Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Spring review, at last!

It seems to have been months since a proper post appeared on here, probably because it's been months since I wrote a proper post.  The Apprentice is on at the moment, Olga and Luda are glued, so it seems to be a good time to try and catch up.

That period has coincided conveniently with getting things ready for Canada. This has involved a lot of thinking, a lot of research, and a little bit of action.  The most important things are sorted (mostly):

  • Flights are booked - for us four, for Grandma (coming over for the first month) and the dogs. We're all going out on the same flight from Manchester on August 7th.
  • Accommodation is booked for the first month - an apartment in the town of Cochrane, just outside Calgary
  • Kennels are booked for the dogs for that period
  • Shipping is booked - a 40-foot container, to be filled and collected from our house at the end of July
  • We've opened a bank account aimed specifically at new immigrants with good terms for a mortgage, credit card, car financing etc..
Other things are about to start happening, most importantly we're going to tell Lara about the plan this weekend. So far we've felt it best to keep the news from her, she's happy and settled at school and home and knowing the plan too far in advance might just wind her up, and give rise to too many "when are we going??" type questions.  However, yesterday we had a meeting with her teacher and between us we agreed she would enjoy hearing the news, and they could possibly use the topic in a class in the summer term, as they will be covering the whole "moving up to Year One" thing anyway. Her teacher and us agreed too that she will almost certainly have no problem settling into a new school in Canada, she settled in very well at her current school despite not knowing any children in September. She's very popular with all the children, without having one or two very close friends, which will make life easier when it comes time to say goodbye.
If that wasn't enough to bring home how quickly the move will creep up on us, the arrival of June means I need to start making the calls to the utility providers to cancel our services; I know they want 30 days notice, but I'm going to give them 60.  At least I'll be spared their annoying efforts to keep my business: "I'm leaving the country" generally ends most sales pitches. I also have to give notice to the landlord of this place that we're leaving.
On the subject of schools, we've written to a couple of them in Calgary that Olga has researched, to see if they have a place for Lara this September. It's all a bit "chicken and egg" at the moment, as really we need an address in Calgary to determine which school she'll go to, but because we can live anywhere we like, we'd like to live close to a decent school. We are house-hunting as much as we can, and we have contacted a "realtor" (must start using the right terms now) so ideally we'll have a list of houses to look at as soon as we arrive. We're planning to buy rather than rent, if the right place appears on the list.

And onto the kids...
Danil is still teasing us with when he's going to start walking. It's been two weeks now since he first stood up on his own. He'll stand up, spot something a metre or two that takes his fancy, clearly think about walking there, and then change his mind, sit down and crawl there.
The big thing for Lara during Spring was that she learnt to ride her bike without stabilizers. I would love to take the credit, but it's all down to Mrs Mansell at Lara's school. They had a sponsored bike ride one day, and Lara took her bike (with stabilizers attached, but I put the necessary tools to remove them in her school bag), and then after school she dragged me to the local park to show me that she could indeed ride without them. A few days later we went back to the park, and with a little more practise, she pretty much mastered it. Just for the record, these were taken on 21st April:

We took her skiing in May at Chill Factore a couple of times. She simply has no fear, and I really have to make an effort to keep up with her now, she could shoot straight down from top to bottom if she wanted to. Here she is having a little go at some freestyling on one visit:

On the following visit, with Olga and I, Lara really demonstrated how independent and confident she can be, telling me in no uncertain terms that she didn't need my help, and she could do the whole thing - the skiing, negotiating the turnstyle and getting on the lift - without my help. And she did. She needs help still from someone to actually get her on the lift, but I was pretty gobsmacked, and very, very proud of her.
Her skating is coming on more slowly, but since last week she's now having a Level 3 (out of 10) group lesson and a one-on-one lesson on Saturday mornings, with her one-on-one teacher being the chief coach at the rink, an ex-British champion no less, so hopefully she'll really make good progress over the next few weeks. Olga is making more progress in her group lessons, she's up to Level 6 now and spinning around, doing all sorts of clever things, forwards and backwards, and all whilst being the oldest in her little group.

Not much happened in April, the weather was pants, but May picked up a little, and the Bank Holidays gave us a chance to get out and about. Early in May we went to Reading for the annual family trip to the Beer Festival, catching up with Anton, Becca, Eve, Tess, Lucy, Sergei, Simon, Arong and a host of other lovely people. We also squeezed a trip to Littlewick Green in while the sun was shining, and went to see our old friends from Deeds Grove, Michelle, Jon and Lara's bezzie mate Zoe.

Later in May we went to Cheshire for a catch up with my old Uni mates from Liverpool. 12 adults, 10 kids and some sunshine. Well done to Rob and Lizz for hosting it, and supplying the swings, trampoline and waterslide. On the Sunday we went to Chester Zoo for good measure (one of the following photos does NOT include either of my children):

Most recently it was Grandma's 70th (sorry, Mum, had to mention the number!) birthday at the end of May, and Cath, Nick, William and Elizabeth came up to visit, and we had a little celebration:

And Dan even got his groove on, albeit to Olly Murs:

So, now we're into June. The weather has finally turned nice this week - it's only been around 20 to 23 degrees, so not exactly cracking the flags, but still it's been the nicest run of good weather we've had this year, so we're planning to go camping this weekend. We'll only stay local, so the girls can still go to ice skating lessons on Saturday morning, but Lara is manic with excitement about the idea, and it should be a nice way to tell her the big news, rather than over tea at the kitchen table. At least she might understand why she's been having ice skating and skiing lessons! 

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