Thursday, April 29, 2010

no references needed

There are some firefighters I work with who are on the brink of retirement. And this, breaks my heart. Because not only will I miss them terribly but a wealth of experience, knowledge and history will go with them. Some of the old timers have been on the job as long as I've been alive and can still wield an axe like there's no tomorrow and understand the fire ground like Einstein understands physics. These are the men who drove stick shift fire trucks, wore the tall rubber boots and long coats into a fire and knew it was time to get the hell out when their family jewels were starting to roast.

Some of the guys are set to fly south and have their retirements all planned out. Others are just taking their time to figure out the next phase of their life. I have, in somewhat seriousness, asked a few if they wanted to be my children's 'manny'. Hey, what's a busy mom to do? Who better to help babysit my kids than people I work with and trust and who can cook and know first aid? Besides, Jacob adores firemen. At least I got a few laughs out of the guys. Being a manny would keep them active and fit chasing after my kids and beats mall walking that's for sure.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010


I was going through some older pics and thought I'd post my favourites:

motorcycle Maiya:

Jacob sharing a giggle:

ice cream heaven (note Jacob with his former gorgeous hair.... ok... I'll stop talking about his hair now.... it will grow back!)

Maiya enjoying her ice cream... I LOVE her dainty little fingers fit for high tea with the Queen. :)

teamwork... although J is doing all the hard work and M is chillin' like a villain:

someone's HUGE cat wandering through my parents' backyard.

and a Canadian tradition... a trip to the maple sugar bush!

over it

Ok... not so mad about the hair fiasco now. I think it was more the shock of change and seeing Jacob all grown up with his haircut 'just like daddy's'. I still really miss his long hair almost a la bowl cut... he just looked so cute!

But now, thanks to a bit of hair product, I sent him off to daycare with his hair kinda spikey and funky and he looks like a little rock star... and his hair smells so good to boot. :)

Monday, April 26, 2010

effin pissed

I am so mad and heartbroken right now..... yup... if you've read yesterday's post, seems that one of my fears has come true...... hair gone bad....

My husband thought it was ok to take Jacob to the barber's and get an effin CREW CUT!!!!!!!! On a three and a half year old? So now Jacob looks like a cross between a Shaolin Monk and a soldier.

I could cry.

I DID cry.

I know it's just hair but have always loved Jacob's shiny locks and now it's a centimetre long if at that. I can't even bear to post a picture and I have no idea how long it will take to grow out. It's going to look like crap for awhile. Heaven help my husband if he ever decides to take Maiya for a haircut. At least Jacob is happy.... the barber gave him a lollipop.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

things that go bump in the night

There are quite a few things I'm afraid of: zombie or any horror movie, wide open ocean water... whether I'm on it or in it..... cockroaches and horseshoe crabs, helicopter rides, and bad haircuts. I can avoid the previous pretty easily... which is good. The other things that scare me are actually quite silly and embarrassing so I can't be bothered to mention them here lest my crewmates find out and tease me relentlessly. But thankfully, of all the things that give me the heebie jeebies I am glad claustrophobia is not one of them. Nor am I afraid of the dark. Which is doubly good because I wouldn't be able to do my job. I love feeling coccooned by my bunker gear, face piece and helmet as I make my way into a fire, often feeling my way blindly because the smoke is so thick that I can't see my hand in front of my face. Even though I can't see, I can picture in my mind what the room is, and what it feels like because my senses are going into overdrive. I can quickly figure out if I'm in the kitchen, the bathroom or the bedroom. Sometimes I can get turned about and get stumped but as long as I haven't let go of the firehose I can always make my way back to safety since there are indicators on the hose line connectors that tell me which direction is toward or away from the fire. I love our training days for these situations. With our face pieces blacked out, we are put through mazes and tangled messes of wires, windows that we need to climb over, furniture to go under, and tight tunnels we need to go through. Some of the spaces are so tight we need to remove our airpacks and push them in front of us as we crawl on our backs or bellies making sure we don't ever, ever let go since that is our air source. It's game over for your lungs if your face piece is ripped off . It's always a relief when that air pack is secure on my back again. Because I am usually the slimmest in comparison to the other guys at fire calls, I'm the one who gets stuffed through the basement window or tossed up through the attic opening. More often than not, I'm the one who crawls through the windshield of a car to get to a patient, or I might even get underneath the chassis of a truck. It's a good thing that I love that sort of thing.

