Wednesday, April 30, 2008

E-Can I put away the snow boots yet?

Finally we have had a couple of nice days after a really long and cold Spring. Today, after Molly's school, we went for a bike ride as a family down to Granville Island. (A big thanks to our neighbours Brigitte and Keith for giving us their bike wagon) We picked up some food before coming back home to have beers and burgers with Steve.

My introduction to the fire service continues to go well. I keep having a number of firsts and haven't yet come across any situations that make me uncomfortable. Some of the more interesting calls include a diabetic with really low blood sugar, two trips to the same Crack house and a big cardboard container fire that was close to setting the building ablaze and took us 20 minutes of applying foam to put it out. I also did some inspections with the most intriguing being of the neighbouring Police station. It was really interesting to see how the station ran, what their normal day is like and hear some stories about the cops. It makes me appreciate our job all that much more.

Life has been pretty quiet for me by comparison to the last few years. I have either been working or just enjoying time with the family. It's a nice beak to not be racking my brain and spending my time chasing after the next goal.

However, not one to hop off my hamster wheel for too long, I have been spending some time looking at real estate. In December we had an offer on a place in Point Roberts that fell through at the last minute when the Canadian dollar fell from $108 at acceptance to $0.96 at closing. Recently I got an accepted offer on a piece of land that looks like it will probably fall through now that the soils/septic test came back negative. If it does fall through, I am sure in 20 years it will look pretty stupid not to have completed the deal....but for now there's a limit to the value of land that can't be built on.

I have posted a couple of more pictures from our last week around town. I feel so lucky to spend so much time with the family and to have the kids at such a fun age. They are all great and special in their own ways and really add a lot to our lives. Although life isn't always easy at this stage, I already know how much I will one day long to be able to revisit this time of our lives.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Ugh. I must post more often, because as I have stated here before...the catch-up post kills me. It is a vicious cycle. I haven't posted in a while, so I kind of put it off because it seems so onerous to get it all in. Then, because I put it gets even more onerous.

We had a good weekend. First off, the kids got to witness their dad participate in his first community event as a real fireman. What do real firemen do at community events, you ask? Fire demos? Cool truck tours? Probably sometimes. Not this time.

We went out to Ladner to see Eric cooking pancakes and sausages as a fundraiser at the Delta triathlon. We got a great breakfast and it was pretty terrific to see Eric out with the firefighters, working hard for a good cause. And not surprisingly, the firemen grill up some tasty grub. Luckily, the girls brought their appetites and impressed the guys with how much food they could stuff into their little bitty bodies.

We also managed to get in our first all-family bike ride of the season. Ok...ever. Alright, you got me. The truth is, I haven't been on a bike in probably ten years. But I guess riding a bike is a bit like...riding a bike. You don't forget how. It was a beautiful evening, so we packed everyone up and pedaled over to Vanier Point. The highlight for me, other than the sunset and exercise, was Eric toting the girls behind him. For the entire ride back, they chanted "faster, faster, faster". It is all uphill to get home. It was great fun to watch. Luckily for me, Lukey isn't much of a chanter.

Here is the best picture of Eric I have ever seen:

I apologize. That's mean. Can I make a joke about him being full of hot air? I'd better not. I think he reads this blog.

Oh, and one more fun weekend thing: the girls and I went to a big school garage sale on Sunday and scored. For $7 we walked away with two puzzles, three games (including Pop-o-matic Trouble, for you '80s kids), two dolls and four videos. It was a bit of a nostalgia purchase for me because one of the videos is Annie (the others were Peter Pan, Stuart Little, The Sound of Music). The girls have watched Annie twice. They are singing "It's a Hard Knock Life" and "Tomorrow" non-stop (totally mangled of course, which is even better). The only song they didn't like was "Dumb Dog" because they thought it was mean. I tried to explain that Annie was an orphan who had attachment issues but they weren't buying it. Molly was sincerely terrified when Annie was chased up the railway trestle by Rooster at the end of the movie. She cheered out loud when Punjab (!?) unwound his turban to rescue her by helicopter. Little Girl Me thought Punjab was exotic and exciting. Adult Me is seriously questioning the appropriateness of the that role and the casting of an actor who...clearly is not Punjabi. Other than that though, I have to say that the movie holds up pretty well for me.

Has anyone else managed to foster affection in their children for one of their old favourites? Anything you were disappointed to discover has not weathered the storms of time well? I must admit to being a little shocked by the negative treatment of "Indians" in Little House on the Prairie. The book lover in me is definitely bothered by editing Laura Ingalls Wilder as I read aloud, but...yeah. I just wasn't comfortable with some of the depictions. Anyone else?

