Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The First Month

One month ago today, we drove away from our home and our life as we knew it and started this journey. It has been a month full of ups and downs and as I sit here looking back I can honestly say up and down are tied.  If you had asked me the first week if I would say that, the answer would have been emphatically, "NO!"

I have tried to keep this updated, so this won't be as much story as impressions.  Our family, while absent Chris a lot of the time, is stronger. We are Team Evans and we will emerge the victor.  We only have each other and making this work is taking a concentrated effort on everyone's part.  I am sure as time goes on it will get easier and feel like less of a battle, but for the moment, we are fighting to find our way.  Starting over is hard under the best of circumstances and these are less than ideal.

While less than ideal, I am finding the good in all things.  Every day the kids get a little more settled.  They are enjoying school and have already made friends.  The bonus to that is that they are making friends from all over the world.  They have classmates from China, India and Pakistan, just to name a few.  How amazing that they have the opportunity to experience other cultures in a personal relationship.  The doorbell is ringing and the outside time is on the up, all good things!  Jackson has started lacrosse, another sport to add to the list and while a little behind and as always, the littlest, he is enjoying it and improves at every practice.  Chloe is really enjoying school, the arts are more emphasized here and many of their lessons are taught through drama and artistic endeavors.  She is thriving and also happily ahead in most subjects, so school is a battle we are not fighting!  Today for their religion class she was the angel sent from heaven during the Resurrection of Christ in a drama performed for the whole school.  While she had no lines, she was great!  Aila is crying a little less every day, but is still her high maintenance self.  :)  I am grateful that the whole day is no longer a scream fest!  She is talking more each day and seems to enjoy the boxes and overall chaos, more stuff to get into!

On the grown up front, I have met a few of the neighborhood moms and they have all been very nice and helpful in directing me on where to go for what I need.(All in Edmonton, but hey...)  Chris is enjoying his work and seems to be impressing the powers that be.  The house is coming along, slowly, but I am hopeful the boxes will be gone within the next month and I am trying not to focus on the fact that it has NEVER taken us a month to unpack before.  All things in time....

Our overall Canadian experience has been limited to the daily life trips, the grocery, school, the bank...I am hoping this summer when Chris' hours get a little more normal, that we can explore our new country and learn what Canada is all about.    The daily life is a little different, a little frustrating at times, but we are finding our rhythm.  I will never get used to the ridiculously slow speed limits, the lack of Mexican food and the inconvenience of driving 4 hours to go anywhere(that I want to go), but I am loving the lack of homework, the opportunities for experiencing new things and the closeness our family is sharing.

Let's see what the next month brings!

Monday, April 23, 2012


This weekend was the first in a long line of trips that we will be making to Edmonton over the course of our 3 years here.  It was a LONG, BORING drive, but so worth it!!!  It was wonderful to shop, eat out and just be surrounded by urban odd comment, I know.

For the sake of full disclosure, let me say, we do have stores here...just not the variety and caliber that we are used to.  We also have restaurants, second verse, same as the first.  It is also prohibitively expensive to eat out here.  I would also classify our environment as suburban, but without the city.

 For me, Edmonton was Heaven.  Being able to walk into any store I wanted was sheer bliss.  Being able to buy things  that were not groceries or something I had to settle for was sublime.  I felt like a new, old me!  Putting a dent in the long list of items needed for the house was almost secondary to the joy I felt at being able to do so.  I discovered a few stores I had never been in before.  Ladies, Bowring has beautiful decor items!!  Home Outfitters is Bed, Bath and Beyond essentially and I left there with the same disappointment that I leave BBB every time!  :)  Home Sense is exactly like Home Goods and it was my favorite.  I left there with a haul!  4 rugs, 2 hampers, 3 huge baskets and a frivolous chair for Aila, which she LOVES!!!  We also left Ikea, the storage king, with an entertainment/storage unit for the basement and a wardrobe for the guest room.  Last stop, Costco to stock the pantry and freezer with slightly cheaper food...the Sequoia has never been so full!!  We had stuff strapped to the roof!!

Not to disappoint, in typical Evans family fashion, Jackson threw up all over the soda aisle at the Super Walmart!  His concern, his new shoes!  :)  I keep saying I HATE Walmart!

Happily, a dent was made and hopefully another will be made when Chris is off again.  At this rate the house will be put together when it is time for us to move on to whatever is in store for us next.  I am trying not to let that ruin my lingering retail therapy high....

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Back to School!

It's Back to School time, again!   Yesterday morning started the kids journey into Canadian life and I am happy to say that both had a good day. I am sad to report that there is no photographic evidence, I was informed that that would be highly embarrassing.

 We got to school after a crazy morning of missing ice packs, dead car batteries and the general chaos of trying to find a routine.  Jackson is in Mrs. Dumais' class and we left him with a few small tears but to his classmates already welcoming him to his new school.  Chloe, the big fifth grader, is in Mrs. Gautier's class and was basically annoyed that we had walked her to class at all...but we gave our goodbyes anyway and left her in the hands of the other students.  

