The American Calgarian

Tales of a Midwesterner transplanted in Western Canada

Archive for the month “March, 2012”

DogSledding, part 1

My daughter had a group trip to Banff for dog sledding and other fun activities.  Would I chaperone?  Are you kidding?  I jumped at the chance.  First, I had never been to Banff.  Second, we are in a new country, where we have not yet developed close relationships and therefore not comfortable sending my daughter on a camping trip to the mountains.  Not comfortable because, third, we are not camping people.  So, this is how the weekend went.

Friday – we head off in our car to the designated shelter.  The Girl turns on the radio to a station I usually do not listen to, (I am a public radio kind of woman).  In a few minutes, we are jamming out to Ozzy’s “Crazy Train” like nobody’s business.  The radio stations eventually go away and we switch to my iPod.  The jamming continues, only now we are singing along with the Wicked Soundtrack, (she’s Glinda, I’m Elphaba).

Saturday – early wake up for breakfast and getting ourselves ready for dog sledding.  I can’t speak for any of the girls in the group, but I am totally psyched.  The morning is clear, crisp, and with the right gear, toasty warm.  Perfect.  The Howling Dog Company ( comes to pick us up and we are off to the site for some fun.  Our team was Dixie, Wyatt, Hailey, Pine, Gabby, Clyde and Maggie.  Great dogs.  Upon our arrival, they are jumping around and barking, begging to harnessed up for the run.  Our musher showed the girls how to harness the dogs and then allowed them to do one of the dogs. The Girl got Gabby all harnessed up, but to be honest, I think that Gabby could have probably done it herself and then harnessed a couple of kids along with her.  These are clearly well cared for, smart animals.  Along with Phil, our musher, they took us along trails in the mountains to a lake where we shared hot cocoa and cookies.  Who doesn’t love hot cocoa and cookies?  The scenery is breathtaking.  The weather is perfect for some singing and dancing on the ice, (really? yes, really), before heading back to our vans.  When we return from the dogsledding, my daughter starts in, begging for a dog. 

The afternoon is spent wandering the streets, attempting to complete a scavenger hunt.  This was a lot of fun with the girls, especially for a first-timer in Banff.  We learned about the city, the sights within it, and all talked about what to do the next time we visit. Great job to the group leader that put together the hunt.  And huge kudos to all those throughout the city that assisted us with our quest.

Sunday – after a brief stop at one of the candy shops in Banff, we head for home.  The car ride home was a bit quieter than the car ride to Banff, most likely due to the fact that the Girl had been up late (WAY past her bedtime) both nights and was tired.  I am so excited about the entire experience that I am planning a trip in my mind for our entire family.

All in all, a well-organized outing with a terrific group of girls and parent helpers.  She will say that I am just sucking up, but the leader and her organizational skills are amazing.  Everyone was well-prepared, due to her instructions and when we had hiccups, (which always happen with a large group), she involved the girls on how to solve the problem.

Clyde says, "let's gooooo!"


Six Months

Its been six months since I packed my office in Wisconsin and said “Farewell” to many coworkers and friends.

Six months.  I have started and stopped writing about this “career change” several times.  Each time, I tear up and have to stop.

I have always identified myself as a professional person.  Of course, mother and wife as well, but also my own person, with accomplishments uniquely my own, outside of the roles of mother and wife.  Leaving the corporate world was a biggie.  I was proud of the job I did, the people I worked with and the organization we worked for.  I knew that we were making a difference in the lives of our neighbors, friends and family through our work.

Six months ago I was relieved that the office was abuzz with activity as I closed my office door for the last time and waved goodbye.  It simply would have been too messy if (insert too many names here) were not on conference calls or out at meetings or interviewing new candidates when I slipped away.  I worked with some really good people, many of whom have kept in touch (thankfully).  Truth be told, I cried the whole drive home.  The whole drive, which I had learned how to navigate many ways in order to deal with rush hour traffic and keep my commute to about 45 minutes.  I hated that commute.

I have told many people starting new jobs that it takes about six months to gain confidence in what you are doing at your position.   So here I am, at six months into my new position as Prime Minister of the House, (that’s right, I changed my title from SAHM to PMOH, will post on that later), finally feeling confident in my abilities within the new role.  I am cooking and baking with reckless abandon and no one has become ill as a result.  All the preaching I used to do about nutrition and children is becoming easier to practice as I have more time to make meals for the family.  It is rewarding to see that my children are happy I am around more, (I wasn’t so sure they would be).

