Sunday, January 24, 2010

Feeling hot hot hot

just a quick update from mexico, sorry no capital letters lo, i can't quite figure out all of the symbols on this keyboard. the flight here was good with some ups and downs of course, starting with some downs, in particular, delays due to fog. we arrived at the airport at nine thirty with plenty of time to spare before our eleven fifty flight at nine thirty am, slowly the flight was pushed back to twelve fifteen, twelve thirty, twelve fifty, one ten, etc. we ended up boarding at about two pm with three kids who were already exhausted from spending nearly the whole day in the airport. the flight to toronto went well, alex travelled like a trooper with not a single whimper or fuss, slept great and watched tv. payton had a bit of a hard time with her ears but kept it together. leaving toronto was pretty stressful as we realized at check in that we were short a bag and geoff was left behind to deal with that, we were all quite panicked as we arrived at the airport late as it was and were in a hurry to get through security. i took the kids through security and waited an xiously for geoff to arrive. they were announcing that the plane was ready to board when he finally came to the gate, and honestly i don't think i have ever been so happy to see him in my life.
the flight was a bit harder on alex, a bit of fussing here and there, but not too bad. lots of kids on that flight, and the flight attendant even went through the safety spiel in a modified version which was like dr. seuss style. getting through customs in mexico was rough, the kids were tired, it was hot, we were carrying so much stuff, long line ups, etc.
but it was worth it to arrive here and be greeted at the doors with complimentary champagne, even sparkling cider for the kids. our rooms are beautiful with amazing views. it is twenty nine every day, although it always windy here. the kids are having an amazing time. i am slightly burned but not bad, considering. i played in the ocean with the kids. we've been mini golfing and water sliding and lots more. i took alex to daycare for the first time today but was paged--they give you pagers when you sign your kids in--- shortly after to come and get him, so that didn't work out well. he is adjusting well to the vacation life, waking up at six am demading to go outside. the food is great and i think we will all gain a good ten pounds at least this week.
but i need to be going now, geoff is waiting for me outside.
will see you all soon!!!
love from quantana roo...

Sunday, January 17, 2010

I found my keys.
First of all, I should tell you, I lost them. Which might not have been so bad, if it weren't for the second time this week. The first time I lost them the office staff was in such an uproar that I didn't have the heart to tell them that I had lost them again.
I mean, for a set a missing set of keys, there was a lot of drama in the office. I might have well told them that my children had been abducted by a terrorist cell and gotten the same response.
"I can't find my keys," I mentioned to the receptionist, more annoyed than anything.
"You can't find your keys?" "Well, where are they?" "When did you have them last?" "What do they look like?" Everyone was hurling questions at me. I felt like I was being interrogated. Next thing I knew everyone was looking for my keys. Even the doctors.
"I'm sure they'll turn up," I tried to tell them. But every few minutes someone else would come into my office and ask"did you find them yet?", all stressed out like.
No, I would answer.
"Well, don't worry, we'll find them," they would say. "We're all gonna keep on looking."
And then it occurred to me that I had lent my keys to another nurse, who wasn't there that day, and was, in fact, only ever there on Thursdays. "It's Janice,!(say her name is Janice, I won't use her real name on this blog, because of libel)" I said. "She has them! I'll just get them from her on Thursday."
And I thought that would be the end of that.
But oh, no. Couldn't be that easy. The doctor calls me into his office. "I have Janice's direct line in here somewhere," he says, looking through a bunch of papers. "You should phone her right away." Now never mind that she has this big wig job where she works for the head of infectious disease or something like that.
"Well, I would certainly hate to bother her," I began.
"No. It's not bothering her. You need those keys." He gives me the number. I slink off with the number weighing heavily in my hand.
"Did you call?" the receptionist asks me about ten minutes later.
"Nah," I reply. "I figure I'll just wait a little while. See if they turn up around here."
"Well, I'll call," she replies, indignant.
She leaves a threatening message. "We know you have Randines keys and we want them back."
And then, about an hour later, I found the keys.
"Could you please tell Janice to disregard your last message," I said sheepishly. "I had the keys all along."

