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interview with sadie – six years, thirteen days


What's your favourite colour? – "I got lots of favourite colours. I only don't like brown. Brown is my worst colour ever."

What is your favourite book to read?  - Nancy Drew & the Clue Crew

Do you gave a favourite tv program? – My Little Pony

What do you want to be when you grow-up? –  "I don't really know yet."

What is your favourite thing to eat? – Hot dogs

What is your favourite thing to do at school? – Go to gym or go to the playground.

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seeing is believing

Once again, it was pointed out to me that I don't blog much anymore (reading this post might be helpful). I do probably have a dozen posts in my drafts folder that I either didn't finish up or else decided were too grumpy and negative to actually publish. Turns out that I'm one of those people for whom writing things down helps.

In lieu of a (probably cranky) post, here's some that I either did, researched, or liked recently:

  • I made baked oatmeal again, after a hiatus of about five years. I've never been able to deal with the texture of hot cereal, but this is a way that I can stomach something for breakfast that isn't processed or requires a lot of cooking and prep work. My recipe is a lot plainer than the Google search results for baked oatmeal – it doesn't need to be loaded up with sugar and sugar-like things.
  • I am secure enough that actual winter is over in Calgary, so I'm going to say that I achieved my goal to not ever complain about the cold weather, lest I be subjected to various "I-told-you-so" comments about my loathing of 365 days of brutal summer in SE Asia. I complained about having clean off our car and be the designated snow-shoveler in our house, but never specifically about the ridiculous sub-freezing temperaturs. I like wearing sweaters, anyways. 
  • I watched a really compelling re-run of The Fifth Estate and proceeded to hope that my kids stay kids for as long as they can. 
  • My favourite new blog is Disrupting Dinner Parties (spoiler warning – it's not about food). It's a recent discovery and this very smart post about modeling consent for children was what drew me in. I don't care if people hate dealing with assertive women. I care about being taken advantage of and hate that that behaviour is enabled. The notion of "nice" does a disservice to both women and men. 
  • I was cheered to learn that some varieties of hydrangea (one of fave flowers) can grow successfully here in Calgary, and so embarked on a research spree. I think I know where I'm going to plant a couple of bushes. First I have to want for the ground to thaw and figure out where to buy them.

So, there we go. An actual post.

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another thing Calgary is lacking: full-day public K

So, I registered my youngest kid for kindergarten this morning. She'll go to the same elementary school that her sister currently does. It's full of very lovely staff members, they have a fabulous music teacher, and the library is well-appointed. Sadie also gives the playground equipment a big thumbs up. 

But as I warned in an earlier post, the only topics that I can motivate myself to write on these days are fueled by discontent. So …

… I am enraged by kindergarten in Calgary, and on a larger scale, enraged by cuts to education funding in this province. Other provinces in Canada have increased the instructional hours for five year-olds – BC, Ontario, and PEI in 2010, New Brunswick in 1991, Nova Scotia from around 1995-ish, and full-day K is well-established in Quebec. My daughter, starting kindergarten in Alberta in 2014, will attend for four half-days a week, and every other Friday morning. This is fewer instructional hours than I received when I was in kindergarten in Alberta in 1981. Why this province and this city isn't ashamed of this, I don't know … 

While other provinces in Canada have increased their recognition of the importance of early learning, the province we were sent to has actually decreased their support over the last few decades. It's embarrassing, and a huge reason why I wish that we'd gotten one more year in Vietnam (and thus, one year of quality full-day K for Sadie). 

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i heart apartment living

1. There is snow on the sidewalk, but I am responsible for shoveling exactly zero percent of it. This is grand. 

2. My washer and dryer are on the (singular) main level. In fact, they're in a hall closet right by the bedrooms. This convenience is excellent. 

3. No stairs. This would have been fantastic when my foot was in a cast.

4. Maybe it's an illusion of security, but I love that only one door out of hundreds in this building leads to me. No one whom I'm not expecting knocks on the door. 

