Blogging at Kids in the Capital

I have  a post up at Kids in the Capital today, talking about my weekend adventure with Goose, to Mud Lake!



Wordless Wednesday – Memorial Service



Where does your food come from?

The littles and I were having dinner tonight, and a perfectly innocent request to have Woo finish his milk turned into an amusing conversation about where our meat comes from.  We have always been very upfront about where food comes from, so I am pretty used to questions that seek to confirm where our food comes from.

We have these cute glasses that have animals on them.  Tonight Woo was using one with a pig on it for his milk.  At one point he studied the glass for a few minutes and then said, “Do you know why there is a pig on this glass?  Because pigs give us milk.”

“Pigs give us bacon, ham, and pork,” I said, “but cows give us milk.”

There was another moment of quiet reflection, then he asked, “From a DEAD pig?  Why does this pig give us a dead pig so we can get bacon, ham or pork??”

I am still giggling at picturing this cute little pig on the glass presenting us with a dead pig and asking which meat we wanted. My laughter might have encouraged my little comedian. He provided the answer to his next question, about which animal gives us french fries.  The “potato animal”, of course!

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The Money Pit

I have to start by saying that I LOVE my house, although I didn’t immediately LOVE it like this. Willy and I never saw the house together before we took possession, and were actually in different cities when we made the decision to buy the house. We had been looking for a house for about three months, with me doing the scouting visit, and a joint follow-up if the house was a contender. I liked this house, but our travel schedules conflicted and he had to do the follow-up solo. He saw our life here and we bought the house.

We moved in, I fell in love with the house, and we started making some of the changes we planned to update the look of the house. The usual take down a wall here, change the tile there type of updates. That was when we started to notice a few things… a live wire buried in the attic, improperly supported walls, generally half-assed work that caused our scope to creep so that we could fix the house. It was clearly obvious that the previous owners had used contractors who were great at making bad work look really good.

Unfortunately the previous owners had done extensive renovations and additions to our house. The year after we moved in a large crack developed in the wall to our family room. We did some exploratory digging, which led to more digging, and determined that the foundation under almost half of our house was decaying.  It needed replacing.  Two years, a gazillion dollars later, and more crazy bad work by previous contractors we had replaced the foundation.  This bad work included a septic tank left with in the foundation, under our kitchen.  A septic tank that wasn’t emptied before it was built on top of!  In the end we were happy and had a bigger house, as we had added to our basement (they were digging anyways…).  It was a long and slow renovation, with much of the digging being done by hand, but it ended with a solid foundation.

A solid foundation under half of the house, that is.  After the renovation was complete, I kept checking the cracks in the other parts of the house compulsively to make sure that they weren’t changing.  I knew that I wouldn’t be able to relax until I knew that the rest of the house wasn’t going to  crumble, so last fall we had an engineer come and checkout the house.  He gave us a good report, but agreed with my suggestion that preventative resealing of the foundation was a good idea.

Last week we started the digging to reseal the foundation.  They dug, and found some expected repairs, but also found some unexpected repairs that has led to the inevitable scope creep.  There is a good deal of work that needs to be done to the foundation under our garage.  It looks like there will need to be more repairs done to the room adjacent to the garage, but they haven’t dug that up yet.  I cringe.

It’s the money pit, but it’s our money pit.  It’s our forever house and we love it.  It would be nice if it would stop breaking now.



Memorial Weekend

As is the case with the last Sunday in September each year, there will be a service on Parliament Hill this Sunday morning honouring those Police and Peace officers who lost their lives in the line of duty.  It is specifically designed to commemorate those officers who lost their lives over the course of the last year, but also incorporates the remembrance of all officers who have died while on duty.

The service began following the death of Ottawa Police Constable David Kirkwood, and was borne of the desire of his colleagues to keep his memory alive.  They held a memorial on Parliament Hill on the last Sunday of the September in 1978, the year following his death, and thus began a tradition.  There is now a permanent Memorial on the Hill, behind the Peace Tower.  Beside it are twenty-eight plaques that are etched with the names of the fallen officers, including those who passed away prior to the creation of the monument.  As of this year, there are 771 names on the Memorial, including the names of the seven officers who lost their lives in the last year. Sadly there are additions to this Memorial every year.

This year, the following officers will be added to the memorial:
Constable Chelsey Robinson – June 21, 2010 (RCMP)
Constable Vu Pham
– March 8, 2010 (Ontario Provincial Police)
Constable A. James Ochakovsky
–March 2, 2010 (Peel Regional Police)
Chief Superintendent Douglas E. Coates
– January 16, 2010 (RCMP)
Sergeant Mark Gallagher
– January 12, 2010 (RCMP)
Constable I. Eric Czapnik
– December 29, 2009 (Ottawa Police)
Constable Mélanie Roy
– September 7, 2009 (Lévis Police Service)

I am honoured to be a part of the organizing committee for this service.  My colleagues and I look after the families of the officers who have lost a loved one, coordinating their attendance at the service and hosting a vigil for the families.  I know it is a small gesture to acknowledge the sacrifice, but I have seen that it helps the families left behind.  The service on Sunday is open to the public, and really is a wonderful tribute.

