Leaving Chennai, part 3 – Final Roundup

Today is our last day in Chennai, which means this is my last blog post from here. The packing is pretty much finished, there is mess all over the house, and all the furniture is getting picked up at varying times throughout the day by 4 different people. Pretty much all of it sold, except for the old water filter and microwave, though we may be able to get the scrap dealer, who has taken a number of our things, to buy them.

Sidney the cat is noticing the changes around here. She was outside on the balcony early and saw that I had the light on, so she cried her most pitiful cry. Then seeing as I wasn’t opening the door, she jumped to the window where I couldn’t ignore her. Now she is roaming the house meowing, looking for everyone else who is still asleep (it’s not quite 7 a.m.). I think she will miss us as much as we will miss her.

Now for some “I remembers”:

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I remember the day Logan got his first crib. It meant a more comfortable night sleep for me. (14 months old)

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I remember the shock of finding this rocking horse in a parcel shortly after praying to get one for Logan. (19 months old)

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I remember how sweet Logan was with Lila, and how much he wanted to hold and play with her. (Logan 20 months, Lila 3 months)

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I remember I was lying down and Lila was nursing, while Logan was making his puzzle next to me. He put the knob of each piece in his mouth and then stuck it in the puzzle.

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I remember seeing Lila in this rare thumb-sucking moment, and thinking how cute she looked. It’s one of my most favorite pictures of her. (3 months old)

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I remember how excited he was to get to pet this baby goat. He had been chasing the goats and they were all running from him. Then this man stopped and picked one up for him. (2 yrs. 3 mo.)

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I remember this moment of bonding between Lila (19 months) and Scarlett (10 days).

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I remember that Scarlett really loved our homemade popsicles. (16 months)

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I remember how excited they were when I told them they could play tea party on the balcony. They brought everything out. (Lila, 3 yrs., Scarlett, 17 mo.)

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I remember this day when daddy and Logan reversed rolls and had lots of fun on the roof.

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I remember how much work it was to get those not-quite-perfect lines in Lila’s hair.

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I remember they were so excited that it was Christmas Day and they could have chocolate and cookies for breakfast. (Lila, 3 1/2; Logan, 5 yrs.)

There are so many more special memories but I’m going to have to stop here. Tomorrow morning early we will be driving off towards Bangalore, where we will spend the night and head out the next day for Mangalore.

And now I’d better get going as I have a 9:30 dental appointment.

Leaving Chennai, part 2 – Special Events

If you missed the first part, you can read it here.

 

There have been many special days and events that have happened in the past 5 years since we moved here, but I’d have to say that the biggest and best of the special events were that Lila and Scarlett were both born here, in the same hospital, delivered by the same doctor.

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Newborn Lila.

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With daddy.

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Newborn Scarlett

Nana Mable visited several times.

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With newborn Scarlett. November 2010

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Her birthday. That is Lila she is holding. November 2010

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At the zoo. June 2012

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At the beach. Lila was miserable and hated it. November 2012

 

Logan and Lila started school.

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Logan on his first day of preschool. June 2011

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Lila on her first day of preschool. June 2012

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Logan’s first day of kindergarten. July 2012

 

We had some family vacations.

Mahabalipuram, just outside Chennai, February 2010.

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Dinner at a sidewalk restaurant.

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Going down to the beach.

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Swimming in the pool.

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Relaxing.

 

Mango Hill resort and a visit to the Crocodile Bank Reserve park. July 2013

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Checking out the crocodiles.

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Learning to swim.

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Such a water baby.

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Fun times.

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My handsome men.

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At dinner.

 

So many memories, so little time to go over them all. I’m going to do one more post in this series, but right now I need to go get myself and the kids dressed for a little goodbye party that is happening at Glad’s office.

Leaving Chennai, part 1 – Parks

At the end of this week, we leave Chennai for Mangalore. We are leaving more than just a city – it’s been our home for the past 5 1/2 years. When you leave a place where you have been for so long, memories abound. Like I did for the house we are leaving, I’m going to do some photo posts of places we have visited and things we have done that will forever be embedded in our hearts.

