the thirties grind

get up, go to work, raise kids, pay bills, sleep. repeat.

Archive for the month “August, 2014”

Why I’m not feeling sorry for myself because of the BC Teachers Strike

back-to-school1

Well, it looks as though school is not going to start next week for kids across British Columbia.  The ongoing BC Teachers Strike seems to still be at a standstill, with both sides playing a very public game of chicken.  While it was promised that the parties would be at the table diligently over the summer, there were few meetings between the government and BCTF…only one I believe.  Both sides spent most of their time grandstanding in front of the media blasting the same messaging.  Finally, the government brought forward their $40/day childcare promise…declaring that parents would be paid for each day their children are out of school because of the strike.

Next Tuesday would have been the first day of school.  We can pretty much guarantee that this won’t happen.  If it does, I’m betting we will see Madame Christy Clark swaggering up to a podium to be the hero who announces the resolution.

There are no winners in this situation at the moment…only losers.  I have little hope that this entire debacle will change the landscape of public education in our province.  I am still contemplating what, exactly, will accomplish this.  My gut tells me that as a result of this BC Teachers Strike, parents will be more attune to the conditions in their children’s’ schools.  They will be less likely to stay quiet and accept overpopulated and underfunded classrooms.  They will speak with their vote come election time.  All of this is good…but doesn’t make the looming days and weeks ahead any easier.

And what of our kids next week?  Many parents are scrambling to figure out what to do with their kids.  Not everyone (read hardly anyone) has the luxury of a parent at home, a flexible employer or schedule.  I feel lucky in that I work part-time and from home, so we can juggle and manage things.  I’m certainly not feeling sorry for myself here.  But there are a BUCKET LOAD of people who I do feel sorry for in this whole fiasco…they include:

My kids

They were soooooo looking forward to going back to school.  My daughter misses her pals, her teachers and her routine.  My son was all set to begin kindergarten.  When I told him it may not start next week, he was so upset.  “Do I have to go back to daycare?” he asked.

Working parents

God knows most people here need two incomes to make ends meet.  I can’t imagine what parents who HAVE to go to work over the coming weeks are struggling with.  It is so stressful to find quality childcare at the best of times, never mind in a pinch when EVERYONE else is looking.

Single parents

Okay…my hat goes of to single parents because I have no idea how they do it.  RESPECT.  How they are going to manage working full-time, finding childcare and paying for said childcare (even with the damn $40/day subsidy)?  Talk about stress.

Parents of special needs children

I understand and respect that school is not daycare.  However, as the sister of a special needs individual I can understand that, for parents of special needs children, school provides much needed respite.  Further, many special needs children will inevitably regress in their development the longer they are out of a structured learning environment.  Finally, finding aid and care for children with developmental, emotional and behavioral issues will be extremely difficult during the time that the strike continues.  I want to give all of these parents a hug.

High school students

I’m not too concerned with my elementary aged kids missing a few weeks of instruction.  Believe me, I would far rather they be in school and learning, but let’s be real…it’s not going to affect their chances of getting into university.  However, what about high school kids?  Many of them will miss crucial instruction that will be preparing them for provincial exams, university application and trades apprenticeships.  These kids are getting royally screwed.

School workers

What about the school staff who are not teachers?  Educational Assistants, custodians, administrative staff…will they still be receiving their salaries while the strike continues?  If not…what are they supposed to do?  Find temporary work until this all blows over?

Teachers

Whether they will say it or not, I believe there are many teachers out there who would just like to get back to work.  They have followed the lead of their union and it hasn’t, unfortunately, gotten them very far over the last few months.  Many are in debt, or close to it…with no end in sight.

The government

I feel sorry for you because you are so near-sighted.  You are failing to see the potential in our children.  Instead of putting “Families First” like you promised, you have turned families against you.  In truth, I don’t feel sorry for you at all.  You’ve made your bed.

 

You are abnormal if you don’t breastfeed your child: Fraser Health

What would I say to the me that was feeling ashamed about her breastfeeding capabilities all those years ago? "You're doing your best, Mama...you're doing your best.

If I could go back in time and talk to myself, a new mother feeling ashamed about her breastfeeding capabilities, what would I say? “You’re doing your best, Mama…you’re doing your best.” It’s really all that matters.

“Breastfeeding is the normal way to feed your baby.” 

This is the statement made in a new “prenatal decision making tool” being implemented by Fraser Health.

I think this is ridiculous.  As someone who struggled with breastfeeding and didn’t necessarily always “enjoy” it, I think it’s disgraceful to shame new moms into this choice.  Yes, breast milk is best for the baby…but so is a happy, mentally healthy, supported mom.

