The BC Teachers’ Labour Dispute: Why I’m Accepting The Money

I’m not a teacher, and I’m not a politician. But I am a parent, and therefore am affected by the ongoing labour dispute that is happening in BC. Unlike many of the media outlets who are calling this a “BC Teachers’ Strike”, I think it’s important to acknowledge the fact that there are two sides to this dispute, that this is a feud between the teachers union and the government of BC. I think it is also important to acknowledge that it affects more than just the two sides involved, it also affects the students, parents, and taxpayers of our province.

Until now I’ve been quiet about the dispute. I’ve watched as my Facebook feed has been flooded with backlash against teachers, against the government, and against our Premier. I’ve refrained from commenting on posts about who should receive the $40-a-day ‘childcare support’ that will be provided to families during the labour disruption, and I’ve bitten my tongue as people have raged about the government’s attempt to drag out the dispute in order to make the teachers look like the bad guys.

Tomorrow is supposed to be my daughter’s first day of Grade 2. And as I sit back and read the comments, articles, discussions, and rants from teachers, government officials, union representatives, school board administration staff, parents, friends and strangers, I’m left with some thoughts.

Accepting the $40-a-day childcare allowance from the government for my school-aged child does not make me an idiot, nor should I be excluded from receiving it based on my employment status.

I’ve seen some comments on social media about who should receive the $40-a-day childcare allowance during the school closures, who think that work-from-home and stay-at-home moms and dads should not receive this benefit because they will not require childcare services during the delays. These people are missing the point (and ignorant if they don’t realize that everyone with children, regardless of employment status will need additional support).

I am a taxpaying home owner. And like everyone else in BC who pays property taxes, I am paying school taxes that are used to pay for public education in BC. With schools not in session, doesn’t it make sense for everyone who has paid their hard-earned dollars towards provincial school taxes to receive a refund when that money is not being spent on what it was intended for? While the money is being presented as child care subsidy for parents who are left with children at home as a result of the dispute, what it should be presented as is a refund on taxes that have already been paid.

The money does not dissolve my feelings of frustration towards the dispute and how it will hinder the educational needs of the children in my province. The money does not sway my support for BC teachers, and does not blind me from the challenges that they face every day in over-packed classrooms with limited resources for children with special needs and lower-than-average wage increases.

What the money does do is provide support for parents like myself who will attempt to educate their children during their extended time outside of the classroom, through educational outings, tutors and related resources. This has nothing to do with parents who are working, who work from home, or who take care of their children full time. It is about the children who are missing out on classroom time and the valuable education they deserve.

I feel for the children who are experiencing delays in their final year of high school, and for the children who are entering school for the first time in Kindergarten. I feel for all of my fellow parents who fear for their children and their educational future. But I also understand the issues and am willing to wait patiently for them to be resolved properly. I know a resolution won’t happen overnight, and would rather support our teachers as they fight for what’s best for our children’s futures than to settle for a short-term solution that is not in the best interest of our children.

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Recipe: Blueberry Turkey Burgers

Last month I had created a bucket list of 20 things to do with my kids – ideas to hopefully keep us busy during the Summer months (aka: how to keep my sanity on the weekdays that I would be spending alone with my 3 kids). On SundayI decided to check off the “test our tastebuds” item on my bucket list by trying a new recipe: blueberry turkey burgers, and boy were they delicious!

Last weekend, after my daughter and I had enjoyed a cooking class with our friends from the BC Blueberry Council, I was gifted with a few unique blueberry recipe cards to try with my family. In the past I had only used blueberries for sweet recipes – blueberry muffins, pies and pancakes, or even just sprinkled on top of waffles, ice cream or yogurt. The recipe cards I had received were for savoury foods, meals I had never thought to combine with the sweetness of blueberries. A rep from the BC Blueberry Council suggested that I try the blueberry turkey burgers (a blueberry recipe favourite), and I hesitantly agreed to give it a try.

