Thursday, August 07, 2014

You know you haven't blogged in a while when you start typing your blog's address into the address bar and it doesn't recognize it and you have to type the *entire* address.  Woah!

Uhhhm sooo it's been three months since I last blogged.  Ooops!  I seem to remember having a blogging goal for this year.  Let me see if I can find it...

Ah ha!!  Here we go!  On this post I had a goal of blogging more than last year - ie, more than 14 times.  Alright!!!  I can do that!  Let's see how much I've blogged thus far in 2014....

Including this one - 13!!!  WHOOT!  Only two more posts and I will have reached my blogging goal. Well alright.  (You have to say that like Uncle Rico)

So what have we been up to?

Well, first things first, we're enjoying a fabulous summer here in sunny Canada.

Ok, it's not that bad *all* the time.  It has rained a little bit almost every day though.  Last week we went on a bike ride and I had to wear arm warmers.

Well.  I say "arm warmers".  I don't actually own any arm warmers.  However, my calves didn't need any support so...Zensah to the rescue!  =)  They worked fabulously.

In TN we had to get up super early to make sure our bike rides were done before the afternoon heat hit.  Here, we dilly dally and don't go out until the afternoon.  When the DH rides in the morning he wears at least two layers and a jacket.  It's a tad chilly compared to TN.

Winter's going to be a b......  ...  bit difficult to deal with.

Speaking of goals, let's see how I'm doing as the year's more than half over.

Here's what I wrote at the beginning of the year:

Goals this year: 
Blog more than last year.  Shouldn't be hard as I blogged a total of 14 times last year....
Finish the TARDIS cross-stitch. 
Keep up on the dishes and house. 
Read scriptures and pray more
Exercise as much as my body allows but don't go nuts and injure myself.  Getting older blows.  Just sayin'.
Lose the 10lbs.  Again.  By exercising as indicated in the previous sentence, and eating healthier whole foods.  And by not eating brownies and ice cream several times a week.

Blogging - well on track to finishing that.
TARDIS cross stitch - Haven't touched it this year
Keep up on dishes and house - Actually, I've been doing a lot better on that since homeschooling ceased. =D
Read scriptures and pray more - Ok.  I straight up have to admit I've been having a leeeetle crisis of faith.  Clearly I need to do more of this.
Exercise - Not as much as I'd like, but more than I did during the move.  It's going ok.
Lose 10lbs - I've lost 3lbs.  Soooo.  Not so well.

The year's not over yet!  =)

Lots more to blog about, but I don't want this to be an overwhelming post.  Some of those long ones are torture to get through.

Sunday, May 04, 2014

I'm a bit dumb and blind, but eventually the Lord whacks me around the head hard enough and I get it.

We moved into the new house blah blah blah la la la more on that later.

Let's get to the important stuff, shall we?

Today the entire Relief Society lesson was given to practicing the hymn the RS are going to sing in church next Sunday.  "As Sisters In Zion".

The entire Relief Society lesson.

The sister who leads the music in Sacrament meeting, and who sings like an angel, and whose name I have not yet learned - maybe it's Catherine?  Probably not - anyway, she had found a beautiful arrangement.

And we struggled with it.  Oh my good gravy did we struggle.  Many of the sisters didn't understand the terms "alto" and "soprano" and sang the melody even when they weren't meant to.  One or two sisters could reach the high notes.  Most of them couldn't.

In the end the lovely arrangement was given up and instead it was decided that we would just sing the song as it was in the hymnbook.  It was less complicated and it sounded better.

Coming from my previous ward populated with ridiculously talented musical people, it was a reminder that I wasn't in Nashville anymore.  There Bro Kartchner could pull out a different arrangement on the fly.  Difficult musical arrangements would be handed out and would be sung perfectly almost immediately.

Here's what's important.  Pay attention now.

The sister next to me singing out of tune was singing with her heart full, as loud as she could, with as much feeling as she could.  She followed the words in the hymnbook closely with her finger.  At one point she turned to me and, pointing to a word, with broken heavily accented English said, "Seester, what is thees?"

And that's what it's all about.  It was wonderful listening to the astonishing musicians and singers in Franklin.  The sister next to me singing with all her heart to the Lord touched me deeply.  She sang with the Spirit.

From the first she has befriended me.  She has asked to come over to help me unpack.  She called to apologize that she didn't make it on the previous Friday because she had to work.  She has bought a plant to welcome us to our new home.  She has been giving and friendly and welcoming and kind.  And just a few days ago I found out that she was doing all this while dealing with her own struggles in life.  She wasn't able to sort out her visa and by summer will need to go back to her home country - something she is deeply sad and worried about.

She is an example to me, and I hope I can follow that example.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Oh Canada

This morning we woke up to this:

Spring in Canada.  I wonder why pictures never show snowflakes?  It's actually snowing quite heavily in the above picture, but you'd never know it.

Which was a delightful surprise.  I know everyone here's all "GAHHHHHHH!!!!!!!" but we've just come from Tennessee so it's still exciting.  Plus, we're in a warm house and have no intention of going outside.  Plus, we're in a high rise and have zero snow shoveling duties.  Plus, it is actually trending warmer these days so the snow isn't going to hang about for long.  For all these reasons we think it's kind of cool.  Want to see more pictures?

