Day 10 – Thursday 30 January

No snow last night, so no shovelling. We are however expecting 10-15cm on Saturday. Only down to -10 today, so the kids can go outside for play.
We visited Adams school this afternoon to get a copy of his timetable and take a walk through the school. There seems to be a fascination with Aussies. Everyone you meet wants to tell you about their friend, family or acquaintance in Oz. We did meet an awesome outdoor ed teacher though who had done part of his teacher training in Sydney at kingswood. He ended up giving us a tour of the school and showing Adam where all his classes are.

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We are planning our March break now. We have two weeks holiday. Everyone here seems to head as far south as they can to get away from the cold. Mexico, Cuba, Barbados and Florida are popular. We were thinking of renting an RV and touring down into the USA. Either that or find something winterish to do up north.
I went and joined us up at the YMCA today. I have a great need to be active after being cooped up for a week and a half. They have pools, gym rooms, basketball, youth rooms and heaps more, so should keep me entertained and fit for a while.
Little else new on this front atm. Loving hearing any news from home. Thank goodness for FB and Skype.
Goodnight beautiful people. Jxx

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I love how the cold weather turns the kids cheeks pink.

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Day 9 – 29 January

Lachie and Olivia are both looking forward to school today. We seem to be the only family who walk to school, most kids are bused or driven. Managed to get some photos of their classrooms today. Both are on the top floor.

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Lachie tells me the valentines day dance is coming up. He has a choice of 3 girls he would like to ask and they are all vying for his attention. Those who know him well will be able to imagine how difficult that is for him.

Day 8 – Lachlan and Olivia’s first day of school

Both kids were excited to finally be starting today. We met Olivia’s teacher as we walked into the school, he was the one in shorts on a -21 day. Lachie’s teacher came down to meet us too. The principal and office staff were lovely. They made the kids feel really welcome. Lachie’s teacher took them both to their rooms through the back way, as all his classmates were hanging around outside the office ready to pounce. She had warned them all not to ask him silly questions like “do you have a pet kangaroo?”, but that they would all just want to hear him talk. Today is all indoor lunches as it is below -15. Poor teachers.
I drove Gaz to school today so I could have the car. He took me for a tour of his workshop and school and to meet a few of the staff. Jim, his head teacher, seems very supportive and Kevin, the principal, is a great person to chat to. He did an exchange to Australia back in 2000, and loved it. One of the few Canadians who have tried vegemite and liked it. Will have to get mum to bring over quite a few jars.
Driving back home was exhilarating. On my own, through the snow, radio up loud – on the other side. I filled up at the gas station, chatted to the attendant and remembered which side to get back in first go.
I spent the rest of the morning shopping at Walmart. It has to be seen to be believed. A massive store that has everything from groceries and clothing to pharmaceuticals and furniture. Didn’t see a gun aisle, that must be for Americans only. The hardest part about grocery shopping is that you don’t know what everything is. I can’t find raw sugar or golden syrup that I need for Anzacs. Mum suggested I make lemonade scones instead. Will do that tomorrow and take some to the neighbours.
Lachie and Olivia had a great first day. Both were met with a great deal of curiosity and enthusiasm from their classmates. Kids were lined up outside the office windows as soon as we got there, keen to know if they had pet kangaroos, and all wanting to hear them talk. Lachie is getting more attention than he knows what to do with (highly unusual for him) and already has a ‘crush’. He really likes his home teacher, Miss Steinberg, but doesn’t think much of his French teacher. Olivia has a friend also called Olivia and said the class loved the way she says mango and kangaroo. Her teacher, Mr Milner, has been to Australia and talked about it often. He also wears shorts all year round. Their school is pre-school to year 8 then they move on to high school. Hope to get photos soon but didn’t want to embarrass them today.
New things we tried – red velvet cookies, beaver tail
Differences – you can turn right on a red light after checking traffic, crossroads have four way stop signs, whoever gets there fist, goes first. When you plug appliances in there is no on/off switch.
Goodnight beautiful people. Jxx