They were absolutely delicious, and healthy too! Here’s the recipe so you can enjoy this savoury treat with your family as well.

blueberry turkey burgers

Blueberry Turkey Burgers

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb lean ground turkey
  • 3/4 cup BC Blueberries (fresh or frozen, roughly chopped)
  • 1/4 cup green onion (chopped)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tbsp. whole grain mustard
  • 1 tbsp. fresh parsley (chopped, or 2 tsp. dry)
  • 2 tsp. fresh thyme (chopped, or 1 tsp. dry)
  • 1 tsp. garlic (finely minced or dry)
  • 1 tsp. paprika (mild or hot)
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • 3 tbsp. barbeque sauce
  • 2 tsp. vegetable oil
  • 4 burger buns

 

blueberry turkey burgers

Yields: 4 burgers

Cook + Prep Time: 30 minutes

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat heavy bottom pan or barbeque to 350F/175C.
  2. In a bowl, mix all the burger ingredients and form 4 – 3/4 inch thick patties. Keep refrigerated until ready to cook.
  3. Grease the grill with an oiled paper towel, or heat the oil in a pan.
  4. Place patties on pre-heated grill (or in pan), and sear on medium-high heat, cooking for approximately 5-7 minutes until browned. Flip over, reduce heat to medium-low and finish cooking for another 5-7 minutes until internal temperature reaches 165F/75C.
  5. Brush with barbeque sauce and serve on buns with desired condiments.

blueberry turkey burgers

blueberry turkey burgers

 For more delicious blueberry recipes, check out the BC Blueberry Council website.

 

 

And Then There Were Three

It was a long journey, but my heart is so full as I welcome into our family our newest little one – Cloey Violet Bujan.

Born by scheduled C-section on May 28th, my sweet little baby girl entered this world and completed our family.

Baby 1

THE BIRTH

Due to a long list of complications that arose during my first delivery (which resulted in an emergency C-section), I had to have scheduled C-sections with my last two babies. While my last scheduled caesarian seemed like a breeze, this one went a little differently.

Baby 2

Epidural Episode. Apparently while epidurals provide the perfect freezing/pain management for caesarian sections (the safest and most common form of anesthesia used for the common method of delivery), they don’t freeze certain organs such as the bowel. As my surgeon moved through my insides to remove baby, I suddenly felt a painful jab. I could feel the doctors moving my bowel around as they tried to tuck it in while stitching me up. Luckily the anesthetist had an abundance of drug options to get me through the pain.

Tube Removal. After a little research, and conversations with three different doctors, I decided to go ahead with the removal of my fallopian tubes. So far, I’ve had no additional pain as a result, and I’m looking forward to a future without having to worry about birth control.

Torn Bladder. As the doctors worked through my caesarian section, they noticed an excess amount of scar tissue (built up as a result of my two previous C-sections). As they slowly worked through the tissue, they discovered that my bladder was attached. While they tried to carefully removed my bladder from the scar tissue, a tear about 2 inches long occurred. The surgeon stitched it up, and I was required to wear a catheter 24/7 for a week after leaving the hospital. It was the longest, most uncomfortable week – I didn’t leave the house, and the discomfort was unbearable.

LIFE WITH THREE

So far the baby has been the easiest part! She sleeps and nurses perfectly and rarely cries, and her siblings have been equally as pleasant, doting over their baby sister at every moment possible.

Baby 3

I know it won’t always be easy, but I’m living in the moment, and loving every minute with my little trifecta so far!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mixed Babies: What Will Baby #3 Look Like?

Between my husband and I, we cover 6 nationalities – Trinidadian and English (him), and Macedonian, Irish, African, and German (me).

us

With so many ethnicities under our skin, the possibilities are endless when it comes to what our babies will look like. When I was pregnant with my first, I assumed that our darker genes would dominate and we’d have cute little light brown, afro-donning babies.  To my surprise, my first born was peach-skinned with dark wavy tresses.

Our first born, Emma (3 months):

her

 

With our second child, I assumed that his physical appearance would mimic that of our first, but we were again surprised by the unpredictable results of nature, and he came out with bright orange locks and pale pink skin. My little bit of Irish snuck through and presented itself in his cute little ‘do.

Gavin (at 3 months):

him

 

With baby #3 on the way, I’m left to wonder what this one will look like! I’ve learned my lesson and will not make any assumptions, but wouldn’t it be cute if she came out completely different again – perhaps dark olive skin with blond curls and green eyes? We will of course love her no matter what she looks like, but one fun thing about waiting for the arrival of a new baby is wondering what his/her face will look like. Two more weeks until we see her cute little face!

Were you surprised when you first laid eyes on your baby? Did he/she look like you/your partner?

 

He Put WHAT Up His Nose?

