The American Calgarian

Tales of a Midwesterner transplanted in Western Canada

Archive for the month “February, 2012”

Careful What You Wish For…

I  had to talk with the kids about their spring activities (sports) schedules.  I was motivational, eloquent, a model mother.  “I don’t care what you decide to do, but you will not sit in the house and play video games all weekend!”  Okay, so maybe not THAT eloquent.  Motivational?  You bet.

Girl’s response, “I want to play soccer, continue in Guides and add a swim team so I can be in the pool twice a week.  We are still going to ski, though, right?  And we are running a 5K this spring?” Got it.  Nothing unexpected here.

Apprentice responds, “I want to ski, play hockey, swim, play soccer and try baseball.  Unless it doesn’t fit, then no baseball.  Definitely hockey.” No surprise there either.  Apprentice needs more time in the day.  And his own car.  Much to his credit, the kid wants to try everything out there.

Mid is the tough one.  He responds, “Fine. I will do soccer.  But I want to keep swimming.  I don’t want to ski all the time, though I want to SOMEtimes.  And I want to join the rock climbing club.  I think they also teach you how to boulder.  It looks awesome.”  Winning!  Once again, I begged him to sign up for soccer, as he just starting getting pretty good at it, and he acquiesced.  Wait… rock climbing? bouldering?  Mid was at a birthday party recently at an indoor climbing facility and apparently had a blast.  This was his motivation to climb mountains as well as ski down them.  I have mixed thoughts about this.  Sure, for now he is just going to a gym, getting harnessed up and climbing up to four stories with a certified instructor.  But soon, will I be the parent that has a son spelunking into caves?  Climbing towers in Dubai?  JB thinks that would be awesome.  A part of me does as well, but the mother in me thinks I should just sign him up for advanced algebra and be done with it.

After thinking about it for a few days, I signed him up.  After all, I had similar fears when Mid decided he wanted to play hockey.  When I voiced these fears to a good friend, she replied, “Really? You are afraid of him falling on the ice?  This from the woman who straps narrow boards to her kids feet at 12,000 feet in the mountains and says, “race you to the bottom!”  Let the kid play hockey.”  In the interest of full disclosure, it is her fault (and her son’s) that Apprentice is interested in hockey at all, because Apprentice thinks her son is the coolest kid ever and wants to do whatever he does, and he plays hockey.  And lacrosse.  Lord help me.  And, for the record, I don’t race my kids to the bottom of ski runs.  They can’t buy beer when they lose (yet).  But anyway…

To answer the obvious question, yes, I have a spreadsheet calendar with all the schedules mapped out.  In color, thank you.  Would it be too much to ask that all three of them do the same sports at the same time?  A Mom can dream…

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Gratitude in the Cold

Its been a crazy week, with Monday being a holiday and all, but much to report..

I could not believe it myself.  This week I received a call from school to let me know that Mid had won an award for his behavior this past month.  Every month a child (or children) from each class are awarded for Respectful, Responsible, Safe and Praise-ful (is that a word?) behavior.  Mid was one of three in his class to be recognized this month.  I am proud of him for displaying this behavior for many reasons, but mostly because of our three kids, he had the hardest time adjusting to our new home.  He said he was not terribly excited about this award, but through his actions if was plain to see that it meant a lot to him.

Saturday night JB offered to make dinner and I was not about to turn that down.  It was nice to sit, visit with him and enjoy a glass of Pinot Noir while he cooked dinner.

My cousin Seth had a birthday this past week and I am grateful to have him in our family.  Although my mother will tell a story of a time long ago when Seth kicked me in the shins and I vowed to never like him, I am grateful that I was able to get to know him better over the last few years.  I have no recollection of the event, btw.  My kids have benefited from getting to know him as well.  He has taken care of them several times and they enjoy his company as much as I do.

I am grateful for the cold air coming into my lungs when I ran this morning.  It was a chilly morning, but after a few kilometers, it was just like summer.  (I know, its crazy, just go with it.)  As it turns out, I enjoy running in the snow and -15C weather.  Toward the end of the 16k run I thought to myself that I may have even over-dressed.

I found a pair of running shoes that I bought on sale right before moving!  Just when I thought I was going to have to buy another pair, and was searching for a specific water bottle, (this also seems crazy, but I can explain, though won’t here), I found the shoe box in the back of my closet with some random crap.  Woot!  New running shoes!  I am thankful to have 3 pair to rotate during training until the Calgary Marathon.

Have a great week!  And, as Ellen DeGeneres says, “Be kind to each other.”