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Let's get a little brainy here

I have been reading Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. For those of you who have read it, I am just at the start of the Bali section. So far, I have enjoyed the overall style of the book. I think Gilbert has some brilliant moments, especially the harrowing description of Loneliness and Depression (depicted as two heavy-handed goons) tracking her down in Rome. While it isn't the best book I have read recently, it might be the most readable. And despite the common criticism of the book that it is waylaid by the author's self-indulgence, I think the memoir nature of the content makes that a forgivable sin.

So far, the best nugget I will take away from the book (and since I have also heard that the Indonesia section marks a steep nosedive in the flow, this will most likely remain the highlight) is Gilbert's description of the Italian expression il bel far niente, which translates as "the beauty of doing nothing". The author laments the North American's inability to take in the simple pleasures of life. She suggests that we seek pleasure as aggressively as we perform the chores of life...with too much purpose. I agree. In fact, I love doing nothing. I have always been exceedingly good at nothing and there is nothing like a beautiful Italian expression celebrating this special talent of mine to make me feel validated in my sloth. So, thanks for that Elizabeth Gilbert. Oh, and Italy I guess.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008


It's back to work for me tomorrow. I go from my role of being a father, to being the rookie at the hall. In some ways it is quite a switch......although in other ways the roles are pretty similar. At home I do a little cooking and cleaning, while at the hall I do a lot. One big benefit, to my family at least, is that I am definitely going to get more in the habit of cooking and shopping for good meals. At home I am on the kids' school and extra curricular schedule, while at work everything goes according to the captain's schedule.

So far I really can't complain about being a rookie/probationer. It is a lot of work. Other than 10 minutes to eat at lunch, and driving quickly to emergencies, I don't really sit down from 7 am until I finish at 6 pm. I know that in a few years, when I have settled into a different routine, it will be hard to imagine going back to my current role and having so many responsibilities around the hall. For now however, I am just appreciative of the job and eager to learn as much as possible. While every call is a new learning experience, none have been more of an eye opener than the mattress fire at a dumpy hotel last week. The tiny hotel room was covered with garbage, clothes and mostly porn many inches deep across the floor. A bunch of mice scurried out when we removed the mattress.

Learning how to negotiate a big boys club occupies a lot of mental energy as well. There are about 175 people who all know each other well, have lots of time to talk and who would probably love to find things to pick on. It's not an easy exercise to find one's place in this environment and not give people too much ammunition to criticize with. Amongst all the things I need to learn and responsibilities I have, answering the phone is one of the more simple ones. However, anyone who has been around a firehall knows that the probie is expected to always answer the phone......pretty much on the first ring...or else someone else will grab it and give the probie grief. Having the cordless phone in my pocket definitely helps, however I did manage to screw this up last week when I hung up on the chief of the department. Oooops!

Monday, April 21, 2008

I'm a real boy!

In another dramatic step away from babyhood, Lukey has shed his fuzzy baby hair, experiencing an instant metamorphosis into boyhood. On a semi-whim, I took scissors to Lukey's baby curls. I had heard enough teasing about his "wings" over his ears and then the lady at the local fruit and vegetable shop asked me how old my little girl was (although I maintain that was really pretty thick because there isn't anything feminine about him, plus he was wearing very boyish clothing at the time, so I mean, really...). But a haircut really does affect an instant change. He immediately looked older and more mature. He seemed very into the whole process, waiting patiently and tilting his head the way I asked.
Until he was bored. Then it was over. The whole impromptu haircut plan quickly fell apart when he took off upstairs.

I became an impatient, scissor-wielding pursuer, chasing him down to "even it up". He bolted around the house, half baby half boy. I was chopping off hunks of hair on the fly. Eventually, we got it sorted out. My new rule : if you can't sit still long enough to get a haircut, you might not be old enough to get a haircut.

Friday, April 18, 2008

If you could change anything...

...what would it be?

This is a question I just posed to Finny. She woke up, disturbed by the handfuls of gravel that are rattling around her lungs every time she shifts. Poor thing. She was feeling sad, so to distract her, I asked her what she would change about our family if she had the power to alter anything (a ridiculous and dangerous question, I know. I was sort of scrambling and that just came out. I was intrigued to hear what she would come up with, but also a little scared at the same time). So, what does an almost four year old want to change? More candy at every meal? Dresses every day? Nope. Here you go...if Finny were queen for a day:

We would have different coloured plates and bowls because the ones we have are boring to look at.

She and Molly would get a full outfit each, knitted by me. Everything should be knit: skirt, tights, shirt, purses, underwear and shoes.