Yes, they're all from the same vantage point on our balcony.  I stepped two steps outside, snapped the pictures, then hurried back inside again.  Not much interested in going outside any time soon.

....which is a pity as the kidlet wants to go to the library (The round building in the above pictures.  Yes, I know it's only across the road but still...)  Mmrrgrrfffhhhngnn.  Well fine.  Maybe we'll go.  Or not.  Maybe I'll plead illness.  I have a horrid cough and some weird thing going on in my lungs that kept me up some of the night (the rest of the night I was kept up by the rave going on upstairs....).  I've been drinking chamomile tea and honey all day and it's worked wonders.  But maybe I can still play the sick is, admittedly, 2pm, and I'm still in my nightdress.  Clearly I'm not feeling up to being human today.

Are you interested in this fabulous apartment?  =)  I know I told you last time that it was 800 sq ft.  Apparently it's 900.  So I guesstimated 100 off.  Not bad.  Here are the pictures.  Prepare yourselves for awesomeness.

Here's the view from the front door.  To your immediate left there is a little closet where the vacuum cleaner is stored.  Just past that on the left is the office.  Then just past that is the master bedroom.  You can see the doorway in the picture opposite the dining room table.

To the right from the front door is the kitchen with the laundry closet, the dining table (which you can see in the picture).  Just past the dining table to the right (you can *just about* see it in the pic) is another bedroom and bathroom, which Ben uses. 

Straight ahead is, clearly, the living room and the balcony.  That's it.

The kitchen.  Note the closet at the end opposite the cooker.

Here's the laundry closet.  I love it. It's in the kitchen where it's meant to be. 

The dining room table.  From this vantage point you can see the "hallway" that leads to Ben's bedroom (you can see into his bedroom from here) and bathroom.

Ben's bedroom.  This is pretty good for him.

Ben's bathroom.  Yeah, it's pretty awesome isn't it? =)

Now to the opposite side of the house.  I have no pictures of the office.  Why?  I took the pictures.  I remember taking them.  So why isn't it on my phone?  Clearly the phone gremlins have been at work.  Anyway, it's a room with a desk and a mirror.  That's it.  No closet, no window.

Then we have....

The master bedroom

And the master bathroom

And that's it.  Apart from the photo of the closet which has also inexplicably disappeared.  Isn't it perfect?  What else could we possibly need?  Nothing.  This place has it all.  I love it. =)

At some point I will post pictures of the Jays/Yankees game and the pics I took whilst walking along the lakeshore in Port Credit.  Maybe tomorrow. =)

Party on, dudes!

Friday, April 04, 2014

The Wheel Turns....

A lot has happened since my last post.

Did I mention that Bert and Andrew had been crazy sick?  Well they had been.  Andrew was so sick he burst blood vessels in his eyes.

We tried to get over the stuff that was crazy about the house which included:

- Broken handle on dishwasher
- broken drawer in kitchen
- amenities in kitchen clearly someone's cast-offs; certain items missing (I had to go buy measuring spoons and cups etc)
- burner on stove not functioning
- washer not working correctly; only uses excessively hot water, no cold
- Light missing to basement.  I don't mean the light bulb was out, I mean the fixture was missing with wires hanging down
- Bedroom furniture clearly someone's cast-offs.  For example, one bed didn't have a frame, it was just the box spring and mattress on the floor
- Handle missing on nightstand in Andrew's bedroom
- Drawer broken in dresser in Andrew's room
- No door on linen closet
- Door painted shut in other hall closet
- Towel rack in bathroom broken
- closet door in master bedroom broken
- cracked tile in master bathroom
- mold and stains in shower
- Shelf in closet coming out of the wall in master bedroom closet
- No dresser in master bedroom
- Towel rack in Master bathroom broken
- handle broken on chest of drawers in Ben's room
- Both handles broken on nightstand in Ben's other room (more on that later)
- The only furniture in that room was the nightstand and bed...that bed is the one that just sat on the floor
- There was an air hockey table in one room downstairs that was about to fall over.  We just never went near it
- Glass on floor in laundry room
- Main staircase was uneven and very rickety...I had my heart in my throat several times coming down it
- The flooring was weird.  There were large gaps between some of the boards and you could see the subfloor.
- There were numerous patches, unfinished areas, and marks on the walls
- The TV in the living room was on the wall...and the wires were dangling down with the heavy plug suspended from them. It looks really unsafe...I kept imagining that the weight hanging from the tv would pull it down at some point
- When you opened the recliners on the couch the smell of cigarettes was rather disconcerting

Ben was originally in the room opposite the master bedroom.  However, after we'd been there a couple of days he came to me and said he had bites on him.  I looked, and they were in the "breakfast-lunch-dinner" pattern of bed bugs.  This *totally* freaked me out.  Ben moved into the other bedroom and thereafter had no problems.

We were suffering along with new problems popping up every day...I know there's some I've forgotten in the above list.  There were so many.

