Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Sunday, August 29, 2010

More backyard

Here are some more pics from our backyard.  This is one of our green little lizard friends. The kids love to go lizard "hunting" in the backyard.  We see how many lizards we can spot.

A few plants and flowers in our yard:

And the kids playing in the backyard in their jammies.  Kirsi was talking on the phone to Gramma and Aidan was riding his new trike.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Kirsi's First Day

I did a layout today of Kirsi's first day of school.  It had lots of elements to it and it's very colourful but it's cute.  It's a template from Jen Caputo and the papers are from the kit dgk0023 Summer Fun.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Sweet Boy

I did this page in my last lesson of Jessica Sprague's Up & Running class.  The font is Anthology from dafont.com and the alpha is from KPertiet.  The rest of the materials are care of JS.  :)

Cleaning in the tropics

Strange topic for a blog, I know.  But I just have to share because it's incredible.

Aidan is down for his nap now, so I decided that it was time to get some cleaning done.  I did the dishes, put the laundry out to dry and then decided to clean the bathrooms.  You know, clean the sink, tubs and toilet.  Not very strenuous but you do have to scrub and bend over, right.  Honestly, after about 15 minutes, I had sweat pouring down my forehead, on my arms and even on my legs!  I've never experience this before.  Yes, I used to get really sweaty in Sri Lanka but we had a full-time housekeeper so I never had to do deep cleaning.  Oh my goodness!  What will I be like when I get to mopping the floors?!  We've swept up but I have mopped and scrubbed the floors yet; I can't even imagine what it'll be like.

Anyways, just had to share.  :)

First Day of School

Today's was Kirsi's first day of school.  We have been building this up for a long, long time because Kirsi hasn't been very excited about starting.  We felt, though, it would be the best thing for her socially with the move.  She'll be able to make new friends quickly and she won't feel lonely for her friends back in Chile.

I must say, though, that it has been really hard for me.  I'm not ready for my baby girl to go to school, no matter how good it will be for her (selfish I know).  I'm coping but the tears come very quickly any time I think of it.

Anyways, here are a couple pics from this morning.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Another layout

As you can tell, I'm right into digital scrapbooking now.  I think it's because I don't have my scrapbooking stuff here and I'm dying to be creative.  This layout is of Kirsi as a birthday girl this year.  The template is from Jen Caputo for Jessica's Sprague's class and the patterned papers are Fairy Princess from Scrapping Sisters.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

A couple more pages

This weekend I've really been wanting to do some scrapbooking but without our shipment here, that wasn't happening.  So, I decided to buckle down and work on digital scrapbooking.  Here are two more layouts that I did for practice.  This is a 2-page spread of our big road trip that we took to start out 2010.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Another digital layout

I just finished another digital layout, using the materials provided in Jessica Sprague's Up & Running course.  I love how it turned out!

I love how digi scrapbooking looks but I find that if I get stumped in Photoshop, I get discouraged easily and I don't feel like going back to it for a while.  I started this class months ago and I'm still working on it!  But, slowly but surely, I'm coming along.  I can say that I feel more comfortable using PSE but I'm still not where I can say that I could jump into the digi scrapping world.  Maybe me not having my scrapbooking supplies here will help me more in this area.  Let's see.  :)

Only parents understand the excitement of this...

Aidan peed in the potty this morning!!!!!  He has been very slow to warm up to the idea of potty training and just hasn't showed much interest.  Then earlier this week, he decided that he needed to "poop" on the potty every 5 minutes, literally.  So I would have to truck him to the potty and lift him up for him to sit there about three seconds and then say, "All done."  Yeah, not very fun especially because my shoulder has been killing me with all the lifting.  But I don't want to discourage him so I do it.

Today was more of the same but this time he actually produced something!!  You have no idea how excited I am!  Let's hope this is the start to the end of diapers and not just a one-time thing.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The honeymoon is over

When you live overseas, you go through distinct stages of adjustment, the first one being the honeymoon stage.  Everything is great and fabulous and all you see are the exciting, new things that are waiting to be discovered.  Then reality sets in and things are no longer so rosy.  Well, that reality check hit us on Sunday.  

We took a taxi to a different grocery store to get some more food and supplies.  It's a great store - it wasn't that we were disenchanted with.  It's just that everything, I mean everything, is so expensive here.  $5 for six tomatoes, $6 for a bag of frozen peas, corn and carrots, $30 for a sponge-style mop, like this one.

