Archive for category Calgary
As I said in my last post, we returned from England to Calgary right in the middle of Stampede. The Calgary Stampede is the largest rodeo in the world and the whole city goes all out. There was a cowboy band at the airport that serenaded us as we waited at the luggage carousel. All the bus drivers wear cowboy hats. Hay bales are basically everywhere downtown. And “business casual” suddenly becomes plaid shirts, jeans, belt buckles, and cowboy boots.
Since E was born around Stampede time last year, I didn’t get to go, so this year we were determined to make it happy. The free family day was the day after we arrived, and we had to get there before 9am or something in order to get in for free. We thought this might be a crazy idea because we might be jetlagging and unsettled, but it actually worked out alright.
We got to watch a few races, some acrobatics, but mostly we looked at the animals in the expo center. E was intimidated by the horses and cows, but the races and the chicks were a big hit.
But this first day back in Calgary was also the first day of our next wild ride. We had one week to finish packing, selling as much of our stuff as we could, and moving out of the city. We stayed in Penticton for one week before catching a plane to our new home in Tucson, Arizona.
Our stay in Penticton was a lovely time with lots of visiting parents, grandparents, and friends, paddle boarding, swimming, and some much-needed relaxation. M has all the pictures from that trip on his phone, which brings me to a question: how do you store your photos? I’m trying to navigate the best way to get photos from my camera, my phone, and my husband’s phone all in one place. If you have advice, do tell.
Things have been pretty quiet on the blog, so I guess it’s time for a little life update. Here are the top 10 things keeping us busy lately.
1. House hunting
We’ve flip-flopped a couple times on whether to buy or rent when we move to Tucson this August. Currently the consensus is to rent, at least for now. We have way too many other decisions to make and major purchases going on in the next 2 months. Mortgage shopping was stressing us out. We’re also back-and-forth on the idea of booking something sight-unseen or getting a vacation rental for the first little while. Always scouring the housing market though.
We have a friend who owns a painting business. He hired M on for the summer to earn some extra cash and get his mind off the books for a few weeks. So far, it’s been perfect summer job.
3. Sleep training
Blame it on our studio apartment, if you want. Blame it on the floor-to-ceiling windows and 16 hours of daylight that Calgary gets in May. Blame it on the difficult breastfeeding journey that we started out with. Blame it on inconsistently co-sleeping. Blame it on faulty parenting if you want to, but the fact is, this baby is a bad sleeper. I know lots of people will tell you it’s perfectly normal for a baby to continue waking at night up to a year or even 1.5 years old. But how many times? Waking once at night I can see as normal. Even twice isn’t bad. But this baby is still waking 5+ times every night. I feel like I’ve tried everything. I’m perpetually exhausted. So we’re working with a sleep consultant who offered her services for free for the sake of research, which is nice, but 2 months in, and E has gone from 90 minute spans at night, to now, taking at least one 3-4 hour stretch. It’s not much, but technically, yes, that’s an improvement.
4. Test Driving
Yet another plan that keeps shifting is the car we’re going to buy in our near future. We’re pretty well set on the Honda Fit, but we keep teetering on whether to buy it in Canada and import it, or just buy it when we get to AZ. Right now we’re planning on importing. We’re just waiting for a good deal on one in Calgary.
I’ve already sent two loads of boxes to the US with relatives passing through. My mom is visiting this week, so she’ll take another load. I’m always looking around to see what else I can live without for the rest of the summer.
My feet are causing me so much grief lately. I finally went to a podiatrist and actually asked about surgery. The visit was mostly useless, but she did recommend a few steps to try before surgery. That’s good news. But I spent the afternoon at specialty shoe stores and even they were hard pressed to find something for my difficult feet. I’ve decided to give up on cheap shoes for good though. I’m actually thinking about ordering some custom-made shoes. If anyone out there has experience with this, do tell!
Little baby shoes with vinyl scraps leftover from my bookbinding days.
Easter eggs with natural dyes: turmeric, onion, hibiscus, beet + crayon and sharpie + lovely house guests.
Final changes and proofreading M’s thesis. The defense is set for June 16.
M almost convinced me to run another half marathon in June, but I think I’m settling for the 10K. He’s still planning on doing the half. If M pushes the stroller, we can usually go almost the same pace on our long runs. He’s still faster than me. It seems to be working out pretty well though.
Little E has been cruising almost as soon as she was crawling at 9 months. But recently she has added to her bag of tricks. Now she can gracefully get down from standing up with support, she can bend down and pick up a toy while holding a support, and she loves to clap her hands and point her fingers.
We’re spending 12 days in England this summer! We’ve been reading up on the UK and getting some new passports for the Canadians in the family. We have 7 days in London, where M will be presenting his research and 5 in some location, yet to be determined. We’ve narrowed it down to a few options, but if you have a recommendation, lmk.
