Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Monday, October 29, 2007

Canada, of all Countries, Has a Housing Crisis...

At the end of his visit to Canada last week, the UN Special Rapporteur on adequate housing Miloon Kothari (an independent expert in an honorary position who reports annually to the UN Human Rights Council on the status of the realization of the right to adequate housing in the world), gave negative preliminary observations: “… Everywhere that I visited in Canada, I met people who are homeless and living in adequate and insecure housing conditions. I heard of hundreds who died as a direct result of Canada’s nation-wide housing crisis. In its most recent review of Canada’s compliance with the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the UN used strong language to label housing and homelessness and inadequate housing as a “national emergency”.

…Studies show that women, especially single mothers are disproportionally affected by affordability or discrimination. ... I heard some very disturbing testimonies on women whose children were taken away because they were living in inadequate housing, an issue that particularly affects Aboriginal women. … Although women leaving abusive relationships have priority for social housing (except for in the 3 Territories), a woman with maximum priority to access housing… may still wait up to 3 years to get a home. (This) pushes women to stay with a violent partner or to return to violent relationship to avoid homelessness. In view of the current situation women face throughout the country, I was surprised to receive information on significant cuts to the budget and the modification the mandate of Status Women Canada, the only Federal agency focused on women. This might contradict the legal obligation of allocating maximum available resources and the non-retrogression with respect to human right that is mandated in the ICESCR. I am concerned that some women’s organizations have been defunded for their service provision to women, research and advocacy activities.

… Canada is one of the richest countries, which makes the prevalence of this crisis is all the more striking. … Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. has had a large operating surplus – almost $1 billion this year. Canada’s successful social housing program, which created over half a million homes starting in 1973, no longer exists. Canada has one of the smallest social housing sectors among developed countries and relies almost entirely on the private market for new housing. In 2005 and 2006, the private sector created over a quarter of a million homes, but only 1 in 100 are affordable for low and moderate-income families...


Saturday, October 27, 2007

It's in the details...

Okay, this will be boring and I am writing this one more for myself...I'm sitting here, it is very windy, cold and raining hard. Andy has gone to the hockey game with his dad which is nice. The house is cosy because we have the woodstove on and it is lovely! Ella is finishing up some ice cream before bed dawdling before we move onto baths, teeth and pj's.

We had been snuggling together on the Fraser Crane chair and as I was about to get up to get her icecream, she reached up and cupped my face in her hands and told me she would go to bed for me once she was done was such a sweet gesture. It reminded me of the importance of kind gestures, kind words, and how the greatest gifts we give one another is tenderness.

Andy knows that a sure fire way to win a smile is to bring me home a coffee or a chocolate bar...the item is small but it is the thought behind it. When I was a kid in Ireland, my mum never, ever had much money. I recall an occassion when she was going to the grocery store. I asked her to bring me back a treat (echos of ella in my head)...she showed me her purse and it only had a few coins...however, when she returned, she gave me and brothers two mojos each...I love those candies...but what I remember more was feeling loved and knowing my mum was thinking about me and how much I appreciated her buying them...

It has been another crazy is now in full swing which means lots of driving and sitting in cold rinks, Ella had a field trip to the museum, met with some friends, visited the doctor and my friend surprised us with tickets to see the Lipizzaner Stallions which Ella not so much! It was also the first time she drank some orange pop ever...she has never had it...she was supposed to get a slushie but instead she got a pop...she called it spicey!

My brother came for dinner which was wonderful because I haven't seen him for a while because he has been sooo busy building another house and driving a total of three hours per day to attend classes here in the city. Oh, and my splurge for the week was getting my eyebrows done! I love that!

In the picture below, it was sunny and fairly warm for the end of October...the boys and their friends were out on the road playing road hockey. Ella surprised them by dressing up in her cheerleading outfit and cheering them on....she was so confident singing away, even as strangers passed her by...smiling at this little spitfire of a four year old.

I finally bribed her with a hot chocolate to get her to come inside!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

The Response of the Church...

UNB Professor of Sociology Dr. Nancy Nason-Clark’s work on the RAVE (Religion and Violence e-learning) project is about dispelling “the holy hush that often permeates the faith community on the issue of domestic violence.” She tells a story about interviewing religious leaders throughout England. One evening, Nancy had an appointment in a pastor’s home. She caught the train then walked 40 minutes to the house. As she was walking, Nancy felt a little uneasy about the gathering dark and the rain that was beginning to fall. She was glad when she arrived safely at the pastor’s house. The pastor and his wife welcomed Dr. Nason-Clark and they had a great 90-minute interview. As it came time for Nancy to leave, she walked to the door, feeling uneasy about the walk back to the train station. Now it was completely dark and there was a downpour. As she was about to leave, the pastor said, “We are concerned about your safety in this dark and horrible weather.” Nancy was so relieved to hear these words! She came back into their home. The pastor said, “Before you walk to the train station, we want to have a prayer that God would keep you safe and that God would keep you dry.” Nancy left the pastor’s home to walk 40 minutes in darkness to the station feeling unsafe, cold and soaked to the bone. “How easy it is to see the need right under our noses and yet be completely oblivious about how to respond.”

