Bye Blue Jays

Blue Jays are out
The house is all quiet
I guess now’s the time
To go on a diet

No more peanuts
Or Cracker Jack
No more yelling
About a comeback

The Royals move on
To tackle the Mets
It’s now time for gamblers
To place their bets

But I’ll stay at home
And watch my Flames play
And hope that their season
Goes past mid-May

The Blue Jays were great
They are Canada’s team
And watching the postseason
Has been a fun dream

Review of Hyena Road

Zero Dark Thirty, Black Hawk Down, and Hurt Locker are three excellent movies that focus on the military. When I watched them I didn’t think about the fact that they are American, nor did it bother me. I’ve never thought about the lack of Canadian military in movies and TV because there has been so little for all of my life. But when I went to see Hyena Road yesterday afternoon with my teenagers, I realized that I’d been missing out. Seeing the fictional soldiers in the movie with Canadian flags on their uniforms brought out more national pride in me than our most successful Olympic games. The movie is “based on 1000 true stories” which made the three of us realize how much our fellow Canadians have sacrificed both for our country and for peacekeeping in the world. Paul Gross is a creative genius and in the midst of a somewhat ugly federal election right now, Hyena Road will make you stop and realize how truly great the men and women of our great country are. Seeing Canadian flags draped over coffins is a sight I wish was only in movies, but seeing them in the film reminded me of the times it has been real. The movie will also make you realize how much talent we have here in Canada for putting on an incredible show. I wanted to yell out, “This is Canada! These are our people!” through the whole show. Take a break from turkey and politics this weekend and go see it. 5/5

Teen Anticipation

“Are you excited?” I asked as we backed out of the driveway.

“I’m terrified,” he replied, rubbing his palms on his thighs.

“You’re awesome either way,” I told him, “and you’ll know tonight.”

“I just want it so bad!” he said, looking over at me. The fluorescent logo on his t-shirt glowed in the morning sun. I merged onto the main road, hoping for traffic slow downs on the way so I could enjoy his company for a few extra minutes.

I looked over at Jack and remembered how, three years earlier, he hadn’t wanted to join the marching band. Now it wasn’t something he would consider not doing. The boy that always says, “let’s just forget it and go home” when things don’t go well is the one who gets up an hour early on the days he has band.

“Aaaahhh! I just wanna know!” he says. Then something catches his eye in oncoming traffic. “Ooo, check out that black Ferrari,” he says, grateful to the break in anxiety.

“Nice,” I reply, and wink at him. Every day we’re on the lookout for super cars.

He switches the radio to the iPod and turns on our favourite driving song. We’re only one song away from school now.

“If I make it into drumline I still get a new drum pad right?”

“Of course. You need something better to practice on.”

He brightens up.

“I’m full of knots!” he says, fidgeting in his seat.

I drop him off and I notice he has a hop in his step. Halfway to the door he stops and turns and runs back to the car with his sunglasses in hand. “I forgot,” he says and hands them to me.

“See you later! I loooove you!” I tease him after seeing that there is no one around to hear me.

On the drive home I put our song on repeat even though I feel like I’m cheating on him in some way. I’m full of nerves too. He’s worked hard but we both know it’s not a given that he gets a drum. I say a prayer of gratitude for what this nervous anticipation is teaching him about patience and perseverance and I thank God for bringing us here. I also pray for patience and for wisdom so I can comfort him if things don’t work out.

The Grass Mower

Every Monday morning
Old Mike gets up at dawn
He puts on a dotted raincoat
Walks out and mows the lawn

The neighbours think he’s crazy
And really he is nuts
He goes out in the lightning
Mike’s got a lot of guts

He mows the green lawn back and forth
He does this for an hour
He pulls the cord behind him
To give the mower power

Every week it is the same
At eight A.M. it starts
So why do all the neighbours
Feel it breaks their hearts?

You see what Mike is doing
With every mower pass
Is mow a lawn completely made
Of artificial grass

The Puker

Jacob was born on the eve of spring
The clouds were dripping and the birds did sing

It didn’t take long for Mum to see
He was the world’s greatest baby

But then came May and he started to puke
The first time Dad thought, “ah it’s a fluke”

But again and again he puked all over
The closet, the fridge, and their dog Rover

But it was the furnace vent that surprised Mum most
He bent over, tossed the grate, and lost his toast

The heat turned on and the house smelled of upchuck
Jake might be the greatest, but he sure was bad luck!

