The American Calgarian

Tales of a Midwesterner transplanted in Western Canada

Archive for the month “April, 2012”

Thankfulness, Taxes and Coaching

I try to post something each week mentioning things, people, places, whatever, for which I am thankful.  Sometimes they are a bit goofy, sometimes more meaningful, but in any case, I am constantly thinking about how to show gratitude and what I will write about on Sunday.  During a run Sunday morning, I “wrote” this post in my head.  I had fully intended to post it Sunday evening.  However, its Tax Day in Canada so we were swept up in the romance of filing our taxes.  You have no idea the party that is our house.  *eyeroll*

In any case, this week I am thankful for 13 people, 12 of whom have recently entered my life along with their families.

It started with the email.  “There has not been a coach placed for your daughter’s soccer team as of yet.  Please consider volunteering for this important role.”  I thought about it.  After all, I have taught Sunday School, led teams (of adults with no other option) to successful projects and I’m reasonably athletic.. why not?  Good question.  Why not?  Well, to start with, I have never played soccer and don’t know the rules, (don’t tell anyone.)  Why should I?  Because its my daughters team, dammit, and I love sports.  I volunteered.  When the email came from the league welcoming me as a coach, I started to panic.  What the hell was I doing?  I had not a clue how to run drills, prepare these kids for games and all that.  And these are kids, for petessake, and I don’t want to mess up anyone else’s child.  What to do?  I went to the all-knowing social media outlet of Facebook.  I put out a plea to three people who have coached my kids at one point or another.  Dan, Kyle and Paul are outstanding coaches, fathers and people in general and I was confident they would point me in a positive direction.  After the smartypants comments to bring flasks, stock my cooler etc, (I don’t.. yet), pointers were shared along with a healthy dose of encouragement.  I started planning the first practice.  Luckily another parent has volunteered to coach with me.  He is a quieter guy and since I am a bit of a yeller we balance each other out pretty well.

So into my life came these 12 girls, (can’t really count my own daughter), their families and expectations for fun on the soccer field.  I was nervous for the first practice.  What would the parents think?  Would the girls respect me?  Would they be experienced on the field?  Will they be nice?  So far I am pleased to report that the parents are highly supportive, the girls seem to be responding to me during practice, some are experienced soccer players, some not (it’s a rec community league), and they are NICE.  Like, really good kids.  They have so much energy!  And, as one would expect, they get giggly.

A few practices later, things are running along rather well, I think. More to come definitely, but I am thankful that I have these 13 girls in my life.  I am thankful that their parents have yet to cry out for a new coach and trust that I will be a good influence on their daughter.

Cheers to good influences! Cheers to Girls in Sports!


The Right Honourable…

The Right Honourable Prime Minister of the House.  My new job title.  Okay, much too formal, I am going to go with PMOH, because I rather like how it kind of goes with POTUS.  Elevated sense of self?  Perhaps. But that’s not important now.

As my former career was in Human Resources, I have the need to classify things, give people and functions titles, put them in a nice, alphabetized spreadsheet.  So I have been working on many different ways to describe my new job.

The options –

  • Stay at Home Mom.  This is the safe choice I guess.  But SAHM does not seem to fit, as I am not really at home all that much.  I am out running, volunteering, grocery shopping, whatever..
  • Chauffeur.  Also, a good choice.  I seem to shuffle people around the city quite a bit.  However, my job is so much more than that.  And besides, I drive a minivan, not a Bentley.
  • Homemaker. Hmm..  I am thinking that although I am the chief homemaker, a family really makes a home.  So this title should really be shared five ways, as we each have a responsibility to make our home a loving, accepting and positive environment.
  • Chief Bottle Washer.  Nah.  None of the kids drink out of bottles anymore and the bottles JB and I drink out of get recycled, not washed.
  • Chef.  Too skilled.  Although I am enjoying trying new recipes and all that, really not qualified to call myself “chef”.  Also, too specific.
  • Queen. Too formal.  Anyone that knows me is aware that my behavior is not befitting of a queen.
  • Primary Caregiver.  Again, too skilled.  This brings images of nurses and teachers at day cares, you know, skilled people when it comes to knowing what to do to care for people at all times.
  • Mama Grizzly.  Too Sarah Palin.  Strike it from the record.  Immediately.  *shudder*
  • Prime Minister.  This is ultimately what I settle on.  Why?  I give several “press conferences” per day about expectations for behavior and budgets to my constituents, (aka kids and JB).  I negotiate peace treaties every single day, much to my exhaustion. Building consensus is a huge challenge in this position.  I direct activities of the house and its members.

