Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Just another day

We woke up late this morning... it was a combination of efforts from my late shift, my daughter's pseudo asthma / coughing fit at 3am, Indie baying at our window (because HWSNBN failed to secure the homefront perimetre), Child #1 asking what time it was (5am - now go back to bed!) and #2 rounding out the nightmare by crawling into bed like a stealth ninja at 6am and then attaching his fleece covered body onto my back. Add snoring and I think that I slept about 52 minutes last night.

I decided to call the kids in absent from school (lest a miracle happen and they all slept in (me included) past 9am the usual time the secreatries called around looking for the absent kids) till recess. Thank you absentee voicemail. Crawled back into bed and presto, #2 woke up. As he was not invivted to the dog howling, ashtma / coughing attack at 3am / time check it was naturally time to wake up. He decided to sieze the day and go downstairs to play a rousing game of Minecraft before the sun came up.

By 8:30 I decided that my slack slovenly parenting gig was up and I better get ready for the day. The kids had to be at school in 2 hours and I needed to get a crackin'. Lunch was slowly organised (why won't you guys eat sandwiches?), breakfast fed to 2 out of 3 kids (as princess was still sleeping off her midnight party) and bags and homework organised. Children clothed. Pre schooler woken up with little fanfare and made it to school with 3 minutes to spare for recess.

Took the dog halfway across town for her nail clipping then back again for some 'down time' (meaning I unloaded and loaded up the dishwasher, changed the clothes over and folded laundry, fed the preschooler and myself, did Christmas list and unpacked a christmas box).

Back to school to pick up the big kids, play at the park, return home for mad rush dinner prep and soccer practice then back home again for some PVR time.

It is amazing but today I appreciate this day because there are some kids out there today who woke up without a mother to care for them and there are mothers today who woke up to the aching hollow of no child to care for.
So for today and all its minutea I am grateful.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Dear City of Surrey & BC Commissionaires,

The BC Commissionaires & City of Surrey (updated 2012AUG22)

As some of you know our dear cat Glimmer went missing on the night of July 28th. We handed out 100 flyers within a 1 km radius and put up 80 posters at mailboxes, light standards and coffee shops. Hope started to wane that we would find him after the first week. He was an 'outdoor' cat during the day as we have a beagle who uses an animal door. He always came home at night. It became clear to me after several nights and some reports from neighbours about raccoon attacks and coyotes seen in the neighbourhood that our sweet daft Glimmer had been predated.

He was well loved in our cul de sac and when HWSNBN (He Who Shall Not Be Named is my handle for my husband who hates to see his name in print) went door to door that first night he was missing we saw that love in motion. From the Chinese gramma who fed him tuna from her front step to the Indo Canadian kids who frolicked with him and the stay at home mom who enjoyed his company on her deck. He was loved and missed by our neighbourhood and especially us his non furry family.

We searched actively for Glim Glams for weeks. We took our beagle off leash in the wooded area and papered the neighbourhood like we were having a Garage Sale to end all Garage Sales. We posted in Craigslist, Facebook and Twitter, PetLynx and the BC Vets. He had a tattoo and we called the original vet and confirmed our address. We reported him missing to the SPCA via their website. We visited emergency vets and called shelters within a 20 km radius.

One night coming home from work I saw a coyote crossing the road a block from our house. I pulled over at 3 am and shook my fists at the wild dog and cursed it for eating our cat. It gave me the side eye gaze and looped back into the wooded area.

The story of Glimmer started in December when we adopted him from the SPCA. We found him after scouring the web at the local SPCA sites. I do not believe in getting cats from pet stores (unless placed there by shelters) or backyard breeders. I believe in animal shelters and rescued pets. We found our Glims right before Christmas and adopted him on the spot at the Langley Abbotsford SPCA. We filled out a form and answered all the questions and had our name entered into a database (mabe to ensure that we were not serial cat adopters?). Glimmer came into our home after a nominal fee of $180 which covered his neutering, tattoo and first vet visit. He was scrawny so we fed him turkey and gravy and milk for the first few weeks. He gained 2 pounds in six weeks and got a clean bill of health at his next vet visit. I had some guilt about not adopting a cat from our local SPCA in Surrey but they did not have an orange cat at the time and it took a lot of negotiating to get all three kids to agree on one cat (which we did by looking through the website for the SPCA). Because of my 'buy local' guilt I started to donate to our local SPCA monthly ($30).

