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?

September Weight Check-in

Last year when I started on my weight loss journey, I went into it not knowing where I was headed or how I was going to get there. I only knew it was time for me to lose the excess weight I had been lugging around since Scarlett’s birth.

When I made my diet changes back in February of this year and began losing weight right away, I was elated, not to mention sure that it would only take 5 months to get to my normal weight, since I began by losing two kilos in one month. But as the months passed, the weight loss slowed down, which I think is normal. I realized it was going to take longer to get back into shape. (You can go here to see my fitness plan and find links to my monthly check-in posts.)

And now here it is September, and I’m still fighting with myself to get rid of the last few kilos. These are the hardest to shed. Sometimes I catch myself thinking, “Well, I lost 8 kilos already. I look and feel better. Why push for the last 7?” Why, self? I’ll tell you why. I want to look and feel my best!

From last November until this June, I exercised 6 days a week with very few missed days. Perhaps that is why when July came I began to feel a need for a break from this intense exercise push. I spent most of July resting, doing a little swimming here or a little walking there, but nothing like the intense running and toning I had been doing. In August I meant to pick it up again, but each time I’d start, after a day or two I’d be too tired to get up in the morning and I’d miss the rest of my workouts for the week.

Then we all got sick with the kind of colds that knock you out. Myself and the kids were all so sick all we could do was watch t.v. Of course they began to recover faster than me, since I still had to care for them. If you have kids then you know what I’m talking about. Thankfully we had just hired a maid to help with the housework, so things didn’t get too dirty while I was sick. It’s been 18 days, and we all still have some lingering sniffles, sore throats, coughs, etc. I think it had to do with the weather changes, or perhaps we caught it from the little girl at Logan and Lila’s art class who had a real bad cough and cold. We were at the class on a Saturday and by Monday we were all sick.

Last Sunday, September 1st, was my weigh-in day. I only weigh in once a month. Since I don’t have a scale at home I go to a local (but still not too close) pharmacy that has a digital scale. I don’t really like daily weigh-in’s anyway. The fluctuations would frustrate me. Up until now, each month I’ve gone with trepidation, wondering if I had really lost anything, or worse, had I gained anything back! Each time I was happy to see loss, though the amount did go down over time.

This time, though, I had gained. I guess I wasn’t too surprised. Less exercise and more rest for me equals weight gain. I’m one of those people who has to exercise regularly to keep my weight down. The gain wasn’t much, only 400 grams. I went from being 72.4 kgs. at the beginning of August to 72.8 kgs. at the beginning of September.

I could have let this little gain get me down, but I remembered to be positive and decided that this was just the push I needed to get back to my workouts. Monday I picked up again by going for a run. It was tough. But I’ve done 4 days so far this week and I feel good. I just have to keep telling myself that I CAN do this. I CAN lose the weight and I CAN get down to my goal weight. Only 7 kilos to go!

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.

July Weight Check-in

Hi everyone. It’s a new month with new challenges. For some reason I’m feeling extra perky today, and I haven’t even had any coffee yet.

Well, I now weigh 73 kgs. (160.6 lbs.). Not a huge amount of weight lost this month, (only 700 gr.) but something is better than nothing, am I right?

Last month I found myself getting bored with the workout routine I was using, so I tried changing it up a bit by doing a little bit of toning after my running instead of doing two separate toning days a week. I feel I need to change it up a bit more, so I’m playing around with my workouts again.

It’s important to not let boredom set in when you are trying to lose weight, or else the easy thing to do would be to just quit. I still have 8 kgs. to lose so there is no way I’m giving up now. Just to show you how my body has changed, have a look at these pics.

Taken December 2012. I was about 79 kgs.

Taken December 2012. I was about 79 kgs.

Taken June 30, 2013. Weight 73 kgs.

Taken June 30, 2013. Weight 73 kgs.

I’ve discovered that for me, even more than daily exercise, I have to really watch my diet and only eat what my body needs and no more. I’ve reached a point where eating small portions and being full with them is easy; and I feel it when I eat even a bite more than I need. That full feeling is there right away preventing me from overdoing it. Sweets no longer have that same tempting hold on me like they did before. I can have a small portion and be done. Well, unless it is PMS time or my kids are stressing me out. Combine the two and the craving for sweets takes over. It can be hard to resist it, too.

Stress eating is so bad for you. I know it happened to me this past month and I think that is part of the reason why I didn’t lose a whole kilo like I did the previous month. But what to do? At least I didn’t gain anything. That would have been a setback for sure!

In a few weeks we will be going to a beach resort with some friends for a weekend, so I am going to push extra hard until then. I especially need to work on my abs. That is my weak area and it needs some serious focus. Now that I am doing well in the cardiovascular area, it is time to give my abs the attention they need.

I still haven’t given up on this goal that I made last year. While I didn’t actually lose any weight last year, I have this year – a whole 6 kilos since February – so I look forward to meeting this goal soon.

June Weight Check-in

(This is the first of several backlog posts. This one should have gone up on June 1st. )

 

It is pouring rain outside as I sit to type this. The worst of the summer heat is over and we are getting a touch of the southern monsoon. Our monsoon won’t start until the end of the month. May brought intense heat this year, with the peak heat being 43oC on Sunday, May 26th. Was I ever happy to be working indoors that day!

Since then the heat has gone down to a more manageable 35 – 37oC. Lots of clouds have meant less direct sun, and more time spent outdoors without having sweat pouring off of you.

In order to beat the heat, I always work out early in the morning, around 6 a.m. Yet it has been muggy at that hour and when I finish my exercise, my clothes look like I have been swimming in them.

My weight loss is picking up again, after the difficulties I had in April. In May I lost 1.1 kgs., bringing my current weight to 73.7 kgs. (As of June 1st.) I’m so happy for this. Slow and steady really is the way to go with weight loss, ‘cause it means the weight doesn’t come back.

I now fit into a size medium for most of my clothes, whereas back in January I was in XL. Over the past few months I’ve stuck with only buying cheap clothes so that I didn’t feel bad about getting rid of them when they got too big, and yes, I’ve already had to change all the stuff I bought at the beginning of the year. But that is a good thing when you are losing weight.

I’ve also moved down a bra size. All my life I wore a 36C, but I didn’t know the proper way to tell if a bra fits or not and that resulted in many uncomfortable bras. I’ve learned that the bra should fit snug on the outermost hooks when you first buy it (and you move in to the other hooks as it gets stretched from use), and the cups should lie smooth with no wrinkles or bunching. It is also important to try on different styles of the same size bra, because some will fit better than others. Try each one you are thinking of buying; it should be so comfortable that you forget you are wearing it. I think I’m now in the size I should have been wearing all along, a 34B. For the first time in my life I feel comfortable in a bra.

This month I will be making some changes to my exercise program to spice it up since boredom is beginning to set in. I’ll let you know how it goes.

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.

May Weight Check-in

It’s come round again; time to check my weight and see how I’ve done with my weight loss this past month.

April was a rather difficult month for me. Like I wrote about in this post, I struggled with unfounded fears, panic attacks, and mood swings. It isn’t easy to explain what I was feeling ’cause it was all so weird and abnormal. I’ve never had such intense fears that I couldn’t explain, nor have I ever had a panic attack in my life. Do read the above-linked post so you can understand what I’m talking about better.

Once the problem got sorted out, I slowly began to feel more like myself. My moods have balanced out, the fears are gone (though I confess a hint of them still hovers around the edges), and the panic attacks are gone. But my body has been through heavy struggles, so I found myself reducing or skipping my exercise this month. I also found myself eating more than I should, with the result that I didn’t lose as much weight as I did the previous two months.

At the April check in I weighed 75.2 kgs. (165.4 lbs.). Now I weigh 74.8 kgs. (164.5 lbs.). I only lost 400 grams, not quite half a kilo, this whole month. But I’m not viewing this as a failed month. No, I learned a little more about my body, how it reacts to being poisoned (really, read this post if you didn’t yet), and I can see where I need to change my workout program.

Now that I’m feeling much better than I was, I’ve started on a new workout plan, one that will help me improve my running. I was already running for 2 minutes at a time for 40 minutes, but it started getting too easy, to the point that is was no longer a challenge. So I was reading Women’s Health Magazine and found this plan that takes you from walking to being able to run for 30 minutes straight.

I began on week four, since I was already doing 2 minutes at a time. Week four starts from 3 minutes, and moves you up to 8 minutes by the end of the week. Today I did the second running day which was 5 minutes at a time, and I was pleasantly surprised by how I was able to do it. There are specific toning workouts they include, but many require equipment that I don’t have, so I’m sticking with my current toning workout, especially since I’m still building into it. You can see how I plan to use this running plan on My Fitness Journey page.

According to this plan, I will be able to run for 30 minutes straight in the next 3 weeks. It sounds great, and I hope it will help me trim down more as I continue with healthy eating and portion control.

What changes have you made in your health and fitness this month?

What My Kids Have Been Up to Lately

School is now out for the summer. Lila’s last day was the 10th and Logan’s was today, the 12th. With summer comes setting up the pool and water play, making popsicles, summer camps and more. Lila’s birthday is also around the corner.

I figure now is a good time to write up some backlog of what the kids have been up to recently.

February 17th: Logan and Lila began roller skating lessons. They have made a lot of progress in this short time. Logan doesn’t fall as much as he did at first and Lila is getting fast. Her role model is a girl probably no more than a year older than her who skates like a pro already. Lila watches this girl zip around the rink, rarely falling, and tries to imitate her.

February 21st: Lila had her first sports day. Unlike Logan last year, she did a great job and ran when she was supposed to. I missed seeing her dance since I had to drop Logan at his school first, but saw it later on video.

The children march around the stadium. Lila is the last one in the red shirt.

The children march around the stadium. Lila is the last one in the red shirt.

Preparing for their dance. Lila is second to last in the red row on the right.

Preparing for their dance. Lila is second to last in the red row on the right. You can also see Glad back there directing things.

Doing her part in the relay race.

Doing her part in the relay race.

Lila's class after the races. Lila is on the left next to the teacher.

Lila’s class after the races. Lila is on the left next to the teacher.

March 30th: Lila’s preschool graduation. I still don’t get why they do it two weeks before school actually lets out. But Lila was super excited about it. For about a month before it happened she asked me daily, “Is tomorrow my graduation?” We took a family photo together like we did last year, and we should get it soon.

They were running around the stage and I finally got them to hold still for 10 seconds. Love seeing them all so smiley.

They were running around the stage and I finally got them to hold still for 10 seconds. Love seeing them all so smiley.

April 4th: Logan had a dress rehearsal for his school’s annual day. Scarlett and I accompanied him for the long bus ride to the place an hour away from his school where the children from all the branches of his school were practicing their shows. Last year at his annual day performance, daddy had to stand with him to get him to even stay in place to perform. This time it was great to see him stand in place and dance with his class.

On the bus.

On the bus.

April 6th: Logan’s annual day performance. It was being presented in a large theater and there must have been over a thousand people there – parents, grandparents, brothers and sisters, etc. All the children did so well. For some of them it was their very first time on stage.

Logan danced really well with no prompting needed from the teachers. We didn’t stay for the full performance as it was 1 1/2 hours and Scarlett was fussy from the beginning, though she did pay attention during a few of the dances when they were songs she knew.  We saw the full performance from one school and half of the one from Logan’s school, as his dance was in the first song his school presented.

Afterwards we went out for ice cream, partly to celebrate and partly to cool off as the day was a sweltering 36C. We went to a place that sells the ice cream by weight, so they give you huge scoops. The kids each got two, and surprisingly, both Logan and Lila said it was too much and couldn’t finish. 🙂 How often do you hear kids say they have too much ice cream? Ha.

Logan’s school didn’t have a graduation ceremony like Lila’s did, but they took a class photo (print only, I don’t have a soft copy), and had a party with the kids on the last day.

And those are the updates to date. I will include more photos as they come. Monday summer camps start for Logan and Lila; they are excited to go again, and I’m happy because it will give me some time without them daily – for the next two weeks. I really need my sanity so it is good when they go places.

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.) 🙂 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.

This Past Week, Or, How I Almost Burned the House Down

Things have been hectic around here this week – the cyclone aftermath, 3 days of school cancelled, trying to not go crazy with cooped up kids who only wanted to go outside, application forms to fill out for the immigration process, extra cleaning and laundry to catch up on from the long power cuts, Lila’s Halloween party and judging the sweets contest (next post), a birthday party to attend, parties to plan, and today Logan just had to come down with some tummy bug and spend the day throwing up bile.

I’ve also forced myself to get back into my morning exercise after a time of not doing it, so by the evening I’m so tired that all I want to do is chill in front of the t.v. and rest my body and brain. But there isn’t much time to rest. I have to plan Logan’s school birthday party for this friday. That means baking and getting some small giveaway gift for the other children. Giveaways are a custom here, and so far Logan has gotten something nice from each of his classmates parties so, though it is optional, I feel obligated to give something. Something small, but still something.

Then Glad’s mom arrives Saturday. She is coming for Logan and Scarlett’s birthdays, and hers is around the same time so we will celebrate it as well. Sunday is Logan’s birthday and tuesday is Scarlett’s. Tuesday is also Diwali so that means more holidays. And monday we are spending at the passport office while we do the paperwork for the kids passports. I’ll be doing good to get a chance to sit, let alone blog.

Ok, well, the cyclone mainly caused damage to trees, at least in our area. One huge one fell just down the road, and several fell at our local park. I think there may have been a minor quake as more than one tree fell in such a way that I’m sure it couldn’t have been the storm. We didn’t seem to have winds strong enough to topple trees, at least here away from the beach. (There is currently an oil tanker on the popular Marina Beach that the storm swept ashore.) Our local park is still flooded and the sand in the playground won’t dry; it just isn’t warm enough. So I’ve been having the kids run around the jogging path instead of going to the playground.

The massive tree that fell. The roots were under cement and that was ripped up, as was the entrance to the house it was in front of.

This is the bottom of our street – it’s a complete river during the rains.

We had one night where the power was out all night, when that big tree fell. It tore down some power lines as well as smashed some small buildings that were directly opposite it. Anyway, because the lights were out we had candles lit. Not so safe with kids, I know, but we don’t have a battery lamp or an inverter. They have learned to be careful.

At bedtime I left a candle burning in the hall between our bedrooms, because the kids can’t stand the house being pitch dark when they wake at night. They have a knack for waking up just as soon as the power goes off at night. I can almost time it. The candle was on a foam plate, which was on top of the hard plastic stepstool that always sat under the sink. I had a fleeting thought that maybe the plate would melt but I was sure the candle would go out before anything serious could happen since it was quite small. So I left it.

About 2 hours later, I woke to hear Lila calling me. I got up and as I passed the hall, I could make out a ring of fire on the floor. The combination of the dark and no glasses limited what I saw but I knew what it was – the candle had melted the stepstool, something I didn’t think was possible.

I dropped to the floor and blew it out before I was even fully awake and thinking straight. Thankfully there was nothing around it that could have caught fire but it did scare me. Because I couldn’t see it clearly, I thought it was stuck to the floor, but in the morning after it cooled, I found it wasn’t. See? This is all that is left of what was our stepstool, the one that all our kids have used to reach the sink, the one I sat on to shower when I was so pregnant that standing in the shower was uncomfortable, the multi-purpose, most useful item we had.

It used to be a very sturdy stool. The power of a small flame at the end of a candle.
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