Life Lessons – Money and Video Games

Like many parents, we give our kids a weekly allowance.  They are required to pay for certain things out of their allowance and they are also expected to save a predetermined amount of it.  Recently the kids informed JB and I that they had been saving their money and they wanted to go shopping.  They all had a particular thing they wanted to buy and had a plan for doing so.  JB and I nodded and agreed to take them shopping in between our regular Saturday errands.

While riding about town, we discussed what it was that they wanted to buy.  Mid had a particular video game in mind and I told him that I thought I saw it at Costco.  Since we were going to Costco anyway, he could look for it and possibly purchase it there.  (btw, I love Costco)  Apprentice also had a video game in mind, which resulted in a similar conversation.  The Girl had other things on her mind.  She was not exactly sure what she wanted, just knew that she wanted to shop to see what would grab her attention.  I should make a point of clarification here – just because they are spending their own money earned by doing chores, etc, around the house, JB and I have veto power over any purchases.  This is sometimes an unpopular rule, but if I have to pick up another f*ing stuffed animal or piece of useless noisy plastic, I may lose it.  Anyway…

When Mid found the video games at Costco, he was terribly disappointed to see that the game he wanted to buy was $45, (what a racket), and he only had $21.  He looked around at other stuff with the Girl and Apprentice.  Girl and Apprentice did not see what they wanted, so we started to proceed to the checkout.  Mid stopped me.  “Can I borrow $24? I will pay it back over the next weeks through not getting my allowance. I really want X game.”  JB and I looked at each other.  JB was standing behind Mid.  He shook his head back and forth while mouthing, “Absolutely not”, behind Mid’s back.  I told Mid that he would have to wait, because if he did not have the cash to pay for something that he simply could not buy it.  And furthermore, it would take a long time for him to pay back the money that I would lend to him.  And what happened next week, when he would undoubtedly ask to purchase something else?  No.

Undeterred, Mid starting bargaining with me.  “I will do more chores.  My brother and sister will not have to do any, I will do all of them.  I will help with the laundry.  Whatever.  Just pppuuullleeeaaazzzeee lend me the money?”

“No,” I answered.  I started walking.  Mid was really mad at this point.  I could see that he was considering an all out tantrum, but did not go in that direction.  Worthy to note, the last time he through a tantrum in a public place, I walked away.  This is a tactic learned from my mother, for perhaps another blog.  And before you get all, “you should not have endangered your kid that way”, he was perfectly safe and I could see him the whole time. Relax.

The negotiations continued at the checkout. I explained to him that there is simply no reason that at the age of 8 he should be in debt to anyone and that, unlike the US Congress, he has to live within his means. In addition, this is a WANT, not a NEED, and didn’t they learn that in school?  Needs always come before wants, and if you don’t have the cash, the wants just have to wait.  This is so much easier to preach, isn’t it?  I digress.

As we left Costco, we agreed on a compromise.  We would go to an electronics store and he could check if the game he wanted to buy was cheaper there.  Now, we all know that these video games are usually not cheaper anywhere.  JB and I thought this would further prove our point and since the other store was in the same strip mall, no harm done.

To our surprise, a different game, a game that one his friends has and he enjoys playing, was at the other store.  The most recent version was outside his budget, so another disappointment.  However, he looked further on the shelves and found the first version of the game well within his price range.  He thought for a bit.  He brought the game over to JB to have him look it over.  Then, he proclaimed, “Since I don’t have either of these games, the first version is fine for me, and I have enough money for it.  I will just have to keep saving or wait for the other games to come down in price. Is that OKay, Mom?”  Are you kidding?  So proud that he came to this realization on his own.

As for the other two, Girl found the earrings she wanted and Apprentice found the game he wanted, both coming in under budget as well.  All in all, a successful trip for the kids, with a little money lesson built-in.  Not a bad way to spend a Saturday.

Family Weekend Gratitude

Its Family Day tomorrow in Alberta.  This day many businesses will be closed as we celebrate the importance of families and family life to people and their communities. So, of course, this week’s list is centered around people in my family for whom I am thankful.

1. My Dad.  It was about 12 years ago that he told my husband that he wanted our family to start taking ski vacations together and it was time that he learned how to ski.  The first two years were a bit rough for JB, but he has become a good skier.  Which leads me to..

2. My husband.  About 12 years ago he could have drawn a line in the sand, told my dad to buzz off, that he was not going to learn to ski.. but he didn’t.  He took lessons and fell on his butt and kept getting up.  As noted above, he is really good skier and can often be caught reading multiple snow reports in order to make an informed decision about the best place to hit the slopes, (though he will say this is NOT over-engineering, it’s just being thorough).