When Glimmer went missing I learned that the SPCA no longer held the contract for the kenneling services in Surrey. An internet search revealed that the kenneling contract had been given to the BC Commissionaires. I searched online and could not find a website for the BC Commissionaires which had ANY information about the Animal Care Centre in Surrey or any information about their services offered. There was no posting of found animals in Surrey and no way to register your pet as missing online.

I could search Petfinder and the SPCA and they had listed the cats available and the cats reported missing AND the cats turned in as strays. But the thriving metropolis of Surrey BC has no such service for their furry inhabitants. UNBELIEVABLE! And frankly unacceptable considering the amount I pay in property tax.

I went to the old SPCA location which is where the Commissionaires are at. They had a binder at the front desk and directed me to look in the folder as they had all the found cats there. No Glimmer. I put up a poster on their wall and asked about how often to check back and if I could actually LOOK at the cats that they had in the found area. They told me that for 'liability' reasons they could not allow me to see the cats. I was advised that they only keep the strays for 3 days before putting them up for adoption or euthanisia (a bit of a short window considering the summer months, people are on holidays!). I returned several times and brought a 20 pound bag of Iams cat food as a donation. Each time I went to the shelter I searched the wall of missing cat posters and the binder at the desk.

We have now come to terms with the fact that our cat is likely not coming home. We packed up our kitty carrier and returned to the Commissionaires building and chose a new cat (with great negotiations going on between the kids). Filled out 4 page form, was ignored by the 4 staff members who were there eating doughnuts and lectured by the clerk at the front about the fact that we should not get a cat unless we can ensure that it can be indoors (because presumably death by leathal injection is preferrable to living with an upper middle class family with a dog door). THEN she yelled at my son for walking the wrong way down the kennel alley where the dogs are kept.

To add to the misery and disorganisation they told us that they will get back to us within 48 hours after our application has been reviewed by a 'supervisor'.

During one of our earlier visits this same clerk advised that they had 100 cats and were thinking of housing them by colour.... and now I know why they have 100 cats waiting for a home.... no advertising, horrible service and a 2 day wait period to adopt a kitten.... wonder what went wrong with the low ball offer for the contract.

So here is what I have learned: you get what you pay for City of Surrey! You gave a contract to the lowest bidder and the result is substandard care of the abandoned and lost animals of our community. Sometimes you don't go with the lowest bidder. I am beyond disappointed that I am in any way paying for this substandard service through my tax dollars.

Bad decision City of Surrey. To the BC Commissionaires a HUGE raspberry for your asshat behaviour to my children and your utterly unprofessional pressence in my community. You are doing a disservice to the animals of Surrey and the potential pet owners. My son was crying when you advised that you might not adopt a cat to us because we have a dog door.

Oh and I found it especially classy when the staff cringed when the SPCA arrived with a stray dog and they actually started to nervously chatter and shuffle around (and stopped eating the doughnuts).... hmmm funny how your behaviour can change when you have actual professionals around.

Poorly played City of Surrey... messages into Mayor Diane Watts and her council are in the email bin as well as notes to The Surrey Now and The Leader newspaper. Surely as a community we deserve better.

Have you had the misfortune of dealting with the BC Commissionaires and the Animal Care Centre? Would love to hear about your experience. Maybe we can change this contract and provide a service that is actually helpful to cats and dogs in our lovely city.

UPDATE AUG 23, 2012

We received a call on August 21 by the Commissionaires to advise that our adoption application was approved and we were able to pick up our new kitten (s) later that afternoon. The incredibly rude woman who had lectured me the day before was present although she refused to make eye contact with me. We were assisted by a very helpful Commissionaire (the same woman that took our lost report in July for Glimmer). The kids were thrilled with the wee kitten & older kitten that we adopted (WHOLE other story about how that happened...).