Just when they thought that the worst was over
He puked in the car and they had to pull over

This kid was a machine, he just couldn’t stop
They put a plug in him but out it did pop

Other parents would say, “Oh my kid is so hard”
But Jake’s parents always played the puke card

Someday Jake will marry and have a nice kid
And if he’s lucky, he will come with a lid

A Poem for the Queen

The Queen just turned a hundred
But really no she didn’t
She just surpassed Victoria
Right now this very minute

She is the longest reigning
Of all of Britain’s Queens
She has some great longevity
In her royal genes

Queen Elizabeth has seen a lot
In over sixty years
But through it all she stays so kind
And never shows her fears

She has a nice sweet family
And George he is so great
We went to see the palace
And took pictures at the gate

We’d like to wish the Queen
Many more happy years
But for today we’ll all rejoice
And not shed any tears

Casey’s Birthday Allergy: A Story for Parents, Kids, and Everyone Else

Casey burst through the door, threw her bag on the floor, stomped up the stairs, and slammed her bedroom door.

“I hate birthdays!” she yelled.

Mum and Dad looked at each other and sighed. Dad went up and knocked on Casey’s door.

“I’m not changing my mind! No more birthdays!”

Dad opened the door and sat down on Casey’s bed.

“Tell me what happened,” he said in his serious Dad voice.

“I had to sit outside! They all played some dumb balloon game and I had to sit outside on the front step like a bad dog!” Tears streamed down Casey’s face as she looked down at her Superboy action figure in her hands.

“It’s like at Jason’s when all the kids did funny voices with the balloons, and Ashley’s birthday when they made elastic bracelets. I hate everyone!”

“It’s a bum deal,” Dad said.

“And I never get cake! Ever!” Casey sobbed into Dad’s shoulder.

“I hate allergies! And I hate birthdays!” Dad rubbed Casey’s back while her tears dropped down onto Superboy’s cape.

When they went downstairs, Mum made Casey a super sundae, their special treat after birthday parties. “It’s not fair,” Casey sniffed as she took a spoonful of fudge, “all the other kids get to do everything and I get nothing.”

“It’s no fun having allergies,” Mum told her, “but remember, other kid’s parties are for their special day, and it’s important that we honour their choices.”

“I don’t care, I’m not going to anymore stupid birthdays.”

The next day at school, Casey sat down in her desk and crossed her arms. She glared at Daniel when he handed her an envelope, and she stuffed it in her backpack without opening it. At recess, she heard him talking about his party and how they were going swimming in the backyard and how the cake was going to be amazing. She had to try so hard not to cry that she thought her eyes were on fire.

“I can’t wait until you come to my birthday, Casey,” Daniel told her at lunch, “it’s going to be amazing. It’s going to have Superboy everything.”

“Yeah, sure,” Casey replied.

“Hey, wanna come over after school?” Daniel asked.

“I can’t. I have to go home.” Casey turned away. She ran home from school and threw the envelope in the garbage before going to her room. She looked out her window and saw Daniel in his yard playing in the sprinkler. Casey turned away and sat on her bed.

The next morning, Casey saw the invitation sitting beside her bowl of cereal. She gulped.

“I know Daniel really wants you at his party,” Mum said.

“I’m not going.” Casey left without eating.

When Casey got home from school, Mum was on the phone. She made herself a snack and went to her room. Mum was excited when she got off the phone but she wouldn’t tell Casey anything about the call. The invitation sat on the kitchen table until the day of the party. Every time Daniel asked Casey about it, she just shrugged. On the afternoon of the party, Casey sat in her room looking out the window and watching all the kids arrive at Daniel’s house. She imagined the backyard filled with balloons up to the sky and everyone pushing her away.

Mum called from downstairs, “Casey, come down please.”

Casey wiped her cheeks and sulked down the stairs.

“I need to go out for a couple hours, can you go help Dad in the shed?”


Dad was in his greasy shirt and big work gloves that Casey loved to wear. She liked to pretend she was Superboy, fixed the supership in preparation for the next mission.

“I need your help. I’ve borrowed all these from Daniel’s Dad and I need to take them back.”