We started wondering how we will ever afford to live here.  Even if I can get some tutoring, it's going to be really tight.  So, that was a preoccupation for the rest of the day.  Thankfully our utilities shouldn't be more than what we paid in Chile (hopefully less) so we're just going to have to wait and see what everything costs per month.  Wish us luck!

Today, I took the kids out shopping on my own for the first time.  It went quite well, considering Aidan is at the age where he wants to touch everything and not listen either.  We picked up lots of stuff we needed - a backpack for Kirsi (since hers is in our shipment that won't get here till mid-September), a lunchbox for Derwin and her, her uniform for AISK, a telephone and groceries.  It was a good morning. :)  It made me feel productive so I know we can do this again.

It will get better once we get a vehicle too.  Hopefully that will be soon.  

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Our house - video version

Our house

Our first family photo in Jamaica.  We went with the other new teachers and the administrators from AISK to the beach for the day yesterday.  It was a lot of fun and the kids had a blast.  They didn't want to leave!

A beautiful tropical flower in our backyard:

As promised, here are some photos of our house.  This is our living room as you see it from the front door.

This is our dining room.

This is the screened-in porch which is right off the dining room and living room.  This is the best place to be first thing in the morning.  It's cool and peaceful and it has a certain zen while you sit here enjoying the backyard.  You can see that we've brought some of the kids' toys here and they love to play here.  And thank goodness we brought some toys with us because our shipment has been delayed for at least a month.  It is only leaving Chile today rather than arriving in Jamaica 3 days ago.

Here are some photos of the backyard and outside area.  It's a small space but it's good.  We have a small lawn and then a patio area to the side.

And here's the kitchen.  We're very happy with it - it's big enough and light.

And now for upstairs.  Here is a shot of the kids' room.  We've pushed together the two twin beds for now, until we can get bed rails for Aidan at least.

And here is a picture of the rest of their room.

This is the sitting area upstairs that we're thinking of making the playroom for the kids.

This is the kids' and guest bathroom.

This is the guest room.  It's also where I'm going to scrapbook.

For some reason, I forgot to take pictures of our bedroom so I'll add that later, along with a video that we'll take sometime soon.

Hope you enjoyed the tour of our new abode.  :)

Friday, August 13, 2010

So, we've been in Kingston for 2 1/2 days now and it's been busy!  Wednesday was a full, full day and the kids had to come along for all of it.  We started out early to apply for everyone's tax number, which actually didn't take too long.  We had to run back to the school to get some more paperwork in order before we headed down to the ministry responsible for issuing work visas.  We spent a long, long time there but once we were in the air conditioned part of it, none of us minded.  There are four other new teachers so we've gotten to know them pretty quickly since we've spent the majority of the last couple days together.  After the visa stuff, we went back to AISK, had some lunch and then a tour of the school.  Some grocery shopping followed that and then it was home and to bed for all of us!

Thursday (yesterday) was a great day for us because it was much more relaxed.  We got to spend the morning at home so we did some tidying up and spent an hour or so at the pool with the kids.  We just enjoyed having some free time.  I met our landlady when she dropped off a chair that she had had repaired.  She is incredibly nice and apparently her husband is too.  So, we're very lucky to have such great landlords.  This house is a new one for the school but it has turned out to be a great one.

Around noon, Anthony and Cara picked us all up and we headed out for the afternoon.  We saw Devon house, which is a national historic site.  It was pouring rain so we didn't get out but we plan on going back later to walk through the grounds and enjoy the best ice cream on the island.  They also have great "patties" (burgers) there so if we get a beef craving, that's where we'll head.  We went to a small cafe and bakery for lunch and I tried Kibbeh, which I'd never heard of before.  There are two kibbehs (these ones were stuffed with chicken) mixed with hummus and tabouleh and wrapped in a pita.  Pretty good.

Then they showed us different places where we can do our grocery shopping.  Price Smart is the equivalent of Costco or Sam's Club here in Jamaica and it looks like a great place.  Definitely the place to buy things in bulk.  So, we'll be getting a membership and stocking up once we get a car.  There's also Mega Mart which is similar but you don't need a membership.  We didn't go in so we'll have to do that soon.  There's a higher-end grocery store at Loshusan Centre, which is 2 minutes away from us.  I guess that's where we can find a lot of imported goods if we're needing something.  We didn't get a chance to look around but I'll be going back to see what's there.  We noticed that groceries aren't cheap so we're going to have to really find the best places to shop for different items.  There is a vegetable market that is not too far away so we might go there once a week nice and early to get produce cheaper and likely fresher too.