3. The sense of adventure that shows up in my children.  They tackled a new mountain last Friday.  We had not skied Sunshine Village before, and really did not know what to expect.  They took to it like pros, never said “no” and we all had a great day.  I am also happy to report that the three of them will be tough to keep up with in a few short years.

4. Whomever put the “I Closed Wolski’s” bumper sticker on the chairlift pole at Sunshine Village.  It cracked us up, because I actually have closed Wolski’s on a couple of occasions with some good friends.  JB and I reminisced about friends and family in Wisconsin on and off for the rest of the day.  Down side is that my children now know what it means to “close a bar”.

5. It would be almost criminal if I did not mention Carnevale, celebrated this past week at our school.  I am also thankful for the parent volunteers at our children’s school that put together a great French and Italian “Mardi Gras” festival.  The kids learned about traditions in both cultures centered about Mardi Gras and we all had a blast.

Here’s to Family and Family Day..  I hope you and yours have a great week!

 

Boy Parts

A recent post from theJackB (http://www.thejackb.com/) cracked me up. It was about his young daughter and her many many questions about boy parts.  The post inspired me to revisit a previously written draft and share some lessons I have learned from my boys and regarding their respective parts.  Enjoy.

1. Knock First.  “Hey, buddy, whatcha doing in there?” I asked.  My son, then 3 years old, had been in the bathroom for a long time and I was curious as to when he would return to the family room so we could resume our movie.
“I’m playing with my penis, Mommy!” he replied.  I got up to see what he was actually doing.  As it turns out, I did not have to do that because he was actually playing with his penis, just as he stated, and was pleased to show me all the marvelous things it could do.  I told him that I was going to start the movie again and closed the door.

2. The truth will not only set you free, it may also gross you out, (if you are 7 years old).  Recently we were at the zoo.  While at the primate exhibit, a bonobo was nursing her young.  The women working at the exhibit told us (and the crowd) all about the exhibit.  The monkeys, gorillas and bonobos and their natural habitat, grooming habits, diet, you get the idea.  Then my son asked her what the female bonobo was doing with the baby.  She explained to him that she was feeding the baby, as many mammals feed their young, and moved on to the next question.  “The way they feed their babies is kind of gross,” he said.

A little while later, he turned to me.  “Mom, we are mammals, right?”

“That’s right,” I answered.

“And the bonobos are mammals, like us?”

“That’s right.”  Wait for it.  And the light bulb went off.

“Do people feed their babies that way too?  The gross way the bonobos do?”

“It’s not gross.” I replied.  “That’s the way I fed you, your brother and sister when you were babies.  It’s just what mommy mammals do.”

“With your breasts?” He asked in repulsion.

“Yes, with my breasts.” I replied.  He ended the conversation by running toward a pooping elephant.

3. Know your audience.  “MOM!” I heard a yell from upstairs.  It was the Girl, who had a friend over to play.  Just as I was about to spring into action, you know, do CPR, call poison control, save lives, whatever, I heard giggling.  So I slowed when going upstairs to see what was amiss.  We were not yet at the point where my boys always closed the bathroom door when using the facilities.  The Girl and Andrea (her friend, name changed), had walked in on Apprentice.

“AAHHH! What’s that?” Andrea asked Apprentice, astonished.

“My penis.  I’m peeing,” Apprentice answered, matter of fact.

“Oh,” Andrea replied.  Apprentice sensed that she wanted more information and did not want to disappoint.

“I go pee with it.  Sometimes it even gets bigger or smaller,” Apprentice started to explain.

“Gross!” Andrea interrupted.

“MOM!” My daughter yelled for me, as she was embarrassed, and this is where I began the story.  “Andrea, never mind him.  My brothers sometimes play with their penises.”  She rolled her eyes and they left the bathroom.

The situation now under control, I reminded the boys to close the bathroom door and then went to my bedroom to privately giggle.  After I composed myself, I called Andrea’s mother.  I told her what happened, how it was completely innocent, but Andrea had seen Apprentice’s private parts.  Jean (also name changed) thanked me for calling, confirmed a pick up time and giggled a bit, explaining that Andrea’s dad is quite modest and that was the first time Andrea had seen boy parts.  (whoops)

4. Stay with your kids while they are changing clothes.  A couple of weeks after the above incident, we were staying with friends for a weekend visit.  They have two great daughters, about the same age as my little cherubs.  It was approaching bed time, so children were sent to their respective sleeping quarters to change.  A few minutes later we heard giggles.  Alot of them.  Then, an exasperated, “what? It’s just a penis.” (oh shit.)  Its happened again. Who should appear but Apprentice, stark naked, carrying his jammies.  “Mom, can you help me get these on?” I obliged, of course.  We got everyone under the age of 10 to bed.  Our friends were laughing.  Apparently, they don’t walk around the house naked either, because Apprentice had succeeded in showing their daughters a penis for the first time.

