Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The son of a firefighter

Overheard in my bedroom:

Molly: "If the house was on fire, I would grab Baby Jack, my Gram blanket and my Nana blanket. They are my most special things."

Finny: "Hmmm. If the house was on fire, I would take out Bump (her bear) and Buppie (a blanket-type thing)."

Lukey (who I didn't think was listening): "If the house was on fire, I would go downstairs and get the fire extinguisher. Then I would put the fire out."

Both the girls pause. Unwilling to be beaten by her four-year old brother, Molly comes out with:

Molly: "No buddy, we don't have a fire extinguisher."

Lukey: "Yes we do. It is on the wall beside the pantry in the kitchen."

Molly looks to me, fully expecting me to deny what she thinks is an obvious fabrication. Instead, I nod to confirm that the little fellow is right.

Lukey: 1      Girls: 0

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

My office manager

Lukey has a desk underneath his loft bed. Today, he offered to me as an office space. It was the sort of request that a four year old makes that isn't possible to refuse. You know the ones. It takes far more energy and strife to work out an acceptable "no" than it does to just go with it.

My newly appointed office manager searched high and low for pens and highlighters to stock my new desk. He cleared off the desk top and pointed out all the features it offered (mostly the pens and highlighters he'd put in a cubbyhole for me).

He did not stop there. He insisted that he would give me privacy BUT he didn't want me to be lonely. He assembled his four favourite dogs (Sparky, Gracie, Howie and Spot) to keep me company.

The dogs were off to the side of the desk, but then they got curious about what I was working on...Lukey thought they might enjoy a better viewing spot.

Here they my office:

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Sunday afternoon at The Molly Cafe

A quiet afternoon at home. After a series of adoptions (both Finny and Lucas adopted babies in my family room hardware store) we decided to have a celebratory lunch at the Molly Cafe.

Here is our menu:

For the first time ever, I actually made Moll prepare the food she was offering, mostly because Lukey was "for real" hungry and I figured I could kill two birds with one stone: playing pretend and a getting a good lunch out of the deal.

Here is what we had:

You should have seen molly's face when I told her that she had to do "real math" on the bill. I also told her that her coffee was overpriced and she changed the bill to reflect the new total. Good customer service.

I think I will give her a good review on Urban Spoon.

As a footnote, the marshmallows you see on the bill were the handmade toasted coconut marshmallows I made yesterday.

Note to self: never attempt marshmallows again. Ever. I spent most of this morning scrubbing the hardened marshmallow goo off the kitchen counters. Let's just say that there is enough to do around here in the cleaning department that I don't have to go around making work for myself.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Dinner at Gram and Grandad's

All of Uncie's old cars equals Lukey heaven:

Finny with a brand new Finn:

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Saturday, January 15, 2011

E- An anniversary to forget

It has now been one year since I had my first hip resurfaced by Dr Smit and I have had some time to reflect on the experience.  If you had asked at the time how it was going I am sure I would have said everything was not great...but not too bad either.  However, now with hindsight, I would say it was a pretty bad time in my life.   Despite the fact that I had great support from my family and work, I found the whole experience of recovering from surgery to really suck.

Of course recovering from surgery sucks......but the surprise was how bad it was even though I expected it to be really bad.   From the middle of January until some time in March, I felt like I was in one long low that I couldn't escape from.  There  were a few factors that all came together that I had a tough time shaking.

First of all, I got off to a bad start with all of the bleeding I had in the couple of hours after surgery.  This made me really weak and anemic and sapped all my energy for quite a while.  My low hemoglobin levels made me unable to do anything physically demanding and lead to my passing out and falling on my new hip.  The bleeding also greatly increased the pain of recovery, so much so that the dried, hardened blood in my quadriceps and hamstring was much worse that the pain of the new hip itself.

Also, issues of blood loss and transfusions during surgery made the anticipation of the upcoming second surgery worse.   Psychologically it was very difficult to know that I wasn't on a straight line of recovery from this place of pain and weakness because I would be going through the same thing with the other hip in another couple of months.   Although I was initially staying on the couch or in bed for 22 plus hours a day, the pain I experienced every time I moved made me really wish that this was a one off experience.

