November 27, 2008

Joyeaux jour d'Action de Grace!

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone in the US! Or Joyeaux jour d'Action de Grace! (there are some accents missing). Hard to believe, but it’s business as usual in Canada as it’s not a holiday here. The Pisani family will make it a holiday! Danielle is staying home from school as she posed a good argument about how the kids from different countries in her school take off special holidays. As of now, Louis amazingly is still asleep and will stay home from school as well. However, the TV is not allowed to come on until later this afternoon! Who wants to watch the Detroit Lions anyway? We’ll hold out for next game. Duke will spend the day in front of the oven and Paul and Kish will unload another box or two.

On this day of thanks we know how much we have to be thankful for. While it’s been a wild ride this year, in the big scheme of what is going on in the world, we are truly giving thanks.

So Happy Thanksgiving to everyone in the US. And to the Flynn family in Elmhust hosting the Turkey Trot after party (and we do mean party- nothing like people in bathrobes starting Thanksgiving festivities early) – know that the Pisani’s are with you in spirit and we will have a Molson in your honour after a stroll around the neighborhood. And for our old neighbors in Harmony Grove, sorry you won’t be entertained with Paul’s turkey frying show in the driveway. Kish suggested Paul not try that this holiday season – first there’s no telling where are supplies are and second, the Blackhawks flag out front still has people turning their heads.

Have a great day!

November 26, 2008


In 10 years of school, Danielle has never been sent to the principal's office or received a detention -- until now. You'll never believe what she had to do to get this punishment -- forget her dress shoes. Yup! She wore her snow boots to school and realized when she got there she didn't have her school shoes. So instead of trying to cover it up, she asked an administrator if it would be okay if she borrowed a classmate's extra shoes (which she had arranged already). And the administrator said she could borrow them, but she will still get detention because they are not her shoes. Has she not learned from her parents? We would have borrowed the shoes and not said a word. 

So are we mad? No. First, she did a much better job at the situation then her parents would have at that age. And, she knew to take the consequences herself, instead of calling Kish to drive into the city in rush hour to deliver the shoes, just to avoid detention. 

A bit harsh? Perhaps. But it's not likely Danielle will forget her shoes again and it really is a life lesson. Plus it's just detention and we're assuming nothing like The Breakfast Club.

November 25, 2008

More legit each day....

For our fellow Warriors, you can see we are spreading the Marquette spirit throughout Quebec. 

So long Illinois plates and hello to an official Quebec car. Getting a registration and license plate was no easy task. Just getting the car here was a trip. Then in order to get the license, it had to have a major inspection. This inspection included making sure any recalls have been met, that the car is paid off and any necessary repairs are made in order for it to be safe and insurable. It's the law in Quebec that headlights have to be on all the time. So, that had to be retrofitted since US cars don't always have this feature. Fortunately, or unfortunately, most US cars come with the metric system feature so speed confusion should not be an issue. Kish is aware that the road signs that say 100 speed limit do mean KPH not MPH. Darn. While it took a lot of time to complete everything, we do understand the importance of it all, really we do.

Next step is snow tires. Yes, after December 15 they are mandatory here and not following the rule comes with a hefty fine. We hear it's a good thing, but our theory is that someone in the government must have a good share of Canadian Tire.

And speaking of snow, we're having the first measurable snow fall today -- 4-5 cm.

November 24, 2008

Calgary wins

Calgary defeated Montreal, 24-14 in a loud and exciting Grey Cup on Sunday at Olympic Stadium. Paul and Danielle saw things they don't typically see at a game in the US. 

November 23, 2008

Paul and Danielle are at the Grey Cup this Sunday night. The Grey Cup is the Canadian Football League's Super Bowl. Believe it or not, it's older than the Super Bowl. Many of the players are from US schools. It's strange watching the game (on the Canadian version of ESPN) as everything is in French and English -- including the introductions. For sports fans, there's more information at

What's new for the Pisani family is hearing the Canadian National Anthem at sporting events. We love Wikipedia -- here's some information about the Anthem --

Oh Canada is the national anthem of Canada. The song was originally commissioned by the Lieutenant Governor of Quebec, the Honourable Théodore Robitaille, for the 1880 St. Jean-Baptiste Day ceremony. Calixa Lavallée wrote the music, which was a setting of a patriotic poem composed by the poet and judge Sir Adolphe-Basile Routhier. The text was originally only in French.

An English translation of the lyric did not appear until 1906, and it was two more years before Robert Stanley Weir penned an English version, which is not a translation of the French. Weir's words have been revised twice, taking their present form in 1980, but the French lyrics remain unaltered. "O Canada" was not officially Canada's national anthem until 1980, when it was signed into law on July 1 as part of that year's Canada Day celebrations.