I hate to criticize and organisation without providing some critical feedback about how they can improve. So here it is:

The BC Commissionaires need to advertise their available animals on the internet. You should be able to type in 'Surrey lost cat' and get the BC Commissionaires website which has a tab for missing and lost and available animals in the City of Surrey. Currently when you put Surrey Animals for adoption in a google search you get directed the the very efficient SPCA website which provides you with the information that they no longer hold the contract for the City of Surrey.

Get those available animals on Petfinder, have your own website, allow the citizens of Surrey to view your adoption form and policy BEFORE trekking out to the shelter with their three kids.

The BC Commissionaires need to hire staff to work at the shelter who actually like people AND animals. Without persistence and a flinty little heart, I would not have gone back there to adopt those cats. I could have easily walked away and gone to the SPCA in Maple Ridge or Langley Abbotsford. Your Mission statement should be to place the most number of animals that are abandoned and given up into the best homes available.

Last but not least - get some street signage! I was only able to locate the BC Commisionaires Animal Care Centre because it is housed in the old SPCA location on 152 street.

Advertise, Advertise, Advertise...

In the end I hope the City of Surrey spends my tax dollars on a new contract for kenneling to the SPCA - the professionals who seem to understand this whole animal welfare business and the importance of an online pressence in order to place animals quickly and efficiently.

I voted for Diane Watts and her council because I appreciated her style of governing and the fact that she outsmarted the bullies that were formerly in charge of Surrey. We are a better city because of her - I can only hope that she reconsiders this particular contract so the animals in the city of Surrey are better served as well.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Tis time (again) to address the Ass

So as some of you know (or can see) I struggle with my weight. I am an emotional eater, however in January of this year I decided that enough was enough and I was going to go back to Weigth Watchers (natch - had been paying for the online membership for OVER a year).

It all went pretty well (like usual when I am paying attention). Not only am I an emotional eater, I also am a Great White Shark when it comes to snacking. I can easily turn into a mindless eating machine. My body tolerates the abuse until I reach the 200 pound mark then it starts to rebel with foot problems and knee pit issues. The stretch marks reappear (as my fat like to sit on my hips and ass and increasingly my stomach which is hideous as I also have c-section scars which create a natural shelve ANYWAY).

I lost 20 pound without a lot of hardship within about 3 months. I count my points, I develope a love affair with pickles and veggies. I curb cravings with diet coke (I KNOW it is bad - shhhh it is harm reduction at this point). Every Staurday I give myself a 'free' day where I indulge in all my bad vices. Cheese, wine, chocolate... really anything my heart desires.

In April I was hit with the double whammy of a new computer system at work (social worker meet layered spread sheet computer system) and easter. Neither of our extended families messes around with Easter and there was Purdy's galore at all three houses. My drug of choice is high calorie foods so I was unable to keep my shiznatch under control with the double hit of incredibly frustrating work program AND abundant good chocolate around the house. Plus everyone at work was bringing in scads and scads of treats (because we all know that poor training can be erased if we fill our pie holes with cookies and hot dip). It felt very Marie Antoinette.... 'Sure they can't document their child welfare issues  nor can they do a proper prior contact check - but let them eat cake!'

Since April 2nd it has been an all out binge. I have gained back about 11 pounds (or more - have not checked the scale since last week). I am facing a summer holiday at my sister in laws cabin (she has the physique of Gwenyth Paltrow although much nicer) and beach trips with the monkeys. All my summer clothing is size 16 so I better lose some weight before I offend everyone around with my muffin top ass cleavege.

Here's to a healthy summer and clothes that fit right!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Dear Hot Mama,

You don't realise it at the time, but when you have a baby everyone else who had a baby around the same time is now in your posse. You think that you will stay in touch with your non mom friends. But soon they get tired of talking about your breasts in a food production sense. They don't see what is so facinating about mustard seed new born poop and there is a good chance that they want to kick you in the junk everytime you launch into your birthing war story.

