Posted by: angiefm | April 2, 2011

Two Months On …

Amazing isn’t it?  We’ve been in Montreal for almost three months already!  And what a whirlwind time it has been.  Here are some random updates …

Posing in Vermont

Thankfulness

First up, I have to tell you that I am SO VERY THANKFUL to be here.  I am thankful every day and feel so very very blessed to be living the life I live.  The Good Lord has planned this move for us at just the perfect time of our lives!  I look back and wonder at all His planning.  You know what they say … hindsight is 20/20!  When you look back at your lives, you realise that everything happens for a reason, even though at the time you thought you were getting a rotten deal!  LOL!  I quit my job, we started homeschooling for financial reasons (couldn’t afford Pat’s Schoolhouse on a single income), I started the Home Library, we continued homeschooling, I closed the Home Library, we moved, we moved again, we downsized, decluttered, went maid-free.  All, unbeknownst to us, in preparation for this move.  I am so excited to see what the Lord has planned for us in the coming years!  Because I know that looking back it will all make perfect sense, I am determined to live it forward perfectly also!

Family Life

Mom reading to the littles

Having my parents here with us has been a great blessing.  I have not lived with my parents since we got married 11 years ago.  Honestly I was apprehensive initially.  But it has turned out so very well!  My Mom has been AMAZING around the house – she cooks and cleans, unpacks and packs, looks after the kids, and generally keeps us on our toes.  LOL!  She is one get-up-and-go-and-go-and-go-and-go Energizer Bunny!  And being 24 years younger has done nothing for me in trying to keep up with her.  My Dad is Mr. Handyman around the house.  He has been working on our IKEA shelves and drawers and even successfully fixed the covers of our bedroom ceiling lights, a project which had been abandoned by the electricians who had tried and failed and left the covers on the floor.  He is also our resident entertainer, juggling oranges and lemons and the ocassional kiwi fruit *shudder* after dinner!  And they both help with homeschooling!  🙂  When we entertain (twice already), Mom cooks up a STORM!  And Dad gets the tables ready and washes bowls in between so we can reuse them for dessert!  What a blessing they both are!

Entertaining – Dad with our church Pastor and his dear wife.  See Mom’s famous spread of yummy food!

For 3 weeks from end Feb, my best friend came to visit!  We had a WONDERFUL time with her and she inspired us to do many things and go many places. 🙂  But all good things must come to an end and 2 weeks ago she left for home.  We all spent the next few days moping about the house, not knowing what to do with our time!

Patience

We have had to exercise PATIENCE on many ocassions, something I have little of.  Sigh … we have tried and met with roadblocks when attempting to apply for internet access and a home phone line, to buy mobile phones, we managed to get a Quebec driver’s license only after 6 weeks and since we needed that to buy car insurance before leasing a car, we have had to rent a car (at great cost) in the meantime!  But we have now got our spanking new Toyota Sienna!  We couldn’t even get a COSTCO membership at first!  LOL!  And my Mom was unable to get her prescription filled at the local pharmacy even though it had been issued by the Singapore General Hospital, no less!  There have been frustrating moments when one of us has tried to do something, failed, then attempted to explain to the rest of the disbelieving family why it could not be done.

Oh, and I haven’t even told you about the many times we got lost on the roads because either the GPS was uncooperative and sent us in circles, or the roads and highways were closed (yes, they CLOSE sections of highways here!) and won’t be open till they are repaired after winter!

Ah … but we are all settled now and all is well.  🙂

COLD!

Snowing over our backyard

Speaking of winter … it is COLD here!  Of course the house is well and centrally heated at 21.5 degrees so being indoors isn’t a problem, but once you step outside, or just open the door, the cold is incredible!  The lowest it has gone is -30 degrees C and this week we are finally experiencing temperatures above zero.  Only recently have the kids been going outdoors to play.  And they have been roller-blading with a vengeance! 

