Posted by: angiefm | July 17, 2011

Six Months On

Yes, I know.  I’ve been awfully quiet on this blog.  My apologies.  I have had a couple of posts in draft for a very long time, but for some reason, I have not been able to find time to sit and blog.  No, I can’t say I’ve been terribly busy either.  After my parents left Montreal end May, I did have to spend more time each day doing what my Mom had been doing all those months she was here!  🙂  I had to clean, and think about meals and actually cook them.  I continued homeschooling but no longer had Mom’s help with Daniel, so there was a lot of training (re-training) to do there as well.

But then we settled into a new and very good routine.  The kids help out so much more now.  No more Grandma to pick up the slack!  *heh heh heh*  Meal prep, laundry, packing up, putting away, cleaning floors and toilets … they do it all now.  Ah … I live the good life!  😀

Wednesday is Toilet-Cleaning Day.  Alethea takes care of the children’s bathroom and Timothy does the guest toilet.

We just took a little 5-day break to drive down to the 1000 Islands region.  We stayed at a lovely little town called Gananoque (pronounced “way” at the end).  We were originally heading for Toronto, but I couldn’t imagine doing the 6+ hour drive with Daniel in the car.  *shudder*  So we picked a place about 3 hours away and used that as a base to drive a little around that region.  We came back all “chao-tah” (sunburnt) and looking healthier for it!  Ah … summer!

On the grass outside Upper Canada Village about two hours from home.

So here’s a little about various things happening in our lives six months on …

FOOD

Typical Singaporean.  First thing on my mind.  🙂  I keep telling myself I have to menu plan for my own sanity, but I can’t seem to get down to doing it.  Sigh … Like today.  I took a nap *luxury* and only came down at 4.30 in the afternoon with no plans for dinner.  Fortunately I had taken out a piece of pork from the freezer yesterday, so I sliced that up, marinated it and had Tee Chiou throw it on the barbecue while I cooked rice, fried a chai poh (pickled raddish) omelette and stir fried a frozen oriental vegetable mix.

We took out our precious stash of Mom’s satay when a family of four (good friends from our church in Singapore), came to visit in June.

We are still eating largely Asian meals (because Tee Chiou prefers it) though with the kids at lunch I tend to do easier Western-style dishes like pasta, sandwiches, baked rice, soups, etc.  My Thermomix has been working very well for us in this way.  I am so very thankful we have it!

Baking bread is child’s play (almost) when you have a Thermomix.  Bread dough in 3 mins.  Clean hands, clean kitchen counters.  This is the first loaf I baked here.

We have cut down on eating out.  Do it maybe once or twice a month now.  We were doing it more often when my parents were here.  Even if we are going to be out for the day, I try to pack sandwiches to take for a picnic lunch.  You can always find a park bench to sit on in Montreal.  😀  Eating out is not just expensive.  It is largely unsatisfying unless you are prepared to spend a lot in a good restaurant.  Also Daniel isn’t exactly fun to have at the dinner table in a fancy restaurant.

Picnicing on Mont Royal, from where Montreal gets it’s name.

WEATHER

We have gone from freezing winter to hot hot summer!  Some nights have been so warm we were wishing for Singapore-style airconditioning!  We have central airconditioning here, but the basement gets really cold (even though we close the vents there), the first floor is great, but the cold air doesn’t seem to get up to our bedrooms.  We hear it will be like this, some days humid too, for the rest of July.  It should get cooler in August, then, we’ve been warned, we will regret not celebrating the warm weather!  No wonder people here get crazy happy when it’s HOT outdoors!  I guess it will take us a while to appreciate it, after being in hot and humid Singapore for 40+ years!

Cartwheeling in the sprinkler playground.  That water is COLD!

The wonderful thing about summer has been seeing flowers bloom!  I did a spot of gardening myself and surprised Tee Chiou with a new flower plot outside our house where there once were brambly bushes.  It had cost me 34 dollars plus too many hours in the sun.  But it was worth it.

