Friday, August 28, 2009

Stroller Safety

Two days ago our city was witness to a tragedy. A woman walking with her two-year-old daughter in a stroller was struck by a turning truck and the little girl was killed. The most recent details to the story can be found here. I can not imagine the grief that this mother is feeling as she recovers from her injuries in hospital and according to his lawyer the truck driver is distraught and feels terrible. And of course he should.
This story compelled me to write about the importance of stroller safety when out walking. I sometimes think that far too many pedestrians are unaware of how easy it is for a driver to hit us and why we must be vigilant at all times.
Before I had my son and I took my daily commute to work, which included walking a few blocks to transit and then again a few blocks to my workplace, I was reminded time and time again that drivers are distracted and have limited visibility for pedestrians. This led me to develop a system that kept me from being hit several times and I have enhanced it even more now that I walk with a stroller.
-First of all never wear ipods or earphones of any kind while walking with a stroller. You need to be able to hear. All of your senses should be alert. Try to stay in the moment as much as possible and use your instincts to keep you and your precious cargo safe.
-At crosswalks and stop signs always make eye contact with the driver of the car. Make sure that they know that you are there, that you are crossing and make sure that they acknowledge that you have the right of way. Never assume that they see you. They often do not. Especially if the visibility is bad due to weather or low light.
-In this unfortunate case there was apparently a construction company that had blocked off the sidewalk and the woman was using the roadway. On a quiet suburb street that may be fine, but if you are in a urban environment with heavy traffic consider turning back and finding another route. It will add time but wouldn't you rather arrive at where you are going? Assess the risk but often times it is probably too high of a price to pay.
-When you are waiting for a light to change etc. keep the stroller as far back from the curb as possible. This may be challenging on crowded city streets but other pedestrians are usually mindful of parents with children.
-When crossing the road at a blind corner or curve I always back onto the street so that I am on the road first. I am taller, easier to see and if someone was coming I could just jump back on to the sidewalk.
-Know your routes. I ran into this problem recently when I went to the downtown core. I had not been to this particular area in a year or so and it was totally changed with construction everywhere. I ended up having to carry the stroller over stairways and was walking by loud jackhammers. The following week when I had to return to the same place I took a different route.
-Don't try to multitask. This links back to the first point but don't try and chat on the cellphone, drink a coffee, push the stroller and carry shopping bags. I know it's hard not to try, we've all done it but it is so risky. If you drop something in the middle of the crosswalk how will you pick it up? Keep it simple, stay safe.
-Equip you stroller with reflective devices. Our stroller brand has reflective strips all along it but those bike lights that flash or bike reflectors are a great idea. Getting the attention of drivers is key.
-Try to take your walks at lower traffic times in the day. Rush hour means tired, anxious and often angry drivers are out there and are just trying to get home. Schedule your walks for later morning or early afternoon. Not only is it more safe in terms of avoiding being hit by a car it is also less car fumes for you and your child to breathe.
Horrible accidents like these can not always be avoided. Sometimes we check all the ticks but we still get hurt. The best we can do for our kids is to be as safe as possible, but in the end we can't avoid getting out there and enjoying the world. I try and take nothing for granted as a pedestrian and I also try to be a very alert and present driver, so that I am not in danger and so that I don't put anyone else in danger either.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Welcome to 30!

This post is a love letter to my #1 guy...Dave, my husband. Today he turns 30.

An adorable baby.

Here is the handsome, green-eyed man who won my heart

And here he is today in his most recent role as Dada.

As May Lamerton Becker said:
"We grow neither better nor worse as we get old, but more like ourselves."

I think in the future we will not look back on our 30's as a time of being old (since we're not) but rather as a time full of action. Sleeplessness, yes. Working hard, absolutely. Growing our family, creating future plans, and making a solid foundation.
There is no one in the world that I would rather be on this path with. You are a fantastic partner, a loving and glorious Dad, and the love of my life.

