Sunday, May 21, 2017

Nature Walk



We were able to enjoy going on a nature walk this weekend in a natural area just outside of our neighborhood. I had seen several entrances into the area when I was out walking in the mornings and had explored them a bit, but in an effort to not be away from home too long (because Austin has to go to work really early and Trevor tends to want me the minute he wakes up) I hadn't explored them too much in fear that I might get lost and take too long to get back home. So it was nice just to wander wherever the boys lead us. We ended up only being out for about an hour, but it was perfect- the kids had fun and got good exercise but didn't get tired enough to even think of whining ;) . Since this area is so close to home, it will be easy to go weekly or even more. We are excited to have nature so accessible!

Heidi is Two!


Our Little Miss is two! and this is very apparent in the way she acts :) She is all giggles and smiles one minute, crying about tiny things a minute later, then back to playing again soon afterward. She is curious and into everything. She is a busy little body who loves to draw (not always on paper), talk, and sing. Heidi is still a little ray of sunshine in our family. She loves to play with her brothers, but also loves to just be with mom (a phrase that I hear from her a lot lately is "I want you") and likes me to sing to her or play little games with her. She has started calling Trevor "baby bumblebee" and loves to get him to laugh at her. She loves very much to be with her daddy and since he leaves before she wakes up every morning, she asks where he is every morning and is disappointed to hear that he has already left for work. She is very happy when he comes home in the evenings and even when it is late, she insists on spending some time with him before she goes to bed. Heidi's language continues to grow exponentially. She is starting to speak in small paragraphs- a few short sentences at a time. To practice her vocabulary and sentence structure, she often mimics word for word what she hears me or her brothers say. Asher gets a huge kick out of this and loves to feed her things to say, which means he is basically running a very silly conversation between the two of them. Her mimicking also applies to songs- she sings along with all the little songs I sing to her and her brothers even when she isn't sure of all the words. She just mumbles along until she knows a word and eventually gets most of them down (although I'm sure she still doesn't understand some of the words and still mumbles them). Her favorite song right now is "Popcorn Popping on the Apricot Tree". She asks me to sing it by saying "pottorn" many times a day, especially at bedtime and loves to sing along. (as a side note, she calls unicorns "pottorn" as well-I guess the words "unicorn" and "popcorn" are just too similar in her head :) She also really likes "I Love to See the Temple", but is usually happy with any song I sing. Heidi also loves to eat! She can pack away quite a bit when she is hungry, but other times she will just pick at things. Her hungriest time of the day seems to be in late morning. She usually picks at her own breakfast, then when I get around to eating a couple hours later, she expects me to share my omlet with her (its a really good way to get veggies that she usually won't eat into her, so I have no problem with this) then wants to have several other things to eat before she is ready to stop and wait for lunch.
For Heidi's birthday this year, we gave Asher and Leif each $5 and took them to the dollar store by our house to pick out presents for Heidi. This is a pretty good dollar store, although many of the items aren't actually a dollar, they have a good selection of things, especially for kids. While it's nice for Heidi to have more presents to open on her birthday, the real purpose of this activity was to teach Asher and Leif about buying presents for other people. They both went into the store with the idea that Heidi likes things different than what they would want. They did a pretty good job picking out her presents, but I had to give them some guidance when they insisted that she would really want some trucks or some dinosaurs. (In truth, she does play with all of their "boy" toys, but the quality of what they wanted to get was much lower than the toys that we already have and it would be nice to have a few more girl things around). So I helped them pick out things that interested them, but were also good for Heidi. Leif settled on a big multi-colored neon ball and some cupcake stickers and Asher got her a princess cup, some glow sticks, growing dinosaur sponges and some play dough tools. They were very excited to hide them from her and wrap them up during her nap.

Heidi's actual birthday turned a little less glamorous than I would have liked, but she still had fun. Austin agreed to work from home so that we could finally go get our Ontario drivers licenses, so the poor girl got to sit in a crowded office for a couple hours first thing in the morning. But she sure was glad to have her daddy there when she woke up!

After we got our licenses, we spent awhile waiting in the car while Austin ran into Home Depot to get a few things for the house.

When we got finally got home, I made the kids chocolate waffles with whipped cream and strawberries. We put candles on for Heidi and she somehow instinctively knew to blow them out after we sang to her.



