Monday, March 31, 2008

Book Club, I love you!

Some women have shoe fetishes, others collect handbags. My passion is reading books and then discussing them. I think it is a throwback to my university days when afternoons were filled with meandering conversations about novels. Nowadays, the best I can manage is joining book groups and then not reading the books (although I have the best intentions to do so) but still attending the meetings. Tonight, the book I didn't read was Shock Doctrine by Naomi Klein. By all accounts, I should pick it up anyway. My biggest problem is actually not an absence of time in which to read the books, but rather the length of time I spend on the library waitlist. If the book we are reading is very popular, the wait can be problematic. Plus, this particular book group is non-fiction based, so the material is generally not the type you can cram into two evenings of reading.

Nevertheless, the pleasure I take from stimulating and well-informed (myself excluded) conversation with knowledgeable and thoughtful women is immeasurable. Hooray for discourse!

The next book I won't be reading? Mountains Beyond Mountains by Tracy Kidder. Actually, since I am only second on the VPL hold list, I might even get to start this one...

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Another page turned...

Oh blogosphere...I am not hiding from you. But wow, it sure doesn't take that much to get out of the habit of blogging every day or two. The biggest issue is feeling all the experiences I want to blog about pile up to the extent that it feels daunting to catch up. So, I will post some of our great pictures from the last couple weeks over the next few days.

Today felt like stolen sunshine in the face of all this weird hail/snow/frozen rain we have been getting. Here is a picture of our porch from three days ago. And before you ask, yes we do keep plastic vegetables and um...donuts out there year round.

In fact, nice weather today was such a treat that I got a stern lecture from Molly this afternoon when I dragged the kids inside for five minutes to change Lukey's diaper. She admonished me for "wasting the sunshine by hanging out inside". Right. Because I just love diapers full of poop sooooo much more than sunshine. My bad.

Molly was invited today to her friend Della's birthday party. Which brought us round to yet another awkward conversation with Finny as to why she is seldom invited to the birthday parties of kids she considers her friends. She and Molly are close enough in age and good enough friends with each other that Finny plays with any kids that Molly hangs out with. But...reality is...Finny is three. Not five. And when it comes to invitations to sixth birthday parties, no one thinks of Molly's three year old sister. Except Della. She went home after spending yesterday afternoon at our place and asked her mom if Finny could be invited for today. I went to drop Molly off at the party this afternoon after having spent a couple of days hyping Finny on all the things we would do while Molly was at the party, but when we got there Finny was asked to stay. She was over-the-moon thrilled.

Tonight, we started reading Little House on the Prairie. Finny is a bit young for it, as evidenced by her falling asleep in the middle of chapter one. Molly was eating it up though. The best part was her horror when the family loses their dog Jack when they ford the Missouri River. When Laura spots some glowing green eyes beside their camp a few days later, she thinks it is a wolf. Pa goes to investigate and a terrified Molly was urging, "just shoot it...shoot it!" When she realized the glowing green eyes were attached to an exhausted Jack, she was truly shocked. It was a moment that warmed my book loving heart.

Another momentous occasion last week was Eric finishing up his official training period out in Delta. This week, he starts his regular shift. That's right. Regular. Now there is a word we haven't heard much of around here. For a glimpse of Eric in uniform, feast your eyes on this:

Monday, March 24, 2008

E- Week one

Last weekend it really sank in that we were no longer a one car family. With Molly in school and both girls currently taking many different programs (skating, swimming, gymnastics, muli-sport and gardening?) it wouldn't work for me to commute to Delta without buying another car. I have already blogged about my search for the ideal vehicle, but all of a sudden it was time to get practical. I settled on a Volkswagen Jetta Diesel wagon because they are great cars that get almost unbeatable fuel economy. With most of my commute on the highway, the Jetta should get better mileage than a hybrid. Also, if it works out, I can make some bio-diesel out of waste oil in Point Roberts to further reduce my impact. I scoured Craigslist and EBAY Motors as well as local dealerships but it was hard to find a good deal on such a car. I found most people were asking at least $15,000, even for Jetta Diesels with 200,000 kilometers on them.