Happy, happy 30th birthday. I can't wait for you to have your special surprise on Sunday.

love, Jen

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

A thank you

I wanted to thank Amy at Magical Musings for thinking of me for the Domestic Witch Blog Award. You are a sweetie Amy!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Art of the Month: August

Since this month is so all about the birthdays around here I thought I'd share one of the projects that I recently finished. A Happy Birthday banner. The banner was inspired by this post 40! by SouleMama. You can also find directions for a similar style banner in Amanda Blake Soule's book The Creative Family (which I just purchased with a gift card that my husband won and passed right into my hands. What a guy!) and I am loving this book. The beauty of this banner is that I made it in 4 days (really good for not being able to do more than 5 or so minutes without an interruption) and it will be a family heirloom. Our birthday photos will have this banner in them somewhere and that makes me really happy. Not to mention that I am not buying disposable decorations. Not that I won't buy balloons and such here and there but a handmade type of decor is right up my alley.
I lined the back of each letter with a matching fabric to add weight. I used a spray adhesive to adhere the letters to the fabric and cut the letters with pinking shears. The letters are held together by a heavy duty ribbon. It was satisfying to get this done before my mother-in-law's dinner last week. Sunday will be its next use. But before then we have dinners out and more prep. I'm hoping to fit one more beach day in as well. This week will probably be busy but you only turn 30 once in your life so I want Dave's day to be really special.

Friday, August 21, 2009


What a difference a day makes. Yesterday was hot and sunny, we were at the beach and I think the sun actually gave me a headache. Today we were at a park that also has a beach and well it was overcast and there was a cool was hard to believe that yesterday was so warm. I think that this type of rapid change really heralds the transition time of the seasons. Soon it will be cooler and the rains will come. We get a lot of rain here on the Northwest Pacific coast. Today I shared with my friend Sarah that I really want to encourage Kyan to get out in whatever weather may come. In doing that I of course will have to be there with him. If it's raining and it's outdoor time I just want to grab the rain gear and get out there. Yes, we may get cold but we can always come home to a warm house and get out of our wet clothing and be cozy. That is one of the best parts of the colder season. I feel like we made the best of our summer and we'll try and squeeze in a few more days of sun frolicking before socks and sweaters become the main stay again.
Here are a few photos from our last two days of fun.

...from sandcastles and

...sweaters and gray skies...

...but still lovely none-the-less...

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

As the summer slips...

This week I am aware of summer slipping away. There are more leaves on the path through the small woods near the park, the days are still warm but are not light for as long....the August family birthday stream is here as well. 5 birthdays in two weeks. I am preparing a feast for my mother-in-law's birthday tomorrow. It seems that Lughnasad begins the feasts and they don't stop until Yule is over. It is a busy time but I'm trying to hold on to a bit of the lazy feel of summer. I want to get to the beach several more times before the days cool down too much.
Here is the poem of the month. I wrote it ten years ago or so now. It must have been a moment of clarity and future foresight for the 21 year old me.

Turning Wheels

There are flashes in the darkness
dots, lines, stripes,
They guide us through life
flash, buzz, ring
You wonder why they must be there
nag, bother, annoy
They push you, lose you somewhere
today, yesterday, before
And you ask why they control
you, life, everyone
Scarring you with their progress
lines, wrinkles, sags
Taking some things away
love, youth, memories
They give sometimes too
knowledge, patience, friendship
no one can stop them
hope, machines, anger
They move on and on
undeniably, without reason, forever...