Right. I'll get right on those.

I can still hear her hacking away upstairs. Her immune system may be down but the little brain is working overtime.

Here is a great picture of Lukey from last weekend at my friend's Sam's delicious cabin on Keats Island.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

A Dark Cuddle

Last night on my way into bed, far too late as usual, I took my normal detour to the girls room to plant a quick kiss on each of them.

The girls have a bunk bed and, unable to decide which of them should sleep up and which down, they take turns. So oligarchical of them, isn't it? Anyway, tucking them in last night, they were so cuddled in together that they decided they would both sleep down together. It is a double bed on the bottom, so there's tons of room. I was sort of warmed by their tenderness so I gave in...even though their closer proximity resulted in prolonged whispering and a later bedtime.

So on my way up, when I sneaked in to snuggle...I had a strange sensation. I gathered someone up in my arms but it was so dark, I didn't know who I had wrapped my arms around. They are such a similar size these days, those two growing girls, that I couldn't tell. The point is, it didn't matter. A strong feeling swept through me that though my two daughters are different people (really quite different), they are both an equal part of me. The toasty warm, sleepy body I cradled was both of them...and me too, somehow. In the darkness, we were all one. Strangely, listening to a strong heart beating in a little chest and not knowing whose it was made it feel like it was all of ours...shared. It was perfect.

Monday, April 14, 2008

E- Uninspired

I feel really uninspired writing today.....but have a few pictures I took last week on the cell phone that are worth posting for the memory. During my time off work last week, one day was spent at my old job site, where they are now in the clean up phase of the project. Later on in the week I joined Molly and 16 other cute Kindergardeners for a trip to Science world. We walked to Granville Island and then took the Aquabus to the end of False Creek. The next day I took Finny roller blading for the first time and stopped for a mango bubble tea on the way home.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Hmmmm, do I need to get out more?

This morning, I decided to haul my weak little body to partake in some fitness training. I got up with the kids to let Eric sleep in and then at about 9:30, I put on workout gear, strapped on my sneakers and headed for the door.

I grabbed my keys from the hook, which makes a jingly sound. Instantly, the two girls perked up from whatever they were doing. Finny, still in her pajamas, sprinted for the door, demanding to know "where we are going". Um, what's up? Do I really walk out on my own so seldom? She almost had both shoes on (still in her nightie) before I could convince her that I was heading out on a kid-free activity. I'm not even sure it really sank in until I actually left.

Here is a shot of the window by the door:

By the way, that sweater Lukey is wearing is the very first whole sweater I have ever finished...he probably put it on thinking he was heading out.

I forgot about this...

I can't believe I didn't post this because it was a BIG deal at our house in Point Roberts. We were down for Easter weekend, out in the driveway, when I looked up and spotted this:

It was a mini (and largely irrelevant) miracle to have a random bunny image pop up in the middle of your woodpile. The girls were entranced.

Weird, right? I swear, we didn't do anything to it. It just was.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Catch all

Who am I kidding? I hate catch up posts. I have to face facts that I will not be a retro-blogger...ever. I despise backtracking. Let me get the monkey off me back.

I am going to throw in some pictures I took of the kids at Science World a while back in honour of Eric who took Molly and her class there today for her very first field trip.

And here is quite possibly the worst picture of me EVER...Memo to self: don't let three year olds take my picture.

The kids and I took our own field trip on the weekend. We headed out to the Endowment Lands to partake in an event put on by the Pacfic Spirit Park Society. It was fantastic: well organized and perfect for Moll and Fin. They were given a clipboard with pictures of a mouse taken throughout the forest and they had to find where the pictures were taken. We were on the hunt for red flags with clues attached. I learned something about Finny. The kid is a major keener. Like, big time. She was so gung-ho. No one else could hold the clipboard. She sprinted from one flag to another.
She would run, screaming over her shoulder for us to hurry up. When I told her that I was trying, she stopped immediately and shouted, "No. You're not. You are as slow as a slop." Which is her word for sloth. It isn't mispronounced. She just says slop on purpose. That's her thing. She was hilarious.

Molly, on the other hand, was really worried when we set out without a compass. She was convinced, despite my repeated protests otherwise, that we were heading into the deep wilderness where no people or paths would be found. And without a compass, we would have to curl up, cold and hungry under a stump.
When we arrived to little tents set up with clipboards and mini pencils, plus lots of people, she said, "Boy, I was wrong about everything." Just goes to show you, I should really get these kids back to nature. Even Lukey was into our adventure. He walked most of the 1.5 km loop on those teeny, soft little legs of his. It was a phenomenal success. We will definitely be checking out future events put on by the park.

