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.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Dear First Time Mom,

Hello! So good to hear from you! Hope you are not too puffy & can still fit into your shoes!

Here is the low down on my labours:

L - water broke at 39 weeks. because I was strep B + I had to go to the family birthing unit (which should be renamed She Who Roared Unit) right away and get hooked up to some petocin to start the contractions. That was horrific as the contractions were coupling & I could not catch my breath.

Cue the anesthetologist! I had my epidural and everything was puppies and balloons. I pushed for about 2 hours once I was fully dialated but nothing... everyone who did an internal exam went up to their elbows and said 'Baby too High!'.

L. never came into the birth canal and ended up being a csection. Which was kind of gross as I was injured from all the pushing (and yes you will poop and vomit {definately poop due to the pushing} - vomitting can happen when you transition from one stage of labour to the end stage) and had my section scar (which is technically 'bikini safe' however that can never be proven as no 'regular' women have ever worn a bikini after children).

It's all very UNSEXY and it is amazing that people have more than one baby.

R: super gross. Water broke again without contractions. He was bron at 33 weeks so the c section went through thicker muscle and joy of joys I also got an infecton in the incision.

E: water broke 37 weeks. Scheduled c-section although got bumped off the OR table by some junkie who took a bunch of cocaine and went into early labour with a baby heart beat over 200. So while waiting for the OR to turn around I started to have contractions on my own... it was okay and they grew more intense every cycle. But you are not allowed to 'labour' for your third c section as it is very dangerous for baby and you due to placenta abruption. So wisked in for the c section. It was my BEST section and I felt like Posh Spice (minus the concrete tits).

Okay so just re read this and have deemed myself a c section expert and a vaginal birth 'tard.

So here is my c section words of wisdom:

- spinal anesthisia is horrific but no one even pretends that a needle in the spine is a walk in the park. Honesty is nice.

- baby is born quickly and your partner can watch baby being born and will likely be given baby to bring to your face.

- it can take a while for the spinal to wear off. In BC they keep you in the recovery room until you can feel the ice on your chest. Baby usually stays with mom and they encourage you to start breast feeding & snuggling skin on skin.

- you will have a tube for pee (can't recall the name right now...) but nothing makes the pee bag classy so don't even try. Cathetar! It stays for about 24 hours and it is a mind over matter thing to get your body to pee on demand. And then you have an Austin Powers pee due to the fact that your bladder finally has space to stretch out.

- your breast milk might be delayed in coming in if you have a section. Might come in on day 3 or 4 as opposed to day 2 or 3 with a vaginal birth. MAKE the lactation consultants stay with you and teach you about latch. It can be like a lunar docking. Tiny baby - big boob. Try the football hold if the cross body hold doesn't work. Nurses will know what this is.

- you still bleed alot after a c section (not at the incision but vaginally). Someone told me that they shop vacced when they did a c section but that never happened for me for any of my sections. Prepare with BIG pads. Hospital will have some but make sure you have some for home.

- you cramp as your uterus goes back to size.

- take deep breaths every 15 minutes (or as often as you can remember) as this will help with any shoulder pain (air trapped when they sew you back up) and will ensure your lungs are reaching capacity.

- they will give you a morpine bollus before you leave the OR. You will feel AMAZING for about 24hours (then you get itchy) and you will be getting out of bed, moving furniture around, etc). then day 2 hits and you want to cry and cry and cry because you realise someone actually cut open your belly. And it hurt. You can use tylenol and advil at the same time but I always found that advil worked best for surgical pain. Okay for baby as it is only for a few days and your milk will not be in full force.

- watch for infection at your incision - it will be a red 'creeping' up or down your torso. It's not good but they have great antibiotics that you can take. You might get staples - which are great unless you have an allergy.

- you will sneeze or laugh when the morphine has worn off and it willl HURT. You will be amazed at how often you sneeze in real life.

I felt 'recovered' from my sections about a week later. Take all the help you can get. Sleep when baby sleeps.

oh my goodness - this sounds scary! But no matter what the delivery is over quickly and the real scary stuff starts... parenting!

I hope it all goes well! Thinking about you and can't wait to get the update.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Dear School District 36 (Surrey),

HWSNBN mentioned that you called last evening regarding the incident yesterday when Darth Vader moved the chair on Luke Skywalker and he subsequently fell backwards and hit his head. Luke is very clear how this incident took place. He states that Darth pushed his light sabre off the table and when Luke leaned over to get his items Darth moved his chair so that he fell backwards. Darth made some sarcastic remarks to Luke (such as ... "ohhhhhh your light sabre fell.......).