Parks is the topic for this first post. I’ve got thousands of photos of park outings, but I’m choosing the best ones to show you. These are from about 6 different parks that we have gone to regularly over the last 5 years.

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Logan at 19 months.

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2 years old.

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So handsome.

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Lila at 11 months old. She had just started walking and loved the park.

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This was to become our favorite park, being only a 5 minute drive away. Because of that huge tower, it is aptly known as “Tower Park”.
Logan, 2 1/2, Lila 15 months. You can almost see Scarlett popping out of my tummy.

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Learning to slide on her own.

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This is one of my favorites. Lila, 21 months; Logan, 3 years.

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I recall that this day was sweltering.

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One of their favorite things to climb – the snail. Lila, 2 years.

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The main fountain at Tower Park.

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Scarlett, 6 months old.

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A good view of the tower. It has a ramp to walk up that circles the tower all the way to the top. but it has been closed to the public for years. I’ve always wanted to see the view from up there.

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It’s a rare occasion when daddy can join us. Scarlett was 14 months old.

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Who knows what lands this snail has taken them too?

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Valentine’s Day, 2011.

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First time alone on the swing. 15 months old.

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Such fun, carefree times.

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The day Logan graduated from preschool. Lila, almost 3; Scarlett, 16 months; Logan, 4 1/2 years.

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Trying out the skates she got for her third birthday.

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Fun times with daddy.

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Sweet.

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My climber. Nothing can ever stop her from reaching the top.

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First time up in a tree.

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Scarlett, 1 1/2.

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These next few photos were taken at the beautiful botanical gardens.

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Time for some tricks. Lila, 4 years; Logan, 5 1/2 years.

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Spiral slides are such fun.

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Their favorite way to use the snail now. Logan and Scarlett are sitting on the antennae.

And that brings me to the end of the park photo collection. We will have one last goodbye trip before leaving. Of all the parks in the city, we have used this one the most, and I shall miss it.

Memories From This House

In only a few short weeks, we will be leaving this house that holds so many memories. I thought it might be fun to do a photo post and take a stroll down memory lane.

We have been in this house 3 years and 8 months (as of the end of March 2014). There are so many special things to remember that it is hard to limit this post to the truly memorable ones from each year but I’ll try. To keep this as short as possible, I’ve not included Christmases or any special holidays, though those do hold some special memories for us.

Warning – lots of photos ahead. I’ve given links to some old posts but you don’t have to read them unless you really want to.

2010

We found this house in June 2010 after a month of intense searching. We had seen many other places, including one just down the street from this one that we almost took, but this house was the one. The photo below was taken just before going to see it for the first time.

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Logan, 2 yrs. 7 mos.; Lila 14 months.

We moved into the house in July. This is what the balcony looked like before we put the wire mesh up for the kids’ safety.

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I took photos of the house when we first moved in, but the flash had died on my camera so they came out dark. If you want to see them, click here.

Shortly after that we bought a new camera, so the rest of the pics from that time are clear. The balcony became a favored play area, enabling Logan and Lila to be outside without having to leave the house. I was pregnant with Scarlett at the time, and did not always have the energy to take them to the park. This balcony is the main reason we took this house.

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Sept 12

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Logan celebrated his third birthday.

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The big event of 2010 was, of course, Scarlett’s birth. You can read the story here and here.

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5 days old.

2011

Lila celebrated her second birthday.

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And she caused me a great deal of stress. Read this story to see how she terrified me when she was only 2 yrs, 1 mo. old, and this one about all the trouble she caused as a toddler.

Logan began preschool.

Sept 27

He also had his first stage performance during his school’s annual day. Daddy had to stand with him to keep him in place.

Logan's Annual day pics

Logan is furthest right in the back.

Logan celebrated his fourth birthday and Scarlett her first.

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2012

Lila and Scarlett kept each other company when Logan was at school.

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Logan had his first sports day at school. Click here to read the funny story of how he did.