It sounds funny when dealing with much bigger health issues to talk about sunshine, but I believe the lack of it plays a bigger part in our mental state than we know.  The short, grey and dull days do little to lift one's spirit in January in Vancouver.....and as a first responder I get to see evidence of this by our increased suicide calls at this time of year.  I think the weather was one reason I felt lower after the January surgery than I did after the one in May.

Probably the hardest part of feeling low for me however was the lack of control I felt to change my state.  I have always been able to feel better, more alive and energetic by going out and doing something physical.   Despite feeling like I am a fairly introspective person who knows myself well, I never would have guessed how much I missed being able to was a little bit like I was having withdrawal from a longtime addiction.   I felt like a different person, being confined to the couch for all hours of the day....and it wasn't a good different.

Thinking back to a tough time of my life makes me really appreciate Les and my family for being so supportive throughout.   It also makes me realize that, tough times come and go and we'll get through it fact it's only with hindsight that we are even aware of how tough they really were.

Below is a video of the surgery which is best avoided by anyone squeemish.   The fact that I am now able to watch it, when I definitely didn't want to before, shows me how far I've come in the healing process.

Monday, January 10, 2011

E- Back in basketball

One of the great benefits to feeling better after my surgeries is to be feeling good enough physically to want to get back involved with basketball again.  It was such a huge part of my life for many years and I have really missed not being more involved the last couple of years.  

My recovery from surgery has coincided with starting a new basketball program at the Arbutus Club.  I have really enjoyed getting back into coaching and working with young kids.  Although it adds to an already busy schedule that keeps me away from home a few nights a week, I feel great to be able to help some kids and be back doing something I spent such a large portion of my life studying.

I spent far more time and energy learning basketball than I have anything else in my life.  I am not sure I ever sat down and thought about the merits or consequences of pursuing this course of life.....but regardless, it is what I devoted the majority of my life to, from my late teens until my thirties.

I've always thought of life as a game....and my win this game.  For one reason or another, some time near the end of high school I decided that excelling at basketball constituted winning the game for me.   I lived and breathed it for about 15 years.  There was rarely a day that I didn't do something in my quest to be a better player.  Although there were many lows and hard times along the way, they were greatly exceeded by incredible moments of feeling fulfilled.   I loved the physical challenge of pushing myself to train harder and the mental challenge of getting around what felt like an insurmountable barrier.  In fact, I think the key to my success in basketball and the most important lesson I take from my journey, is that with persistence and hard work, there is always a way forward.  

There were so many times I felt stuck in my development as a player, not sure if I could improve any more, let alone what I needed to do to get there.   Probably as much out of ego and stubbornness as anything else, I never let myself quit during these times.....and this made all the difference to me.  I also got really lucky get some good situations on teams that let me develop at my own pace.  I was lucky to have the opportunity to make basketball pretty much a full time study for 13 years of my life. 

I quit playing professionally in June 2005 and almost completely stopping playing a couple of months later.  Becoming a better basketball player had stopped being my definition of "winning the game" and quickly dropped way down my list of priorities.  Luckily I didn't even have time to miss it because we had so many other priorities.  Molly and Finny were both under 3, we didn't have a place to live or a single item of furniture of our own, we didn't have a Canadian bank account or credit card, cell phone or car.  We didn't even have enough of a Canadian credit history for Bell to trust Les or me with permission to make long distance calls from our cell phone.   Neither of us had jobs, and I had many months and thousands of dollars to spend getting more training for fire fighting.  

However,  we did have a couple of big advantages that we were very grateful for.   First and foremost was the support of our families who helped us get through this period.  Second was the nest egg we had carefully grown while in Europe.  Third was the lesson we had learned about never giving up or letting any roadblock throw us off course.   This was particularly valuable during some really frustrating experiences going through fire fighter applications like I wrote about in this post back in 2007.

I got off track describing the long list of to-dos we had......but my point is that I barely had time to miss basketball.  I enjoyed having a new focus and more energy left for other things in my life.  I enjoyed not aching every day from basketball.  I  went into overdrive trying to make up for many of the things that our peers had spent their 20's doing and that we had blissfully ignored.  Much of the challenge and push that basketball had provided for me was replaced by the challenge of making sure my family was going to be well taken care of.  