My husband and I always tried to call things what they are with respect to biology and our parts.  In a small way, I hope this fosters a positive body image for our kids.  I want them to know that their bodies are beautiful just the way they are.  Even so, I try to keep these lessons in mind when explaining body parts and processes the kids.  I hope you have laughed and learn from this as well.

Care to share a story of your own?  Please, I would love to hear that we are not the only people this may have happened to..

A Valentine Romance

“I love you! I love you! Let’s get married!” smooch smooch smooch

“I love you too! I love you! Let’s get married!” smooch smooch smooch

Then, much to his surprise, she eats him.  The end.

A Valentine Story by Mid, a lover of the praying mantis

The story loses some of its effect when written out, as Mid will do many hand motions of the mantis kissing and the eventual eating of the male.  To answer the obvious question, yes, I have started saving for therapy for him, (just kidding, maybe).

Mid did not want to write out his Valentines for his class party.  He explained that he does not like Valentines Day, on account of all the lovin’ and other icky stuff.  I tried to explain to him that it is just as much about friendship and family as it is all that love business, but since I am not really a fan of the holiday either, I was not terribly convincing.  Not my best performance in convincing the kids to do something that I think is a bit corny.  To win him over, I baked.  What can I say?  The kid is an eating machine.

Here is wishing you and yours a great Valentines Day.  I hope you are not eaten at the end of the day.

Mid and Apprentice with the Unsuspecting Praying Mantis

Gratitude on the Run

This week I started training full boat for my spring marathon.  That means that in addition to chasing my kids around, my focus has been running.  And food.  Well, just read below.

1. I am thankful for the running group I joined to train for the Calgary Marathon this spring.  They are a fun group and I am sure will provide material for many a blog post.  The group is welcoming to newcomers and full of positive energy.  I have no doubt that this will be a successful race!

2. I am thankful for pantry full of good food in my kitchen.  I try to keep nutritious, wholesome food in the house and I am thankful that our family does not go without.  Every now and then the kids even eat some flax!

3. I am thankful for the creativity my children show through various activities.  When provided with time, colored pencils and blank paper, I am continually impressed with what they come up with.  Most recently, the Apprentice has written a little book about a gingerbread man, Mid enjoys doing comic strip-type art and my daughter will do poems about whatever comes to her mind. To see an example of Mid’s art, please click comic.11.2.2010

4. I am thankful that my kids like to go bowling.  What other sport can we play as a family where it is socially acceptable for my husband and I to have a beer during the game?

5. I am thankful for treadmills.  This morning it was rather chilly, so I ran inside at the Y.  I should note that I am also thankful to the man who was running on the treadmill next to me.  Unbeknownst to him, we were racing, (I won).  As he was exiting his treadmill, he conceded defeat complimented me on my pace.  You read correctly, in my head, we were racing and I won.  I don’t really enjoy running on treadmills for long and entertain myself by making up little stories about the other people in the gym while running.  That doesn’t make me crazy, does it?

Have a great week!

And, be warned, more to come about my training.. if you like to read about running, nutrition and random made-up stories about people who work out while I run on a treadmill, I encourage you to keep reading.  If you don’t, I understand if you leave the blog until June.

Weekly Gratitude – 2/5ish

This weekend I had the opportunity to give thanks while “off the grid”, so a day late on the post.  NOT late in thankfulness, though, as it was a great week.

1. I am grateful to be alive.  Time spent in the Canadian Rockies this weekend made me pause quite a bit to just be thankful to be alive on this great planet.  The views were breathtaking and forever implanted in my memory.

2. I am grateful to have opportunities to spend time with my children. Most recently, that meant a weekend with my daughter (and a group of girls as a chaperone) in the mountains.  The Girl and I made some great memories!

3. I am grateful for the chance to be a stay at home mom for a while.  I am getting better at this new job and happy that I have the freedom to explore new possibilities.

4. I am grateful for sports.  I love watching the NFL.  Even though I was surprised that they would hold the Super Bowl despite the Packers’ absence, I love the Super Bowl and had a great time watching the game, (and it was great game, was it not?)
5. I am grateful for new friends.  We have been welcomed into the lives of many new friends since our move and I am thankful for our developing relationships!

