We rang in the New Year with our friends and fellow church members at the Voisard's house in Maple, Canada. It was the first time that we attempted to let our kids stay awake and celebrate "out with the old, in with the new". We were very far from home, but had a great time and the kids made it to midnight without a breakdown. The reality of the situation of our family hit me that night. We don't have any babies. It made it much easier to sit back and relax with the grown-ups while our kids played, unassisted, in the basement. They only to surface when more food was needed.
We spent the first 6 months of our year living in Canada. We lived on Maple Lane in Maple City and noticed maple leaves about everywhere we went. The snow slowly faded away, and then the rain came and drizzled away and before we knew it, we had made it through a Canadian winter.
The boys attended Mackenzie Glen Public School. I love that all three of my older boys can sing "O Canada". They sand it every morning. (When we got back to Utah, they sang it to my grandma who married a Canadian and lived in Western Canada for awhile. It made her cry. Oops. Sorry grandma, hopefully those were happy tears.) I loved the way the school did so many things. Their teachers and staff were amazing and very dedicated to educating and making a difference. (FYI - Canada has three different options for public school. 1. Regular Public School. 2. French Immersion 3. Catholic School. Catholic School surprised me. Separation of church and state? Not if you're Catholic. I'm not Catholic and I have to admit that it didn't bother me. If people want a Catholic school, who cares, I still have a great public school. Slippery slope? I don't think so. But I don't want to get political here, remember happy thoughts only. But I have to just add that it was interesting to experience a different type of government.) The school was right down the street. I could hear the bells ring from my house. We had a wonderful neighborhood that we all miss. It was perfect for us.
As soon as the weather calmed down, people started to surface throughout the city. We found kids that lived close by that were in the boys school classes. It seems like the snow had been keeping people hidden, but the warmer days pulled a blanket off. It was so nice to be out and about, visit parks and start to see the sights again. While we were in the Toronto area, we travled to Ottawa (the capital) and visited museums and saw Parliament. We got a membership to a museum in Toronto called the Science Museum and spent quite a lot of time there. We also were able to go to a Jays Baseball Game, climb the CN tower, visit the Royal Ontario Museum, visit the trains downtown, take a ferry to Center Island, explore Casa Loma, travel to Palmyra New York, Harvard, New Hampshire, and Vermont. One of my favorite things was date night. Almost every Friday evening, Glenn and I would venture out and eat food from around the world. There are a lot of first generation immigrants in the city and we took advantage of the wonderful food that came with them. The ones I can remember right now are Persian, Greek, Italian (since we lived in an "Italian City".), Thai, Vietnamese, and Indian. I felt my life was complete even without ever trying sushi, (probably due to a horrible caviar experience complete with dry heaves) but tried it for the first time. The only food that we didn't eat while in Canada was Mexican because we get plenty of that in Utah.
|Our gazebo that attached to our back deck - our favorite place for lunch and smoothies.|
During the first part of the year, out of the blue, a recruiter called us and asked if we wanted a job back in Utah. At first we said no. Then through a long story, we decided that we would see if the job was still open, even though weeks had passed. It was and within a couple of weeks they had flown Glenn out to Salt Lake and we had accepted a job. With mixed feelings, we said good-bye to the wonderful people we had met and the beautiful surroundings of Ontario, Canada. We made friends there that we know we will keep forever.
The night before we left, our neighbors/landlords had a party in their backyard just two doors down. There was great food, swimming and roasted marshmallows. They watched the kids as we finished packing.
It was a late night, but they woke up early to see us off. Little did we know that our good bye would be so short. We were back five minutes later when we realized that we had forgotten the cat.
We drove across Ontario and crossed the border in Michigan. We told the border cop we were moving back into the country. He smiled and warmly said, "Welcome home." It felt good. We dropped our car off in Detroit at an old high school friend's house. "Hi, I haven't seen you for 15 years, can we leave our car at your house until the shipping company comes?" It worked out really well. Small town connections never die, especially with Facebook.