O Canada!
Our home and native land!
True patriot love in all thy sons command.
With glowing hearts we see thee rise,
The True North strong and free!
From far and wide, O Canada,
We stand on guard for thee.
God keep our land glorious and free!
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.

Terre de nos aïeux,
Ton front est ceint de fleurons glorieux!
Car ton bras sait porter l'épée,
Il sait porter la croix!
Ton histoire est une épopée
Des plus brillants exploits.
Et ta valeur, de foi trempée,
Protégera nos foyers et nos droits
Protégera nos foyers et nos droits.

We'll post photos from the game tomorrow!

November 22, 2008

Things we've learned in Canada so far

We decided to write about a few things we've learned in Canada so far...

1. The Montreal Gazette is a fantastic newspaper. Can you find an article in the Chicago Tribune detailing 50 ways to make rabbit? It really is a good paper.

2. A big bathroom really isn’t necessary. Kish and Paul are doing fine with one sink. The kids too. We don’t spend that much time in the bathroom, hopefully.

3. Same goes with closet space. Our new home was built in the ‘70s. Enough said.

4. Molson Dry is 8.5%.

5. Going into the bank is a good thing. No drive thru here. Tellers know your name. Especially if you are there to report fraud on your debit card. "Happens all the time." Fortunately, funds are replaced in a couple of days.

6. Patience is a virtue. Everything takes longer. It’s not always a bad thing.

7. Quebec is way different from the rest of Canada.

8. Invisible Fence works great for a Labrador unless there’s a squirrel on the other side of the “border” taunting him.

9. Kids need an hour for lunch. Louis has a full hour for lunch and recess – in addition to another recess in the morning. Kids need to run around and have a break. Adults do too.

10. Uniforms are a good thing. All schools should have them. It eliminates all the drama-for girls anyway.

11. Socialized medicine is not a bad thing. While we have not had a catastrophic experience, fortunately, just the savings in medicine is making an impact on our monthly expenses.

12. Canadians like French wine.

13. It’s not uncommon to have wine with lunch.

14. Kids in Canada take public transportation without hesitation – even if the school is 15 minutes away.

15. Did we mention the wine?

16. Daycare in Quebec is on average $7 a day – the government supplements the rest.

17. Canadians are just as passionate about politics. They can call elections whenever they want. And kids have another day off school too because they are poling places. We will experience two elections in two months.

18. Fast food is not as readily available.

19. There's something special in the coffee. Not sure what it is..but it's addicting and stimulating. 

20. All of that said, there is still a reason why people want to live in the US.

November 19, 2008

The Amazing Fieldtrip

Kish has gone on a few field trips, but this first one in Montreal was amazing. Louis' class has been studying the environment and followed the classroom studies with the trip to the Biosphere -- an environmental museum in Montreal. When you have a chance, check out the website --

We learned so much about the Fieuve Saint-Laurent (the river running through Montreal) and its connection with the Great Lakes. We learned that you could take a boat from Chicago to Montreal and even out to the Atlantic if you wanted. Don't laugh if you're from around the Great Lakes and already knew this valuable piece of information. Kish grew up in Arizona and can tell you all about the Battle of O.K. Corral, rattlesnakes, desert topography and how to survive in the desert for days without water and getting liquid from cactus. But, studying the Great Lakes wasn't a big part of the curriculum. 

A large part of the day was spent talking about the abuse of the environment. As mentioned in previous posts, Canada seems to be much more environmentally aware than the majority of the US. Kish's brother Paul in Bend, Oregon has been on top of it for years and builds houses using recycled materials and is really up on the subject of re-using old stuff. We thought of him when we looked at some of the items local people are making from recycled products -- they were so cool they are posted in a slide show below. There's a big Green Christmas campaign and lots of great information about having an friendly Christmas on the website as well. We also learned how much water it takes to make a pair of jeans, a quarter pounder hamburger and more.

It was great to spend the day with 5th graders and Louis' new teachers. The kids in Montreal are the same as Naperville. We were fortunate to hear the entire loud version of "99 bottles of beer on the wall" on the bus ride home. That's 99 bottles of recyclable bottles of beer in Montreal -- they come with a 5-cent deposit so there's no throwing them away in the garbage -- to end up in a landfill.

November 18, 2008

Canada or Canadian?

Special thanks to my sister-in-law Stephanie for sharing this important information from her father, Steve Pero. It's not the CANADIAN Goose as we have been calling them as they flew by the hundreds over Naperville house at 5 am each November leaving presents in the back yard. It's CANADA Goose. Here's the information from Wikipedia --

The Canada Goose (Branta canadensis) is a goose belonging to the genus Branta native to North America. It is sometimes called Canadian Goose, although that is not considered to be strictly correct according to the American Ornithological Union and the Audubon Society.[2][3] According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the first citation for Canada Goose dates back to 1772.