Now, of course, there had to be a little drama,after all, this is me we are talking about.  Just as I am getting Aila down for her nap the phone rings and it is the Catholic Board of Education!  Jackson had thrown up all over the floor after lunch.  Back to school I go, again!!!  I pick him up and load him in the car and I said "How was your day?"  His response was "It was great until the puking thing and get  this is only the FIRST day of school and already girls are sending me notes wanting to date me!"  :)  Things are back to normal....But, as most of you know, Jackson is "Laying off girls until I (he) get(s) back to America".  We will see how this plays out!

Home for an hour and we loaded back up to get Chloe from school...I never thought I would say this, but I MISS CARLINE....gasp!  This pick up system isn't a system at all, it is MAYHEM.  There are cars everywhere, in the parking lot, on the street, cars blocking cars that are parked in the parking lot and kids running willy-nilly everywhere!!!  Someone is going to perish, no doubt.  We made it to the car in tact and headed home to Chloe reporting that all was well and she had already made a friend!  Thank God!

Score one for the Evans Family!  We survived the first day in a new school in a new country and everyone came home happy!  

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The First Week

I am behind, so bear with me...

Our first week in Canada was a rough one.  The movers came on the first and after a full day of unloading our house was full of boxes...and nowhere to put the contents!  I have said before, the homes here are much smaller and this one, while lovely, is not well laid out and lacks storage(a man designed it!), so the task of emptying the boxes is proving to be a challenge.  The house currently looks like an episode of Hoarders and I see no end in sight.  It is making me more than a little nuts.

Adding to the insanity, Chris went directly to work on the second and he is gone roughly 15 hours a day, for 12 days straight.  Me, 3 kids and boxes-ALONE.  I cried, a lot.  Topping that off, Aila was vomiting all last week.  Needless to say, I accomplished nothing and it was a truly awful week.  Nothing makes you want to pack up and go home like that.  Thankfully, God saw my need and Chris was off unexpectedly Easter weekend.  Not as much as I wanted got done, but a small dent was made and I was so happy not to have to spend Easter alone.  I was heartbroken at the thought of him missing Easter, for all of us.

It was also a hard week for the kids, the adventure ceased to be one and there was and still is a lot of homesickness flying around(for kids and adults alike).  It is so hard to leave your home and start again, especially when everything is so different!  You wouldn't expect Canada to be different, it is just like America, right?  WRONG!!!!   Where we are is very remote, we are 4 hours away from the next spot on the map-literally.  The town itself is not overly small, just off on it's own, with nothing to do, nowhere to shop and miles away from the world.  Our highlight last week was going to Walmart, y'all know I HATE Walmart.  The food choices have also proven to be quite a issue.  Jackson may never be the same...after the chicken nuggets were brown inside(I don't think they use breast meat) he sent an email to my mom the subject line read "SOS",  the content "Get me outta here, this place is a dump".  Unfortunately, my sentiments exactly...

.But, it's time to put Debbie Downer away and focus on all the good things.  We are all together, we are healthy and IT WILL GET BETTER!!!  Life is what you make it and we are going to make it good.

At Last-Day 6

We finally arrived!!!  After 6 days in the car, we pulled in to Ft. McMurray around 2 in the afternoon.  Thank God.  It was a long week, full of ups and downs and we were ready to be out of the car and in a room for more than a night.  All in all, I would say the trip was a success.  We made it without any major mishaps, no blood was shed and we arrived ahead of schedule.  Now the real adventure begins.

Welcome to our new home and our new life in Canada.  This is where the action will be taking place, our home in Ft. McMurray, AB.  Hopefully there will be more ups than downs and I can keep all of you coming back for more!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

You (We) Had A Bad Day-Day 5

Day 5 was the worst day of our journey hands down.  We were all exhausted when we got up, breakfast took and hour and a half, the gas station had no ice (in Canada of all places....), our credit card was denied(Chris forgot to call and say we would be out of the country)...all of this before 10 am.  OMG.  The day continued downhill from there.  Day 5 was the day the whole family decided that we were all sick of each other.  Enforced closeness is a great thing, for 4 days.  The bickering followed us to Calgary where we met our shipment at customs.  That was the smooth point in our day, everything passed inspection and was admitted into the country.  Big sigh of relief.  After hearing the good news, we loaded back up and drove some more!

We finally landed in Edmonton, where the badness continued.  The hotel, was for lack of a better term, ghetto....a hundred and fifty dollar a night ghetto, complete with bums in the parking lot.  At 7 pm, it was too late to cancel so we had no choice but to grin and bear it.  Our other small highlight of the day was the mall.  AMAZING!!!!  We had dinner and rushed through a couple of stores before the mall closed at 9, a shame, a place like that should be open 24 hours a day for maximum shopping pleasure.  Back to the ghetto we went and all children proceeded to have a meltdown of epic proportions.  Canada bashing went on for a good hour, as did the tears.  It was heartbreaking to see them so upset, especially when you yourself are dying inside to and you have to put on a brave face.  We talked it through and focused on the positives and reminded them and ourselves that every day would not feel like that day, that normalcy would come and while it may never be HOME, we would be happy.