It was as though I had emerged from a thick and stifling fog, and inhaled my first breath of fresh air when my boy turned three.The terrible twos were becoming a faded nightmare, and I was lost in the ecstasy of the thriving threes. My boy was starting to use his words, he was wearing underpants, and had removed himself from my leg to become a somewhat self sufficient and independent little man. I was convinced that the worst had passed, and parenting my boy was going to be smooth sailing from here on in.

That is, until I woke up one morning to his blood curdling cries. I couldn’t figure out what was wrong with him as he squirmed and hollered and wailed in pain. He kept shoving his finger up his nostril and screaming in agony. His sobs made him sniffle, and with each sniffle his screams hit a higher note. His squeals hit octaves that could only have be rivaled by Mariah Carey’s highest notes, and I couldn’t help but roll my eyes as I repeatedly asked him what was the matter.*

After questioning his panicked sister, the source of his agony was revealed, he had shoved a plastic bead up his nose. “He was trying to smell it” she said.

Chaos ensued as my hubby and I hurried into our clothes and loaded our hysterical children into the car. We sped to Emergency – hubby behind the wheel, and me pinning my boy’s arms to his sides as he repeatedly tried to stick his finger up his nose in an attempt to remove the bead himself.

When we arrived at the hospital, we were rushed into a room where the doctor made an odd suggestion. He said, “Before I go in for removal, I’d like you to try something. This may sound strange, but I’d like you to wait for me to leave the room, and then tell your son to lie down so you can give him a kiss. As you move in, quickly plug his unplugged nostril with your finger, and wrap your lips around his as if you were to give him CPR. I want you to give a quick blow (like when you make a wish and blow an eyelash from the tip of your finger). This should bring the bead down into view, and may even blow it out.”

As the doctor left the room, I did what he had instructed, and voila, the bead was visible, but still very deep up his nose.

When the doctor returned, he took a peak, and then asked my hubs to swaddle my boy with a sheet to secure his arms. He then held his head while the doctor poked and prodded with a scalpel until POP! Out it came.

That blasted bead bounced onto the floor, and my boy giggled with glee.

This is the last time he will ever be allowed to touch anything smaller than his palm.

Relieved that it was a quick and painless process, my husband and I shuffled out of the hospital, two skipping monkeys in tow.

*Confession: I call this second child apathy. The inability to give a shit when a child cries in my house after so many false alarms, quarrels and tantrums.

A Disney Dream Come True

I’ve written a few posts on how blogging has changed my life and the fantastic opportunities that have come to me through my humble little writing space in the blogosphere. I’ve also shared with you my first family vacation experience with my little ones – a Mexican cruise with some of our closest family members. While memorable and full of adventure, my children were less than enthused about their first cruise experience. But what I haven’t shared with you, what I’ve been keeping a secret for almost a year from even my closest family and friends, is the most exciting opportunity, and most treasurable family experience I think my family will ever encounter, thanks to a promotion I did with Disney Junior and Disney Cruise Line.

Last August, I was contacted by a representative from Disney after she had browsed through my blog and social media sites. She was looking for Canadian moms who fit a list of criteria, and I had met the requirements and was offered the opportunity to apply for an undisclosed Disney assignment. Without knowing the details of the opportunity, I agreed to the terms, and our family submitted a video for consideration.

When they called to notify me that our family had been chosen, I was speechless. We were to go on an all-inclusive Disney vacation to film promotional spots for a contest run by Disney Junior, but we were to tell no one.

With only a few family and friends aware that we were leaving town (and no one aware of where we were going and why), we packed up and travelled to Florida where our adventures began.

Our Disney jaunt began with a fun-filled day at Walt Disney World, a first time visit for all of us. Equipped with all-day Magic Your Way park passes and a gift card to spend at our leisure, our family ventured into the magical world and were mesmerized by the characters, sights and park attractions that surrounded us. We strolled through castles, hugged princesses, and rode through enchanted places on rides unique only to Disney Parks. With the blink of an eye, our day was over and we were exhausted, unable to wipe the ear-to-ear grins from our faces.

The next morning, we boarded our Disney Dream cruise and headed for a Bahamian dream vacation.

When we stepped aboard the Disney Dream ship, our surroundings took our breath away. With a warm welcome announcement and applause from the ship’s crew, we strolled through the Atrium and into a magical Disney wonderland at sea.

Our itinerary was filled with once-in-a-lifetime experiences: private encounters with beloved Disney characters, a red carpet interview before  the Golden Mickey’s evening show, and a private cabana on an exclusive island in the Bahamas.

