Killarney-Shagnappi Walk Photo Essay

Date: May 29th, 2014

Walk Distance: 5 km

I had a ladies meet-up scheduled last night but London also had soccer which Mike was taking her to using the car.  At first I panicked thinking how was I going to get to my event. Mike suggested using a Car2Go but then I looked up the location and realized I could easily walk there and back.  It helps that it doesn’t get pitch black at night until well after 10.00 pm.

I couldn’t help but notice there are a lot of old cars still being operated in Calgary, and I had to take a picture of a couple I saw.

Some people have Gnomes on their front lawn, others old cars.

Some people have Gnomes on their front lawn, others old cars.

Some people have Gnomes on their front lawn, others old cars.

Some people have Gnomes on their front lawn, others old cars.

Another beautiful old century home

Another beautiful old century home

Love the lime green door

Love the lime green door

Another oldie

Another oldie

Middle of the city, love the mix of century homes,  50's and new modern homes in the same area

Middle of the city, love the mix of century homes, 50’s and new modern homes in the same area

There were three houses side by side that all had a rock like this in their front with a religious reference. Weird.

There were three houses side by side that all had a rock like this in their front with a religious reference. Weird.

Love the blue colour and the house in general, a nice oldie.

Love the blue colour and the house in general, a nice oldie.

Couldn't escape the sun but walking in this neighborhood I felt like I was transported back a couple of decades

Couldn’t escape the sun but walking in this neighborhood I felt like I was transported back a couple of decades

Quite a few old Volkswagon campers in Calgary, love the orange colour.

Quite a few old Volkswagon campers in Calgary, love the orange colour.

 

 

 

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Scarboro – Killarney Photo Run Essay

Date: May 13th, 2014

Distance: 9 km

I have decided it might be a neat experience to capture different images on my run as I become familiar with the streets of Calgary. The city is still going through a huge change as post-war time bungalows are being torn down in favour of large, modern homes.  I am drawn to the smaller cottage style homes and feel that my 1200 square foot bungalow is a mansion in comparison. It also fascinates me that large families probably occupied these small homes and rather successfully and now we are drawn to build big homes for smaller families.  At a price – financially and emotionally.

Steps leading up to Sunalta neighborhood

Steps leading up to Sunalta neighborhood

House in Sunalta, Calgary (Single home)

House in Sunalta, Calgary (Single home)

House in Sunalta, Calgary (Single home)

House in Sunalta, Calgary (Single home)

House in Killarney, Calgary (Single home)

House in Killarney, Calgary (Single home)

House in Killarney, Calgary (Single home)

House in Killarney, Calgary (Single home)

House in Killarney, Calgary (Single home)

House in Killarney, Calgary (Single home)

House in Killarney, Calgary (Semi-detached home) Estimated value: $1 million +  each

House in Killarney, Calgary (Semi-detached home)
Estimated value: $1 million + each

House in Killarney, Calgary (Single home)

House in Killarney, Calgary (Single home)

2014 Sport Chek Mother’s Day Run

It has been ages since I have last ran a race and Sunday morning I got to break the dry spell at the Sport Chek Mother’s Day Run.  My husband actually was supposed to run the 10k event but due to getting sick earlier and not being able to put the training in I had to step in and save the day, for you couldn’t leave a bib without a runner. Most runners would understand this 🙂

I know my husband will tell you that I sandbagged my target expectations but I honestly didn’t know what to expect. Although I did my best to run all through the winter it was not as stellar as it could have been because of the crazy winter weather we experienced and my pacing is slower than previous years due to a number of factors.  So I told my husband to I was targeting 58 to 60 minutes. Meanwhile when I was warming up by myself I thought long and hard on what might be realistic and I though let’s test the waters, so I set my virtual partner with a goal of 55 minutes.  This number put a little pit in my stomach wondering whether I was crazy or not.  I didn’t realize how hilly the run was going to be when I set this number. In the end ignorance is bliss.

There were approximately 9,000 runners/walkers in both the 5k and 10k event and I goofed before the race even started.  I spoke to another runner who said the 5k’ group goes before the 10k so I didn’t get into the corral but with 2 minutes to go I thought something was not right and tried to make my way to the front.  I made the right decision and there were going to be some 10k runners pissed they didn’t line up.  I felt a little panicked because I wasn’t as far front as I wanted to be and there were a couple of strollers around me and others who were just out for a run Sunday run.  Well 1 minute to go and then off we went.