My first order of business is address the dress code.  No more business suits.

Now, if you will excuse me, my schedule indicates that I am due for a run. PMOH out.

Rounding Up

I had a 8k run to do today. I have had a regular route that I have been doing in the neighborhood and decided that today I would try a different route. Pretty crazy, right? Its just how I roll.

The training program with the Running Room has made me more confident in my running. I am running faster, further and with less soreness. In short, I really like this group and program. Its a bit of a change, with 5 runs per week instead of 4, and their are three cycles to the training, instead of one build-up and taper. There is alot of technical stuff that goes along with it, which is explained at our weekly clinics and while I understand the information as it is explained by our highly knowledgeabnle and entertaining coaches, I can’t explain it. So, in short, I do what I am told.

Anyway, back to today’s run. I mapped up a new 8 kilometer route, mostly on trails. Not to interupt myself, but I need to note (for my Dad) that the trails are paved, clear and in populated areas, so no need to send pepper spray or whatever. I was safe, Dad. So, the run. Brilliantly mapped through my neighborhood, over a bridge and into the next neighborhood and back. I was psyched. The weather was perfect, about 0C to 5C and mostly sunny. A little windy, but not bad. I dressed and headed out after looking at the route one more time.

Heading out the door, my Garmin found a satellite and I was off. My feet felt light and I glided over the ground, excited for this new route. I had noted in a previous post how I love running through the neighborhood. You get such a great feel for a community when you run outside.. but I digress. I came upon the trail I was expecting near the highway. There was an older gentleman out for his morning walk. We exchanged smiles and “good mornings.” And then I missed it. There was a turn in the trail, a fork in the road, if you will, where I was supposed to turn right on to another trail. I went left. I did not realize this until I was 200 meters or so past it. Due to my new found confidence, or just the fact that I knew where I was, I kept going. I figured that I would just do the route in the reverse of how I had mapped it out. This would be my second mistake.

I ran on the trail into the next neighborhood and turned into the labryinth of the subdivision. I figured that we had walked this trail with the kids once and I should be able to find the trail to lead me back over the pedestiran bridge and back home. Did I mention the neighborhood was a labyrinth? I stopped, furstrated that I could envision the trail and the street where the entrance was, but could not find it. I was also sweating like crazy and my legs were strating to tire. I started walking and thought I saw the street, though its up a steep hill. Dammit. After walking the hill, I discover that I have not a clue where I am (kind of) and that I am 6 kilometers into this run. Continuing in the direction that I am sure may be the trail, I curse myself for trying a new route. Why rework something that is not broken? Why do I suddently think that I am this “runner” person? What was I thinking? My dad would be so pissed at me right now for being lost without a phone or a map or twine. (The twine is not related to running, but he always has it with him, because you just never know.)

Ten friggin kilomenters into my 8k run, I finally turn for home. Knowing that I am only a couple of kilometers from home, my pace quickens. When uploading my garmin later in the evening, I can’t help but wonder what people that live in the neighborhood must have thought. The course I ran looks something like a schizophrenic line around town. And like the crazy runner that I am, I will do the run again as I mapped it. Eight kilometers only, though, thanks.


Cruelty comes in a few forms.  Today it was in the form of deep-fried food.

Girl has been attending swim lessons regularly since I can remember.  JB and I view learning to swim as a “life skill” and therefore it is required and does not count toward the activities in which they elect to participate.  So anyway, Girl has been steadily learning to swim and has worked her way up through almost the whole YMCA ladder.  It’s hard to imagine this is the same kid that refused to go into the pool her first lesson without JB or I.  If you will indulge me for a moment, it’s a funny story.

