7
December

Creepy crawly

I have a love-hate relationship with most things that creep and/or crawl. I mostly hate them, but pretend to love them so that the lils don’t grow up freaking out over bugs of any size. This approach worked fairly well when the lils were younger, making sure that they thought of all the littlest creatures as “friends”. They embraced this idea, but it did mean that I could not just kill a bug when it was found in the house. Those bugs had to be saved and re-homed. Willy became the bug mover in our house, even if it meant that the bug was just tossed outside in -30°C. Everyone was happy with this arrangement (except maybe the bug).

As the lils got older and Willy started to travel more and more, I became the relocation expert. Centipedes were among my least favourite, followed closely by the spiders. We live in an old house, so we have plenty of these creatures live in the basement and the dark corners. I got very good at catching them, and disposing of them without showing my true feelings, for the most part. Woo seems to have accepted all the bugs that cross our path, but Goose is infinitely twitchier. I am sure that some of those twitches can be tied to my reactions to the various bugs. You can really blame me, though. Over the years we have had a few really cool bugs show up, but we have also had our share of pests that were giant or overwhelming in number. These things start to get to you after a while.

This year has been the year of the spider. I don’t know why, but they seem to have taken a liking to me, to our house. We had about a thousand hatch from two egg sacks in the late spring.
Creepy Crawlers Creepy Crawlers

These stuck around, and became big garden spiders. Harmless garden spiders, but still an annoyance. Every time I walked out of the house I walked through a new web. Walking through a new web meant that I had to do the “OH MY GOD, there is a SPIDER on my face/neck/hair…” dance many times a day, much to the amusement of my neighbours, I am sure. The last thing I saw as I was leaving for the airport on moving day was this guy, who’d been around for weeks and was actually growing on me.
Creepy Crawlers

In moving to California, I figured that we might see scorpions if we looked really hard for them, but I wasn’t terribly worried that we would even see them. “It’s just like home,” I convinced myself, “but with more cockroaches.” Then this happened on a walk with Woo:
Tarantula

Despite my desire to run away, I did stop to take a picture. Tarantulas are creepy as hell, but they are also pretty cool. This one was not too big, and was walking very slowly. It looked like it had been injured, so I was fairly certain I could outrun it if it made any sudden movements. Woo was thrilled. He told me several times that this was the best day ever, and has taken to referring to that particular walking trail as ‘tarantula path’. When we were there today, we both were on the look out for more of these big furry spiders, but only one of us wanted to see one.

I didn’t sign up for this. I am afraid of what comes next.

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23
November

Wordless Wednesday – redwoods

Redwood Forest

Redwood Forest

Redwood Forest

Redwood Forest

Redwood Forest

Redwood Forest

Redwood Forest

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23
November

Round Trip

In theory, one of the perks of our move to California is that it should be relatively easy to get home for visits. We’ve lived really far from home, and during that time, it would have been nice to be able to go home for special occasions, or the not so special occasions. California is close. It’s not the one flight that I would like it to be, but we live near two major airports and Willy has a pile of frequent flyer points from his many, many trips back and forth over the last two years. It makes it very easy to plan a trip and go.

To test this out, I am heading home this weekend for a quick trip. I booked the trip weeks ago, a getaway with my book club. We are going to sit around and eat too much, drink too much, play cards, and read nothing on the first day. On the second day we will get on a school bus with a bunch of strangers and visit wineries where we will sing for a taste of this year’s harvest, while still reading nothing. I plan for it to be glorious (save for the singing part).

Of course, as my departure date gets closer, I realize that it is not that simple. My flight leaves on Thurday, which is US Thanksgiving. While it may not be the busiest travel day, I am sure it is up there. I’m booked out of San Fran because the flights are more direct, but it means that I have to leave here before 4:00am to catch my 7:00am flight. I can’t drive there myself, because Willy needs the car, so I am trying some random shuttle service that I found on the internet. Hope they come and get me!

As anxious as I am now, I know it is going to be a great weekend once I get there. In addition to the shenanigans, I am going to squeeze in some family time, extra friend visits, and a giant shopping trip so that I can bring home all the Canadian treats that we have been missing. I’ll even get to visit with our bunny for a bit. It’s a completely frivolous trip, but I can’t wait to get there!

