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Nicole Ludwig

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Well, hi.

Excuse the dust. It’s been awhile. I’ve been overwhelmed with life and finally feel like my brain has settled down enough that I can get this place going again.

So for the meantime, excuse the dust and the outdatedness while I tidy up.

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Open Letter: Premier Clark and Minister Fassbender, regarding the Labour Dispute with BC Teachers

Dear Premier Clark and Minister Fassbender:

You were duly elected by the citizens of British Columbia to be our leaders in negotiating a fair contract with teachers for our children’s education. Over the last six months, we have rarely heard from either of you.

After talks stopped in June and the teachers went on a full-on strike, your agent, Peter Cameron of the BCPSEA, agreed to meet once on August 8 with the BC Teachers Federation. Then there was two weeks of nothing.

A week before school starts, and Mr. Cameron and Mr. Iker go to Victoria to meet with you, Minister Fassbender, and the best you can offer is a two-week cooling off period to allow mediation (when a respected mediator has said you’re not ready)? In the light of a day where negotiations have broken down again, this seems like it was a Hail Mary pass to appear like you’re doing something. Honestly, there was a cooling off period: it’s called summer break and you were six weeks into it before you attempted to do anything.

More troubling than this lack of leadership, however, are clauses E.80 and E81 in your proposed terms of settlement. Both of these clauses attempt to circumvent any court rulings that may come later this year when your appeal is heard at the BC Court of Appeal.

The court has ruled against the government twice and has also indicated that the BC Government/its agent did not bargain in good faith. More importantly, twice, the court has ruled that certain aspects of Bills 28 and 22 are unconstitutional.

The attempts to use clauses E.80 and E.81 to negotiate out of these court rulings are audacious and very troubling. By continuing appeals and trying to contract out of court rulings it appears your government, Madam Premier, considers itself above the law. In fact, a message from the BCTF said that Mr. Ready, a veteran and well-respected mediator, said the government was trying to negotiate itself out of court rulings.

Every citizen, regardless of whether they have children in school in BC, needs to be concerned with government’s attitude that it can circumvent the rule of law. The Supreme Court of BC, the Appeals Court of BC and the Supreme Court of Canada are designed to rule on the highest law of the land; they have ruled and have the final say on the rule of law. I see nothing that shows you are likely to obey the rule of law.Once we lose the rule of law and our rights in the Constitution, we have nothing.

There is no law higher than the Constitution of Canada. The Courts have given their opinion and this government has been found guilty of violating those rights. As a government, you are tasked with upholding this law, and not trying to circumvent it based on economic arguments.

I understand your government was elected based on a balanced budget. However, you cannot put a value on our constitutional rights. And it is immoral of you to attempt to negotiate out of court rulings that uphold our Constitutional rights.

A leader would admit their mistakes, apologize and repair the mistake. I do not see that in your government, Madam Premier and Minister Fassbender. All I see is a focus on the bottom line to the detriment of our constitutional rights.

And this is why I stand with teachers and support them holding the line for properly funded and functioning educational system. Your lack of leadership has failed us all: families, teachers and students. I cannot call anyone a leader who fails to take responsibility for their mistakes, particularly when those mistakes are so grievous as to be called unconstitutional.

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So it’s only been what? (counts on fingers…carry the one) 5 months? I think it’s about time I resurrected this blog.

See once we fall back in the autumn, I tend to slide into a bit of a depression until we spring forward time-wise. It sucks, royally. I hate the dark with a passion. I hate getting up in the dark, getting home in the dark and so on. It just seems like it’s dark all the time. The times I talk to my doctor about going off anti-depressants, he always says one of two things:

  • wait until you have no stress in your life
  • wait for the dark to end

The former is laughable. I have a family. I work full time. I commute. I coach my daughter’s soccer team and ferry her to dance, yoga and her other activities. I do contract work on the side (although I’ve substantially reduced that in the last year). I volunteer. Also, I work with politicians on a daily basis.

The dark, though, ends every spring. When we spring forward, I stand taller. I’m more organized and the days are not just about getting through the day any more. So along with my spring resurrection, I’m resurrecting this blog.

How have you been?

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Walnut Grove PoolAnother lifetime ago, I decided to finally get around to completing my Water Safety Instructor Trainer (WSIT, for the uninitiated). I’d left recreation a year or two earlier because I was tired of people who argued over who gets to sit in front of the jets in the hot tub. When I explained to my mentor that I wanted to use the instructor trainer stuff as extra income, he laughed at me and said, “No you don’t. You’ll be back. You’re a lifer.”

I snarkily mentioned something about the pot calling the kettle black, and he said something to the effect of, “Well, at least *I* admit it.

I huffed and puffed and said to myself that I would be damned if I became a lifer.

