Wednesday, March 31, 2010

House on the market

If you were to walk into our house today you would think you'd come to the wrong place. It is spotlessly clean and tidy and some rooms look like they've come straight out of a home magazine. Not at all how we normally live! The house is on the market as of today. The hardest thing will be to keep it looking like this. Fingers crossed it sells quickly. At least before we go on our house hunting trip which will hopefully be at the end of April.

We've decided to go kid free. Steve and I are looking forward to a whole week alone to recharge and recuperate. Caitlin is coming over to look after the boys and I'm sure they'll have a great time.

I'm curious to see how much we miss each other. I have had little more than the odd night here or there away from them. Probably only 2 or 3 times, and I've only been away from Tadhg once overnight, and that was only because I fell asleep watching a movie at a friend's house.

We've started looking at the types of houses available in the area we're moving too. Should be a fun trip. We'll have to decide between town or country but hopefully that will be easier once we actually get there and have a look around.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010


Brendan reaches over and cuddles me, gives me puppy eyes and says, "Mummy, I'm so happy."
Me: I'm so happy that you are my little boy.
Brendan: I'm so happy that my best friend is Fireman Sam.

I thought for a second there that he was going to say "I'm so happy that you are my mummy." Not quite there yet obviously. Oh, he is just sooooo beautiful and funny and gentle and loving.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

20 years today

I can't quite believe that it was 20 years ago today that my parents died. The day is no different from any other day really but I've been thinking about this particular anniversary for a while now. I don't feel sad. At least sadness is not an overriding feeling I have- I'm generally content and when I think about how my life has turned out I feel happy and grateful. And when I think of Caitlin and Paddy I feel love, respect and pride.

I just get twinges of deep sadness when I think about the younger versions of myself, Caitlin and Paddy, and, especially now, Joseph, Isobel and Paddy's Jo too.

In general I think about mum and dad less often these days, but lately I've been thinking more about the actual day that our world fell apart. This invariably turns into the heartbreaking thought that it could happen to my own children. It almost paralyses me sometimes. Although, of course, I am not actually fearful of anything happening to us as I choose not to live with unnecessary and irrational fear of things that "could" happen.

Anyway, anniversaries just get you thinking a bit. Especially about all the people who have been so good to me and have in their own ways helped to fill the gaping hole left by the loss of my parents. Family, friends, teachers, colleagues and Steve and the boys. Of course that hole will never completely disappear.

But I've learned a lot of useful stuff along the way too. Make the most of what life throws at you. Hold those you love close and always be there for them. Life is too short to worry about things. We all have reserves of strength that we can tap into when we need to. Death and loss does not have to be the end of the world. That sort of thing. I've now also reached the point where I'm totally comfortable with my own philosophical thoughts on life and death, and even liberated by them.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Imaginary friends

I often find Brendan acting out fire and rescue scenes on his own. He'll shout "Mummy, turn the water on!" and wait for my invisible double to turn it on before putting out the fire with a belt or a stick. He'll also give orders to invisible Fireman Sam characters and tell Norman and Mandy off for being naughty. He's clearly watching too much Fireman Sam!

But his most interesting imaginary "friend" is his "baby volcano" which he cradles carefully in his hands and then puts down gently before saying "look, my baby volcano is here" which could be on his dinner plate, in a pile of laundry, in the middle of his train set... We watch it erupt and he commentates. There's both "lava" and "molten rock" as well as ash and smoke and sometimes "pizza" (I have no idea about that one).

Speaking of pizzas, at gymnastics we sometimes do a warm up/stretching exercise and when the coach asks Brendan what he would like to put on his pizza he invariably says "a puppy". They say the strangest things sometimes!

His bedtime teddies are more important to him nowadays. Sometimes he'll get up at 3am and come to our bed with his rocket pillow under an arm and three of his soft toys: Robin Bear, Jellycat and Doey. Sometimes he'll also be carrying his Fireman Sam hat too :)

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Move Update

It's all coming together.

The last step of the screening process was completed this morning when we had our medical paperwork signed and Steve received a letter from his future boss yesterday. He has lots of reading homework to do and was also warned that he needs to arrive with everything in order and ready to deploy. It didn't say when that would happen but reading between the lines it could be pretty much immediately. The better news was that their tours are only 4 months and not the 6 months we expected. I hope we at least have time to settle into the house a bit first and buy a car. When we arrive my priorities will be to find a preschool for Brendan and a babysitter or two.