So you find new friends through public health groups, community centres and through other new moms. These are now your people. You will remember these women like they are family. You will see them at the mall 5 years later and give them a hug because they were there for all the horrible stories and first bop on the head and first tooth. Your dog may have licked the germaphobe's kid but its all cool. This is where you belong.

You remember their kids names (if not theirs). You recognise random kids at the park or ice rink. This is because you were there in their first year of life. These are the bonds that stick. I met my best friend 9 years ago because she was wearing a pair of maternity capris that I had on as well. Our 'babies' were born 1 day apart (one 10 days late, one 10 days early).

You share the rough patches with these sisters.You debate name choice, ambivelant husbands, sibling rivalry, sugar vs. Nutra sweet, hormone releasing bottles and the issue of blocked milk ducts. I know these people better than I know some of my family.

2 years ago someone in my Hot Mama community got the devastating news that she had an aggressive form of breast cancer. Her children are the same ages as my #1 & #3. Her diagnosis scared the crap out of me. I immediately booked a breast exam and began compulsively checking for lumps. She had a lump but because she was breast feeding her son she was told that it was probably a blocked milk duct. I began thinking of Jackie and crying. She is from my home town and our mothers work & play together. While she and I are not 'friends' in the usual context, she is my community by default due to the ties that bind us in motherhood.

Jackie has fought her aggressive cancer with everything in her arsenal. She has undergone every treatment and taken her fight to Germany to get specialised chemo therapy. In the last few months it has seemed like the cancer is taking over. While her determination to beat this has not waned, the cancer is attacking her body on so many levels. Jackie's story is not mine to tell - but her fight hits me in the gut then punches me in the face. This is real.

I think of her boys. Her high school love who also happens to be her husband and partner. I think of her brother and sister. I think of her mom. All of her friends and colleagues who have supported her family through this. I think of all the mothers who gasp when they hear her story because they know that by the grace of God there go they.

On a blog entry about a year ago Jackie commented that she knew that she needed to get things ready for her children in case she did not survive this disease. I do not know where she found the strength between fighting all of this and having hope and then dealing with the reality that she needed to DO SOMETHING so her boys remember her. They are 7 & 3. Where do you start? How do you write down everything that you would have taught them over the years? How do you find the strength between all the other stuff to make it happen? How do you leave your mark as a mother on a 3 year old? How do you cope with the overwhelming grief that you will not be there to see them grow into the wonderful caring people they are bound to become? How can your community keep your spirit alive?

We all die. This is not a question. But some deaths are timely and expected. Others happen way too soon before your work is done. It is up to the world around your family to keep memories alive. Treat each other with respect and caring. You simply do not know what they have endured to be here today.

I wish strength to her and to her family. I am praying for a miracle for my fellow Hot Mama.

Update Summer 2012.

Jackie Mountford Lunot passed away shortly after I wrote this blog post. I still think of her daily. Godspeed fellow hot mama.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Farewell Aunty Vicky,

Sometimes there are people who enter your life at a very young age and you just know that they are special. They are thoughtful and meaningful and never make you feel like you are not welcome. They stay in your heart forever. They may never know how often you think of them because you don't pick up the phone and call or write often or stop by... but you know by the tear in your soul how important they were to you.

I know that it is a bit of a contradiction to say that you are surprised when someone who is almost 90 years old passes away... but the suddenness and permenance of death is always a shock. It feels like a sharp correction to remind you that life is moving along and nothing stays the same.

I will sit here tonight and sip a cup of tea in memory of the woman who never made me feel like anything less than her grandchild (even though I was her step grandchild). She never used those words and never had anything but kind words and encouragement. She was always so happy to see me (and I her). When I think of her all I see is a big warm smile and a hug.

I still have her recipe for warmed sweet buns (mamas Bulla) scrawled out in loopy handwritten note.

While I regret not getting out to see her during her last few years, I know why I did not. I knew that she had dementia and I did not want to see her and bear witness to the event of her not knowing who I was. I have experienced that with my other gramma and it is not how I want to remember my Aunty Vicky.

In the end I do not know if I made the right decision. But for now I will mourn the woman who she was and cherish my memories of her.