Oh yes!  One of them was we could only take about a 3 minute shower.  The warm water ran out extremely fast.  So we had to take "camp" showers, and then wait at least half an hour between showers so the water could warm up a bit for the next person.  Quite inconvenient on a Sunday morning...

The property manager came to look around and was quite horrified.  Someone came to fix the minor things, and eventually they replaced the water heater which made showers much more comfortable.

The day after the water heater was replaced I decided to wash the sheets on the bed.  When I pulled the sheets off I found this:

That dark spot in the upper right corner is blood that had never been washed out.  It's not our blood.

I washed the sheets absolutely *dreading* putting them on the bed and getting back in the bed that night.

 Out of the blue Bert calls and says there was *FINALLY* another place available and we could go see it.

This was about 4pm.  It took 20 minutes for Bert to pick us up, and another 20 to get to the place, a high rise condo in downtown Mississauga.

Mississauga is a city about the same size as Detroit, next to Toronto which is the largest city in Canada.  With a population of over 5 million Toronto falls somewhere between New York and Los Angeles in size.

We needed to make a decision on the new place by 5pm. We were eventually able to get inside at 4.55pm.

It was on the 19th floor of the Grand Ovation building.  The selling point for me was it was right next to Square One, one of the main malls in Mississauga - this would provide Ben with something to do.

Picture taken our first night.

It was also directly opposite the main Mississauga library.  I mean...directly opposite.  Right across the road.  Andrew was absolutely delighted. =)

The other selling point was the size.  The house we were currently in was 3400 square feet - huge.  The condo, at a guess, is maybe 800 square feet.  There is a little kitchen, an apartment sized washer/dryer in a closet in the kitchen, a dining table, a living room, a small office, two bedrooms, and two bathrooms.  That's it.  Absolutely completely perfect.  Everything worked.  Nothing was broken.  It was a fully stocked kitchen with everything we needed - even scissors and a colander which were completely missing in the other house.  Within 5 minutes we'd decided.

We called the relocation company and said we'd take it and when could we move in?  He said immediately.  WHOOT!!!  We wouldn't have to sleep in that disgusting bed after all! =)

The crescent moon looked bigger in real life...

So we packed (AGAIN!), moved, and unpacked (again).  Hopefully we're settled now until our belongings arrive (where *are* they, by the way?  They were meant to be here two weeks ago...worrying...) and we can finally move into our permanent dwelling.

And by "permanent" I mean "for the next 2-3 years".

The question now becomes how on earth can I face moving out of this perfect apartment?  I love it so much and am so happy here.  I don't *want* to move into that bigger house.  This apartment is what I wanted when we moved here.  Small.  No stairs.  Clean.  Perfect.

Sigh.  Oh well.  Might as well enjoy it while we have it.  And we are enjoying it, oh yes we are.  We have been so very happy the past couple of days. I feel so at home and comfortable.

Today it has been rainy and misty.  The mist gradually descended throughout the afternoon.  We are now living in the clouds. =)

I found this picture on my phone.  I took it when we came to Canada to look for a place to live.  We needed to get out of the hotel so went to Erin Mills Mall just for fun. In the food court I found a sushi place which made just about the best sushi I've ever had.  Look at that!  It tasted as delicious as it looks...and this was from a podunk place in the mall!  What the heck?  Hmmm...going to have to go there next week...  =) =)

Tomorrow we're heading in to Toronto for the first time.  Bert scored free tickets to the Blue Jays/New York Yankees game.  Never been to a baseball game before.  Should be fun! =)

Saturday, March 29, 2014

I think Canada is trying to kill us.

I've been writing long posts lately.  Here's a brief synopsis for those who don't have the time or the inclination to read the whole thing:
Saturday - read last post
Sunday - Church.  Spaghetti.
Monday - First day for Bert. Homeschool.  Shopping.
Tuesday - Andrew sick.  Relief Society bash.
Wednesday - Homeschool. Recovery.
Thursday - SIN, bank, bedbugs
Friday - I'm sick. Bert's sick. We're all sick and tired.

The whole enchilada:
We've been here a week now.  Well.  Ok.  In about seven hours we'll have been here a week.  In about seven hours it will have been 7 days since the infamous "Immigration Episode" *shudder*.  (Lightning flashes thunder crashes wolves howl banshees screech and there's a high pierced scream in the background.)  Here's how the week has gone.

You read about that in the last post.  Let's move on and pretend it didn't happen...

Church.  We're in the Etobicoke ward. (Pronounce that "Ee toe bih coh")  It is made up largely of immigrants.  Loooots of immigrants from all over everywhere.  South Africa, Jamaica, Mexico, France, Finland, England, China, Japan, etc etc.  Or maybe the French are from Quebec which wouldn't really make them immigrants now, would it?  Anyway, it's very international.  The impression I get is that these lovely people have been through a ridiculous amount of stuff, and they have got through it with sheer determination and strength in the Lord.  Their faith is simple and extremely deep.  I am inspired every time one of them gets up to talk.  They are very caring and welcoming.

