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Sunday, February 21, 2010

Bobsledding underdogs

This picture was taken in the airport in Jamaica where the Jamaican bobsled now resides. What fun.

Ever since our trip to Jamaica four years ago, we have been die-hard fans of the Jamaican bobsledding team. There is something to be said for the ultimate of underdogs. Poverty and tropical climes make for huge barriers to surmount, and yet they do. How great is that. As soon as we got home from that trip we rented Cool Runnings and have cheered on all Jamaican winter Olympians ever since.

It just goes to shore, with determination and guts you can do anything. This year, sadly, they did not qualify but one skier did. Go Jamaica! One Love!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Cool stuff

Here are 5 seriously cool things Anneke gets to do....

1. Go see the Women's Bronze medal game of the 2010 Olympics.
2. Watch the Swedish Mens hockey team practice today.
3. Meet the entire Canadian Women's hockey team at the airport and get their autographs.
4. Appear in a 'We Believe' Olympics commercial aired on CTV.
5. Dream about being in the Olympics one day.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010


Ghandi once said “In a gentle way you can shake the world.”
I believe this to be true

I am a veteran activist and protester – mostly from my student union days. I have protested Cruise missile testing, tuition increases, welfare cuts, homelessness and lack of affordable housing, the Gulf War(s), George Bush Sr/Jr., the Oka crisis, and the destruction of our old growth forests. Well, those are the ones I can remember. Have I made a difference in the world? I like to think so. At least I had my voice heard, and tried to affect change instead of just complaining about things. Some of my local activism in Regent Park as a community organizer, has directly improved the lives of those living there. These are some of the moments of my life I am most proud of.

So when my kids lined the street this week with their entire school to cheer on the Olympic flame, I had extremely mixed emotions when they came home to report that protesters had ruined it. My kids seemed to spit nails as they uttered the word “protesters”. The anti-Olympic protesters blocked the street they had been waiting on and the flame had to be re-routed. Their disappointment was palpable. Molly had even made a ‘Go Canada” sign just for the event.

While I don’t support destructive methods like the ones downtown last week where property was damaged I also don’t universally condemn it either. There is a level of anger and frustration demonstrated there, that simply cannot be ignored. Violent vs. non-violent action is another more complicated debate.

So here I am with two kids who view protesters as fun-killers who hate the Olympics. This, I observed, was an opportunity to talk issues with my kids. We had a long talk about social justice, housing, political will (or lack thereof)and the need to gently shake the world. At the end of the conversation they no longer hated the protesters – they just wish they had not blocked the road. Phew.

Anneke told me this week her whole class has been working on letters to the editor about their experience. S/he said s/he planned to write about her disappointment, but also write about how important it is to build homes for homeless people, and help poor people. I realized in that moment one of the best ways to ‘shake the world’ is to raise kind, compassionate children.

This is my current political action.

Sunday, February 14, 2010


Last night A. came along with me to visit a baby, whose birth I attended a few days ago. The baby was 3 days old. I don't normally bring my kids along, but A and M were driving each other crazy, so it was an effort at peacekeeping. Before we entered the house A. asked if s/he could hold the baby.
"We can ask." I said.
"Will you ask?"
From the moment we walked in the door, I handed the baby (with parents permission, of course) to Anneke. After I examined the baby, she sat quietly on the couch holding the baby. "I love babies," s/he honestly told the new parents.
"You must see a lot of babies," they responded.
"Yup, but I like it" s/he replied

I was, in this moment, struck with a pang of deep sadness. You see, if A. goes from hormone blockers to testosterone - something s/he has been talking more about doing - s/he gives up her reproductive capability. S/he would not be able to become pregnant or birth a child. Of course, I logically know that there are other ways s/he can become a parent, and I know s/he will be a wonderful one. It is certainly not the end of the world. S/he also, unfortunately, knows far too much about the birth process to volunteer for it in any way. The consequence of being the child of a midwife.

There is something, however, very powerful and transforming about giving birth. Prior to having A. in 1997, I had a relationship with my body that moved from deep ambivalence to outright hatred. Fat, scars and stretchmarks. That's pretty much all I could see. Then I gave birth to a 9lb 8 oz baby at home - sans drugs. It was the hardest thing I have ever done. My body became an instrument that performed perfectly. In that moment, I came to love my body, and the amazing things it could do - grow a baby, birth, breastfeed....