So we've started to pack and sort through the house. It will likely go on the market in a week or two. Today we spent at least three hours in the garden. The boys were playing while I dug over the veggie plot and tidied up some of the beds. There is only a little snow left in the shadier parts of the garden. We also spent a blissful half an hour playing by the beaver dam out the back gate. At one point I looked around and thought I must remember this moment. The three of us were doing our own thing, each one totally content. Brendan was standing by the water throwing rock after rock into the pond and testing his wellies in the shallows, Tadhg was sitting in a clump of last year's dead grass and picking bits off and testing them for taste and texture while I was sitting near a pile of snow and using a stick to draw and dig holes and move the snow about. Alma was playing nearby and crouching and pouncing on unseen things moving about in the grass. The sky was blue and the air was still. The only thing missing was Steve. Weekends are too short.

Saturday, March 6, 2010


We took this one today in the woods out behind the house. I'll probably crop it in a bit when I get back on our own computer.
We went "exploring". It is particularly beautiful out there with the snow cover and the sunlight filtering in through the trees. Here's a few more pics of our walk, playing in the garden and treehouse and feeding the chickens.

Boys in the wood.

Brendan is in this photo, dead centre in the distance. Don't worry, there aren't any bears. :)


Step one

He loves to climb and moves quicker than something quick. Maybe a gecko.
I can see his point, it's much more interesting and convenient to be ON the table amongst the paints and colours. Makes sense. Although why he needs to stand I'll never know :)

Down on the farm

Brendan and Grace at Grace's great grandfather's farm.
A friend of ours was born and raised just outside Fredericton, just around the corner from the house we've been living in this week. Her grandfather and a few aunts and uncles have farms nearby so they came round and we all went to visit two of the farms.
The first was a big intensive chicken and dairy farm. There were a couple of hundred cows lined up for milking as well as a few calves and heavily pregnant cows. Outside we saw some beef cattle, tractors and various farm buildings. Tadhg just slept through it all but Brendan was fascinated.
Next up were the egg sorting and chicken sheds. Cheyanne's aunt gave us a wee tour. It was interesting to see the scale of mechanisation. I hadn't really thought about it before- how the eggs move from where they are laid all the way to the boxes you buy them in with hardly any human help. There's a guy in that curtained off dark room (below) who looks at each egg as a light shines through it to weed out the bad and not-so-good ones for the bin or discount boxes. And a few people do a couple of other things but it is mostly done by machine. That is what allows them to have 24 THOUSAND chickens in just two sheds, all laying one egg a day.
We went into a shed. I wasn't sure I wanted to see it but am glad I did. Put it this way... I instantly vowed never to buy another egg unless it is free range. I generally don't anyway, but occasionally if free range aren't available I'll just get whatever is there, but never again.
The hens were 4 or 5 to a cage, 4 layers high and in a shed with no natural light for their entire life, which amounted to just 12 months. After a year their eggs are weaker so they are no longer useful and the farm has to pay to have the hens taken away and disposed of. "So they're not eaten?" I asked. "No, the Chinese used to buy them for their feet but not any more."

She has taken a few for her small farm garden in the past and she says they can barely walk after twelve months crammed into those cages. She said she believed they were happy, and I'm glad of that, but you'll never convince me that intensive chicken farming is an okay thing for humans to be doing.

After that slightly harrowing experience, we went to visit Cheyanne's aunt's much smaller hobby farm. Chalk and cheese. This was much better. She has four goats, a horse, 8 cows, a rabbit and some hens. Here's Brendan peeking inside a tractor.Brendan announced at lunch today that "chickens give us eggs and cows give us milk". That's the most important thing- that we are aware of where our food comes from. That will lead on to being mindful of the choices we make about how we obtain our food.

The cat gives birth

We were hoping that our friends' pregnant cat would have her kittens while we were house sitting so when it started yesterday morning we were pretty excited. I was just about to feed all the animals when Steve said "I think the pregnant cat is having contractions, she's making funny noises". So I put the food down thinking she might like some for strength and wondering how long a cat's labour usually lasts. So she came running and joined the others eating from their single big bowl. Next thing we know she makes a yelping noise and we look over to see half a kitten hanging out of her! We stopped eating our breakfast and watched as she walked around a bit before it plopped out onto the floor. She licked it a couple of times then walked around with another one hanging right out but still in it's amniotic sac. When that one plopped out she promptly ate both the placentas and licked them clean. A few minutes later a third came out but was obviously dead. She licked it a couple of times and then went back to the two live ones so I picked up the dead one and put it outside.
Steve meanwhile was cutting down a box and finding some paper to line it with, I was taking photos and Brendan and Tadhg were still eating their breakfast, although Brendan did come over to look a few times.
The mother seemed to like the box but left the two kittens on the cold floor so I lifted them into the box and we carried them through next to the fire. About 15 minutes later she had a fourth in the box and about 30 minutes after that she carried them one by one up the stairs and hid them under a bed. I was in awe at how matter of fact the whole thing was. I thought next time I'm giving birth I'm going to pretend I'm a cat and get it done with a minimum of fuss (minus the walking around with the baby dangling bit).
We then left them alone for a few hours and when I went up to check that all three were still alive I found not three but four strong, happy little kittens curled up with their purring mother. The thing is, I know a few women who've had birth experiences not unlike that. My last was pretty good but THAT is what I'm hoping for next time.