We enjoyed rides on the AquaDuck – an elevated “water coaster” that wraps around the ship’s exterior. Our children spent hours splashing around in the Mickey Pool, and Nemo’s Reef spray park, and the hubs and I were able to get away for a little grown up time at Senses Spa, and the beautiful adult exclusive Palo restaurant.

And unlike on our previous cruise, our kids enjoyed every minute of their time at the Oceaneer Club – a children’s activity centre filled with Disney-themed play areas (the life-sized replica of Andy’s Room from Toy Story was so amazing, us adults wanted to spend the day playing in there too!), engaging and fun activities, and a friendly and enthusiastic staff of counsellors.

The ports-of-call were equally as exciting. We strolled the breathtaking beaches and observed the unique and colourful architecture that decorated the shoreline of Nassau, and spent an action-packed day at Castaway Cay – a private island reserved exclusively for Disney Cruise guests, and featuring water parks, an open-air BBQ, various water activities, Disney character encounters, and lots of beach fun!

Our trip was a whirlwind of adventure, magic, and ongoing family fun, and was an experience that we will never forget. And our entire experience was captured on camera for Disney Junior viewers to enjoy through the eyes of a real-life family.

Want to win a once-in-a-lifetime Disney Cruise experience like ours? Click on the link below for contest details.

ENTER TO WIN A DISNEY CRUISE VACATION HERE

Watch Disney Junior during the month of August to see our full, four-part promotional series
on our adventures aboard the Disney Dream, and to learn more about this exciting contest.
For channel information in your area, visit this link: Disney Junior Channels

 

Greater Than Two – The Decision

I was sure I was done.So sure in fact that I sold my stroller, donated all of my maternity clothes, and passed down all of my kids’ outgrown clothing to friends.

But after some careful consideration, and a little persuasion from my hubby and some adorable baby friends, I had a change of heart.I can’t narrow it down to a list of “why to have another baby”, because let’s face it, it’s not something that we need. We have two beautiful and healthy children and our hearts are full. But we have room in our hearts for one more, so one more it will be…

We waited until after our first ultrasound to tell the kids. I showed them the ultrasound picture and asked them if they knew what it was. “It looks like a picture of an ear” they decided together.
I’m nervous about what life will be like with THREE, but I’m confident that we’ll figure it out. And hey, I still have time to adjust right?
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NOTE: At almost 4 months pregnant, I lost the baby. I’m choosing not to delete this post because it was a beautiful moment for my family, but wanted to share my story of pregnancy loss as well. Thank you for reading.

What The Eff Should I Make For Dinner?

There are two things that I dread each and every day as a busy mommy of two:

1) Making lunches.
2) Trying to decide what the eff to make for dinner.

For you chef extraordinaires, there’s an awesome site with a similar title to my blog post that gives you some great dinner ideas (you can check it out here: What The F*&# Should I Make For Dinner). But if you’re anything like me, you won’t have the time, ingredients, or energy to make things like “Herbes de Provence Roasted Chicken with Lemon and Garlic Fennel-Stewed Lentils” every night. Sounds delish, but my kids would gag and dry heave if I even said that dinner suggestion to them.

If you’re looking for a quick, simple meal using basic ingredients that you’ll probably already have in your cupboard, try this one on for size! I can’t get enough of this dinner, and my kids love it too!

Chicken Broccoli Bake
Ingredients:
2-3 boneless skinless chicken breasts
2 heads of broccoli
2 cups of grated mild cheddar cheese
1 can of cream of chicken soup
1/2 cup of mayonnaise
1/4 cup 2% milk
2 tbsp curry powder

Serves: 4.

Cooking time (including prep): Approx 20 minutes.

Directions:

1) Preheat oven to 410 F.

2) In a pot or rice cooker, cook 2 cups of Basmati rice.

3) Chop up the broccoli into bite-sized pieces.

4) Cut up chicken breasts into small pieces.