More to come on last weekend’s shenanigans.. but for now, have a great week!

 

Crunchy Eggs

About a week ago, Apprentice came running out of school at the end of the day.  “MOM! I HAVE A LOOSE TOOTH!”  The ride home, dinner and discussion before bed were a dissertation of his loose tooth and how his life has been effected by said loose tooth.  Lunch had to be chewed on one side of his mouth, juice drunk through the straw on the opposite side that he usually does, you get the idea.  To be fair, it was his first loose tooth.  His brother and sister prepped him on the Tooth Fairy, which is funny because my daughter has told me she does not buy into the whole thing (“Mom, fairies and other fantasy-like creatures are not real”) and Mid told Emma, our friends daughter, that tooth fairies and the Easter Bunny don’t exist.  (Apparently the talk we had with him after leaving Emma’s house got through to him.  And Jim & Leslie, still sorry about that.)

Apprentice has been babying this loose tooth for about a week.  To be honest, I had forgotten about it.  Then this morning, while eating his usual cereal, bacon, toast and scrambled eggs, Apprentice said, “Mom, there is something crunchy in my eggs.”  At first, I assumed that he was suggesting there were shells in the eggs, (must be PMS).  I gave him a paper towel and told him to spit out what was in his mouth, intending to prove that there were, in fact, no shells in the eggs.  He spit out the eggs and they were a little bloody.  And crunchy.  So I had him rinse his mouth out with water.  Sure enough, his loose tooth appeared to be pulverized.  Or gone.

He started to panic.  “Did I eat my tooth?”, wide-eyed and breathing wildly, he looked to me for some answers.  What could I say?  He had most likely chewed his tooth (I know, gross, right?) and ate it. Or spit it out on the paper towel.  Whatever.  Yuck.  What to say to calm him?  I summoned a calm voice.

“Yes, you probably did, but don’t worry, the tooth fairy will still come.  You just need to write her a note explaining where you think the tooth went.”

“Like how it went into my tummy?”

“Yes, like in your tummy.”  Thankfully, the Girl piped in and explained how this happened to her once, (how could I have forgotten this?), when she lost a tooth on the school playground.  She wrote a note, put it under her pillow and VIOLA! the tooth fairy still left money.  Though, the tooth fairy left less money than usual, most likely because she could not produce the lost tooth.  Or, the tooth fairy did not have the appropriate amount of money and was not about to inflate the reward for teeth, so left whatever spare change she had, hypothetically speaking.  But, I digress.  Appeased, Apprentice went on about his business and got ready for school.

That evening, he wrote a note to the Tooth Fairy, explaining the events of the morning.  Thankfully, she left him the usual sum under the pillow.

A Tavern Tale

This is a post about a bar.  Not just any bar, but a bar owned by a woman with a clear sense of purpose, outstanding character and a giving heart.  This bar has regular fundraisers for different causes.  They have had successful toy drives for children staying in homeless shelters, helped people (me) raise money for blood cancer research and have raised many thousands of dollars for breast cancer treatment and research.

One year they had a highly successful fundraiser for breast cancer research, raising a little over $7000 in three hours.  The owner had traditionally given the money to the Susan Komen for the Cure, though the events were not official Komen for the Cure events.  After this particular event, the owner excitedly called the Komen organization.  To her surprise, she was told repeatedly that they should not have had such an event without prior approval, though they would accept the money.  It took 2-3 months for them to pick up the check and did not bother to send a thank you note.

Komen for the Cure has had trouble playing nice the sandbox with other women’s charities, I have learned through reading articles today about their decision to pull funding from Planned Parenthood.  While Komen is a private organization and certainly can do what they want with their money, in my opinion, this is bad form.  Planned Parenthood has practices that some in their organization may not agree with, but the end result is making a difference in women’s health.  Isn’t that the purpose of both organizations?

When the news first came out, I was really pissed about this whole thing.  Then, I went for my scheduled group run and mellowed out a bit.  Now, I just have a plan.  My mother is a breast cancer survivor and I have been trying to talk her into doing a Komen event.  No more.  We will do whatever event she wishes, (or none, it’s up to her).  I will not buy merchandise with the pink ribbon, (after all, reports show only 17% of the money actually went to cancer research).  I will concentrate efforts on those organizations in my community that play nice with others and make a real difference in the lives of those around me.  I hope you will as well.

And the bar?  Still doing fundraising for local charities. Still one my favorite places to hang out.  Thanks, B.B. and all those that frequent WP for all your good work.

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