The document appears to be a contract, where the mother is supposed to initial which feeding option she will choose.  Although, aside from breastfeeding, the options of mixed feeding and formula feeding are given, it’s clear what the “right” choice is.

From the time your child is conceived, hell, from before you even decide to become pregnant, the world is judging you as a new mom.  Imagine sitting in the hospital bed after giving birth to your child.  You are both overjoyed and terrified.  Are you good enough to care for this little being in your arms?  Will you be a good mother?  Your mind is exhausted and fragile and needs to be supported and nurtured…not inundated with propaganda meant to scare you into making decisions for your child.

I spent weeks trying to breastfeed my first baby.  I agonized over it…probably to a point where it was unhealthy.  Luckily, I was very supported by my midwife and family and, with painstaking perseverance, I was able to get into a relatively successful breastfeeding routine with my daughter.  However, it was never easy and every time I gave her a bottle of formula a little part of me felt like a failure.  In hindsight, I know this is wrong.

You know what’s really normal?  Wanting to do your best as a mother.  For many, this very well may be breastfeeding.  But if it doesn’t work for you for whatever reason…that is OK.  You are still a good mom.  No matter what Fraser Health says.

Update:  A Fraser Health representative was on CKNW today stating the form will be removed and revisited. The representative apologized to anyone who was offended by the form.

Enter to WIN $100 in free gas from Shell Canada!

Shell contest

Whether you’ve been on a road trip across Canada or cruising to your local watering hole, we bet you’ve been on some exciting drives this summer. That’s why Shell just launched the Shell V-Power Formula for Driving Excitement Contest–to honour and discover the best drives in Canada.

From now until September 9, casual road trippers and driving enthusiasts can enter to win a chance to make their exciting drive a reality at www.shell.ca/shellvpowercontest. One Grand Prize winner will receive a week-long luxury car rental and a year’s worth of Shell V-Power Premium Gasoline.

Win free fuel!

Get your last summer road trip in with $100 of free fuel from Shell!  To enter, leave a comment on this post telling me where you’d drive to.  For added entries, fill out the form below!

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5 kids chores your children should be doing…like NOW!

kids chores

She listens to Disney soundtracks while emptying the dishwasher…it takes a bit longer with all the lip synching and dancing going on but, hey, at least I’m not doing it.

When I was a kid, we had to do chores in order to “earn” privileges like watching our favorite TV show (mine was Different Strokes, for the record), playing with our friends or money to buy penny candies at the local corner store (red hot lips were my go to indulgence).

I don’t know why but, as a parent, I kind of forgot about kids chores.  Then one morning, it hit me…what use is it having these little minions around if I can’t put them to work?  I should be sitting with my feet up watching my floor get mopped, my laundry get folded, my lawn get mowed…

In all seriousness, chores are a great way to create accountability and respect for the home.  When kids see that everyone in the family needs to pitch in to keep the house neat, tidy and running it is a beautiful thing.  Suddenly, they realize that everything doesn’t stay tickety-boo with magic.  It’s hard work…and work ethic is something I learned early and plan to pass on to my kids!

5 kids chores your children can start doing today!

  1. Make their beds – this is easy.  Don’t expect army corners, though.  I often settle for the duvet being neatly placed on the bed and stuffies arranged in some kind of order.
  2. Unload the dishwasher – patience required with this one.  You may need to do it together once or twice and ask that “high up” items be left on a counter for mom or dad to take care of.
  3. Fold or sort laundry – my son loves folding the dish cloths and towels.  You could also have your kids separate clean laundry into piles like “Mom”, “Dad”, “Sibling”, “Me”, “Towels”.  My kids are also responsible for putting away their clean clothes.
  4. Feed pets – mom and dad so often bare the brunt of pet responsibility.  Putting food in a dish and filling a water bowl isn’t rocket science…get the kids to do it.
  5. Water plants – Give them a designated container and show them which plants to water and how much.  Might be a better job for a 7-8 year old.

Do your kids do chores?  What do you find are the best ones?

Canuck Place Adventure Race: supporting children with life-threatening illnesses in B.C. (+ giveaway)

CP Adventure Challenge_ks0327

The Canuck Place Adventure Race is the ultimate celebration of outdoor athleticism. A multi-sport event that includes kayaking, mountain biking, and trail running, the Canuck Place Adventure Race will be a fun and exciting test of your endurance and technical skills while you travel along one of Vancouver’s most scenic routes.