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We started making our own popsicles regularly.

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And we got a new pool for the summer (and the rest of the year).

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Aww…

Logan graduated from preschool.

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Logan and Lila went for their first summer day camp. And you won’t want to miss the story of the longest power cut we had in this house, that happened on this day.

Logan 4 1/2; Lila 2 weeks shy of her third birthday.

Logan 4 1/2; Lila 2 weeks shy of her third birthday.

Lila celebrated her third birthday.

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Lila began preschool and Logan move up to kindergarten.

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Lila had her first annual day performance. This was also her first public performance.

Lila is furthest left.

Lila is furthest left.

During an all-night power cut, I almost burned the house down.

Logan celebrated his fifth birthday and Scarlett her second.

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We took the train to Mangalore to visit Nana Mable.

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2013

This year we sent in our applications for Glad’s and the kids’ visas, and began the long wait for them to be processed.

Logan and Lila took skating lessons for a few months. You can read about it here.

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Lila had her first sports day.

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Lila graduated from preschool and Logan from kindergarten.

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Lila celebrated her fourth birthday.

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Logan and Lila had a home school year, since we had no idea how long the visa processing would take. I’ve not covered grades so much as focus areas for both of them. Logan has focused on writing skills and printing neatly. Lila focused on learning to read and write. Both have made so much progress and have learned a lot this year.

Scarlett had her first major accident that scared me.

Lila and Scarlett both had their first beauty shop hair cuts.

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Logan celebrated his sixth birthday and Scarlett her third.

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And we ended the year by driving to Mangalore to spend Christmas and New Year’s with Glad’s mom, his sister and her family.

This house has brought us many adventures. I just spent I don’t know how long going over old posts, looking for things that have happened here that would make interesting reading. It’s good I’ve kept all these records, because my brain just can’t hold so many memories.

If you are really curious, and you have a crazy amount of time on your hands, you can read everything I’ve posted from the time we first moved in to this house. Just go up there where it says “Previous Writings” and select June 2010 as your starting point. Everything after that, up ’till now, happened in this house. Well, except for any travels, of course.

The Little Joys of Summer

Summer is arriving to India once more. We didn’t think we’d be here for another summer but here we are all the same. Despite the heat and daily temperatures of 30 – 32C, it isn’t technically summer yet. It’s not even technically hot yet, seeing as in a month, temperatures will reach highs of over 40C.

Since we are leaving at the end of the month, lots of prep is going on. We promised the person who bought the dining set that we’d have it varnished for them, so today the person who is working on it took all the chairs, meaning there was nowhere to sit for school time.

So I gave the kids the day off from school, and this is what they did this morning.

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I can’t think of a greater summer joy than sitting in the warm sun, wet from water play, eating a large bowl of ice-cold watermelon.

Let the Countdown Begin

Things are getting exciting around here. We recently heard that the visa status has changed from “application received” to “processing”. From this point it will be 4 weeks minimum before we get the visas. Once we have them in hand, we will be able to book plane tickets!!

Right now the plan is to spend some time at Glad’s mom’s house before we leave, so sometime in the first week of April, we will be driving there again. Thankfully it will only be going and not coming.

We have already sold what we can of our furniture, though it won’t be delivered until just before we leave. It was easier than we expected. We just put photos and the asking price on two local used items websites, and for about 48 hours Glad’s phone didn’t stop ringing. One person bought his scooter. Someone else bought 4 items at one go. Even items we thought we couldn’t sell, such as our very old A/C’s, fridge, t.v., and some pressboard stuff will bring a good amount from a scrap dealer. This extra cash is going to make the trip to Mangalore and living during our time there easier, since Glad is quitting his job once we leave.

I’ve begun going through all the stuff we own, sorting what to keep, what will go to Mangalore but stay there, and what to get rid of, which is by far the largest group. Cutting down is never easy, but it feels good. There is some stuff I’ve wanted to get rid of for a long time, but since I knew we were leaving, I didn’t feel it would be right to replace those things only to have to get rid of them again.

All the household items – furniture, appliances, kitchen supplies, bedding, etc. – are either being sold or given away, so really all that’s left to decide on are toys, books, and clothes. The kids have picked out the cuddle toys they want to keep, plus a few items to take to Mangalore that will be left behind when we go. They need stuff to do while there so we have to carry some things. Books are limited to the ones that aren’t ripped, or that I’d like to read one last time.

Clothes are a biggie. Not that we have loads of clothes, but cutting down means leaving not just the stained or worn out stuff, but some nicer stuff too. Yesterday I had the girls pick out two party dresses to keep and I packed up the rest. They love their fancy dresses, even though they don’t get to wear them often, but we can’t travel with a bunch of dresses that aren’t going to get used any time soon.

So in just a few weeks, we will be leaving this house that has been our home for nearly 4 years. A lot has happened in this house – Scarlett was born here, lots of birthdays, first days of school, holidays – in short, memories. But I’m not sad. We’ve had this move planned for so long, and have been waiting for it to happen for so long, that the excitement is growing, and all of us are eagerly looking forward to finally being in Canada.

Canada, are you ready for us?

Logan’s 6th and Scarlett’s 3rd Birthday

(January 15, 2014: I feel so bad that this post never went up when it was supposed to. I was waiting for hubby to take the photos from his phone and put them on the computer. Can you believe he hasn’t done it yet? I need to pester him hard for it this week. I will add photos to this post once they are available but for now, here is the post so you can read it.)

Originally written November 21, 2013. Photos added February 11, 2014. See, even getting those took a long time.

 

You know you needed a break from blogging when you don’t even care that you missed important milestones, like birthdays. But better late than never, right?

Logan had his sixth birthday on the 11th and Scarlett had her third birthday on the 13th. With their birthday’s being right on top of each other, sometimes it feels rather overwhelming to make each one special and not lumped together. This year we kept them separate and simple.

Logan wanted a cow cake. By now you should know how he feels about farm animals. He’s twice had a farm cake, and once had a drawn cow cake, but this time I went with a sculpted cake.

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We invited some friends and went to our favorite park which is only a 5 minute drive from the house. Since his real birthday was on a Monday, we chose to celebrate the day before, on Sunday, so that daddy could be there. The park was crowded, as is typical for a weekend, but we settled ourselves in the small amphitheater so as to have a place to sit and place the cake. (Picnic tables are not available here.)

My kids love running up and down the rows of seats and on the small stage of the amphitheater, so it was the perfect place for them to play. They ran with daddy and played games until they couldn’t any more.

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Then it was time to cut the cake. I made sure to only cut the outside parts of the cow shape and I left the middle round cake intact. Why? Because I came up with the brilliant idea of removing the frosting and reusing it for the butterfly cake Scarlett had requested. Glad thought it was a sane idea that would prevent us from having loads of cake to eat later. So I did.

Glad decided to stay home the evening of Scarlett’s birthday (he still works most evenings, but can cancel the classes if needed). I cut and frosted that cake that had once been a cow’s body and turned it into a butterfly. Not my best decorating attempt, but she was happy, so I didn’t go for perfect.

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She picked out and ate all the chocolate gems before I could get a good pic. You can see the dents they left.

Logan, as usual, had requested more animals for his gift. I told him maybe, then bought him a book instead. 🙂 I want him to get used to the idea that there is more to the world of animals than small plastic toys, so I picked out an abridged version of “The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle”. We have been reading it a chapter at a time before bed, and he and Lila are enjoying it.

He also picked out a farm puzzle for himself, and our friends got him a scooter, plus a small bag of … you guessed it – plastic animals. He was delighted.

Scarlett is easier to please. Her only request was a pink butterfly cake and gifts were up to me. She picked out a tiny cheetah stuffed toy, which we named Itsy Bitsy, and I got her an ABC puzzle set as well. On the weekend we took them to the same Bunny Bounce Funland play place that we went to for Lila’s birthday and they enjoyed it.