So then imagine my dismay when a mere few days later I find my keys missing from their usual locale once again.
This time, I tell myself, I tell no one. No one. I'll initiate a solo covert operation to retrieve my keys. Which turns out to be a bit tricky. I'm shuffling through things in the records room, trying to appear non chalant. "Hmm. I never really looked at this basket full of paper clips before," I say, as I empty the contents. "I mean, it's good to know where to find the paper clips, if your ever in a pinch, right?"
And then when I have to use the washroom (our bathrooms are kept locked), I have to try to sneak a key from someone else on the sly. Asking for keys would create talk. Speculation. Gossip. "I think Randine lost her keys again," they would say. "She had to borrow mine to go the bathroom." "Ya," the other receptionist would chime in. "I saw her rifling through a bunch of stuff at the reception desk." "How could she lose them again? I mean, once I could see. But twice??" they would ponder. "I think she drinks," they would say, based on what, I don't know, but people talk, you know. "Big time," the other receptionists would all nod in agreement. "Big time."
And then I accidentally let it slip to my boss. My boss of all people!! "Can you open the vaccine room for me?" I asked her, because she was standing near the door, keys in hand, dangling them in front me like that. "I think mine may be kind of lost," I say when she gives me a 'and where are your keys young lady? kind of look.
She looks alarmed. "You lost your keys?" "What do you mean?"
"OH, they're not lost, really." I fumbled. "They're just... not... anywhere where I can see them the moment." She looked skeptical.
"But they're somewhere," I conclude enthusiastically. "I mean, they've got to be, right?"
She still looked skeptical.

So when I saw those keys in a jumble full of autoclave supplies, let me tell you, I was pretty happy.
Anyways. Other than that, lately quite a few people that I know have had common colds. And I'm not sure if it's because I'm a nurse or what, but lately these said people have felt compelled to give me graphic and detailed descriptions of their cough, mucous, phlegm, other bodily fluids.
I can always tell that I'm in for it when it starts out "It started with..."
I brace myself, knowing that I'm going to get the blow by blow. "It started with a tickle in my throat, for about a day or two. And then it started to feel more like scratchy. And then my nose was all plugged up, and I tried taking eccinachea," they would say- to which I would think- ecchinacea?? I wouldn't bother with that herbal junk. Go for the good stuff-- Advil Cold and Sinus--.- "and I tried some tea with lemon, but it wasn't going away, although it did help I think to get things draining, because then my nose started running, which is annoying, because it's running a LOT, but at least it's draining, you know."
"Ya," I would say, disinterested like. Somehow they would take this as wild enthusiasm and continue on. And on and on. And meanwhile all I'm thinking about is "Where the hell did I put those keys?"
Anyways, long story short-- if you have a cold-- simply telling me that you have a cold is good enough. I do not need to know the precice amount or quality of snot that is coming out of your nose.
That is all for now.
Have a good day.
Thanks for reading.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Preparing for Take Off