It has been six months since I wore a business suit for more than an interview.  While I have had a couple of interviews, nothing seemed to fit.  This new position suits me, funny enough, and I am enjoying all the “additional duties as assigned”.  I have become comfortable managing things on the home front that JB and I used to take turns managing.  With him conquering his new position, I have been able to conquer mine, which is all home-based.  A definite shift in our separation of labor.

I thought this would be a temp job.  But as any rewarding temp job goes, I think I am going to stick with it for a while.  As a woman I met recently in Houston said, with an amazing southern drawl, “the Good Lord puts your where He needs you when its appropriate.  Ya just gotta trust it girl, and do the best you can.”

Six months.  New opportunities may present themselves and I am setting some new goals.  For now, I am where I need to be.  I trust it.

March Madness!

This week’s bundle of thankfulness…

It’s that time of year, people.. basketball, basketball and more basketball.. only, I live in Canada.  Coverage of the NCAA tournament needs to compete with hockey, so this week, I am especially grateful for the fact that I get some US stations.  We have been able to watch the “big dance” just like the US, only without the benefit of hearing our neighbors cheering through open windows.

I love a good NCAA bracket pool.  My daughter and I filled out brackets for a little group; no money is involved, just for fun, glory and bragging rights.  It reminds us that there are other colleges out there and its fun to cheer for teams that you have to google to figure out where in the US they are located.

I wrote about how my children are a constant source of entertainment this week..  unfortunately, we did not catch a leprechaun this year, but I am pleased that my boys have decided that they will be working on their plans to be sure that little green man does not get by them next year.  Now, (I think), they know this is all poppycock, but it sure is fun to watch them try to solve a problem they know darn well there is no answer to..

We have new neighbors and the Apprentice has a new friend!  Also thankful for new friends..

The weather is getting warmer and the sun is out later (thank you, daylight savings time), though the mountains are still getting snow dumped upon them.  This, my friends, is a win-win scenario.  I will be hitting the slopes in the very near future.  Can you see me smiling?

To Catch A Leprechaun

Being Lutheran and German, St. Patrick’s Day was never a big deal in our house when I was growing up.  My husband had a little exposure to it, as he grew up Catholic, but he is of Italian descent, so really, you get the idea..  Since our kids have started school it has become a bit of a holiday in the house.  Not because we have sent them to Irish Catholic schools or anything, but because its fun to talk about leprechauns and dress all in green and all that Irish-ey stuff.  I can dig it.  Besides, who does not love a good pint of Guinness?

This year Mid was serious.  The leprechauns he had been setting traps for had eluded him every year.  This year is going to be different!  He is going to set a trap in our house and take that little green man’s gold come hell or high water.  (I added the hell or high water, Mid just really wants to catch one.)  None of my children even believe in leprechauns, (I think), but for Mid to have an excuse to design and build something.. I think he would believe in about anything.  So, Mid planned.  Like his father, (grandfather, uncles and many many cousins), he engineered something.  He designed a trap, first on paper, then built it with the help of JB so that we will win the day when we imprison a little green man.

Armed with his plan, he constructed the apparatus out of recycled materials.  Toilet paper rolls, shoe box cardboard, yarn, a tin he found in the pantry, and coins covered with gold foil.  Does he know about LEED certification?  Anyway..

The construction required patience and exacting standards.  I was appointed “tape dispenser”.  After attaching all the parts and inspecting each area, he inspected again.  And consulted his plan.  Finally, it was ready to attach to the wall.

After a few test runs, we were ready.

So, in the event that a leprechaun tries to get into our American-Canadian-German-Italian home, we are ready!  And his gold is as good as ours..

Gratitude for..

I have a potpourri of things to be thankful for this weekend.  In no particular order..

Regarding the kids.. I was able to go on Mid’s field trip this week.. very fun.  I blogged about it in Field Trip!  Also, I volunteered in Apprentice’s class and got to know a few of the kids.  Nice children, to be sure.  And let me tell you, Grade 1 Math is WAY easier than Grade 5 Math.

