Monday, 31 October 2011

More candy per hour makes new city a hit

Happy Halloween! In our house this holiday is loved by one child, loathed by the other. While one is dressing as Jason, the serial killer and hopes to see as many ghouls and as much gore as he can; the other is forcing herself to trick or treat simply for the candy.

Our neighbour, who also relocated from New Brunswick said her children noticed how much more candy they received trick or treating in this neighbourhood. Ah yes, the benefit of higher density living- shorter drives, more houses per street equals more loot for the walking investment. Such news has my two extra excited about the night's venture. And the reluctant one hoping she can fill that bag quickly enough to avoid the really scary creatures in costume!

Another "first" in our new city continues the process of making this home.

Sunday, 30 October 2011

Group activity hits the mark

After relocating to a new city we consciously search for opportunities to meet people both as individuals and as a family. One common bond we unfortunately share with a specific group is that we have a child with Type 1 Diabetes. Having a child with any condition can be isolating, even if you are living in the town you grew up in. People who do not live with a disease, whatever that condition may be, can never fully grasp what it is like for those on a particular journey.

So we were thrilled to be able to attend a fun event for families of children with diabetes on Friday night at a local archery place. As children and some grown ups, me included, tried their Robin Hood prowess, parents could chat with others who understand the sleepless nights and the 24 hour vigilance that this disease requires.

I was both cheered and saddened to hear my son chatting with two other boys his age about his diagnosis story. Then they talked about what their targets are- their blood sugar targets. I so wish the only targets they had to discuss was how close they had come to that bulls eye!

We all shot with a vengeance when the targets were covered with a sign that read Diabetes.

For a fun evening out with a group I would recommend Jim Bows Archery. He guides you through the process so that is both fun and safe. Worth checking out if you live in Calgary.

Friday, 28 October 2011

Food Friday- Fun Food for Kids, Fibre for Mom

Friday nights the kids often ask for fun food, which often means homemade pizza. The crust varies from homemade to using store bought Naan bread. Always looking for a way to up the nutritional component of our meals I was thrilled to find this recipe for pizza dough in yesterday's Calgary Herald, from the new cookbook by authors Julie Van Rosendaal and Sue Duncan. I intend to buy the cookbook.

Yes, there's another book helping me feel more at home in my new city after relocating.

Pizza Dough
1 cup (250 mL) rinsed and drained canned white beans (half a 19-oz/540-mL can)
1 cup (250 mL) water, divided
2 tsp (10 mL) active dry yeast (1 package)
1 tsp (5 mL) sugar
2 cups (625 mL) flour, either all-purpose or half whole wheat
1 tsp (5 mL)
2 tbsp (25 mL) olive or canola oil

Puree the beans with about cup (50 mL) of the water until completely smooth.
In a large bowl, stir together the remaining warm water, yeast and sugar. The mixture should get foamy after a few minutes (if it doesn’t it means the water was too hot and killed the yeast, or you need fresh yeast. Try again, or buy fresh yeast).
Add the pureed beans to the yeast mixture, along with 1 cup (250 mL) of flour. Mix thoroughly, then add another cup of flour, the salt and the oil. Again, mix thoroughly. Continue to add four by half-cups, and as soon as the batter is thick enough to make a kneadable dough, turn it out onto a floured counter. Knead until the dough is smooth and elastic, adding spoonsful of flour if needed, until the dough has lost most of its stickiness.
Wash out the bowl, dry it and add a small splash of oil. Return the dough to the bowl, turning it to coat with oil; cover with plastic wrap or a clean, damp tea towel.
Let the dough rise in a warm spot (the oven, turned off but with the light on is ideal), until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour. Or, make the dough in the morning and let it rise, covered, in the refrigerator during the day.
When you’re ready to proceed, divide the dough into 2 to 3 sections. Preheat the oven to 450°F (230°C).
Roll the dough out into a rough circle, oval or rectangle as this as you like (it will rise again in the oven). Transfer to a baking sheet or pizza pan sprinkled with flour or cornmeal. Top with your favourite toppings and bake about 20 minutes, until golden. Makes 2 to 3 10-inch (25-cm) pizzas.

If you are enjoying your fun food Friday and looking for some Halloween carving inspiration, check out the amazing photos from the world's largest pumpkin festival.

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Shared literature in your city

Back in NB the local community offered a program, Rothesay Reads, where the local high school read a book and encouraged community members to read the same book. During the event there were sessions where readers could meet and connect through the book. It was a great way to spark conversations with strangers at the local coffee shop or anywhere you saw people reading the selection.

Not a unique idea, but a great one for community bonding and dialogue. I was thrilled to learn there is a similar program in Calgary, called One Book, One Calgary.

