your birthday celebrations were low-key today.  unike the big party you had nearly two months ago!  just your little family to hug and kiss you this morning, this evening.  your choice today resulted in two hours at the lego discovery centre, a lunch of soup with pappa, macdonalds (uurgghh) for dinner and building the lego fire station set after our mysterious birthday cake.

(we are building a family tradition that the birthday person gets a trip to the bakery and gets to select any cake they like, the morning of the birthday celebration.  i higly recommend it for two reasons: 1.  you can get away with spending less than $30 and 2. you don’t have to spend the whole nite before baking and icing something people are only going to pretend to think is a great work of art just to spare your feelings and the kids are going to demolish in seconds without said previous admiration anyways.  perhaps no. 2 just applies to me, i don’t like preparing food, full stop.)

your cake was mysterious this time because there was no bakery nearby that i knew about, so we bought a boxed thing from the deli next door.  turned out to be a sweet bread sort of thing with chocolate icing on top.  not too bad after 30 seconds in the microwave.

as you said yourself, “you can’t believe you’re six”, well honey neither can i!  i looked at you today so many times, wondering where the years have gone and who is this swiftly growing girl in front of me?  i can tell you i know you are a head strong, smart, caring and funny little chook.  you’ve also got an overblown sense of fairness- particulary when you think you’re getting the short straw!  and you can throw a damn decent temper tantrum.  but then, so can i, hey?  i promise i’ll work on that, can you promise too?  you’re sweet to your brother, when you’re not angry at him.  remember what i told you before- he’ll have your back when no-one else does, plus he’ll probably be bigger than you one day!  be nice to him.

you’ve been to your new canadian school for two days now.  your teacher tells me that you are fitting in very well.  i never doubted it.  you’re an awesome, social kid.  smile, often, with an open face and people will open up to you.  it’s a great thing to contect to others.  makes us smaller and bigger, than just our sum parts, at the same time.

your curly questions have kept coming; just yesterday’s being ‘how fast is light?”  i love that you want to know all these things.  i’m stumped at answering a lot of them.  i hope i can help you learn to find answers for yourself.  a life of learning is a wonderous thing.  it will keep you young, keep you happy, keep you fulfilled, keep you wanting more, keep you gazing out and in and keep you needing to live.  your curiousity about the things around you seems sweetly balanced by your introspective self too.  you said to me last week; “i need some quiet time to concentrate on day-dreaming.”  i love all this about you.  i love you.  let’s see what learning and day-dreaming can do for the next twelve months…

welcome to canada

March 27, 2013

what things stand out as the important measures of whether you feel welcomed in a new place?  i would put the people that surround you at the top of the list.

may i just say, canadians talk A LOT.  gosh darn, they just are a friendly, talkative bunch.  it’s sweet, if draining a bit for me.  we’ve been very fortunate to have been put in the path of so many friendly canadians.  moving your whole family to a country where you have no family or personal connections to help support you is a big undertaking.  without the generous time and perseverance of paul’s work colleagues and others this undertaking would be just about impossible.  it’s really made me think of the bravery and commitment of people that move to less friendly places, and additionally where they may not speak the same language.  truly, truly difficult and awe-inspiring.

our assimilation into canada has been made easier first and foremost by our fantastic real estate agent.  (perhaps an oxymoron expression in oz.)  we found a home in, i believe record time due to her diligence, persistence, negotiation and all-hours availability.  followed a close second by the office manager from paul’s work.  from bringing us dinner and supplies, for which she would accept no reimbursement, at 8pm on a saturday nite the day we arrived, to answering all our inane questions and smoothing the path in securing our temporary accommodation, hiring a car, get health care cards, social security numbers, driver’s licences and even supplying the kids with hot chocolates she been more than accommodating.  after these two ladies, there have been a good number of others that have helped with so many things.  even the checkout operators are chatty and find my kids cute and engaging- not the noisy, disruptive monsters i mostly think they are when at shops.

little is too much trouble and every conversation finishes with the ubiqitous north american “have a good day!”  tho i think it’s genuinely meant here, not just a company-endorsed acceptable way to sign off.

we’ve had a great welcome to canada.  (enough to make us stay 😉 ?  i think that depends on more longer term things.  plus we have a home we really like in oyster bay.)  the people have been great for us and the snow has been great for the kids!  shame it’s nearly all melted now.

home sweet home

March 7, 2013

i will do a flash-back up-date soon.  for the present; we are in toronto, canada, living comfortably in a 4 storey townhouse (the multitude of steps i’m sure is good for me.)  we are now deciding on where to settle for our two years here.  paul’s work is located in a suburb that is considered to be outside toronto proper, way north.  it obviously makes sense to live nearby -ish, sort-of, reasonably within an acceptable commuiting distance… hmmm.

my snobbish self wants to live in the trendiest down town suburb there is.  paying a mortgage in sydney precludes paying a lot for rent here.  hence trendy suburbs are out.  even trendy non-down town suburbs are out.  we drove yesterday thru a place called unionville (located way north of down town too) that has a very lovely main street, even in bleak late winter conditions.  a million visitors a year agree with me.  however, those few places that are available in unionville are either very pricey dumps or extremely pricey full stop.

we’ve spent the last two days with a really lovely local real estate agent (oxymoron?!) looking at a variety of houses.  despite telling this agent we want to live somewhere established, somewhere where there is already a community, large trees, local friendly shops… i think we are settling towards a brand new subdivision!  we’d call it western cookie-cutter macmasions back home!  what’s going on?!  plus, it’s a long, long way out of the city.  what will happen to my snobby heart?

on the plus side, the place we are thinking about fits the north american tv-land, dream home mould quite well.  it would just be hilarious to live in one of those over-sized, happy clappy houses for a couple of years.  there would be lots of space to spread out, could even lose the kids occasionally.  lots of space for lots of visitors!  the importance of home for me, in a large part, is filling it with friends most of the time.

getting around to see the rest of toronto from the outer northern suburbs wouldn’t really be a pain.  not much worse than oyster bay to sydney cbd.  in terms of getting around to the rest of ontario and canada, where one starts in toronto is largely immaterial.

we do have a few more places to look at and a couple more weeks until we are homeless…