Sunday, January 23, 2011

Emily is really, truly seven years old today!

Well, she is seven years old today.  So far this year, it's been a tough winter for Emily, what with the move and being stuck inside with "mean Mommy" most of the time.  But things are looking up.  Emily made a new friend at Drama class yesterday (an outgoing girl of 9 who also likes to sew); and this morning has been "great (with energetic "thumbs up" hand gestures)" too!

Within theoretical walking distance (at -17 C, it's not really walking distance for Emily at the moment) from our townhouse, there is a shopping center that has a Chez Cora (a breakfast place that features lots of fruit with every entre) and a ToysRUs.  So for Emily's birthday, that's where we went for some serious child spoilage.  Tonight, it'll be homemade pizza and carrot cake with candles.

We were finally able to find that "GoGo FurReal" dog at the ToyRUs.  We've struck out on that particular toy at least 3 times since we've moved here (everywhere we looked was out of 'em), which was making me regret not having bought it at Walmart in Holly Springs where we spotted it before Christmas (and for about 20% less than here).   But, now she has GoGo; and Emily is very, very pleased.

She also took a few minutes away from her new dog to be very pleased with her beautiful clothes, from Grandma (which she will be wearing at her next Drama class), and another toy dog and game too.

Alex and I also bought her a microscope, since she has shown such an interest in doing "experiments" and the like lately.  I am hoping to attract her back to lessons with more hands-on things, like looking at neat things under the microscope, etc.  It might be a little old for her, but maybe not.  It has a carrying case and I can pack it away, if she's not impressed yet.  But she may just be if I can find the right book to awaken her interest.

Anyway, it's bright and sunny today; and we're in a good good place.  Hope you all are too!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Living Arts Centre . . . Just Around the Corner!

OK, just so I don't give everyone the impression that it's all hardship and struggle here with that last post about registering our car, I figured I should mention this really cool Living Arts Centre that's walking distance from our house in Mississauga.  Emily and I were just there to pick up her tickets from the box office for the Drama class she'll be attending for the next 9 or so Saturday afternoons.  It's colossal and full of neat corporate-sponsored auditoriums, studios, etc.  While exploring the place, Emily and I stumbled upon a free interactive art show and had a lot of fun investigating various pieces that we could touch, wonder about, and even contribute to.  iPhone newbie that I am, it didn't occur to me to take pictures until just now as I type this, so I've popped in an image I found of the centre online - or part of it.  It is huge, I tell you! (. . . 'scuse me.  A piece of straw fell out of the corner of my mouth just then.)

Anyhoo, after ooohing and ahhhing over all the art glass and pottery, Emily is expressing a strong desire to attend the pottery camp for kids that they offer there.  Of course, we'll look into it.  Wish they had a bulk buying scheme for the classes.

ServiceOntario: making it easier

Soooo . . . we brought along a car when we moved to Mississauga.  Among the many other things we need to register for - e.g. OHIP ("Ontario Health Insurance), our driver's licenses (Our NC ones were taken away from us), and sundry other things - we also have to register our Explorer with the province within 30 days of crossing the border with it.  Of course, what with the holidays and all the other rather important things we had been trying to accomplish since our arrival, we failed to realize this until we only had about 7 days of the grace period left.

And the scramble began:  namely . . . to find an authorized auto shop to test and certify our Explorer for safety and emissions (Ontario's standards are like California's); to get the required repairs/alterations made AND paid for; to make the repeat visit to the import agency with all our passports, Car Title, etc., in order to request still more forms and pay more fees; to get all 3 of us dressed and out the door for the early morning trip to the local "Service Center" to wait for our number to be called so that we could again prove we are all who we claim to be, live where we claim to live, own legally what we claim to own, . . . Oh, and get the details on a non-existent form that we supposedly should have gotten before coming to the Service Center.  So far, on the checklist of tasks to accomplish before the desired registration can be achieved, we are up to step number . . . 32, maybe?  (Not sure.  Lost count.):  go back home, hungry, tired and frustrated, to start our wild goose chase via phone for this mystery form 811-0DB-dot-11teen - the original kumquat-colored copy.  (I probably have mis-remembered what the lady at the Service Center called it, when she indicated that we needed one; but since no one else at the other agencies has ever heard of it, I don't feel the need to go look it up.)  Anyway, that step alone would take up the remainder of the morning.

The last few times we've visited anywhere to get some sort of original document certifying something, I've had to suppress the urge to ask, "Hey, while we're here, how about we fill out all the forms or certificates you have on hand, whether you think we need 'em or not - just to lesson the chances that we will be sent back to see you again?"  Because you can bet that whenever you take the time and trouble to read instructions and then go in person with all your original documents to register for something, there will be SOME ADDITIONAL FORM that no one mentioned to you before, and that is NOT listed on the government website or checklist of things that are necessary to get whatever the Hell you came for.

Needless to say, we have not yet gotten our car registered with the proper authorities.  I guess we'll have to take another crack at it some morning next week when Alex can arrange his work so he can while away another morning at a government agency's waiting room.

Alex says he has heard of other co-workers who have come over to work here and just never registered their cars, preferring to gamble that they wouldn't get stopped until near the end of their stay, so they could then pay the fine just before returning to the States.

Now we understand why this approach might be considered an attractive alternative.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

A Sneak Peak At Spring in Mississauga on New Year's Day

On New Year's Eve, the temperatures rose significantly with a weather front coming through that brought lots of rain too.  We had been bundling up with hats and mittens just to walk through a parking lot ever since we got here; and then overnight, the temperatures changed from daytime highs of -2 Celsius (that's 28.4 in Fahrenheit) with bone-chilling winds, to 9.5 (49 F) for 2 days.

Needless to say, we got ourselves outside for a walk and then hung out in the back yard for a little bit.

Just around the corner from our . . . house? condo? townhome?  (Still not sure what to call it.  It's huge, but attached to lots of others on both sides.)  Anyway, just around the corner, below street level, we discovered a very nice walkway alongside a large creek.  There are convenient steps down from the sidewalk, and you are shielded from a lot of the street noise and can take a nice walk for a great distance down among the trees along the banks.  It has been frozen solid - wish I had thought to take some photos at the time for a sort of "before and after" in this blog - but anyway, it's been frozen almost solid, with the water taking shapes that look almost like the freezing happened in a split second.  But on New Year's day, the creek looked quite different.  The quiet was chased away by the roar of muddy water, coming in torrents that obscured most of the rocky creek bed below.  Something to see!

The other magical thing was the mistiness of the air.  Here's another shot of the top of the neighboring skyscrapers being obscured by it.  Everything looked softer and calmer.

It's back down to 2 degrees Celsius this morning.  I looked outside and spotted a few flakes of snow gently falling toward the stiff looking grass.