This year's pick is the Cellist of Sarajevo which I am reading in time for the official launch Friday, November 4th. Throughout the month there are a number of free workshops, talks and special events and I plan to attend several. I am excited to be part of a literary movement like this.

As I read, I am reflecting on what makes a city feel like your city. After a recent relocation, I don't yet have that bond to Calgary.  In the book one character reflects that the trams were his sign of continuity and security in the city; if the trams were running then things must be ok. In my last home the river was my umbilical cord to the sense of place as it was so prominent in all seasons, even frozen solid when it became a spectacular winter recreational meeting place.

What is the one thing in your town or city that signifies the essence of that place to you?

If you are a reader see if you can find a similar program in your city.

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Building new health care relationships in a new city

After moving to a new city there are many new relationships you must cultivate; from a dentist to a new hairdresser. Some of these are easier to develop than others. I do miss my hairstylist!

If you or your children have medical conditions, as mine do, health care providers are key. We were lucky to find a family doctor soon after we arrived, thanks in large part to my former family doctor. She had promised to take me back upon return, but then we had both expected me to be gone for three, not nine years! Her practice was full to overflowing so she gave me a tip on a new practice opening and we have secured a fine family doctor.

Other health care relationships seem more "arranged"; as our case with the diabetes team who will help care for my son. Today was our second visit to Alberta Children's Hospital. It feels a bit like a dating relationship as it takes time for both parties to get to know each other. For the diabetes team they need to get to know the family as well as my son, as diabetes affects and is affected by the whole family.

The team here seems knowledgeable and supportive and the facility is amazing. When we lived here previously, the new hospital was only in the discussion phase. For me it is a true blessing to never have to enter the doors of the old Children's Hospital where we lived when our daughter was undergoing cancer treatment. A fresh start in so many ways.

Having a team to support us is a huge relief after living here for several months feeling stranded without medical back. Now I have experts who I can call when things get wonky- as they unfortunately do at times with diabetes.  It is another important step in settling back into this city.

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Celebrating milestones helps settling in process

Today we are celebrating my husband's birthday. Now each of us has celebrated a birthday in the new city and new house. Wow, that is shocking to me, just another indicator of how quickly times passes; yet some days it feels that we have just relocated. I suppose still having boxes to unpack adds to that!

Every special occasion helps us establish new traditions and feel grounded into our new life. The bittersweet part is it reminds us of what we have left behind; but there is something rejuvenating about examining our lives and asking- what traditions do we want to start? We don't "need" to keep any that no longer suit us.

We are already thinking ahead to Christmas. I'd love to hear if anyone has created any new family traditions they want to share.

Friday, 21 October 2011

Food Friday- looking for comfort food

The frosty, foggy morning has me seeking comfort food. I do not think I can convince my family to eat Shepard's pie again this week, although it is a new favourite recipe.

Found this in my October issue of Eating Well magazine. Even my carnivore husband enjoys it.

  • 1 pound Yukon Gold or white potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 inch chunks
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk (I have used regular on occasion it was fine)
  • 1 Tbsp. butter
  • 3/4 tsp salt, divided
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper, divided
  • 1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large onion, finely diced
  • 1/2 c finely chopped carrot
  • 1 Tbsp. water
  • 3/4 cup frozen cor kernels, thawed
  • 1 tsp. chopped fresh thyme or 1/2 tsp dried
  • 3 Tbsp all purpose flour
  • 14 oz vegetable broth
  • 1 1/2 cup cooked or canned (rinsed) lentils
Directions: (1) Place potatoes in a large saucepan and cover with 2 inches of water. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium, partially cover and cook until tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Drain and return the potatoes to the pot. Add buttermilk, butter and 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Mash until mostly smooth. (2) While potatoes are cooking, position rack in upper third of oven; preheat broiler. Coat four 10-12 ounce broiler-safe ramekins (or an 8 inch broiler safe baking dish) with cooking spray. Place ramekins on a broiler safe tray. (3) Heat oil in skillet over medium high heat. Add onion, carrot, and water. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 3-5 minutes. Stir in corn, thyme and the remaining1/2 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp. pepper, cook stirring occasionally for 2 minutes. Sprinkle with flour and stir to coat. Stir in broth. Bring to a simmer; cook, stirring one minute. Stir in lentils and cook, stirring constantly for 2 minutes. (4) Divide the lentil mixture among the prepared ramekins (or spread in baking dish). Top with mashed potatoes. Broil, rotating halfway through, until potato lightly browned in spots, 6-10 minutes.

Speaking of comfort food, check out Laurel's bread (or lack thereof) post from Germany.

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Literature can help you prepare for a relocation

The other day I wrote about reading as a way to connect to your old home after a relocation.  I am an avid reader and like to research whatever topic is currently captivating me. My husband jokes I will only follow an interest that has a library to support it. Makes sense to me.  If you are not actively participating in your passion you can be reading about it!