By the time a lot of these housing, transportation and career challenges were taken of and I might have gotten back to missing and wanting to play basketball, my hips really changed things again.  The hurt and lack of mobility that my hips caused made basketball a painful and frustrating experience for me.  Although I continued to play occasionally, I can't think of a time in the last couple of years before surgery that I actually enjoyed being on the court.   I didn't even enjoy being on the court in a coaching capacity.  

It's with this in mind that I am really excited to start running my own basketball program at the Arbutus Club.  It's a place I love to spend time, the facilities are great, I'll get to work with the same kids for many years and I am coaching with friend and former team-mate John Dumont.  Also, I get to coach my own kids.  Finny, who is in the class,  doesn't love basketball yet but also never hesitates to go even though she is one of the youngest there.  Molly has decided not to play but hopefully Lucas will want to start with us next year.  

Here's a picture of the board from our first term of basketball.  

Monday, January 3, 2011

Walk of Shame

This is going to be long, so don't be afraid to click away before you have to hear the whole sordid story.

Tonight, a shameful event took place in our home. I have to start at the beginning:

I was planning dinner. Finny asked what we were having and I told her I was making an Asian Chicken Salad. She turned her nose up, complained loudly and then went to look for a sibling to reinforce her demands for a different dinner. Sigh. This is a common refrain around here.

Finny didn't have to look far for support in her "Change Our Meal" campaign. Lucas stepped up and marched on the kitchen with his sister. They demanded a non-salad option. Fine. I told them I would make a Vegetable Chow Mein; news that was met with cheers. Actual cheering.

I was buoyed by their enthusiasm. I made the food. Two meals. One for Eric and me and a separate dinner for the kids.

Molly and Finny gobbled up the Chow Mein.

Mr. March-on-Washington-for-kids'-dinner-rights never showed up. Lukey never even picked up his bowl from the kitchen counter. It sat there while I called him. No dice. Alright. I am sick of making that kid food and then fighting with him to eat it. Half an hour earlier he was cheering. Like, clapping and jumping up and down.

It was time to pull out the big guns. Lucas knows that if he doesn't eat dinner, he doesn't get dessert. I made cookies. Fresh, baked in the oven, still warm, chocolate chunk cookies. I made a big deal of putting them in the oven. The smell wafted through the room.

Lukey never wavered. He left his food on the counter and blithely bounced around the living room, brushing off my reminders to eat.

The cookie timer went off. The cookies came out. The cookies smelled gooooood. I looked over to see if Lukey was cracking. Nothing.

The four of us dove into the (truly divine) cookies. The only time a chink appeared in the little fellow's armour was when he asked for a tiny bite of my second cookie. I turned him down flat.

It was bedtime and Molly, Finny, Eric and I were up in our bed getting ready to read a story. I called Lukey. He didn't answer. I told him he had to come right away, or he was going to miss stories too. I didn't hear from him. Whatever, I was done with that little turkey.

We started reading and about ten minutes into the book, in walks this kid. He has this devil-may-care look on his face. Cheeky, almost cocky. He marches in and starts to climb up into bed. The only problem?

His entire face is covered in chocolate.

Not a smidgen of chocolate, not a crumb in his corner, but most of his face.

Eric and I started to laugh. Lukey immediately realized that the jig was up. His face flashed fear, then he bolted.

He hid. We went to confirm that the cookies were all gone. They sure were. I figure he just wanted to check that there were still some left, but found himself all alone downstairs and lost a battle with temptation.

We tracked him down and I discovered chocolate all over. He had it down to his ankles. His ANKLES. I don't know if he ate the cookies or rolled in them.

We gave him a chance to confess properly and apologize, but no way was he backing down. He never spoke a word from the time we confronted him to when Eric lifted him into bed and we shut the door. I was frustrated and a bit impressed at the same time. He is stubborn. He wasn't cracking, even in the face of insurmountable evidence.

What a stinker.