Friday, February 25, 2011

The big one.

I am a safety girl.  Safety, safety, safety.  Drives my kids nuts.  Now I am not one to want to wrap them up in bubble wrap, but I want them to think about what they can do to help prevent getting hurt.  Even when they play fight each other they know the limits of rolling around without hurting each other.  They look like a couple of bear cubs the way they cling onto each other and roll around the living room. 

But as much as you can prepare and know the dangers, sometimes it just isn't enough.

We live in an earthquake zone.  I have been in a few earthquakes, but none were very strong.  I remember vividly being at work during one where the building swayed a bit, and by the time we figured out what was going on, it was over.  I joke with my kids that one year when I was visiting New Zealand I was in the middle of another shaker, and the result was my dinner plate full of food sliding off the table.

When we were kids we had an earthquake kit in our home.  Thankfully we never had to use it.  Now that I am older and have a family to consider, there are so many things that come to mind that I never thought of before.  As far as our house goes, it is wood construction and apparently will withstand an earthquake better than other buildings.  Thankfully we are up on a hill and it is solid.  Our kids go to a school that was built in the late 1980's, and it is only one level.  We are lucky, but again, we can think we are prepared and mother nature throws a curve ball and you have to consider how to deal with the aftermath of a big one.

A few days ago there was another earthquake in Christchurch, New Zealand.  This one had devastating results with hundreds dead and many, many more injured.  I was in tears looking at the ruins online, remembering when I used to live and work there, and still not believing the damage that has been caused.  I spent many a lunch hour in Cathedral Square or wandering the shops in the city.  Many of the buildings were old and beautiful, now they are piles of brick and rubble.  Christchurch is not unlike areas of Vancouver or Victoria.  This earthquake is a huge wake up call. 

Thankfully our relatives are all ok.  Shaken, but ok.  Now the concern is "where do we go from here".  With the downtown area in rubble, how many have lost jobs?  How do they get food and gas?  What about clean water?  A number of people I know have actually left the city - areas are just not livable.

So yes, we have an earthquake kit.  But I don't think it is enough.  I need to get my butt in gear and really figure out what I need to do to make sure my family is ok when the big one hits here.  A great book that I did get awhile ago is Earthquake! Preparing for the Big One.  It is an invaluable resource for those of us living on the coast of BC.  I really need to dust it off and look at it again and try to make sure that we are prepared.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Soccer Mom? Not really....

Apparently I am listed as a “soccer mom blogger” on a soccer web page. Now that is funny as all hell, because even though I ferry the boys to and from soccer practice and games every week, this is SO not my thing. I have never liked soccer. I played for one year when I was about 13, and I hated it. Not sure why, as I love other ball sports (basketball and volleyball in particular). The only thing I could come up with is that the latter two sports are generally played indoors, with the exception of beach volleyball, which I’ll play anytime anywhere.

Right now I am sitting in the minivan, Nick and Renee are playing on their DSi’s, and Ethan is practicing his soccer. Outside. In the pouring rain. I don’t think I’d have such an issue with soccer if it was played in the spring or summer. But playing in the fall and winter in the lower mainland of BC just doesn’t cut it.  The poor kid is in so many layers that there is no possible way he could injure himself playing.  I guess coming from a safety geek that is a bonus. 

Soccer season here starts in late September. Weather is generally good until mid October, and that is when the monsoons start. October and November are generally wet wet wet, and December it is cooler, so the wet wet wet turns to ice ice ice. January rolls around, and playing conditions still suck. February the monsoons generally hit again, and keep going until March, when soccer season is over.

Vancouver is known for many things, one of them being the rainy weather. In fact, there are many ways to describe the rain here.  Meteorologists don't just say "rain", they give us different terms to explain how long and how intense the rain will be.  When talking about how long, they might say "brief", "intermittent", "occasional" or "frequent".  And believe it or not, there is a difference between "showers" and "rain".  Apparently when the forecaster says it is going to rain, it essentially means that we are going to get soaked.  Showers on the other hand, have a shorter duration than rain (who knew?).

At any rate, wet is wet, and soccer pretty much sucks when we are standing on the sidelines freezing and holding our golf sized umbrellas trying to stay dry.  The kids on the other hand love it.  The more mud and dirt, the better.  Sigh.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

NOT the conversation I thought I have to have with my kids.

In the past few years, I have had many a dreaded conversation with my kids.  In my mind the "sex" talk would be the one that I thought I would dread most, but really, it was relatively easy.  Back in early 2007, I had "THE TALK" with the boys, which stemmed from the fact that I was pregnant with Renee.  Really, it was a great time to have the chat, as it was all very matter-of-fact, and to them we could very well have been talking about kneecaps instead of the applicable boy and girl parts needed to make a baby. 

All the parenting books (at least the couple that I did actually read), said that you answer *just* enough to satisfy their curiosity.  I just didn't really bank on Nick's curiosity.  At three years old he could have given an anatomy lesson to the local high school kids and explained all the ins and outs (pardon the pun) of making a baby.  Even now he'll randomly ask about babies being made, eggs, name it, he's asked.  In fact, when he started Kindergarten last year I had to take his teacher aside and explain to her that Nick just might bring up the topic of babies at circle time.  "Oh, that's nice" she said.  I then went on to tell her that it would be the baby making that would be the discussion item and I got an "OH".  Didn't help that she was a constant reminder as she was eight months pregnant!

Overall, the sex talk has been easy.  The death talk - not so much.

Up until a year ago, the only real direct exposure to death for the boys were the three successive goldfish we managed to kill one summer.  We have had family members pass away, but the kids didn't really know them that well.  They just knew that mommy and daddy were very sad, and that someone we loved very much had died.  Then last year, one of Ethan's best friends dad had a stroke and suddenly died.  He was in his mid 30's.  That was one of the most difficult conversations to have with the kids.  They just didn't understand why he would die because he wasn't old.  He wasn't sick.  He spent a day with the boys the week before and fed them full of donuts.  The boys wondered what their friends would do without their dad.  Luckily Ethan's friend got alot of counselling through the school, and some of those sessions Ethan was involved with as well.  It was funny the way it worked - the counsellor at the school is a man, and he would have boys come in and they would all play ping pong and just talk.  I don't think the boys realized it was "counselling" per se, which in some ways was a good thing.

Just a few days ago, one of Ethan's friend's mom died.  She had been sick for awhile with cancer, but she was young.  When I told the boys of her death they both asked if I was going to die.  They asked if I am going to get cancer.  They worried about who would look after her boys (she has three).  That is alot for young kids to process, and I am willing to bet that there are many more questions they have that they just haven't asked.  Every time they hear of someone having cancer, they assume they are going to die.  That is another conversation that has been a hard one - because many family friends and relatives have died of cancer.  I have really tried to think about the positive and explain to the kids that yes, some people die of cancer, but lots of people beat it. 

I am truly thankful that I haven't had to deal with the trauma of losing a parent, a spouse or a child.  Losing friends that are your age is hard enough.  Losing very special loved ones is brutal.  But having said that, I can't even imagine what the families of my boys friends have had to (and are still) going though.