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.

Samsung

Newborn Lila.

Samsung

With daddy.

Nov 43

Newborn Scarlett

Nana Mable visited several times.

Nov 36

With newborn Scarlett. November 2010

Nov 61

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

June 038

At the zoo. June 2012

Nov 088

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

 

Logan and Lila started school.

June 31

Logan on his first day of preschool. June 2011

June 056

Lila on her first day of preschool. June 2012

Photo-0090

Logan’s first day of kindergarten. July 2012

 

We had some family vacations.

Mahabalipuram, just outside Chennai, February 2010.

Samsung

Dinner at a sidewalk restaurant.

Samsung

Going down to the beach.

Samsung

Swimming in the pool.

Samsung

Relaxing.

 

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

556749_163278770529557_1659262804_n

Checking out the crocodiles.

1016396_163278833862884_294039729_n

1003161_157561837767917_1733408519_n

Learning to swim.

1185732_10200271264659102_947802850_n

Such a water baby.

1000947_10200271282459547_387102254_n

Fun times.

969930_157564894434278_1850349639_n

My handsome men.

1170649_10200271420222991_1559382821_n

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.

Advertisements

Packing

Packing – there is so much to do and so little time to do it in. I’ve got just one week to go through everything that we own and cut it down to the bare minimum of what we will need while in Mangalore. But I’m excited! We’ve been waiting for this time to come for over a year now, and it’s finally here!

Yesterday I pulled out all of our suitcases and bags. I found the padlock for our back door that went missing about 2 years ago, conveniently hanging from the zipper of Glad’s small suitcase that hadn’t been used in forever. The suitcase was sitting inside a larger one that was stored under my bed, and of course, I never went into it because there was no need. I wonder what I’ll find today?

Last week I was getting rid of junk, throwing stuff out or giving it away. This week, I’ve got to look at every item still in the house and decide whether it will go in the bags we are taking or the ones we are giving away. Honestly, all we are keeping are clothes (about half of what we all own), a few toys and books, some personal items, and a few decorative things for Canada, plus a few things from the kitchen that my MIL wants or that I want to keep using while at her house, like my favorite glass baking pan.

Of course this will be reduced even more once we fly to Canada, but for now, if it fits in the car it can come.

Which brings me to the upcoming drive.

Remember last December when we drove to Mangalore? The trip that took two days? Yep, we are doing it again. Thankfully this time it is only one way. Two days in a car with kids is enough to drive anyone mad. My kids can’t do a whole lot in the car since two of them get carsick easily. Last time Logan asked literally every 5 minutes if we were there yet, and “but we’re supposed to be there already” is all I heard all day, unless he was napping.

So if you don’t hear too much from me this week or the next, you know what I’ll be doing.

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.

Samsung

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.

Samsung

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.

Aug 55

Sept 12

Sept 64

Logan celebrated his third birthday.

Nov 26

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

Nov 53

5 days old.

2011

Lila celebrated her second birthday.

Apr 91

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.

Nov 30

Nov 62

2012

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

Feb 024

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

Feb 084

We started making our own popsicles regularly.

March 042

March 041

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

March 089

Aww…

Logan graduated from preschool.

March 200

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.

Apr 103

Lila began preschool and Logan move up to kindergarten.

June 055

 

July 037

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.

SAMSUNG

SAMSUNG

We took the train to Mangalore to visit Nana Mable.

SAMSUNG

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.

45688_4326366892196_868652310_n

Lila had her first sports day.

66605_4315323256112_816602759_n

Lila graduated from preschool and Logan from kindergarten.

DSC_0064

 

P1080186

 

Lila celebrated her fourth birthday.

947209_4649925020947_1724792020_n

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.

1379416_10200535792272127_540894313_n

1390487_10200535774791690_1425180407_n

Logan celebrated his sixth birthday and Scarlett her third.

SAMSUNG

SAMSUNG

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.

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?

Our Mangalore Trip 2013

It’s been nearly a year and a half since we made our big announcement about moving to Canada, and all you’ve heard since is that we’re going but nothing concrete about when. Well, it’s been a long, drawn-out affair. You can read these links if you want to catch up on the details.

Our Move – Progress Update

Our Move – Progress Update 2

Why Our Move is Still Pending

The Canadian embassy strike last year really slowed things down for us. The processing time for visas has gone up to 12 months, meaning we have to wait until the end of March before we can start questioning more delays. We are confident that the visas will come – they have no reason to deny them – it is just a question of when they will come.

We spent Christmas and New Year’s in Mangalore this year. We figured it would be a good idea to spend as much time as we can with Glad’s mom before we leave, since we don’t know when we will see her again. One of Glad’s sisters and her family were also there at the time, so our kids got to spend some quality time with a few cousins.

Ready for a long drive.

Ready for a long drive.

We drove from Chennai to Mangalore, dividing the trip over two days with a stopover in Bangalore. This was our first long drive with the kids. Along the way there were good roads, bad roads, large highways, tiny back roads, and one long drive over a hilly area with what looked like the worst road in the history of roads. This particular road is windy, and to make matters worse, it was so broken up in most parts that we had to go super slow. Parts would be level and then drop into deep ditches, the road would narrow and widen often. It looked like it was full of craters, or that an earthquake had hit. In reality it probably hadn’t been repaved since it was first made. There was roadwork happening but that just slowed us down all the more.

We saw things like a huge truck have a tire blowout, another truck with an elephant in the back, lots of monkeys on the side of the road, and lots of bad driving. And this was the national highway! On our way home we took the state highway which wound through more hills but was nicely paved and had the most gorgeous views.