Understandably Lila feels a little left out at this time of year, since her birthday is six months away, so she tries to get in on the act by making her cake and gift requests now. This year she told me that she wished her birthday was here already, and she also asked if it could be moved to Christmas. She has a cousin who’s birthday is on Christmas Day and she thought it would be great if her’s were there too.

Fortunately for her, Christmas is just around the corner and she will have forgotten the birthday feeling-left-out-edness (ok, I know it’s not a word) in favor of getting to spend Christmas at Nana Mable’s house and visit with some cousins she has never met.

Christmas is shaping up to be exciting this year.

Why Our Move is Still Pending

Last year we announced that we are moving to Canada. Our hope was to be there before this year is out, but it looks like that won’t be happening. Here’s what’s going on.

We spent a lot of time last year and early this year working with our attorney in Canada to get everything in order so that Glad and the kids could get their visas. We figured we’d have them within about 3 – 6 months of applying and that possibly by now (August), we be ready to make the actual move.

Well, we finished everything we had to do and sent their passports and other documents up to the Canadian Embassy in Delhi and prepared to wait. Glad was checking the processing progress on their website almost daily. He was sure it wouldn’t take too long.

Then the embassy staff went on strike.

And not just here. It is a worldwide strike. That of course means that nothing is getting done. No paperwork is being processed, and the passports are stuck in the embassy. Here are links to a few recent articles on the topic, and you can Google many more.

http://www.gmanetwork.com/news/story/319775/pinoyabroad/news/strike-of-diplomats-in-canadian-embassies-consulates-worldwide-disrupts-visa-operations

http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2013/07/30/no_end_in_sight_to_strike_by_canadas_foreign_service_officers.html

So with that stopping us from forward progress in the move, we have decided to end the holding pattern we were in and get some stuff done. For example, we are going to paint the house. Yes, I’ve said it before, but this time it will happen. Glad is advancing in his job. He’s making a real difference in the company and helping them grow, and I know they will miss him when we finally do leave.

Another thing we didn’t do was enroll the kids for the new school year, which began in June. Schools here require a full year’s advance payment and we were sure it wouldn’t be used, thus wasting a huge amount of money. Instead, we decided to do a little work at home just to keep them busy.

But now with this delay, I am picking up the slack. Instead of finding schools for them, I am buying books for the basics – writing, reading, math, and English. They do phonics practice from this great website, which is so easy to use, they can do it themselves. But I still help them so I can keep tabs on their progress.

Logan reads at what I’m guessing is a 1st or 2nd grade level. He can read most anything now and is in the advanced section of that website. We are still working through the Ladybird reader series. He is on level 5. Most of it is too easy for him but he wants to keep going with it so it’s okay by me.

Lila picked up on reading so fast it amazed me. When we started over a year ago, she really wasn’t interested so I left it. Now, after about 2 months of work, she is at level 2 of the Ladybird readers and the second level of the phonics site.

For math and English we are using some books from the Gold Stars series.

When it came to writing, Lila was at the beginning,  and Logan needed to go back to the beginning. He had learned some things wrong in kindergarten, or rather they never corrected his mistakes. So I’ve got them both doing a book of basic strokes and from there they will go to the alphabet. Lila is very good at it; she follows the dots and rarely messes up.

But Logan had difficulty with writing before, and even now, just tracing the basic strokes is hard for him. He is working through the book slower as I want him to get the strokes right. It is hard for him to control his pencil and keep it where it should be. If it is too messy, I make him erase it and do it again. He only does a few rows of writing a day, but even that is a challenge for him as opposed to Lila, who will often do a whole page if she feels like it, and it will be neat.

We’ve also enrolled the kids in art class 3 times a week as an extra curricular. So that covers their schooling for now. I don’t plan on homeschooling permanently. This is just until we settle in Canada.

To those of you who were expecting us this year – sorry. We have no idea when we will get the visas and make the move. If you want us there sooner, pray for things to clear up with the embassies.

