A New Challenge!

Posted by Ian On June 5, 2009

I'm pleased to announce that I have started my own little company - mare ad mare, which is latin for 'sea to sea' and part of the Canadian motto (check the cover of your new passports). Our goal will be to build a fresh new brand of clothing for Canadian (and wannabe Canadian) girls. I will be using this blog, much as I have in the past - to continue showing people around the globe (over 50 countries now!) what it's like to be a Canadian girl, tracing the footsteps of our 3 girls as we explore more of this great place we call home.

Un petit baiser

Unique shirt for Canadian girls

'Gimme a little kiss' - says it all. Now for big girls! Check www.mareadmare.ca for more details. All designs copyright of mare ad mare.


Fall shirt for Canadian girls

A big pile of leaves for you here! As a Canadian summer turns to fall, the leaves change colours and then fall off the trees. Kids rake them up and play! So go on, Jump into Fall with this Orange T. Check www.mareadmare.ca for more details. All designs copyright of mare ad mare.

Pass the Marshmallows!

Summer shirt for Canadian Girls

Summer in Canada is the time for camping, camp fires and of course - Marshmallows! Get ready to go roast some in this summer yellow T. Check www.mareadmare.ca for more details. All designs copyright of mare ad mare.


Spring shirt for Canadian Girls

After a long Canadian winter, spring can never arrive too soon! Pull on this Spring Green T and go planting girls! Check www.mareadmare.ca for more details. All designs copyright of mare ad mare.

It's not ALWAYS cold in Canada...

Winter shirt for Canadian Girls

How many times have you had to tell someone that it's not always cold here? Well, sometimes it is cold - but to make your point, grab this little winter blue T and let them know that it's not just snow and ice up here all the time! Check www.mareadmare.ca for more details. All designs copyright of mare ad mare.

Un petit baiser

Unique shirt for Canadian girls

'Gimme a little kiss' - says it all. Girls, grab this little white T, and go get your kiss ;-) Check www.mareadmare.ca for more details. All designs copyright of mare ad mare.

That's right - I'm a dance dad.

Not like I have much of a choice Having 3 girls pretty much paints me into a corner. Yes it's absolutely true that girls play hockey, but we haven't always been here and dance was something they were always able to do - and loved.

This past weekend, we had our first road trip competition of the season to Peterborough. Meghan is in full on with competitions this year. Last year she had one dance number that she competed in with the group, this year she has seven! Five group numbers and two solos. Needless to say, it's been pretty busy for her during the week going to all the practices and private lessons...etc, etc... Her dance school, Elite, is really very good. They work the kids hard to make them the best they can be (no they're not the army).

Stupid Highway 7...
Meghan was scheduled to dance five of those numbers on Friday, so last Thursday evening, we packed up her seven tiny little shiny outfits, her sister, a cooler full of food and snacks and headed down highway 7 to Peterborough. I'd like to mention that this has to be the worst drive ever! It's three hours of 80 km/h!!! You heard me, 80. That's like going down some boulevards in the city. And I can hear it now - cmon, 80 is just a suggestion... more like a minimum... Well, first of all - I had no idea it was 80 all the way. I had assumed that it was 90 like most country highways. I was driving my typical 15km/h (or so) over the limit and in the middle of nowhere, passed a cop going the other way. He nailed me for doing 107 in an 80. It was actually pretty funny. I hadn't been pulled over in a looooooong time. Not that I don't speed - I just don't get caught (well, other than the photo radars in Germany...). The officer asked when I had been pulled over for speeding last - I told him I couldn't remember. Honestly, I couldn't - think it was at least 15 years ago... (He didn't need to know about me - legally - going 220+ on the autobahn) He went back to his car, did his thing slowing me down for 10 minutes - then came back with a reduced ticket. He told me to drive 95km/h and no one would pull me over. Ok - done, so our 3 hour cruise turned into 3.5 hours...

Horrible drive aside, we managed to roll into the hotel around 9 and went to bed. Meghan had a lot of dancing to do the next day, and we wanted to make sure she got her rest. It didn't help that someone was insisting on remodeling upstairs and was drilling away - at 10pm - REALLY?!? Luckily Meghan had already fallen asleep - but the rest of us struggled through the night. I would have called down, but didn't want to chance waking her up.