Casey looked at the tools. “Can’t you go by yourself? Can’t we go somewhere else?”

But Dad said no. They walked across the street and into Daniel’s yard. Casey saw Daniel and all the kids from class.

“Casey!” they all yelled. Casey turned red like a beet and hid her face in her shirt. Daniel took her hand and led her inside.

“I didn’t know if you’d come!”

He showed her that Mum had made a cake safe from all the bad stuff. Casey saw her Mum in the kitchen, and Mum gave her a wink.

“And there are no balloons here!” Daniel shouted and showed her the whole house and yard, balloon free.

“Balloons are for babies anyway,” he told her.

“I’ll be right back,” she told Daniel and ran home. She came back in her bathing suit and she was carrying a bag, which she handed to Daniel.

“This is for you.”

He opened the bag, and inside was Casey’s favourite Superboy action figure that Daniel had wanted since forever.

“You… are you sure?” Daniel asked, staring at Superboy.

“Yes, anything for my best friend. Happy birthday.”

10 things you might not know about chronic pain or illness

1. It’s not the same every day. Some days my pain is so low that I forget it exists for part of the day. I’m active and engaged with other people, looking to the future, and not revolving my life around rest and appointments. Other days I have no idea what a pain-free life would look like and I can’t get out of bed long enough to think about it.

2. It really does co-exist with depression. I’ve always hated the depression-chronic pain connection mentioned in every piece of literature about chronic pain, having felt that it somehow reduces the awfulness of the physical pain. But it’s impossible to lose the ability to do everything you enjoy without getting depressed. How do you get out of depression when you can’t go for a walk, can’t relate to others, and have no appetite for food you used to love? I don’t know. The physical pain has to go down for the brain to begin recovery.

3. Some doctors suck, and a few are awesome. I know there are some amazing doctors around but for the most part, they do a poor job of dealing with chronic nonsense. My family doctor ranges from ‘suck it up’ to ‘that sounds awful’ with little in the way of actual help. I have to pick what I complain about in order to get what I need, and that gets harder the longer it drags on.

4. When my life is busy with appointments, I can’t do any more small talk. Between physio, the lab, the x-ray, and doctors, I have no ability to small talk with a cashier or the other parents picking up their kids. It’s not like this all the time, but any time I have two or more appointments in a week, I’m unable to socialize. I hate that I can make people feel like I don’t want to talk to them when I really do.

5. Pain can make you selfish. Not on purpose of course, but when your brain is busy trying to make it up the stairs without falling, it’s impossible to think about making cookies for the kids or helping your spouse deal with difficulties at work.

6. Kids are awesome. My teens are a huge help by bringing in groceries, bringing me ice or water, or whatever I need when I’m too tired to get up. They will gladly help with chores in the morning so that I’ll have the energy to do something fun with them in the afternoon. They don’t pretend to know how to ‘fix’ me. It’s my job to make sure they become more and more independent so they can create a great life that doesn’t revolve around me.

7. “What would you give your pain out of 10?” makes me bat-shit crazy. Don’t ask me to rate my pain on a stupid scale and don’t pretend if it’s less today than last week that it’s because of you. I overheard another patient last week tear a strip off her physiotherapist when asked that question. We all hate it. Pain sucks, all the time. A smart doctor or physio can tell by how you react to movement how much pain you’re in.

8. TV is awesome. Chronic pain can suck your brains out as well as your body, leaving you unable to read, write, or do anything creative or meaningful. I’ve had periods of weeks at a time where showering is the most I can do in a day. TV saves me from going insane, especially if it’s watching Brooklyn Nine-Nine or Parks and Recreation with my kids. We have to laugh.

9. If there is a silver lining, it’s that I’ve learned that my time and energy are my most important commodities. Yes, I miss running. Yes, I miss my career. Yes, yes, yes. No, I don’t like having a nap almost every day. But if I spend time with you, know you must be very important to me.

10. It doesn’t get better with time. Being sick, in pain, having surgery, or being in the hospital get continuously harder to deal with. “I could never deal with that” or “I don’t know how you do it” is never helpful. I don’t have a choice but to deal with it, yet I’m grateful for every day I get to be on this fabulous planet of ours. Every day I know it could be worse and every day I’m glad that it isn’t.

These are my ten, I’d love to hear yours!

When the Flames won the Cup

26 years ago
Our Flames won the Cup
Game 6 against the Habs
They never gave it up

Series one against Vancouver
Was a tough one to get
We almost lost in overtime
But got one in the net

Series two against the Kings
Was an easy one for us
We took them in four straight
Sent them home on the bus

Series three against Chicago
Their arena full of noise
But we took them in game five
Better luck next time boys

That brought us to the final
The City was on fire
Me, a young inspired fan
And the players I admired

On the night they won the Cup
I was working selling cones
Of Baskin Robbins ice cream
With no live stream on our phones

We listened to the radio
For news of each Flames goal
I stood there shaking anxiously
Eating ice cream from a bowl

And then they won, and I freaked out
Cheering through the store
My Mum came and picked me up
I was cheering more

We drove home and honked the horn
Driving down the Trail
I barely slept at all that night
Our team did not fail

And now I get to tell the tale
Of my team and that day
I still wear my red jersey
And love watching my Flames play


Last week I started physiotherapy treatment at a new clinic. I always feel a sense of dread when going to a new doctor or a new clinic, as if they’re going to find out that I’m lazy and useless by how I write my name. I dutifully pulled my pen out of my purse pocket, refusing to take one from the germ cup, and I filled out the forms on the clipboard, checking off the boxes and filling in my medications. I learned a few years ago to only check off the boxes that are relevant or they’ll write me off before they’ve met me. I gave the clipboard back to the chirpy woman behind the desk with the fluorescent red hair and sat down, pretending to read a magazine that is blurry because I refuse to take my reading glasses out of the house.

Then a young athletic guy calls me back with a “How’s it going for you today?” and I pause, not sure whether to say, “great, you?” or “I’m in so much pain that I can’t even dress myself.” I settle for a “good” and then we talk about the weather and the upcoming election and I sit up on a cushioned bench built for someone who weighs more than twice as much as I do. I try to correct my posture as I sit there with my legs dangling over the side, sure that I am being watched and judged for being so slouchy. I can hear hair-girl talking on the phone from the front, telling someone “see you soon, okay, b-bye” as if they are two years old. Then a pretty young woman walks over to me and introduces herself and reads my “chart” that I’ve just filled out. Did I put my pen back in my purse? Or leave it on the clipboard? Drat. She can read how old I am and she asks what my medications do and I wonder why they ask about medications if they don’t even know one that’s in commercials all the time.

“So what do you do?” she asks, with her pen ready. “I’m at home,” I reply and I put my head down. She writes “housewife” on the line. I cringe. I hate that term, ‘housewife’, as if I just cook and clean all day and spend the rest of my time watching soap operas. I want to tell her that I homeschool my kids, that every day I’m busier than I ever was when I was working, but I don’t. I just stare at the page: “housewife”. It’s happened before; I forgot to fill out the “Occupation:” line on my last passport application so I had to phone the 1-800 number and talk to a stranger about how I haven’t worked since my last application ten years ago. She too chose to write “housewife” on the line but I never physically saw it; it’s not like they print your occupation on your passport. The physio asks me more questions and then starts creating pain that causes me to almost faint. Now I’m a lightheaded housewife hanging over the side of the bench that can’t even withstand the initial treatment. She doesn’t appear to be judging me negatively but still I feel betrayed somehow. She hooks me up to the electric shock machine and leaves me to my crushing self-esteem and I want her to understand that I do so much more than cook and clean.

But then I realize that my need to defend myself is sinful and based on pride. When faced with false accusations, Jesus did not defend himself.

He was oppressed and treated harshly, yet he never said a word. Isaiah 53:7.

The high priest stood up and said to Jesus, “Well, aren’t you going to answer these charges? What do you have to say for yourself?” But Jesus remained silent. Matthew 26:62-63.

Once I remembered what Christ had done for me, I felt terrible for feeling the need to defend myself, especially when I had no reason to feel defensive. God has given me a job to do. I was making assumptions based on a word that I happen to dislike but in reality, I have no idea how this young woman feels about it. Perhaps her mother was at home with her and she admires her for doing so. I was wrong to judge her. I tried not to cry, lying there on my back as I felt the wetness of the hot pack soaking my shirt. I looked up at the ceiling and tried to lose myself in counting the dots, thinking about how God is watching over all of us.