Ben came with us to Sacrament meeting and Sunday School, then went to the Sacrament meeting of the singles ward which meets in our same building at Noon.  Then we all went home together.  I think next week he's going to go to the whole of the singles ward which means we'll go to sacrament meeting, then during Sunday school will drive back to the house and pick him up, then after our church is over we'll drive home, and later we'll drive back to pick him up from church.  As it's at least 20 mins each way that's quite some driving.  However, I hope he makes some friends and feels welcomed.  If not....well, let's not think about that.

Sunday afternoon we had the ubiquitous SPAGHETTI!  It was so good to sit as a family and have the traditional Sunday dinner. =)

Bert went in to work.  Andrew and I did homeschool then we did a bit of food shopping. We actually had a weekday meal together AS A FAMILY!  First time in nearly seven years.  No doubt the last time too.

In the middle of the night Bert heard Andrew coughing.  And then he threw up.  Ohhh my gosh.  One thing I have to say is, fake wood floors RAWK!!!  I'm never having carpet in a bedroom again.  It was so quick and easy to clean up.

Poor Andrew threw up every half an hour until about 12.30pm or so.  He got intensely dehydrated and the poor kid just lay on the couch crying for water.  He was like a dying man in the desert.  I tried to give him a tiny chip of ice, but it made him sick.  So we just waited.  Finally, later in the afternoon he was able to keep down tiny sips, and he improved from there.

There was a Relief Society birthday bash at the church in the evening.  My natural desire is to stay at home and talk to no-one so I really didn't want to go.  However, I felt I should so off I went.  I turned up about 35 minutes late (Bert had a late night meeting at work and I didn't want to leave Andrew alone for hours) which was more than a little awkward.  I was able to find a seat, and was warmly welcomed by the ladies at the table.  It was a pot luck dinner and the sisters had brought dishes from their home countries.  OH my GOSH it was *amazing*.  Sooooo delicious.  There was this cheesy carrot casserole which was to die for.  There was this corny enchilada thing that was sooo good.  There were bean salads.  There were Japanese rice things.  So delicious.  And it was nice to talk to the ladies too.  By 9pm I was pretty dang tired, but glad I went.

We did some homeschool in the morning and a bit of shopping in the afternoon.  I think. I can't remember.  The days are blending together.  We finally put together a comprehensive list of everything that was wrong with the house and sent it off to the rental office CCing Varun.

At 8am we met up with Bruce who took us to a government office to get our Social Identification Numbers.  Yes.  Our SINs.  We are now SINful.  Then we went to open a bank account.  The bank fees here are absolutely astronomical and my jaw about hit the floor when she told us what they were.  Bert, however, had been doing some research in the previous days so was prepared for it.

We were contacted by the company who owns this property and they said they'd come out a bit later to fix some things.  Someone turned up in the afternoon and tightened some screws on chairs.  He said he'd be back tomorrow to put handles on drawers etc and a handyman would be back to fix things tomorrow.  He tried to fix the cooker but really didn't have much idea of what he was doing.  He was talking to someone on the phone who was trying to give him instructions but it didn't work.

Finally, around 8pm, someone came to fix the cooker.  At that time a company representative came to tour the property.  Bert took her round and said she was pretty horrified by what she saw.  Just after she left Ben said he thought his bed had bedbugs.  I checked the bites on him and...yep...absolutely bedbugs.  It had the typical "Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner" pattern.  I was utterly and completely freaked out to say the least.  It was the last straw.  Oh yeah, that and the huge ants who have decided they like it here...

Luckily there was another bed we weren't using so Ben moved into that one.  No bites in that bed, oh thank goodness.  Now I'm terrified the bugs have got into his clothes and suitcase (scattered all over the room) and that we'll take them with us when we leave.  Oh gosh please no no no no no...

I didn't have a good night's sleep and woke up feeling pretty dang nauseous, and violent intestinal once again we stayed in.  A very Scottish man came to fix things.  They were fixed..mostly...sort of.  For example the towel rack was fixed but there's a rod missing so it just has the one rod and an empty space for the other one.  The big thing (hot water that lasts about 2-3 minutes) is not fixed.  There has been no feedback on that being fixed. I have no idea what's happening with it.  The impression I get of this company is they're all talk but just do the minimum to shut us up.  Maybe I'm being harsh because I'm tired, overwhelmed, and freaked out.  I so want to be out of here...but that means moving again and I'm so tired of packing and moving.

These all seem pretty minor things, but this house was advertised as an "executive long term stay" and the company is paying accordingly.  It is not executive in the slightest.  It's a house that someone has left their cast off things in and it's been rented.  The pots don't match, the lids don't match, the cutting board is old and has had the living daylights beaten out of it, doors are missing or broken, drawer handles are broken off, there's one stair that's a little narrower than the others so your foot barely fit on it and there's been a couple of dodgy moments going down, the stovetop didn't work, there were no instructions on the trash, the internet didn't work when we got here and was only fixed because Bert figured it out, bedbugs, ants, no hot water....little things like that. And things like...the TV wires are hanging out everywhere.  It's plugged in, but the plug is hanging suspended against the wall.  I'm pretty sure that's not how it's meant to be... It's fine, it's functional, but it's nowhere near "executive".