Ok but just one more set of snow pictures as a farewell to a happy winter. And also because it’s snowing this morning. The little wooden sled is for sale. $10. Any takers?
Since Spring seems to be making an appearance more seriously, I figured I needed to hurry and get this last snowshoeing post up. There’s always a chance we’ll get another snow hike in this season, but these are the shots from our latest. These pictures were taken on the -17 (+1.4 Fahrenheit) windy last day of March.
We first attempted the hike in January but we got rained out, ironically. Nose Hill, you see, is not that far from our home. We thought it would be fairly easy to just carry our snowshoes to the base of the hill, strap them on and hike the trails. It just seemed our luck was so bad that every day when our schedule was free to go, it was either too cold to take a baby out or it was too warm for the snow to stick around. And finally one day it worked out! It was a little colder than we anticipated, but successful nonetheless. We had Family Home Evening on the Mount, with a lesson based on the Sermon on the Mount and a few hymns to carol through the trees.
(Click image for full size)
(Click here to read Lake O’Hara – Part 1)
We snapped a few dusky photos at the lake and headed back to the cabin. We lugged along a tripod to catch some night sky shots, but we were both so tired by dark that we decided just to stay in.
By the time we made it back to the cabin, we could smell everyone else’s dinners. Kate and Lara had some amazing smelling curry, and they were kind enough to share some yams with us, a nice side dish for our pasta with tuna. The cabin was fully equipped with pots, pans, dishes, silverware, and a propane stove. There was a constant cycling of melting snow being boiled for consumption, and an outhouse next door.
I was excited to finally have a night of uninterrupted sleep, being away from my baby who still wakes every 2 hours. It wasn’t exactly what I hoped for though. The late night scotch binge kept a lot of our cabin companions making trips to the outhouse during the night and I heard every single one of them. Ah well. At least we both felt pretty well rested in the morning.
We left the cabin just before dawn. The mountains seemed to glow against the twilight sky with the full moon shining on them. The pictures really don’t do it justice. It was just magic.
I realize now that we really didn’t take many pictures of the cabin’s surroundings during the daylight. We were so intent on our rescue mission that I really didn’t spend much time with the camera. These pre-dawn photos are cool, but it seemed like a totally different place during the day.
We didn’t take too much time to linger on the way down because M had to be back to Calgary, showered, dressed, and ready for a 3-Minute Thesis competition. But that’s a story for another day.
Just past Lake Louise and into Yoho National Park, there’s a small road that reaches 12 km up from the Trans-Canada Highway to Lake O’Hara. After we kissed the baby goodbye, we headed for the mountains, reaching the trailhead around noon. The day was perfect for a hike. The sun was warm, there was fresh snow and partly cloudy skies. Every step of the trek had a spectacular view of mountains and tall trees.
We were the only snowshoers on the road that day. Everyone else took cross-country skis, which makes for a faster trip, especially on the way down. I think it took us about 5 hours up and 4 down. Some said they could ski out in only 90 minutes. About half-way through the hike we encountered these vagabonds:
Kate and Lara are true mountain girls. They are no strangers to the outdoors. But they definitely got more than they bargained for. They were each pulling a child in a Chariot behind. Tinder was 8 months old–just 5 days older than E–and Layla was 2, and a whopping 34 pounds. That’s quite a lot of weight to pull. Including diaper changes and nursing breaks, they took 10 hours to do what we did in 5. Every time I wanted to take a break I would just think about them. They were working so much harder than me.
There were some steep stretches toward the end of the hike, but the worst part was the last 500 meters or so. It was a very narrow passage with steep drop-offs in a couple places, and the terrain was very up-and-down. As we were going through we could see the tracks of one skier who actually took off his/her skis to walk through the worst part, and then returned to skiing after 100-200 meters. Of course the only thing we could think of was how on earth a Chariot would make it through here (Okay truthfully, it wasn’t the only thing I was thinking about. I was also wondering when I could take off my pack. It was heavy and this was my first time backpacking).
Past that narrow neck, the trail opens up into a clearing. We could see the puff of the chimney off to the left, which was encouraging for sure, but we had to just stop in our tracks and look up. An amazing panorama of jagged mountains surrounding us on all sides. It felt as though we were walking through an optical illusion. The toothy mountains seemed distant and close at the same time. It was at that point when M said this might be his favorite hike in the Rockies. Really, I said? Even better than the Valley of the 6 Glaciers? Yes. We’ll still do that hike this summer though.
After drinking in the scenery for a few minutes, we dropped our packs at the cabin. There are two cabins, actually. One has about 8 beds, the other has 12 beds and a kitchen. In the main cabin, there was a crowd–one couple from Saskatchewan who does this hike every winter, and who skied in that morning. Then there were about 7 or 8 men from Alberta who seemed to have been there for quite a few days. They were playing cribbage and eating oysters with goat cheese. We made it a quick pit stop, and were on the trail again very soon. We wanted to go back and help Lara and Kate with the kids.