Anthony and Cara also took us on a drive up the hill to get a gorgeous view of the city.  Wow!  Definitely something to show our visitors when they come.

After our day with them was finished, we went with a man named Andrew to look at a vehicle.  Minivans aren't very popular here, though you can find Honda Odysseys at a premium price.  There are also Toyota Ipsum or Picnics, which are more carlike but with the extra seats.  We looked at a Toyota Nova and it's halfway between a North American minivan and a van.  It's older, a 2000, but it's in great shape (interior, exterior and engine) but there's no way we could afford anything new.  Duty charges on vehicles here are insane.  Andrew told us they are anything from 90% to 150%.  A 5 cylinder pickup truck's duty is 200%!  You don't see many American vehicles here because they aren't made for driving on this side of the road.  So there are a lot of Japanese vehicles, mainly Toyota and Honda.  To buy a brand new Toyota Yaris (what we had in Chile), it would cost $30 000 US.  Can you believe it?!  And used vehicles (and old ones too) are very pricey; they obviously hold their value very well.  I don't understand how there can be so many fancy vehicles here when they are so expensive but there are.  I'm guessing that there are many people who are car-poor.

Today I'm sticking around the house to wait for the technician from the internet/phone/cable company to come and install everything.  Once we get it all hooked up, we'll let you know our phone number.  We're very excited to be able to get CBC here, a luxury we've not had anywhere else.  I'm also pumped to get HGTV and the kids will be happy to have Treehouse.  Not that we are TV junkies but it'll be nice to have some familiar shows and stations.

So, I've just been busy tidying up what we have so far, while Der has been at school dealing with setting up our bank account here in Jamaica and then perhaps working out all the details with the car (if it hasn't sold already).  The kids' carseats desperately needed cleaning so I undertook that job this morning also.  Ooof, you don't realize how much you work when you do that until you are working in the heat and humidity with no fan!!  I was dripping!

Wish us luck getting the car dealt with! And if it falls through, send us good vibes to find something else, OK?  This weekend we are planning on getting pictures and videos taken so we can post them and share with you all.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Welcome to Jamaica!

We have arrived in Kingston, after a long and wonderful summer in Canada with our families and friends.  :)  We had to travel a very long time for a destination that is closest to Canada than any other we've been in.  We left Regina on Monday morning at 9:25 and had to fly to Calgary.  We met a friend of mine from high school and her two sweet little girls for lunch at the airport and had a good visit before we had to catch our flight to Toronto.  At the food court at the airport, there's a beautiful view of the Rockies and the city.  The flight to Toronto was OK but the kids were getting tired and ready to be settled.  It took us a while to get ourselves sorted before we could head to the hotel.  We got in rather late but we hadn't eaten supper so we treated ourselves to room service pizzas and then crashed at 10:15.  Talk about a long day for the kids!

We were up at 4:45 to be able to catch the shuttle to the airport.  We had the best porter in the world - so happy and friendly and knew all the Air Canada staff, which helped us tremendously.  The lady who was checking us in was not in the best of moods and she insisted we had one more bag than we did.  Thankfully, the porter was there and smoothed everything over.  He definitely earned his tip!  It took us a while to get through security but thankfully we had plenty of time so it didn't matter.  The flight from Toronto to Kingston was 3 hours and 45 minutes in the air but it seemed to take forever.  I think it was because we were so tired and ready to be done!  We discovered that the flight is not an international flight but a Caribbean one.  That means that you buy your headsets and food, unlike international flights when you're treated so well.  Oh well, at least we know and we had brought plenty of snacks for the kids.  You have buy anything onboard using your credit card now so we'd have been in trouble since we don't have a credit card now.

It took us almost 2 hours to get through the line at immigration.  Of course, they only had 3 people working to get all the visitors through.  Thank goodness I had a stash of gummy bears and Smarties in my purse left over from the flights to get the kids through that line.  There was no preferential treatment for people with small kids here like there was in Santiago so we waited in line the whole time.  We did finally get through and our bags were all ready and waiting for us.  We got through customs and were greeted by Sean and Scott from AISK.  Sean took us to our new home, which we love.

Our house is great!  It's much more spacious than we thought we'd have and it's more than we could have asked for - 3 bedrooms, a pool in the complex, a nice kitchen and fully furnished.  There are only a few little things that we're going to need to get; everything else is here.  It's fabulous.  It makes us realize how hard the transition to Santiago really was where you had to completely furnish your house once you got there, from furniture and appliances to light bulbs and curtains.  Yeah, it was tough!  So, we're very thankful for the ease of the transition to our new home now.  We're going to do a video of the place on the weekend and we'll upload it here.  So, stay tuned!

