The “C” Word

People my age are starting to get married and have kids. Not necessarily in that order but it’s happening one after the other and it almost feels like an epidemic—and that’s probably because I don’t want any. I’ve been saying that since I was 20-years-old—that I don’t want kids—but no one takes me seriously.

“You’re young, you’ll change your mind,” they say, like it’s not a completely legitimate desire to not want children. I do feel young still, but when the average age of women having children is somewhere between 25 and 30, it doesn’t feel so young. I wonder…if a 25-year-old is old enough to have a child, when will I be old enough to say I don’t want any?

It seems scary to me because I’m not at all where I wanted to be in life: graduated university, moved out of my mothers, debt-free, well traveled. It wasn’t even until recently that I started a career, so that’s one of five things I’ve accomplished. I know I’m not alone in this. There are plenty of women my age who are still working minimum wage, part-time jobs while going to school and yet they are already thinking about babies. I don’t understand what the rush is, but there’s something about having kids before 30 that seems to be the concern.

My main concern is trying to find someone who feels the same way I do. I’m at the age where people don’t typically date to date—it’s usually date for keeps. The whole “children” convo isn’t exactly talked about early on in a relationship, as I think it’s assumed that both people want them…but what happens if one doesn’t?

Since I was 21-years-old I have dated several guys who have definitely wanted kids and it’s been a struggle to voice my opinion on the subject—half because I’m not taken seriously and half because it’s really hard to tell someone you like so much, who wants a family, that you don’t. So, when is a good time to talk about it? There are hazards: if you bring it up too soon you’re likely to seem a bit crazy; however, if you bring it up too late you run the risk of hurting someone’s feelings or angering them for having wasted their time on you.

A guy I recently started dating told me he thought I’d make a great mother. His instincts were an assumption based on my repeated Instagram photos and Snap Chats of my friend’s 3-year-old daughter, whom I treat as my own child. I couldn’t bring myself to respond with more than a smile to his comment because it felt too soon to break the news. Not to mention, the conflicted messages I have of what I believe I want and what others tell me will happen, have often swayed me to keep quite. I thought about what he said over the next few days though, and I started to feel guilty for not being honest. I later told him of my uncertainty towards children, which felt more like a confession. I’m not sure what that information will make of us long-term—no one can be sure how that information will affect the future of a relationship—but saying it when I did was the right time.

Treating your pets with Paws & Play

How do you view your pet? Is it simply an animal in your house or is it a full-fledged member of the family? For most, it’s the latter, as their furry friends take up a prominent place in their hearts.

“People like to spend money on their children,” said Paws & Play co-owner Jolene Ewharekuko. “But they like to spend money on their pets too.”

“Pets are a huge part of people’s families, in general,” said Teah Wilson, paws & Play’s other co-owner. “Some people spend more money on their pets than their own kids, and take ultimate pride in pet ownership.”

“Pets aren’t something you just own anymore, they’ve morphed into something much more important like a child or an actual part of the family.”

Teah and Jolene started Paws & Play as a way for owners to give back to their “fur kids”, providing them a bunch of products to eat, use and consume.

“Paws & Play is a subscription box company for cats and dogs. We send a quarterly or monthly box for pet owners with toys, gadgets treats and goodies,” said Jolene.

“We saw that the business idea was getting really popular in the States,” said Teah. “There wasn’t a lot to choose from in Canada, because with the American rates it gets so expensive with them.”
The biggest challenge thus far has been the growth of their e-commerce business, as every time they’ve scaled up operations, they’ve had to upgrade and update their website, which has come with the occasional headache.

At first the boxes were only shipping to Canada, but the demand from abroad has grown to see Paws & Play shipping across the United States and around the world.

Made in Canada
Everything that goes into the boxes is made in Canada, something that Teah and Jolene stress is a must for their brand. They say that this is the harder part, with finding products developed in Manitoba proving to be a particular challenge, as there are very few suppliers in the province.
This revelation lead to Teah and Jolene developing their own line of artisan dog cookies, called Digz.
Social Media
Interactions on social media have been strong for Paws & Play (@pawsnplayboxes on Twitter and, with thousands of people following them.

“We have pet picture contests,” said Teah. “People love sharing pictures of their pets, so when we do that sort of thing, there’s a huge response.”

What’s in a box?
The average box will have one or two high quality and durable toys, one or two treats, a chew, a cookie and a gadget. The toys are typically soft and “lovey”, and whether you get one or two depends on the size of the toy, with the same thing going for the snacks. Gadgets include things like flashlights for leashes for walks at night.

For more information, check Paws & Play out online at their websites and

SERF’s up at the U of M!

Back for a fifth year of operations, the Sea-ice Environmental Research Facility (SERF) at the University of Manitoba is conducting its latest batch of experiments to determine environmental impact on the salt water ice of the Arctic.

While many Manitobans are finding things to do and study indoors, Dr. Fei Wang, his fellow professors and their students brave the elements to examine the intricacies of sea ice, and to use the information gathered to help calibrate their instruments for use in the field. The facility is one of only two of its kind in North America.

“My colleague, Dr. David Barber who is the Canadian research chair in arctic climate change, has been chasing this idea for a while, primarily driven by his earlier experience working in New Hampshire at the U.S. facility,” said Dr. Wang. “In 2008 we put together to a proposal to an agency called the Canada Foundation for Innovation to build this sea-ice environmental facility. We were lucky to get the funding, started construction and the whole facility became operational in 2012, with this year marking our fifth anniversary.”

The facility varies each year depending on Mother Nature, the only part the SERF team can’t control at the outdoor facility. A set of questions to be addressed is established in September each year, as members of the Artic Science Partnership community are allowed to use the facility. Variable such as salinity, water chemistry and how much of the roof they use are all decided on before the first study takes place.

“In theory we can run from December to March,” said Dr. Wang. “But in reality we can only really run in January and February. In March, while it’s still cold, the intensity of the midday sun is enough to deform the ice. We have two months of time, with two three-week experiments. We take one week to prepare the facility then run the experiment for three weeks. In between the two, we melt the ice and start over.”

“We have two types of study. There’s the geophysical study, where we study the remote sensing techniques and study the surfaces features of the ice and study the brine dynamics of the ice, or ice thickness. We test these techniques so that we can remotely determine those parameters for use in the field, for northern communities or for military operations.”

“Then we have the geochemical side of the study, where we study the chemical parameters of the sea-ice. That could be greenhouse gases, like CO2 and methane. There can be contaminants, such as mercury. We also study the fundamental parameters, including the pH, measuring the acidity of the sea ice.”

Frost Flowers
“Frost flowers are such a unique kind of phenomenon. They look very interesting just physically, but we also study their causes and effect. For instance, we study them geophysically to determine their effect on remote sensing. From a contaminants and chemistry side of things, frost flowers are extremely saline, with up to ten times the salinity of sea water. The concentration also concentrates contaminants, which can result in a high concentration of mercury or other contaminants. It’s very difficult to do field studies, because they only form at certain times and only last for a few days. Getting to them in the Arctic can be very difficult, but forming them at SERF allows for close study, from the very beginning of growth to the end of its decay.”

Climate Change
“One of the indicative comments I’ve heard from locals up there was that in the past, when they would go on hunting or fishing trips they wouldn’t have to bring any drinking water,” said Dr. Wang. “All they would have to do if they got thirsty was crush a piece of ice and you can drink it. But you cannot do this anymore. The ice that you crush now tastes just like sea water. And that tells you that the multi-year ice is disappearing, and that the ice is melting in the summer and growing again in the winter. So these talks tell us that the change is happening, and it’s happening very fast.”