The flowers I planted.  On the day they were planted.  They look way better now because there are more flowers.  But it is 10 pm and I can’t get an updated photo.  🙂

Our attempts with fruits and vegetables have been exciting but not long lasting.  I think I actually need to fertilise the plants, maybe?  🙂  We have strawberry, salad leaves and tomatos in pots (harvested much!) and I have planted cucumbers, eggplant (flowering but not fruiting yet), and basil (the birds keep shitting on the plant so I cannot bear to use the leaves to make pesto!) in the backyard.

Sadly, all the flowers, fruits and vegetables will die in winter.  We have some perennials (Mom planted them before she left) in a flower bed, but they are not as colourful as the others.  Another thing I learnt recently.  🙂

HOMESCHOOLING

Homeschooling has been going well.  We have found our rythym again.  Sure took us a long time!  We are desperately trying to finish our math workbooks before end August so that the children will be in sync with the school year when it starts end August.  It is hard to believe but Alethea will be in Grade 6.  Where has the time gone?

Group photo at the end of the homeschool group closing ceremony in May.  Our kids recited poetry.  So typical.  LOL!

The kids are now having French lessons twice a week for two hours each time.  A lovely lady comes over to our place for that and rattles off in French.  We have also been listening to French audio books, reading simple French story books, singing children’s songs, and we are using two resources for learning French which I will post about separately.

New Old BOOKS!  We bought these from two used bookshops we found on our recent holiday to the 1000 Islands.  Couldn’t tear ourselves away from the shops!

Chinese lessons are still continuing with Daddy.  We are still homeschoolers under the MOE and still responsible for teaching Chinese.  But not having an environment to speak or otherwise use it, has made it increasingly difficult to keep the kids motivated to learn.  Some successes to report though … Alethea is now reading Chinese story books on her own!  Albeit slowly.  But she is able, and willing, and that’s all we ever wanted.

The kids of the families we hang out with.

We are still hanging out with two other homeschool families now that the homeschool group is in recess for the summer.  Alethea hasn’t quite found that ONE good friend yet, and we are praying for that to happen soon.  We still miss our friends and family back home DESPERATELY.  The one downside of being here.

LIFE IN GENERAL

… has been great!  Tee Chiou’s working hours are so much more reasonable here.  We have dinner earlier, and have a couple of hours to just chill, read, watch some TV (Tin Tin in French, anyone?) before bedtime, which is still between 10 to 11.  Everyone is horrified when they hear how late our kids sleep.  8 to 9 pm is the norm here.  But the other day, a homeschooler from Singapore who recently relocated to Toronto, called me at 9.15 pm.  I told her I couldn’t talk long because I was reading to the kids in preparation for bed.  And she said, “Huh?  So early?”  I had a good chuckle over it because it was the first time in 6 months I had heard anything like that!

This must be one of life’s greatest pleasures.  To see your children run to you when you call.

There are many wonderful things to do in Summer.  Picnics, the Jazz Festival, puppet shows, parades.  There are also the international fireworks displays but these start at 10 pm and so we have decided maybe we’ll catch them next year.  Montreal is buzzing with activity.  People eat outdoors at home and at cafes.  It is a far cry from how it looked, felt and sounded when we first arrived in the middle of winter.  Watching the seasons change has been one of the most glorious experiences for me.  I watch in wonder, and say with Job:

But ask the animals, and they will teach you,
or the birds in the sky, and they will tell you;
or speak to the earth, and it will teach you,
or let the fish in the sea inform you.
Which of all these does not know
that the hand of the LORD has done this?
In his hand is the life of every creature
and the breath of all mankind.

Job 12:7-10, NIV Bible

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Responses

  1. Hey Angie! Good to hear from you again. I see snippets of your life in pics in my FB newsfeed. Glad that you’re having a good time. While you’re not blogging, your site still serve as a good resource. Few days ago, wondering where I should start, I clicked on the domus academy link and found the write out on Nathalie’s 3-4 year old booklist, and thought the list is a good place to start for some home teaching with my 3.5 year old Celeste. Thank you! I am also enjoying reading the CM ebook and learning more about education.

  2. Hi! I’ve just finished homeschooling for a year & keep wondering if I’m covering enough. Would appreciate some advice.

  3. Hi Angie, Really good to hear from you again. I am looking forward to your French resources as my 4 years old daughter is also learning the language.

    Take care & cheers
    wendy


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