Regarding my own activities.. In talking with some running friends during our 23k this week, I have some new goals to ponder. To which, thankfully, JB responded, “Well, I am not going to stop you.  Go ahead!”  Seriously, what a guy.

Vitamin C.  I was a little under the weather this week and I am thankful for Vitamin C.  I drank it in the form of orange juice, ate it in the form of fruits & veggies and took it in pill form.  Along with rest, I am back to my old snarky self.  woot!

My friend Jim made my day earlier this week as well when he forward a little blogger award to me.  I am thankful for his friendship and support in my new venture in the blogosphere.

Here’s to a great week!



Field Trip!

The initial email came a few weeks in advance.  Are there any parents that are interested in chaperoning the third grade field trip?  Of course!  A bonus is that it was a really fun place – Telus Spark Science Center – and Mid loves it there.  I told him that I had replied that I would be willing to go along.  He (privately) said that he would really like it if I would come on the bus.  One problem.  I received a response to my email that they already had enough chaperones and I was not needed.  Bummer.

So, the day came for the field trip.  I had to remind Mid that I would not be a chaperone that day as we shuffled out of the door and into the car.  I dropped the kids at school, reminded them that I love them (not that they listen anyway), would pick them up after school and took off.  When I walked in the door back at my house, the phone was ringing.  I have not had coffee yet and so not ready to talk with people.  Deep breath.  Who would be calling at this time?  It was school, calling to tell me that one of the mothers scheduled to come on the field trip is not able to come at the last minute and would I still be available?  I looked at my outfit.  I had a late start that morning, so had not showered.  In fact, I had thrown my coat and boots over my flannel jammies to take the kids to school.  I was not even dressed.

“How much time do I have to get ready?”

“We can hold the bus for you.  Or, you can meet us there as soon as you can.  Sorry for the late notice.  Can you come?”

I thought about it.  And had a flashback to fall 1999. It was early on a Sunday morning.  JB had left very early to meet some friends to go to a Green Bay Packers game at Lambeau Field.  The phone rang in our apartment.  At the last minute, the guy who was to bring all the food had come down with the flu and was not able to go.  He had dropped off the food and his ticket and told the three remaining that they should do what they could with the ticket.  JB called me to see if I wanted to go.  When I answered the phone I was asleep. “No, I can’t go, have fun,” I replied to his question and hung up the phone. Then I woke up. What?  Was I just offered a ticket with full tailgate at a Green Bay Packer game?  At freaking Lambeau Field?  I called JB back to clarify.  He answered, laughing, “I thought this would be you.  Can you be here in 20 minutes?”  Of course!  Being a Type A, planning with spreadsheets type of girl, I sometimes need a little time to let things sink in.  And caffeine. Caffeine always helps.

Anyway, back to the field trip.  I thought of Mid’s happiness that I offered to chaperone the trip.  If he found out that I was offered to go and declined, how would he feel?  And besides, all I had planned to do that day was laundry and cleaning.  Of course, I replied, and I would meet them at the museum as soon as I could.  I dressed, brushed my hair.. basically made myself presentable for a group of 3rd graders.

Mid’s teacher is a really nice lady and fabulous educator.  She met me at the door of the museum, briefed me on the plan and had me join the group. Mid had a wide smile of his face when he saw me come in, which confirmed that I made the right decision, (much like the cold beer confirmed the decision to go to the Packer game).

That night at dinner, Mid thanked me for coming on the field trip.  We shared our little outing with the family.  I also asked him what had all happened at school that morning.  His version of the story is more entertaining that his teachers, so I will share his.  He said that morning one of the moms let his teacher know when dropping off her son that she had something come up and was not able to accompany them to the museum.  His teacher, who is an adorably animated Italian woman, asked the other parents if they knew of anyone that could come on short notice.  While they were looking at the contact list of those that had said they could chaperone, his teacher asked the kids if any of their parents may be available.  Mid answered, “All my mom ever does is laundry, so she is probably around.”

Out of the mouths of babes, as they say.  The laundry and housework were delayed a day.  And it was well worth it.


I received tweet from Jim at letting me know that he had awarded me the Kreativ Blogger.  WOOT!  It totally made my day, because I was having trouble getting motivated to write a post for the week.  Then, BAM! an award, a mention, a subject!  Jim is a good fella.