One week til Mexico.
It's like a mantra I keep on repeating. And as D day draws nearer, I grow increasingly excited to go, but now the nervousness that was once a slight seedling is now an invasive and poisonous ivy that is creeping through me, overtaking more and more of me.
It's the flight.
Once we get to Mexico I know it will be great. But getting there is going to be interesting to say the least. Alex, at one and a half, doesn't deal well with confined spaces. He likes to climb things, to be free to explore. He hates being held onto. Whenever I pick him up he writhes his little body to get away from me, like I'm sort of a pedophile, all the while screaming "Nooo" and "DOW!!" alternately, the two words in his vocabulary that comprise approximately 80% of his conversations. I cannot imagine a three to four hour flight, plus all the pre boarding stuff as well.
And that's not even mentioning the other two kids.
So today I came to work intent on searching the web for advice and formulating a plan. Hopefully, I keyed the words "tips for travelling with infant" into Google and waited for something to pop out that hadn't occurred to me before that would magically solve everything.
With dismay, I read the disappointing results.
Tip Number 1: Buy an extra seat for your baby. Too late for that, first of all. Secondly, fine if you have the extra six hundred dollars to do that, but if you don't... well... then what??
Tip Number 2: Make sure your car seat is equipped to fly on the plane... moot point.
Tip Number 3: Book a night flight. Too late for that as well. And I'm not sure about the feasibility about that anyway. So you fly all night long, and then have to be awake all day when you arrive at your destination??
Tip Number 4: Get to the airport early. No kidding. I mean, they might as well just say "Pack a suit case."
And so on and so forth.
Useless information. Bloody useless.
The only thing that I found helpful at all was the final tip that I read, after I had almost given up. The final tip that was added, it almost seemed, as an after thought. Like the author had run out of things to say so added in a peice of advice that seems trite on the surface.
Tip Number 10: Enjoy the ride.
And there it was: the magic words that I needed to hear, or in this case, read: enjoy the ride! As it turns out, I don't need to prepare myself physically- believe me you, I plan on packing so many gold fish crackers and cheese strings that...
that... well there'll be a lot of them, suffice it to say.
I needed to prepare myself psychologically.
I mean, bottom line, this is a milestone in my children's lives, and I shouldn't approach it with trepidation. These are memories in the making, blood, sweat and tears included, although truly, I hope it doesn't come down to blood.

I flashed back to Payton and Alex's first flight, which was to Calgary. Payton was so excited at take off, she was squealing and giggling so loudly. My first instinct was to shush her, hoping that she wasn't being a bother to other passengers. I scanned the passengers furtively, awaiting their disproving glares. But then I noticed that most of them had turned to look at her, their faces not scowling but smiling. A small ripple of laughter went through the cabin as they appreciated her enthusiasm. Many of the people around me where eager to talk to me and the children. Payton made friends with a row of pretty adolescent girls seated across from us who were charmed by her giggly chatter and also her lavish use of accessories. I smiled to myself. This is it, I thought then and I think now, looking back on it. This is what makes my heart happy. Watching your children shake with laughter, seeing the delight and wonder in them, the absolute unrestrained happiness. And the pride that I felt for them at that moment. These were my kids, my beautiful kids. Payton sitting by the window, back lit by the light of the sun.
I think sometimes I underestimate them.
They are children, but they are not a burden.

Back at work, things are going well, at least reasonably so. I regret to say that Cucumber Breath has given her notice and taken up a new job elsewhere. Truthfully, the only regret I felt was when they asked me to contribute to her farewell gift. I was like "well how much is everyone else putting in?" "Five dollars," the receptionist told me.
I put in three.
Partly because it's what I happened to have on me at the time, and partly because I wasn't totally sad to see her go, or even at all sad, in light of the comments she made to me about my lunch which I took offense to (read: Some people have the nerve, July/2009 for background info.)
Anyways, as it turned it most everyone else ended up putting in ten, so I felt pretty stingy by the end of the day.
But I won't lose any sleep over it.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Turf Wars

Geoff is off work now until March 1. He is staying at home with the kids while I am at work. Initially, when I trudged off to work in the morning and left Geoff behind with the kids, I felt a certain smug satisfaction. "He'll never last," I thought, recalling every episode I've ever seen of Crash Test Mommy where the dad would be laying on the kitchen floor curled in the fetal position by noon sharp, the kids now having free reign over the house, wearing pots on their heads and peeing in the flower beds.

Imagine my surprise when I returned home from work and entered a kitchen that was redolent of lasagna cooking in the oven. Gleaming counter tops, No dishes in the sink. The kids were quietly coloring at the table. Geoff was sorting through laundry.
"That's the last of it," he announced as he entered to the kitchen where he opened a bottle of wine to serve with dinner.
Surprise, as well as something else.
What is the matter with me? I wondered, thinking- isn't this what I've always wanted? To have an attentive husband who participates in the household chores?
Yes. But only to an extent. I want him to concede, to acknowledge, in some small way, 'this is tough!' "I don't know how you do it!" But as we lock eyes over our Merlot, I know that I will never hear those words from him, that a war has been declared, of sorts.
A turf war.
So a few days later when Alex was running low on wet wipes, I decided to sabotage him and resisted my temptation to run and buy some. Imagine his stress! I thought, when he has to run to the store at the last minute with the kids in tow! It felt kind of cruel, but I've been there myself. Geoff certainly never kept the diapers and wipes stocked for me. But then, later that evening, Geoff quietly excuses himself and said he needed to go and buy wet wipes. So off he went and I felt slightly deflated.
But when he returned with Teddy's Choice wet wipes I felt a surge of hope course through me. "Good look with those," I said to Geoff, my eyes twinkling mischievously.
"Why, what do you mean?" he asked.
"Oh, nothing," I said, barely able to conceal my laughter.
"Well, they were over three dollars cheaper than the Pampers ones. And they have more in them," he countered.
There's a reason for that, I wanted to say, but kept it in. Let him find out the hard way, I thought, eager to hear him complain the next day about how flimsy and cheap they were.

But when I returned home from work the next day, he didn't mention anything.
"How did those wipes work out for you?" I prompted him.
"Oh, wipes?" he asked, distracted like. "Fine, why?"
"Well, you didn't find them, kind of flimsy at all?"
He shrugged. "A wipes a wipe," he said.
I couldn't believe it. I had to try it for myself. So the next time Alex needed a diaper change, off I went to change him, determined to prove to him that the wipes, were in fact, sub standard, that I was in fact, way more knowledgeable in this department than him, thereby trumping his stay at home abilities.
But no. Apparently Teddy's Choice has really beefed up their wet wipes since the last time I've used them. They were in fact, startlingly similar to the more expensive ones I'd been using all along.
Which should have been a good thing.
And yet.
I felt dissatisfied.
"I still prefer Pampers" I told Geoff. "They're hypo allergenic."
"Well, so are those," he replied. "See, it says so right there."
"Well just because something says something doesn't make it so," I replied, though not very convincingly. Geoff just gave me a look and went off to do something else.

Anyways, last night I heard, I believe, the first hint of a crack in his facade.
We were laying in bed and he sighed. "Alex has a new game he likes to play," he told me, his voice wary.
"Well, he likes to run into the kitchen, where I'm supposed to burst in there and find him. Then he proceeds to run away, and I'm supposed to chase him, eventually tackle him, then tickle him. Finally I release him, where he runs into kitchen and the game begins again."
I laugh. "That sound cute."
He sighs again. "Oh it is. Just not so much for three or four hours at a time."
"Well," I say. "You just need to distract him."
"He does not get tired of it," he replied forcefully, almost desperately, and for a moment I wondered if he was on the brink of a break down.
"I'm sure its just a phase," I suggest, although inwardly I am please. "Dear Log: Day fourteen into project crack dad and the subject is showing mild signs of stress."
I have noticed that Alex now will go to Geoff all the time. With a book. Or with his blanky to cuddle. Or for this or that.
"Come and see mom," I try to say to Alex.
"Daddy!" he exclaims.
Anyways, I suppose it is good for them. Good for me, even.
But we will see.
There's still a long way before March 1.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Food for thought

This will be a different sort of a post, as I'm in a different sort of a mood right now, and have been for the last few days. I'm a nurse, but I don't often post about work on here. Obviously I fear being sued for libel, which I might have mentioned on here before once of twice. Also, it is easier to post things that are more superficial in nature. I mean, not to say that, say- ordering a Slap Chop or vacuuming up popcorn is superficial, because of course, it's not, but in the scheme of things, it's not overly profound.

People complain about long wait times for surgeries and overcrowded ERs, and I know that there is a growing sense of unease out there. I hear the talk about privatization, murmurs and whispers which grow louder and more insistent all the time. This worries me a lot. I know our health care system isn't perfect, but I don't think that we need throw the baby out with the bathwater here. And I pondered the question"what would make our health care system better?"
This was an exercise in futility.

