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Currently living the dream of moving to Toronto for 12 months for a Firefighter Exchange!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Toronto Zoo

We had a fairly low-key week with Troy getting a few more hockey games in.  He thinks becuase he is an Aussie, he can just turn up to any game and get a skate.  So far he has been right!
Troy has also been over to Bob's this week to do a bit of labouring.  They worked until about 5:30pm one afternoon and Troy was complaining about the cold, especially his cold hands.  Candace must have had enough of his complaining because she bought him a pair of work gloves to use when he is at Bob's.  I think Bob is especially happy as he now gets a little more outdoor work time out of Troy before the snow flies!

We had some quite cold weather this week.  One day it got down to zero - Troy was working that night and reckons it snowed on him, just slightly.  The car had ice on it at 7am the following morning!  Thankfully, the Cossarini house is really warm and we have only had to run the heat a couple of times so far.  Jack is proving to be a real pain in the you-know-what in regards to his SHOES.  Everytime I turn my back, he is kicking off his shoes and socks.  And it is almost impossible to keep a jacket on him.  I am told that this will change when the temps get below zero, but for now the whole neighbourhood can hear me saying, "Jack put your shoes on!"  and "Jack, where is your bloody jacket?".

We went to Toronto Zoo on Saturday.  We were told that the zoo is really spread out so we invested ($5) to hire a wagon for the day.  Thank god we did, because it was a loooooong day and we (Troy and I) did a lotttttttt of walking!  Jack would have been really pooped and probably not made it on his own.  We really enjoyed it there, but ran out of time towards the end.  You could quite easily spend a couple of days there.  There are a lot of picnic areas, which I was impressed to see.  The fall colours were lovely and the leaves on the ground were just gorgeous!
Jack's favourite animal was the peacock - we bring him all the way across the world and his favourite thing is the PEACOCK??!!!   Anyway, my favourite was the red panda, snow leopard and polar bears.  Troy's favourite was the bears.  They look so cuddly!  

 The red panda!

 OH YEAH!!! Beaver Tails! 

 A beaver - sooooo cute. 

I only had one or two moments where I felt a bit sad and guilty for supporting animals in captivity.  I reminded myself that zoos were a good thing for endangered animals and did wonderful research etc, but I couldn't shake the feeling that most of the animals at the zoo were living a very sad and lonely life.

 I was surprised to see that these flamingos were actually apricot in colour, not pink.

Troy reckons the Grizzly looks like a big teddy bear that you could cuddle!!
hmmm I think not.
Everytime I saw these cats Troy would have to remind me that they are not KC and they actually want to eat me!! Not true 'cause I am a cat whisperer!
We didn't get home until 6pm that afternoon and after having a light dinner, baths and getting into our jarmies, we all settled down for a family DVD night.  Jack chose to watch Harry Potter and during the scary parts, he acted brave and covered my eyes for me and said, "it's okay, it's okay...I'm here".  How sweet.

The gorgeous maple tree in front of our house has started to turn and has already dropped most of it's leaves.  We were unsure of what the 'leaf ettiquette' is over here as we noticed that some people raked their leaves and others didn't.   Troy made the executive decision that we would wait until they all fell and we would rake them all up in one hit.   He then decided to revise his decision when he saw how many leaves there were on the ground and the tree still had much much more to drop!   He went to work one day with the intention of raking them up when get finished work at 7am the following morning.  Well.....we had an especially windy day while he was at work so when he got home, all the leaves were GONE!  Oooops.  Seems the blew away and we have no idea where they went.  Both of our neighbours yards are quite clear, so we suspect they might be a few blocks away.  Oh dear.  We hope the leaf police don't track us down. 

Jack's achievement in the past week or two has been WHISTLING!  He thinks he is pretty deadly.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Our Weekend

On Saturday Troy was working (gee this working stuff is really inconvenient sometimes), so Candace invited Jack and I to visit the Donnelly's Cottage in Muskoka.   The cottage is located on Joseph Bay which is a particularly wealthy and ritzy area in Muskoka.  My informants tell me that Goldie Hawn & Kurt Russell have a cottage there as well as other celebrities!   May I now remind you that the word 'cottage' is used very loosely here in Canada.  This is a good indication - the following picture is of a neighbouring property's BOATHOUSE!