It's weird isn't it? I know that fear is all in the mind. But I find it easier to not be afraid of situations at work because I know the events are real, and in real time.... whereas when I try to scuba dive I keep thinking some twenty eyed sea creature is going to turn me into a snack. And if I'm in a helicopter I can't enjoy the stinking view because I think who is going to catch me if I fall? And while I KNOW that zombies don't exist, I'd just rather avoid thinking about them thank you very much.

Friday, April 23, 2010

the squawk box

There's this thing called a squawk box that resides in all firehalls and it looks like a brown speaker from the 70's. Apart from the firetruck, the box is one of the most important tools linking the firefighter to the call. They're mounted on the wall close to the ceiling in every room.... from the bay, to the kitchen, the dorm, even the bathroom. See?

in the bathroom:

in the dorm:

in the kitchen:

And so they hang, most innocuously and mostly unnoticed until the alarm goes off. In actuality, there's no alarm.... it's four beeps or rather, four 'tones' in quick succession that snaps you to attention no matter what you're in the middle of doing. The printer spits out the map, and more details and the dispatcher continues to give important information over the box with updates on the truck radio.

In the dark of night, the tones can wake the dead. It's a weird and slightly uncomfortable feeling getting jolted wide awake at 3 am and get your butt going to the call. Because we're a two truck hall, we train ourselves to hear the tones and see which truck dispatch is calling. If it's not our truck, we usually fall right back asleep with one eye or ear open.

Last shift I was on the ladder truck and the pumper went out close to midnight. I went down for some shut-eye and did not hear them come back. Nor did I hear the tones go off at 3 am for the pumper to go out, and didn't hear them come back again. So in essence, I slept completely through the call. Big no no. But I was lucky I was on the other truck so it didn't matter anyway but it's always a creepy feeling when you sleep through an alarm. I must have been really, really tired. Thankfully, I know that if it was my truck getting toned and I slept through it, the guys would have kicked my bunk to get my sorry ass out of bed.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

busted :)

I was on shift yesterday which means my husband was home with the kids on his own. That usually means a simple dinner or more often than not, Vietnamese take-out food from our favourite little place. It's nutritious and beats Kraft Dinner anyday. Jacob can finish an adult serving of beef noodle soup. Maiya however has been picking at her food these days because it hurts her to chew.... teething has been tough on her. So you can imagine my surprise and delight when hubby sent me the 'picture of the day' update to me of Maiya. Apparently, as he was getting J into his jammies, and Maiya was supposedly playing in her room, she climbed up to seat herself at the dining table (which is a bit scary since our chairs are tippy and our floors are concrete and M's balance isn't great yet) and started helping herself to Daddy's dinner. All he could hear from the other room was M saying "mmmmm.... mmmmmmmmm" so when he came to investigate, half his grilled lemongrass beef dinner was gone... including the spicy carrots. lol

Saturday, April 17, 2010

too much information....

note to self:

Whilst on shift refrain from eating brussel sprouts with cheese sauce.

Shortly after dinner we had a call and I nearly smoked myself out. You see, bunker gear, while it can protect you from intense heat and flame, also works as the perfect dutch oven keeping my own gasses in. I just about died of suffocation along with everyone within 3 feet of me when I unzipped my gear when the call was over. Oh well.

Friday, April 16, 2010

tunnel vision

One thing they drill in your head when attending a call is to avoid tunnel vision. It's hard to do sometimes. The greater the emergency, the greater the chance of having tunnel vision. Stress and shock can do that to you. We're only human and we react in human ways. There was a call when a firefighter took the pulse of a patient when said patient had no head left. (Sorry for the gore but this is the stuff we deal with). When you get the details from the dispatcher over the radio as to the nature of the call, you are mentally preparing with what you might be facing. Sometimes the info given is correct, other times, it can come with a twist. The key is to be prepared for the call, but to be open the the possibility that the call can be completely different and to shift into a different head space in a second. I had a call where it came in as male with difficulty breathing. This type of call we usually get at least once a shift and it usually involves an older patient with cardiac history 99% of the time. And these calls are quite routine in that we take their O2 saturation, pulse, blood pressure, give oxygen, obtain medical history etc. And then wait for paramedics to arrive and help stabilize and transport the patient. So you can imagine our surprise when we arrived to a 'routine' difficulty breathing call only to find out it was a baby... and because I was on the medical bag (we're assigned either the med bag or the defibrillator at beginning of each shift) I had to kick it into high gear getting the pediatric equipment out and start assessing. Normally I would have had the equipment out and ready because I would have know ahead of time we were headed to a ped call. Thankfully the ambulance was hot on our tails to aid in help. I've never like any rescue calls involving children. And now that I'm a mother I like them even less. And if I'm driving the firetruck, my pulse is racing that much quicker and I have to do everything I can to not drive with a lead foot. After a bad call involving a child, the rest of the shift feels like days on end and I can't wait to get home to give my babies a hug. And those are the days when I know I've earned every cent on my paycheque and I'm begging one of my crewmates to just say something funny and make me laugh because deep down all I really want to do is cry.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

the big four O

Well, I turned forty yesterday! And I have to say I had THE BEST birthday ever! I'm not one to really celebrate my birthday... not because I dread getting older but rather it's just that I prefer to lay low and chill. I happened to be on shift for my fortieth and just wanted to spend the day doing what I love most.... working and running calls. But my crewmates would have none of that. They wanted to celebrate so they did in typical firehall style. It began calmly with birthday wishes then the ribbing began... the teasing about me being middle-aged, calling me a 'cougar', making sure I didn't break a hip getting off the truck, and trying to find all my white hairs. And it went on and on...... All.Day.Long. And I couldn't stop laughing. I feel so privileged to be working with such an amazing group of guys. They made me my favourite dinner.... steak with mushrooms and onions, rapini, and baked sweet potato.

And what blew me away is that they made me cupcakes.... complete with sprinkles and candles, dimmed the lights and sang Happy Birthday and 'For She's a Jolly Good Fellow'. Now if you could picture a bunch of tough guys singing off key by candlelight, it's pretty touching. And one of the guys took pictures to boot and sent them to me so I could remember.....

And because the kids wanted to take part in the 'birthday party', my husband emailed a picture our babes with the flowers they picked out for me::

The guys packed up the leftover cupcakes for me to take home and share with the kids. They don't get sugary treats that often so they were in heaven. Maiya was loving it so much she started eating the paper wrapper which I had to pry out of her mouth.

I've said it before and I'll say it again. Life rocks. I'm one lucky lady. xo

Friday, April 9, 2010

cleanliness is next to godliness

There's nothing I love more than a hot, hot bath except perhaps a hot, hot shower. It gets a little tricky when it comes to work though because a shower at work can be touch and go.

The night before I head into shift, I take a shower since this way I can just basically roll out of bed and head to work. I can get through the day still feeling quite fresh until we get a stinky call or we've been running around sweating or I've just finished a work-out. Summers of course are obviously worse. Then I am wanting/needing a shower by the late afternoon. (Or rather my crew is wanting/needing me to shower). But Murphy's law has it where soon as you start to get all sudsy and feel like belting out a few showtunes in the shower stall, inevitably the alarms go off and you have to figure out how to get your undies, shirt, pants, socks and boots on, get on the truck and wheels turning withing a minute and a half. (Yes, we are timed from when the alarm goes to when we leave the station... has to be under a minute and a half and we are supposed to arrive at the call within four minutes). It's even worse when I'm driving because I should be the first one on the truck to figure out the map and see where we're going and I have to radio that we're on the way. So, some days I just can't shower at work. Not so bad if I haven't been sweating.... uber bad if I have. Good thing I have many uniforms and just change into a fresh one. And at least now that I'm in a newer station I do have my own bathroom and shower. In the older stations I'd have to share with the guys and take turns. And even though I am no prude, that was always a bit weird. Come to think of it, I don't think I ever showered at those stations.... ewwwww, I know but what's a girl to do? Thank goodness for deodorant is all I can say.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

get the f out of my house

I like to think that I have a pretty high pain threshold. After all, I birthed two babies at home sans painkillers and I have run like the dickens up stairs at fire calls till my legs and lungs felt like they were going to explode but kinda liked it. So how can two tiny tonsils (rather, they were HUGE because they were so swollen) reduce me to a whiny sack of mush? I have to say that I take it too much for granted when I am healthy. And I usually feel more than mildly insulted when I do get sick. My little family has been swapping stomach bugs and cold viruses for the past 8 weeks and I've been at my wits end. Yeah yeah, I could say that colds et al are the body's way of gaining DNA intelligence and of course teaching the body how to grow stronger and how to defend itself. But really, getting sick just plain old sucks. Snot bubbles on Maiya could break a world record. And Jacob can't afford to lose a single pound... the kid's pretty lean to begin with. They do love it when I have laryngitis though... means I can't yell at them.... lol.

The type-A personality in me doesn't like to slow down for a second but getting sick forces me to stop and do nothing for once. Except that with children I can't really stop and do nothing. Especially since I haven't been able to rest properly and get my immune system back in gear. Hubby has been a great help but he's been sick too. My throat was so sore for the past two weeks I feared strep but the culture came back yesterday and nope.... all clear. I was so happy to pitch those penicillin pills that the doctor prescribed but does nothing but weak havoc on your body and do nothing for your cold if all you have is a virus. So I've been taking a bunch of homeopathic remedies and good old Advil so I could at least take away some of the swelling in my throat and get a meal down. Could barely swallow water without it. But today, HALLELUJAH, I woke up and throat pain was GONE! I actually feel sane again. I can swallow my own spit without wincing in pain. Yes, I am grateful.

Stay away bugs and germs. You are not welcome in my home anymore.

Monday, April 5, 2010

my easter bunny wears an apron

Well, goes to show that you don't have to do an Easter weekend to have a great time. We've all been pretty tired recovering from colds and my throat is still so sore that if I could rip out my tonsils myself I would.. but I digress. We decided to go really low key. I worked the Good Friday and Easter Sunday shift so my husband was on his own with the kids. Now call us mean, but we didn't do anything Eastery... no candies, no chocolates, no bunny ears... nada.... (my kids on sugar equals BAD BAD news) and Maiya and Jacob had a grand old time just hanging out with Daddy enjoying the mild weather we've been having.

One thing that my husband always does when I am working is send me a 'picture of the day' of the kids to let me know how their day is going. Here's yesterday's:

The best thing about this pic apart from the children's smiley faces is that I noticed how spic and span the house was!!! Thanks honey!!!!!!

Now before you think I'm a killjoy depriving them of Easter treats, there will be a big Easter Egg hunt at daycare today using little toys and stickers instead of candy. And because my husband already cleaned the house and did the laundry while I was at work, I will be sleeping the rest of the day away and try and get rid of this cold once and for all.

So even though this is the most boring post in the world, it's a post nonetheless. Happy Easter everyone! And thanks to my husband for all your hard work this weekend. xo

Saturday, April 3, 2010

feeling it

Mwuwahahaha....... yesterday's shift was a freaking blast. I was on the pumper which is the busier truck and forty minutes into the shift we had our first call..... and then they kept coming. And they were good calls that sent us running all day with our last call 10 minutes before shift change the next day. We had some good medical calls, carbon monoxide call, a forcible entry, two car rollovers... oh... and I saw flame. One was just a pile of rubbish some guy was illegally burning in his backyard and another was a grassfire.... it wasn't a fire fire but man, it spanned about 30 feet wide and ten feet hight and it was sure pretty lighting up the night. I wanted to hold hands and dance around it like a night druid but the guys would have thought I lost it. But secretly, I know they wanted to do the same cuz firefighters just love flame.