- Sacred Silence, Holy Hush, 1 Nov 2006.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Hitting the Road...

I was recently asked by my best friend of 20 years to go on a trip with her to Boston. A very close friend of hers is dying from cancer and she wants me to go along for moral support. When she asked me, I immediately felt I was supposed to go...but I wasn't sure my finances would let me. The reality is, finances will never be right, they never have been for us and it isn't changing anytime soon with four growing kids....long story short, I'm going! I couldn't imagine not being there for her!

So, during the Remembrance Day weekend, I am taking off for two nights three days. We are driving, yes Boston where she will meet up with her friend to say her painful goodbyes. In between that, we will talk, laugh, cry and drink lots of coffee!

This trip will be as much for me as it is for her... I need to get away and clear my head...hit the open road and in between conversations, I'll let my mind wander and think things through. Maybe I will come home more like myself...more balanced and clear headed...I want the old me back...not that I mind the me now...but I want more of a balance. I have a lot of decisions to make for the coming year...I need to pray more to be sure that I am doing the right thing as I move forward.

It sure is amazing what a difference a year makes...the fall is definitely a time of transition and hope for me...doors open and doors close...whatever the fall brings...I want to enjoy the many blessings in my life and not let things get me down. That is the old me that I miss!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Blogging Etiquette

Blogging is huge...we love the ease in which we can keep in touch with friends and family, how we can share our lives and meet new people, how we can express ourselves in writing knowing we would never share our stuff with people otherwise.

When I started blogging a couple of years ago, I absolutely loved knowing that no one knew me. I was, and to a large degree still am, a cautious blogger always aware of the strangers that surf the net. I never gave out my last name, never gave out my location, and certainly not my picture. If I posted photos of my kids I would use baby pictures, nothing to identify them.

That all changed a year ago when upon meeting new friends and having them for dinner, we learned that they had posted a video of our Thanksgiving dinner which included our full names, location, our children...everything was online for the world to see. When we found out, we were very uncomfortable with it and kinda freaked out by it...but we never said part because we hoped no one would ever see it or care! In hindsight, we do regret not asking them to remove it. My husband's co-workers found the video and it made the rounds at his work. He was razzed by them...he felt uncomfortable because he prefers to keep his home life private. I realize that with YouTube, Yahoo and Google video that to many it is no big deal...but it felt weird knowing we are out there in that way since we never would have chosen to do so.

Now every time you go to a dinner, a party, a sporting event, heck even church, people are taking photos...and from what I have been told, it is to be expected that your photo will probably be posted on someones blog for the world to see...or at the least, within your own little world/community. If you are uncomfortable with that or discover that you hate the photo posted of you have the right to ask to have it removed...I've been told it may be considered offensive or controlling because your personal discomfort is infringing on the blog owners creative rights...

So, while blog surfing, I came across a post over at bloggerdygook about said issue and it was a very interesting there is another discussion now going on at Restyled Home, my sister's blog and the consensus on both was that you should be asked before a photo is published of a person or child...especially children. I have no problem with group photos being taken for blogs...but I hate, hate, hate closeups being taken of me no matter how many protests I make, some people ignore that...I have never enjoyed having my picture taken, I freeze and yes, I am my own worst critic! My thought is that the person in the picture should have a say in whether they want that photo of them out there....

So, I am I off base for feeling this way? Since our family was put out there for all to see, I have relaxed a lot... and that has been a good thing. I enjoy posting photos of my kids, nieces and nephews on my blog...but I still have moments where I feel like to much is out there about myself and my family. Once the door is opened it is hard to close it shut, and in the scheme of things I know my little family is not that important in the big picture. However, I have never posted a photo where I questioned if the person would have any issues with the photo being published...either from personal privacy issues, or maybe it wasn't the most flattering, or maybe I think that they don't want their other friends or family seeing them in that picture....each person has their thing...

I liked what one photographer said on the issue from another article I read...

I know of no respected photographer who didn’t have respect for the subjects s/he photographs. And - even if you aren’t the best photographer in the world - showing respect will get you the respect you need to get a good start in the lion’s den that is Photography.

I think the same is true for blogging...but I could be wrong.

