters with great appetites... although comparatively I think Maiya, volume-wise, consumes much more than Jacob did at the same age. Like I've said before, she would make a great firefighter because when it comes to chow, she can keep up with the best of them.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009


I feel like a cow these days. Not like a fat cow but like a Jersey Milk or Charolais cow. Maiya is my calf. She is teething (she has 8 teeth now!) and hitting some major milestones like pulling herself up to stand and letting go and teetering for a second or two before toppling over. As such, she is on a feeding frenzy. And I have no idea how my poor boobs are keeping up (no pun intended because really, they are so pointed down). I weaned Jacob at 18 months because that boy would have nursed forever if I allowed him, so it looks like just a little over 9 more months of nursing (to be fair) although I really hope Maiya self-weans because I do not want to get back on the trucks with a breast pump packed along with my lunch and my bunker gear. No matter how cool my crewmates are I still get slightly embarrassed at the memory of storing my breast milk in a Nalgene bottle in the communal fridge at the firehall.

g'night... off to nurse.


Monday, July 20, 2009


There are some emergency buffs who have their own scanners and as such can listen to the myriad of police/fire/ambulance calls going on at any given moment. As long as you're tapped into the right frequency you can hear an emergency call play out as it happens. Newspeople and tow-truck drivers use the scanner to get the information they need, show up, and often make nuisances of themselves but that's another post for another day. Apart from pegging our call location, if you know the codespeak and chatter on the radio, you can get a great 'visual' of what is going on. Everyone knows what 'Roger' means. But some of the more 'colourful' codes would be 'code blue' (suicide), 'code red' (police required), 'code pink' (child/infant vsa (vital signs absent)), 'code orange' (communicable disease) but the one a crewmate will often consider a dire personal emergency is 'code brown' as explained here in a previous post. I hope to never encounter that code in my career although I have come too close for comfort on one or two occaisions.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

a very bad day

Have you read this?

Talk about real life being crazier than fiction. Talk about your number being up. Talk about totally being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

I am so thankful in my own selfish way that it was not a call that I had to respond to. I do not need any more memories.

For those of you who think that firefighters are overpaid and do nothing but eat and sleep on the job, try imagining what it would be like having to work through that call.... one might be the utmost of professionals during this response but after the adrenaline wears off images like that stay with you for the rest of your life.... I cannot even fathom how the husband is going to cope after this. I know his physical wounds will heal... I pray the emotional ones will too, but somehow, I am not so sure about that.

Friday, July 17, 2009

some pics

And some pictures of our growing children... I can't believe Jacob will be 3 next week and Maiya just turned 8 months.... where does the stinking time go?


sibling love:

child labour: (Jacob put up his own coat rack... and yes, that's a real drill and yes, he was being supervised)

Miss Maiya who will certainly have Daddy fending off the boys when she's a teenager:

coming off the high

I wouldn't call myself an adrenaline junkie but I do have to admit that after a particularly busy shift full of exciting calls it's sometimes hard to come off the 'high' and go back to 'regular' life. The intensity sometimes leaves me in a funk as my body and my mind are still processing the previous 24 hours. It's not to say that baby's first steps and first words aren't exciting milestones... it's just different. I know my husband and my children need me but at work the feeling that I get from feeling needed is in such a way that I can't exactly describe it. It's a look of 'thank you' from a distressed person's eyes, the clutch of a hand guiding someone who is afraid to safety, or singing a funny song to a child to calm him as he is being carried to the ambulance. It's about being there for the public and the community and helping out not because I have to but because it's in me.

But I have to remember too that the work that I do at home chasing away the monsters from under my son's bed... wiping away the tears from my daughter's eyes when she falters learning how to walk.... and stepping in when my husband with all his good intentions is burning dinner, that what I do here is no less 'heroic' than what I accomplish on the trucks.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

get outta town

I was thinking of yesterday's post and it got me contemplating other strange calls I've had......

There was the call that involved another car accident... nothing serious, just a fender bender but the impact was enough that the car was a write off although thankfully no one was hurt. The fella involved in the accident actually worked for our department and he was in the process of moving some of belongings to his new home.

He wasn't grateful to see us. He had this look of mortification on his face. When I took a closer look at the scene I realized why..... amongst his worldly possessions that were strewn everywhere due to the collision, there were dozens and dozens of porn magazines now scattering like tumbleweeds across the road.