Our Move – Progress Update 2

It has been crazy busy since the new year, which has meant prioritizing my to-do’s and unfortunately, my blog often suffers because of it. Putting aside the care of the kids, housework, school stuff, etc., there were two major focus points. One personal one (exercise and weight loss, more on that in another post), and of course finalizing our legal work so we can push forward with this move to Canada.

The papers are all filled now, everything is sorted, signed, and organized. Pretty much everything is ready to go – we just have to make a payment for the immigration fees and then mail the papers. After that it will just be waiting to hear back.

Of course we had to get new photos taken of the kids since immigration photos have different requirements from passport photos. We all know how fun it is to try to get kids to pose for pics. And sit still. And look at the camera. And smile. All at the same time. If you have kids you know what I’m talking about.

Scarlett wanted to go first. She remembered sitting there for her passport photo just a few months ago, and right away went to the stool, climbed up on it and sat down. I tried getting her to smile, but she kept smiling after the photo was taken. This was the best of 3 or 4.
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Lila went second. She actually likes to pose, and while she won’t stay still for long, she will move around into model-like poses and smile real big. I think hers was a one-take. As you can see, she recently had a haircut, her first. (I hope her curls come back. The ends were dry and damaged and I had no choice but to cut it. Yes, I did it myself. She isn’t quite ready for a barber yet.)

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Logan went last. He had already caused trouble when upon entering the room he found a switch and turned it off. It turned out to belong to the main computer and the photographer had to reboot everything. (All electrical outlets here have switches to turn them on and off without having to unplug anything.) Then he tried to rearrange the chairs and mess with the lights and mess with the equipment.

Once he sat down, the photographer couldn’t get him to sit still, sit straight, look at the camera, keep his eyes open or face normal. Really the only time Logan is ever still is when he is sleeping. I kept telling Logan to look straight, so he’d look at me. Then I’d say, “Look at the camera.” and he’d look down too low. Then the photographer would tell him to look up and he’d look at the ceiling. Then he’d say, “Chin down.” and Logan would grab his chin and pull it down with his hands. (The girls were in the hall, keeping busy by  looking in the large mirror and re-combing their hair. 🙂 )

I finally went over next to him to try to coax him into position long enough to get a good pic. The guy had already taken about 5 and none of them were usable. He finally had to get someone else to come and take it. The other guy right away talked to Logan, which distracted him long enough to get one good pic – the one you see below.

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So now you know what’s been keeping me so busy. They are just so curious about everything that they get into trouble everywhere we go.

Our Big News

Remember how in this post I mentioned there was a decision we had made that was going to change things for all of us? Ok, well here it is. Most of our family are already aware of it but this update is for those who know nothing. Ready?

We are moving …
 
next year…
 
to Canada!

 

Yes, you read that right. We are leaving India and moving to Canada. This plan has been in the works for some time now but we only recently made a final decision on it. Now begins the hard work part – the legalities.

See, I wasn’t born in Canada so my kids are not automatically eligible for citizenship. We will have to apply for it in the same way Glad will, so to help out, we have retained the services of an atorney who specializes in cases like ours. He is in Canada and knows the ins and outs of what it will take to get citizenship for Glad and the kids.

That process is going to take a good 6 to 9 months but hopefully all will be ready by the time we are ready to go. Our aim is to make the actual move sometime in June of next year so that we can get a house and be settled before the school year starts.

There is plenty of prep to be done now, lots of which is still up in the air. But there is also fun stuff, like getting passport photos taken. Isn’t she cute? She was shy going in and didn’t want to be put down, but as soon as she saw the special chair and the lights, I think she was mesmerised by it all and she let me leave her so the guy could take her pic.

Scarlett’s first passport photo, 23 months old.

So now you will hear about the move regularly as I update you on our progress and all the details. It’s exciting, a huge change for us. While Glad and I have both lived in other countries before, our children only know India, so there will be some adjustment there. The first time we mentioned to Logan that we might want to move to Canada, he said he didn’t want to go because I had told him there weren’t any cows on the street there. Ha. He loves his cows.

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