They were nearly 2 kilometers away from the cabin when we found them, and ready for a break. M and I both took a turn pulling the Chariots for a while (that’s me, above in the purple). When the trail got narrow, each Chariot had one pushing and one pulling to steer through. Kate was impatient and frustrated though, and maybe she had too much faith in me steering behind her. Timber wasn’t buckled in properly and the Chariot lost its footing when Kate aggressively tried pulling through (Seriously, I don’t know how she still had so much energy). We recovered quickly, but I think it was that incident that started a lot of swearing. From Kate, not me. She apologized later.
The crew was already stoking a fire in the small cabin for the two moms. Once we escorted them to the door, we were off again, finally to see the lake.
To be continued…
Also, I promise to get pictures up this week of our snowshoeing/backpacking retreat. It’s already been 3 weeks since we went, and it’s been on my to-do list ever since! But here’s a little preview of what’s coming.
We have mixed feelings about moving to Arizona, you know. On one hand we’re excited to be close to some family and friends there. We’re excited about pleasant weather for so much of the year. We’re excited to escape head wounds from slipping on the ice. We’re excited to escape days like we’ve had the past 2 weeks, where it’s so cold you don’t go outside with a baby for fear of frostbite.
But on the other hand, there are days in Tucson where it’s so hot you don’t go outside for fear of heatstroke.
You win some, you lose some.
But at least we’re not moving to Edmonton!
M has been doing some research with a professor at the University of Alberta, and he had to drive up to visit for the beginning of an experiment. We decided to make a family trip out of the occasion. It was very cold. To be fair, it was really about the same temperature as Calgary that day, but Edmonton certainly wasn’t trying hard to win me over.
E and I spent the majority of the day at the West Edmonton Mall while M was at the University (the other UofA). I’m not really into mall-walking (although I have learned it is a favorite pass-time of Canadian mums in the winter time) but I couldn’t just live this close to the largest mall in North America without paying a visit. We mostly looked at the attractions and bought some chips and salsa at the Asian grocery store inside. Yes, really. E liked the roller coasters best, though the skating rink was a big hit as well.
We stayed with some dear friends of ours–another Canadian-American couple that used to live in Calgary. It was lovely to see them and E made a new friend who is 1 pound heavier than her, but only half her age! They call him “Big Ben.”
And seriously, we’ll probably be pining for those occasional -40 (-40F) day when it’s +40 (104F) in Tucson.
For a while I had debated whether I preferred the Ergobaby carrier or the stroller in the snow. The stroller definitely gives me more stability on the ice, but we had SO much snow in December that it was sometimes truly impossible to push the stroller across residential streets. But now I say the stroller–definitely the stroller. Because after I went careening through the air and before I whacked my face into the sidewalk, my baby + baby carrier landed under my body.
A dog walker offered to stay with me and wait for a friend to come pick me up. After handing me an alcohol swab to clean up a bit, I said, “Yeah, I have no idea what I look like.” To which he responded, “Oh, you are pretty spectacular.”
There was so much blood.
Granted I was far from a unique case at the hospital that night. After a long chinook, there was a layer of ice under the new skiff of wet wet snow, which made for deadly walking and driving conditions. The picture above is what we looked like while waiting in line at the ER after E finally stopped crying. That’s my blood, not hers, on her face. Don’t worry, Wally; all the blood stains came out.
We both turned out to be fine. I suffered a minor concussion, but E didn’t show any real signs of damage. Her head had more padding on her headthan mine (2 hats and 2 hoods).
But while we’re at it, I thought it might be fun to show off the black eye ghosts of my past.
1. November 13, 2006 | Provo, Utah
While crossing 700 North at 300 East (in a crosswalk), I was hit by a car and knocked to the ground. I still have no idea where that blood came from on my right eye because it was my left side that hit the ground. These are the pictures from the hospital, so they don’t show the bruise yet, but it was just a skiff of purple shadow in the crease of my eyelid. My only other injuries were a sprained ankle and some contusions on my lower leg. And shock set in about 5 hours later which was pretty scary too. But not as scary as my walking companion who got one titanium bone put in each of her legs.
2. October 19, 2009 | Seattle, Washington
I was on my bike, hurrying to get to my Anatomy & Physiology exam on time, came down a hill pretty fast, and a car pulled out in front of me. I pulled hard on my breaks to avoid hitting the car, skidded, swerved and landed on my side. The driver stopped and I asked her if I was bleeding. I was, right where my helmet was cracked. She took me in her house, cleaned me up a bit and gave me a band-aid, then I hurried on to class. I didn’t even look in a mirror until after the test was over. I was covered in mud and I had this pretty little shiner on my face. It’s amazing no one even said anything to me.
3. January 29, 2014 | Calgary, Alberta
This is the first one that gave me a scar. After two weeks, I think it’s actually healing quite well.