May 31, 2013

we drive on the right now.

it was the one thing that made me nervous about our move.  driving on the “wrong” side of the road.  i remember watching in a movie a young person giving an older guy (could have been clint eastwood) the advice that the driver is always on the side that is nearer the middle of the road.  oddly enough, this has stuck with me.

upon our arrival a work colleague very, very kindly loaned us their car (they weren’t here to need it) for nearly two weeks.  when i first pulled out of the driveway i repeated “the driver is in the middle” like a bit of a mantra.  and it paid off!  i’ve driven quite well nearly every day since we’ve arrived.  for those that have the impression that toronto has a great public transport system, let me remind you that we live in the city of vaughan, not toronto.  getting about in vaughan necessitates the driving of your own vehicle.  for first month i drove paul to work every day.  subsequently i’ve driven most days for kids stuff, groceries, to join queues to apply for stuff, for our exploratory trips about the country and a few times to paul’s office again.  haven’t driven on the wrong side once.

i do say “quite well” because to my great personal anger at myself i drove into the back of a car stopped at the lights in front of me.  no injuries, no damage to our car, i suppose that’s why one has insurance damage to his car.  very cross, very stupid, have been more than careful ever since.

one thing that i do have to remind myself about is where the driver in another car is.  sound odd?  well, this is what i mean… you know how you try to catch the eye of the driver of an approaching car at an intersection or the like?  well, i keep looking to the passenger seat and for less than a split second think: “oh my god, there’s no-one driving that car!”  until i remember i’m looking at the wrong spot and shift my eyes over a half a metre.  also, making left turns still bothers me, as i keep looking over my shoulder expecting to see a car coming up from behind me in the lane i’m crossing, when in reality, it will be coming from in front and i’ve already checked there.

slight dig at paul, who has done a lot less driving than i have- i’ve had to holler at him, only twice mind you, “riiiiigghhttt!!  get in the right lane!”


wed 29th may 2013

May 30, 2013

home day today.  except for the three hours we spent at candyland indoor play centre.  percy is starting to care that play centres don’t have enough bigger kid stuff.  she doesn’t find much of the equipment, rides, amusements at play centres very interesting any more.  thankfully candyland is bigger and has a broader range of attractions.  it keeps her busy and happy.

still no credit card or grass.

in nsw, australia kids start their first year of formal schooling, known as kindergarten, generally about the age of five, they must be in school (or home-schooled) by the time their sixth birthday rolls around.  they then progress to year one, right thru to graduating about the age of 18, from year 12.

prior to kindergarten aussie kids have a range of options to occupy their time; they can stay home with a carer, go to day care from as young as six weeks old, attend pre-school between the ages of 3 and 5, go to family day care, stay with a grown-up friend or bounce around a mix of these.  it’s all a bit of a juggle, pretty expensive and can be hard to source.  finding an employer that is sympathetic to a parent saying, “no, it’s 5pm, i’m going home to give my kid/s dinner and put them to bed” can also be very hard.

in the five years that we utilised pre kindergarten child care these are the services we bounced around between: two long day care centres, two nannies, one extended hours pre-school, three baby-sitters, two sets of grandparents, one brother and sister-in-law, and a host of friends.  and i would say we had a fairly straight-forward time of it.  then of course i got turfed out of my job and am full-time parent now.

percy started kindergarten when she was 4 years and 10 months old, her birthday being at the end of march and the school year starting in january in oz.  there is a lot of angst about sending kids to school too early.  i do get it, however, in our case, if percy hadn’t gone to school when she did, she might not have made it to the next year!  we were both ready (her and i) and staying in each other’s company full-time for another year would have been disastrous.  percy was the youngest in her school.  she’s been fine.  in fact i’d say she’s thrived.

tally will turn five in august and start school the following january when he’s five and a half.  i think starting him in kindergarten at four and half will be too difficult.  plus he won’t be allowed.  you must have marked your fifth birthday by the end of the june of the year you begin school in nsw.  so the decision is easily made for us as to when to start tally in school.  of course this means that tally will have completed three years of kindergarten by the time he’s six and a half.  and this brings me to the ontario school system…

ontario has two years of kindergarten, junior and senior.  tally will do both years while we are here and then start kindergarten again back in oz.  poor kid, i hope he doesn’t get confused!

the canadian school year runs from september (after a long summer holiday over july and august) to june.  the method used to determine when a kid starts junior kindergarten in sept of any given year is if their 4th birthday falls in that calendar year.  hence, tally will turn four in august and start jk three weeks later.  kids in his class will have turned four back in january and others won’t be until december.  putting him nicely in the middle, i suppose.  likewise percy was put in senior kindergarten this school year because her sixth birthday was in this calendar year.  she’ll be going into grade (year) one next school year; this september. are you keeping up?  she was a bit upset to have started year one in january in oz and then in march be put “back” into kindergarten.  i think she’s fine now, she has made friends and is with her peer age group.