Coincidentally, as I was packing up my house in NB and getting ready to relocate to Calgary, CBC Reads announced the picks for 2011, one of which was The Bone Cage, set in Calgary. Not only was it a great story about the physical, emotional and spiritual costs of high level sports (in this case wrestling and swimming), but it helped me feel connected to the city where I would soon be unpacking.

So if you are preparing to move across the country or across the world, perhaps reading some fiction set in your new home might help get a feel for the new locale, in a more intimate way than simply researching the facts.

To check out The Bone Cage, below is a link to Angie Abdou's homepage. You will feel like you are in the wrestling matches and the pool.

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Magazines and books help you reconnect with home after moving

Ok as an avid reader I loved this photo and felt true envy at the thought of being surrounded by so many books. As the trailing spouse recently starting a new life in a new city, it reminded me how books have kept me company on the moves throughout my life.

As Laurel commented on my post about magazines, subscriptions from your home town or country are a great way to stay connected. One woman I knew received the local, weekly newspaper for years, then when she visited she did not feel like such a stranger.

Although I have stayed domestic (and oh yes, there's a double meaning as this time I am a stay at home spouse!) with my relocation, subscriptions to the same magazines as my mom, in some small way have made me feel closer to her.

So if you have a loved one moving away, perhaps think of a book or a magazine subscription that may let them take a bit of home with them.

Any other ideas?

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Coping with loneliness after a relocation

Certainly most people I have spoken with about the impact of relocating have felt lonely until they connect with their new community. Some commonalities are self soothing by comfort eating and comfort wine drinking. Even when we know these things are not good for us long term, it is hard to resist the pull of an immediate fix when you are in the midst of a situation where you fell you have little control.

For several months after we relocated to Calgary I volunteered to foster dogs. When I told a friend via phone that I was fostering, I hear a quick intake of breath on the other end and I quickly piped up to reassure her I was fostering dogs, not children, while I was in a vulnerable emotional state!

Below is one of the foster dogs we had for about four months. Because she had some health issues she was not quickly adopted. Poor little thing arrived in Calgary from Mexico when it was freezing cold, what an adjustment. Think she felt as lost as the rest of us.

We called her GG (for good girl). She came with the name Princess but had no affinity for it and it was not at all suited to this little dog who proved to be a spunky survivor. Despite us falling in love with her, we could see she was not lively enough for a family with small children. I am happy to report she was adopted by the perfect lady who travels with GG in her motor home and took her to live on Vancouver Island- not Mexico weather, but warmer winters than here.

Fostering the dogs helped me feel useful and of course provided great companionship. What other things have you done to help you adjust to a new city after relocating? I'd love to hear.

Saturday, 15 October 2011

Cranberry Salsa Post Script

Enjoyed the salsa last evening. By a happy accident I only added 1/3 a cup of sugar & we thought that was enough.

It went so quickly I would suggest making a double batch.

Friday, 14 October 2011

Food Friday- Keep the cranberries going past Thanksgiving

This is a slight variation on the cranberry salsa recipe I received from a friend. It is a no cook option, which may make it a bit more tart. I am going to try it today. I make cranberry salsa in the fall and over the Christmas holidays, great with tortilla chips and I even serve it with turkey dinner. Recipe below from

Ingredients: 1 (12 oz) bag of cranberries, 1 bunch cilantro chopped (vary this according to your tastes), 1 bunch green onions, cut into 3 inch lengths, 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced, 2 limes juiced, 3/4 cup sugar (I used less), 1 pinch salt.

Directions: Combine ingredients in the bowl of a food processor fitted with medium blade. Chop to medium consistency. Refrigerate if not using immediately. Serve at room temperature.

Although this is not a food blog, food is a way to connect with both your new home and your old home. In this case a recipe reminds me of a dear friend who is also a trailing spouse. For food farther afield check out:

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Shades of home in new city

After relocating to a new city, I find I am acutely conscious of those things that are different from my former home. Not better or worse, just different.

People speak of fall colours, but it seems to me in Calgary that means mostly shades of yellow and I was missing the vibrant red and orange hues from the east coast. On my walk yesterday I was pleased to see this lovely red tree. So today I took my camera so I could capture it in all its glory.

Go out and enjoy fall wherever you are!

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

A Famous Trailing Spouse

Several friends had suggested I would enjoy the movie Julie & Julia, but it was not until the long Thanksgiving weekend that I happened across the movie on TV. I am so not a cook I could not imagine the draw of a  movie about Julia Child.

I confess I loved the movie.When I saw Meryl Streep playing Julia Child and learned about her experience in France as a trailing spouse and the resulting need to find something to "do", my husband and I laughed out loud. That is me relocating to Calgary as a stay at home trailing spouse. I am looking, like Julia, to find something for me. In the movie she explores Bridge, which I confess has crossed my mind even though I am just slightly above Go-Fish in card playing ability. So guess I am looking for my version of Cordon Bleu.