In the evening Bert came home.  He'd caught Andrew's bug.  He was violently ill all night long.  Oh my gosh.  It just went on and on all night.  It was awful for the poor guy.  I'm telling you, Canada is trying to kill us.

Andrew got a bit overwhelmed with everything and cried his little heart out while I cuddled him and told him everything was going to be ok.  We're all feeling that way a bit.

And here we are, back to Saturday.  Bert is still deathly ill in bed.  Ben is still in bed.  Andrew and I went out shopping for a bit of food.  We're going to try to go out again later in the day as Andrew really really wants a library card.  We were all so looking forward to getting out and doing things together as a family...but Canada is trying to kill us and Bert's in bed dying.  I don't know if we can get a library card as we don't have any confirmation we live in Mississauga yet.  Dang.  Andrew's going to be disappointed.

Ok, so we survived the first week.  Surely things are going to get better, right?  It can only get better from here.  Right?  There'll be no ants or bed bugs in our new home, right?  The weather will eventually warm up and be sunny, right?  There will be an end to the seemingly endless dull dreary grey, right?

Because, dang it, focus on the good stuff and the icky stuff's not so icky
- They have yorkshire pudding here.  Yorkshire pudding, people!
- They have ginger beer here.  GINGER BEER!  I'm dying to try it.  I bought a bottle this morning and will have it with lunch. (For the uninitiated, it's non alcoholic)
- We have money with which to buy food.  And I like food.
- We are not living in tenement houses in the East End of London.
- I have a kindle, and while we've been sick I bought, downloaded, and read all three "Call the Midwife" books.  We are so so so so so so blessed. So blessed.  My children aren't starving and my husband doesn't beat us.
- It's warm enough here now that it rained the other night - not snowed - and I can see patches of green.
- There are grey squirrels everywhere.  One of them was black.  Or at least an exceedingly dark grey.  Fabulous. =)
- I have a car to get around in if I wish when we're well enough.
- Interwebs
- The washing machine works.  This is a big deal.  It also doesn't smell moldy.
- Adventure.  Hey!  We're in Canada!  I've never lived in Canada before.  What a stinkin' adventure!  Think of all the stories we will have to tell our posterity!
- Excessively tempted to start reading "The Game of Thrones".  I've been avoiding it because the book series isn't finished yet.  I've been avoiding the TV show...haven't watched any of it...because I haven't read the books yet....and I haven't read the books because they're not finished and I haaaaaaaaaate waiting to read the end.  However, I downloaded a free excerpt and oh my is it good.  Not sure I can resist...

Hang in there, y'all!  Things ain't as bad as you think and will surely get better.  If they don't, eat chocolate.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

The Move. Dun dun duuuunnnnn.

It really happened.
Sunday and Monday we packed our suitcases and moved them into a hotel.  All Monday we worked to prepare the house for the movers.  They arrived early Tuesday morning and quickly got to work.  They packed all Tuesday.  That afternoon they took the items that were going into storage out of our house.  On Wednesday morning they came again and moved everything that was going to Canada into the truck.

Meanwhile, Bert totally cleaned out and organised the garage, and I did last minute stuff in the house as well as trying to homeschool Andrew a little.

We took at least five or six truckloads of stuff to the dump, and that much again to Goodwill/Graceworks.  It felt soooo good to get rid of so much stuff.  And at this point I have to mention we have a couple of REALLY AMAZING friends who dropped everything to come help us.  We are deeply indebted to them for their help and service.

By the time the movers came we were pretty numb with worry.  Who knows if the belongings we put in storage will be ok when we get them back?  Who knows if the stuff we're bringing to Canada will arrive in one piece? What will be will be, I suppose.  It's all out of our hands.

Wednesday I cleaned the heck out of the house while the chaps were moving things onto the truck.  My vacuum cleaner was the last thing they packed.  Then they drove off.  Toodleoo! =D

(There should be a picture here but I'm too dang tired to go find my phone and plug it in and download the picture to my computer then upload it to blogger and post it here.  I will do it at some point in time.)

Thursday the rental agent came and went over what needed to be done before the house could be rented - basically new flooring and paint.

We also had to figure out where on earth we were going to stay in Canada as our actual house won't be ready until the end of April.  By Thursday afternoon we were getting a bit panicky...but the relocation agency were able to get us into a house so PHEW! =D  At that point we were also able to set up mail forwarding.  I really really hope that works ok...

So many other last minute things we did.  I can't remember them all.  We were up early and went to bed late and we were working the whole time.  We got everything finished by Friday afternoon - just in time, as we packed Friday afternoon and left early on Saturday.

The actual emigration
Saturday morning arrived.  We never thought the day would come, but here it was!  Astonishing.

We woke at 5am and jumped in the shower.  Andrew woke with a tummy ache.  He hadn't eaten much the night before, had stayed up late, and we were up early.  We figured that was what it was.

We dragged all our luggage downstairs by 6am and waited for the taxi.  While we were waiting Andrew threw up.  Ohhhh boy.