A Crisp Autumn Morning

So, today is one of those beautiful days that demands you get outside to enjoy the fresh air! I'm lucky, my kids don't need to much prodding...when I sat down to drink my morning coffee, I noticed two of them already outside playing basketball. After that, they moved to the back yard and started raking the mountain of leaves that is now covering our yard.

Technically, they should be doing their school work...but that is one of the perks of homeschooling...they can start their work after lunch feeling happy & invigorated and still finish their work for the day.

I have been working on their schedules...I am a bit late getting them done, but I was waiting on some new curriculum and I wanted to spend a lot of time on math and science to get them off to a strong start. Jack my youngest still moans and groans and will do anything to take a break or talk his way of out doing something! I scanned their schedules into the computer but I can't post them...hopefully I will figure out why and get them up.

Wednesday's are busy because Ella has dance lessons and pre-school which she loves! Everytime we head into the building she runs ahead of me...she is so eager to get inside. I love that she loves her new found independence!

Monday, October 08, 2007

Who am I.....

did you really know me...

did you really care

did you think about my feelings

or assume i'd just be there.

the winds they are a blowing

ripping cobwebs clean

i'll heal from this painful wounding

but the holes will remain


Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Blowing in the wind....

Today we went apple picking as a family. It was technically Ella's first time because she doesn't remember the last time we took her as she was around age two.
It was a beautiful, crisp fall day. We took the ferry over to the Kingston Peninsula and enjoyed all the pretty colours on our way to the farm.

We have been going there since the kids were in pre-school. I took Ben & Sam when Ben was maybe 4 or 5 when he was in Beavers. We used to go yearly and I have some amazing photos showing the kids from one year to the next. I used to organize homeschooling trips to the apple farm but after that ended, a new baby, a move, a sick mother, the falls moved to quickly to winter and we skipped it for a couple of years...maybe even three! So, going apple picking always makes me nostalgic for the times gone by.

So, today I found myself outside in the fresh air, picking apples, taking pictures, munching on apples that can only be described as exploding with pleasure in your mouth, picking pumpkins and the three oldest playing catch with an apple! It was all so idyllic...and it was except...

Except before that, to get there, I had to do soo many things to be ready. Andy slept till 1pm ish...I ran out to get gas in the van, buy cat food, get money, teach & mark math for two kids, go over science, make lunch, clean the kitchen and get a load of laundry on the line and another one started. Then I had to get all those darn recyclables sorted and into the mudroom so that hopefully Andy would get rid of them. I then doggy proofed the house so that maggie our shitty dog wouldn't leave presents in rooms that I didn't want her in.

I only bring this up because by the time we made it into the van, I was feeling cranky...Ben made a joke about it and I then blabbed off all that I had to do so that five other people could sail out the door oblivious. I just felt stupid & bad for complaining. I almost feel stupid for having so much responsibility, like it is something I have done to myself...if I was freer, or relaxed more I could do more for myself...but at this stage of my life "me" time is not readily available and I am fine with that...I am clear on where my priorities lie...and it is with my children and my hardworking hubbie.

Then fast forward to the evening. We went to my sil's to help my brother pull in the raft. After a nice visit we came home and everyone scatters. I had to bath ella...which is no big deal...except I wondered as I scrubbed the tub and washed away all those stray little hairs, does anyone really notice or care about such details...the fact that I do, does that make me nutty? The thought of Ella bathing in a tub that is not freshly scrubbed fills me with dread. Which then led me to think that if I wasn't here would Andy even know to do that...does he realize that it is important for little girls to have nice clean baths with bubbles....

Strange thoughts I know...but it is merely the musing of my little mind...but, it made me realize that I am so lucky, yes lucky to have these stresses, these irritations, when friends such as Stacey-Lynne prays that her little boy will not be afraid or in to much pain when he goes in for yet another painful surgery. Or maybe she worries that her little girls are not being washed in a super clean tub with just the right amount of bubbles...or maybe it is only mummy who can untangle their hair gently and she is far away in Montreal.

Anyways, I realize this post is all over the place...maybe I should be writing this to myself only...because even as I write it I am censoring myself because in reality, I can't say what is on my heart entirely...but so many people struggle. We all have our stuff...and to each of can be heavy. So, I find myself wondering about people and where their at and how their doing or why things change the way they do...but things do change...we all do...and when the winds of change come rolling need to ride it out. If your lucky, it isn't to much or to painful...or maybe it is only enough to blow the dust off...but you can't stop the wind. So, as I blow about in the wind, I am praying for strength not only for myself but others that I care about...I hope we all have a soft landing when the dust settles.

Heard a great quote tonight..."life doesn't give a damn about our plans...but how we roll with it is what counts!" So true!