This goes to show you that the old saying of 'make sure you wear clean underwear in case the fire department comes' applies. And this poor fella has never been able to look me in the eye ever since.

Saturday, July 11, 2009


I like the outsides of people better than their insides.

Don't get me wrong, I am not a superficial person but rather I do not want to see what was the previous meal they've eaten. Or what nerve endings look like or the texture of tendons and ligaments. I could never be a surgeon... like I said, I like people's outsides better than their insides. But at work unfortunately there are bad days with bad calls when I see stuff that make horror movies look tame.

One of the freakiest calls I attended was a car accident involving a family. As we pulled up there was red goo everywhere...on the victims, inside the windshield, on the road.... Needless to say, we were bracing ourselves for the worst. Because I was on the medical rotation that day I approached the victims first with all my my protective gear on including nitrile gloves, safety glasses.... and giving a silent thank-you that my boots go up to nearly my knees because I knew I would be wading through guts. When I finally got close enough to assess the situation, I started to laugh much to the dismay of my crew. The family in the car was shaken up but perfectly fine. What I thought at first to be blood and guts plastered everywhere was instead a huge tray of lasagna that they were bringing to a family reunion potluck. The force of the collision caused it to spew everywhere.

Happily the lasagna was the only fatality that day. Some of the firemen though were mourning over the loss and waste of that good food.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

hammer away

I bought the most exquisite doll house with all the furniture and little people and the trimmings. I never had one as a child so I thought I'd indulge myself under the guise that it is a gift for the children. Right now Maiya is enthralled but she's more like a baby godzilla descending on the little people as she grabs them and shakes them and jams them in her mouth. I thought Jacob would enjoy it making up stories and role playing but nope.... he is more interested in taking it apart and hammering it and putting it back together and hammering it. I made the mistake of buying a tool set and now he thinks he's Bob the Builder and just wants to fix everything. Anything he can get ahold of he wants to deconstruct. As annoying as it is sometimes, I kind of understand where he is coming from..... one of the funnest aspects of firefighting is smashing things. Tearing ceilings down with a pike pole is my idea of fun. So is giving the boots to a basement window, cutting through a roof to ventilate, and hosing down everything till it turns into a big pile of mush. Cutting apart a car is pretty high on the fun list too. Pry bars, crow bars, bolt cutters, jaws of life, chainsaws, all lots of fun. But at home, where I cherish my peace and quiet when I can get it, a toy hammer is no fun at all.

I have tried many times to hide that darn hammer from Jacob but nope, he keeps it on his belt loop or ties it to the handlebars of his tricycle. Some kids have security blankets. Ol' Jacob has a hammer.

Sigh... give the boy a hammer.... all the world's a nail. I think my next investment will be a set of earplugs.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009


For all of you looking to save money on gym memberships, go ahead and borrow a couple of kids under the age of three. (Mine are available by the way... evenings work for me...) I have been on my feet running non-stop all day and the pedicure I splurged on yesterday is wrecked already. But on the bright side I am in the best shape of my life.

But Oh my God I am so tired. They say it gets easier.

Lord I hope so.

Monday, July 6, 2009


Well.... baking proved to be a fun and creative way to spend some time with Jacob. (you can find the recipe in yesterday's post). With Maiya still basically a babe in arms, it's nice to give some much deserved attention to J. I still had to wear Maiya on my back while we baked but she had fun watching and Jacob of course had a blast getting all the ingredients together for our healthy carrott cake and our banana muffins. He cracked the eggs by himself and I picked out the shells of course. We made a grand old mess but it was worth it for this:

And my stud muffins enjoying a muffin:

Sunday, July 5, 2009

how did I miss this?

For those of you who know me, I hate clutter. It puts me in a wickedly bad mood. I am quick to ditch things that are no longer used, or needed. I go through my clothes at least 4 times a year and get rid of what I don't wear on a regular basis. A magazine might last a day or two here before it hits the recycling bin. Novels are donated soon as I am done. My cookbooks have been a bit of a conundrum. The pretty pictures inspire me to cook something nutritious and interesting but they take up space and end up all ratty looking since they get thumbed through whilst cooking so inevitably a splash of sauce will make the pages smudgy.....