This is not the first time Darth has been involved in specifically targeting Luke. In December I observed Darth purposely trip Luke. Darth was sitting in the chair closest to the inside door. When Luke passed to go to the library Darth stuck his foot out and tripped him. This was deliberate and Obi Wan Kenobi address it with Darth.

Somewhere along the way this child has been given the messaging that his behaviour is acceptable and tolerable. I recall that the Surrey School district has a policy of zero tolerance when it comes to bullying - however Luke has had his incidents of bullying minimized and on several occasions he has been assigned blame. I believe that by assigning blame to the bullying victim you only empower the child who has assaulted the other child. Perhaps this is where some of the messaging that Darth's behaviour is acceptable is coming from.

The behaviour that Darth has displayed to Luke is just mean and very typical behaviour of a child trying to gain acceptance from another child in his peer group. As an educator you are well aware that these tendencies do not bode well for that child's ongoing positive social development. I am speaking of the gang mentality between the 3 Republic boys. Any child who would purposely hurt another younger child while trying to gain the acceptance of a peer should be a growing concern to the adults around him.

We have been very clear to Luke that he is responsible for his own behaviour and not the behaviour of those around him. With this as our background we are teaching our son to be responsible for his actions.

Neither Yoda, Obi Wan Kenobi or myself observed the incident yesterday. I believe Luke's recollection of events as he has nothing to gain from telling an inaccurate story. The other children involved do have something to gain by minimizing their involvement or observations.

I am not convinced that consensus building conflict resolution is the best way of addressing bullying at this age / grade level. The children are still at a juncture were they believe in teacher and parental authority. They need to be advised about which behaviours are acceptable and which are not. There is no grey area when dealing with this kind of issue - the messaging needs to be consistent and clear. That kind of behaviour will not and should not be tolerated.

These are teaching moments for every child in a classroom. Unfortunately for Darth Vader, he learned yesterday that if your friends fib and you lie about an incident then you will get away with your mean spirited actions. Luke Skywalker has learned that people will get away with harming him and humiliating him in class even when he speaks out and tells the truth.

I am wholly disappointed in the reaction from the school in regards to the bullying going on in the classroom and on the playground this year. This latest event is just another example of how some children believe that they have the right to dominate and harass and embarrass other kids. This belief is not being challenged by the authority figures in the class and it repeats itself again and again and again.

I am also aware of the fact that I am continually being called to the school to deal with the aftermath of SOMEONE else's kids bad / assaultive behaviour. It is my son coming home early due to being punched in the head, being pushed into a puddle, stomped on or caused to fall and hit his head while the offender walks off and enjoy the rest of the day. Perhaps their parents are not even being notified that their child has assaulted another kid in class. For the record sometimes saying sorry is not enough to absolve a child for a bullying behaviour. 'Sorry' is an empty statement if it is not followed up with positive actions and change in behaviour.

In short I am not impressed and hope that next year bring a more stringent adherence to the Zero Tolerance around bullying.

Just a Mom in a Galaxy Far Far Away

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Dear Ambition (where art thou?),

It seems like just yesterday I could not sleep at night due to my ambition. It would keep me up at night - dreaming up ways that I could change the world. I had so many ideas and a naive notion that I alone could pursuade change through conversation. I had plans to write the LSAT, I had plans to travel, I had plans to be a one person change machine.

Today I am exhausted by the seemingly full time job of keeping my three kids alive (despite their valient efforts to tempt fate). Don't put that into a light socket, Don't climb up that structure, Don't eat THAT, Put your seat belt on (repeated to the same child at least 3x a day), Look both ways before you RUN out into traffic! That doesn't BELONG there, YOU need to put that stick down, Where is your helmet? Linden? Everly? Rowan? SOMEONE answer me before I call 911!!!!!

I wonder, when they are all squared away into the false safety of adolecense, if ambition will visit me again? I hope so. I miss it.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Dear Alzheimer's Disease,

I don't think that I have properly thanked you. It is probably very rare that you get a note indicating someone's gratitude... however I am thankful for the gifts your illness has provided to my family.