In any case, “the rulez” in accepting this award are that I need to post 10 things about myself that you may not already know, and that I will tag 6 bloggers in the post.  I am working on the 10 things, (will most likely have to call my mom), and tag the bloggers I can think of, because I really only know of a couple.  If you have read this blog before now, you know I am rather new here.

1. Most of my followers are family or friends of my mom.  I am not sure what this says about me.  When we told folks we were moving they said to keep in touch, but I am too lazy busy to get with each of them individually and have too much to say for Facebook, so blogging seemed like a nice way to let folks know what we are up to. And, apparently my mom has alot of friends and talks alot.  In any case, I appreciate all of you!

2. When I was much younger, all I wanted out of life was two great danes and a BMW.  To go even further, I bet a good friend $50 that I would not be married until after the age of 40, because I did not want any husband to expect me to have children.  How did all that turn out?  I married one year after graduating college, have a great husband, three wonderful kids, drive a minivan (that is NOT a BMW) and the thought of cleaning up after a dog… well, let’s just say I don’t see any pets in our future.

3. I am a feminist.  Many women’s issues are big hot buttons for me and I have not yet decided if I will post about them here.  See #1.

4. I did not change my name when I married.  At the time, I was militantly against it and JB did not care either way.  After our second child was born I thought about it, but two things held me back.  First, JB questioned why after so many years I would do it, because who really gives a shit, its just a name, and, second, it costs, like, $150 or something if you don’t do it right away.  So, still thinking that it is a silly tradition and being cheap, I kept my original name.

5. I used to do volunteer work for Planned Parenthood.  Not alot, a few times I made phone calls to donors and once handed out condoms at a Bonnie Raitt concert.  We got to meet Bonnie Raitt afterward.  She was wicked cool.  Bruce Hornsby had opened for her that night and although I did not get to meet him backstage, I did meet his parents.  Nice people.

6. When I was a kid and the other girls were frothing over David Cassidy, Donny Osmond, John Stamos or whoever, I wanted to be Jane Pauley.  To me, she was IT.  Successful, smart, the whole package.

7. Perhaps not a surprise because of #6, two of my favorite movies are Working Girl (Sigourney Weaver and Melanie Griffith) and Baby Boom (Diane Keaton and Sam Shepard).  True, Melanie Griffith’s character takes down the bitch character that Sigourney Weaver plays, but I really like the bitch.  And I was seriously pissed when Melanie Griffith “did it” with Harrison Ford.  Cheapened the victory for me.

8. I tear up.  Alot.  Over all kinds of things.  Certain songs, when I finish a marathon, when reading posts about friends and family that are battling cancer, all kinds of stuff.  Remember that song “Bringing You Home” by Don Henley?  Its about the birth of his daughter.  It came out when I was pregnant with my daughter.  When painting the entryway to our house (at the time) it came on the radio and I bawled like a baby right in front of the open front door,  The neighbors must of thought I was nuts.

9. I started running a few years ago after seeing a poster for the Chicago Marathon.  At the time I was on the home stretch to finish my MBA and was seeking for “what to do next”.  JB and I were in Chicago to see Wicked, (highly recommend), I saw the poster, turned to him and said, “Wouldn’t it be cool to run a marathon?”  He replied, “Sure”.  To be honest, I don’t think he thought I would actually do it.  Next thing we know I am training for my third marathon in as many years.

10. Back in the day, I played tennis with my dad.  Like almost every day.  My dad has only a couple of speeds.  We kid that if he is not moving he will fall asleep.  Actually, this is not only kidding, and I have the pictures to prove it. Another thing about Dad.  Not only did he play tennis with my brother and I whenever we wanted, he drove school bus for many of our sports activities.  I played alot of tennis back in the day and it was nice to have him courtside.

Whew!  Therapy session is over.. So the second part of “the rulez” is that I reveal the blogs that I like reading and provide links to each. (Right?)

For running – I like a few, but here are two –  and  For politics and family all rolled into one, I like  For family, I love, her humor and ability to turn everyday events into a cute/sensitive/meaningful story is always a good read.  For travel, I like  I regularly read many blogs, just cannot think of them on the spot.  There are so many good ones..  Of course, I also read religiously.

So thank you, Jim, for bestowing this award upon me.  I will work to live up to it.

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