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Day 7 – First Snow Day

We were all up early to start work/school today and looking forward to making lots of new friends. Gaz left first after shovelling the drive (it took him an hour to drive the normal 1/2 hr route). We had both woken around 3 this morning and couldn’t sleep so came down for a cuppa (thanks to those who wrote to me on FB, it kept me going). We looked out the windows to see heavy snowfall and a thick covering on the driveway. Novelty hasn’t worn off yet.
Got the kids ready for school and were out the door by 8.15am. We trotted merrily down the street and were about half way to school when a man shovelling his drive asked if we knew the school was closed today. It had been called a snow day – first one in about 6 years. We thought it was fine as the sun was out and it wasn’t snowing. His name was John and he asked us where we were from (our accents do get us noticed). He and his wife are from South Africa. He said if ever I wanted to come around and say hello, his wife Claire was inside. People are very welcoming and amazingly friendly.
We then turned around and headed home but not before two other people had stopped their cars to make sure we knew school wasn’t on.
I spent the remainder of the day pretty much on the phone trying to organise insurance for our car so we can pick it up. So far, every time I have called a company there is a Canadian on the other end and they go out of their way to help you. They’re keen to hear about our high temps, where we live and tell you about a relative who has been to Australia. We were told that we had to hand in our Australian licence for an Ontario one to get car insurance which proved to be a huge hassle. However, managed to get onto the right person with Johnson who set us up with insurance at a quarter of the price. It pays to shop around.
I made a hearty pumpkin soup for dinner with heaps of garlic. Smelt sensational, maybe the neighbours will think I am a good cook.
We finally picked up our new car tonight and I got to drive it home. Lucky for me, it has snow tyres on. I learnt that when you are being passed by an emergency vehicle, you must pull over and stop to let it go by. Just as well I was watching what others did because I had no idea.
Lachie and Olivia spent the afternoon with the neighbours going sledding out along Waterdown Road. They had a great afternoon stacking the sleds in the powdered snow and were treated to hot chocolate specials at Tim Hortons on the way home.
Check the double yolker eggs and how white they are. Perhaps this is because they are laid in snow!
Pretty exhausted tonight after lack of sleep. I hope it is better tonight.
Goodnight beautiful people Jxx.

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Day 6 – Australia Day in Canada

G’day mate.
Thanks to all our Aussie family and friends, we’ve got plenty of ockerisms to share, even kept the neighbours amused with slang.
We opened the paper to find awesome pictures of the harbour bridge lit up for Australia Day, that Wawrinka had won the Australian open in a shock defeat of Nadal (who was injured) and Australia stealing a 5 run victory over the poms in cricket to beat them 4-1. Love cricket.
We got up with the plan of either going ice-skating at the rink near the lake or tobogganing on the slopes near our house. Then Lachie and Olivia saw some other kids out playing in the snow. As they were getting dressed to go out we heard the doorbell. The kids had come over to invite them out anyway. They had the best time. We learnt that the snow is not quite right yet for making snowballs, it won’t stick together because it’s too cold. We need to wait until it warms up a bit and melts a little. The boys managed to make a snowman using the ice right at the bottom of the piles. All of these kids will be going to school with Olivia and Lachie. Apparently everyone at school already knows the Aussie kids are coming and are very excited to meet them. We gave the kids a clip on koala with an Aussie flag for Australia Day.
Adam and Garry spent some time shopping and checking out the indoor tennis centres. To play at the private centre costs around $500 per year and there is a waiting list. You can only play a maximum of 3 times/week too. Might keep looking.
They shopped at Walmart for everything else we needed as well as having Maccas there. I am still waiting to check it out. Will try to get photos.
Our mailbox is at the end of the street and is a bit like a mailbox in an apartment building. We can’t work out how the numbering system works because it’s not the same as your house number. Will have to ask at the post office.
There is only one tv in the basement and it has two channels. One is a privately owned channel operating out of Hamilton and the other is a weather/news channel. As you can imagine, the kids are riveted. The bonus is that they have played a lot more board games together and with us and are keen to go outside whenever they can.
Most products here are labelled in English on one side and French on the other. The kids will be learning French at school which will help us out when we go to Quebec or Montreal.
One of the exchange teachers we spoke to on Friday night told us about his science mishap one day at school. He found out what happens when you leave a can of coke in the car. Came out after lunch to find it had exploded all over his rental car. Bonus was it had frozen so he could pick it off easily.
Gaz is busy with his term plan and quite looking forward to starting work tomorrow. He needs to leave by 7am as they start at 8. More details to come.
We have heard that our exchange partners have arrived and are planning to spend the afternoon exploring. Malcolm also starts work tomorrow or Wednesday. Tough gig with jet lag.
I enjoyed my first local wine with dinner tonight whilst Garry had a pear cider which is popular here. Adam and I plan to go and try our first poutine tomorrow if we can find it, after we have visited his school.
Differences – when you plug in appliances, there is no on/off switch.
It’s 11pm, so I’m signing off for now. Big day tomorrow. -16 with wind chill making it -26 to look forward to. Awesome.
Good night beautiful people. Jxx