We cleaned him up.  By that time the shuttle was here so we loaded everything and off we went.

We arrived at the airport, checked our luggage, and stood in the long security line...

...where Andrew threw up again.  Ohhh no. =(  Luckily there was a trash can nearby.  He was SUCH a trooper!  After being sick he stood in that long line and went through security, then walked through the airport to our gate.  There he was able to finally lie down while we waited for the plane.

Bert, Ben and I were finally able to get a little breakfast.  Andrew was happy with a sip of water.

We were lucky enough to have priority seating on the plane, so we were quickly settled.  During the flight Andrew said he needed the bathroom...and off he went and threw up again.  =(  Poor little sausage!

I have to say, throughout this whole experience he never once complained or whined.  He was mildly feverish, but wasn't achy.  He was basically a happy little boy other than the vomiting.  What a blessing!  It could have been really trying, but he was actually a joy.

We ate an early lunch at Chicago then hopped on the plane to Toronto.

Then we hit immigration.
The company attourneys had sorted out the paperwork.  Everything was in order.  It should have been a slam dunk.  But oh no it wasn't.  From the first the agent interrupted and assumed.  We couldn't get her to listen to us.  She said we couldn't have the visas we needed.  We showed her the paper work which said that yes, according to regulation such and such, we actually could.  She had us sit.

So we sat and sat and sat and worried and stewed and stressed and it was absolutely completely awful.  Luckily, Andrew passed out and remained asleep for the whole experience.  Again, blessings!  Poor Ben stewed through the whole thing.

To add to the misery, there was a young Korean woman being deported.  They had her in an open cubicle where we could hear everything and see everything.  So terrible.  =(  She told her story but it didn't matter.  They arrested her, took her picture, fingerprinted her, and took her to a detention center where she would remain until they put her on a flight back to Korea the next morning.  It was a dreadful experience to witness, and it added to the nightmarish quality of the whole ordeal.  We have talked about her quite a bit over the past 24 hours.  All our hearts were wrung with pity for her, and we have prayed for her.  We all wish we could have done something for her.  How I wish we could have!!!

I began to wonder what on earth we'd gotten ourselves into.  I was reminded of when I became a US citizen, which was one of the most appalling experiences I have ever had.  Despite being a permanent resident with an American husband who I had been married to for many years, and despite the fact we had children together, I was still treated like a criminal.  Both the Canadian and US immigration experiences seemed to be set up to dissuade people from entering, or to make them hate with all their little hearts the country they are entering.  It's truly broken.

At one point when the agent was saying things needed to be one way but it was clear it was another, Bert called the immigration attourney.  She was absolutely shocked and appalled we were having such a dreadful time.  She said our kind of paperwork is so easy it should take a very short period of time and be no problem.  She couldn't believe it was so awful for us.

We sat and waited and watched people come and go, come and go, and all the while that poor Korean woman was going through hell...

Finally, after a long long time, we were done.  We were emotionally wiped out by this time.  What a truly horrible experience.  Bert was dealing with the agent alone by this point and said the immigration agent was really lovely at the end, thanked him for his patience, welcomed him to the country etc.  I wish I could have been there to witness that.  It might have made the ordeal worth it.  Or not.

Getting to the house.
So finally we were released from immigration and were able to get our luggage - which had been sitting unattended for hours.  You go through immigration before you get your luggage and go through customs, so we'd had no opportunity to collect our things.  Obviously we had been worried about it all that time in immigration.  We were so thankful to see our suitcases all safe and sound.

Bert took a taxi and went to pick up the car from his work, then came back to get us.  We drove to the temporary house.  We'd been looking forward to it since Thursday evening.  The pictures promised it would be a really lovely place and we were so so so so tired.

I'm too emotionally exhausted to go into detail about the house.  It's not what we expected.  There are many things broken.  Ben got a sliver of glass stuck in his foot, but thankfully was able to get it out.  We were pretty unhappy.

Then the internet didn't work.

This sounds like such a little thing...but it was actually huge.

Andrew had been really sick.  He had just not been well at all this whole difficult day.  He just wanted to sit down and rest.  He likes minecraft.  He didn't have the energy to build, he just wanted to watch some fun minecraft videos on Youtube.  All day long he had looked forward to it.  When he found out there was no internet he finally lost it and cried his eyes out.

Ben had been holding it together most of the day.  With Andrew, his family is still a big part of his world, so while it was difficult to leave the house and friends and activities, it wasn't as huge as a deal as it was for Ben.  Ben left his entire world behind.  His life revolved around his friends, job, and his activities outside the home.  He hardly ever spent time with us.  He left everything behind.  His only contact with them is through the internet (we don't yet have phones that are able to make international calls/texting).  And all of a sudden there was no internet.  Ohhh boy.

Enter Bert.  
All day long Bert had kept us together.  When we were sick, tired, stressed, worried...he just kept on being supportive, kind, uplifting.  He kept us moving forward.  He had bourne the brunt of the moving logistics and was exhausted...but he kept it together.  He called the rental company and spent a long time on the phone with them, finally figuring out the problem because he's a genius.  It was late at night, we were tired and hungry, but he pulled off that miracle for his boys.