Friday, August 14, 2009

My Overflowing Cup

The organized chaos on my spare bed, a reflection of my creative juices

The last few days have been a whirlwind of creativity in my head. Images have been popping up in the last few weeks. Quilt/fabric art pieces, gifts, article ideas, I feel like I have a fireworks show going off in my brain.
The ebb and flow of creativity is just so fascinating. I didn't realize that things had been ebbing in my visual imagery department until this storm went off and I've had to manage day-to-day life while harnessing these bursts of energy. Yesterday it was all I could do to not close the blinds and sew until it was dark or my stomach protested too much. I think this is the first major spell I've had since conceiving Kyan. The first time that I wanted to work, work, work and only in the art sense of that word.
Due to the gift nature of some of the projects I can't go into tons of details....but let's see. I am making an actual "art" piece... as in not a gift, not a functional object. Towards my goal of working out a style for my work. I've had some other great ideas with imagery that can keep me working in that area for years really if I follow through with them all.
The fall is gift time since we have tons of birthdays and of course Yule will creep up super fast. I am making most of my gifts this year. Hopefully that will not drive me bonkers before December. And as far as the writing goes I've just been so inspired by the blogs I'm reading and I have some fun news to share in the coming weeks. Sorry to tease but I don't do it that often, hopefully you'll forgive me this one time.
I felt yesterday like my cup was running I couldn't get the ideas down fast enough. Today was more like I'd been hit by a truck...tired and still very motivated but needing more rest. It's like my body was exhausted by the rush and needs to relax a bit.
In an attempt to relax and be kind to my body Kyan and I did yoga from a tape today. (yes a video tape, it's from 1994!) but since the production value was so high the only thing that dates it too me is the scrunchy that Ali McGraw wears in it. (and for all of you that still wear scrunchies, you're kicking it old school, no worries) It's a great routine and I hope to do it every other day. It is not the same as being at a studio...what with three snack breaks for Ky, him jumping on my back during floor poses and turning off the VCR once or twice but it's free so it fits my current workout/be healthy criteria. Overall this week has been good. Solid, productive and inspiring. I hope you can all say the same.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Book of the Month: August

Reclaiming the Spirituality of Birth: Healing for Mothers and Babies by Benig Mauger was a book I picked up three years ago while pregnant. I was searching for pregnancy books that spoke to the spiritual side of the process I was going through. Birthing books tend to be technical, some speak to the emotions but rarely do you find one that delves into deeper soul searching areas.
Benig Mauger is a practicing psychoanalytical psychotherapist, a lecturer, a mother and a writer. She lives in Ireland and her research for this book was extensive, based on many of her own clients and her experience in years of helping women deal with birth aftermaths. Some women felt disappointment after the birth of their child even though their child was healthy. Mauger lets the reader know that you are entitled to your feelings and that it is important to work through them especially if you plan on having another child. She also talks about how your emotions effect your child in the womb, and how your own birth experience can effect your life and how you live it.
One of the messages that stayed with me from this book is that the process of labour is as important for the baby as it is for the mother. It lets the baby know that something is changing, that they are transitioning from the world they know and moving into a new realm.
I would recommend this book for anyone who needs to process some internal issues surrounding birth whether it be their own or their child's but also as a preventative measure for those who wish to prepare themselves on a soul level for the powerful change that the birth process initiates.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Feel the power

This is my first post inspired by Pagan Blog Prompts. The prompt is about the feminine monthly cycle, our menses. And since I am bleeding with the full moon at this time (I usually move between new and full moon at least once a year) it seems like a perfect area to explore.

My journey in feminism and paganism have helped me determine what my menstrual cycle means to me. I remember waiting for it to appear at 13 when most of my friends had already started. I looked each day, waiting for something to happen. There was a mystique about it, some strange feeling it gave me to anticipate becoming a part of this club. When it came I freaked out. I called my mother to the bathroom and almost passed out. It is a hilarious memory for my mother and myself. I have no idea why I reacted that way. Once I calmed down I felt the small seed of feminine power begin it's blossoming.

And in a few months I hated it. Cramps, mood swings, I wondered what all the fuss had been about. I feel like society's views of menstruating: "that time of the month" "the curse" "your period" all the terms, the negative energy, the hassle starts to weigh us down. How can we have a positive experience of our cycles when everyone puts them down and we are expected to ignore them and pretend they are not happening and be "normal"?

Through a lot of internal work I have come to a very different place now. My friend Heidi affectionately calls her period her "moon" and I have adopted that term as well. It is my moon. My connection to the cycle of the moon. As it pulls the tides, it moves the blood within me. I am full of the power of regeneration. My womb is discarding this cycle to begin again. There are few other things that make me feel as connected to the universe as menstruating.

My one issue with this time is that I have to go on doing all the everyday things that I do during the month. If I had my way this is what would happen...