Day 1 - The Mule
Friday was crazy. One of my many jobs as a dance dad, was to stay the hell out of the way, but the other was to be the mule. That meant getting the cooler ready for the day, pack up the car as things were ready, get the coffee/donuts and then drive them down to the theater (then take the car back to the hotel and walk back to the theater to avoid parking hastles!). Sara had to prep Meghan, get the hair and makeup done, get all the days costumes and hairpieces together and know the schedule so she knew what she had to do and when.
Obviously my responsibilities were far greater ;-)

Girls just wanna have fun
Apparently - because that song was played almost every other routine... the other song getting the most play? Rednex - Cotton Eye Joe. Yeehaw, special torture! Since the day was primarily for the wee ones, under 12, there was plenty of 'cutesy, pukey' music.
From about 9am until 9pm that night kids were paraded out in glittery costumes, tons of makeup and boomp-tick-boomp-tick music. Every 2.5 minutes. It gets to the point where you're relieved to here classical music for ballet routines! Sitting in a dark theater, for hours on end, on seats that might have been comfortable for the first 30 minutes - was kind of like flying to China.
Luckily, Meghan or one of the Elite members were dancing every hour or so that day, so I had something to look forward to. But still it made for a looooooong day.
Meghan did amazing. She placed 1st in both of her solos, and her team routines all received diamond awards (highest level). Here are a couple of shots from her solos...

Day 2 - The surly teamster
Saturday was my big day. I was signed up to help with the set for some of the big numbers. It was a bit of a relief to know that I wouldn't have to be sitting all day... I had gone through the process of the stage setup once before for dress rehearsal, and knew that the pieces were big and heavy. They basically had a stair builder create a huge platform for them - but it was way overkill. Massive 2x10 joists on 12 inch centers with 5/8inch plywood on top - they were better built than 99% of Kanata homes!!! So we hauled these huge pieces out of the trailer and waited for a break to bring them in and set them up. There was a collection of about 8 dance dads there, other poor souls relegated to being mules and now teamsters like me... but are all great sports about it.

We got the break and pulled all these things on stage and hooked it up. Our girls all cheered us on as we tried to put up a massive 20 foot wide sign on posts that was to stand 6 feet above the stage. For a mental image - think about the statue of the americans soldiers raising the flag at Iwo Jima! The dance teams did their thing, pulled in more diamond awards and really did great - including Meghan who had a pretty big part in this huge production routine.

Take down was another thing altogether. We went around back and waited for them to be ready for us. It was beautiful outside, 15c, sunny... I told the guy next to me 'this is perfect biergarten weather!'. He said back 'there's one right over there, saw a few of our guys there already!'.
So not needing any more encouragement, we went for a quick pop and sat in the sun. Much better than trying to stay awake inside watching yet another group of suburban girls try to pull of a tough hip hop routine - wearing fancy scarves no less...

After the pack up, there was nothing left for me for the day. Emma and I headed back to the hotel to go swimming, something the other girls couldn't do - a sore point with many of them. They amused themselves though - and had fun just hangin out.

Day 3 - Almost done
One dance left to go. Unfortunately, it was 3rd from last on the day's sched - and wouldn't be until almost 6. We took as much time as humanly possible at the hotel before heading over for what would be a long day of waiting, a quick dance, then awards, then a lovely 3.5 hour drive back in the dark on that stupid highway.
Again, the dance was a huge Jazz routine with close to 40 kids on stage. It was REALLY GOOD. Meghan again had a pretty big part in it - right up front pulling off some big moves. The awards were then handed out, they got another diamond for the routine - but more importantly - that number received the 'best of show' for the entire weekend. Everyone was very happy with that - a very successful weekend for the Elite dancers.

A horribly painful 3.5 hour drive later in the dark and rain, and we were home. Meghan had racked up 2 emerald and 5 diamond awards, with a 1st in each - and I got a taste of what it was like to be a dance dad.

Sara (better half...) was interviewed by CBC last weekend about ETSY and her stationery shop. She was nervous about it - but did great! It aired at 6:10am Saturday morning, think we were the only ones up to hear it...but you can catch it again here.(click on the etsy link)

To see the rest of her post on the interview, go check out her blog.

Made my first guest post on Canadian Expatriates - have tons of material, but started off nice and easy...
We finally received some of our test shirts yesterday.

Quick background....
A quick rewind...why are we doing this? Well, when we were expats, we would come back every once in awhile and of course wanted to stock up on Canadiana - so everyone else wouldn't think we were americans ;-) Problems was, there was little in the way of good canadian girl gear. There was the overly touristy crud that simply said Canada (ooooo imaginitive!) or the Roots stuff, but there wasn't even much in way of that for little girls... not to get off track - but do you remember when Roots was Canadian? It's a glorified Old Navy/Gap now - sporting gear, with Roots plastered on it somewhere... made in Vietnam, or Thailand, or somewhere not being here... I guess that's how they can get those dirt cheap prices now (ala Old Navy). But to get back to the main point... I wanted the girls to have something they could wear, show that they were proud Canadians (with overdoing it!), were slightly clever and of course, had to be cute...