So it was after 9pm and we'd had no food and there was no food in the house.  We left the boys resting, and went out to purchase basic supplies.  In the car I fell apart.  And Bert just listened, and supported, and moved forward....

At around 10pm we arrived home with food.  We fed the boys. And then we needed to unpack.  Oh man I was soooo tired.

But we unpacked.

Two things happened that were heartwarming.

First, the closet has two rails, one higher than the other.  I suggested Bert take the higher rail because he is taller.  He agreed, and then said, "Not that I'm suggesting you're _____ _____" or anything", mentioning a very dear friend of mine who is even shorter than I am.  Just the mention of her name warmed my heart and made me feel better.

Then, as I was unpacking, I came across a bar of chocolate another dear friend had given me.  I had deliberately saved this bar, knowing I would want it when I was Wandering in a new Strange Land.  And there it was.  As soon as I saw it, I remembered this friend and got all teary eyed.  Eating a section of that chocolate warmed my heart even more and I was grateful for it.

Finally we were all done and could crawl into bed.  We all slept like logs.  Oh thank goodness for warm, comfortable beds.

So here we are, safe and sound in Canada.  It was a difficult transition, but we're here.  Only a few short weeks in this house, then we'll be moving into our real residence with our (hopefully not broken or missing) belongings.

We've come so far.  We still have more to do to be sorted, but if we've made it this far and not died, we can do anything. =)

Onwards and upwards.  There's good things to come.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Mountains out of Molehills.

We arrived back in TN on Fri 9th.  On Sunday our friends had a goodbye party for us, which was so sweet and for which we are so grateful.  No pictures for that one - we were too busy nattering away to everyone.  There were pictures taken...just not with our cameras.  If I ever get my mitts on any I'll post 'em.

Anyway, then the insanity began.

We had been trying to nail down the moving dates for some time.  To say it was excessively difficult would be an understatement.  I don't know if it's actually the moving company or the liaison at Nissan, but there's something weird going on.  Maybe I shouldn't be harsh.  Maybe the liaison has a bunch of crazy stuff going on in her life that makes it difficult for her to do her job.  We're certainly having an excessively difficult time at the moment, so there's no reason to suppose that everyone else's life is smooth sailing.  However, the lack of communication is making our move unnecessarily stressful.

- We can only move 6000lbs of household items.  Sounds like a lot, but it actually means we are unable to take any furniture at all.  Nissan says they have a storage facility where all our belongings that are not being taken will be held.  However, it's unclimatized and will not be a storage room for us individually; there are all kinds of items in there and ours will be shoved in willynilly and left for three years.

- The relocation liaison knows that we need to be out of here this coming week.  They also know that we are unable to get into our house in Canada until the end of April.  Nevertheless she was unable to set a date for the movers to come until we became a little emphatic.  Furthermore, she has set the delivery date of the items that are coming to Canada with us for the 1st April.  ??  Why set the date then when they know we are unable to take delivery until the 25th?

- There has been zero information about the storage facility.  On the form the "date of delivery to storage" was left absolutely blank.  That's just a tad disconcerting.  Where will our belongings be going on Wednesday?  Into the ether?

Having to put our homes and all our worldly belongings into the hands of people who a) appear to have no idea what they're doing, b) don't care that they have no idea what they're doing and c) don't care about us or our belongings at all is a terrifying experience.

Oh my gosh.  I've just realized.  I'm going to be without a bike for five weeks.  Aaaagh!  Oh my goodness.  This is unwelcome news.

Anyway.  It is my sincere hope that this whole post is just a whole load of panic over nothing.  I really hope it will all work out on the day and I will have made a mountain out of a molehill.  Hopefully in six weeks I'll be writing a happy blog post about how awesome our new home is and how nothing at all was damaged or lost, and how the move went really smoothly.  Here's hoping.

In the meanwhile....

So, while all this stress was happening, while all the busy paperwork of moving internationally and filing taxes etc was going on, and while I was trying to sort out what was going with us and what was going into storage and what was being given away and what was being chucked....our heater broke.

No kidding.  We have been without heat for three days now.  Luckily we're in TN so it's not so bad.  It's a bit chilly at the moment and I'm wearing my coat.  The worst time is early in the morning, but we have enough quilts and blankets on the beds so we're just fine.

When it happened at first I was all "Seriously?  Right now?  Really?" but then I thought that actually it might be a blessing.  It could have been a big problem if the heater had quit working while the house was empty and the pipes froze and we ended up being flooded.  It could have been a big problem if we had renters in the house and the heater broke.  It could have been a big problem if the heater broke a month or two ago when it was really terribly cold.  In fact, if the heater *had* to break, it really picked the perfect time to do it - during comparatively warmer weather, and before we moved out of the house.

There's silver linings hidden in them thar storm clouds.

Tomorrow we move into a hotel.
Tuesday we are being packed up.
Wednesday our stuff is being driven away...where to, I have no idea.

Here's hoping and praying it all works out ok.

Andrew's Birthday and Ben's goodbye.