Just some helpful trivia. Thanks Steve! If you really enjoy Canada geese, there's a website all about them --

By the way, besides being excellent at trivia, Steve is a pediatric dentist and a glass blower. He makes the most beautiful glass ornaments, glass hearts and other unique pieces you may see in our home someday.

November 17, 2008

No, Danielle doesn't go to Hogwarts

While the uniform might resemble something from a Harry Potter book, Danielle goes to an all girls school named Miss Edgar's and Miss Cramps. And even better -- the mascot is a Beaver. (This is not a joke). We've had a few requests for photos of Danielle in her uniform -- here you go. The lighting is all off, it was very early in the morning. And she learned how to tie a tie on the bus this morning.

Each Monday the girls have to dress in full uniform with the blazer, tie, etc., which we learned the hard way when we arrived her her first day on a Monday in October. Fortunately, there's a uniform store and they let her borrow some items. The other days they wear a white shirt and the kilt. There are other uniform rules like no make up, only natural colored hair, no more than two holes per ear and no colored nail polish. While it sounds militant, it makes preparing for school a lot easier and eliminates a lot of the drama (and we have not had one complaint about the uniform). It's a bit different from her school in Naperville. First off, this school is K-11 and has 450 girls total. Her 9th grade class is 40 girls (compared to 1,200 at Neuqua Valley High School). And some of her classes are in French. We have no idea how she's making it happen, but she is determined and is figuring it out. She gets to have classes in art history and media and has already made a fantastic Public Service Announcement about autism awareness using her computer. When we figure out how to upload it to the blog we will. All high school girls have to go to school with a MacBook and there is little work done on paper, most is all on the computer. It's quite facinating what they are learning. Danielle continues to play the flute and stays after school two days a week for an orchestra group. Each year the group takes a trip in April. Last year they went to Mexico City. This year you'll never believe where they are going -- CHICAGO! As it turns out they alternate an international destination with something drivable and this year it's, well Chicago. Actually she's looking forward to seeing the city through the eyes of her Canadian classmates. Plus we never took her to the Sears tower and she can finally do that.

In Quebec, high school goes until 11th grade. We're not sure what we'll do if we leave the country before or after that time. After 11th grade the kids go to what is called CEGEP, which is sort of like community college and they get a lot of the basics covered. Then, if they want to continue with higher education they go to "University" -- like McGill, University of British Columbia or several others.  The good news is, that if they choose to go to University, it's about $3,000 per year -- and that's for an excellent education. McGill is on par with Ivy league schools in the states. So, as you can see, taxes are high in Canada, but there are a lot of other things, like college, that are very much supplemented by tax dollars. Anyone with kids in college right now might appreciate a 3K/year tuition bill.

So that's Danielle's school update. It's very different but our thought was, when in Canada, do as the Canadians do. She's the only American girl in her class and is learning a lot about Canada (and the US) from her classmates. 

November 16, 2008

In sports news....

In case you missed it -- the Montreal Alouettes defeated the Edmonton Eskimos yesterday to make it to the Grey Cup. That's the Canadian Football League's version of the Super Bowl. It will take place next Sunday at Olympic Stadium -- and yes, Paul is going.

Today we'll be watching the Bear/Packers. Once again, we're able to get the Bears game here!

November 14, 2008

Things not seen in the US #1

We're starting something new -- from time to time we'll put items on our blog with things we find in Canada --  not typically seen in the US. Here's our first....

The gas station. Don't be jealous. This price is per litre. That's not a lot of gas. Thankfully, prices are better - when we visited in August the price was around 1,30$. (no typos -- that's how money is written.) It takes some getting used to, much like the metric system. Weren't we told as kids the US would be changing over to metric? That said, it's a beautiful 14 degrees here -- that's C.

November 13, 2008

Kish is re-Schmitzed

If you didn’t know me pre-marriage, my maiden name is Schmitz. It’s a cool last name and all – unless your first name is Kish and you have aspirations of being a television reporter as I did when I was in college. My parents obviously weren’t thinking of that in 1965. Kish Schmitz is a tongue-twisting combination. Add a Molson or two to the scene and name is even more difficult to comprehend. My parents certainly weren't thinking of that.

So almost 18 years ago when we got married, my bags were barely unpacked from our honeymoon and I was off to change my last name to Pisani. Well, Schmitz is BACK.

In Quebec, a woman keeps her maiden name as a legal name. When we closed on our home two weeks ago – I was back to signing everything Schmitz. It was strange after so many years. Although, Schmitz is easier to sign or say when combined with Ana – my real first name. Yes, I know, it’s confusing. And now that we’re meeting new people, I’m back to explaining the origin of “Kish” on a daily basis.

Yesterday I went to submit the paperwork for my Medicare card for health insurance in Canada. I’ll have yet another new legal document with Schmitz. Next week I’m off to tackle the driver’s license. Our marriage license has become just as important as a passport or visa these days.