Over the next 10 years or so, I slowly let a bunch of certifications expire: Lifesaving Instructor (Trainer), National Lifeguard Services (NLS) (Instructor), First Aid (Instructor) and really only kept up my Red Cross WSIT award, eventually becoming a Master Instructor Trainer (MIT) and gaining a reputation for being Really Good At This.

* * * * *

Earlier in the year, I burned out teaching these courses. Shannon was going through a really clingy phase, Darren was working every other Sunday and it was just too much for our family. I finished up the course I was teaching, bailed on a second that I’d originally agreed to and declared a year long hiatus on teaching, citing family reasons.

Back before Christmas, a client contacted me and begged me to teach a Water Safety Instructor course. I hemmed and hawed about it, sent them a quote, we did a bit of back and forth on how much I would be paid (read: double what I usually get paid), and away we went.

It was an excellent class – six very strong candidates. It was a crash course, which I usually abhor, but it was over quickly instead of having it spread out over five or seven weekends.

About day three, the candidates were in the water teaching their classes. I emerged onto the deck and surveyed what was going on. I walked under the waterslide and watched an NLS class practicing hand and whistle signals. I watched the instructor candidates. I saw lifeguards communicating with each other and dealing with the public.

And for an instant I missed it. I missed the noise, the light, the splashing – the helping people (except for the people hogging the jets in the hot tub. I still don’t miss that.)

In the next instant, I thought, “Oh crap. He was right.”

And then I realized I had a goal for the year: get my NLS certification back. I’m at the point where I’d have to take the course again, but I’m okay with that. Or rather, I will be okay when I get fit enough to do it.

Next up:  a swimcap and goggles purchase to practice swimming. Because there’s no way I’m swimming two or three times a week without them.

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NO, You’re Not, or Preschoolers and Attitude

The word “No” used to be kind of cute coming out of my preschooler’s mouth. I would ask her things like:

Do you like Stephen Harper? No!
Do you like Brussels sprouts)? No!
Does a bear poop in the woods? No!

And then she turned from a toddler with burgeoning language skills into a preschooler, with attitude.

Me: “Okay, kiddo, one story and then bedtime. I’m tired.”
Shannon: “No you’re not!”
Me: :facepalm:

And it’s this sort of exchange that has me arguing with a four year old on an almost daily basis. We had a chat about saying “No” to everything and she agreed to stop and think about it.

Me: “If you don’t eat your meat, you can’t have any pudding.”
Shannon: “Yes I can!”
Me: :headdesk:

So we read the Star Trek Book of Opposites  and had a talk about opposites and going along with what other people want sometimes, or a lot of the time, and not just saying the opposite of what the other person says just because she can. I wasn’t entirely sure it would work. Then, the other weekend:

Shannon: Can I have ice cream, please?
Me: After you finish your noodles.
Shannon: Grrrrrr. :blows a raspberry:
Me: :looks at her and raises an eyebrow:
Shannon: Can I have my noodles please? And sit at the table while you fold laundry?
Me: Of course.

So she sat there and scarfed down her noodles. And then she got her ice cream. Then she put play doh on the clean clothes.


(And yes, the Star Trek Book of Opposites is awesome. So is Darth Vader and Son and Vader’s Little Princess).


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Walking in Parking Lots with Children

I am scared of walking in parking lots with Shannon. I don’t mind walking on sidewalks along busy highways or bypasses with her – at least there I can put myself between her and the cars.

When I first started my current job, I met a woman whose small son had been hit by a runaway shopping cart in a parking lot. Her son ended up with a brain injury, her marriage fell apart and instead of being the teacher she always wanted to be, she became an advocate for her son and people with brain injuries and hidden disabilities generally. Because of the shopping cart, her son had permanent brain damage and associated behavioural problems.

A friend of mine whose wife works with people with disabilities said it quite succinctly: “The sad part is, if he’d been hit by a car, ICBC would take care of him.”

And I am scared of parking lots with cars and shopping carts. Especially shopping carts.

* * * * *

One Friday, I was driving home and heard the news: a mother and her 2 year old son had been hit by a minivan in a mall parking lot in Pitt Meadows. I was horrified and tempted to stop off there on the way home – but the mother and son had long since been taken to hospital and I would just be in the way of police and others trying to figure out what happened.

She had a broken leg; her son had passed away, said the talking heads.

I went home and hugged Shannon and checked my Facebook to find that a few of my local friends had posted they were okay and thanking friends for calling.

* * * * *

Last week there was a candlelit vigil at Memorial Peace Park in Maple Ridge for the little boy. I didn’t go – I got home late and hadn’t slept well and was tired. I slept with Shannon in her bed (apparently I snore and have been keeping Darren awake).

I woke up every couple of hours and finally called it quits at 4am. I got up and made some coffee, did some online Christmas shopping, and for some reason started googling news articles about the accident.

The little boy’s name was Riddick.