5. The view up here near the top is rather lovely. 

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same same (of course it is)

Well, we're in our new apartment now. The air shipment (mostly toys, some kitchen equipment, and clothes) landed in Calgary late last week, and it looks like it might be delivered here tomorrow. 

The amount of displacement dysphoria that I'm feeling here suprises me; we've lived in Calgary before, but it isn't really helping me feel settled at all. It feels just like it was when we moved to St. John's, BKK, and Saigon – everything is new or not-quite-similar/not-quite-different and I haven't quite figured out what I really ought to be doing.

We've lived here before, but it was in another part of this sprawl of a metropolis, and today, as I was walking to the grocery store, I couldn't shake the feeling that there were other places to buy bagels that were a lot closer than where I was going. I may not be working with a language barrier for the first time in six times, but there's definitely a knowledge barrier.

Right now it's summer; my kids like being busy and all of the stuff that I thought we'd pass our days doing (visiting the Zoo, the playground on Prince's Island Park, the central library) have been closed due to flood clean-up, so it seems like there isn't anything to do here, but the truth is just that I have no idea what else there is to do around where we live!  



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hello. or howdy.

So, some updates!

About two weeks ago, the relocation company found an apartment for us in downtown Calgary. We imagined walking to the big library, walking to Prince's Island Park, taking the train to Sunnyside to buy groceries or to the zoo. I love urban apartment living, so I was quite happy with this development. So was Chris – he could walk to the office.

And then our relocation contact guy failed to finalize the apartment, and stopped communicating with us for a week. This was a very fraught week – honestly, our pack-out in Saigon was starting, we were landing in Calgary very shortly. 

Then the HR department intervened, and another two bedroom place in downtown Calgary was sourced for us, and all was good again. Asian Tigers came and packed up all of our heavy furniture, artwork, and kitchen gear. Madeline and Sadie had their final days of school. We flew to Calgary via Tokyo. 

And there was some rain, and the Bow and Elbow Rivers overflowed and flooded a lot of places, and the apartment that we were supposed to move into yesterday was in an evacuation zone. Chris spent part of our layover in Narita booking us a suite at the Holiday Inn, so there's where we are now.

I'm not sure that we could have picked a less ideal weekend to land in Calgary, but it's not as bad as the media reports kind of make it seem. The drinking water is fine, the vast majority of the city isn't under water, and you can get across the river, albeit slowly and with some detours. 

We're really hoping that Chris's office re-opens by Wednesday and we'll be able to move into our new apartment then!


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nineteen more days …

A couple of updates in regard to the doll bunkbeds my kids will find under the tree at Christmas:

1. I've finished the mattresses. I was all set to travel an hour across the city, hopefully find the quilt inserts to use as mattress padding at Lena Faustina, and then travel an hour back across the city, but instead I just bought three thin quilts at Metro for 60,000 VND each and cut those up. Easy peasy. I love Metro as least as much as I loathe it. 

2. The bunkbeds have two coats of paint on them! Chris picked up a couple of one-litre cans of Dulux-brand latex for me over the weekend, and it's been working out well. I was pretty adament about using latex even though I'm applying it on wood because of the easy clean-up. No primer – Chris managed to find some (pleasant surprise), but it was RED! Just no. The paint is covering a lot better than I feared it would without the primer undercoat. I'm pretty confident that three coats will be fine in the end, so that's just another two hours of painting that I'll probably schedule for Monday morning. 


3. Paint brushes in Vietnam leave a lot to be desired. Apparently, synthetic fibre ones don't exist. I was told that the one on the left is rabbit fur (grr – PETA isn't going to like shopping for painting equipment in Vietnam) and I'm not sure what the one on the right is made from but my guess is straw. These paint brushes makes me feel nostalgic about the time I painted window casings on our house in Calgary, which is something I never thought I'd feel.