That first night, the school took the new staff out for dinner but I stayed home and put the kids to bed at 7:00 - they were zonked!  I think I was in bed by 9:00 myself!  We had a big day yesterday.  First it was a stop at a government building for Der to register for his tax number thingy.  Then it was off to another government building to get the visas processed.  We had to wait outside under a tent for about 45 minutes or so until our paperwork got dealt with down there.  It was stinkin' hot!!!!  There were no fans or any air circulation so we were all sweaty and getting cranky.  Then we were able to go into the building where it was air conditioned.  We had to wait a long time there too but I wasn't complaining; at least it was cool!  The kids somehow powered through that without too much complaining.  Thank goodness for Anthony, who has worked at AISK since it opened in 1994.  He did all the work and dealt with everyone so we didn't need to jump through any hoops.

We went to AISK for lunch (where I had a jerk chicken salad wrap, yummers!) and then for a tour of the school.  We met everyone we had been in contact with for months - Cara, Indie, Carolyn, and Nicola.  After lunch, we got a tour of the school (well, I did while Der stayed with Aidan while he napped a bit). It's a small school but it looks like a great campus.  Kirsi got to see her classroom and she was very happy to see that there is a goldfish there.  We met Der's colleagues, Craig and Omar, and saw Der's work space, which is the coolest place in the school.  I think we'll be visiting Daddy often!  ;)

Then Scott took us to Sovereign Centre to get signed up with Flow for internet, cable and phone and then went to the supermarket to pick up some more food for the house.  It's incredible how much you need to get started in a house and how expensive it is.  But that's part of the lifestyle we've chosen!  We came home and had some KD for supper and went to bed pretty early again.

This morning we got up, had a relaxed breakfast, went for a swim in the pool and now the kids are napping before our day out with the school again.

Ciao, Ciao Chile!

Wow, four years in Chile are done!  It's so hard to believe that our time here is over.  I have so many fond memories of our time there, the main reason being that our little Aidan was born there.  We made many good friends and we will miss them dearly.  We will also miss Pascuala, our nana, more than words can say.  She became part of our family and it was so very sad when we had to say good-bye.  

We had some fantastic trips during our time in Chile.  Our first South American trip was at the beginning of our second year here and we went to Buenos Aires and Iguazu Falls in Argentina, both of which were fabulous trips and definitely worth seeing.  

In our summer holiday that year we did our first big road trip and camping trip to the south of Chile:  Villarrica/Pucon area, Valdivia, Chiloe, Frutillar, Puerto Varas.  It was a great time and we had so much fun and saw so many beautiful things.  I think it was my favourite trip that we did while in Chile.    The next year we went south again but this time we went through the Andes to Bariloche in Argentina.  That area is absolutely stunning and we're glad we spent as much time as we did there.  Then we headed out across the Argentinean Patagonia in our little Yaris and our two little ones.  We pushed the 13 hours it took to get across the sparse but beautiful landscape.  We spent a few days on the Valdes Peninsula, which was so cool.  We saw so much wildlife - what a fabulous experience!

We visited Argentina one more time on another big road trip.  This time we went to Mendoza and then south from there to Malargue to the very cool volcanoes and volcanic plains and then on to San Martin de los Andes (with a side trip to San Rafael for van repairs).  From there, we came back over the mountains into Chile and showed Der's parents some of our highlights - Chiloe, Valdivia, Puerto Varas, Frutillar and Villarrica.

Our one other trip to a different country was to Uruguay with my mom.  All of us loved that trip.  We loved the friendliness of the Uruguayan people, the charm of Colonia, the peacefulness of Punta del Este in the offseason and the culture that we saw all around us, no matter where we went.  We were happy to fall upon an agricultural show in Montevideo, which showed us how they farmed there and how important farming is to their country.

Within Chile, we did more exploring.  We spent a week up in La Serena and the Elqui Valley.  We also went down to the wine country south of Santiago around the town of Santa Cruz and soaked up the charm of the wine country.   And we visited the beach many times around Vina del Mar and Valparaiso.  Our favourite was at Renaca and we made many day trips there.

What I won't miss:
* the smog
* the freezing cold houses in winter
* the bad drivers
* getting cut off in the grocery store

* and not understanding what people say to me (though, I must admit, it has gotten much better over the years).

Phuket - Be Nice or Get Out

The second part of our December break was spent in a little AirBnB 3m from the beach in Phuket, Thailand. The majority of our time was spe...