Hi again and welcome to the second edition of the Alberta Newsletter. The past two weeks have just flown by and it has been really tiring, so we haven’t had a chance to write a newsy update. So much happens when you’re getting lost in a new city and a new life. We caught up with our friends in Barrhead… here’s the road to Barrhead
Kids start school Will and Sam started school on Monday 15th October, so that’s two weeks ago now. Sam is in Grade 6 and Will is in Grade 8. They have found they are of average age and the work is well within their capabilities, so that’s a relief as we were worried about the jump!
Sam’s teacher is Ms Antoniuk and she is very good. Sam has a lot of project work to complete at night and she also has to complete regular book reports in a creative manner (such as make a commercial, create an ad, write a song or just deliver a thorough report). At the moment the theme in grade 6 is the environment and Sam has been able to apply a lot of her year 4 enviro knowledge from Geelong College to this Unit. Outside of school Sam has decided to resume gymnastics as she would like to be able to join the cheer leading squad at school. She’s doing a type of group gymnastics called “Gymfest” as this leads to the skills she’ll need for cheerleading such as acrobatics and choreographed movement.
Will is in grade 8, he does Maths, Language Arts (English), Drama, PE, Science, Social Studies, TV Production and Writing, French, Health. He has had a lot of homework too but is managing with some “gentle” guidance from his parents. Will is missing footy and tennis and is looking for somewhere to channel his energy. Waterpolo seemed like a good idea until we heard that it was training 5 mornings a week! Come on… as if we’re doing that! Icehockey has very similar requirements… plus you need to be able to skate. Other options include volleyball and La Crosse. So, watch this space on that decision!
Kids being invited out. The kids at the Vic have warmly welcomed Will and Sam to the school and the friendship groups. Will has also been receiving mysterious phone calls from girls! Will was invited to Galaxyland at the West Edmonton Mall with a group of kids from his school. Every month there is the equivalent to a “Bluelight Disco” at Galaxyland, run by the police and for kids aged 12-17 (or Grade 7-11). There are metal detectors etc at the door as there were 1200 kids at this event. There is a dance floor so they can dance, go on any of the rides or just “hang out”. Will was so rapt to be there and wants to go every month! We couldn’t wipe the smile from his face for a few days (daze).
We had our first family event this week… Sammy’s birthday! Sam happened to be out on a sleep-over on the night before her own birthday, then she had another birthday party to attend at Build a Bear at the West Edmonton Mall. So we picked her up, said happy birthday to her and then delivered her to another party before finally celebrating Sam’s birthday as a family over dinner Alec and I also enjoyed our cross country trips being taxi drivers for the day and finding out even more about Edmonton!
The big event for Sam’s birthday was her HUGE present. We finally allowed her to get her ears pierced. As we live in the equivalent to Brunswick the choices for where to get her ears done was one of three body piercing and tattooing shops (now there’s an experience for an entire newsletter!!!!!!) Will and Alec went from place to place and chose the one they felt most comfortable with… So Lexcy explained the difference between using a piercing gun and using a needle and we decided to go ahead… the needle is better by far! Sam now has very modern style silver sleepers in her ears and in 4-6 weeks she can pop in some stud earrings. Sam also happened to get lots of presents for her birthday. Converse runners (x2), a ROXY watch and a T-shirt, a winter hat and gloves, and a gift voucher. Sam also received presents from Australia… which made her very happy (thanks!).
Costco: The phenomenon! Something we were not quite prepared for was the phenomenon of Costco… the right to buy IN BULK! Can you imagine buying catering packs of everything? Well everyone can (and does…by the size of the shoppers we saw!) and this store does not just have food, it sells computers, fridges, clothes, pharmacy products and even Portmeirion china (Duncan)! You can even buy an engagement ring, a motorbike and a family pass to Disneyland. It is truly a one-stop shop! The down side… it is crowded, many people are in a buying frenzy and you feel like you must BUY BUY BUY! In fact, that’s the feeling you get if you watch TV here too… BUY BUY BUY! Aghh. We watched the movie “Employee of the month”
Halloween preparation Canada, like the US is Halloween crazy. There are decorations everywhere, people are having costume parties and of course on Wednesday 31st October everyone will go trick or treating. We’ve been told to buy the kids a costume that can go over their very warmest clothes as it is usually a pretty cold night! We’ve stocked up on wrapped candy and chocolates for the expected rush at our door! We’re not quite sure how many bits of chocolate or candy to give to each person.
The “Pep Rally” Another North American phenomenon! This week we went to the kids school to see the Pep rally. “What’s that” I hear you ask! Well, this is a school event to rally school pride. All the kids from kinder (prep) to grade 8 came to the school gymnasium and every team, club and group did a short performance. The whole event was loud and exciting, the gym lights were down, the stage lights were up and flashing, the music up-beat and the pace FAST! The senior cheer leaders are the current world champions, so they were amazing!!!!! I thought one girl was going to hit the roof she flew so high! We were impressed to see the range of clubs and activities showcased, plus the fact they also talked about their fantastic Grades in last year’s Grade 12 results. It seems to be a pretty amazing place. Only draw back for Will is lack of SPORT!
Choosing a new routine one of the nicest thing about leaving your old life is deciding what you want to do with your new one. We’re taking it as slowly as we can and just enjoying NOT having a routine, expectations and demands… they’ll come soon enough. You can spent time doing things like… raking leaves!
House hunting ultimately we would like a house of our own, somewhere where we have our things and feel like we belong, so we are house hunting online and in real life in the spare time around work and getting life in order. We have not decided on a neighbourhood yet but have narrowed it down to where we are renting, nearer the kids’ school and somewhere in between.
Banks! Don’t start me! This has been the worst thing about getting settled… it’s so hard to get a bank account opened up, there are just so many hurdles placed in our way. You can’t present at a bank with a passport and your newly issued Social Insurance Number to open an account, they also want a utility bill in your name to prove where you live, well we are renting someone else’s house and the utility bills are in their names! So how do you get around that? A mobile phone is not sufficient, the landlord won’t change the names on the bills, the option has come down to… open an account with a newer style bank who have lower levels of expectation about ID… so we’ve done that and found that one of their policies is that when they open an account for people “like us” they hold your money for 7 days. That means when we get money sent from our ANZ via the currency company it is not available for 7 working days! It is ridiculous. Not only that but we can only take out $200 cash each per day and $200 EFT a day each, so what if you want to buy something big? You need a cheque book, ordered 12 days ago and it hasn’t arrived AGHH! So, we’re changing banks and they are waiting on a cheque from the cheque book from the first bank, a letter from my previous employer, a letter from the ANZ and a copy of my work contract… That’s all!!! It is so important to have a bank account because it means you can get your pay from work, get your license, get a car, get insured, you name it… it all hinges on getting a bank account with a cheque book
What’s coming up?
Skiing: We’ve booked a holiday in Jasper for Christmas and Banff for New Year, 6 days in each! We are also going to Jasper for the first weekend in December so we started buying second hand gear for the kids today.
Work: Alec meets with the Educational Psychology Department at the UofA tomorrow to talk about his teaching role there come January. Anita is already at work and assisting in a range of subjects while negotiating her workload (oh yes, and still finishing Deakin work).
Weather: Soon the weather will get seriously cold! Anita bought a lovely long down coat with hood this week. Can’t wait to have to wear it .
Bye for now, love from Anita, Alec, Will and Sam.