For a long time I couldn't think of anything that would really, really, put a dent in the spiraling costs of tertiary care. It's easy to think of things would temporarily help, such as recruiting more doctors, or building bigger ERs, but to really get to the root of the problem? I couldn't think of anything.
Nothing feasible, anyways.
But then I thought, well...
OK. So what's feasible? To hell with feasible. What would make our health care system better if anything was possible. That's a big if, of course, I know. But still I thought about that. And I thought: what if we could eliminate obesity? I mean, how much does obesity cost us as a society? Heart disease, joint surgeries, diabetes, high blood pressure. How many hospitalizations from these things alone?
But then, of course, how do we eliminate obesity? Where to even start? So lets say the sky's the limit. What if fruits and vegetables were free? What if anyone could go to any grocery store and purchase any quantity of fresh vegetables and the government would pay for it? Would people eat healthier? Of course they would. Poverty is linked to obesity, and it isn't hard to understand why. The cheapest items in the grocery store are easily the least nutritious: wieners, macaroni, chips, noodles, only the worst, fattiest cuts of meat. What can you buy in the grocery store for less than a dollar? I'll tell you what. Chips. Pop. Macaroni. I mean, there are food banks, true, but even the food banks are doling out high carb, low nutrient food, which is better than nothing, but is that really acceptable? And I mean, where's the dignity in going and standing in line to get your allowance of charity hand outs?

And what if gym memberships were free? What if companies gave their employees paid time off for physical activity, or brought in people to teach yoga or other fitness classes on the job site? I mean, it sounds like a long shot, right? but then when you think of it: healthy employees benefit everybody, don't they? Productivity goes up, sick time goes down. And besides, once upon a time, medicare itself seemed like a long shot.

And then I thought: what if we could eliminate poverty? Why stop at obesity? I've heard it said that money is the root of all evil, but when I think about it, really think about it, I think it's precisely the opposite that's true. Poverty is the root of all evil. It's poverty that makes people desperate, that pushes them to the very fringes of society where the only relief they can get is the kind that comes from a bottle or from a needle in their arm. Where they are forced to make impossible choices: to pay for rent, or to eat? Where violence becomes an outlet, where prostitution becomes an income, where gangs become a family.
Last week at work, I saw a man who was homeless. Not an uncommon story. But it happened that this man had a dog. A dog which he loved more than life itself. This dog was the only thing in this mans life that was good. Let's just say it like that. Anyways. He's sleeping along the river bank. It's cold outside. His dog is his warmth and is his shelter, his companion and his friend.
Truly, his only friend.

And then the SPCA comes along and takes the dog. Won't give it back. So we phone the SPCA to find out what's going on. "We won't release the animal" they say. "We're concerned for the animals welfare as the dog has no home."
I sat in my office for a moment to absorb this. I felt something close to sadness, but not sadness precisely, boiling over inside of me. It felt like a sense of loss, somehow, although what I was losing, I wasn't sure. Something I can't quantify or articulate. I felt, too, a sense of remorse and regret that I had been complicit with a society that can even allow this. It's a feeling that I get from time to time at work, and I try to just keep it down.
Sometimes I just try not to think too much.
But I'm not sure that's the right approach, either.
And I wasn't sure why I should feel this way, this sadness, this vicarious loss. I mean, I've myself been concerned about the dogs welfare from occasion to occasion, truth be told. But I thought, bottom line, where's our compassion? I mean, we won't let a dog live like this! Perhaps for good reason, even. But there are people out there, actual people. But it's like, with the people, we turn our heads, even as the temperatures plunge to below thirty something. They're homeless and we know that, but we console ourselves by thinking, perhaps even subconsciously, that somehow they deserve this fate. But let me ask you this:
Does anyone deserve that?
I mean, could you imagine? To be outside right now? In this cold? With no where to go?
I have looked into this mans eyes, I have seen him cry and I have heard him laugh. I've seen his desperation, and yet he still has pride. I feel badly for his plight, to phrase it simply and mildly. A hair dresser, he told me. He would have been. Would have if his life had stayed on the straight and narrow. He had his hopes and his dreams.
But. Now they are broken as he is disheveled.
And here I sit. In a position to help, and yet, completely helpless all the same.
Here is a link to an article in the Star Phoenix. The man, I believe, froze to death while sleeping along the river bank. That's the word on the street, anyways. I was finally able to find this article after looking through the the Star Phoenix website for about an hour. Apparently, if you are Eric Tillman and touch your babysitters belt buckle, you will be front page news for days and weeks. If you are a homeless person who freezes to death you will get a one paragraph article at the back of the paper.

Monday, January 4, 2010

The vaccuum whisperer.

Last night I went to my bedroom to find a bag of popcorn spilled all over my carpet.
I tell Geoff, "Did you realize that the kids dumped the popcorn all over our floor?'
"Oh Ya," he replies. "I just wasn't sure what to do about it."
Wasn't sure what to do about it? Like OK. I see the complexity of the problem here. Actually, no, not really. I don't. I mean, you get the vaccuum cleaner and you vaccuum it up. Right?? I mean, here's Geoff, who, using some kind of a math formula can discern the PRECISE amount of potatoes to cook for a group of thirty five adults, or insert any number (that's not such a useful skill, in the scheme of things), who can calculate any amount would come to with and without taxes without using a calculator (I don't even honestly think I could do that WITH a calculator, for Petes sake), who can draw up a map of a room and figure out a complicated seating arrangement that rotates every ninety minutes to maximize profits, and yet he can't figure out what to do about the popcorn.
I assume that it might have more to do with the fact that the World Juniors are on right now and less do do with a lack of problem solving skills.

So I drag out the vaccuum cleaner and start to vaccuum. Which creates sort of a reverse suction and starts blowing the popcorn around even worse than before, maybe, MAYBE, sucking up a kernel or two at a time, and so I persist in this endeavor, thinking that eventually it might get me somewhere.
But no. After a few minutes the room looks even worse than before. The popcorn kernels have blown out even more spread apart than before, encircling an ever widening perimeter, and seemingly have multiplied.
"Did you realize that the vaccuum cleaner doesn't work?" I asked Geoff.
"Well ya, that's why I didn't know what to do about the popcorn situation."
Deep sigh.
"Well can't it be fixed?" I asked Geoff.
He looked at it. Turned it over and looked at the bottom of it. Ran his finger along the wheels.
"I doubt it," he concluded, resolutely. "Motors probably shot."
I was like "What the frick are you, the vaccuum whisperer? I mean how could you possibly tell that the motor is shot just from looking at the bottom of it and poking at it?"

So, a few minutes later and there I was, surrounded by vaccuum cleaner parts, a fan belt and a huge pile of dust and debris from inside the vaccuum, a baby on my lap, who concluded over and over again that the vaccuum was "boke", a glass of white wine in my other hand and my one lonely tool- the Philips screw driver. Using a broom stick I removed a giant clog that was part sock/part cat hair/part EW. I had fixed the vaccuum.
Except for the small matter that as it turns out, vaccuums are quite a bit harder to put back together than they are to take apart.

So Geoff came in and helped me sort it out. Eventually we got that thing going again and the popcorn cleaned up. I felt satisfied. Until I went to crawl into bed and realized that there was juice spilled all over it.
At least I hoped it was juice. The amber color made me a little uncertain.
I put my nose to it, took a long sniff but couldn't make a conclusive decision on it. Based on the position of it, close to the head of the bed, I was pretty much confident that it WAS juice- had to be juice- because how could one pee right where the pillow should be? Although the fact remained, it sure as hell didn't smell like juice, not any juice that I ever drank anyways. Confused and perplexed, I changed the sheets without asking too many questions.
Finally I laid down, comfy at last. And really, it had to be juice, I told myself... there's no one even in my house that would pee the bed... I just want to make that clear because I'm already known on this blog as 'the girl with the dead mice in the kitchen'- which I have to stress was a one off- and I don't want to also be known as 'the girl who sleeps on pee'.
Other than that, not much is new with me. Life is great.
In closing, I would like to suggest to you, after spending much time this holiday season watching TV movies, and this is just a random peice of advice that I'm putting out, so take it or leave it: but honestly, be very leery of any movie that lists Rhea Perlman as the star.
That's all for now.
Although I will say that Matilda was actually pretty OK.
Have a good day.