despite previous communiques to the contrary we don’t live in toronto, not for civic purposes.  we are north of steeles avenue, the northern boundary of the city of toronto.  we are in vaughan.  kind of like baulkham hills, hornsby or liverpool to sydney.  city of vaughan public schools start their french immersion teaching in grade one.  percy’s current school is not a french immersion one.  if we wish her to go to a fi school she must re-enrol elsewhere.  today i discovered that our designate fi school can fit her in and she could catch the bus to this school.  canadian school buses are a very different affair to catching a school bus in australia.  as far as i know, catching a bus to school in oz means pretty much getting on a public bus on a route that hopefully runs from near your home to near your school, and walking the missing bits.  not something i’m going to let my six year old do alone!  canadian school buses are those big yellow things we’ve seen on tv forever (i looked it up- they legally have to be painted that colour) that only ferry kids to and from school and camp and on excursions and to after school activities.  there is a website where i punch in my address and the school and i’ll be given a route, including a stop either right outside our door or very close to it, and a time to have percy waiting to get on.  the younger kids apparently sit nearer the front and are dropped right at the front door of their school, where they are met by teachers.  it’s all quite safe.

french immersion schools teach the same curriculum as any other school, but all in french.  the teachers are all native french speakers.  they know most of the kids don’t speak french at home, and neither do their parents.  tho paul thinks his high school french may come back to him if he tried to speak it again.  i’m concerned that percy is already coping with enough change to then have her learn in a new language, in a new school.  on top of which, when she moves on to grade two in sept 2014 she’ll have to change school again because our designated fi school is only that for grade one.  for grade two and onwards it’s a different school.  i’ve also sold the attraction of going to school with his big sister to tally.  he’s pretty happy about that idea.  i think he’ll be devastated to learn she won’t be going with him.

i suppose percy could start at the fi school and if it doesn’t work out, she can just come back to our local, walking-distance, already-made-friends-at, knows-her-way-around, school.

the paperwork is downstairs on the dining table.  i’ll fill it in tomorrow…

monday 27th may 2013

May 28, 2013

i think a year or two ago i said i would make the effort to write every day, even if only a sentence or two.  resounding success, huh?!

i’m going to try again.  today works as a good starting point because i’m unwell and have showered and plonked my lazy ass in bed at 8:26pm.

it’s light outside and i can hear people calling to each other.  never mind, bed is a good place to be too.  my unwellness is a headache i’ve been nursing all day.  rest, five pain pills and lots of water kept it to a manageable level.  around midday the nausea was creeping up so i bundled the kids in the car and took them out for lunch.  see, my thought processes were screw-ed?!  feel sick = go out?  with two kids?  well, it kinda worked.  i bought them pancakes for lunch and sat still with my eyes closed for 15 minutes.  then i drove them to the supermarket for literally bread and milk and home again.  i stressed, on pain of death (not really), the importance of silence in the car so mummy didn’t crash and kill everybody.  clearly, we are safely home.

at least i staved off a migraine.  unlike last thursday when the nausea and aching bones and rattling eyeballs made me ask paul to come home early as i couldn’t possibly look after the kids any longer, i could barely look out for myself.  my kingdom for a migraine cure!  if only i had a kingdom to start with…hmmm…

so, my blog/note for the day… was ok.  kids were total angels playing quietly for hours without me.  i lay as still as possible and tried not to look at things.

i’m generally able to pinpoint my migraine triggers, and with enough strength of will, avoid them.  yes, chocolate seems to be one.  don’t know what went wrong today.  have the daft idea it was stress induced by having my space invaded.  our landlord’s husband was here today to complete work in the kitchen.  i avoided the kitchen as much as possible to stay out of his way.  that, and the smell of grout??, where the only things outside the norm today.  migraine inducing?  shouldn’t think so, but then, in the midst of a migraine, or a strong headache leading up to one, i’m not much capable of thought.

shitty me, angel kids, nice weather, nothing much done today.  so marks 27th may.

canada’s wonderland

May 27, 2013

we made our second foray to canada’s wonderland yesterday.  our first was an aborted attempt on mother’s day a couple of weekends ago.  when it was very cold, raining and then sleeting and snowing!  that day we went thru the protracted process of purchasing season passes.  at least it was done.  yesterday we walked thru security in seconds.  percy and tally were then measured and given coloured wrist bands denoting which rides they could go on.

percy is a bit of a daredevil!  she’s too short for the really big and thrilling roller coasters however wonderland has many, many rollercoasters.  as paul succinctly put it; “this places shits all over the old australia wonderland.”  so we were able to find enough rides to keep her screaming.  the exclamations of the day included: “awesome”, “that was incredible”, “i was upside-down!”, “oh, oh, oh, oh..!” repeated quite a bit.  watching her face we saw her expression switching between fear and far-out!, back and forth every second.  it seems getting the adrenalin running and being scared just the right amount, to the point where you nearly don’t want the fear, is the sweet spot for rollercoaster rides.

tally is too short for nearly all the rides.  thankfully he’s pretty happy with the slow, littlies rides.  there is a playground with slides that he was keen on too.  i think he would enjoy a rollercoaster or something more thrilling but while he doesn’t know what he’s missing out on i’m happy to keep him ignorant!

soon it will be warm enough (fingers crossed) to enjoy the water based parts of the park- slides, rides, pools, fountains.  never ending fun for my water babies.

remember always to take all your food and snacks to wonderland because, as i’m sure is the case at all tourist traps, the food is exhorbitantly expensive eg. $10 for a hot dog.  i do think the season pass is worth the money so i’m sympathetic that they need to make money from other sources, just not out of my pocket!

percy said to me as i was tucking her in last nite “when i lay my head on my pillow, it’s feels like my bed is moving, like i’m still on a rollercoaster.”  yawn, and out like a light!  a good day.