She was all of 3ish years old, starting lessons without a parent in the pool with her.  It was small pool at a certain health club where JB and I liked to exercise.  She was suspicious something was going on when I brought Mid, her then-baby brother and did not put on my own suit.  I tried to be nonchalant, casually talking up how fun swimming is and yadda yadda.  She did not buy it.  When we entered the pool, she stared at me with cold blue eyes.  “I am not going”, she said.  I stood my ground.  She stood hers.  I encouraged her, then let her know this was mandatory.  If she was not going in, she would have to sit at the side of the pool and watch, because we were not leaving.  For two lessons she sat at the side of the pool, pissed off, refusing to go in, watching the others in the class swim around the pool with the teacher.  On the third lesson, finally figuring out that she is not the only stubborn (can-be-a-total-pain-in-the-ass) person in our house, she entered the water.  Which brings us to today.

As I noted above, she has pretty much gone through the Y program.  She also shared that she loved competing in the community swim meet over the last two years, (did not win a single ribbon, btw).  She wanted to swim more. While she seems to love being in the water, she’s not quite ready for all-out competition.  Our Y offers a “swim club” and it was explained to me this is somewhat of a bridge from swim lessons to swim team competition.  We weren’t sure what to expect when the boys and I brought her to the Y, armed with video games and books.  After check in, I understood she was to be in the pool for an hour with the swimmers.  As she started, the boys reminded me they had not had a snack all afternoon, (growing boys apparently need to eat every 1 1/2 hours) and were STARVING.  I normally have snacks with me, as my kids and I frequently get hungry at inopportune times, but today I did not.  Though outside my usual guidelines, I took them to McD’s.  But what to do?  I wanted to watch Girl swim,  Also, this “swim club” is unfamiliar territory and I wasn’t sure if I should stick around.  The boys and I went through the drive-thru and returned to the Y.  Luckily its set up so we could site at a table overlooking pool.

I realized the cruelty of this as the smell of yummy deep-fried goodness lofted up to the open 2nd floor where people on ellipticals and treadmills peered down.  Scratch that.  It wasn’t really peering, so much as daggers coming down from above.  It occurred to me that we (I had a cheeseburger, so sue me) were indulging in junk food as parête were sweating, working out, being healthy.  For today, I felt (a little) bad and planned to bring healthy snacks next week.  I suppose if I wanted to be really cruel, I could have walked upstairs and ate my cheeseburger while walking on the track.

Next week, sprouts on whole grain bagels with hummus, for sure.

Nightmares and Thankfulness

The kids were tucked into bed.  I had completed the evening’s group run, taken a shower and was getting a snack before talking with JB about the day and upcoming weekend.  Then, he appeared.  The Apprentice was standing on the steps, half asleep and visibly shaken.

“What’s up, buddy?” JB asked.

“I can’t sleep.  I want Mom,” he replied.

“I’m right here.  What’s going on?” I entered the conversation.  He lumbered over, rubbing his big brown eyes.  I got on my knees so that I could give him a bear hug.  “Are you Okay?”

“I had a nightmare.”

“Do you want to talk about it?”

“No.  I want to snuggle.”

JB and I shared a look.  Of course, this means that our conversation about upcoming plans and the day that was will be put on hold.  I walk upstairs with the Apprentice and we crawl into my bed.  I tell him that when I have a bad dream, I will try to think happy thoughts until I fall back to sleep.  He nodded.

Then I started reciting happy things.  Playing with Sadie and Dakota, my Sister-in-Law’s dogs.  Going to the Houston Space Center.  Waterslides.  Skiing in Banff.  The upcoming visit of Grandma and Opa.

He shushed me.  “Are you OKay?” I asked.

“Yes. I am tired.”

“Can you think of a happy thing?” I ask.

“God is always with us,” he replied.  I smiled and agreed.  Yeah! for Catholic eduction in the absence of a new church community!

“God IS always with you, and He loves you very much.” And with that, Apprentice drifted off to sleep.

So what to be thankful for this Easter?  No list this week, just the knowledge that God is always with you.  And He loves you very much.

God Bless Everyone.  No Exceptions.