While we were in Toronto Andrew turned nine.  It was a little difficult for him as one of the things he really really really hoped for with the move was that he could have his birthday at home in Tennessee.  Unfortunately, the way the schedule worked out we couldn't do that.  It made me a little sad for him, but he handled it with grace, bless his little cotton socks.

We had already given him his main gift on valentine's day - a camera.  He really wanted it in order to take pictures at Universal.  That was a gift from his grandparents and aunts and uncles as well as from Bert and I.
We opened the pressies early Sunday morning just before church.  We're in the Etobicoke (pronounced "Ee toe be co".  Actually, the "be" is more of a "bi" with a short i.) ward that meets at 10.30am, a most civilized hour.

Anyway, so we opened gifts and he was delighted.  One of his favourite gifts was, I believe, Perry.  I mean, who doesn't love Perry?  He also loves his watch.  He has a thing for watches. =D

We'd gone out the evening before and found him a birthday cake.  It was really fun to set it up and sing Happy Birthday to him.  He was *SO* happy and delighted when we sang to him.  He loved it.  And he liked the cake. =)

A couple of days before we left for Canada, some of Ben's friends made him a cake and brought it over for him.  It was DELICIOUS!  And it was so fun to eat it together. =)

Hmmm, I thought I had pictures of his friends, but I suppose not.  I think Andrew might have them on his camera, or maybe Bert on his phone.  I'll see if I can hunt them down.  

It says, "We'll miss you, Bean!" which, I believe, is his nickname...which is pretty darn cute if you ask me.

House Hunting Trip

Andrew and I arrived home on Friday 21st Feb.  The trip home was a little more eventful than the trip out.

- The weather
It was absolutely perfect the three days we were at Universal.  Friday dawned overcast, and within a short time we hit torrential rain that came down so heavy we drove at a snail's pace.

- The GPS
sent us exactly the wrong direction.  Seriously.  We needed to go one way, and it sent us entirely the other.  Luckily, I don't trust this GPS so a few miles down the road I checked the route on my phone....then at the earliest opportunity did a U-turn.  It added about an hour to the day.

- Atlanta, Georgia
We hit Atlanta just before rush hour.  Things were starting to get busy, but not too bad.  I thought it likely we'd be through before it really hit.

....and then I got hit.

An older gentleman in a large truck and a camper slammed into the back of my car causing several thousand dollars worth of damage.  Furthermore, because of the delay (calling the cops etc), by the time I set off again it was full on rush hour.  It added an extra two hours to the journey.

- The Credit Card
A couple of hours from home I stopped to fill up with petrol and the card was declined.  Luckily I had enough money to cover the cost of the petrol.  The credit card company had freaked out because there were a bunch of charges in Florida and they assumed it had been stolen.  My goodness.  It would have been nice if they'd checked with us first.  OTOH, if it *had* been stolen I would have been grateful for them jumping right on it.

- The time of the month
I got on the phone with Bert when the credit card was declined and said, "Seriously, what else could go wrong?" and 20 seconds later (or less...) Aunt Flo smacked my insides with a baseball bat.  At that point it got funny.  I mean, when everything bad happens at once, you can either break down or laugh about it. It was just ridiculously crazy.

We were very happy to get home.  The trip took 14.5 hours.

Saturday we did laundry.
Sunday we packed....again.
Monday we flew to Toronto.

Let me tell you.  It's COLD in Toronto.  I mean the kind of cold that when you step outside it takes your breath away.  There were snow piles waaay over our heads.  YIKES!  Clearly we're going to need massive coats and an entire wardrobe of thermal underwear. And fur lined boots.

A brief overview of the house hunting process:
- Relocation agent and real estate agents very helpful
- Houses all small and tall.  Lots of stairs.  I think one had five flights...with the bedrooms at the top and the laundry at the bottom behind a door that opened the wrong way.
Some were dirty.
Some had no parking.
Some were huge.
Some were waaay too far away.
One was a penthouse on the 41st floor which I FELL IN LOVE with...but then Andrew immediately tried to climb on the balcony railing to look down and we about had a heart attack.
One was old.
One was ok, but the neighbours' houses glared menacingly down into the little back garden.

And the last one was juuuust right.  A little bigger than I wanted (except the kitchen).  More stairs than I wanted (I didn't want ANY stairs), one flight of which is steep and makes my stomach churn.  Unfortunately the laundry is down those stairs...  BUT, it's a 7 minute commute for Bert to work.  Yeah.  That'll work.  Some of the guys at his work are doing a 1-1.5 hr commute EACH WAY every day.  Noooo no no no no no.  7 minutes works for us.

Pictures when it's ours.  Which it won't be until April 25th.

I have another post to write about the moving process.  Hold on to your hats for that one.  Of all the times we've moved, this has to be the most utterly disorganized, incompetent, and unprofessional, and frankly I think it will be a miracle if we ever see our stuff again.  And if we do, I have absolutely no doubt it will be in appalling condition.

Here's the view from the Penthouse that we didn't get.  I believe that's Toronto's Needle you see there in the distance.  The towers in the second picture are called the Marilyn Towers because they're so beautifully curvy. =)