I know that you were greatly loved Aunty Vicky and in your passing there will be a void that can not be filled.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Dear Post Thanksgiving Ugh,

I have a confession. I don't like turkey. Ever. I will eat it as a sandwich meat ONLY because it is the most low fat low calorie sandwich meat. I dream of the day we go 'Italian' on a thanksgiving and make three different kinds of lasagna. But until that blessed day I must endure the turkey...

This year I bought a fresh turkey at Costco. Great idea. Was able to brine the bird (first time - squee!) . It was a success. HWSNBN, who can rarely muster any enthusiasm, proclaimed it fabulous (although not able to be entirely happy went on to lament the fact that the turkeys never cook on time like all the websites say... BUT before he complained about that he said he liked how juicy the turkey was. Score one for me... it was my idea and I did all the work except toe get the guts out (actually I am at about 814 to his 9. But who's counting?)

After the brining I noticed that there were some 'bits' coming out of the bird. Turns out that the brining puffed out the flesh so that the remaining feather roots poked through... CUE yuk sac. So I spent the next 10 minutes picking them out. Could have cried but could not feed family bird with feathers still on it. Pick, pluck, pick, pluck.... f&cking hate turkeys.

Had the family over minus some members due to being out of town, illness and work. It was really nice. HOWEVER I can't help but be amazed that after all that prep the dinner was complete after 30 minutes. WHAT???

Grocery shopping for thanksgiving dinner 4 hours
brining prep 1 hour (had to locate vat large enough & clear out fridge
brining 24 hours
cooking 5 hours (should have been 4 according to websites..... grrrr)

And then POOF all done in 30 minutes. Goodbyes have taken longer at the airport than it took my family to scarf down dinner.

Next year we are going European and celebrating with lasagna. No feathers and less prep. Amen.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Dear Mean Girl Muffia,

I refer to the Muffia at my kids school often - but stumbled across a blog post by which accurately describes the phenomemon.

"I know you have a Muffia at your school, club, church, neighborhood association or sports league; the group of moms who seek power and prestige through getting in with the teachers, chairing committees and claiming parking spots. They travel in packs and make sure their children do as well.

For those who are wondering: Who are the Muffia? How do I spot them? Is there a Muffia uniform? I give you a quick Muffia Hierarchy:

1.) Associate: A Workout, Yoga or Tennis Outfit...she's not quite as "into it" as the rest of the Muffia, mostly because she is so busy with her training schedule. She is forever in her workout clothes just to remind you that she is better than you, and has just come from the gym.

2.) The Foot Soldier: Style varies depending on her schedule. She is busy keeping up with her little ones and reporting to all the duties the Capo ropes her into. She is often found on set up/clean up duty at events. Not all foot soldiers become Capos, plenty happily volunteer for years without any aspirations of power. Others drop out altogether.

3.) Capo: Cardigan, bootcut jeans, Dansko clogs, Vera Bradley bag with plenty of pens...she's been around long enough to carry an important folder to school pick up. It's full of committee notes to be passed to the Boss, or some other such nonsense. Her chief duties are furthering the agenda of the Boss, whatever that might be that week.

4.) Consigliere (Underboss): The closest confidante of the boss. She will usually be the most attractive one of the bunch, and the wealthiest. She was chosen for this position by the boss for these qualities. She is dressed well, carries a Luis Vuitton bag, wears Ray Bans and drives a shiny SUV. She goes on glamorous vacations and talks about them loudly. She makes the Boss seems fancy by association.

5.) The Boss: She is the quintessential Mean Girl. She was picked on as a teenager and has decided to make sure this never happens to her own children. She ensures this by yielding extreme power over other mothers, teachers, the principal. She ensures her children are in the right class, on the right teams, with the right children. She chooses her husband's friends. The Boss believes her children are entitled to the best of everything and that her purpose is to make sure they get it. The rest of us are just in the way.

How to deal with the Muffia, you ask? Well that, my friends, is a story for another day. Tomorrow, I promise.

To Be Continued...."

Hats off to you for a great summary.