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

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas from the (second) best place on Earth!!!

It is Christmas Eve night here is beautiful Canada.   Outside is about minus 2 degrees, the house is warm, Jack has had his bath and is now enjoying eating an orange in front of a Christmas movie on TV.  We have already put out a plate of biscuits (cookies) and milk for Santa and another orange (forgot the carrot, bad mother) for the reindeer.   Unfortunately, Troy is working and won't be home until 7.30am Christmas morning. 

I know that Thanksgiving is the time of traditional 'thanks' but Christmas evokes more meaningful memories for us Australians.  I think the constant Christmas Carols on the radio, the snow, the good friends and the experience we are having right now....well we are just so lucky and thankful.  Thanks to the Cossarini family for being a wonderful exchange family.  We were very lucky to link up with you guys!  And their extended families - we know you are just a call away if we need you.   Thanks to the wonderful network of friends that we have over here.  From the Fire Hall boys to the neighbours to the new friends we have made along the way....I can honestly tell you that I would be on a plane heading back to Australia (probably without Troy :) by now if it weren't for you all.  You have all enriched our lives and taken us under your (turkey) wings to ensure we are happy, have everything we need and that we are getting the very best out of our experience. 

And thank you to our families and friends back home who didn't throw total tantrums when we announced we were doing this exchange (well Marnie and Yvonne threw mini-tantrums)....you have supported us and encouraged us to reach for the stars and to jump into the unknown.  

Tomorrow, we will be spending the day with a few presents and a light lunch before heading over to Barbie's house for a big Turkey Christmas dinner.    We wish you all a very happy and safe Christmas.   XXXXXX

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Xmas Trees, Good times and Hockey

The snow continues to fall in Toronto.  With a bit of spare time on my hands, I am often found sitting by the front window with a coffee, gazing outside daydreaming.  The snow is very mesmerising when it is floating and falling softly.   We had quite a heavy snow fall a few days back and Troy and I spent some time looking outside at the cars which were skidding and losing control on the corner into our street!  Must be Aussie drivers.
The roads have been quite good, really.  Most of the roads we travel on are regularly ploughed and salted, so they are quite clear and good.   The cars get really, really dirty here from all the salt and crap on the roads.  We are still figuring out how people keep them washed and clean when the outdoor water (garden taps) are turned off at the main for the winter time!  Must be a car wash job. 

We have not yet used the snowblower to clear the driveway and sidewalk (footpath) as shovelling is still a novelty.  Jack shovelled nearly the entire bottom part of the driveway last week all by himself!  Now we just have to teach him how to use the mower

Candace treated Bob, Troy and I to a concert last Friday night.  Candace's daughter, Shea babysat Jack for the evening.  We went to see a band called 'Skydiggers', which is a Canadian band who formed in 1989.  They are a great band with some beautiful harmonies.  They were playing at the Horseshoe Tavern downtown, so after enjoying a meal before the show, we headed to the Tavern.  Doors opened at 9pm and after sitting for close to one and a half hours, the band came out and played.  Candace and Bob were a bit miffed that they weren't playing their good old songs and instead seemed to be promoting a new album.   I was wondering where their beautiful melodies were!  After the sixth song, they announced that they were the support band and that Skydiggers would be out next!!!  WHAT???  But it's now 11pm!  Oh god, looks like a late night.  We spent the next 50minutes hanging shit on Bob and Candace for thinking they were the skydiggers!!!  So, at 11:50pm, the Skydiggers came out - we think we may give them some feedback that as their loyal fans are mainly people over the age of 30yo, it is strongly advised to appear EARLIER so that the oldies don't get too sleepy and tired and have to go home. 

Anyway, it was definitely worth the wait.  They have a really different sound and yes, their harmonies ARE beautiful.  We really enjoyed the concert.  

On Saturday, Candace took the Bower family to Hockley Valley Tree Farm so we could pick out a real christmas tree.  They have five different varieties of christmas trees growing in their plantation and you just walk out, pick a tree, cut it down and then drag it back to your car.  We took a ride on the horse drawn wagon, just for the extra country christmas experience.

We found our tree!