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19
November

Great at eight

Dear Goose:

This morning you woke up with a spring in your step and a smile on your face. While this is the norm these days, this was extra special, for today you are eight!! It’s is a big day, the start of another new year. Today is also all about you!

I have loved watching you grow over the last year. You are truly a wonderful person and you continue to be a bright light of joy in all of our lives. Your kind heart and compassion lead you, your easy laughter is contagious, and the passion that you put into everything you do is inspiring. This drive has served you well in all the projects that you undertake. You continue to love to learn, and have recently shown a strong preference for math, which secretly pleases your mathie parents.

While you continued to dabble in a few sports, you have discovered your true passion for Karate, and made a commitment to train hard and do your best all the time. This year you moved up four belts, started sparring, and committed to competing in the 2024 Olympics. Most importantly, you always started and ended your training with a huge smile on your face.

As your seventh year came to a close, we threw a new challenge at you; a move to a new city in a new country, far from friends and family. You have handled it so well, and we are so very proud of you. You are brave and confident, and have accepted all of the challenges that have been thrown at you. Now that we are settled in, you have made new friends, fit right in in your class, become an excellent swimmer. You are thriving.
I love you so much, big girl, and I look forward to what the next year brings.

All my love,
Mama

A year of Goose
A year of Goose

A year of Goose

A year of Goose

A year of Goose

A year of Goose

A year of Goose

A year of Goose

A year of Goose

A year of Goose

A year of Goose

A year of Goose

A year of Goose

Hunting Pokemon

OCEAN

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16
November

Wordless Wednesday – Catching up

Jellies!

Lionfish

Loma Fire

First Day

Hunting Pokemon

Pretty Clouds

At the pumpkin patch

Hallowe'en ready!

Trick or Treat!

OCEAN

Where the monarchs stay

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15
November

Roller Coaster

Every now and then, I stop and just take a deep breath. The thoughts racing around in my head fade a little and I relax a bit. It’s hard for me to believe that, less than three months ago, we were in Ottawa. Then, we knew that moving to California was a possibility, but I had all but given up on it in reality. The lils were ready to go back to school, and we had a full slate of activities lined up for them for the fall and winter. I figured that we would keep going on as we had been for a while yet. Things changed quickly in late August.

The one thing that I asked Willy for when we started to consider a move to California was time. Our last assignment was rushed; we barely had two months from the day that we were approved to the day we arrived in India. This was worse. With the pressure on to get the lils into their new school fast, Willy still away, and the whole house needing to be packed, we gave ourselves three weeks. We could have done it, but I would have lost my mind. It took a little over four weeks, and my sanity is still in question.

In a perfect world, settling in would have been a smooth process, but it hasn’t quite been. Nothing we have faced has proven to be crushing, just challenging in some way. The lils go to two different schools, because there isn’t room for them both at the same school. We still need to get furniture, but I guess Goose can store her clothes on her bottom bunk for a few more weeks. Our property manager is ignoring us, but I am good at escalating. We still don’t have any new friends, but we are trying. The election… the challenges from that result aren’t unique to us, nor do they affect us as severely as many others.

We are, for the most part, content. The lils are happy in their schools, and have adjusted better than we thought possible. We have dinner as a family almost every day, because Willy is travelling a lot less than he has for years. The lils have become AMAZING swimmers, and are in the pool and hot tub almost every day. They miss their home and friends terribly, but can appreciate all that California has to offer us. We’ve started adventuring, and have many more planned. Some of them even include the fun kind of roller coaster.

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2
September

Found a place!

It helped that we have done this before. We knew it would be fast, we knew we needed to be prepared, and we knew we would have to make snap judgements. It helped that Willy had been in town for a few months, and had narrowed down the neighbourhoods that would suite our needs, and that the rental market is really well captured on the Zillow app, two luxuries we didn’t have when we moved to India.

Still, we had twelve houses to see, in just one day. In a perfect world, that meant we’d travel from house to house in ten minutes or less, and have 20 minutes to look through a house and decide if it was the one for us. It didn’t work that way, and as the day went on, we had less and time at each house. Sometimes it was traffic that did us in, and either we were late, or the hosting agent was late, and once the agent brought the keys to the house that was three doors down the street (we toured it to, but it wasn’t for us). A couple of times we just got distracted by the house we were looking at. One was a well panelled, wall to wall shagged hippy paradise from the 60s:

Hippie paradise

Another was an incredible mansion…

Now that is a house!

With a view that was stunning…

This view.

Eventually we landed at one of houses that I had found in my research. It appeared to hit all of the wishes on our list, but I’d forgotten which one it was from the outside. I walked inside and said, “Oh. I was waiting for this one.” We walked around a bit and I knew. I didn’t take any notes while we were there, I simply wrote “this one” on the info page for our new home!

New house!

New house!

New house!

New house!

New house!

New house!

New house!

New house!

New house!

This one.

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25
August

Change of address

About eighteen months ago Willy started travelling A LOT.  He’d be gone on a trip pretty much every second week.  Some were long, some were a series of one night trips that he may or may not come home in between.  Most of the trips were within North America, but it was hard travel nonetheless.

The lils and I got into our routines.  Willy was home most weekends, so enough that Woo and Goose missed him, but they didn’t MISS him.  The transitions were the hardest, so I actually preferred the longer trips, and we didn’t even tell the lils when he went on some of the day trips – he’d just have an early meeting, followed by working late.  Still, they knew.  Transitions are hard, and it was reflected in their behaviour.

This spring brought new challenges.  Instead of random trips every second week, Willy was asked to go on a short assignment to California.  We talked it over and it seemed possible.  He’d be gone for three months, but could come home as often as he needed. As three months stretched into five months, possible gave way to challenging. Life was a flurry of sports, meals, school, camps, and complaints.  Most of the complaints were from me.

About two months ago we were presented with a possible solution. It was approved this week, and will become real for me when we fly to San Jose on Sunday to find a house for our family to live in for the next two years!  We’ll be back in a couple of years, but are moving to sunny California, really soon!

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17
August

Falling in love

Do you ever really know when you fall in love with a professional sports team? That exact moment when you stop casually watching a team and start to become emotionally invested in the outcome of their matches, when you find a way to watch or listen to their games when the odds are against you, or when you start crying if they lose the big games. In my life I have loved the Ottawa Rough Riders & RedBlacks, the Montreal Canadians, the Montreal Expos, and the Ottawa Senators just like that. For each team, I can’t tell you when it happened. Some, like the Rough Riders, I was born to love, as I started going to games as an infant. Others, like the Senators, grew slowly out of the convenience of being the only NHL team in town.

Woo has followed in my footsteps as a sports fan. He loves the teams that I love, just as much. He watches all the games with me, even if it means that he sneaks out of bed to catch a few more shifts or at-bats. His passion for these teams has evolved over time, so that I can’t tell you when he started to love any of them, either. Except for one team. He fell in love with the Toronto Blue Jays on July 12, 2015.

Our family was in Halifax that day. It was a hot day and we had spent most of it walking around downtown and the waterfront. All four of us were hungry and thirsty, looking for a little treat to carry us through the afternoon. The first pub we walked into was unwelcoming. They seemed less than impressed with the fact that we had the lils with us, and put conditions on how much we needed to order if we stayed. It was clearly not the place for us, so we moved on to a pub called the Halifax Ale House. The staff was friendly and fussed over the lils. They made us feel welcomed.

We passed the time watching the Jays game. It was a bit of a stinker, with the Jays losing 7-0 in the fifth. We’d been teaching the lils all the rules of baseball as we watched, so we told them we could watch one more inning before we moved on. The sixth was, in a word, unbelievable. The Jays scored 8 in an inning that featured lots of solid hits, a few breaks and zero home runs. It was long and wildly entertaining, and Woo watched intently, cheering loudly with every hit and run. We stayed til the end of the game. The Jays ultimately lost, but they won a little boy’s heart.

His love for all things Blue Jays has only grown since that day. Early this season we decided that we should go to a game together, and that game was this weekend. When we got to Toronto on Friday night, we decided that one game wasn’t enough, and bought tickets to Friday night’s game too. The Jays won one and lost one and we got to see many great plays, some great pitching, and a few monster home runs. It was a fabulous weekend of baseball and bonding with my guy. It just might have been the weekend that I fell in love with the Blue Jays.

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13
April

Wordless wednesday – foxy neighbours

Foxy Neighbours

Foxy Neighbours

Foxy Neighbours

Foxy Neighbours

Foxy Neighbours

Foxy Neighbours

Foxy Neighbours

Foxy Neighbours

Foxy Neighbours

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