Wednesday, March 31, 2010


Everyday I am meeting more and more women who are applying to become firefighters. They are intelligent and well-read women who are choosing a blue-collar career. That says something amazing about this job. Although we are not performing brain surgery, we do need to think quickly and react within seconds to a crisis. Managing water flow off the tower as a ladder operator does require skills of a mathematician and a touch that is both delicate and tough. I think women have an innate sense of balancing both sides. When I was hired, there were less than ten women in a department of close to seven hundred. Now we are close to two dozen so it's nice to see the sisterhood growing. :)

I still find the physical and mental aspect of the job challenging every day. Especially as I get older lol... the body doesn't respond the way it used to. And mentally, some of the stuff you see can haunt you for life. I know some guys with post traumatic stress disorder that ended their careers. :( Perhaps because we are women, and letting our feelings show is more accepted makes us more immune. I'm not sure though... these disorders tend to build up over time and what you saw or experienced 10 or 20 years ago may resurface. Some experiences can be pretty grisly. I turn 40 next month and hope to put in at least another 15 years in this career. I will stay on the job as long as I can perform it as effectively as I can today. The stats aren't out yet since women haven't been in the fire business that long yet but I have a sense that our careers might be shorter lived simply due to the nature of our physiology, menopause and all those lovely things. I hope I'm wrong though. I find that I have never been more tired in my life now that I am a mom but these are the challenges that make me tougher I guess. It's been 9 years on the job and although I feel stronger it takes me longer to recover.

I love it when gals get hired. It brings a different vibe to the crew. My crew is amazing and are very accepting of me. We are like family and I love them to bits and we would give each others lives to each other both on and off the job. We all have our strengths and weaknesses and as a group gel nicely and not a day at work goes by without us laughing our heads off. I'm one of the lucky ones. Some of the dinosaurs out there hate working with women and can make life a living hell.

Enjoy the process ladies. The beauty is in the journey and it's one helluva ride :)

Sunday, March 28, 2010

trainin' and gainin'

I am not a tomboy, nor am I a girly-girl. That is not to say I don't like a great pair of heels or a fabulous shoulder bag and a rockin' pair of Levi's... but I don't spend a whole lotta time worrying about the latest trends or fashions. Besides, I wear a uniform to work and to me, that's my favourite style. :) I hate the waif-I-so-need-a-sandwich look, and girls who starve themselves to squeeze into last year's skinny jeans bore me terribly. I like health and healthy bodies and curves belong on women. Muscle mass trumps skin and bones. Diets ain't for me. And what is right for me at the moment is to add another three to 8 pounds to my frame. A lot of people think I'm nuts but I love having the heft and the weight behind me in my job. When I was hired, I was 155 lbs on my 5'7 frame. For some weird metabolic reason when I was nursing my children, my weight dwindled down to 136. I've been able to get my weight back up to 147 now and I'm smiling. I'll take an Amazon woman body over Kate Moss' anyday.

Saturday, March 27, 2010


I have a friend. Not a close, close friend, but someone I credit for giving me the inspiration for hitting the gym as hard as I do. He is one of my favourite Crossfit trainers. He's also a Canadian soldier. And he is going to war. Afghanistan. As strange as it may sound, I am happy for him. Because this is what he wants to do and embarking on this experience is part of who he is. That is not to say that I'm also sad at the same time, sad about the unknown, sad that we live in a world where wars continue to exist. But I'm also extremely proud: proud that he does what he does.