The other character is a blog writer, a new thing for me which is a fun learning experience. So the movie resonated on many levels.

Seeking my inner Julia! Seeking my next passion.

Julie & Julia

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Ten Years Later Paths Cross again

I am always appreciative when synchronicity enters my life. When I am open and paying attention it does so more frequently. This past weekend marked our first Thanksgiving back in Calgary after our recent relocation. In addition to the usual occasion to express our sense of gratitude, Thanksgiving heralds many family memories. Our daughter was born on Thanksgiving, here in Calgary, twelve years ago. Now that is a day of gratitude! Although I did miss my turkey dinner that year.

Eleven years ago our Calgary thanksgiving was a very sombre event as our daughter battled a rare form of leukemia and was in ICU that weekend. We were fearful but grateful that year that she was still fighting for life as the docs had not been optimistic when we started down the treatment several weeks earlier.

This year we are back in Calgary, trying to form new family traditions, yet all of us keenly missing our most recent Thanksgiving tradition we shared with family and cousins at a NB family cottage. We were blessed to be invited to Canmore, the beautiful mountain town where my husband has extended family.

As we were driving to the dinner we passed a couple walking. My brain thought hmm, that woman looks familiar and as soon as that thought formed, my husband turned to me and said, I think that is Dr. B (the oncologist who orchestrated our daughter's leukemia treatment). So we turned the van around and pulled alongside her. It was a powerful meeting for us as this woman was vital to the most intense year of our lives and we are eternally grateful to her and the many amazing people we met on the cancer journey. We gave thanks for crossing paths again with Dr. B, but happily in a beautiful mountain setting.

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Small connections in a new city

After speaking with several trailing spouses who moved from New Brunswick to varied locations it seems they all found leaving that small city particularly difficult. Although for me it meant leaving extended family once again to return to Calgary, I wonder if the commonality that made it so difficult is that sense of community that arises more quickly in a smaller setting. I recall arriving in NB and my husband asked if I knew people there as I had grown up about three hours north. What he was commenting on was the eastern wave that neighbours who haven't met you yet give as they drive by.

That quickly translated to the repeated encounters I had with people. It seemed as soon as I met a person I would see them in many local places. Even strangers started to feel familiar and I'd find myself asking, where do I know that person from? Swimming lesson? Church? The grocery store?

Relocating to Calgary has me looking for that sense of familiarity. I have joined the gym and in a short time the instructors and some participants now look familiar. I do have all the gym equipment I need in the basement, but it is the connection with others I am seeking as well as the endorphins. After my class today I went to the drug store and as always happens, found myself in the magazine section, browsing and promising not to buy. I love magazines. As I was having that internal struggle- can I really justify buying another cooking magazine- a lady tapped me on the shoulder and said oh this is my favourite place- I have a magazine addiction you know. This led to a lovely chat, one of those oddly intimate moments you sometimes have with strangers that made me feel connected.

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Lonely after relocating

As I walked the kids to the bus this morning I noticed the bite in the air and the scattering of yellow leaves on the ground. The naked branches reminded me that the barren, sorrowful time of year is fast approaching. That time between the vibrancy of fall heralding a sense of  change and the sunny, sparkly cold of winter. I expect to feel the sense of loneliness this time brings more acutely this year as I make my way in my new city of Calgary.
Since I moved to Calgary in the deep freeze of late February, I have had ample time to think about loneliness. So far this has been the most difficult relocation for me and I am not sure why. I know intellectually that these transitions take at least a year, and as I am almost a decade older since the last move, like the rest of me, the transition may move more slowly as well!
An east coast friend who had moved from the UK to Canada recommended a fabulous book on loneliness which has helped me accept the situational loneliness I am experiencing. Lonely: Learning to Live with Solitude by Emily White is a fascinating look at the emotional and cognitive effects of loneliness. She understood my unpacking ADD as I called it. It certainly helped me feel I was not imagining the effects I was seeing.
Her website might be helpful for anyone experiencing loneliness, not just after a job relocation but those who feel that as a chronic state.

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Can I call Calgary home?

Just arrived back in Calgary after a great family week in California. As we exited the plane in Calgary, I confess I had mixed emotions - about more than leaving that great weather! Technically we live here now, but it felt strange to see it as coming home. Is it simply that we have only been here about seven months?
Perhaps it is more than that. After relocating several times, which place is home? The place where I grew up? The place I lived the longest as an adult? The most recent place? This place I am returning to? My sense of place and context feels wobbly.
I am hopeful that now my DH has started work here, we will begin to feel that the whole family has moved to Calgary and we can start truly settling in.