So based on those ideas, I came up with the 'canadian butterfly' as a logo of sorts... played with that forever, and finally got around to creating some supporting designs. The seasonal designs made sense, as I wanted to reinforce the point that it's not always cold in Canada like everyone other than Canadians seem to think... So, these are some of the designs that I've been playing with, and the girls have been giving me their design inputs - colour combinations, what colour for the shirt, what brand, patterns... We picked four, and had them test printed - here they are...

- Fall -

My thoughts... I really like this design, it really reminds me of fall around here with all the colours in the trees. But - the test print wasn't the best. The brown didn't turn out as well as I'd hoped, and I'm not sure about the burnt orange coloured T. I like the American Apparel cut, but might have to change if I can't get a better orange.

- Winter -

It's not always Cold in Canada
but it is today ;-)

I like the way this came out, and the girls love it too. Shows up well on the shirt, and think it will look even better when screenprinted. Like the colour of the shirt, and the long sleeves (helps keep her warm in winter!)

- Spring -


Not all that happy with this one. The green is too deep, hard for the design to stand out - even with the bright colours. That's something else that doesn't work - the butterfly over the flowers - red on hot pink... not so good. My wife was the first to tell me that it didn't work - but of course I didn't listen... The girls loved the design from when they first saw it - but it doesn't quite work. I've already made adjustments, and the new Spring design is basically the new blog header - tell me what you think... The girls like the new flight path of the butterfly over a few rows of tulips (honouring our local tulip festival).

- Un Baiser -

Donnez-moi un petit baiser!

I wanted to have a few shirts that were not seasonal - something they could wear throughout the year. This little phrase is something I say to the girls all the time to get a kiss, and it reflects on our other national language.

I'll probably put some of these on etsy, and maybe try to distribute some to local tourist shops and see how it goes from there...

Let me know what you think! Cute? Retarded? And let me know if you have an idea for what I could do for the summer... I'm thinking camping, marshmallows...something along that line.

It's about time... without a season's pass for downhill this year, I've been very blasez about the whole winter thing. Sure, we've gone out skiing, done some skating, toboganning but now we're ready for spring - get this white crap out of here!

Here are our favourite (and not-so-favourite) parts of early Spring...

New Bikes!
The best part of springtime, is getting the bikes out. For the girls, we knew that at least one would need a new bike. Emma had really struggled to keep up last summer using her little 16inch pink bike. No gears on it made it really hard for her to keep up. She'd peddle like mad to stay out front, but simply couldn't keep the pace for more than a few minutes making longer trips a pain. So she had to get something new - now the question was, would Meghan need to step up?
We pulled out Meghan's 20inch bike (that we bought last year), and Emma was able to ride no problems - but Meghan was wondering why Emma would be riding a bike the same size as hers... maybe she needed something bigger. So being a beautiful sunny Sunday, we hopped in the car and headed for Kunstadt (nice German named place...). There we saw a girl about Meghan's size getting a 24inch bike and figured - yeah it was probably time for Meghan to step up in size. So we ended up getting her a nice new turquoise bike, 18 gears, nice handbrakes and seat - will be great for her. Now both the girls have new bikes - and hopefully I'll be able to take them for some trail riding later in the spring - after most of the ice is gone...
They were so happy to get riding again - they've spent about 4 hours on the bikes in the last 2 days, even though it isn't the warmest just yet... about 5C, so you'll notice the mittens on these little kittens in the vid.

The worst part of Spring? The Meltdown!
While later in Spring, we'll get to see the grass growing, leaves on the trees, flowers blooming... right now, we're in the melt-down phase. For those of you not living where snow accumulates, it means that all the snow from the winter is going away.

This is ugly because everything is dirty, mucky, wet, garbage from the winter is revealed - and the worst part - all the dog poo comes to the surface...or the snow melts down to it... whatever, it's ugly and nasty.
I think this year, we'll be using a service. Last year - Rebekah needed some fast cash, so she got to have all the fun. I know this isn't the nicest way to show Rebekah for the first time here, and I'm sure she'll hate me for it - but it's sooooooo funny... you have to see it. I promise I'll do something nice of her next time.

Spring Cleaning
No, not that kind of spring cleaning - but some online spring cleaning has been done to the blog header and to the mareadmare.ca page. Emma is featured on the front page for the Spring season. Check it out, and let me know what you think. We should have some new shirt designs printed soon and the girls are looking forward to modelling them!

Wanted to update everyone on my status and strategy for the next little while.  As you know, I was recently put into the position of 'looking for work' by my former company - which shall no longer be named, it does not deserve any free press!

So how am I looking for work?  What am I doing all day?  Here's what I've been up to...

The Job Search Strategy

Of course, I had already been watching the job boards, Monster, Workopolis...etc, getting daily emails - looking for the perfect job.  I had known that the company was not in good shape, which is one of the main reasons we left Germany.  I had been VERY close last year about this time, ready to move into a pre-sales position with another company who should remain nameless - but it fell through when there was a merger.  Since then I had been mostly working on side projects - still waiting for the right position to come along.