As expected it took me about 1km to weave my way through the crowd to find a comfortable place.  I am always surprised at how stupid people some people are when going at the front of a large corral when they know they are real slow.  It has nothing to do with faster people being better than slower people but rather it comes down to safety and creating the right flow all along so it is a positive experience for everyone.

Once I found my space and everyone else was more or less at the same pace I tried to find that flow where I was focusing on one kilometer at a time.  I have employed different mind tricks or strategies over the years and this year I dedicated each kilometer to a different person I love. It is a little corny but I have to say it helps.

As you can see this was not a flat course and if I wasn’t training for a moderate leg in the Banff to Jasper relay I might have been pissed at the elevation changes but instead I chalked this up to great practice. I must say I was also impressed at how few people I saw walking up the inclines.  The people around me were strong and even more so motivating to keep up with them.

elevation

In the end my pacing was pretty consistent and the anomalies were consistent.

Laps: (1) 5:25 (trying to weave through the crowd), (2) 5:18 , (3) 5:17, (4) 5:19, (5) 5:21 , (6) 5:29,  (7) 5:36 (the hill) , (8) 5:08 (downhill),  (9) 5:30 (fiddling with the right music I wanted for the last kilometer – doh!),   (10) 5:16

Mike and the girls were watching me in the final stretch towards the finish line and as I saw them he pointed to London. So I ran over to them as London was ready to run the final 100 meters in with me. We have never done that before but it was fitting for this race.

Final Time: 54: 31 Yahoo!  And the first word that came out of Mike’s mouth was ‘Sand Bagger.’

I was definitely pleased with this time but couldn’t help but think to myself. I wonder what I could have done if I was 10-15 pounds lighter. If only I could win that battle.

 

 

 

 

What I want for my daughter

London turned 7 years old back on March 10th and I wanted to write a post about the dreams and aspirations I had for and what I was hoping to accomplish as a parent. Although I had a lot of great ideas and thoughts turning in my head, I never could get them on paper.  I wanted to get it perfect but in doing so I came up with nothing, when I should have realized that when it comes to showing your love imperfection would have been better.

Lesson learned.

I started to read The Optimistic Child: A Proven Program to Safeguard Children Against Depression and Build Lifelong Resilience by Dr.Martin Selgiman and he addresses how we are experiencing an epidemic of pessimism and hence depression, even in our children, which needs to be addressed. In doing so he reminds us of ultimately what we want for our children and that is ultimately a life of success, physical and mental – overall well-being.  I have slightly modified his words to address what I am aspiring for my daughter.

  • I want more for my daughter than simply a healthy body.
  • I want my child to have a life filled with friendship and love and high deeds.
  • I want her to be eager to learn and be willing to confront challenges.
  • I want my daughter to be grateful for what she receives from us, but to be proud of her own accomplishments.
  • I want her to grow up with confidence in the future, a love of adventure, a sense of justice, and courage enough to act on that sense of justice.
  • I want her to be resilient in the face of setbacks and failures that growing up always brings.
  • And when the time comes, if she wants children I want her to be a good parent.
  • Our fondest hope is that the quality of her life will be better than our own, and our inmost prayer is that she will have all of our strengths and few of our weaknesses.

My ultimate goal is to parent London in whatever way is need to promote resilience and a lifetime of optimism and well-being, where she can truly overcome and setbacks or challenges.

Things change when you are 7, apparently!

 

IMG_7794-001Although London is very proficient at Grade 1 math, I started to do some math exercises with her back in the fall using the IXL online program. My intention was not to advance her unnecessarily but rather to stretch her brain a little to off-set the time she wants to spend on the ipad.  We got into a great routine up until Christmas and then totally got off track without doing any exercises from the holiday season to now.  I don’t know how she got off so lucky, lol.

So this Saturday, I mentioned to London that I would like her to do a 1/2 hour of math. This was her response, with one hand on her hip:

First, she looked at me in horror, as if I just asked her to clean the toilet.

