October 31, 2008

Moving day....not!

Canadians are actually very prompt people, when it's not a holiday, weekend or lunch hour. That said, our delay in moving is due to a scheduling conflict with the US movers and our household items remain someplace in New York. While we would like to get things unloaded on Sunday, we can't because customs is closed. Yes, you have to go through customs with a semi-full of everything you own and basically swear you didn't just buy a plasma TV, appliance, etc. the day before you moved -- because of course they want to collect the taxes those items if you do some shopping.

So today (Friday) we need to move out of our rental home and into a hotel and wait for our truck on Monday. (Duke will be going to a "dog camp" in the country for the weekend since we couldn't find a hotel to take an 85 pound lab). Hopefully the TV will be unloaded and hooked up before Tuesday night so we can watch the election returns from north of the border. It should be interesting. Canadians are just as tired of the coverage as the US at this point. 

The weather here seems to be cooperating for Halloween after a blast of cold air this week, which made us realize winter is on the way. The sudden change prompted a trip to Wal-mart for some hats and mits (as they call mittens) since Kish thought the moving truck would have already arrived.  The kids will trick or treat at our new, freshly painted, empty home tonight. 

October 27, 2008

Got Skype?

Do you Skype? We had a Skype session this evening with Uncle Dan and Uncle Jim. You'll notice Uncle Jim wore a coat and tie for the call and Paul is wearing Canadian plaid. Skype is really cool and thanks Dan for introducing us to this handy means of international(and domestic) communication.  The link is on the left. Danielle was on her computer at school today and didn't know she was logged on and got a Skype call in the middle of French class from Uncle Dan. Oops!

October 26, 2008

Au revoir Naperville

Our house in Naperville is officially empty. Kish was there the last four days for the packing and loading process....it was a walk down memory lane. Paul held down the fort in Montreal getting the new house ready. 

Our family spent nine years and 11 months on Freeland Circle. It's the home where Danielle lost her first tooth and Louis took his first steps. We made great friends in Naperville. Thanks to everyone who helped out in the move offering a bed to sleep in, a meal or a cocktail. Our neighbor Scott turned out to be the handyman for the weekend and while we have been away. And our other neighbor Ellen, who moved with her family 11 times, knew to come over with her gloves on and started cleaning, knowing Kish shouldn't be by herself for the last few hours in the house. She offered great advise on moving with a teenager and knew enough to suggest at the last minute to get the basketball hoop in the truck knowing it will be great for Louis to have his hoop from Naperville as one of the first things to be placed at the new house. Just before leaving the house for the last time, Paul received a call from Kish which he appropriately called a "Kumbaya moment." 

The Sox Flag was the last thing on the truck and will be the first thing off -- the flag pole is ready in Beaconsfield/Montreal. It's not baseball season (for a Sox fan), but until we can find the Blackhawks and Bears flags, this will do.

October 22, 2008

Canadian and American politics

It's political season.  We're all trying to understand how Canada works, and the differences south of the border. We can still vote in the US and will sending in absentee ballots. Thanks to Wikipedia -- here's a brief explanation of how Canada works. This is good information for kids learning about governments. 


October 21, 2008

Canadians really are green

While grocery shopping I couldn't figure out the milk situation -- Danielle found out from school friends. Milk is sold in these large plastic bags (biodegradable of course) and there are three clear one-litre bags inside. You slip those in this pitcher and cut off a corner and voila (a backwards accent should appear on top of the "a" in voila but I can't figure out accents on my computer yet -- but I did confirm the spelling in my French dictionary) -- there's your environmentally-friendly milk!

On another environmental note...I was looking up information about our new home town -- Beaconsfield -- and ran across this article.  As you will read, the city has banned plastic water bottles from city functions! They have also banned pesticides on the lawn.

Beaconsfield hopes to eliminating disposable water bottles
The Gazette
Thursday, July 10, 2008