I'm sorry that I can't make your send-off party this evening. Have a drink for me Alex. See you when you get back. xo

Friday, March 26, 2010

always there

There's a firefighter colleague who is going through some pretty difficult things in his personal life. I feel at a loss what to do. I know how to console a hurt toddler with a blankie and some milk, and I can wipe away my pre-schooler's tears over a broken toy and do my best to fix it with some glue. But my fireman friend, I can't patch his hurt with a Dora the Explorer band-aid... not even the strongest duct tape can mend his wounds. I could try to say all the right things but would end up sounding stiff and trite. I could hand him a beer but you can't do that at work. I could give him a hug but that's such a girl thing to do at the firehall and, it would embarrass him. Instead, I say we're going to shoot hoops out back and it gets him smiling a bit because I look like a drunk chicken because I really suck at basketball. Thankfully for the two of us we were saved by the bell.... because the alarm goes off. There is nothing like riding in the truck on the way to a call to make you feel needed, wanted, and that you make a difference in this sometimes all too confusing world. Those moments of focus when you're at an emergency, make you forget about time and space and even forget the turmoil of whatever you're going through. And maybe, just maybe, after the call, whatever crisis is happening in your personal life, it doesn't hurt as much. The beauty of our job is that even though few words are spoken at times of personal difficulty, there is a crew of guys and gals who will circle the wagons and be there ready to do anything they can to help when the time comes because we're family. Hang in there buddy. xo

baby blues

Perhaps it's the fatigue talking but I was feeling sad this morning when I came off shift. I saw a squishy newborn and I was a bit teary that I am done with having babies. Cerebrally I have that Hallelujah grin that we are done but there is that emotional part of me that feels a loss even though we have two perfect children. I know this is normal and in a few hours after I get some sleep I'll get over that feeling because really a third child would tip the scales and hubby has already been snipped. Plus with Jacob and Maiya, even though my life is totally off-kilter some days, I have never felt more balanced and grounded. The thought of doing the breastfeeding/diapering/mat leave thing again is enough to snap me back into reality. I am enjoying them more and more as they get older. Two's a charm and I count my little blessings daily. xo

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

therapy part deux

Well, shopping was a bit of a bust (thankfully!). Turns out all I bought was some hair product. The spring fashions bored me completely and I had forgotten how mundane shopping malls are. So I turned around and headed toward the best type of therapy.... a great workout at the gym. It ended up being a wise choice... cheaper on the pocketbook and I had a personal best of a 130 pound power clean. :)


One post-vasectomy-still-too-sore-to-do-anything husband


One headstrong teething toddler


One pre-schooler who doesn't ever sit still,


Retail Therapy!

Dinner's already prepped, clothes folded, floor vacuumed, beds made, mirrors wiped....... and I'm off to do some damage on my credit card. Ha.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

un-fire business?

Never in my career have I remembered work being so slow. I know I'm sounding like I'm complaining and perhaps I am. I still haven't seen a fire since I've been back at work and this white cloud thing is getting a bit dull. Don't get me wrong.... we've been busy at work... just not fire busy. For example, yesterday's shift we had a call shortly after 8 am, then nada until the evening when the sh*t show began. At 10 pm, 1 am, 3 am, and at 6:50 am we ran calls which normally would make me happy but they were all medical calls of my not so favourite kind. There's this virulent gastro-intestinal bug that's still going around that renders the patients a vomitty diarrheal mess. Not much we can do at these calls except hold a bowl under their face, and pray the patient can make it to the latrine in time. And not get splashed in the meantime. You take their vitals and wait for the paramedics to arrive and high tail it back to the firestation trying to get the smell out of your nostrils and hoping that the next call will involve flame and double hoping that no one has made a stew for dinner because after all those medical calls you want to eat nothing reminiscent of slop.

Monday, March 22, 2010

my monkeys

The days I love most are the days when my kids make me laugh out loud. My daughter has always been a bit of a ham and decided she wanted to wear he Mr. Potato Head glasses to daycare. So who am I to stop her?