I know I am going to sound like I've been living under a rock all these years but I have just discovered the world of free recipes on the internet. I can google any recipe my heart and tummy desires and up will pop at least a dozen to choose from. I can bookmark the page on my laptop and cook merrily away. No muss no fuss no books to clutter.... and free to boot! There's a saying at the firehall that cheapskates have alligator arms cuz they're too short to reach into their pockets... but hey..... I might be penny pinching when it comes to cookbooks but think of all the trees being saved.

I'm pretty stoked.... I've found all these recipes that are crazy healthy but taste decadent and my family doesn't know the difference... ha ha! I can hide zucchini in a chocolate loaf, make uber healthy flourless and low glycemic banana bread and carrot cake..... and this crazy high fibre foccacia bread that even my picky eater husband says tastes great.... it's all in the toppings...
Tomorrow I'll be baking with Jacob and it's nice to know that he'll be eating veggies in his cake instead of those gross chemical pies that are found in grocery stores that relatives are so quick to bring over. I hate to sound wasteful but they go straight in the rubbish bin... have you seen the ingredients in them?

I can't believe how my culinary skills have improved with the help of internet..... now I'm off to search some meals to make for the guys at the firehall.... gotta make an impression for when I get back... :)

Friday, July 3, 2009

how I deal

I am finding out that there are two types of people when it comes to dealing with crisis. One person will spin out of control with anxiety, and another will take in the situation and break it down and deal as such. For me, I would love to say I take whatever is thrown my way and shake it by the short and curlies but I would be lying. I fit somewhere in between the two depending on the situation. My ability to deal with crisis often depends on how much sleep I've had, how I've been eating, and how familiar or unfamiliar I am with the situation.

At work, I find that the training that we do gives me confidence and lessens the 'what ifs' anxiety. Our training drills are done over and over again that if for example, our air bottle should ever run out, we would know exactly how to respond. Training is applicable in everything that we do, from medical calls, CPR, hitting a hydrant, charging a standpipe.... how to find your way out of a burning building with zero visibility by feeling the shape of the couplings on the hose..... Adrenaline is also a great tool to get you out of a jam... the fight or flight human response is incredible. I love the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system.

At home, I find that I do not have training to fall back on. Everything about child-rearing is new territory for me. There is no manual or policy and procedure to follow, there is no weekly memo from HeadQuarters. Each child has its own individual personality and traits and idiosyncrasies and behaviours that are both endearing and hair-pulling at the same time. I do not know exactly how to respond to a tantrum for the cause and effect of each one is different. I can douse a fire by hosing it down. Dousing my child on the other hand probably isn't the best idea. What I am finding, however, that if I just take the lead of my children and understand what makes them tick, and guide them in the direction that I think is most constructive, there is no battle.

I was thinking of this in a weird abstract way and I realized too that fighting fires isn't about a battle either. Once you understand the chemistry and the nature of the fire it is much easier to deal with.

I have no idea really where I am going with this post (I'm a bit sleep deprived and should be in bed instead of trying to put together a coherent sentence) but I do have to say I don't think I would be as an effective parent if I weren't a firefighter and I think I make a better firefighter now that I am a parent.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

don't jinx me

I have this theory. That when I pour myself the most perfect hot cup of tea and get ready to sit down to read last Saturday's paper (yes, I am always at least a week behind), inevitably the baby will wake up or the doorbell will ring or some telemarketer will call.

Same thing goes when you have a perfect meal ready at the firehouse, inevitably the alarm will sound and we're rushing off to a call. Of course the meal will be there when we get back (that is if the stand-by crew hasn't poked, sniffed and prodded at it or snuck in a bite or three) but it's not the same when you have to nuke it and wolf it down before the next call comes. It's worse when you're in the midst of making a meal.... remembering to shut off the stove is a good move but even then meals are often ruined upon return..... boiled pasta sitting in a pot for hours is about as appetizing as wallpaper paste, and chicken is either bone dry or raw... which of course no one wants to eat because salmonella isn't our friend. The record for my crew for meal interruptus is five calls.... We sat down to eat at 6 pm and it was close to 11 by the time we could eat. I have learned since then to carry some power bars in my bunker gear.

I know firefighters often come under criticism for sounding like spoiled babies about a missed or ruined meal but just like in a nuclear family, sitting down to break bread is important for bonding, sharing a story or a joke and just unwinding. And it gives a great opportunity for the rookies to shine and fit in.... if they can cook, bonus points... if they can't, dish duty is always welcome.

So, I am going to start and hopefully finish my cup of tea right now.... let's hope my theory proves incorrect and Maiya stays asleep.