Jun 132010

Commercials, news stories, walks, runs, telethons…nothing really does BC Children’s Hospital justice. Until you’re there, in the trenches, with a child that’s suffering, you don’t really understand what an amazing place it is…amazing because of the people.

Last weekend, we spent 2 days there when my 22 month old son was diagnosed with pneumonia. We were sleep deprived wrecks, when we arrived at the ward. Our son was frightened and exhausted after getting blood work done; suffering through numerous attempts to start and IV; and getting X-rays taken (all very traumatic for the little guy and his parents).

In Emergency, there is always a wait, but here we had a TV and cartoons to distract us. Nurses and Doctors were caring and actually smiled. They took the time to talk with us and explain things. Toys were given for each procedure; a large plastic magnifying glass for the x-rays and a mini teddy bear for the IV.

We entered the ER at 4:00am and were escorted to our room at 8:00am. Two nurses, Tara and Rachael, guided us through the maze of hallways to the ward. They made us feel welcome and at home. Unlike other hospital experiences, I didn’t feel like I was intruding or being  a bother. These women didn’t act like they were discontent, exhausted and underpaid. Instead, they were funny, upbeat, energetic and positive. They showed me my bed (beside Caden’s crib) and where to get bedding, extra PJs and blankets. They gave me a mini tour of the floor which included a peek at the Nourishment Station (translation mini kitchen). Here parents can prepare snacks for their kids. There is bread, jam, butter, peanut butter, a toaster, baby food, canned soups, apple and orange juice, milk, ice cream and popsicles.

Instead of feeling scared and apprehensive, I felt comfortable and confident. The nurses were understanding, great communicators, who anticipated my needs and Caden’s almost intuitively. They even hid in the bathroom while waiting for some equipment to arrive so they didn’t upset Caden (the sight of a mask and stethoscope was causing anxiety and upset).

Upon my arrival home I updated my facebook with these words:

“Andrea thinks Children’s Hospital is amazing and the nurses there are phenomenal and so human…why can’t it be that way everywhere…Caden has a touch of pneumonia…Mommy is using cookies and coffee as a crutch”

I understand upon reflection that it is the people that make the difference. The people that gravitate to this job are a unique breed. Any individual that can work day in and day out with sick children is extraordinary. Therefore, it follows that the care you would receive from that type of person would be could be nothing but excellent….and it was.

The weekend we stayed at BC Children’s Hospital they were holding Child Run, a fundraiser for pediatric cancer research and programs. It looks like a great event and a wonderful cause. Let’s just put it this way…they can count on 3 more people participating next year.

Jun 102010

Years and years and YEARS ago, I made these bars. They were so good I vowed never to make them again and locked the recipe away in “the vault”. (I have no will power when is comes to food like this and will eat the whole pan in a heartbeat).

A couple of weeks ago, I decided it was safe to whip up a batch . I was going away for the weekend to visit friends and wanted to take something really good. This recipe is simple, idiot-proof ( a favorite recipe trait of mine) and quick to make. Plus, these bars are always well received. Give them a try next time you need to bake but are stuck for time.

Note: The crust will appear “butter soaked” just turn a blind eye and proceed. I used unsweetened coconut, even though the recipe calls for sweetened. Nobody missed the extra sugar (these babies are super duper sweet). Also, I cut down on the chocolate chips and nuts….probably because I felt so guilty about the butter. No worries…they still rocked.

Magic Cookie Bars

Serving: 24 bars

2 cups (500 mL) graham wafer crumbs
3/4 cup (175 mL) butter, melted
1 can (300 mL) Regular or Low Fat Eagle Brand® sweetened condensed milk
1 1/3 cups (325 mL) chopped pecans (I only used 1 cup)
1 1/3 cups (325 mL) semi-sweet chocolate chips (I only used 1 cup)
1 1/3 cups (325 mL) flaked coconut (I used unsweetened coconut)

Combine graham crumbs with butter; press evenly onto parchment-lined 13 x 9″ (3.5 L) baking pan.

Pour Eagle Brand evenly over crumb crust.

Sprinkle with pecans, chocolate chips and coconut; press down firmly.

Bake in preheated 350ºF (180ºC) oven* 25-30 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool thoroughly and cut into bars. (Store loosely covered at room temperature.)

Hide from your family and most importantly…from yourself.

Recipe courtesy of the Eagle Brand website

Jun 042010


Have you ever wanted to knock on the door of a complete stranger and give them a big kiss?

No? Well, the urge hit me just last week. There’s a house right on Dunbar near the Dunbar Community Centre on the same side of the street (1 house in from Dunbar and 31st Avenue). I’ve walked by this house many times (in a hurry and self absorbed no doubt) and never noticed that there is something wonderful about it.

Last week, while walking by this house, a child of about eight appeared out of nowhere, ran in front of me, and pushed a button on the home’s gate. He had a grin on his face, peered over the fence, then turned and ran away. Once I reached the same spot on the fence, I stopped and peered over.

I don’t know who or why or even how, but what I do know is that that someone has built a model train (with large landscaped tunnel) into their front yard. The structure is detailed and built to last. The best part is that they’ve rigged  a start button for the train into their gate. How cool is that? I love this person. They are quietly creative and generous; sharing something wonderful with the neighbourhood.

I stood there a long time taking it all in before I sprung into action. I unsnapped Caden’s stroller harness, got him onto his feet, and we peered over the top of the gate. I motioned him to press the button (is there anything a toddler loves more….not really). The train started up. Caden squealed, pointed and beamed as we watched it chug around the track and through the tunnel. We presssed the button a few more times before moving on to the Kokopelli Cafe.

What a wonderful surprise and special memory. Thanks, “who ever you are”…this one’s for you….SMACK!