One Year Here!

I can’t believe it’s been a year already! Easter was the final holiday that had yet to be celebrated in our Moncton home.

I can’t believe how fast time is going now, too. Since Christmas it feels like we’re running in double-time. April??! Are you kidding me? I seriously think Christmas was late last night!

Anyways, back on topic. How was the first year here?? Overall, Great! The “dreaded” Moncton winter turned out to be a “snowy” Toronto winter. The last one I remember happening was when Timmy was 4 or 5. The kind of winter that’s fun for the kids and not-too-bad for the adults.

Liam has done so well at kindergarten here that there was not a single thing missed in his testing and not a single negative on his report card. I never thought I would love a kindergarten teacher as much as Mrs. L in Toronto, but I am overjoyed to admit that Liam’s teacher this year definitely equals up.

Timmy’s year was a lot harder. As Grade 3 is everywhere. But also, he had a “sit silently at your desk and write” teacher which is a disaster for most 8 year old boys. But we’ve gotten through it and he is doing just fine. He has lots of friends, who tend to show up unaccompanied and tell me to tell them when it’s five so they can walk or ride their bikes home alone to houses I don’t even know where they are. Hmmm. What’s your address? I dunno. What’s your phone number? I dunno. Hmmmm. My reaction: fake it. Calm, cool, and collected on the outside and freaking on the inside that I might have to let Timmy go with them someday!

Lily’s been my constant companion. In September she starts a local preschool program that, although not co-op, greatly reminds me of RYRNS and that makes me happy. We’ve been doing lots of parent and tot swimming and gymnastics. In September I’ll put her in ballet, too.

We’ve taken lots of mini-trips around the Maritimes (just got back from Halifax where I spent an obscene amount on girly Gymboree clothes. Hey, it’s better than narcotics!). But our big trip this year will be to Toronto this summer. Lots of people to see, places to eat (I salivate just thinking about some of my favorites), and I guess, given the previous mention, Gymboree clothing to buy! No really, our list of things to do, eat, see and buy is super long! But I know that once I’m in Toronto, I’ll be craving to get back here and hit the beach. That’s how it works. 🙂

Toronto was a great place for me to grow up. Moncton is a great place for my kids to grow up. And so with that, here’s the most recent picture of them, from Easter Sunday morning:

And FYI, Trevor made a fabulous home movie musical titled “Year in Review” but as we don’t pay to have videos on here we can’t post it. If you’re interested it’s in our DropBox. Email or Facebook us for instructions on how to access it, if you’re so inclined.

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The Big Move: Post Mortem

Well, we’ve been in the new house for just over two months now so I guess it’s time for some thoughts and updates.

A wise neighbour once told me something that stuck. She had just returned to live in her Toronto house after many years of living in Vienna, Austria. Like I’m sure many people would, I thought to myself “gimme Vienna any day over Toronto.” I said to her something like “wow, Vienna, so exciting and cool”. And you know what she said? “Every place has good things and bad things.”

Well Don’t That Beat All.

So simple, so true. As much as we wanted out of Toronto, of course there were good things about it (and a lot of good and now missed people) and I knew there would be things in Moncton that would annoy us. I am pleased to say that they are in fact very few. What stressed me out the most (the doctor thing) turned out to be one of the easiest and pleasantly surprising things. (Thus reminding one to never worry about things in advance. My bad!) One of the best new things I didn’t even realize would be so great is the air. Clean, fresh, and cool at night even in a heat wave. I don’t think smog is even a word here! I think I got so used to Toronto air that I didn’t even realize that this existed. I am also loving how that at any time of any day it takes exactly the same time to get somewhere as any other time of any day. Parking-lot highways no more!

But of course what really matters is the kids….And they are doing great. The space we now have in this house is so much better for a family of five. “Go to your room” is a lot more effective now that the boys don’t share! And Lily’s room is a Princess Paradise, of course! Timmy made new friends in the 6-weeks he went to school, and I know Liam will as well when he gets going in September. Liam also started at Beausejour Gymnos, where he’s been asked to do their competitive boys program (ai ai ai!). All in all, their lives are the same or better, so that’s just fine with me.

We have been doing a lot of playing on the beach and sight-seeing, including the magnificent Hopewell Rocks and next we’re planning a 4-day trip to Halifax.

So, the verdict? There IS good and bad everywhere, but we are making Moncton GREAT. Looking back it was worth the work and the price tag. Heck, in the grand scheme of life, it was really a steal.