View of the snow removal trucks from our living room window. 
It was AMAZING!  Some mobilisation!

The rest of the time we enjoy each other’s company indoors.  Now I know why they say winter in Montreal lasts five months!  The upside of the cold is that we managed to go skiing three times on a slope just half an hour from our house!  Unfortunately the ski season is now over on the lower slopes.  We’ll wait patiently till next winter for it to start again!

Setting Up Home

Boxes of books (right) and kitchen stuff (left)

I just realised recently that we have moved house 3 times in less than 3 years!  In March 2008, we moved from our home in Nim Park (after an en bloc sale), to Sandy Palm in Pasir Ris.  We had rented the apartment because the one we had bought had not yet been built.  Then in May 2010, we moved into our own apartment at Coastal View in Pasir Ris.  And only 8 and a half months later, we packed up and moved to Montreal!  And actually, we spent our first 3 weeks in a rental apartment while waiting for our stuff to arrive and to collect the keys to our rental house, so technically that’s 4 moves in 3 years.  No wonder I feel so tired!  LOL!  We moved into our rented house on Nun’s Island on 1 Feb.  I had hoped to have everything unpacked and done in a week but that proved to be too ambitious.  Because a week later, we realised that we were still short of book and toy shelves and had to head out to IKEA again to buy more.  Well, at the end of Day 12, I proudly announced to Tee Chiou that we were done!  With much credit to WHIRLWIND MOM and HANDYMAN DAD.

Dad and little helper putting together ANOTHER Ikea cupboard

Homeschooling

We very ambitiously started homeschooling 6 days after we moved into the house.  That same afternoon we went out to buy 12 new pieces of IKEA furniture so that derailled our efforts.  But we have now gotten into the swing of things.  The children are back on track reading and narrating from the Bible, doing Math, Chinese reading, French lessons online on www.powerspeak.com.  And we have added Canadian social studies, science, art and journaling to our homeschooling as well.  I will post about our curriculum choices for this year soon.

Schooling at the dining table.  Some things never change.

But if you are keen, check out the language programmes on Power Speak.  It costs 85 USD for a year’s worth of online lessons.  It says 100 bucks, but if you sign up for a demo, they will give you a code for the reduced price.  Because we have been doing so little else, no playdates, no CCAs, no drop-ins from friends and relatives (oh, how I miss those!) the children had lots of free time and have been reading like they have never read before!  So all is good.  🙂

We have inserted ourselves into a little homeschool group which meets in a church about 15 mins away.  We have gone for two sessions now and the kids are enjoying being back in a group!  They meet for 2 hours and do 4 half-hour activities including reading, theater, art/craft and science.  Just this week, we met a lovely homeschooling mom with her two daughters and have had one playdate and an ice skating outing!  So things are looking up.  *grin*

Outings

Mom out with four kids on wheels.  Nathalie’s first time blading!

Because of the oppressive cold, we didn’t do very much in the first few weeks we were here.  But in the last few, we have gone to the Montreal Science Centre, the Pointe-a-Calliere Museum of Archeology & History, the Montreal Biodome, skiing on Mount St. Bruno (three times!), ice skating, tubbing on Mount Royal, shopping at the public markets Marche Atwater and Marche Jean Talon. 

Entering the Flavour Graveyard in the Ben & Jerry’s Factory in Vermont

We have also gone sugaring-off at a Maple Farm, driven down to Vermont for Ben & Jerry’s ice cream and taken the train up to Quebec City for a weekend.  Now with a car, we are able to do so much more.  And we are taking it all in!  Montreal is an exciting and activity-filled place to be!

Shopping

After a shopping day at both Costco and Kim Phat the Asian supermarket
(yes, that’s 20kg of rice and 12 litres of milk!)