Jim Donnelly's cottage is fantastic.  It was designed and built in the 1970's by an architect who is apparently a bit left-field!   There is a converted garage and upper level which have both been converted into guest quarters.   The cottage reminded me a little of Mum and Dad's home in Balls Lane, due to the split levels and sunken areas.

We enjoyed some sightseeing in Port Carling where Candace showed us a huge mural on the side of one of the buildings.  When you looked closer, it was made up of hundreds of individual historic photos of the area and locals from 1860 to 1960.  It was a real sight and I was kicking myself that I forgot my camera on that drive!

Jack did some fishing (the Donnelly's kindly gifted Jack his very own fishing rod and tackle box) in the minus 20 conditions.  I nearly jumped for joy when he got a snag and we had to go inside!  Candace had made us a lovely dinner of stuff jumbo pasta shells and of course some more pies!  This time I experience banana cream pie which I reckon Graeme and Dad will ADORE!  Candace makes the most gorgeous pastry as well, so I hope I can replicate this when I get home to Oz.

We enjoyed a wonderful day and evening with the Donnelly's once again.  We hope to be able to go back up to the cottage again in summer next year before we come home and hopefully stay a couple of nights!

On Sunday, my antique-loving soul mate Bob took us all to the local Antique Market at St Lawrence Market (downtown).   We stopped for breakfast along the way to keep the kids (Troy and Jack) happy with full tummies while we browsed the market.  There were some really different and interesting stalls.  I saw so many different things that I would have been very tempted to buy if I didn't have to lug it all home to Australia.   Whenever I go to garage sales in Townsville with Nat, we always keep a look out for rifles and metal jerry cans for Peter (my bush buddy from work).  When we arrived at the Antiques Market, I jokingly reminded Troy to keep an eye out for jerry cans and rifles for Peter and then about 20mins later we found a huge rifle!!!  We had a good chuckle.

After the market, Troy had to go and play Rugby League for the Florida Team trial game.  He was just making up the numbers for them.  Bob, Candace, Jack and I caught the ferry over to Ward Island.  We got to see some gorgeous little cottages (the real type) and it was such a gloriously sunny day!  We came across a friendly cat who is THE fattest cat I think I have ever seen.  YES, even fatter than Chad.

 This is the view looking at Toronto from the ferry.

 Bob doing his best 'I'm a friendly cat' impersonation.

Jack and Candace sitting on a giant Muskoka chair.  I have actually informed Troy that I would like him to make these chairs for around our pool area.  Luckily for him, Bob has the plans!

On Sunday evening, we had dinner at Bob's house (Candace cooked pork tenderloins and vegetables).  Candace has a dog named Bear at her house and we Jack has been terrified of Bear since he first met him a couple of months ago.  On Sunday, while we were at Candace's house preparing dinner, Jack actually patted Bear which was a very big step for him!  Let's hope Jack's confidence continues to grow because poor old Bear is such a sook of a dog and I'm sure he can't understand why Jack is so scared of him!

Troy arrived back at Bob's house after his Rugby League game and just in time for dinner.  He got out of the car with:
a) a sling
b) a 2kg bag of ice
c) a box of ziploc bags
d) a roll of cling wrap
e) a coke

Thankfully, no broken nose.  BUT he did pop his shoulder out again (hence the sling) and he was sore pretty much everywhere else. 

Candace also found some halloween gear for Jack, which included a lion costume she made for her kids when they were little.  Of course we had to try it on!

Friday, October 15, 2010


So I have had a go at Hockey and I am now hooked!! I am absolutely useless at it and it turns my legs to jelly after a little while. One of the guys at the firehall was kind enough to lend me his gear for a game. The first game I had was with the A shift Toronto firefighters from around the district. It’s called pickup hockey, there is no ref and no face offs just good clean fun. I was a bit wobbly when I first got out on the ice but after a bit of skating it was all coming back to me. The skating is not the problem though.....its the freaking stick. First of all I thought I would be right handed(left hand up right hand down) but once I was out on the ice, it was uncomfortable to skate that way so I figured I am actually left handed for hockey. Doesn’t sound right but think of the stick as a big broom and then picture how you would use that broom, usually holding the end of the broom with your preferred hand and guiding it with the other. After coming off and on a few times changing sticks from right to left and then back to right and then finally back to left handed I had an opportunity to guide the puck from our end and then make a pass hopefully to one of our players. This was very ugly...OMG I couldn’t keep it in front of me for a start....I over took the puck....who does that?? Finally in my own graceful way I guided the puck back to in front of me and then thought I should just get rid of this thing before I make MORE of a fool of myself. Now the only reason the puck didn’t get stolen is because the other team was letting me have a go. Anyway I gingerly try to flick the puck as it gets too far out in front of me and of course I miss it!!! So I catch up to it and by the time I have gathered myself to have another try I am starting to overtake the puck again!!ARRRGHHH!! finally on the third try I get rid of this FREAKING rubber disc. After a few more goes it gets a bit easier but I am still very gumby. After about half hour I was starting to fatigue and just randomly falling over when nothing was going on around me.....SHAME!!!!