I certainly would never had imagined myself deciding on my childbearing plans at age 13. Even at age 28, it was quite a stretch. I can barely keep plants alive. It's fair to say, saying good-bye to A's reproductive abilities will be one of our biggest decisions - one we will not make lightly.

Anneke has spontaneously said, on more than one occasion. "I think my girlfriend will have kids. I'd like to be the dad."
"I think you'd make an awesome dad." I always reply.
"I think so too."

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Let the Games Begin

It's fair to say, I have very mixed feeling about the Olympic Games being held in Vancouver, where I live. That said, I cannot let those feelings dampen my awe and enthusiasm for amateur sport at its finest. To have two children that can dream about playing in the Olympics is a magical thing. That dream, and these games, will inspire them for years to come. As I write this A. is glued to Women's hockey - Canada vs. Slovakia.

When I ask her if she fantasized about being on the Olympic hockey team, s/he says yes. When I asked if s/he imagines herself on the mens team or the womens, s/he says - I don't know yet.
Fair enough.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010


They really do love each other. They can't sleep in different rooms. Can't go to bed at different times. And always walk to and from school together. Despite the 4.5 year age difference, they love each other very much. As an only child it warms my heart. I always wanted a sibling.

Now they're both bugging me for a brother....I really don't think so.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Hangin' with Haley

Of all the athletes to admire and aspire to be like, Haley Wickenheiser is in a class with few others. Today A & M and I headed out to the Vancouver International Airport to follow a lead that the 2010 Women's Olympic Hockey team was arriving. After a long wait, and much anticipation, it was worth the wait. The entire women's Olympic team arrived and signed a stick of A's and a smaller stick of M's.

At A's recent 13th birthday her goalie coach also gave her a stick with almost the entire 1998 Olympic Women's hockey teams' signatures. S/he was touched beyond words. It meant so much to her that another female athlete whom she admires would share such a special treasure with her. One of the only missing autographs was Haley Wickenheiser.

Today we got her to sign both sticks and pose with us for a photo!

For those who don't know who she is, I have included a brief biography. She, more than any other female athlete has broken down gender barriers in the arena of amateur and professional sport. She has proven, that your gender, simply does not matter when you have the love of the sport and the skill. What a woman to admire. I am so glad my kids got to meet her.

Three-time Olympic medalist, Hayley Wickenheiser is regarded as one of the best female hockey players in the world with an uncompromised determination and dedication to her sport. However, it’s not just her lethal slapshot that is respected by her teammates, fans and peers; Hayley is also an award winner, community leader, mentor, history-maker and an accomplished businesswoman.

It all started at age 15 in Shaunavon, Saskatchewan when Hayley was chosen for the Canadian Women’s National Team. She has since led the squad to six gold and one silver medals at the Women’s World Hockey Championships. As an Olympian, she earned a silver medal at the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan and two gold medals at the Winter Olympics in 2002 and 2006. Accompanying all thathardware, Hayley was also named the tournaments' most valuable player in both victorious Olympic runs as well as in numerous Esso Women’s Hockey Championships.

Hayley Wickenheiser has proven to be an elite athlete time and time again. Sports Illustrated recently named her number 20 of the Top 25 Toughest Athletes in the World.(Read Article) She is also a two-time finalist for the Women’s Sports Foundation Team Athlete of The Year. In January 2003, Hayley made hockey history when she became the first female hockey player to notch a point in a men’s professional game with the Kirkkonummen Salamat of the Finnish second division. More recently, Wickenheiser played in Eskilstuna, Sweden with a men’s professional division-one hockey team for the 08-09 season.

Along with hockey, Wickenheiser has mastered a number of sports. An elite softball player, she participated in the 2000 Summer Olympics as a member of Team Canada and most recently worked as a Softball Analyst with CBC’s coverage of the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics.

As you will hopefully recognize A and M are picture above to the left of Haley. She seemed happy to greet her fans, and the entire team took time to sign A's stick and offer words of support. What a great day!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Part two

Do you ever have those out of body experiences, where you are looking down at yourself in a crap situation, and think, wow that really sucks. I wonder what they are going to do? What I really want to do is melt into a puddle and cry…what I must to is figure out a plan.

Option One ….tell the team and the coach that their star goalie does not have her equipment, and we forfeit the game. Not an appealing option.

Option two…drive back to Vancouver to get her stuff. It is at this moment that I realize that her goalie bag is on its way to Maple Ridge with M. I phone Ben and ask him to call the dad giving her a ride and break the news to M. that she will not be able to play her game either. So in addition to being physically impossible, the missing hockey bag is on its way to Maple Ridge….also a physical impossibility.