The boys begged and begged to open presents all day long, so when I finally said ok in the afternoon, they we ecstatic! They had just as much fun as Heidi did :)




Here she is in the evening playing while wearing every single pair of underwear that we gave her for her birthday (she isn't really ready for them yet, but they were a fun present to get). Below is a back view where you can see a little better all the pairs she is wearing (seven overall). We ended the day kind of lame because Austin had to work so much to make up for taking the morning off and I ended up getting mastitis and was extremely fatigued, dizzy, and felt terrible overall. But the kids had brownies and ice cream and were very excited about it.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

FIVE MONTHS



 Our sweet little boy is getting big fast! This guy is such a sweet blessing to our family- he loves to smile and I find that when I'm stressed (which seems to be happening more than needed lately) often times when I look at him he will be smiling for no particular reason and that makes me smile. He also laughs a lot too- especially for Leif. Leif is often trying to get him to laugh, but sometimes he's not trying at all and Trevor will laugh at him anyway. The other day Leif was crying because Heidi hurt him somehow and Trevor started laughing. Anyone who is familiar with Leif knows that distracting him from crying can be tricky, but Trevor was able to do it very quickly and get Leif into a happy mood again. I've also noticed that Trevor stares at me all the time- which I may have already mentioned on one of his blogs. Its obvious that he is very in love with his mamma! Trevor is starting to get very handsy and grab at anything that comes too close.He is also scratching his face even more no matter how much I cut his fingernails. He scratches me a lot too, but my skin is a little tougher and doesn't get so many little cuts in it (although I have had a few from him). Trevor is getting his first tooth- for real this time. I thought he was getting some a few months ago because I saw little white things on his gums, but couldn't feel anything hard, plus he was drooling a ton (he still is). The doctor said those were normal and I didn't just imagine them. But the tooth is real this time- I can feel it. Asher found it a few days ago and was so excited. Trevor doesn't seem to be bothered by the tooth- he doesn't fuss any more than usual, which isn't very much as long as he's not tired, hungry, or by himself for too long. Trevor has started to really love the doorway jumper that I put him in a few times a day. At first he wasn't sure what to do, but now he bounces and bounces for about 20 minutes at a time before he gets tired and wants to get out. Trevor also enjoys sticking his feet in his mouth whenever he gets the chance and loves to play with his hands. Here are some photos:


Sunday, May 7, 2017

Canada and the US- what's the big difference?

Some of you have been curious about how Canada is different than the US, so here it goes:
Canada and the US (or The States as Canadians refer to it) are obviously very similar since we are neighbors, but there are some big differences as well. Socialized healthcare and a ban on firearms are obviously huge ones, but ones I won't go into since I don't know a lot about them. (What I do know is that we are heavily taxed on Austin's paycheck, and have supplemental insurance through his work for medical, dental, vision, and other stuff). I haven't gotten into any of the healthcare stuff yet since we don't go to doctors very often, but we'll have to figure it out eventually.
So what I do know is the things that I'm involved with day to day, mostly grocery shopping, taking care of kids, and financial stuff. And obviously my comparisons are only going to cover where I'm at in Canada (just North of Toronto) and where I've lived in the US (Colorado, Utah, Idaho, Washington, area). First off- the stereotypes of Canadians that say "eh" all the time and love hockey are true! I thought they were just silly things to make fun of Canadians, but I hear people (at least those who are native Canadians) say it all the time and hockey is mentioned constantly. Canadians also pronounce things differently, most noticeably words such as "sorry", and "process" in which they say the long O sound rather than the short O sound and "out" and "about" in which they make more of an "oo" sound than we do. Another stereotype of Canadians being really polite is also true- people are so nice here! From people I've met at parks or stores to people who work at governmental agencies like the drivers license agency (still haven't gotten my license exchanged for a Canadian one though) are really friendly and polite.
There are lots of people here that aren't originally from Canada- which is another major difference from where we've lived in the states. There are people (first generation) from all over the world here and that is pretty well represented in our church ward too. We chatted with an older gentleman from Scotland the other day at the grocery store, attend church with a refugee family from Africa and a family that is Ukrainian/Japanese, have Persian/Iranian landlords, and see people from many different Asian countries all the time. They are lots of other different nationalities and languages here too, but I'm not sure exactly what they are yet. (Rumor has it that Italians live around our neighborhood somewhere, so I need to seek them out and see if I can still converse in Italian-or at least listen to that beautiful language spoken by a native!). Also, French is the national language along with English so everything is written in both languages.
We are still adjusting to the different measurements here too. Temperature is measured in Celsius rather than Fahrenheit, distance is measured in kilometers rather than miles, volume is measured in liters rather than gallons, and weight is measured by kilograms rather than pounds and ounces (although I have noticed that produce is priced by the pound and kilo at most grocery stores). We are also still adjusting to the value of Canadian money vs US money. Canadian bills are colorful and made of plastic rather than paper and their 1 and 2 dollars are coins (much like the Euro). Adding to our money adjustment, is the crazy high Harmonized Sales Tax- 13% on all goods and services except food (unless it's a "pre-made" food- anything from restaurants or a deli, things that are ready to eat like protein bars or snack bars for kids [Clif Z bars in are the ones I've noticed] or even nuts that are already salted are taxed). I've noticed that diapers (but not wipes) are only taxed at 5%, and there are probably other items that fall under that lower tax too, but I haven't found them yet.
Now to food- the food here is very similar to US food, but also reminds me a lot of European food (of course I've only ever been to Italy, Switzerland, and England) but I've loved finding some of the foods from there at Canadian stores. A huge one is Kinder candy. Kinder surprise eggs are expensive and difficult to find in the US and have recently been banned, but they are everywhere in Canada so Austin and I have enjoyed sharing them with our kids (although the little toys from inside them are starting to drive me nuts because the kids leave them all over the house).



 As for food in general though, it seems that there is just less selection (I heard them same thing from a friend who lives in Alberta). Mexican foods, such as corn tortillas, fresh tortillas, and enchilada sauce are one things that have been hard for me to get a hold of- which makes sense since we are a lot further from Mexico than we used to be. Here are a few of the foods that Austin and I thought were kind of funny just because they are different:



 Also, for a family that drinks a ton of milk- having it come in bags (and be rather expensive) is a big deal. Each of these big bags has three smaller bags inside and contains a total of 4 liters (just over one gallon). The cheapest we've found it for is 4.25 CA$ and I'm used to paying about 2 US$ for a gallon.
 

 This isn't a big deal, just a little difference I noticed- it says Christie rather than Nabisco. Also, graham crackers are expensive and hard to get a hold of. This little box was 5 CA$ at Walmart and is the biggest one I've found anywhere (I'm used to buying huge boxes at Costco, but haven't been able to find them at Canadian Costcos)

 However, I have found something at Canadian Costcos that I've never seen at US Costcos: whole lambs! Now that is European! (except in Europe they aren't nicely wrapped and are at every local butcher shop)


Lots of things tend to come in bags around here. Below you will see some yogurt on the left (although it does come in cups too) and a soap refill on the right.
As I've mentioned before, Canadians have Girl Guides rather than Girl Scouts. They still sell cookies, but they only have one type (vanilla and chocolate) rather than myriad choices.

Another difference is in schooling. From what I've gathered talking to other moms in our neighborhood and some internet research, there are no charter schools in Canada. There is public school and there is Catholic school (both of which are free to the public) and there are also some private schools. Kindergarten has two years- junior and senior. The junior year starts the year a child turns 4 and the senior year is when the child is 5. Also, the time to start school is based on the calendar year you were born, rather than having a cut off of sometime in September or October like in the US. So technically, Leif should have been in junior kindergarten this year and starting senior kindergarten this fall, but in the US he wouldn't be starting until the 2018-19 school year. We were planning on starting him as a kindergartener in home school this year anyway, so that works for us. (I'll do a post on my home school room soon).
So, those are the major difference I can think of for now. We love Canada for the most part and are excited to get to live here for a few years (despite the major drawback of not being close to family ):

Thursday, April 27, 2017

4 Months

Trevor is getting big faster than I can keep track of! This post is a little late because he turned four months old in the middle of our move to Canada, but he is growing a doing well. Trevor has finally started to roll over occasionally, but mostly prefers to be in an upright position anyway. He is a happy little guy that loves to socialize. He is content to sit by himself for awhile, but if it goes too long he will start fussing until I come pick him up or his siblings come over to entertain him. Here are the photos Austin got of him:



Wednesday, April 26, 2017

The big move to Canada

We made it to Canada! The plane ride was a bit of an adventure with a two hour delay and an extra hour in the air due to only one runway being open at the Toronto airport (construction and weather closed the others), but it went better than it could have. The kids, especially Asher and Leif, we thrilled by almost everything they saw at the airport. They especially loved the escalators, the moving walkways, and being able to look out the window and see airplanes all the time. They also loved eating at the airport. Trevor did better on this plane ride than he did a couple months ago and all the other kids were pretty good too. Austin's company rented a car for us for a week and a hotel for the two days before we could get into our house, but had to complete some tasks. I was very thankful when we got to the hotel and saw that it had a living/kitchen area and two separate bedrooms each with a bathroom. The boys slept in one room, Austin and I slept with Trevor in the other room, and Heidi slept in a crib in the living room. Everyone was still sleep deprived for days, but it was a little better than all being in the same room. The first night at the hotel, we woke up to find that Heidi had thrown up in her crib and Leif had diarrhea all over the white bed! I took all the bedding off and had to call housekeeping to take it away and wash it. I felt terrible, but the maid was very kind and professional (we left her a tip when we checked out). We had to drive to another city to pick up my car and tried to get Canadian cell phones, but found that we need to get our drivers licenses or a Canadian credit card first, so that isn't going to happen right away. We met the owners of the house we are renting the night before we moved in to get the keys and I really liked them! They are a couple a little older than us and were very nice. When Asher and Leif started acting crazy and climbing all over everything, they said "it's their home now, don't worry about it". Austin met the movers at our house on Saturday morning while I stayed with the kids at the hotel and packed everything up. Then he came back for us and I followed him back to our house since I didn't have GPS to guide me(I'm trying not to use my phone unless I have wifi so that I don't rack up a huge international bill). Moving in was easy since all we really had to do was tell the movers where to put everything. I also took awhile to explore the house more since Austin picked it out by himself while I was in Colorado and I think he did a great job! The house is very spacious and comfortable for our family. It even has a few bonuses that I wasn't aware of like a mudroom/laundry room (I haven't had either in our previous homes and they are so convenient), a school room in the basement with tons of shelves for books and supplies (I plan to homeschool while we are in Canada), central vac (I especially love being able to sweep in the kitchen and mud room and just sweep it all into the little hole that sucks it all away) and a spare bedroom/bathroom/kitchenette and family room in the basement which is perfect for visitors (hint, hint to anyone that would like to come visit- you are more than welcome!). It also has a few drawbacks like a small backyard that is pretty muddy and no garbage disposal, but those are things we can work around. We went to our new ward on Sunday and everyone was very welcoming. Two of the ladies gave me their phone numbers and told me to call them if I had any questions or needed help- but I don't have a phone! (of course I could just use my US phone if it was an emergency). Heidi spent most of Relief Society with me since she started fussing in nursery and she loved all the attention she got. One woman let her sit on her lap (since I was holding Trevor) and played with her and another woman gave her a little container of goldfish which she walked around handing out to all the other women near me. Austin had to go back to work on Monday so its just me and the kids settling in to our new home. So far I'm really happy with our house, neighborhood, and ward. There are a few annoying hoops to jump through in order to get our drivers licenses, get phones, get a new van, and get everything squared away with taxes and government stuff, but we are working toward it. We are also still working on getting everything unpacked, but the essentials are out. There are boxes and packing material all over the house and pictures need to be hung up and the things we don't use every day are still in boxes (lots of Austin's stuff is still in boxes since he isn't home most of the time and I don't want to sort through all of his junk ;) I've been slightly distracted from unpacking by Heidi being sick and throwing up several times, but she seems to be on the mend now.
We are beginning to adjust to life in another country. We are trying to start thinking in Canadian dollars instead of US dollars and in the metric system rather than the standard system and figuring out the best places to shop. So far we have used Costco to restock our house with food and cleaning supplies. I've also made several trips to the grocery store closest to our house to get things we needed- it probably isn't the cheapest, but it's convenient. Here are a few things we have found different about Canada: Milk is sold in bags rather than cartons and is pretty expensive; they don't have pennies, but just round to the nearest nickel or dime; people really do say "eh" at the end of many of their sentences; a big percentage of the population is made up of people from all over the world, more so than in Colorado; everything is written in English and French because those are the two national languages, but Chinese is a very big language here too; their harmonized sales tax is crazy high: 13%, but luckily it doesn't apply to food, unless it is already prepared food like at a restaurant or deli.

Finally getting on the plane was very exciting.

Heidi rode with Austin and Trevor rode with me.

The boys wanted to ride together, but they had to sit with an adult.


Our new landlords left us a welcoming present and left little courtesies like a sponge and soap in the kitchen and soap and toilet paper in all the bathrooms.

We bought some cookies from "Girl Guides" at the grocery store. They only had one choice though- chocolate and vanilla. They are pretty good and only cost 5 Canadian dollars which is about 4 US dollars, so that's cheaper than Girl Scout cookies :)

The kids had a lunch of bread, cheese, and strawberries on a bedside table in the kitchen while the movers unloaded everything.

Afterward, Heidi was deliriously tired from three days of skipped naps, not enough sleep at night, and too much excitement. She fell asleep in Austin's arms and slept for several hours when he put her down on the love sack in the living room.

23 Months

Heidi turned 23 months old the day before we flew out for Canada. With all the hustle and bustle, I didn't take formal pictures, but I do have some adorable pictures of her when she painted her own toe nails. We had gone over to Austin's sister's house to say goodbye to her family before we left. She and I were sitting in the backyard talking while the kids played in the backyard when we noticed Heidi taking her shoes off on the patio. We told her to put them back on, but left her to herself for awhile more. When she finally came over to us, it was to show us that she had found some nail polish (probably left outside by her cousin) and painted her toe nails. I was impressed with how well she did. While she did get some on the cement and didn't quite stay on just her toe nails, she didn't get any on her clothes. She was proud for days afterward and kept pointing out her toes whenever she saw them. Oh Heidi- you are such a doll!