If you are downtown on Sunday morning, here is the schedule for the service:
9:00 a.m. – 10:00a.m. Reading of the entire Honour Roll of fallen officers at the Memorial Pavilion on Parliament Hill, West Corner.
10:00 a.m. Prelude by police choirs (steps in front of the Peace Tower).
10:20a.m. Police and Peace Officers’ Parade proceeds to Parliament Hill from Supreme Court of Canada, corner of Kent and Wellington.
11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Memorial Service on Parliament Hill.

If you cannot attend, I hope that you take a moment to remember those who have paid the ultimate price to serve their communities.  More information on the service, including the names of all on the honour roll, see www.thememorial.ca.

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Goodbye summer friends

I know that summer has drawn to a close, and it is not just the cool air, leaves falling from the trees, or the calendar that tells me.  We’ve started to say goodbye to our summer friends.

A couple of weekends ago marked the end of year baseball tournament.  It was sad because we flamed out in a hurry on Saturday morning.  The loss was not the sad part, when you win two games all year it is somewhat expected. The sad part was that we didn’t get to spend the day with the team.  I look forward to that day filled with friends, playing ball and shooting the breeze.  Some of these people I consider to be among my closest friends, even though we see each other between May and September.  I won’t see most of them until spring now.

We’ve also noticed a decline in our weekly playgroup, as some of the children have started school now that they are old enough, and some are returning to school.  The weather has also played a factor here, as we have had a few gloomy mondays in a row, keeping us away from the park.

Our neighbourhood has also gotten quieter.  The neighbours don’t tend to hang around in laneways as much, so we speak to them less, and for shorter periods of time.  With the shorter, cooler days we aren’t at the park in the evenings much, and miss out on the other children and neighbours that we would see then.  We don’t even get to the park as often these days.

So we must look forward to the new friends, and reacquaint ourselves with our winter friends, the ones we see at hockey, gymnastics, and indoor playgroups, and the new ones that we will meet at the rink, the library, and other fun places that we will explore this fall and winter.



Wordless Wednesday

Family Project



Not yet

I was going to write something light today, something silly and funny and not sad, but I can’t.  I am still sad.  Sad is ok, its normal and expected so I’ll try again tomorrow.

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Helping the little ones with grief

Woo has had a hard time coming to terms with the fact that his Grandad is no longer with us. Truth be told we all are, but Willy, his mother,  his brothers and I can at least understand the concept of death.  I wasn’t sure how Woo would react to his death Grandad’s death, but I was certain that there would be an endless supply of questions.

I think he has asked a million questions in the last week, and we have answered them all, even if it hurt to answer, if they made us cry, or if they were somewhat inappropriate, like when he asked where Grandad’s head was.  That one that still has me wondering, and occasionally laughing at, his perception of death.  It seems that his perception of death is that your head comes off when you die.

The questions continued and were asked repeatedly, enough so that it made me worry that we weren’t adequately responding.  I turned to my friends on twitter and got some great resources, and reassurance that we were.  They reminded me that death is a really hard concept for the young children to understand.  We kept the answers simple, truthful and repeated as needed.  We did ask Woo to try and save his questions for just us, just for this trip. We explained that Gramma was sad, and that she might not be able to answer his questions.  He was so good about asking us discretely, but I still question the wisdom of that decision, whether we were sending the right message.

He is definitely aware of the significance of the fact that his Grandad passed away.  He uses it as an ice-breaker when meeting new people, and when seeing friends.  I don’t have the heart to tell him that you don’t generally introduce yourself to the neighbours with “my Grandad died”, as I know he is just processing.  Sadly, this is how some of the neighbours found out about his passing.

I was somewhat shocked at the amount that Goose is aware and understands.  I figured that she would notice our upset, but that would be the extent of her awareness.  I was wrong.  When she woke on friday morning, she asked “Mommy, did Grandad die?  Is that why he is not here?”  It made me cry, knowing that she was that aware.  She is not as focussed on the death, but aware. I knew that she would sense the change, see the sadness.  I didn’t think she would understand at all.

Having the lils with us helped us in many ways.  They were a distraction, if nothing else.  They let us focus our energies on them, and not dwell on who wasn’t there.  At times they made us laugh, when we did not think that we would.  They even too care of us, dolling out hugs and kisses, and wiping away our tears.

We are home now, and I know that they are both hurting too, and there is nothing that I can do to help that, other than offer my love. It’s hard though, when I am hurting too. Woo has been so cranky these days, prone to fits of crying at the slightest upset.  I don’t always handle it well, and then I feel guilty.  Goose is showing some of the same behaviour, but it is difficult to tell if she is just acting like her brother.  Hopefully getting back to routine will help.  They had a good day today, but they are still not their happy go lucky selves. They continue to fight, to act out.  We’re fumbling along, and I just hope that we are helping them.

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Wordless Wednesday

Grandad, we will all miss you.

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