In the 1980s my grandmother became very dissolutioned by her family. Her dedicated husband died too early and she was left a widower. She had two grown children with whom she developed a conflicted relationship with. It has been mused that my Pappa kept her grounded and reminded her about what was really important in life. But when he passed she edged closer and closer to a religion that encouraged her to disown her children (and by association she lost touch with several of her grandchildren). In the end she was estranged from both of her kids.

Despite being repeatedly rebuffed, my gramma's children persisted in contacting her. One fateful day my sister stopped in and was able to drive my gramma and her friend to a doctors appointment. It was there that we learned that my gramma had Alzheimer's disease. She was slowly forgetting the tasks of everyday life. Upon further investigation it was discovered that she had been in ill health for some time (as evidenced by the rotting food in her fridge & the gentleman who took hundreds of dollars from her each month for her church 'dues').

Gramma slowly forgot why she was estranged from her family. Or perhaps she remembered but recognised that they loved her and they would take care of her in her time of need. I like to think she chose to follow the genuine love her children harboured for her than the fear her religion used.

She does not remember who I am, she frequently calls me by my mother's name. This is too bad as I was her first grandchild and I have many fond memories of her up till the age of 7 or 8. However those are my memories now to keep. Sadly I also have the memory of her refusing to attend my wedding.

For all the heartache I am greatful that my Gramma has allowed us back into her life. Her son and daughter have been tireless in their care of her over the last four years and will continue to care for her with the same tenderness she showed them when they were young.

I do not want to underestimate the devastation that Alzheimer's wreaks on a family or an individual. But for my family it has been an opening for reconciliation.

Thank you.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Some crazy days and nights

I have been reminded lately through work what a lucky person I am. I have three busy healthy children, a wonderful husband who seems to be aging in reverse, a dedicated caregiver to my kids, a great dog and 2 'kind of' great cats (if not for the throwing up and bird catching they would be great without the kind of)...

I was reminding my 7 year old son, who is having some trouble with some friends at school, that this too shall pass. I reminded him about all the wonderful things that he has in his life starting off with his family, his home, his community, his province and all of his freedoms. I don't quite think that he gets it yet - but in time I hope that he will think of all these gifts that he has and it will help him get through the rough times. He is a pretty lucky kid.

I am always cognisant of how we are fragile but resilient. So many things can go wrong - but mostly they don't. You will have more good days than bad, you will have more wonderful dreams than nightmares and you are loved by many people whether you are aware of it or not.

Today I am grateful.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

James Cardno - a predator in our midst

"James Cardno, 46, was charged in March with eight sex crimes against four children. Surrey RCMP issued a warning Tuesday morning that the accused child molester is living in Fraser Heights while he awaits his court hearing next month.
Photograph by: submitted, for Surrey NOW"

So I received an email from my local school indicating that there was an 'Important' letter that I needed to read. Inside I found that they were telling parents about a pedeophile who was living in our neighbourhood.

While they did not identify him a quick google search found the first article and a picture.

Here is what I do not understand: JAMES CARDNO was arrested by Surrey RCMP in March 2011. It is now MAY! For the last 8 weeks this child sex offender has been living in my neighbourhood.

In this day and age of mass communication tools this is unacceptable. Surrey RCMP could have and should have warned the residents of Fraser Heights that this dirt bag was living here. He could be renting a basement suite. He could be living in a room and board situation where he has ample access to kids.

He could be scoping out his next victim at the Rexall or Nester food market. He could be nestled into the tree line at any of the 5 elementary schools watching.

Pedeophilia is not curable and I am seriously angry that Surrey RCMP decided that they did not have tell parents about a predator in their midst. There are enough dangers that we do not know about lurking around the corner.

As a parent I worry about my kids playing outside and do not allow them to without supervision.

It is reprehensible that Surrey RCMP KNEW about a potent risk to my children and did not tell me or any other parent in this community.

Shame on JAMES CARDNO for being a sick pedeophile and ruining children's lives. And shame on the Surrey RCMP for delaying releasing this dirt bag's name and location.

You can call the Surrey RCMP and let them know how annoyed you are about their 2 month delay in announcing this guy's name. But I suspect the real issue is the fact that Crown Counsel sat on the information and did not give charge approval (which allows the RCMP to publish warnings) for 2 months.

Call your local MP and let them know how you feel about having a sex offender in your neighbourhood without knowledge. For Fraser Heights that is Nina Grewal (Con) and she can be reached at 604-501-5900.