Troy was not very happy that Candace and I spent a long time walking through all the trees, when he found one right in the first row!   Of course, the good trees were at the very back of the plantation and before long we found the one!  The snow on the ground was about 30cms deep, so it was fun stomping through the snow!  It's not so much fun stomping all the way back, dragging the tree!  I tried to get some christmas carolling going, without success.  We were exhausted when we got back to the wagon which thankfully gave us a ride back to the main area.   After enjoying a hot chocolate, we strapped the trees on and headed for home.   The whole thing had a bit of a Chevy Chase "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation" feel to it, which I loved!

On Sunday, Bob's neighbours Tom and Joe invited us to Christmas Drinks at their house.  Tom and Joe are really lovely and I got a tour through their house (they live behind Bob).  They have the most beautiful stained glass casement windows which are recessed deeply in their living room walls.  It was nice to meet some of the other neighbours and to enjoy the afternoon with lovely people.   

On Monday, Troy did some more work with Bob on his house.  Now that winter is well and truly here, Bob is focusing his attention on doing his kitchen and hall/entrance area.  Troy still really enjoys working over there and Bob is so happy to have another set of hands to help him out.  Bob says it has also given him the motivation he needs to continue his house restoration project.  He has run out of blood, sweat and tears from the past eight or so years of restoration work....so now Troy is donating his blood, sweat and tears!   They are making great progress and it's great to see the progress week to week.  
We had a lovely roast dinner at Candace's house on Monday evening and then we all strapped on our ice skates and headed down to the lake to skate along the ice trail.  It's like an outdoor rink but more like a outdoor ice path with trees with fairy lights and christmas carols playing.   Jack is getting good at skating.  He is able to skate along unaided and is starting to get the hang of gliding on the skates, rather than shuffling along.  He wanted to skate by himself most of the night and we weren't allowed to skate beside him.  Mr Independent.  The atmosphere was really special and although we were only their for about an hour or so, I will remember it for a lifetime.
This morning, we went to hockey to watch Troy/Daddy play.  It is the first time I have watched Troy play a real game of hockey and for those of you who know and love Troy, it will be no surprise to hear that he is a NATURAL!  I know I am a little biased, but he is seriously quite good and even scored another goal.  He did a few tricky moves which resembled the quickstep and cha cha cha, but on a whole he skates very well and his puck handing is pretty good, considering he has only been playing for a month or two!  He and Bob were playing on opposing sides, so there was a little sledging and nudging.   Some photos are below:  Troy is in the red shirt, number 20.  Bob is in the white shirt with red stripes, number 22.

 Troy and Bob (above) shoving a bit in goals.

 More shoving from Troy and Bob

 Bob going for a sub!

We picked up a set of second hand ski's for Jack on Monday.  He and Daddy had a lot of fun trying them out today on a small hill at Jack's school.  Troy said he did a good job.  Jack is enrolled in an 8wk learn to ski program starting in the first week of January, so if he takes after his father, he will be skiing confidently in no time! 

 First thing to learn is the snow plough - slows you down....it's actually my main ski move on the slopes!

Take care and love and kisses to everyone xxxxxx

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Severe Weather

Oh well, I woke up this morning ready for snowboarding, so we checked the snow conditions for Blue Mountain on the computer before we left.......luckily.  Turns out they have shut down for the day 'cause of high winds and road closures.......GOD!! So no snowboarding for me just yet.

Weather has been a bit crazy this last week with a low pressure system passing through, and as much as I don't like to say, luckily for us most of it was rain!! Alot of towns around us have been snowed in, and people have been stuck in their cars on the highways for up to 24 hrs.....  Sucks to be them.  Trouble for us was after the rain came a cold snap occurred and froze everything shut.  It took me 2 mins in minus 10 temps to open the car door the next day.

Today we got the final offerings from the low pressure sytem with about 10-15cms of snow, which made Jack happy, Erin was happy until we had to go for a drive..... The roads get real slippery when they are covered with ice!!!

Jack and I made a slide in the front yard while we cleared the driveway. He thought it was pretty cool!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

School Concert and Snow Sports

Jack had a School Concert this week.  His class sung 2 Christmas songs with actions. Jack, unfortunately has shown evidence of having his mothers ability when it comes to holding a tune, or should I say not so much holding a tune.  Erin has found a radio channel here that only plays christmas songs........GOD!!  Erin was trying to get Jack to sing along with her the other night, she changed key 3 times throughout the song, so Jack has no chance.