We feel really privileged to have been able to witness that.

House sitting holiday

We're house sitting for some friends this week while they are in Boston for a holiday. They have a lovely house about half an hour from Fredericton. They also have three chickens, three cats and a dog. Here's Brendan walking Nougat.

Steve flew over and circled the house the other day. You can see the house and the helicopter in the top left corner of the photo above. And here's Tadhg playing by the fire. It has been lovely to have a real fire every day this week. We've spent a lot of time playing or reading on this floor and can't wait till we have our own real fire one day.
This was the house where we came for a party when Tadhg was about 3 weeks old. Wow, how quickly a year has gone!!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

A favourite

Brendan's favourites-
doing puzzles
singing and sticky kids music
rhyming and speaking nonsense (he'll change the ends of nursery rhymes-
Georgie Porgie pudding and bath
kissed the girls and made them bath
when the boys came out to bath
Georgie Porgie ran a bath
(or rain, fly, cup, food etc)
cuddles when waking up
stories made up by daddy about animals and travel
telling his own stories
planes and airports


copying his brother
making loud noises with pots and pans and anything else he can find
bath time
throwing things (like a baseball player)
flushing the toilet and sticking his hands in to swish the water around

Can't think of anything else right now. Must help Steve with a puzzle :)

Midwifery will arrive... eventually.

A little bit of news on midwifery implementation in New Brunswick.
Last week a few women and kids went to the provincial legislature to hear the opposition health critic put a couple of questions to the Health Minister. Lindsey and I had met with the health critic back in October and we had planned to have the midwifery issue brought up in November, during a week which turned out to be when the provincial government announced their plan to sell New Brunswick's electricity company to Quebec. This then became the biggest story of the year/decade/ however long- it is still ongoing and still the biggest news story a few months later- so needless to say the midwifery issue was not going to get the attention we would have wanted. So fast forward to last week and you find 7 women and 6 small children and babies sitting in the legislature during question time.
To cut a long story short, as soon as we walked out of the legislature the press were all over us. Almost everyone spoke to one journalist or another and two Birth Matters members were particularly good in front of TV cameras and microphones. I am shy of microphones and cameras, always have been, but I did talk to a newspaper reporter and the following day a story in one of our local daily papers had a photo of me, Brendan and Tadhg and an article. Not at all a well written article but it got the general gist across.
To simplify a very complicated situation, the government is making slow progress towards implementing midwifery. The Midwifery Council has been formed (though despite being told that one of our nominees would be appointed, none were) and the Health Minister exaggerated (lied) about the progress. There's too much to write about here. I just wanted to record where we are right now and how I'm involved.
Hopefully Birth Matters will stay involved and will be able to influence the implementation if need be. We want to make sure that the midwifery model of care is fully respected and that they don't make some of the mistakes that other provinces have made.

Round about the same time, Caitlin, Paddy, Jo and Cash the dog were in the paper in Glasgow. They were in a small protest in a wee lane in Glasgow's West End that is threatened by a big development plan for blocks of flats. They were pictured front and centre with placards saying "leave our lane alane".

Oh, here, I've found the photos.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010


Becky will be missed by everyone and our thoughts and prayers are all with Martin, Joe and Izzy at the moment. Becky was always so open and approachable and loving and understanding. She was always especially gentle and caring towards Caitlin, Paddy and I.
Very few 'treasures' in my box of "most important things" that I started when I was 12 came from someone other than my mum, dad, granny, grandad, sister or brother. But there are a couple of special things given to me by Becky, and they've always retained the meaning she intended them to symbolise, even if I can no longer remember her exact words about love and courage and keeping a person's spirit and strength inside you.
I'm still not sure whether or not I'm going to be with everyone for the funeral next week but I hope so.