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Day 5 – First day in our new house.

Had the alarm set for 7 this morning to head back to Toronto for a conference. As predicted, there has been a huge downfall of snow and a lot to clear from the driveway. All the neighbours were out clearing their driveways so Gaz went out to join them. ⛄️He gave himself about half an hour to get this done hoping the boys might help. πŸƒ Whilst he was out there our neighbour, Peter, came over to say hello. When Garry told him we were headed to Toronto he looked quite amazed. He said in this weather, you don’t go anywhere unless you absolutely have to. If it normally takes 1/2hr it will take you 1 1/2 hrs. We decided not to go. πŸ˜…
Instead Gaz and I did more op shopping (new ski pants and boots) and checked out the grocery store Fortinos. πŸπŸΈπŸ–It’s quite large and very well stocked. There was an amazing range of cheeses from marble cheddar (orange and yellow) to blueberry cheese. It’s expensive but they have a whole aisle of it. We are going to have to try elk and beaver tail while we’re here. Of course we had to get the milk pouches (demo video on FB). Fruit is very reasonable. Punnets of raspberries and blueberries for $2.50. We also got a canary melon. Apparently it’s like honeydew but a lot sweeter (see photo). We are trying lots of new things.
Time for arvo tea now whilst playing cluedo. Winner doesn’t have to shovel the driveway, loser does it all.
Update – Lachlan 1, Garry -20 haha.
We are having our first roast dinner tonight, it’s certainly cold enough. Learning to use a gas oven and hot plates. The dryer is gas too.
I haven’t found a stash of wine yet, will have to shop tomorrow if snow stops. Happy Australia Day beautiful people. Have some snags on the barbie for us mate. Jxx

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Day 4 – Burlington to Toronto

This morning was a bit rushed. We had to check out of our hotel at 11 but didn’t wake up until 10.30. We have moved most of our gear over to the house but can’t actually move in until after 8pm when the owners leave. Until then we are keeping ourselves amused at the mall and the library (free Wi-fi and internet access so I was able to skype Janelle and Annie). We organised ours cell phones this morning. The assistants in the shop were fantastic. They were googling restaurants to send us to. We discovered what poutine is. It is a popular cuisine of the Canadians consisting of fries, gravy and cheese curd. It’s everywhere. There is even a poutine restaurant where you can pick out all your fave toppings. Have to get photos. We are still waiting to pick up our new car. We are considered new drivers in Canada, regardless of our driving history, and so that means insurance is at a premium. We are looking at around $4000-$4500. We visited Service Ontario to check what licences we needed. We will also need to sign up with them for OHIP (Medicare).
We had an exchange get together in Toronto tonight. We were told it would take us around 1 hr but was closer to two as there was an event in the city. Worse than driving into Sydney City. People don’t like to let you in and we kept losing GPS because of the buildings. We had an awesome evening with plenty of other Aussies. All had funny experiences to share. We are all fascinated by the milk that comes in bags. I will show you tomorrow when I buy some.
Shorter trip home thank goodness. Arrived home at 11.30pm. First time in the house alone. Time to discover everything. Unpacked, made our beds, sorted stuff for tomorrow and sat down for a cup of tea at 1.30am. Now to finish blog and check FB. I love hearing from you all, it keeps me sane.
Differences – blinkers on most cars are the red brake lights that flash for the direction you want to go. The phone store lady told us that the Canadian one hundred dollar notes smell like maple syrup. I tried it when I got home and it kind of does, but I wonder if it was a ‘drop bear’ moment.
Photos taken driving into Toronto.
Good night beautiful people Jxx.
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