I used to think that Quebec women were simply progressive with the name change dilemma. Now, I’m realizing that in this province, it’s simply easier not to change names.

November 11, 2008

Remembrance Day in Canada

It's Remembrance Day in Canada -- Veteran's Day in the US. The poppy campaign has been going on for a couple of weeks here. Poppies are everywhere. The recognition starts well before the 11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month. 

Why do we wear poppies on Remembrance Day?
The poppy worn on Remembrance Day is the red-corn poppy, which grows abundantly in Europe, including Flanders Fields.
'In Flanders Fields' is a poem, written by Canadian physician and Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae on May 3, 1915, and was written about the small red flowers growing on the battlefields of France amongst the death and blood from the men who died fighting for their country.

This is because the corn poppy was one of the only plants that grew on the battlefield. It thrives in disturbed soil, which was abundant on the battlefield due to intensive shelling. During the few weeks the plant blossomed, the battlefield was coloured blood red, not just from the red flower that grew in great numbers but also from the actual blood of the dead soldiers that lay scattered and untended to on the otherwise barren battlegrounds.

The poem and the poppy, have now become iconic symbols of both the World Wars, and now plastic versions are sold prior to Remembrance Day to remember those who died.

The poem:

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders Fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders Fields.

- John McCrae

Thanks to our friends and family members who have served in the military.

November 10, 2008

A few of our favorite things...

We've officially been in Montreal for over a month....we're enjoying our time here, but have to admit there are a few things from the states we used to take for granted. At the risk of sounding like Ugly Americans.....
  • Ice – who has a fridge without an ice maker? We do -- the previous owners were European and they’re not big on ice. No one is around here really. Do they sell ice trays anymore?
  • Mexican food – have not found any yet, not even Taco Hell.
  • Giordano’s – we admit, we’re pizza snobs.
  • Right turn on red – it’s illegal on the island of Montreal. U-turns are tough too.
  • ESPN/Sportscenter – we get the Canadian version. We do get WGN though!
  • 6.75-7.5% sales tax – sales tax is high in Montreal – around 13%.
  • Putting cans and bottles in recycling – we have to think twice because we’ve paid a deposit and they have to be returned. It’s a good thing, right?
  • Banking hours – it’s only Monday-Friday 10-4 in Montreal and no such thing as a drive through ATM.
  • A full school week – the kids have yet to have a full week of school! There are a lot of holidays and teacher work days in Canada.
  • Trader Joe’s – no explanation necessary.
  • English - now we sound like Ugly Americans. We're learning French though. That said, most everything is in French and fortunately, most everyone speaks English and is bi-lingual. We're the ones with the obstacle.
And Danielle's vote for what she misses...a cell phone. Believe it or not, although we own a home, pay taxes, etc. in Canada, we have not established any Canadian credit and have not been able to get a cell phone for Danielle. Our new Canadian credit card arrived last week and she can finally get a phone. So, since she has the DAY OFF school today, we're off to get her phone. Actually, with a long commute to school and other activities it is more of a necessity around here.

November 8, 2008

It's Hockey night in Canada

We may be upsetting the neighbors, but the Blackhawks flag is up regardless. We'll let you know if we get egged or maple syruped. However, Canadians are peaceful people..except when it comes to hockey. Check out the Molson video to the left from YouTube.

November 5, 2008

We're here....

Our house arrived on Monday. The irony it was harder to get a car and dog across the border. We're up to our ears in boxes and it will take some time to get situated, but it's good to have a consistent address and phone. (Change of address cards will be going out this week). 

In other news...we're glad the election is over. It has been extremely interesting to watch/hear everything from this side of the border. Canadians are just as interested in the US election. The Cable Guy was here all day getting us set up just in time for the coverage...and hockey updates of course. 

November 1, 2008

It's in the game

We don't have beds or furniture and we're living in a hotel for the weekend...but we have sports. Louis started basketball today and it was good to see him smile and back in the game. Before Paul realized it, he was the coach because "he looked like a coach." (He was wearing an LSU shirt so that must qualify him). We're not even certain if all the kids spoke English, but they understood each other regardless. The team is called "The Maverick's" which made Kish cringe -- since the word has taken on a whole new meaning this political season. Sports kids are the same regardless of where they live. It was as if he was playing in Naperville again -- these kids could play!

Danielle has been in water polo for the last couple of weeks, before we even owned a home in Canada. It's a big commitment with practice four days a week and tournaments on some weekends. Like hockey, pool time is at a premium and she's in the pool some nights until 10 pm. Water polo is much more popular in Canada and she's getting a different type of training. Because it's such a big commitment, she's taking a break from competitive swimming and will instead start on her school team next week. High School swimming is not as intense as it is in Naperville anyway. 

It's Hockey Night in Canada and we can watch just about any game in French or English. There's still College Football though.
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