Schooling

Timmy’s going to Magnetic Hill Public School for the remainder of this year, and then in September the school that was just built, Northrop Frye School will open and Timmy and Liam will go there for the next 8 years or so.

On Friday night they had an open house because our class will be the inaugural class for Northrop Frye School, save for the high school students currently attending because Moncton High School was closed due to mold. That said, we got to walk around and see all the classrooms, facilities, cafetorium and so on. Before I go further, it’s important to note that the budget for the school’s construction did not include money for a library or any outdoor play facilities like monkeybars, swings, a track etc. Thus, the school has been fundraising for $100k to build these missing facilities, asking companies and families to give what they can to the cause.

What school board builds a school but does not budget for at least a library? With the volumes of families paying taxes, if the school board has enough to construct a multimillion dollar facility, what’s a few extra thousand to furnish a library? More on this later.

This was the most modern school I’ve ever seen; open atrium down the middle divides the one wing in half with classrooms on either side. The classrooms each have a glass wall that looks out onto the atrium, but the other wall of the classroom has the usual door to a hallway so there are really two entrances to the room. Each room also has a small “breakout” room that they can use to segregate a small group of students. The cafeteria doubles as an auditorium (hence “cafetorium) with a stage that has a moving wall allowing it to be shared with either the cafetorium or one of the 3 gyms. Yes, 3. Remember this school not only serves a rather dense population in our neighbourhood, but a large chunk of it too. I think the school is appropriately sized. The colours were a lime green, white, blues.. Not too hard on the eyes but an interesting choice of colours for sure.

Everything was great except here’s where things get funny: ever hear of a smart board? Think computer projector linked to a series of pens allowing the teacher to “draw” on the smartboard with the assistance of a computer. Interesting

Coupled with the smart board is a PA system. Yes, the teacher wears a microphone and the voice is amplified to the students. Interesting. I was starting to think back to the fundraising campaign at this point.

And then the pièce de résistance: the kindergarten room has heated floors.

Heated floors? Since when were heated floors necessary in a kindergarten? Since when were smartboards an integral part of education? Since when do school boards budget for warm bums, karaoke teachers and powerpoint presented pupils, but not libraries and playgrounds?

I was stunned. I’m all for technology, but not at the expense of the basics. One should not purchase an iPad before paying the rent! This better be worth it cause the playground they get won’t come for a little while, so please read the fundraising document and make a donation. It doesn’t benefit you at all, but it helps Timmy and Liam out a lot. 😉

The Big Move. The end.

Well, by now I bet everyone’s wondering how this project of mine is going. Or went, as it were. Ok now I’m confused.

We have the house, we have our stuff, and all went well (except Rogers didn’t hold their end of the bargain, twice). But here we are in our somewhat less than humble abode. It’s a lot bigger than we’re used to. But it’s a lot cheaper than we’re used to. It’s a lot newer than we’re used to, nicer than we’re used to, and quieter than we’re used to.

Everyone has their own room now, but Timmy said something last night (their first night in their own rooms) that really moved me. “GET OUT”. Kidding, it was his realization that it was his first night not sleeping in the same room as Liam. Even the past 2 weeks in Shediac, they not only shared a room but shared a bed. In my younger days, when Scott and I were in the same room it was nothing but goofing around until well past our bed time. I dunno what it is, but during the day we could be at each others’ throats, but put us in the same room at night for bed and the only thing missing was the alcohol. The same holds true for Timmy and Liam, as witnessed in the little cottage.

Timmy told me he’s going to miss hearing Liam breathe, or toss and turn, or the antics they got up to. Just another milestone, another step forward in the maturity of the family. It’s nice that he sees these things instead of blindly foraging into the unknown that is his life. Instead of just living each day and trying to accomplish the average 8-year-old’s agenda, he’s conscious enough of what’s going on that he can see what just happened.

That’s called stopping and smelling the roses. Keep that rose Timmy, one day you will have a wonderful bouquet.

We still have a lot of boxes to get through, but I’ve got most if not all of my computer stuff set up. I took a good stab at the garage this morning. I now have the flexibility to store all my tools and Christmas stuff and telephone crap and so on however I like. I’m going to need a bigger toolbox.

Oh, and there’s this dumb Robin that, every morning so far, repeatedly flies against the window in the basement just above my computer. She’ll hit it 3 or 4 times before I stand up to look out. She then flies away all embarrassed, only to return a few minutes later and continue her masochistic courtship with a sheet of melted silicate. Must be a New Brunswick breed of Robin.