Something’s missing…

By this time in the spring, or for at least the last three, I am in throes of marathon training.  The last two years I have been on way to an obnoxious number of miles on the Saturday before Easter.  I would get up at dawn, dress, eat, get my running list playing, text my running buddy and slide out the door.

I could do the run in my sleep.  In fact, if I close my eyes and I can still picture all the mileage.  Run north on Comanche, turn east and pass North High School, run around Lowell Elementary, turn left on Madison.  There is a church on Madison that had a “tomb” and two Roman soldiers standing guard starting Good Friday until (I imagine, anyway) Easter morning.  At this point in my run, still in a good mood and really just getting started, I would see these soldiers.  As I approached, they would stand.  Being a Christian on Easter weekend and feeling feisty starting on my long run, I called out.

“He Is Risen!”  I raised my arms to the sky and flashed a huge smile of thankfulness.  As an aside, I love Easter.  The whole idea of the holiday and unconditional love and forgiveness and all that gets me a little choked up.  But I digress.

I expected, and wanted, a response mirroring my proclamation. “Yeah, that’s tomorrow”, is what I received, as if they were fraternity brothers coming home from a rough night.  WHAT? I carried on with the run, a bit confused.  Turning down Moreland I could help but giggle at the silliness of it.

When meeting my friend Mike at the Glacial Drumlin Trail, as I did many a Saturday, I told him about the encounter with the Roman soldiers and we had a good laugh.  As a fellow runner, church goer and generally good person he would run outrageous distances with me for fun while I trained.  I also think that he enjoyed my suffering, as he is a stronger runner than I, but that’s not important now.

Saturdays used to be my long run mornings because of church commitments on Sunday.  This spring my long runs have changed to Sunday mornings for group runs with the (apparently godless) Canadians.  Today, the day before Easter, I had short run in the crisp morning sun.  But something was missing.  As I passed a small church in the neighborhood, I was reminded of the previous years and the Roman soldiers.  I was thinking that if Mike were here we would most likely be discussing legalization of marijuana, same-sex marriage, the recent election in Wisconsin, church, our spouses and kids, goings on at work and do a little singing in the later miles. I was thinking that I missed those Roman Soldiers this Saturday.

4.1.2012 – No kidding!

Thankfulness on April Fools’ Day..

I was terribly annoyed that JB left his cell phone at home one day this week. The damn thing went off with every friggin’ email and phone call and text and meeting scheduled, as it is a work issued phone. Then it occurred to me that I should be thankful to be annoyed by this beeping, vibrating thing on the kitchen desk because it demonstrates that one of us is gainfully employed and able to provide for our family.

Our friend Sue made my day on Thursday. She is a leader with the Guides group with which Girl is involved. Girl made a little presentation to earn a badge and Sue had asked her what she likes best about living in Calgary. Girl told her it is that I am around more, since I don’t work outside the home anymore. She loves it that I am able to pick them up at school each day, come on field trips and that I am generally less agitated. Sue shared this conversation with me and it made me smile. As I noted in a post last week, I am a recovering corporate person. It lifted my spirits to hear that the kids really do like it that I am around more. Also, I am apparently not as bitchy.

JB and I are learning Italian. I am thankful for the program at our kids’ school that has classes for parents to learn Italian and the teachers that spend one evening per week with a bunch of bumbling English-speaking folks trying to learn a new language. The teachers are terrific and we had a great wrap-up pot luck dinner this week. During the evening, one of the parents sang a few opera pieces for us and I am also thankful for, and in awe of, her talent. It was a great night!

“What is it about coffee that makes you feel human again?”, said a woman in my running group as we gathered outside for coffee and breakfast after our run today. So two things here, really. I love coffee. Also, I love having coffee outside in the sunshine.

Also, another woman in the group made my morning. We are racking up the mileage for the next two months preparing for a race and everyone’s legs are starting to get a little sore. Anyway, as we were stretching after our run, talking about how we are feeling about training, how great the weather is today, etc, she said to me, “That looked easy for you. How are you feeling?” Let me tell you, I feel great now! The truth is, I enjoy the company of our running group and the pace is just right. Not too slow, not too fast, and I do feel good after a long Sunday morning run.

Here’s to Spring!

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