* * * * *

Last year, I enrolled Shannon in a dance class because she loved dancing. I talked just about every week to one of the mothers there who had her daughter in the same class. I never learned her name but I did learn many things about her in the way that parents do when they chat to each other.

One day, she explained the origin of her kids’ names. She had wanted unusual names.

She named her daughter Temperance. Temperance was about a year older than Shannon and lost a tooth at their final recital.

I met most of her family there – her parents would attend and we would chat. Once or twice she brought her son along with her.

Her son’s name was Riddick.

* * * * *

 I hate walking in parking lots with Shannon, more than ever.



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Halloween Tales: The Fairy Princess and the Spider

Once upon a time there was a Fairy Princess who lived in the Realm of the Ridge of Maples with her mother, the Queen, and her father the Legionnaire. They lived in a smallish castle, connected to and surrounded by other smallish castles.

One day, shortly before the Celebration of Turkey Thanks, the Fairy Princess took a walk with the Legionnaire to fetch a message from the Posts of Canada baskets. The wizard and sorceress two castles down were out and about and decorating their castle for All Hallows’ Eve. They had hung black cobwebs from the garage overhang turrets, and into their bushes had placed the remains of those who had displeased them. The Wizard that lived there had enchanted the skulls so that they glowed with the power of light emitting diodes and let out howls of remorse.

The Fairy Princess went to see the All Hallows’ Eve decorations and approached a spider. When she got close to it, the spider leaped out at her! The Fairy Princess shrieked in fear so loudly that the Queen, who was at home enjoying a glass of wine mead, with all the windows and doors closed and two castles away, heard her shriek. “Well,” thought the Queen. “My Legionnaire will protect her!”

Shortly thereafter the Fairy Princess ran into the castle to find her mother. “Mother!” she said “The wizard and sorceress have a JUMPING SPIDER!”

“Oh?” said the Queen. “Did it bite you?”

“Nooooooo,” cried the Fairy Princess, crawling into her mother’s lap, thereby displacing the blog post scroll the Queen was writing. “But I was SCARED!”

When the Legionnaire entered, he was full of mirth woe. “The Wizard and Sorceress have an enchanted spider! When you pass by it, it jumps to protect the townhouse castle.”

The Fairy Princess buried her face in her mother’s breasts, seeking comfort. The Queen attempted to contain her tears of laughter distress.

At the next section of two days with no meetings, the Queen and the Queen Mother took the Fairy Princess to the dollar store market where she chose some decorations for All Hallows’ Eve and some new fairy wings.

Despite this, the Fairy Princess did not want to go visiting on all Hallows’ Eve. The morning of the big event, the Queen asked the Fairy Princess if she was going trick or treating. “No,” answered the Fairy Princess. “I just want to stay home and tell you when other little princes and princesses come to the door.”

“You don’t want to go get candy and treats?” asked the Queen in disbelief. “No,” said the fairy princess. “We have lots already.”

The Queen considered this a win.

Later that afternoon, the Fairy Princess’ Governess took her to the market for some trick and treating. She arrived with a bag of candy and treats and began sorting.

When the Queen arrived home and had fortified herself with some wine mead, the Fairy Princess disguised herself as a Dragon-Bumblebee-Fairy Princess and went adventuring to seek tricks and treats.

The Queen, the Fairy Princess and the Governess went to four neighbouring castles where everyone knew her and filled up her bag with treats again. On the way back to her castle, the Dragon Bumblebee Fairy Princess refused to walk past the Wizard and Sorceress’ castle. When she got past, she ran all the way home and slammed the castle gate behind her.

The end.

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The Things I Said I’d Never Do: Soccer Mom

Hugh Jackman without a shirt.

Hugh Jackman, Without a shirt. You’re welcome.

You know that column on your life list (or whatever you call it) that’s called “I will never, ever in a million years, ever do this even if they pay me lots and lots of money and Hugh Jackman without a shirt is there”?

One of those things in my column was “Team Sports” and more specifically “Soccer”. I am not a Team Sports person. I am a swimmer, an ice skater (or used to be), and a very infrequent runner. In fact, I’m not a fan of running, which is why “Soccer” was in the shirtless Hugh Jackman column.

That was, at least, until I got an email from my daughter’s soccer club saying they’d have to cancel her section because there was no head coach. And my daughter loves soccer. She actively misses it when she’s not playing and asks to go play soccer.

Apparently, my daughter’s potential disappointment overrides lots and lots of money and a shirtless Hugh Jackman.

Darren and I discussed it, and we decided that one of us should do it. The problem is that he often works Sundays and has to be there. And so I became a Soccer Coach.





Let me say the only things I know about soccer are that (1) you kick the ball with your foot; (2) you don’t use your hands, ever; and (3) Christine Sinclair rocks.