A couple of weeks before 'The Perfect Day...Almost' I had decided that it was really time to move on, no more procrastinating... so we drove around the area, a high-tech part in Kanata, with tons of companies - and started writing the names down.  There was at least 60, 70 names on my list now of places where I could work - nice and close, short commute, right industry (for me).  So day by day, I went down the list and searched their job boards and applied to what looked reasonable, and if they didn't have anything available, I sent them a generic note with my cover letter and resume asking them to keep my information on file in case something opened up.
Now this might seem like a quick and easy task, but for each 'reasonably close' position, my cover letter and resume had to be tailored - getting the appropriate information highlighted for the hiring manager to take notice (hopefully!).  Other companies had forms to fill out.  They took in the resume, and tried to automagically complete their forms - which NEVER worked...  This process was the longest and most painful.  Having to cut and paste, cut and paste - lather, rinse, repeat - pretty much sapped whatever energy was left for jobsearching for that day...  And then some even wanted to select from a skills matrix, put your whole life in order of what you know and how long you had done that particular skill (ie: C# or team lead or whatever...)   Because the resume contains none of that (rolling eyes).  I understand why they do it - it allows the HR people to quickly do searches based on skills, as if it is actually meaningful and accurate for everyone. 
After taking almost 2 weeks to get through the list, I started looking at consulting - doing contract work.  I found the Canadian government index for applying for contracts merx.com (yeah - not merx.ca for some reason...)  In it, there were listed 'preferred' vendor lists.  Meaning, if the company at the top can do it, don't bother applying - because the guy doing the hiring, and the biz dev guy from that company are going golfing together every weekend.  Yeah - that's how it goes everywhere - I get that.  But by gathering these lists of 'preferred providers', I found another 50 companies with whom I could apply.  So I went through the same process as indicated above with these companies.

Right now I'm at the point where I believe that contract work is the best way to go for me.  I'm a little worried that if I get a regular desk job with some company, that I might not be as challenged as I need to be - but I remain open to anyone who will dole out cash!
I no longer think of myself as unemployed, but as a contractor looking for his next gig.

At the same time, I have a few side projects going that *could* turn into something - keep your fingers crossed with me.  I'll tell you more about those, as they become more formal.

Everyday stuff
My everyday begins a little later than Sara's, but once she's ready for coffee (just before 7am) I'll join her downstairs - have a coffee with her and send her off shortly after.  Rebekah is gone at 7am, so two down - two to go.  Emma is usually up first, and she and Meghan will watch some TV and eat their breakfast.  I catch up on my morning stuff - job postings, then check into my google reader for all my info.   Right before 8, I'll get the girls lunches ready - and then yell at them to get their butts upstairs to get dressed and teeth brushed.

Next up, I have my morning workout on our Aero Pilates.  My shoulder has been screwed up for the longest time, and I can't do a pushup or pullup at the moment, but this machine has been great for building up the muscles around the problem areas without aggrevation.  I'm almost at the point where I can resume some pullups - so can't wait for that - but don't want to push it...  20 mins on that, good little cardio and some resistance exercises.

I usually have the girls get their things together, and then send them out with the dog for a quick walk - maybe 10mins or so, before they head off for the bus at 8:40ish.

A quick shower and change, gets me into 'ready for work' mode.  Since I had been working at home for awhile, the morning routine hasn't changed all that much - and I prefer to keep the routine - to keep me going.

From there I'm busy looking for work.

I have a few other things going on around the house too - so that gives me a nice distraction every once in awhile.  I'm finishing the basement, putting in a rec room.  I did my office (I have some video of that if you're interested) last summer, and hope that I can get this done in the next few weeks.  The exterior walls are all framed, insulated, bagged and wired.  I need to finish the wiring for the lights (almost done) and finish the partition wall before drywalling the whole thing...  might do a tiled ceiling though, want to dampen the noise that we'll be making down there.

And after all that - I've been doing pretty good at doing some of the cooking.  No one has died yet... so not too shabby.   Need to find some time (and warmer weather) to do some work on the car... plenty to do, but hope it doesn't last too much longer ;-)

doing alright.

    About Me

    My photo
    It's not about the money you make, the toys you have, the clothes you wear - it's about the life experiences you go through, the challenges you face and the stories you tell... Having just moved back to Canada (after almost 8 years in the U.S and Germany), we have lots to show our girls and our friends around the world about Canada. We're going to be telling our stories, hope you enjoy our adventures. Mare ad Mare means 'sea to sea' and we want to show the world, from Sea to Sea - this is what it's like to be a Canadian Girl!