Option three… We drive to Canadian Tire and try to piece together equipment so s/he can play.

While I voice these options aloud, A keeps repeating the same three sentences…ones she had heard from me over a thousand times. “Breathe. Don’t worry. It will be ok….mummy, just breath.”

“Get the GPS. We’re going to Canadian Tire. What exactly do you need?.”
“Skates and pants I think. The rest I can get from M’s bag.”
“Let’s go.”

To my credit. I work well under pressure. Another skill developed from years of being a midwife and dealing with crazy, time sensitive, situations. We made it to and from Canadian Tire with the requisite pieces of equipment in time to dress for the game and get on the ice. Luckily, also we were playing the only team in the lower mainland with a ‘back-up’ goalie. She loaned A a jersey, blocker and glove.

With the wrong equipment, its fair to say, s/he did not play her best game….but at that point it didn’t matter. S/he was on the ice, in full gear. As I explained our, almost comical situation to the other parents and coaches, I felt like an idiot. How could I screw up something so simple, as getting the right kids’ bag? How did these other parents do it? They looked way more together than I felt, even on my good days. How did they get here looking so together, with their mugs of coffee, and their happy, fed, fully clothed kids?

At the end of the game A’s coach (a lovely guy and awesome coach) asked to speak to us. This is rarely good. He addressed his comments to A, and reminded her that it was her responsibility to organize her equipment and not rely on her mom and dad. In my fragile state I felt chastised and embarrassed. As he gently and appropriately spoke to A, and ended our conversation I proceeded to burst into tears. I retreated to the car, where I had the biggest cry I’ve had in years. It took me awhile to even be able to drive.

As we drove home, Anneke said one thing…..”I love you so much mom.”
“Thanks sweetie, I love you too.” Maybe it wasn’t such an awful day after all.

Bad day as a hockey mom.... Part 1

Life, as the mom of two kids, is by definition a challenge. Never mind their gender identity. The lives of kids today is busy and complex. This week we had a particularly hard day…or at least I did.

To start with, I had to figure out how I was going to get A. to a hockey game she was playing in Abbottsford (about an hour drive) while simultaneously getting M. to her game in Maple Ridge (about a 40 minute drive) in rush hour traffic. A last minute offer to drive M. came through to my relief, and I started my busy day.

8 am – visited a baby I helped deliver (sans coffee) then rushed to my clinic in Vancouver to see clients. 11 am, rushed to Maple Ridge, where I am also working for an important meeting. My plan was to eat along the way, but soon realized I had forgotten my wallet at my Vancouver office. I scraped together enough change for a coffee at Tim Horton’s, thank the goddesses, and rushed to my meeting. From there I rushed to Vancouver to visit a family planning a homebirth, in downtown Vancouver, during the Olympics. (Madness for all of us involved.) Now 3pm, I still have not eaten and have a stress headache. From here I navigated my way to my office to get my purse, then home to drop off M’s hockey bag.

To feed both kids I decided to pick up sushi, the only healthy portable option I could think of. When I got home I asked M to go to the car to get her hockey bag, but along the way she tripped, hurt her knee and came home crying and bleeding. Rescue remedy, Band-aid, and serious TLC administered, I sent her dad to get her bag, while I organized the food, and left to pick up A. at her basketball game.

As many of you know, Ben (their dad) does not drive…a blessing for us all…but today I am bitter about his fact, as he waves goodbye and sits down with his sushi and the TV remote.

Still no time for food, I drive to the school gym pick up A. and get on the highway to go to Abbottsford. As I look over to my sweat covered child, I am filled with pride and wonder. How on earth did I give birth to an athletic kid? S/he loves sports of every kind, and is good at everything s/he tries…even golf! Not only is s/he athletic, but deeply confident in her abilities. The very opposite of me…thank goodness.

As I drive I realize how tired I am, having had bad sleeps all week. Sleep is for the weak, I try to convince myself. Midwives as a group often take a perverse amount of pride in their ability to function normally despite insane levels of sleep deprivation. Sadly, I am one such midwife.

We arrive at the Abbottsford arena in great time, and I breathe a sigh of relief… I can get a coffee, eat, and relax before the game. We open to trunk of the car, remove A’s goalie pads, and look squarely at M’s hockey bag…….not Anneke’s.

My exact words were….”shit, shit, fuck me…this is my fault. Oh my God…what are we going to do?”