For detailed information about the event scheduling & routes, visit the Event Details Page.

The event will see participants paddle out to sea from Jericho Beach before taking to the trails of the UBC Pacific Spirit Park for the mountain bike and trail running segments of the race.

Whether you sign up as an individual or compete as a team, the Canuck Place Adventure Race will provide you with a thrilling challenge and a great way to give back to your community. Your participation ensures BC’s children with life-threatening illnesses and their families get the care they need.

Canuck Place Children’s Hospice supports children with life-threatening illnesses through respite for the entire family, pain and symptom care, 24-hour province-wide family support, art, education, music and recreation therapy, bereavement counselling and end-of-life care. Whether life is measured in days, weeks or months, children deserve the opportunity to learn, develop and grow. Canuck Place helps children and families live courageously through life’s most challenging circumstances.

www.canuckplace.org

Race for a Reason! The Canuck Place Adventure Race takes place on September 7, 2014

CPCH_AdventureRace_Logo final• Long Course: 6km Kayak, 30km mountain bike, 8km trail run
• Short Course: 3km Kayak, 15km mountain bike, 6km trail run
• Kids Course: 500m assisted sail, 2km bike, 1km run

Race participants can sign up as individuals or as a team to a max of 4 people.

Registration cost: Adults $50 // Youth (17 and under) $25
Fundraising goal: Adults $1000 // Youth $150

A note on fundraising:

The Canuck Place Adventure Race is a fundraising event. Funds raised support Canuck Place Children’s Hospice in providing critical clinical care and programs for BC’s children with life- threatening illnesses and their families who love them. Therefore Canuck Place asks all participants to do their best in reaching the fundraising goal, and Canuck Place supports all participants in doing so through tips and tricks, and helpful newsletters (examples here). However, if the goal is not met, no penalty applies.

More details and answers to FAQs can be found here.

Enter to WIN!

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What do you want for BC’s education system?

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As talks resume between the BC Government and BC’s teachers today, I’m certain parents around the province are crossing fingers and toes…hoping that a deal will be struck and that our children can get back to school come September.

Personally, I’m not holding my breath.  I’m not fooled by all of the rhetoric and political posturing being done on BOTH sides of this dispute.  I almost feel like this meeting today is a bit of a tease.  I mean, WTF have this lot been doing all summer?  While we have been fretting, reading speculative news reports and reacting to asinine statements from the government (like the $40/day childcare subsidy), Iker, Fassbender, Clark and the rest of them have been MIA.

So…I’m asking you today.  What do you want for BC’s education system?  Do you think a deal will be struck before September?  If so, will it be one you can live with?

My two left feet (#datenightremix)

dance

What I’m basically thinking in this photo is “kill me now.”

Last week I told you about how my husband and I made a pact to reinvent date nights.  We were getting so bored of the same old, same old.  We decided to take turns planning our outings, focusing on activities that we have never tried together or that we just think would be really fun (or funny…depending on how you look at it!).

Dave got to go first.  I have to admit I was excited as we headed out together last Friday evening.  It was like a real date when the person picks you up and you don’t really know where you are going.  I am not a person who usually likes surprises, but it was really nice to relinquish control of the whole “date night” situation.

As we pulled up outside the Vancouver Art Gallery, I was pretty stoked.  “Are we going into the gallery?” I asked.  The Douglas Copeland exhibit was on and I was dying to see it.  “Nope,” answered Dave, “something even better.”  Better than Copeland??  This was going to be good. Read more…

Local mom: BC Teachers Strike puts trades apprenticeships in jeopardy

toolbelt2Much of what we are hearing about the effects of the BC Teachers Strike in the main stream media has to do with parents being stressed about and scrambling for childcare.  However, if a solution is not reached in the dispute, there are many others who will be dramatically affected.  I received the following email from a concerned B.C. mom, who’s son has overcome adversity and challenges in order to get to a point where he had his future planned out.  A future, which is now in jeopardy as the BC Teachers Strike continues…


 

My son is going into Gr. 11. Two years ago he suffered a serious concussion playing football and ended up in the hospital. It took him a full year, many doctors appointments, very understanding teachers and school counselors to help him complete Gr. 9. He went from an honour roll student who loved his classes, friends and sports, to a withdrawn, cranky, miserable teen (more than usual!! LOL). Anyway, he did end up finishing Gr. 9 – still making the honour roll, but let me tell you, it was HARD!!