2003 VW Volkswagen Jetta TDI,wagon,60,000km, ext warrenty - $17888

Reply to:
Date: 2008-03-14, 12:02PM PDT

2003 VW volkswagen Jetta TDI, diesel , wagon , gold extiorer , 5spd, tan leather,front heated seats, cd power everything, absolutly mint condition! 60,000km! with extended warrenty!

When I found this post on Craigslist I didn't hesitate to pack the family out to Maple Ridge for a test drive. Lucas loved the showroom full of new cars to explore but threw a hissy fit when we had to pry his fingers off the steering wheel to leave. We were happy with the test drive and, after a little bargaining, felt like we were coming away with a pretty good deal. Although only time will tell, the fact that I had a fair idea of the market value and that the person who priced and sold us the car, Pav, had only started his first job earlier in the week, made us feel that we weren't getting taking for a ride by the used car dealer.

On Sunday night Judy organized a belated birthday dinner for me, which doubled as a celebration of the new job about to start. A good time was had by all, but there was a little complaining about having to wear silly hats for the picture.

On Monday morning I started my career with Delta Fire and Emergency Services. We are training at Hall 1 for the first two weeks and then we will assigned to our home hall where we will take on regular duties, including responding to calls. For last week and next however, everything is taking place on the training ground. We have been practicing on car fires, gas spills, house fires as well as lots of hose, ladder and first aid work. The days are long and tiring with lots of learning to be done. However, considering the importance of feeling competent in these skills, I wouldn't want it any other way.

We decided to relax down in Point Roberts for the weekend. Steve and Cathy joined Mike, Kate and their girls at our place on Saturday afternoon for a few beers and an Easter egg hunt for the kids.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Ding Dong...Land Shark

For those of you confused by the title, I apologize. It refers to an old SNL skit that involved a vicious man-eating Land Shark terrorizing an apartment building, door to door. I still laugh about once a month about the Land Shark...Hmmm, I just did a search through YouTube to link to a video and I didn't find anything. Maybe this is a more arcane reference than I thought...

Anyway. The opposite of a man-eating Land Shark at your door must be two girls wielding not sharp teeth, but Happy Spring cards.
We decided this afternoon, in a fit of craftiness, to carpet the co-op in the good tidings of spring. The girls made gazillions of little yellow chicks by pressing their thumbs into yellow paint. My inspiration came from this great art idea site. We stuck the chicks onto cards and schlepped them around everywhere. I gave the girls lululemon bags and told them they were mail girls.

They took to their new roles with gusto. I couldn't even get them to walk. They sprinted all over, spreading the joy.
Their fervor made me reflect on the term "going postal".
Tonight though, after a day packed with sportball and skiing, Finny was tuckered out. As I was making dinner (a very tasty ropa vieja from Cooking Light magazine), Finny came into the kitchen every thirty seconds on a conveyor belt of complaints. What was for dinner? Could she eat something now? It looked like soup, was it soup? If it was soup (I probably told her ten times it wasn't), were there carrots? Could there be carrots next time? Was it ok if she waited until next time to eat it? Oh, and since she wouldn't be eating dinner because of the carrot issue, could she just have a granola bar and then dessert? But not the yucky granola bars...

Here are some pictures of the car, now in for repair from the crash.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

It isn't just the flowers growing...