5) Cook the chicken in a frying pan with a little butter until light brown on both sides.
6) Add the broccoli to the chicken in the frying pan, and cover it with a lid to steam until the broccoli is tender and bright green (approx 2-3 minutes).
7) In a mixing bowl, combine cream of chicken soup, mayonnaise, curry powder, and milk. Mix with a hand mixer or whisk until creamy.
8) Pour chicken and broccoli into a small casserole dish, and pour the creamy sauce evenly on top.
9) Sprinkle grated cheese evenly on top, place in the oven.
10) Bake until cheese is melted and light brown.
11) Serve on rice and enjoy!
Thumbs up from some very picky food critics!
There you go, easy peasy!
Try it out and let me know what you think 🙂

A Superhero’s Party

My boy is rarely seen without a hood on his head, and will often only respond to the name “Batman”, so it only seemed fitting to throw him a superhero party in celebration of his third year.
I paid a visit to my favourite party store and scooped up everything Batman-themed I could find. Superhero POW! and ZAP! invitations were sent to email inboxes, and the party planning was underway. But I was stuck on what to do for the party favours, and what was I going to do to keep 13 children entertained in my house on a rainy Sunday afternoon?
Through my day job, I came across this lovely Canadian company called Spark Play, and was immediately intrigued. In a world where children seem to be so focused on movies, apps, and computer screens, it was refreshing to see a company focused on imaginative play – the old school way! I loved the idea of their MiniSpark Birthday Packs, and placed my order for superhero-themed party packs for my little guy’s party.
When all the kids arrived, I asked them to sit in a circle, and announced that I had a special gift for each of them.
Voices raised with excitement as ribbons were untied, glittery papers were unveiled, and beautiful capes in several patterns were unravelled by each child. Each little package came complete with a list of directions, encouraging the children to dress up and play in their new costumes.
Each cape was created with uniquely different fabrics, each mask equally as colourful. The kids flew around my house, pleased with their customized outfits.
And I was so pleased to send each child home with a a unique gift, something they can play with over and over again.
It was a great party, complete with the perfect rainy-day activity. And my little superhero? Well he’s passed out in his bed, wearing new Batman jammies, and of course a brand new cape.
Obligatory birthday party family photo
What’s something new you’ve tried for your child’s birthday party?

Waaa-lentine’s Day

I remember a time when Valentine’s Day was all about the element of surprise. The anticipation of a romantic evening, a bouquet of roses, and quality time with the one you love. A time when dinner reservations were made, formal attire was worn and candles were lit. Sentimental words were inscribed lovingly on heart-shaped cards, and I love you’s spewed from lips as if those were the only words available.
 
But oh how things change when you have children. And I’m not even referring to the lack of romance, or the absence of one-on-one time. I don’t mind if I don’t get flowers or have a fancy dinner out. Because it’s no longer about reminding your partner how much you love them through sucky cards and useless gifts. Like every other “Hallmark occasion”, it becomes all about them.
 
Now it’s all about late nights crafting cards for friends who can’t read. Knowing your hard work will be in the recycling bin within 24 hours, you cut, glitter, sign, and envelope little cards for every single child in your son or daughter’s class. You bake (or in my case purchase) several pink treats and place them delicately in a heart-shaped pattern, as if the platter of goodies will still be intact when others finally see them.
 
On the morning of Valentine’s Day, you wake up to over-enthusiastic voices begging to eat just one cookie or chocolate before school. Exhausted from a late night of crafting you give in, because you’ll do anything for another minute of quiet before the craziness ensues.
 
Upon arrival home from school, your kids are so wired on an overconsumption of chocolates and lollipops that they can’t stop bouncing. But instead of enforcing a quiet night at home, you give them more treats and cards and take them out for dinner. Why? Because that’s what you do on a “Hallmark occasion”. Go big or go home.
 
And how do you end such a lovely day of love? Mine ended with my toddler lying on the floor of a busy family restaurant, forcing me to heave him out as he kicked and screamed in a whirlwind of chaos and overtired rage, while I wore a crooked and apologetic smile on my face. When I arrived home, I discovered that my just-out-of-surgery pups had peed in the middle of my bed. 
 
And when my hubby presented me with a bouquet of chocolate flowers, I just laughed. He knows I’m severely allergic to chocolate, but had thought they were white chocolate (which I can have). So no gifts for me, no romantic surprises or candlelit evenings. And you know what? I don’t even care. Because I’ll take reality over the forced sentiments any day.
 
Because it’s not about the gifts, or what you do, or the story you have to share about how your partner surprised you with the most romantic evening you’ve ever had. Valentine’s Day is just another excuse to spend time with the ones you love (for better or worse, rain or shine). That’s it. So how was my Valentine’s Day you ask? It was a day full of happy chaos, just as it should be.