Monday, January 20, 2020

Baby it's cold outside

A fun thing to do when the weather gets down below -30C is to make your own snow. Just get some boiling water, pour it into a cup and throw it into the air!

Saturday, January 11, 2020

Canadian Tire

A phenomenon we had never even heard of before our move is the magic that is Canadian Tire. They do in fact sell tires (I wasn't entirely sure). But in addition, they sell every thing you can possibly think of. Kids need ice skates? They even sharpen them in the shop. Looking for a shower curtain or bed sheets? Sure thing. Clothes? Indoor shoes for school? School supplies? It's Canada's Target. And also somehow K-Mart-y. But no food.

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

The park by our house

I guess four months in a house (one of which was away) isn't TOO long a delay for discovering the charming park around the corner. I can only imagine what it is like in the summer, but this being Canada I have to imagine the stream will be flooded with children. At least, I am sure mine will spend disproportionate time there.

Disclaimer: these photos were taken with my phone, Terry had nothing to do with them.

Saturday, January 4, 2020

Happy birthday to me

This was definitely a birthday for the books. The mantra of the day for the kids was "Kind, loving, agreeable" - meaning if their words or actions were not one of the three, they had to knock it off. For the first time ever it worked!  So first gold star of the day - very little bickering, no fighting, yelling, crying.

We went downtown and started to break in the museum membership I received from my father as a birthday gift. The museum has an interactive section where adults and children can work on art projects inspired by two temporary exhibits. The kids worked on making prints on pieces of foam and on re-purposing everyday items after having wandered for a few moments (I stretched it as long as I could) through the related exhibits to see what the artists had done.

They were so interested in their projects we left the museum 20 minutes later than planned - gold star number two.

We met Terry for lunch at the delicious Korean place near work. The kids only complained about the egg on top but after we pushed it away they ate until full and agreed it was delicious. I call that a win - gold star number three.

Next up - ice skating at Olympic Plaza. The Zamboni came out as we were tying our skates and then we spent an hour on the ice. Randomly, an ice sculpture was unceremoniously unveiled while we were there. Interesting fact: This park is the epicenter of Calgary's "ringing in the new year" activities (hence the ice sculpture) and there were about five times more people on the ice at midnight when we saw it on the TV at home.
By the time we were ready to head home, it was time to pick up my birthday Made by Marcus cake. We have recently discovered this local ice cream place and have really enjoyed getting a cone there. Sadly, we all had to admit later that Rocky Road is not their best flavor. I mean the DQ ice cream cakes the kids got for their birthdays were better.  Ah well, live and learn.

Friday, December 27, 2019

Third time's a charm? Three strikes you're out? Bad luck comes in threes?

In the nearly 20 years Terry and I have been together prior to Calgary I can think of five ER visits: each of Alex's broken arms, when Zoltan "broke his head wide open" (needed one stitch), when Terry rolled the tractor over his foot, and when baby Alex had a fever and I foolishly went against every instinct to just wait another day.

We arrived in late July. We had our third ER trip recently. Dayenu! (Enough!)

Trip #1: our third day at post. We had gone to Shakespeare in the Park and after the performance Zoltan fell off the stage while playing around. He refused to put any weight on his foot for 2 days, we finally decided to get that checked out.
Diagnosis: Dramatic license

Trip #2: Zoltan is sort of, a little bit, run over by a car when on his way home from piano practice. In an abundance of caution, the driver called the police and ambulance, and the paramedic (when I arrived on the scene) convinced me to let them ambulance take him to the hospital to get checked out.
Diagnosis: Overabundance of caution, but we couldn't have lived with ourselves if he had internal bleeding and we hadn't gotten it checked out.

Trip #3: Terry was cutting our new ice skate guards down to the right size and his hand slipped on the boxcutter blade. We first thought it was simply a bad cut that would need stitches then realized he couldn't move part of his finger.
Diagnosis: sliced tendon. Needed surgery and will have a splint for up to 2 months.

In hindsight, only one of those visits actually needed to happen. Feel free to ask us about how "awful" Canada's "socialized medicine" is (hint: we feel so fortunate to have gone through all this here.) 

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Troll Falls

Our first attempt at hiking the Rockies in the snow didn't go all that well - the temperature was significantly colder than predicted, Terry and I weren't properly attired, and I also realized a coat is too long for proper hiking and I do need a warm jacket.

So, fast forwarding a few weeks: we had the free day, the clear sky, and the apple cider to spice, heat and throw in thermoses.