As Erin was at the cat shelter I had Jack with me, He was by himself but seemed to love watching from the stands. When we finished he had to go out a different way and I was going to meet him at the bottom of the stairs, because I had skates on still I couldn’t go in to get him. So It looks like Jack has the navigation skills of his Mother....He went down the wrong stairs and because I wasn’t there to meet him he started to get upset. Meanwhile when he didn’t make it to the door I was at and knowing he was probably getting scared I was trying to get my skates off quickly with the little energy I had left so I could go and find my poor little man. He had held himself together quite well but he was starting to worry and get a bit sad....oh!!

After the game Bob asked if anyone had spare gear that they could lend me for a year. Turns out the goalie had a full set of playing gear from when he had a go out of the goals. So thanks to the generosity of the firefighters over here I can enjoy hockey each time without hassling anyone for spare gear.

When we were at Alvinston we watched Pat’s Nephew play hockey (under 9s ) They could skate circles around me. Anyhow I saw a move that I thought was my style of hockey, and not too technical either. I turned to Erin and said “that’s a bit of me that move”

A shift pick up hockey is every 2 weeks which is a really long time so I did some searching and I found some random pickup hockey at a different place so I organised to join in, it had been a week since my first attempt at hockey. I put on my new borrowed gear and hit the ice.....Holy WTF is wrong with these skates????? Turns out the skates have been sharpened with a concave in them!!! OMG they have so much grip....but now I can’t stop!!! After a few minutes I learnt how to stop again but it requires a lot more concentration than before. This time I was a little more useful on the ice but because of the stopping problem I hit the wall a few times....and other players hahahaha. Anyway it was the perfect time to pull out my new move....they had the puck they had just entered our third, it was just me and him. He was coming down the left side and I was chasing, a little bit behind but on the inside. As he lined up to take a shot at goals I dove out in front sliding on my gut like a penguin between him and the goals.....As I slid past him I waved my stick at the puck trying to tip it to no avail. I didn’t see what happened after that because I had other things to worry about....like the wall I am heading for head first!!! Now while this move may not have been very effective I still think it is better than me trying to tackle the player because I’ll be stuffed if I can even get near that freaking round rubber disc. Now when I think about it the kid slid on his knees and he seemed to get up easier than me...I will keep working on it.

Until next time.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Updates about Jack

Well Jack is really enjoying all the bike riding we have been doing.  His little bag of tricks and stunts over the past few weeks has consisted of:
a) riding along and taking a hand of the handlebars to pump his fist in the air in victory
b) riding standing up....we all remember feeling pretty deadly doing this, hey?
c) sprinting along and then slamming the brakes on and doing a skid.  Bonus points are awarded if the skid travels sideways and kicks out a bit.

This week, he was riding along and took both hands off the handle bars.  When he realised that he could do this and not fall off, his face broke out in a huge grin and he yelled, "Mum, did you SEE that?"  Second attempt was a bit longer and same result.  Third attempt was much much longer...resulting in the handle bars crossing up and Jack stacking it over the handle bars!   Mother of the year saw the whole thing and it was like a slow motion train wreck.  He had his helmet so there was no blood.  Just injured pride.   I thought that would cure his stunt ambitions for a while but it seems he takes after his father.  After the tears were dried and we commenced our ride to school, he tried again.  This time he was a bit more cautious and pulled it off.   I wonder what he'll think of next. 

Although there are disadvantages to his current half-day schooling, there are positives as well.  We quite enjoy the lazy mornings of rolling out of bed whenever we feel like it, followed by some leisurely play and relaxation.  At the moment, it is still dark at 7am, so it's lucky we don't have to get him out of bed and ready for school in the mornings.   Last week, I had to get him up early for Troy's hockey game (7.15am) and he was NOT impressed! 