We do most of our grocery shopping at COSTCO now.  It’s great since we have 8 mouths to feed (some larger than others).  Everything is packaged in bulk (three jumbo loaves of bread, four 1.89 litre cartons of orange juice, 2.2 kg packages of minced beef, 36 rolls of toilet paper, etc) but so much cheaper than shopping at the regular grocery shops.  The rest of our groceries we buy at an Asian supermarket near our home.  Er … 12 km away is considered near I guess. 

Pork at Kim Phat

There meats are SO CHEAP!  Cheaper than in Singapore.  My Mom is always oo-ing and ah-ing at the prices and the freshness of the cuts of meats there.  The first time we bought chicken carcasses to make soup, we got six whole carcasses for under a dollar!  And there was still lots of meat on it.  We had the soup and the meat over two lunches!  I remember those costing 2 Singapore dollars a piece back home.  You can get practically everything at the Asian supermarket.  Including durian!  LOL!  Only one kind though.  Cannot find D26 or Mao Shan Wang here lah.  🙂

Cooking & Eating Out

When you have Prima and Mom, you can have Char Kway Teow in Montreal!!

Mom has been doing practically ALL the cooking!  She has an amazing repertoire and has been spoiling us with fantastic food everyday!  Even as I type, she is cooking lobster tail laksa for dinner!   YUMS!  We are still having largely Asian meals, with the ocassional stew thrown in for good measure.  We try not to eat out because it is SO EXPENSIVE!  An order of fried rice at a takeaway costs 10 Canadian.  And like we say in Singapore … not nice some more!  But we have caved in several times to the wonderful steaks at our favourite steakhouses in Old Montreal.

French

I will be starting French lessons with Tee Chiou next week.  These are provided free of charge by the Government of Quebec (or Gouvernement Du Quebec) and the invitation to participate was in French!  LOL!  Like if I could understand the invite, I wouldn’t need the lessons right!  🙂  In the meantime, I am happily taking in what I can from everyday situations.  I know that “rabais” means DISCOUNT, “économiser” means I SAVE, and “maintenant” means that’s the price I pay NOW!  I also know that “solde” written across something means that it is on sale, not that it has been SOLD!  I know how to return the greeting in French when I step into a store, but I don’t, because if I did, the sales person would rattle off a string of French words which I don’t understand.  So I say “hi” or “good morning” when I step into a shop, just so they know I don’t speak French, but will say “bonne journée” on the way out to wish them a good day.  Just so I don’t come across like some snooty person who won’t learn the language of the land!

I have been looking for a class to enroll the kids into, but most people I ask look at me strange because all their kids go to school and learn there.  Unless you have special exemptions, all children here attend French-medium schools.  Most of the classes I have found are run during the school holidays only.  So we may have to get a private tutor for them.  See how.  🙂

For Now …

Okay.  I had better publish this post now.  I have been writing it in bits and pieces for over a month now.  *faint*  Will try to do something more profound next time.  Been thinking A LOT about homeschooling recently.  But this will have to suffice for now.  🙂  Till next time!

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Responses

  1. Hi Angie!!

    Am so glad to hear that you are doing well and having great fun! Thanks for the write up and keep updating your fans ok?

    Especially like the photo with your dad and the little helper 🙂 He looks like a cross between Nat and Tim.

    God bless!
    Val

  2. Thank you for update…loved reading your adventures…as a ‘third party’ lookin’in, we can definitely say that God is There. Just like children of Israel in the wilderness…God was there! May HE continue to place you and your family in the right place and right time. PTL for Grandparents too 🙂 so are they staying with you for the long haul that you are there? Haha for all you know…your Mom may start a Singapore Kopi Tiam there. Take care and Keep warm….can see that you eldest girl has grown as much, must be all the ‘meat’.
    Tah for now Carol

  3. Another adventure for you and family with lots of God’s blessings! For once, I have to look at your family photo clearly cos I could not recognise your eldest, she is as tall as you!

  4. Lovely to hear of your experiences..Indeed ALL things work together for the good of those who love Him!

    Shalom..

    Sarah


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