Troll Falls is a recommended easy half-day trip from Calgary (between the 2 hour round trip and the quick jaunt to the falls). It is also highly recommended as a winter hike.

We almost didn't get there with all the stops the kids made to play in the snow. Seriously, the first kilometer took about 45 minutes. When the sign said it was only 0.3km to go, we got hardhearted and said no stopping until we get there!

It is early enough in the season that we could see water still running down the falls on the inside of the ice. From the front was all ice, and from the back it was all ice, but in the middle water ran. Our cameras were unable to capture this.

Climbing up the side of the falls is a recommended treat and Alex did not need to be told twice. The only regret is that we didn't have ice cleats, and the icy area just behind the falls was way to slick to venture towards without them.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Snowy Days

We got a decent snowfall overnight and the kids played outside most of the day. Using the snow they shoveled from the walkway as well as almost all the snow from the yard, they have constructed their own little living room in the back yard. Two chairs, two "beds", a table, some shelving. Also, my favorite, is that they constructed a giant Mancala board out of snow and they are using gravel from the side of the house as the stones.

The next day was our fist trip to Banff. We foolishly trusted the weather report and did not dress warmly enough for the hike we had planned, so instead we took a much shorter route. The kids have been complaining that they don't like hiking ... apparently, when "hiking" becomes "walk for a bit and play in the snow a lot" they are huge fans!

A blog post I can no longer find recommended the Park Distillery for eats and boy was that a good call! Between the beef and the buffalo burgers, the ah-may-zing Hikers Salad, and the really delicious house tea (I was too cold for a cocktail, although they looked tasty) it was a perfect, hearty way to refuel after all the playing (I mean hiking).

Sentences you never think you'll utter

Last weekend edition:

Was the gorilla always wearing that purple tutu?

If the onion was going to bite anyone, it would have been me.

Saturday, October 26, 2019

... Where everybody knows your name

One thing we've been wanting but missing most places we have lived in the last 10-15 years is a "go to" - a restaurant that is casual enough, tasty enough, and close enough to home to be the place we go regularly and where the waitstaff know who we are.

We found it.

The only consistently good food we have found so far is BBQ, which is something you can find on practically every corner. The place around our corner is very, very good. We went last week when my mom was in town, and as usual for the Madnicks (slightly less so with the Poczaks) gave our server a memorable evening. Which means when she handed us our menus tonight she noted the absence of one of our party.

She is very, very good. We are thrilled to have found our "go to" place so early in the tour. Now I just need to convince Terry that we are not really going to go every week. It's BBQ. Our hearts probably can't handle that.

Sunday, September 22, 2019

New School Year

I should start with the day Terry went to register the children in school (one week before school started, and the day after we had a signed lease). Being supporters of public school when our children can actually learn, i.e., they speak the local language, we had decided not to send them to private school in Calgary.

I get a text from Terry around 20 minutes after the appointment time. Canada uses a March cutoff date and that puts Alex in 7th grade, not 6th. Zoltan will be in 5th grade. My first instinct is "hell no, we're going to fight this." My second instinct is "with a March cutoff, they are not the youngest - they are in fact in the very middle of the pack. And they have pretty much always been bored. Let's see how this goes."

The one concerning feature is that with the moving up, rather than both children attending the same elementary school that is a 5 minute walk from our house, now Alex goes to a junior high that is about 1.5 miles away and there is no yellow bus service - she has to take a regular city bus. She has my (lack of) sense of direction. Did I mention this is one week before classes start?

So we move cell phones around so each kid now has one. We had an emergency talk/text plan for each phone and at the last minute we decided Alex would need data to be able to track the bus routes or get walking directions. I am so grateful we made that decision and horrified about what we would have done had we not done that (more on that later).

The elementary school actually combines grades, so 5th and 6th are in class together although they apparently separate for math and some special classes. Zoltan is settling in, managing very well with being the last one out of the house in the morning and the first one back in the afternoon.

Because Alex registered for school so late, she was not able to get her top choice special classes but she did get art and band. She's also settling in. things are very different - seventh graders can leave the school grounds at lunch if they want, they switch classrooms for every class, and as mentioned before she takes the city bus to and from school. On her first day of school I rode the bus with her to school, she rode home alone and there were no issues. On the second day she missed her stop, rode apparently several stops too far and had to find her way back to school. Has she not had data on her phone she would not have been able to get walking directions to school and would probably still be wandering lost around Calgary. So, yay for smartphones.

Note, she is now a pro at finding her way on the bus system and for figuring out how to fix it if she does make a mistake (wrong bus, miss a stop, etc). We couldn't be prouder.