The superintendent of the Toronto District School Board has assessed our request to have Jack moved into grade one and has set aside her decision until he gets his first report card in mid-November.  EEEEEEKKK.  We are cramming like crazy trying to get him really smart (ha ha).  He announced at the dinner table the other day that he hates his new school.  Seems he doesn't appreciate his homework and extra work we are shoving down his throat at the moment.  Sigh....you really know you have achieved the ultimate goal as a parent when you get to say, "sit up and do your homework!  There will be no more talking until it's done!"

Jack's latest great question of the week involves sleeping arrangements.  He just cannot understand why he has to sleep alone, but Troy and I don't.   It doesn't matter how we try to explain or justify the rules, he doesn't buy it.  He knows he is getting the raw deal and it's totally not fair.  However, he continues to ask every couple of days, just to see if the rules still apply.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Thanksgiving Continued.....


After enjoying all the glorious food and drinks and dessert at Mrs Donnelly's Thanksgiving celebration, Candice has invited me to visit with her again on Boxing Day when the Donnelly's have their Christmas get together.  I am really looking forward to it.

Jack loved playing with the kids and told me he has a best friend who is a grown-up.  Ha ha.  Turns out it is a nice kid who is about 12years old.  He was teaching Jack how to play Hockey in the backyard.  

 The Lift Locks in Petersborough

                                             Jack playing in the leaves at Petersborough!

Mrs Donnelly's Thanksgiving table.
Everyone else had to perch or stand somewhere to eat.  I felt very privileged to be invited to sit at the important table!  There were people in the lounge room eating, the hallways, the stair cases etc - you get the picture.


On Sunday, Pat and Melissa invited us to visit Pat's family for their Thanksgiving celebration.  We travelled out to Alvinston which is a very small town about 2hrs southish-eastish (you should know by now that I am no good with geography).  Pat's mum and dad live in a lovely home and his brother, sister-in-law and their SIX kids live around the corner.  Jack was in heaven with all the kids (aged from about ten to six months - five boys and one girl).  When we arrived, we went to watch Pat's nephew play hockey at an ice skating rink.  They looked so cute on the ice - we think it was the under 8's team and Troy officially announced that they have loads more skill than he does!  Unfortunately, his nephew lost but we really enjoyed the game. 

We then visited the local bee meadery and purchased some honey (it is soooo good) and some Mead which I learnt is a type of wine made from honey.  I got to sample most of them, so I was slightly hammered by the time we left. 
We also visited a friend named Kris who we met at the Ottawa Fallen Firefighters Memorial March and he gave us a tour of the local Alvinston Fire Hall.

This fire engine had a siren you had to wind up! 

We then went to the local store to buy some wine etc.  I was rather impressed to see they also sold rifles, spears and most hunting equipment.  I was reminded of my good mate from work, Peter and was seriously wondering if customs would let me bring back some weaponry for him..... I think not.

Thanksgiving dinner at Pat's childhood home was fantastic!  We also got to meet Grandma and Grandpa. It turns out that it was Pat's birthday on the Sunday and Grandma's on Saturday, so Pat's mum made them a birthday cake to share.

We had the glorious Thanksgiving meal of turkey, cranberries, stuffing, potatoes, salads etc etc.  It was so good!  Pat's mum cooked a wonderful feast!!!  The kids sat at the table in the kitchen and were invited to share with everyone something that they are thankful for.  Jack said that he was thankful for his friends.  How nice.....don't worry about your bloody mum and dad who provide for you and love you!!!!  He dropped us like a hot potato for his new buddies!
All the kids played and played well into the evening and were absolutely shattered by the end of the day.


On Sunday, we travelled back to Toronto to have our own Thanksgiving with an Aussie twist.  We invited Bob and Candice over for roast lamb and vegies, followed by chocolate pavlova.
We had a great night!  I was in heaven as we haven't had any lamb since arriving in Canada and I have missed it!   Bob even bought over some Mint Sauce to go with it. 

The choccy pav also went down a treat as it always does. 

So as you can see, we had a very BUSY Thanksgiving weekend with THREE Thanksgiving celebrations.  We thought that since we are only hear for a year, we would accept any and all invitations!   It is such a touching gesture for people to include us in their family's celebrations, after knowing us for only a short time.  So, we are very thankful for the wonderful friends we have met over here in Canada - some of the most generous, friendly, warm and caring people we have ever met.

Happy Thanksgiving! XXXXX