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.


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:

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:

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


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.


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
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
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 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

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


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:

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.