You know how you don't notice your hair growing? Or how you missed when your eyes sprouted wrinkles out the sides like you just squinted fireworks? You are just too close to see it. Kids too. You blink and they are big. How does this happen? How do these microscopic changes pile on top of each other without me noticing? And then something snatches the cloth from your eyes and your bigger children are exposed to you in one heartbreaking second that squeezes your heart so hard it burns. It is little things that make the cloth drop...Finny's hair so long and in very sober low pigtails instead of her usual boisterous waterfalls on the top of her head. Well, that couldn't change overnight, so why does it feel like it did? Or this picture of Molly's feet:

Those aren't baby feet, are they? I mean, who am I kidding? Those are girl feet. Not even little girl feet. Actually, those little toes are attached to a girl who's a wee bit grumpy these days. Like, teenager grumpy, for heaven's sake. Tears are close to the surface for her lately. But she is still my Moo, so a laugh is always easy to coax out.

How about this colouring for a little Easter contest at our local (horrific) mall? Definite big girl colouring.

And this sort of sums it up:

Three pairs of jeans stacked up. Molly's are on the bottom. The only new pair. Then Finny's, which came to her via her sister. She's still cool with that. And then Lukey's on top. The worn knees. Because he's the third to get them. And outgrow them. The worn little knees on those jeans were earned by three pairs of chubby knees exploring the world. Crawling. Digging. Meowing. Snoozing. And now that the bottom hem has risen up on Lukey's fat little ankles, they are begging for retirement. And I am burying my nose in that worn denim, breathing in the scent of five years, six knees and three lovely, sprouting little people.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

E- Not exactly the requisite F 150

I have had a little over a week since getting my offer of employment to adapt to my new status. After a couple of years of the same thing, it's kind of weird to not be constantly thinking "what next?". Well actually, there will always be a part of me that thinks this way........but now I now have some freedom to focus on something other than the ever-frustrating fire department hiring process.

For 15 years I had one pretty strong goal that I focused on every day- to become the best basketball player I could be. While not claiming to be the best player in the world, I am proud of where I ended up considering where I started at the end of high school. Before the basketball goal even ended, I had moved on to the next one- to get hired as a fire fighter. Obviously I will now move much of this focus into being the best fire fighter I can. However, I am guessing that I will still have more time and energy left for other things than I did the last couple of years, and I am excited by that.

I have no doubt that my job as a fire fighter will be great for the family. After 2 day shifts followed by two nights, I will have 4 days off. Also, for the first time, probably ever in my life, I will have paid holidays. Having worked in lower paying, no benefit, temporary positions over the last couple of years, I really appreciate how lucky I am to have this time off. I am excited about getting to do some trips with the family as well as taking some time to hang out and do nothing.

Knowing me though, I won't be doing nothing too long. I would like to get back into teaching/coaching basketball again if the right opportunity becomes available. I have a few financial/investing goals I would like to devote more time to as well. For now however, I am happy to finish up my current job and get ready to get my ass kicked on the fire training ground. I expect a particularly tough initial few weeks of work.

Part of my preparation involves getting a new car. The only thing I felt was a real downside to taking the Delta job will be the commute. We definitely need a second car on which I will put a decent number of kilometres per year. It bothers me a little that I can't go to work without spewing a bunch of CO2 into the atmosphere, so I am looking for ways to reduce my impact. An electric car would be perfect but that won't happen for a few years. I have been looking at the option to get a diesel car that has been converted to run on waste oil. This basically makes the car carbon neutral...which I feel good about....but involves a lot of unknowns and potential problems for the car....not so good given my knowledge of engines. I have been looking at making an offer on this Mercedes but feel the price is a bit high and I don't know enough about conversions to spend this type of money. If anyone reading this blog knows anything about this, or has any good car suggestions, please let me know.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

The good, the bad and the crunched

I will start with the good, because that's just the kind of chick I am.

Sometimes, just for fun, I play a stream of consciousness word association game with Finny. I don't know why it is always with Finny, but I guess it is just kind of our thing together. I say something and then she says the first thing that comes to her mind. It has filled hours of car trips and waiting room time. This little word play often yields tasty tidbits and insights into Finny's Mind (this is capitalized because I sometimes think that Finny's Mind is an entity unto itself...). This exchange is an example of my pleasure in the exercise:

ME: Finny, what is the hardest thing you can think of?