Christine Sinclair :o

Christine Sinclair – Photo Courtesy Frog Photography

I’ve been reassured that they have technical staff to provide ongoing training throughout however, I think I should be getting a little instruction.

They offer a Soccer Mom program to teach skills and tactics and rules. So I’ve signed up for it, Sunday evenings from 9 to 10.

Unfortunately Hugh Jackman, with or without a shirt, will likely not be there. But at least I’ll be able to keep up with the preschoolers. I hope.

Anyone want to join me? And what have you done for your kids, despite the lack of a shirtless Hugh Jackman and/or lots and lots of money?

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Fabulous Fridays – August 9, 2013


Things that are making my Friday fabulous:

  1. It’s Friday and it’s sunny!
  2. I’ve been taking an online learning course through work and it’s WAY overdue for a variety of reasons. I finished that course today.
  3. I have one week/five days of work left and then I’m on vacation! For three weeks!
  4. The Poptart has reached some sort of behavioural milestone (I hope) – she’s starting to use her words instead of whining and pointing. It takes some prompting, but she now realizes she’s more likely to get what she wants when she tells us or shows us.

What’s making your Friday fabulous?

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Keeping up with the Preschooler

My preschooler, the apple of my eye, the twinkle in my star (and sometimes the thorn in my side), is a Very Busy Person. In fact, she’ll tell you that.

Me: Okay, pumpkin, time to clean up your cars and then it’s shower time.

Shannon: In a minute, I’m too busy!

(True story).

She started walking at 10.5 months, and two weeks later walked around the entire Greater Vancouver Zoo. About a week after that, she forgot how to walk. She now runs, skips and dances everywhere.

Our solution to her boundless energy? Short of siphoning it off, bottling it and selling it (thereby becoming independently wealthy)? Lots and lots of outside time, especially during the summer when it’s hot and nice out.

Thrice a week, she’s at the water park. Twice a week she does activities at the rec centre – “Duck, Duck, Splash!” is her new favourite game. If she’s not at the waterpark, she’s in her blow up pool in the afternoon.

As someone who taught swimming for 20 years, I can tell you, there’s nothing like water to douse preschooler energy. After a late morning/early afternoon in the pool or at the water park, the Poptart is quite exhausted and will often just pass out on the sofa for a couple of hours.

The problem with this? It’s also exhausting to the parents. Particularly parents who have some extra weight to carry around.

Darren hopped on the bandwagon of fat loss and muscle gain in January. He’s down 40lbs or so and is starting to get lean.

I hopped on our new scale in January and didn’t like the number I saw. I’m down about 15 lbs but haven’t been motivated to do anything beyond that. I’m finding I just don’t have the focus. I started with the Isagenix system, which is okay, but worked for me for about 10lbs and that was it. Darren, on the other hand, can have two shakes and a large meal per day and drop 10lbs in a day (I exaggerate, but not by much). The Isagenix system includes two “super cleanse” days per week for the first two weeks, where all you get are “snacks!” (chalky crunchy things that are designed to give you some nutrients), water, and some sort of powdered drink that tastes better warm than cold. By the end of the first day, I had a raging headache. By the end of the second day, all I wanted to do was eat because my blood sugar was so damn low.

So partly because I am jealous of Darren, and partly because I want to keep up with my preschooler, I’ve hopped back on the weight loss and fitness bandwagon. I’m not actually concerned about weight loss, but want to firm up and wear a smaller size.

For me, it boils down to three aspects: accountability, nutrition and exercise.

Daily accountability has taken the form of a Jawbone UP! It’s a bracelet-like device that tracks your sleep and movement. It also tracks your nutrition and activity if you plug it into the app. Full review next week (not sponsored – I paid for it). Weekly accountability will be in the form of a blog post on Saturdays (which will also be a planned “cheat” day).

Nutrition: I’m starting with Dr. Oz’s two day cleanse. I know a lot of it is hype, but he has quite a few easy recipes with whole ingredients. And I tried his quinoa with prunes breakfast the other day and wasn’t hungry for most of the day. Although, because I forgot to get flax oil, I substituted ground flax and coconut oil instead.

Focused exercise at least three days per week. By focused, I mean a class or a video that gets my heart pumping and my body sweating. I have my own sandbag now (which Ivan kindly filled for me) and I can use that at home. I’ve also started the “You Are Your Own Gym” program, which teaches you to lift your own body weight as resistance exercise. I like those videos because it’s one guy, former military, and he’s actually working during the videos.

Unfocused exercise: Taking my preschooler for walk/run around the park after work as long as it’s still light out and not pouring rain. If it’s too late, we’ll go in the back yard and toss a ball around and blow bubbles. On weekends, we’ll go to the water park or swimming and splash around in the pool. I am determined to become the best role model I can for her. And I’m determined to keep up with her – at least sometimes.

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