More than 300 families in Beaconsfield have taken the pledge to stop using disposable water bottles after the city launched a campaign asking residents to give up buying single-use plastic
water bottles for a year.
The program seems to have received positive feedback from residents, but the reaction wasn’t so positive from NestlĂ© Waters Canada, the country’s largest manufacturer and distributor of bottled water.
Company president Gail Cosman sent a letter to Beaconsfield Mayor Bob Benedetti expressing her concern with a ban on bottled water in the city.
“The possibility of a ban is particularly mystifying given that just last week, the government of Quebec and our industry announced that we were providing funding of $6 million over the next three years to boost recycling programs across the province in public places like streets, parks, restaurants and hotels,” Cosman wrote.
“A recently-completed pilot program in Quebec concluded that this program will significantly reduce litter in such areas of our community, while offsetting the cost of your current recycling program because of the value of the materials collected.”
Despite the letter, Benedetti said he was pleased with the participation by residents, although he was hoping about 500 families would take the Tap Water Pledge.
“What’s important is that it’s getting good buzz in the community,” he said. “People are talking about it and that’s a good thing. As long as we get people in the community talking sustainability and thinking about their footprint on the planet, we’ve succeeded.”
Last December, the city banned plastic water bottles from city functions, but Benedetti said the city wanted to do more. Beaconsfield estimated that 88 per cent of plastic water bottles are not recycled and one bottle can take from 500 to 1,000 years to break down in a landfill.
“We do have really good tap water in Beaconsfield and we should be using it more,” Benedetti said. “There is a real financial and environmental cost to using single-use plastic water bottles.”
With 317 families having taken the pledge, Benedetti figures that alone will significantly reduce the consumption of disposable water bottles.
“That’s a lot of water bottles,” he said. “And surveys have shown that when people sign a pledge like that, they take it seriously.”
Karin Essen, president of the Beaconsfield Citizens Association, thinks the campaign against water bottles is a good idea. She took the pledge and plans to keep it.
“I’m very against disposable water bottles,” she said. “I don’t believe in paying for water when we’ve got such great tap water. If people stick to their pledge, it will be really good. Maybe other cities should think of doing the same.”

P.S. -- are they playing AC/DC like crazy in the states or is it just here? We know they released a new album, but seriously, we have not heard this much of their music since 1983.

October 20, 2008

C'mon Move to Canada

A very funny link sent to us by our friend Margaret Cooper in Houston. Trust us, it's not THIS easy to move to Canada. Video might not be appropriate for kids - use your judgement. In Canada - this is nothing.


The Hills are Alive

We almost broke out in song...but we saved the ears of the other visitors at Mont-Tremblant. Only an hour and a half away from our new home, this place was amazing. We are ready for our first day of skiing. Most of the leaves had already dropped, so the colors weren't the same as they were down south -- but it was beautiful none the less. We took a gondola to the top of the mountain, although next time we might try to hike up.

The skiing looks to be quite good -- although Kish's brothers in Colorado, Oregon and Washington might think otherwise. Fortunately, the signs are universal so language is not an issue. Here's the website for the area -- there's a lot to do throughout the year and we think we'll be spending a lot of time here. www.tremblant.ca.  Bienvenue!

October 19, 2008

Important-Location for the Hoop

We forgot a very important piece of information in our entry yesterday. Louis has determined the spot for his new basketball hoop -- just like "Liam and Garrett's," he adds. We have to get busy -- the ground will be frozen before we know it and many of you know that Louis will shoot hoops even in the winter.

Paul left for Vancouver early this morning -- it is so nice being 10 minutes from the airport -- something unfamiliar in Chicago unless you are next to the runway. We really don't hear the planes here either. The kids and Kish are going to explore the mountains near Montreal today to plan the first ski day 

October 18, 2008

Sold! To the family from Naperville

We closed on our new home on the 15th. We had a chance to enter the house for the first time today. Within 15 seconds in the house Duke made an impact -- running right into a large mirror that was propped up along a wall and shattering it to pieces. Hopefully, since it's so close to Halloween, that broken mirror superstition is waived. 

The actual closing was a pleasurable real estate transaction -- if there is such a thing. We feel like we are buying a home, not just a house. The sellers are moving back to Holland and are so nice.  The closing was so pleasant it was as if we should have uncorked a bottle of wine. (They did leave us several bottles of wine at the house). They also left us with a huge binder with "instructions" about the house, every warranty card, invoice and receipt for any work they have done on the house in the last seven years. This is important to us because we don't know any "guys" like plumber guys, appliance guys, electrician guys -- you know what we mean. Yet another difference in Quebec is at the closing we received a large legal sized envelope with all the deeds of ownership from the past owners -- dating back to the original purchasers in 1970. In Canada these deeds follow the house. It's like having the history in one envelope. In a few weeks we'll receive another envelope with our "Welcome to Canada" tax bill -- it's basically a sales tax on the purchase of the home. What the heck, we're already paying sales tax on home and car insurance.

Fall is here, despite the fact that Louis still insists on wearing shorts. We assumed ownership of the house just in time to rake the leaves. 

October 15, 2008

Duke's a Canadian

He made it. You may not know that Duke is half Canadian. His father was a Canadian field champion here -- making him technically more entitled to live in Canada -- unless you ask Paul. Getting him here was a story with the makings of a reality show. But first, does this look like the face of trouble? Fortunately, he did not make the evening news.