The only negative issue we faced was bathroom related. This is a common theme whenever we commune with nature. For whatever reason, my kids all love liquid. And we all know; what goes in must come out...all over these logs:

Saturday, April 5, 2008

E- Strange moment

Death can be a touchy subject, one that some people don't feel comfortable talking about. Although I can understand a certain sensitivity around the subject, I don't think it's my style to not talk about my work just because someone could be offended. Judging from my first few shifts, I will probably see quite a bit of it and may feel like the occassional story is worth passing along. Consider yourself warned.

On Friday morning I finished my first set and am now on my four days off. All of yesterday morning and afternoon were spent at the Volkswagen dealer in Maple Ridge getting our belated inspection, oil change and wheel alignment completed for the new Jetta. In the evening Les and I went out for dinner at the Frog and Firken before seeing "There Will Be Blood" at the Hollywood theatre while my Mom took care of the kids.

Both of my night shifts were pretty busy, between doing stuff around the hall and responding to calls. Although it will soon become second nature, just being in the right place with the right gear on when the alarms ring is a challenge in itself. Because everything is new and unfamiliar, it takes me a bit longer to get ready....and nobody wants to wait for the rookie to get on the truck. For example, minutes after my shift started on Wednesday night we got a call for smoke coming from a building. I had to run to the bay and open the door, change out of my station gear, into my boots and turnout gear and grab my helmut and be on the truck in under a minute. Then as we raced towards the house I had to get my SCBA pack on and be ready to breath air, without falling out of my seat. None of it is extremely difficult...but all of it is challenging when it is new and time is of the utmost importance.

The fire turned out just to be a guy cooking over an open log fire in the carport....but, as the guys pointed out, there was flame and I was required to extinguish it with water, so it therefore counted as my first, albeit very minor, fire. Later that night I went to my first car accident. Although we didn't have to use the jaws to extricate anybody, I did get to spend 20 minutes crunched up in the back seat of a Toyota Tercel holding C-spine on a victim that had been rear ended by a van. Later that night we went to a call where an old man was having a cardiac arrest. Although I am sure to see many elderly people going through similar ordeals, I don't think I will ever forget how much pain this guy was in when the ALS paramedics gave him a shock. It was quite something to be part of the life saving effort as we helped a team of 4 paramedics administer a series of shocks, medications, hormones and airway interventions to keep this guy alive. After about an hour on scene the patient was stable enough to transport to hospital.

The next night was just as busy and included a very surreal moment for me. Just as the Canucks playoff hopes we coming to an end, we were called out to a truck on the side of the highway, whose driver was found slumped on the floor. He was a big guy jammed into a tight space, so we had quite the challenge pulling him out. My partner and I breathing, no pulse. No more training dummies, it was time to start my first CPR while my partner got the bag-valve mask. Not long afterwards the police and ambulance pulled up. Because the only flat place to work on the patient was on the highway, cones, flares and blockades by police were set up, making the scene look like a major disaster centre. The paramedic who arrived took over the bag-valve mask from my partner and continued the breathing for the patient. As he started counting I immediately recognized the voice. The only paramedic I know who works in greater Vancouver, my former boss and current friend John, happened to be the guy next to me bagging while I did compressions. Very surreal. Ingrossed in his job, John hadn't reconized me when he came in, so was quite surprised when I turned my head and said "Hi John, good to see you". Just like the night before, a team of 8 of us worked to keep him alive, this time with CPR accompanying the defibrilator and drug cocktails. Despite the fact that he was young and showed no outward indications of what had caused his heart to stop, there was nothing that could bring him back. I don't envy the paramedic who had to leave our group surrounding the patient to go and tell his wife and 5 other relatives, who had gathered at the scene,that he was gone.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

E- Surviving April Fools day

Today was my first day at the hall responding to calls. There was nothing monumental to write about. There was lots of work to be done and many things for me to learn. Even going out to my first call, a motor vehicle accident on Nordel Way, I was busier thinking about what I needed to do than I was celebrating the occasion.

Although this may sound anti-climactic, it was actually a really good feeling to just be part of the crew with my own set of responsibilities. We tore apart a car in the morning for an auto extrication drill and set up a fire attack in the afternoon. The crew was great and made me feel at ease on my first day. The only exception was the ribbing I got for my temporary turnout gear, which was made for someone about 10 inches shorter than me. I heard, more than once, about how I was the first firefighter to show up in Capris and a belly top. I imagine however, that it can't be too long before I do something stupid enough to get bugged about something a lot more personal than my ill fitting wardrobe.....but that's just part of the nature of the job.