SAMSUNG

SAMSUNG

There were also lots of trucks overloaded with hay, which made them look like moving haystacks. We took to calling them “one-wheeled haystacks”, from the scene in the movie “The Aristocats” where the butler is being chased by some dogs and his motorbike with a sidecar goes through a haystack and the sidecar gets separated and is driving on its own with the haystack on top.

They looked something like this.

They looked something like this.
Source

During our time in Mangalore, we visited the beach, parks and malls. One thing about Mangalore, it is small and everything is so close. Just down the street from the house there is a natural ice cream parlor, and we became regulars there, all 11 of us. ūüôā We also braved what must have been the world’s smallest photo studio and got family photos taken.

DSC_1937       1

Including 4 days of driving, we were gone for 2 weeks, the longest trip we’ve ever taken with the kids.

Mall outing on Christmas Eve.

Mall outing on Christmas Eve.

When we got home, I spent a few days just cleaning, since dust was thick on everything. Then we got back into our ¬†school routine, interspersed by sickness. Things almost feel normal around here…just hoping the visas will show up soon.

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.

We Finally Paid the Internet Bill

It’s been over 4 weeks since I’ve posted, not because I had nothing to say but because our internet was down. Well, we had to pay the bill but money was tight and it had to wait. There were some timely things that needed to be posted but they, of course, had to wait. I’ll be putting them up over the next few days (I did write them) and I’ll mention that it is a backlog post and when it was supposed to have gone up.

Other than that, life is pretty normal right now. Well, almost. School has begun but because of our pending move, we have opted to not enroll the kids for the new school year. The kids and Glad’s passports are at the visa office right now and we are waiting to get them back. After that, we will be free to make our move. Since we have no idea exactly when they will get here, everything else is kind of on hold.

I am doing some reading and pre-writing practice with Logan and Lila, just to keep the idea of “school” in their heads, and also because I want them to make some progress in those areas. Logan was reading well when he finished kindergarten, so we are continuing to practice with the Ladybird reader series. Lila is just learning to read with the same series. Both kids are learning phonics from this phonics website, Starfall.com.

For writing, I got them both some pre-writing practice workbooks. Logan especially needs to get the basic lines down. He was writing letters in kindergarten, both print and cursive, but it was difficult for him as he missed out on this basic training. So I am working slowly with him to get him comfortable with drawing lines. Even something as simple as a top-to-bottom or left-to-right straight line is difficult for him. Hopefully this practice will make it easier for him once he begins grade school.

So today you get two posts; this one and one backlog. The other backlog ones will follow over the next few days.

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.
698779-3

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.)

698779-2

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. ūüôā )

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.

698779-1

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 Move – Progress Update

In case you are new here and have not read any of my posts from a few months ago, you should know that we are planning to move to Canada some time next year. (One thing I have discovered since moving from Blogger to WordPress is that a lot more people find and read your posts. I’m still figuring out how it all works.)

To date, we have retained the help of an attorney who specializes in immigration cases; have filled out innumerable forms; have gone over said forms with the help of an assistant multiple times, in order to make sure everything is just right; and yesterday Glad and the kids  had their required medical checkups.

Normally my kids nap, but in order to make it to our appointment on time, we had to leave right after lunch. At first it was all fun and games, being out of the house, no need to nap, extra play, but the length of time we were there began to take its toll. Glad had to fill out a mile of paperwork for himself and the kids, and then we had to wait 2 hours before any of the required tests began.

The kids spent that time reading books, drawing, and exploring. Then, when they got bored with that, they ran around despite my attempts to get them to walk or sit down. ¬†After two hours on the fourth floor, we were sent to the second floor for the tests, right around the time that Scarlett couldn’t last any longer and fell asleep.

I was concerned about what they might require and how we would deal with tired kids getting blood tests. Logan especially would freak out, I knew. But I needn’t have worried. Only daddy needed the blood test, and Logan learned to pee in a jar for his urine test. There were separate test requirements for kids under 5 and over 5, so the girls didn’t need the urine test.¬†They were measured (height and head circumference) and weighed, and a doctor gave them a once-over. Logan kept moving away because her hands were freezing cold and she finally resorted to putting a glove on to get it done. Logan and Lila almost ransacked her office, and she had to call in a nurse to hold sleeping Scarlett so I could dress and undress the other two, keep Logan from knocking everything over and Lila from drawing on every paper in sight. (I think it was about this time when I began to dream of vodka and bedtime.) ūüôā Logan has ADHD so keeping him cooped up a long time is not fun. He begins to do things you didn’t think a child could ever dream up.

We had to wait a while longer while Glad was checked and met with a separate doctor, and they were all so bored and tired, and hungry. I hadn’t brought a snack for them since I had nothing in the house and we had forgotten to pick one up. Scarlett only had a short nap, and they all kept moving the whole time, so finally, after 3 hours, we left and Logan and Lila had a short nap in the taxi on the way home.

They fussed and cried at being woken, and then begged for snacks, but I gave them dinner instead, seeing as it was nearly 6 p.m. and they usually eat at 6:30. They watched a video and ate, and when they were finally in bed at 9 p.m., they went to sleep quickly instead of taking a long time like they normally do.

As for Glad and I, we were in bed by 10. I can’t remember when I last went to bed so early, but I couldn’t keep my eyes open any longer and I needed the extra sleep.

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.

%d bloggers like this: