Thursday, February 28, 2008

We're still here.....

I know it seems like we've been missing in action lately. To be honest.....some days it feels like we are but in reality we are all still here. With the renovations done, I can *finally* get my house set up and organized the way I like. With all things included, we've been living among boxes for almost a year now. I am, quite frankly, sick of it. I've wanted nothing more, for what seems like an eternity now, to put my stuff away and have something that resembles a house. If this is so.....then how come I have no energy to get at it and get finished?!??! I'm working away at it......slowly.....very slowly. We have accomplished some things --- like moving all the bedrooms around, shampooing the carpets, organizing some rooms ---- but most of the boxes/mess/disorganization are still with us. Hmmm....maybe it's the time of year? yes......I think that's it (that's going to be my excuse and I'm sticking to it ;-) )

Pics are soon as I have some 'after' shots to post.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Every day is a new one.....

One thing we can say about life on The is always changing.

Even though we've been here for six months already, change has always been constant. Each day seems different with a new branch presented every day. That gives a feeling of still trying to settle in.

Larry now has five full-time tutors and two part-time ones. He has been out substitute teaching some days too. He enjoys this work and is well suited for it. I watch him with our own children, whether it's math or algebra or physics they are struggling with, he has such a great way of explaining things. He is so amazes me. If they don't understand the first way, he explains it another. If they don't understand that way, he moves on to yet another way. Eventually, he finds a way they understand which results in a happy child confident to move on in their studies.

I think he's learned a lot about himself since we've been here. Teaching in Toronto has many challenges. Those stresses, together with the goings on in his personal life, really took their toll. Not just on him, but on all of us. He is happy to be back in the classroom again. I am convinced it is where he is meant to be and what he is meant to do.

I've learned a lot about many different things since we've been here too. A lot about myself, my family and my family of origin. Some of it surprising, some of it not so surprising and some I think I've always known but tried to put it out of my mind.

Hopefully, we can take all of our new found knowledge, apply it in the best possible manner to our life here and chart our new path. I'm not sure where this journey is leading us, exactly. It's interesting, freeing and unsettling at the same time.

I'll keep you posted.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Culture Shock....Life on The Rock Part 2

The culture shock I mentioned here......continues.

The carpenters finished the work at our house yesterday. As I knew they were finishing up and leaving soon, I hurried to the front door. I thought I'd make it there before them....but I had misjudged. There they were, three of them, passing over our landing as they headed out the front door.

Me: "So.......are you finished now?"

C: "Yep....we're done and everything should be ok now." (as the first one walked through the door)

Me: "Ummm...o.k. Do you have a bill for us?"

C: "No, not with me."

Me: "Ummm...o.k. Will you send it to us?"

C: "Yep....I'll get one for you."

Hmmm....o.k. Now, this would not have been so surprising to us, had we given them a down payment, but we haven't. No, we have not paid them one cent......they asked for no money down, they've never mentioned payment and I'm not so sure they would have even told me they were finished if I hadn't caught them at the door.

I went down to check.....everything was completed. Super job --- everything looks fantastic. We are so pleased. They even vacuumed the floor for us.

We're waiting with interest to see when the bill will actually arrive.

Arrgghhh.....Moving Day ........ Again

Moving ---- to put it mildly, I hate it!
This is the fourth time, in eight months we've had the 'opportunity' to move, in some form at least. Larry's brother passed away last April. So.....while in the process of packing our own things to move from Ontario to Newfoundland, we had all of his things to go through, pack up and deal up with. Packing up and moving one house was difficult enough, but two was almost unbearable. Some help would have been nice.....but not too much seemed to come our way. Oh well....thems the breaks I guess.

Once we were actually on the road heading eastward, the stress disappeared. The excruciating headache I had solid everyday for over two months and the total body weakness I had been experiencing for the same amount of time, seemed to dissipate. .

Arriving in Bauline, we'd planned on staying there for awhile. So a lot of our large things went into storage. We kept the boxes with us and packed each one into any nook or cranny we could find in our rented house. It's surprising the places one can find to store boxes.

We'd no sooner unpacked the items we could use and repacked the things that weren't necessary and stored our boxes when we found 'our home'. We'd been in Bauline for only a month and it was time to pack up and move again.

We were glad to have our own place, but it lacked a few things. Storage space was the biggest thing.....not a single coat closet in sight and hardly any storage closets. We enlisted the services of a contractor to add some closets etc., but they were booked up until at least Christmas. Sooo......we once again unpacked the necessary items, repacked the things that weren't all that necessary and learned to live amongst the boxes.......yet again. Living amongst the boxes almost seemed normal to me by this time.

Well....yesterday the carpenters finished their work here. While I am extremely happy.....I now also realize.....there is more work ahead. We are all changing bedrooms --- Tyler is going to the new room downstairs. Brittney is leaving the master bedroom upstairs and moving to the bedroom we were in downstairs. Jake is moving into Tyler's room and we are moving into the master bedroom upstairs. Confused yet??? I am. So now the fun begins ---- between trying to shampoo carpets, move everybody's furniture to a different room, continue on with homeschooling and extra curricular events plus carry on normal family's going to be a challenge.

I've taken pictures but will wait to post them when I can take the 'after' shots. Wish us happy unpacking and happy moving.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Our Home and Native Land

We homeschool for many reasons. The reasons we continue to do so, look much different than the ones we had for starting. There are many advantages and benefits to homeschooling but one of the best things for us is the flexibility it offers.

In April of 2006, Tyler had the opportunity to go to Florida with another homeschooling family. They were initially going to take their eldest son, but as he attended the local public high school, exams, term papers and the like were in full swing. He didn't feel he could afford to miss the time. Seeing as how the spot had already been paid for, they invited Tyler to go instead. The 'mom' in me didn't know if she could let her first born go away for so long (3.5 weeks with travelling time), but part of me knew it was too good of an opportunity to pass up. He had a blast and returned home safe and sound.

That summer, we travelled as a family across Canada. In July, we drove from Ontario to British Columbia. It was amazing to see, first hand, this wonderful country of ours. Each province is so uniquely different. One moment we were on the prairies --- able to see for miles and before we knew it we could see the Rockies. Such a drastic contrast! Each region just as beautiful as the next.

We returned to Ontario, just long enough to catch our breath (and do some laundry ;=) ) , before striking out for the East. We capped off our travels by living in a small fishing village here in Newfoundland for two months.

So much learning happened for us that year. Learning that wouldn't have been able to happen, had they'd been sitting in a classroom all year. Also for certain learning they wouldn't retain had they memorized it from a book.

Tyler went to three of the four corners (if it can be expressed that way) of our continent. He saw so much country side.

They learned the physical characteristics of each province, the differences in climate, they met homeschoolers from different provinces, they ate traditional meals, they learned the history of different places, they learned about the fishing industry -- the process of drying/salting meat, the east coast moratorium and the fall out from that, what life in a fishing village was like.....the list was endless.

Travelling is one of easiest ways to learn Geography, History, Social Studies. Those of course are the subjects that come immediately to mind....but others include map reading skills, math (calculating distances, keeping track of daily mileage, keeping track of daily expenses.....), research skills (finding info in brochures, looking for the best hotels...).....too many to list.

Not sure where we'll learn about next. My vote would be for Australia or Hawaii.....but it's most likely not in the budget.

Oh well....wherever our travels take us, we'll be sure to learn.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Finally......time to take a break from the stress

Larry and I went to a Valentine's party last night. The first time we've been out in........well I can't really remember the last time we actually went out, on our own.

We were....somewhat apprehensive, but friends of ours had been requesting "the honour of our presence" at similar events....for quite some time.

As I was getting ready to go out, Brittney just stood there, watching me with a look of amazement on her face. Her mouth hung opened and she seemed to be speechless --- not something she usually is. As I put the last touches on, she finally piped up, "Wow mom, I didn't know you could look like that. You look like you're 28." That surprised me.....I wasn't what you would call dressed up. It was a casual affair---dressy jeans, a bit of makeup and some jewelry. I guess it was the makeup that made me look so different in her eyes (now I think about it, it was most likely the makeup. I had to dig through yet unpacked boxes to find most of it. We've been here for five months now......that says everything about how much and often I wear it.)

As I mentioned, we were a little bit apprehensive......we don't drink, have probably never been dancing (well not since we've been married anyway), we'd be meeting people from our small town, all the while hoping to not stand out like a "couple of strange mainlanders...that talk and dance funny."

But....I keep forgetting....this IS Newfoundland (see video link --- it describes the essence and charm of Newfoundland much better than I ever could). There is just 'more' of everything here.....'more' rock, 'more' water, 'more' clean air, 'more' open space....the list of 'more' goes on and on. In that vein, parties and celebrations are no exception. For once, people didn't focus on our accent, or where we were from or why we came, they were there to have fun --- plain and simple. it was. They included us as if we were life-long, long-lost friends.

It was amazing.

The band was wonderful ---- comprised of older gents as well as younger ones. They played a mix of traditional Newfoundland music, rock, country, folk and perhaps others I didn't take note of. There were older people there as well as younger ones and the band had the unique ability to engage the older crowd at the same time as the younger crowd. Nobody seemed to notice --- not even us --- when the genre changed. They did it so seamlessly and all present had an enjoyable evening....all the way around.

After the last few stress-filled years, that left us with no time, energy or desire for anything that remotely resembled fun.....we were long overdue. It was just what the Doctor ordered.

We're already eagerly looking forward to our next celebration here in Newfoundland.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Learning Week

It's been one of those weeks around here. You know --- one that is very busy but feels as if nothing is getting accomplished. In actual fact, many things were completed, just not in the organized manner I'm used of and that I would like.

Computer problems, continuing renovations, raging rain and wind storm which revealed a major leak, as well as a brief power outage at the same time I was attempting to prepare dinner........the list seemed to go on and on. first inclination was to get very upset ---- but I am learning life is all about choices. Some choices are as simple as which socks should I wear or what shall we have for lunch. Unfortunately, not all choices are that simple. No....sometimes things happen we have not planned on and we have to choose how we respond to the circumstances put before us.

I was not impressed when my computer would not connect to the Internet. After several hours of frustrating attempts to reconnect --- both on my own and through my ISP --- I still had no success. This led to talking with Microsoft themselves and during my 2.5 hours on the phone with them --- I learned many things. You see, this particular tech was in India. While waiting for things to download etc., there was much opportunity to find out things about India --- first hand. No need to consult text books or the internet --- nope just ask questions. He had some questions about Canada as well.

I was even more unimpressed with my newly discovered leak. Actually, I knew it was there, but didn't realize how bad it was. Upon mentioning it to our contractors, one started to investigate. I was fairly sure the problem was with the door and he concurred. Much to my surprise, he said, "You need a new door and we'll put it in today." We did not hire them for this purpose, but a new door was needed and so that was it. It meant throwing their schedule off (they would have been finished the renos yesterday, until they started with the door). He took the measurements, called his boss, told him to bring a door and two hours later ---- we had a new door! I must say, this fact impresses me about the Newfoundlanders --- when something needs to be done, they get at it and do it. None of this standing around, contemplating, scheduling, discussing it --- nope --- it gets done.

After the computer not working and no hope in sight (I couldn't locate the problem and the ISP couldn't either), then discovering the leak (which meant practically standing there all afternoon, mopping up the drops, the last thing I wanted or needed was for the power to go out. I just wanted to make dinner and get this day behind us. It was not meant to be that way though. As mentioned --- in the middle of dinner preparation, the power went out. This was the icing on my cake. We lit a fire in the wood stove, sat around chatting and waiting for the power to be reconnected.

I could have been totally frustrated (and would not be truthful if I said I wasn't frustrated, because initially I was very).....but I am trying to choose the way I respond to these situations and not let these situations control me. Therefore......I chose (or tried to, at least) to see this day as the glass is half-full kind of a day.

1) I learned some things about India that I would have otherwise not learned.

2) I found out exactly how bad the leak was, had the problem addressed and now have a new door installed. (Hopefully, this was the cause of the leak and the end of this problem.)

3) It gave us a chance and a reason to sit around a fire, doing nothing but chatting and laughing together. It gave us an 'excuse' to do nothing when there were so many things that needed to be done (and we would have been doing if the power had not gone out).

4) The raging rain storm, took away most of our snow. Hmmmm.....the town's motto is Pouch Cove is "first to see the sun." I'm hoping we're first to see the snow go and first to see the Spring.

I'll keep you posted.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Culture Shock....Life on The Rock

We have been shocked by many things here in Newfoundland. To name just two -- the warmth of the Newfoundlanders and just how trusting they are. We just aren't used of it!

Today after church, a gentleman invited us back to his house for lunch. We graciously accepted and were surprised upon our arrival at just how many were there. He has many sons, a lot of them who were there, along with their wives and grandchildren. On top of that, there were 12 of us who were not family members. They do this almost every Sunday (my friend from the church told me they were invited when they first started attending, which was over 10 years ago). They do this at random, inviting people as they see them. He said one week, they had 28 people there. Oh my!! Apparently, one of his sons has started a group on Facebook for 'those who have had lunch at Audrey and Dom's'. (I tried to search this out, but am not too familiar with facebook and haven't been able to locate it). wasn't a 'lunch' --- it was a dinner, complete with three different kinds of pies for dessert!

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

We're going to a Valentine's party. When Larry stopped in to get the tickets, he didn't have the correct change. The man didn't have any change, nor did his wife. "That's ok, b'ye" he said, "You go on now and pay me later or pay at the door."

We're having some repairs done to our house. Although it took some time in actually getting the contractors here, they finally arrived. They never asked for a deposit or any money up front or money to buy any supplies --- nothing. They've been working away, no mention of money, when it will be due.....nothing.

We just aren't used of this.

To better illustrate what we're used of, my brother-in-law's funeral comes to mind. This is an industry that should be compassionate and understanding, right? After all, a loved one has just been lost, it takes time to digest and accept. Apparently, not so --- not at this particular Funeral Home in Oshawa, Ontario. We were shocked, unfortunately in the opposite way. About a day and a half after the death, we met with the funeral director to make plans for the funeral. We sat there in disbelief as the director advised us half of the funeral payment was due that day, with the other half being due within 4 or 5 days. Funerals aren't cheap either. On top of the shock of losing someone, there was a sense of embarrassment trying to come up with that amount of cash on such short notice. So much for time to grieve.

We thought perhaps it was just the funeral home, you know one bad apple. Not so though, we received the same treatment at the cemetery. They would not inter the remains until their payment had been received.

It's amazing to us, the difference in attitudes. We've only moved a few provinces away, it's the same country after all. Hard to believe things can be so different.

Yep......Culture shock, at it's finest ;-)

Friday, February 8, 2008

Living Simply (click to enlarge)

There were many reasons for us moving to rural Newfoundland --- some of them being (but not limited to)....the warmth of the people, the clear, clean, fresh air, the pace of life, to be away from the busyness that comes with being so close to simplify our lives and uncomplicate them as much as possible.

We lived in a society which was very high paced and high stress. Life was beginning to feel like an out of control merry-go-round spinning around and around that we just wanted to get off.

We contrast that to one of the people we met in Newfoundland. He works enough to earn money for the things he needs --- food, clothes (not designer label either), heat.....the necessities. He doesn't have to spend every waking second working to earn money to buy a big fancy boat or repairing his big house or cleaning his big house or earning money to pay for heat for his big house. No....he spends his time actually enjoying his life...not his stuff.

For us.....we knew what kind of a lifestyle we wanted to lead. It sounds easy enough to do but it has been an adjustment. In some areas, it's been difficult to leave our whole mindset behind while trying to adopt a whole new one. We're making progress though and enjoying the results. We've downsized our house and this fact alone has freed up a lot of time. No more maintaining water softeners, large lawns (which also means buying/maintaining/buying gasoline for a large lawn mower to do all of this), weeding/maintaining big flower beds, cleaning three bathrooms (just cleaning a huge house in general).....the list goes on and on. We've traded our high cost, high maintenance stuff for low cost low maintenance stuff. Instead of spending three hours cutting the lawn, we can use that time to enjoy the ocean and the sights that go along with that, the land, the people, the community.

We still have a way to go though--we're certainly not at that simplest point we can be or want to be....but we're well on our way .......and enjoying the journey there.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

CHOCOLATE......mmmmmm (click pics to enlarge)

I confess ---- I'm a chocoholic, plain and simple. Always have been and most likely always will be.

Honestly though.....what could be better than chocolate? The ...oh so .....silky and smooth texture of Belgian or French chocolate --- nothing compares. A bowl full of melted, pure, chocolate looks just like satin.....and it just gets better from there. The possibilities are endless - from truffles to boxes made completely of chocolate to houses made completely of chocolate (my dream house!!!) to almond and nut barks to golf balls to angels to suckers ----the possibilities are endless!!!!

The only thing I like better than eating chocolate, is working with it. It allows me to be creative without actually being creative. There are just so many things that can be done with chocolate ---- the only limit is the imagination. Experimenting, inventing and creating with chocolate --- it's like therapy for me.

Working with pure chocolate is much different than working with melting wafers that are bought in a bulk store. Working with various varieties of pure chocolate requires a lot of patience as they are not very forgiving ---- everything from temperature to working conditions must be precise. But..... the end result is so worth the extra effort.

Hmmm......I need to cut this post short.......I hear my chocolate calling my name ;-).

Sunday, February 3, 2008

It's all a matter of perspective....

(The first three are what I grew up looking at....the last two are what I see now)

One thing that has puzzled us the most since our arrival in the lack of excitement over the Ocean amongst the native Newfoundlanders. People look at us strangely as we exhibit extreme excitement over the sights, sounds and extreme power of it all. It's like, they just don't see it and all I want to do is shout-- BUT IT'S THE OCEAN!!! I remember, sitting in school as a child, labelling my maps, trying to come up with some method to remember which ocean was on the left side of Canada and which one was on the right. And now.....we are living on one! I can hardly believe it. We cannot get enough of it.

To emphasize this lack of excitement point even further is the way our house is situated. It's practically right on the ocean.....but it's a real chore to see it. The bedrooms are along the back of the house and they have very small windows. I've been telling people here, in Ontario (at least where we were from) any house built anywhere near a body of water would be at least facing the water and most likely have a wall of windows in order to see the windows. In return we get that trying-to-figure-us-out look that is becoming so familiar to us.

I was recently commenting about this very point on the Canadian Homeschooler's Chat Board that I visit and a friend who was raised here in NL provided an explanation that cleared up this whole issue for us. It's all a matter of perspective.

Newfoundlanders (or many of them) traditionally earned their living from the water. They spent a large chunk of their time out on it. The last thing they wanted to do is look at it when they weren't working. They had small windows in the back of the house in order to see what the water was doing (for working purposes) but didn't have big windows to help keep heat loss, exposure to the elements etc.,at a minimum. was like a light bulb went off in my head. *That* makes perfect sense to me now.....I'm not sure why I couldn't see that right from the start. This is exactly the way is was for me growing up. I was raised on a farm, complete with hay fields, tractors and a barn. I could never figure out why, when people came to visit, they always wanted to go to the barn. To me, it represented a smelly place that meant a lot of work and the last thing I wanted to do is look at it when I didn't have to be working in it. Hmmmmm......sounds familiar.

Yep ---- it's all a matter of perspective.