Tuesday, April 30, 2013

I'm watching you

I love to laugh. It doesn't matter who I am laughing with, it is one of my favorite things.
In March I went to visit my mom and she lives in the same town as my sister. When we get together there is ALWAYS laughter.
One morning I went with my sister and her husband to Home Depot. As we were waiting we noticed a man standing at the end of an aisle just staring at us and not moving. He looked like a zombie. For some reason it made us laugh so hard. We decided to try and get a photo of him on our phones. That was even funnier. We were trying to be "sly" but it was not working out, and it didn't even matter! He still stood there and stared at us. A cashier standing immediately across from him was watching him and watching us and was also laughing.
Today I got an email from my sister with the heading "I'm watching you." I opened the email and the only thing in the content of the letter was the photo we took of the zombie guy in the store. I laughed so hard.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Alison Redford - thanks for nothing

Last year when Alison Redford became premier of Alberta she visited  Mount Royal University and promised $650 million in funding for post-secondary education. One year later the reality is COMPLETELY different.

There have been significant cuts made to the budgets in post secondary education. This means that all 26 post secondary institutes have decisions to make. Difficult, life-changing (for some) decisions.

Programs at some institutions have been cut already and there are more cuts to come before the final budgets are complete by the end of June.

Mount Royal was affected to the tune of 14 million dollars. They have announced the termination of disability studies, music performance and theatre arts diploma programs, along with the forensics, journalism, perinatal care and aging studies certificate programs, and an engineering transfer program.

The University of Alberta has been affected to the amount of 65 million dollars over two years.

Lakeland College has cut 60 employees positions.

The mayor of Calgary said this week “I have been on record as saying that the provincial government has made a terrible error in its post-secondary education policy — great cities need great universities and great universities need government support."

I work in a post secondary institute. There have been no announcements made yet on cuts here, but retirement incentives and other incentives have already been offered to those who are willing to leave now. The hammer has yet to fall. We have been assured that there will be no cuts to programs as a result of this budget, which is a great thing but what it means is that the deficit we face will be made up predominantly by cuts to jobs. It is impossible to balance the budget otherwise.

Where the premier and the education minister see dollar amounts I think they miss the bigger picture. The HUMAN picture. The premier has announced that there will be a freeze on tuition for the next year and that the budget will not be met "on the backs of the students". That's a nice idea, however instead of raising the tuition with the cost of living, which is a standard in post secondary institutes, the premier will instead balance the budget on the backs of the post secondary employees who will lose their jobs.

I don't know if I will lose my job. It may be another month before I know. In that one month period I, and my family, and the other hundreds of employees - in my institution and all others in the province AS WELL AS their families will all have to deal with the stress of not knowing. When the announcements are finally made those who are cut from positions have the stress of moving forward.

Insomnia, nausea, eye twitches from not sleeping, irritability, anxiety, heart burn.. heart attack? Will I snap at my son tonight when he breaks something accidentally, but because I am exhausted and stressed out? Will he cry? Will he feel disconnected to me and think I am a mean mom and not someone he wants to trust?

This is just a SMALL idea of the cost to me right now - and to the other employees who are in limbo.

Let's say in a month I lose my job. How will I pay my mortgage? How will I pay ANY of my bills? I live in a VERY small community where the opportunity to find employment at the same rate of pay which I have right now is virtually impossible. So do I move my family? Sell our house? What do I do for medical insurance in the meantime? Where do we go?

The government of Alberta thinks they are saving money, but I say they are wrong. HORRIBLY wrong and disconnected from your constituents. What you are doing has a HUGE cost, the results of which you may not be able to measure right now but which this province will be paying for for a LONG, LONG time. Unfortunately so will we.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

The trials of an oldest child

I am the oldest of five children. My spouse is the oldest of four. I could write endlessly on the trials of being the eldest but I will spare you. (Those of you who are eldest in your respective families will all know what I have to say and those of you who aren't, won't understand!)
Today I was reminded what it is like to be the oldest child by something that happened with my own kids.
When I picked up CJ - second born - from school he proceeded to tell me that Max (the eldest) had been bad on the bus. His retelling of the incident was very funny because he told me "in Bud's voice". Bud is the busdriver.
I was highly amused at his retelling of the incident. Then it got me thinking. When I was growing up it used to drive me CRAZY when my younger siblings would tell my parents things I had been involved in prior to my arrival at home. It seemed like no matter what I was involved in - and there wasn't a lot - just enough to make this a salient memory - my parents would know what had happened before I got a chance to tell them.
Right before my eyes my ownchildhood is being re-enacted by my own kids. No matter how glad I am to know what happened and no matter how funny the telling of it was, I feel sorry for Max.
Gosh it is hard to be the oldest child.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Letter to Max 6yrs 7 months

Dear Max,
Gosh it has been so long since I wrote you a letter, I have fallen down on the job.

After this weekend I knew I needed to sit down and write to you. You are growing so fast it is ridiculous! We sat down this week and compared the size of our feet. Mom's friend suggested that maybe mom has small feet but I don't! Your feet are HUGE! We have to buy you ANOTHER pair of indoor shoes for school already. I'm pretty sure you will be the tallest person in our family, and I think it will happen soon.
You are so kind, and so gentle, and so thoughtful it makes me proud to be your mom. You came into the room this morning and the first thing you said to me was "Happy Easter Mom." Mama Shel and I lay in bed listening to you play with the little ones. You are such a good big brother. I know we tell you this all the time but it is true! You always include the little ones when you play and you make games that everyone can join in on.
You love to cook and clean and work on projects and you have set up your own little office in the room upstairs with all your things.
Since the weather has FINALLY improved you have been outside riding your bike almost every day this past week. You already have a five speed bike! You love to ride and you have even gone outside ALONE to ride. This is so amazing to me because for so long you would not do anything without having either Mama Shel or I in your sight. I think you were four years old before you ever went around the house out of our sight even when we were outside with you!
I can't say enough how much your mom and I are proud of you.
Did you know that there were people in this world who tried to tell me and Mama Shel all the things you could never do? They told us you may never ride a bike. They told us you may never learn to read or to write. Even this year at the beginning of grade one they told us that you would only learn "living" skills - like dressing yourself - and not things like spelling or math. Boy, have you shown them! You are a funny kid though, you brought home a spelling test this week and didn't even show it to me or Mama Shel. You are still the same quiet, shy boy you have always been and don't like any attention drawn to yourself, even if it is hugs and kisses for doing so well on your spelling!

When I came to the school the other day I saw this letter you wrote about the Leprechauns and took a photo of it. I think it is a perfect example of how generous you are and how you think of others.

My baby boy, My Miracle Max. It is hard for me to see you grow so fast. I want to keep you small and protect you from all the hard things that are out there in the world. I want you to have a wonderful life full of success and it is hard for me to let you go, even in the small ways I have had to do already.

I love you my son, more than words will ever express. You will keep doing amazing things, you will keep showing the people who say "you can't" how wrong they are - no matter if it takes longer for you to get to your destination. Your mom and I will always be here, we will always love you. One day you may even decide you want to sleep in your own room and not on the floor in our room. I will be happy for you on that day. I will be happy for me and mama Shel because we will be able to get up in the night and not have to walk over you to get to the bathroom. I also know that on that day I will be a little sad that you have grown up even more, and I won't hear your breathing as you sleep so deeply. I love the sound of your breathing, it makes me happy to know you are close.

Rest your head, close to my heart, never to part, Baby of mine.

Mama Ju