Timmy and Liam have already struck a big friendship with the neighbour’s two kids, who are twins aged right between Timmy and Liam. The neighbours were fantastic about keeping Timmy and Liam over there for most of the day yesterday while the movers did what movers do. Since then, my other neighbours, the guy across the street, and the folks 2 doors down have been by to say hello and welcome to the neighbourhood. I’m going to have trouble remembering everyone’s names.

Tomorrow’s Timmy’s first day back at school. He’ll be at Magnetic Hill Public School and is pretty geared up. Katie and I will drive him up for the first day, establish how the buses work, and then we’ll drive to work. School gets out quite early for us, at 1:40 but only until grade 3 when it changes to 2:40 but it starts earlier too: 8:15am. I think I’m going to have a need for a car sooner than I thought but we’ll see what we can do. Liam won’t start until the fall as they don’t have SK here, but then both kids will be at the new Northrop Frye Public School.

History repeats itself in one form or another. I went through exactly these moves myself, only I was in Liam’s shoes. I remember starting new schools, moving into new houses and neighbourhoods, making new friends and the trepidation that goes along with it. The world is full of change; if nothing else this move has taught Timmy how to handle and deal with change, and he caught on faster than I’d ever have imagined.

Thus begins a weekend of “lasts”.

  1. Last weekend I’m alone.
  2. Last weekend we live in Toronto.
  3. Last time (for a while at least) I will see all my friends, all my streets, all my shops and memories and conveniences.
  4. Last time I pay a bloated city.
  5. Last time I have to deal with pollution and smog
  6. Last time I can drive to a decent hobby shop.

We knew this would be a long process; both of us living apart for the better part of 7 weeks. I’m glad it’s almost over. After all those steps backward in Toronto, and sitting idle in Shediac, it’s time to move forward in Moncton. Here we go!

Forgot to tell a cute story

So Lily’s been without daddy for the past month and is too young to understand that I would be visiting this weekend. I got home well after she went to bed on Friday, but she woke up Saturday morning (had a nice sleep in thank you) saying, “Mommy, mommy, mommy” to which Katie replied “Daddy”. Lily said “Mommy” again and then I said, “Daddy”.. profound silence for 3-4 seconds, broken with “Huh?” from the crib and then “DADDY DADDY DADDY”.

What a great way to wake up!

Is the weekend over already?

It’s been eventful to say the least.

The weekend began early; I had to split work quick to get to a bank, get a $5000 draft for the deposit on the house that we had an offer in on. At the same time, the house inspector was carrying out his routine. When I showed up to the house (draft in hand), I walked through the house with the inspector while he finished his inspection and afterward sat down with him and the realtor to discuss his findings.

Mold, entire reshingle plus one roof board, cracked foundation (but no water ingress, yet), questionable chimney and a myriad of other things. Information in hand, I set off for the airport in the snowstorm. Looking at the flight information, all flights cancelled except mine. Yes, Air Canada with their jets wouldn’t fly into Moncton but at 5:30pm, the Porter flight from Toronto to Moncton was well underway. The only thing stopping it would be the inability to land in Moncton but sure enough, it arrived on time. Sweet!

Katie was quite nervous but seeing the situation outside, and having worked at YYZ for close to 10 years I knew this shouldn’t be a big deal. And right on sched, we boarded and took off. In retrospect, I’m curious as to why we didn’t deice but suffice it to say I got into Toronto where the cab drivers need directions and charge too much.

Saturday morning was spent discussing our offer on the $270,000 future construction site and it was decided that we are NOT going to buy. The sellers were known not to budge on their asking price despite the work involved so we’re out. Subsequently, we put an offer in on our alternate (the “Doll House” for those Facebook followers) and I should know what the story is by 11am. As I write this, our offer was countered in a favorable way, but we have to tweak the closing so I’ve countered AGAIN and anticipate a deal in the end (pending house inspection). More on that as it unfolds.

The weekend went slowly, which is nice. Puttered around, hung with the kids, arbitrated a few fights.. home sweet home.

This is the second last time that I’ll see the place. I spent some time at the fence dad and I built almost 9 years ago. It was the last place/time he and my brother had a civilized conversation. How am I going to fit the fence in the moving truck? Nuts, I think I’ll have to leave it.

We went to Mama Martino’s for dinner and Tom’s for ice cream afterward.

All in all, the weekend was everything I’d come to hope it would be after waiting a month. I started off my trek to Moncton counting the days to this weekend, and now it’s already over. All the neighbours saw me outside yesterday so they came by to bid another farewell, though I imagine I’ll see them one last time on the 21st.

Man the drivers here suck.