Instead of a normal bath, the kids decided they wanted to bathe in their Ikea storage bins and both are giggling like mad:

Jacob learning how to use chopsticks:

And Maiya learningn to swim:

And Maiya showing off her bathing suit without realizing she's yanked it so high she's sporting a bit of camel toe. Oh well.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

so cute

Thinking about my earlier post today I asked Jacob what he wanted to be when he grows up. To which he replied, "I want to be Daddy." :)
I love the fact that he and my husband have such a close relationship. In a world of deadbeat/workaholic/absentee dads, it's nice to know that J has great father figure. And two grandpas to boot who live in town. He is one lucky little boy. xo

second time 'round

A funny thing happens by the time you have your second child:

You don't obsess about every morsel of food that goes into your child's mouth. Organic is a bonus but plain old food is fine. Clothes don't have to match and you welcome every hand-me-down and your kid doesn't need the latest innovative educational toy. You don't freak if they drink bath water or eat food that's fallen on the floor. You don't worry about putting baby to sleep on their back or making sure they have enough tummy time. Although you do your best to keep colds at bay, you realize that a few germs here and there is actually good for the immune system. You don't fret too much that your kid is crying when you drop them off at daycare because you know 2 minutes after you leave they'll stop. TV is not evil, your kids' brains will not turn to mush and that one hour buys you time to enjoy a hot cup of tea. You don't mind that they have a bit of sugar now and then.... ice cream and a cookie here and there is good for the soul. You don't give a crap that your neighbour's kid can read/write/sing opera because you realize that over-programming may not be the best thing for your kid. You don't mind that your daughter wears the potty on her head as a hat as long as it's been cleaned out first. And wipe outs? As long as no bones are broken or stitches are needed, I know they're fine. The best thing about a second child, is that you learn to relax. By the time the second child rolls around, you realize that despite what you do to create that idea of perfect image of a child, children will be who they will be and that you can't pull a tree by its roots to make it grow. And kids will develop drive because they want to, not because they're pushed.

My job as a mother is guiding my children to be happy, well-mannered and good people. Because we live downtown, I feel at this time it is more important for my kids to be streetsmart than booksmart. It is important for them understand how to read signal lights, cross busy intersections and know the difference between friends and strangers. And rather than stick Jacob and Maiya in every lesson that's touted to make them smarter/well-rounded/and have a head-start in life, my husband and I have chosen to take the time that they could be in lessons and just hang out. Jacob is happier for it. I find that especially important since my kids have 2 full-time working parents and we want to spend weekends off doing nothing in particular. And even though I can pull my kids out of daycare and spend my days off shift with them, I also know that it is good for them to have a life outside of the home. And good for me to have some time to balance out my life.

I know each choice is different for every family. This is what works for us. And I find the less I think and worry about the future, the happier we all are. And I am just drinking up this crazy magical time of childhood that goes by much too quickly to waste on worry. Because I am sure once they are teenagers the real worries will come and I will no longer be able to bribe them with a cookie or a rerun of Sesame Street.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

bye bye swimmers

Well, it's a done deal. It was V day yesterday. My husband came back from the doctor's and promptly sat on a bag of frozen peas.

After the birth of Maiya I was in that hormonal high and wanted a third baby right away. My husband, being the wiser one, said he was open to a third child but to give it at least six months. Well, that baby feeling went away and here we are.

I feel happy and relieved that I am done with having babies. I had two picture perfect pregnancies and deliveries and we have a boy and a girl. The family feels balanced and complete. And the children don't outnumber the parents. :) As much as I love children, I will be forty next month and I just don't think I have the energy to do it again. I have noticed that prior to having children, I rarely got sick, now colds sadly are commmonplace... mostly because I am constantly sleep deprived. I also don't want to take any more time off from work. I don't see myself working as a firefighter to retirement age because I think a 60 year old woman having gone through menopause might break a hip getting off the truck. So I want to roll with however many years my body gives me on this job. And mostly importantly, even though I know there is always enough love to go around, I can't say the same for time. And I want this time to enjoy with my little family now without feeling stretched. Some days I feel so grumpy and overwhelmed and inundated with all the things it takes to keep a household together while also working full time shift work that I miss the days I had before children. That is only natural I suppose. So Jacob and Maiya are the lucky little swimmers that made it through and I am glad they did. As taxing and trying they can be sometimes, I have grown up with them, and through them. I don't think I came fully into my own until I had my babies. It is weird and wonderful to guide these little lives and have them depend on me. I just wish I could get more sleep. Maybe one day.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

sibling love

Seems to be a bit too much sibling love going on around here these days. Maiya has learned the power of a hug and hugs just about everyone and everything she sees. She thinks it's especially funny to run full tilt and jump on Jacob with a hug when he's sitting on the couch quietly trying to watch tv.

As you can see, Maiya is amused. Jacob is not.

lol... I am soooo bringing out this picture when he gets married.

Friday, March 12, 2010

born or made?

When I was a little girl I wanted to be an airline stewardess. I was lucky that my family travelled frequently to far off places and airplane rides were thrilling and adventurous. I thought those stewardess had it made. Somehow along the way I forgot about that career path and started along a few others. I had applied to the police department when I was 21 but there was a hiring freeze in my city and I didn't meet the minimum visual acuity requirements. I dabbled working in a law-firm (ha.. that lasted all of 6 months... couldn't stand to wear panty hose), as an esthetician (double ha... that job lasted all of 2 weeks), in restaurants, bars, and catering, working in a gym, and also in the movie and television biz. Although I made a comfortable living, I never felt completely comfortable in my skin. Fast forward 10 years later when laser eye surgery was commonplace, I applied to the fire department. It was a bit of an early mid-life crisis in that I needed to do something different and hopefully meaningful with my life. It was a bit of a moment of insanity or clarity when I decided I wanted to be a firefighter. I had no point of reference on where or how to go about this so I just naively started from the beginning. And somehow here I am. The year I took off work to prepare myself for the job is a bit of a blur and I so wish I had documented it. Maybe I am looking back at that period with rose coloured glasses but I don't recall ever having been so focused and determined before in my life. It was such a liberating time.....

I wasn't born to be a firefighter. In fact, at times I felt like the remedial class rookie. And was I made for this job? I'm not sure. I'm certainly not built like your typical fire dude but luckily my Mongolian ancestry gave me one helluva strong set of legs. And my stubborn will of not giving up and pushing myself at the gym has helped. So, no, I wasn't born for this job, but now that I am here I simply cannot see myself doing anything else.

honeymoon's over

Well, I dropped the kids off at daycare this morning and Maiya's little squishy chubby cheeked face crumpled into tears. She's caught a bit of a cold so she's not feeling all too great so I think that had something to do with it. Everytime I went to leave she'd cling to my leg and she would make that face. And my heart would start breaking. Then....

Enter Jacob.

Thank God for big brothers. Jacob came swaggering in from the room next door and sat down with her and shared his snack so she was fine. It's always heartwarming seeing how he takes care of her. Because it is heartwrenching for me to see my baby cry. But alas, as my husband says, a little bit of challenge and adversity is necessary for children. It's good for children to learn some life and coping skills, even at this early age. Maiya and Jacob are surrounded by love at daycare and it is good for them to know that love also comes from other people outside the family circle. I know my children don't lead the most normal life with their mother working shift going days without seeing them. I miss out on some weekends and holidays. But it is the life we have and like I said, they are surrounded by loving people when I'm not around. And frankly it is the only life they know and I think they are doing just fine. It's me that usually has the tougher time of it.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

baby steps

Well. Maiya started daycare this week and on day one I dropped her off with Jacob and off she toddled to play with nary a backward glance. When I went to pick her up I had to drag her out of there kicking and screaming because she did not want to leave. When I was finally able to stuff her into the stroller she realized she was so hungry that she wolfed down a banana and a bottle of milk in two seconds flat. Just as we predicted, she has settled in fine. I think the fact that Jacob is in the next room with the preschoolers helps. He pops in to see her and make sure she's ok... he's protective that way. Although yesterday I did get a phone call because Maiya was inconsolable. Turns out she was overtired from all the activity and stimulation and she was only able to nap a short time whereas at home she naps anywhere from 2 to 3 hours. My husband went to pick the kids up early because I was at work and he said she was crying but when he was getting her ready to go home she didn't want to leave. Go figure. As with anything, there is always a bit of a transition period. It was odd coming home this morning after shift to an empty house. With both children in daycare and my husband at work, I feel a wee bit lost. Which is a feeling I didn't quite expect. I thought I'd be tap dancing and enjoying long hot bubble baths but instead I feel a bit ungrounded. I think partially it is because I just came off shift and I haven't seen the kids in two days. And I just want to give them a hug. But I pick them up early this afternoon anyway so I might as well enjoy the peace and quiet and get a nice dinner ready. After all these years of having a baby growing in me or glued at the hip, it's strange to have my days independent again. Time to take my own baby steps here to rediscover myself.


I've been delinquent on uploading pictures so thought I'd better get some up:

Maiya's first day of 'school' clothes and backpack. This is the first time she has ever worn real shoes since she's always been barefoot or worn slippers. I love this picture.... she looks so big but still so little.

Jacob and Maiya having some quiet time:

And Maiya wearing her Easter Bonnet. Erm... actually.. a diaper.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

in wonderland

I didn't realize this morning as I was climbing onto the truck that I was grinning like the Cheshire Cat until one of the guys wondered out loud how I could be smiling on the way to an emergency. To clarify, I'm not smiling because someone or something is in distress. Rather, I'm smiling from ear to ear because I am just plain old happy to be here. I can honestly say that I love the job more today than the day I was hired. The teamwork, the challenges, the sense of family, and the sense of belonging gets better and better with each year that goes by.

A friend of mine just found out he was hired and he too is grinning. He should be proud since there were over two thousand applicants for just over a dozen positions. So welcome aboard... you'll soon see how great this job is and is almost impossible to put into words the joy that comes with it. Congrats!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

not so black and white

Firefighters are categorized in the beginning of their careers as white or black clouds. Those soon-to-retire want to work with a white cloud because shifts are quiet with them on board. And the wheels of the truck may not turn at all. Black clouds however attract calls and chaos... multiple alarm fires, trauma calls, major rescues, you name it... a black cloud will keep your crew busy. I was a black cloud up until I had my children. I can't tell you how many fires and major accidents and medicals we attended. But it was hot, and sweaty, and dirty.... and I LOVED it. Now that I've been back at work for almost three months, I still have yet to see flame... which I find pretty unnerving since that is usually a signal that the storms are brewing. Perhaps it is the Big Gal upstairs way of keeping me safe but I'm a firefighter. Like a fish needs water, I need fire. Ok.. maybe not a big ass fire. But a medium ass one would be just fine by me. ;)

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

thanks CrossFit Quantum but...

.... I can't bend my arms today to save my life. Do ya think it was those million and one burpees and thrusters? My arms are so sore I can barely feed myself. Let alone wield an axe. Thank goodness I'm not back on shift till Friday. The weird thing is, as much as my arms hurt, I kinda like it... in that sick CrossFit burpee hell kinda way.... lol xo

(photo by the dazzling Sara xo)

Monday, March 1, 2010

another milestone

Hallelujah and Praise Ye. We scored a daycare space for Lady M in a city where daycare space is as rare and hard to find as hen's teeth. I don't know who is more excited: Jacob? He can't wait to show off his little sister. Maiya? She is so ready to go... she cries everytime we drop Jacob off and she can't stay with him. Me? Well, I'm pretty darn excited for Maiya. She was starting to get bored at home and now she will have her playmates and activities and stimulation. But most of all I am excited for moi. What will I do on my days off with both kids in daycare? That's easy to answer......

3. get waxed, tweezed, plucked, polished, and pummelled with a great massage (it's been awhile!)
4. do some major spring cleaning
5. did I say SLEEP?

I also plan on doing some major catching up with friends. I miss my gal pals. And the shopping sprees and the spa days. So gals, if you feel like playing hooky from work and want to head to the spa give me a shout. I think we all deserve a little bit of TLC.... xo