In a nutshell...we made reservations to fly here for the move on Sunday 10/5 and were told we only needed the dimensions of the crate. A few days later we were told he was too big -- unless he could lose 15 pounds in a week -- and would go Air Canada cargo and we need to call the day before to make the final arrangements and make sure he was on our flight. Paul calls and then is told he won't be on our flight because Air Canada cargo is closed on the weekend (all along they knew our flight was Sunday)  so Duke would fly out on Monday. Paul decides to stay until Monday and the kids and Kish fly out on Sunday. Paul gets to the airport with our friend Cheryl Bray Monday morning and they say Duke's crate is too big to fit on the plane. So Cheryl takes him home for the next week to join her three large dogs until we can figure it out. We finally find a Northwest flight - through Detroit --  to take him. But it can't be on the weekends because cargo is closed in Canada and of course Monday the 13th is Thanksgiving...and they are closed. So Tuesday Cheryl takes him at 6 am to NW cargo in Chicago and our vet didn't give her the right papers (Cheryl had to take him to the vet again on Monday because his health certificate is only valid for 72 hours). Duke goes back to the Bray house for another night. Today, Cheryl delivers him and they ask about the water dishes that attach to the crate, which Cheryl doesn't have. Fearing that Cheryl might go postal (actually, NW was very accommodating), they find some dog dishes fit for a shitzu and attach them -- FAA regulations you know -- they have to have the dishes even though they can't have food in the crate.  So Duke gets on the plane at O'Hare, has a two hour layover in Detroit and arrives in Montreal.  Kish and Louis go to pick him up at cargo and then are sent on a wild goose chase to go to customs just to get a paper stamped and run back to pick him up by 5:30 pm -- because -- you guessed it -- that's when they close. It felt like an episode of The Amazing Race. We're glad to have Duke Urlacher Gretsky Pisani with us -- Paul might think differently.

October 14, 2008

Oh Canada! Oh Sh#t!

We thought we would start this blog to keep our friends and family up to speed on what's happening with our family here in Montreal! As you can imagine, it's an awkward time to be out of the US. We've already learned so much about the US from this side of the border. We of course have access to the same news and we all know how easy it is to keep up to speed via the Internet. 

Today is election day here in Canada -- if I have this correct, they can call an election whenever they want. There's more than two parties -- and of course there's an active Green Party here. We're not at all versed in Canadian politics -- we can barely keep track of the US elections. It is interesting though -- Danielle commented that she felt like the people in Canada almost know more about our politics then most people she knows. 

This post is called Oh Canada! Oh Sh$t! because it's a project in the works. Quebec, where we are, operates differently from the rest of Canada -- as we are finding. We are knee-deep into the Oh Sh$t part while closing on our new home here. There's all sorts of taxes we don't have in the US - like a sales tax on home and car insurance -- that was a real Oh Sh$t moment -- and then there's a Welcome to Canada tax -- basically a sales tax on the purchase of the home. However, as we know there's socialized medicine and lots of other benefits up here so we plan to take advantage of those. First off, we need to get a hold of the Canadian tax information to figure out what is a deduction -- there are a lot of them we hear.

As I write this post, Paul is waiting for the bank to open at 10 am in order to get what we need for our closing tomorrow. They truly have banker's hours here and people really do close down for lunch. We're finding ourselves saying "patience is a virtue" quite often. We realize now how immediate everything is in the US -- which can sometimes be good if you need it to be -- but things are a lot more rushed. It's not like that here -- so it will take some adjustment, but it's not a bad thing. We have yet to find a drive through bank -- you really do go in and talk to someone to deposit a check. When is the last time you went inside a bank to make a deposit or get cash? They do have ATMs, just not drive thru.

Danielle is picking up French in school by default since a couple of her classes are all in French. Louis is picking up words here and there and seems open to learning the language. Paul's high school French is coming in handy and he has to pick it up quickly at work. Kish's Spanish is not helping much -- it's an Oh Sh$t work in progress as well.

Paul and Louis attended the CFL game in Montreal on Monday -- Kish and Danielle spent some time driving around downtown and figuring out the places we want to re-visit. We were entertained in one neighborhood by a guy walking out of a coffee shop, in his bathrobe and flip flops and proceeding down the street with his coffee in one hand and dog on a leash in another -- fortunately his bathrobe was tied shut.

Speaking of dogs....there's been another dog delay for Duke. He should be arriving on Wednesday. Our friends the Brays have been watching him and Cheryl had an Oh Sh$t moment at Northwest cargo very early this morning. We think Duke may need therapy now -- he's been back and forth to the airport twice and has no idea what's going on. He has helped locate all the missing balls from the Bray house though.

The events of the last week provide us for enough material for a sit com. We've realized it's easier to get a family of four across the border then a car or dog.
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