Then she said, “When I was 6 I loved math. Things have changed, I am 7 now and don’t love it. So…” and then silence.

The “So” and then silence meant that it is not her problem but mine and implied we had to move on now that she 7.

Of course I looked at her in disbelief with the attitude demonstrated but had to laugh at the same time.

I inquired cautiously “so, now that you are 7 you don’t believe you need to do any more math?”

She said “right, things have changed now.”

I told her that although things might have changed when she is 7, there was still lots to learn and I still wanted her to do some math exercises.

She stomped off.

I needed time to figure out how I was going to still coax her to do these math exercises without making her hate them, so I backed off temporarily.

Later in the day, she proudly went to her father to show how she created her own math problems – 4 pages worth. Not only did she create all the questions on the sheets but she answered them all.  Although her questions weren’t exactly the ones I wanted her to do, I was impressed by her initiative and also the creativity she showed in some of her questions.  Phew, we are still moving forward in the right direction.

Beef #1 (of many) with being a Special Needs Parent

Tonight I attended a board meeting for a severely disabled special needs summer camp program in Calgary that Reilly is going to go to this year for 5 weeks.  One of the issues that came up was Transportation. The summer camp pays for the transportation costs associated with those campers that take Access Calgarycity transit.  According to their web-site, Access Calgary is responsible for managing the eligibility, booking, scheduling and dispatching shared-ride, door-to-door public transportation services for Calgarians with disabilities.  The cost is nominal to the camp and a non-issue. What is the issue is apparently the service.  

One parent told of a horror story from last summer, where their non-verbal, highly disabled child was on the bus for over 4 hours when a direct drive would have taken 20 minutes.  Apparently it was a nightmare trying to track down where their child was and although no one else’s child experienced a crazy ride like that one, what was still echoed around the room was a complete dissatisfaction with the service. They said their kids were often subjected to be on milk-runs with multiple pick-ups, with an average commute of over an hour each way, not to mention pick-up delays, and many drivers did not seem to possess any special needs sensitivity skills let alone training.   For many parents this is the only transportation option available for them.

After hearing these stories, there is no question I will be driving Reilly to and from the camp despite the not so ideal  location of it and the timing of the camp (camp runs from 9.00 am to 2.30 pm).

Some people might be saying how is this different from what you would do with a typical child, oh let me count the ways….

1)  As indicated the special needs camp runs from 9.00 am to 2.30 pm.  Camps for typical children or ones that can accommodate milder disabilities usually run from 9.00 am to 4.00 pm and most have a before and after camp child care option.  The shorter special needs camp hours still create a child care gap for parents  – making it difficult for both parents to work full-time jobs.

2) Camps for typical children are scattered all across the city and I can easily slot my typical child into one of many within a 10 minute drive radius. It doesn’t hurt that with typical children you can easily set up car pooling arrangements with other parents.  Whereas, this special needs camp for severe disabilities is the ONLY one in the city.

3) A typical child usually goes to a camp type environment because both parents work.  When there is a stay-at-home parent, sometimes a typical child will go for a couple of weeks as an enrichment opportunity but not for the entire summer simply because of the cost factor.   In most cases the other weeks the child is at home, where the parent or caregiver is scheduling different types of activities – bike rides, swimming, going to the park, play dates, etc.  When you have a severely disabled child, summer camp is not a luxury item but often a necessity for not only the parent but also the child’s overall well being for they can’t typically engage in the same summer activities most other children can freely enjoy with little effort.

4) How many parents would allow their typical 7, 8, or even 9 year old take city transit to get to their summer camp destination? Let me guess, very few if any? Plus, any typical children of this age would be able to communicate exactly where they needed to go.  So why would anyone think it is acceptable to subject our most vulnerable population to taking public transit when these workers are not specially trained to work with this segment of the population and/or the driving times be kept to minimal stops?

At the end of the day, I am thrilled to have found a camp that suggests it is going to be a good fit for Reilly. One that will engage and stimulate her in ways that I or any one-on-one caregiver could ever accomplish at home over an 8 week period.  I truly am grateful.

As I drove home though, I was also livid, frustrated and disappointed that I am part of a society that has created such an unfair burden on families like mine.