By Gr. 10, my son was back on the road to recovery. He took extra courses online and got himself into a position where, going into Gr. 11 this September, he has been accepted into an apprenticeship program at a post secondary institution in February.  All going well, he will graduate from high school, with a full diploma and a 1 year apprenticeship under his belt .That is IF he can get back into school this coming September!!!!!!!

He has a tough semester coming up – four academic courses, but he is committed and excited. However, if school does not start in the fall, he will be at a disadvantage as his apprenticeship starts in February. How will he ever finish in time? How will his February apprenticeship be affected? Will he now need to extend his graduation timeline? All that hard work scraping and struggling to get ahead only to be “pushed back” by a governments refusal to negotiate and put an end to the BC Teachers Strike? How is this fair to him?

Yes, life is not fair – but to see someone struggle so hard, to come back from such adversary only to be held back by a ridiculous tug of war of egos and personal vendettas is frustrating, to say the least. We are just one family in this type of situation – there are many kids in our school alone whose apprenticeships may be affected if they don’t get back to school in September. I also know that those whose apprenticeships were to finish this past June also had their completion jeopardized.

Christy Clark and her government are promoting “trades” as the future of British Columbia – but, do they realize that by NOT getting school back in on time, that those who have chosen those very trades, may have their education affected by not being able to finish or get into the programs offered by post secondary institutions on time?

Real-life adoption experience inspires mother’s novel. Guest post by Natalie Corbett Sampson

NCS1Natalie Corbett Sampson lives in Hatchet Lake, Nova Scotia with her husband, four school-aged Munsters and a menagerie of pets. Her day job is a speech language pathologist where she loves helping children improve their ability to communicate with the world around them. When she’s not working, writing or sitting in a hockey rink Natalie loves reading, photography and drawing. You can learn more about Natalie and follow her publishing journey on her blog, Facebook and Twitter.


Everyone has a story.

As a writer I am intrigued by the foundational emotions that make stories relatable. How does a working mom identify with an 11 year old wizard? A healthy teen understand three peers crippled by cancer? Loving a book comes from relating to the characters, being able to empathize and feel their emotions and share in their stories. I find it very interesting, and recently found it therapeutic as well.

I am a 30-something working mom to four kids. My three oldest children are ‘home-grown’ (a term we adopted because it sounds so much nicer than ‘biological’). My youngest, by two months, is a beautiful eight year old we adopted in China when she was two and a half.

The moment I met my daughter is very clear in my memory. She was late (appropriate since her three siblings all missed their due dates) and I was busy taking pictures of the two other families as they met their new children. Then I heard a twittering in a high, sing-song voice in the hall and I knew. I turned to the open door and she stood there, in a red cord jumpsuit, clipped short hair cut and terrified frown on her face. She was holding the chewable baby photo book we’d sent, and had a tiny small turtle on a lanyard around her neck. She stood frozen in the hall, holding the orphanage’s nanny’s hand and staring straight at me. I’d read that not all adoptive parents fall in love with their children at first sight but I did. From that moment she was mine.

As difficult as our adoption process was, our adjustment to new life as a family was easy. For us at least. Our daughter did not seem unhappy, but a two year old without English would have a hard time letting us know. She thrived; grew in inches and words and trust. We increasingly became recipients of her hugs and her amazing belly laughs. The past six years have flown by and I cannot imagine a life without my daughter.

Which makes me terribly sad sometimes, because another mother somewhere is doing just that.

When we started the process to adopt our daughter we knew that we would likely never know who her first family was or why they were unable to care for her. It wasn’t a big deal to me then. It is now. When I Covermet my daughter I felt an instant connection to her first mother – perhaps cheesy but it is true. Since then I have often wondered who and where she is and worried that she is doing alright going through life without her baby. My baby. I so wish I knew her story.

Since I’ll probably never know, I’ve tried to process her imagined existence through writing. My novel, Game Plan, was published in November 2013 and tells two parallel stories. My fears and frustrations from the adoption process are felt by Katherine, a professional woman who longs to be a mother. Ella is a high school student who struggles to decide how to handle an unplanned pregnancy. Neither story is true, but both are founded on true emotions around the dichotomy that is adoption wherein one family is created only as one family is destroyed.

Reinventing date night (#datenightremix)

Basically…we suck and something's gotta give.

Basically…we suck and something’s gotta give.

My husband and I have been married for over 13 years.  That is a LONG time.  When you’ve been with someone for this long,  taking time to spend with just each other becomes a challenge for many reasons.  The demands of daily life, children, careers, a home (need I go on?) seem to take priority over the one thing that holds all the others together…your relationship. Read more…

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