We then stopped in Chicago where our high school friends, Ben and Jana live. Ben wen to high school with Glenn and I went with Jana. It makes for a good time when we see them again. Jana and I stayed up and cried 'til we laughed, or rather laughed 'til we cried. Of coarse this was after searching for our cat who had escaped the van at 12:30 am. Glenn and Ben gave her up for dead, but Jana and I kept searching and Jana spotted her by luck, or a blessing. Who finds a black cat at 1:30 am in Chicago? We were thankful we didn't have to tell Porter. Chelsea (the cat) is his and he cuddles with her like a teddy bear when he is feeling down. Of all the kids, he was the one who didn't want to leave Canada the most. He wanted to live there forever. So loosing his cat would not have made matters better.
We packed up that morning and made our way to Navoo, Illinois. We stayed there and visited the sites and Carthage Jail. We want to visit again since there is much too much to experience in a couple of days.
Our last night we spent in Cheyenne, Wyoming with Glenn's sister. It was one of those surreal moments. There we sat around her dinner table as we had 9 months before on our way out to Canada. On our way out, we were experiencing a nervous anticipation. We were taking the first step of a grand adventure and had all the feelings that go along with that.We didn't know what life would be like in our future. There were a lot of unknowns. Fast forward to June and as we sat at the same place with the same people, we felt like different people. We reflected on the people that we had become. I felt more confident. I felt happy with the world. Happy that I had gone to a place that was foreign to me, but that we had made a good life there. Life had carried on. We had loved so many people. It refreshed my mind to the fact that there is good everywhere and home can be found anywhere.
We arrived back in Utah and found our home as we had left it. We jumped back into life and Canada almost became like a dream. It was as though things here hadn't changed much. We were with most of the same people who were doing mostly the things they were when we left. We had this experience that is hard to explain to anyone else. I'm so glad that I had my family to share it with because the memories seem to dim as time marches, but I guess they'd dim whether we went to Canada or stayed put in our little home. Time does that. It doesn't wait for anyone. It is a foe at times and won't pause or speed up as we desire. But a friend at times. Since it doesn't wait, it takes us with it. It challenges us to keep up, but it won't leave us behind because it never leaves us. As the year carries on, I think of my friends back in Canada. I think of how their lives are going forward, without us. That is okay. Life is supposed to carry on no matter what the circumstances. That is when time is a friend. We know we can count on it to go forward, even when we might be afraid to. Sometimes we want it to keep going, or to go faster. It seems my years are getting shorter, even though I'm at a point in my life where I'd like time to take a break. I want to savor these moments a little more; I want to taste them a bit more deeply. That is my now.
The remainder of our year has seemed like a short breath. We were able to see some of our Canadian friends in St. George after we came home. We spent the 4th of July in St. George and Paragonah, Utah - a tradition that we are glad we didn't have to miss. We now have grass in both our back and front yards, a trampoline and a sandbox. It feels complete.
Christian started the fiddle, played flag football, and started at a new school, once again. He was a ranger, like from Ranger's Apprentice for Halloween.
Porter started piano, played soccer and basketball and started 2nd grade. He was "Hairy Porter" for Halloween. We got him a Harry Potter costume and then put lots of hair on him.
Warrick started Kindergarten again and can play 1/2 of Good King Wenceslas on the piano. (In Canada, he was allowed to start Kindergarten since their cut-off dates are different. As a matter of fact, they have Jr. Kindergarten that you can start the year you turn 4.) Warrick was "Dr. Super Mater" for Halloween. His costume consisted of a Mater mechanic costume from Cars, a super man cape and chemistry glasses worn around his neck. He added an elf hat so people couldn't guess what he was. Just between you and me, I don't think the elf hat was necessary.
Stafford, I think, has no clue that we even lived in Canada. We drove for a long while and now we call a new place home. He still loves horses and wants horses, trains and a tractor for Christmas. He asks at least once a day if it is time to open the presents. He is in a co-op preschool.
So there it is. Our year. Our family.