FINNY: Puzzles. Puzzles are hard.

ME: What about the easiest?

FINNY (instantly): Hugs, mumma.

Now, if that doesn't make your Grinch heart grow four sizes, nothing will.

Speaking of Grinch hearts, now I will turn your attention to the bad and the crunched. The bad is the insanely hammered guy who plowed into our van in the middle of the night. The crunched is the van. I was in and out of sleep when I heard an accident outside our window. I woke Eric up and he bolted out of bed in time to see that a 1962 Ford Fairlane had taken the front left corner off our car. He then proceeded to drive away. In a swerving, speeding, inebriated way. Eric called 911 and was more or less told that it was a really busy night but they would try to keep an eye out for the guy. Right.

Luckily, one policeman's diligence did result in the apprehension of the perp (ha, I love police-talk). Good thing too, because otherwise we would have been on the hook for the $800 deductible on the car. It looks like he will be charged with leaving the scene of an accident and drunk driving. Apparently his wife was in the car too...

But hey, let's focus on the good. Because even though going to ICBC and filling out forms is hard...hugging is easy. Good to keep it all in perspective.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

E- Delta

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Some great news....(well, it's no longer technically news, having received word and blogging about it a couple of days ago, but it still feels pretty new and exciting)....I have been hired as a fire fighter with Delta Fire and Emergency Services. I received my letter of employment today and will be starting in two weeks. I have given my choice lots of thought and am confident I am making a good decision.

The municipality of Delta includes 364 sq. kilometres of land area south of the Fraser river, north of the 49th parallel (the border with the U.S.) and west of 120th Street (Scott Road). You can see the fire halls by clicking the blue markers.

The timing of this job couldn't be better. We broke through on the final section of the tunnel on Sunday. Despite getting the family up, dressed for the cold, finding parking downtown and walking to Waterfront station before 11am, we were about 50 feet away when we heard the air horns and yelling that signalled we were just missing breakthrough. We were there in time however, to witness the emotion of the moment and to say congratulations to all the guys.

There is about 2 months worth of work left to do, as the site needs some attention and the machine has to be disassembled, packed up, shipped by rail across Canada, boat to St. Petersburg and then by train to Omsk in Siberia. I spent this morning giving an orientation to Yuri. It wasn't the easiest explaining our safety procedures to someone with so little spoken English. However, when he was able to communicate to me that he had never been out of Siberia before, I became pretty impressed that he could understand me at all.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

One Proud Family

WARNING: Heartfelt and sentimental declaration below...if you are allergic to sincerity and/or cheesy-ness, skip the following post

Thanks to the good news we got at the end of last week, there has been a lot levity, planning and happiness around here this weekend. Despite having been home from Europe for the last two and a half years, news of Eric being hired feels like it truly settles us and propels us into a new stage of our lives here. And that feels great. The hardest part of the "waiting game" has been the uncertainty of not knowing how things would turn out in the end; whether all that patience would result in a job, or maybe at some point a difficult reevaluation would have to take place and the two+ years of hard work would be chalked up to life-experience.

No doubt, there will be a time in our lives when this lengthy period of questioning will be such a distant memory that it'll be hard to remember how this feels right now. Note to my future self:

I don't ever want to forget how proud I am of Eric for his hard-work, determination and focus. These are qualities that I have known about and cherished for as long as I have known him, but you can't ever take these incredible strengths for granted. Eric never lets go of a goal and I feel extremely indebted to him for his constant and unswerving perseverance in all areas of our lives, including (but definitely not limited to) his pursuit of this job.

The kids and I are incredibly fortunate to share in the many benefits that come from having Eric as the anchor of our family. His strength of character, integrity, honour and work ethic are all things that will make him an amazing firefighter. And most importantly, they are also a but a few of the innumerable qualities that make him the very best husband and father I could ever have imagined for us.

Eric, we sure love you and we just could not be prouder.