I feel a tinge, a hint of intuition that today my moon begins. I remove my clothing and dress in red. A long, loose and flowing gown, a shawl and a scarf over my head. I bid my family farewell and say I will see them in 4 days. I will miss them but know that I will return refreshed and ready to undertake my tasks with renewed vigour.
I tread on a worn path through tall trees. I hear the animals of the forest but I have already begun my inner journey to a deep place within. Here I will be completely inside. I will have no obligation to speak, no needs to meet but my own. I come to a secluded spot that holds a yurt-like structure. There are many women here. Young, old, thin, fat, blond, Asian, German, blind, tanned, short...they meet every description. They are every woman who also bleeds with this cycle, or they are pregnant, or they are saying goodbye to their menses, or nursing those that need healing at this time. Everyone speaks in hushed tones, there are no demands. We just are. I will come to this hut when I need food or quiet companionship for the next 4 days. I will sleep, eat, meditate, read and bleed. I will squat, lean on trees and bathe in the river. I can rest here, recharge, renew. At night I can gaze at the full moon, feel her pull the waters inside me and be cleansed in her light. I eat strawberries, tomatoes and beets. I sing songs of the earth around a warm fire. I sway with the wind and drink the rain. My name is not spoken...I cease to be in my head.
At the end of the 4th day I begin my walk back home. I enter my house and things are neat and quiet. I speak softly to my family, we are happy to be reunited. I drink tea and prepare myself to come back to my daily world. My moon is not over but is waning. I resume my work slowly so as not to undo all the rest I've won. In 3 more days I am back to full capacity. The cycle begins again.

Since I can't have the rest I have described above I do try and be easy on myself during my moon. My patience is low, vulnerability high. I drink raspberry leaf tea, I try and walk to keep my body from getting cramps. For several years I wore special red underwear during my moon. It's a great time to wear red. I try to commune with the moon...I try to do many things. It is a special time. It is a time of great power. I hope that the pagan community can explore the woman's mysteries more in theology and writings. We need to reclaim this time as sacred. Deep in my bones I feel that it once was a sacred time for us. Men and women revered this powerful cycle and gave it a place to breathe. Changing our notions about menstruation can only empower women and men to be more authentically ourselves.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

For fire and words

I wanted to share two blogs that I think are really interesting. One I happen to be a member of and that is 19 Candles for Brighid. This blog follows the journey of ones called to tend Brighid's legendary flame. There are several online sites dedicated to joining flamekeepers together. This one has been organized by Susan of The Magical Earth fame.

"One of the traditions that has reemerged to honor both the goddess [Brighid] and saint is that of tending her flame. Legend has it that the flame was begun in Kildare, possibly on the site of an ancient temple which then became a convent. The flame was tended by 19 priestesses then eventually nuns, and it is said that on the 20th day Brigid herself tended the flame. Later, the church decided that this ritual was too Pagan and had the fire extinguished." (source)

There are still a few spots left if you are called to tend the flame from a sunset to sunset. The flame can be an actual one or one you hold within. Posts are not made frequently but they are thoughtful ones.

The second blog is one I discovered last night. For anyone who loves books and voyeurism this one is for you! Seen Reading is the brainchild of writer Julie Wilson who lives in Toronto. Four authors from across Canada observe readers out in public. They note a physical description, the book title, the page and then quote that page. And then from that passage they write a short piece. So interesting. And a great way to promote reading and books. I also feel that it is a testimonial to how nosy we all are in public. What's that lady reading? I wonder if she likes that book...or maybe I'm just happy that I'm not the only one observing/gawking at others in public.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Bread at Lughnasad

I hope that those who celebrate the first harvest festival had a wonderful day. We had a great celebration yesterday. We made bread, casting our circle and then kneading the dough with our wishes for the coming year. All present kneaded the dough as you can see here by the tiniest hands.

After the dough had risen the kids shaped a small piece of dough each and the adults ate the wheat shaped dough pictured here, along with a pentacle and a face, a dump truck (can you guess which one that is?) and an are priceless.

Besides making bread we played outside for a while, made a corn dolly for each family, and the kids coloured some harvest/garden themed images. We also had a great lunch and feasted on our bread once it had cooled. Before eating our bread we chanted this song from Circle Round:

Bless the earth that grows the grain
Bless the water that gives us rain
Bless the wind that helps seeds spread
Bless the fire that bakes our bread

I dressed our corn dolly in a loin seemed appropriate for Lugh somehow with the weather we've been having. Luckily it has cooled down a few degrees and with the fan on we all stayed relatively comfortable. Blessings of the first harvest to you and yours.