Bob took me snow skiing on Friday, Erin stayed behind to work at the Cat shelter and Jack had school.  Most of the boys at work got season passes to Blue Mountain, which is around an hour and a half drive north, so there will be a few more trips up there throughout the winter.  We got to the hills just when the lifts started operating but Bob informed me he had yet to pick up his pass.  So after 40 mins of me trying to make him feel bad while we are standing in a line waiting for him to pick up his pass that he could of got sent to him in the mail, we finally got started on the runs.  I only fell over about 10 times on my face....Hahahaha.  Half of that was on the flats at the bottom of the runs.  My legs were very tired by the end of the day.

The snow has melted here in Toronto now so on Saturday Erin Jack and I went for a drive north to find some snow to have a play in.  We found a park about half hour north and stopped to have a play there.  I was driving around the park to find a good hill to toboggan down but little miss scaredy(Erin) was freaking out about the snowy slush on the road.....We were doing 10km/hr....GOD!! So we pulled up at this flat park with this tiny hill on the edge that had about a 5 metre run and was only just steep enough for tobogganing, but anyway Jack didn't know any better so we made the most of it.

 Very gracefull

 Surely he hasn't got Erins singing voice and balance
 Dad's getting hammered

 Jack smashed Mum with a snowball at point blank on her beanie while she wasn't looking

Dad cops one in the face.
Oh and that's the hill in the background. The lamest hill in all of Ontario.

The weather turned a bit sour over the weekend, It's now raining in Toronto, not snowing, but a cold snap is coming back monday. And my next adventure will be snowboarding on Tuesday, with Scott and Jamie. We have got Jack into a ski school in January and normal School finishes next week so we will do a family outing to the slopes soon.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Let it snow, Let it snow, Let it snow!

We have been a bit slack with our blog lately, so apologies to everyone.

Troy has been working a lot doing a couple of fill-ins as well as his normal work roster.  He went to Buffalo (just south of the Canadian border, near Niagra Falls) with the blokes from 421 hall to watch the hockey.  It is much cheaper to see a game of hockey down there as the prices here in Toronto are crazy expensive.  I find it amusing that the Toronto Maple Leafs (yeah I know, it should be 'leaves') are a bit like our NQ Cowboys in the success department, but the locals here still LOVE their team and almost all the games are a sellout.  Us Aussies could learn a lot from the Canucks about loyalty.   Troy said the game itself in Buffalo was quite low scoring but he still really enjoyed the atmosphere.  I am now keen to see a game for myself and be amongst all the action!

Troy also came home from work one day and announced that he got the flu shot.  Here is how the conversation went:
T:  "I got the flu shot today."
E:  "What?"
T:  "I got the flu shot today"
E:  "You've already had the flu shot in Australia in July!"
T:  "Oh yeah I thought I might have but this one had the H1N1 in it"
E:  "So did the other one you got."
T:  "Oh....Well this flu shot might have been different"
E:  "Did you think perhaps we could have checked first?"
T:  "Oh well, this flu shot is the Canadian version so now I am double-protected!!!"

Troy then got sick this week with a cold/flu.  Knocked the wind out of his sails for a couple of days.  He is having some serious hockey withdrawals and is like a fly in a bottle trapped in the house.  He has recovered now (thank god) so he is back on track with his hockey affair.

Candace and I went to an Art Gallery showing during the week to support Ellen Donnelly (I went to Thanksgiving at the Donnelly House with Candace) who had two watercolours on show.  Her work is just lovely and I got to see a number of other great Canadian artists. 
We also had a baking day on Saturday when Troy was at work.  Candace did all her Christmas baking which consisted of:   Deep fried twists, Jam drops, Crescent Cookies, Pitzells, Shortbread and Magic Squares.  I have more recipes to bring home and share with you all.  It was a great day and Jack assisted where he could.  Candace decorates her house in all the Christmas glory with marching bands, nativity set (without baby Jesus who only comes out on Christmas Day) and musical Santa etc.  I tried to burn her house down when making microwave popcorn and we had to air out the house with outside temps of about 2 degrees!  Stupid Aussie.

We had a mini-disaster during the week as well.  Teddy got a massive hole in him and Nanny is not here to fix it!  I am sewing-challenged so Candace came to the rescue and Teddy had the surgery he required and is now fit and healthy again!  Phew!

The snow if officially falling today.  We woke up to find a snow covered backyard!  How lovely.  It has been snowing steadily all morning and it is just so pretty that I can't stop sitting by the window and daydreaming.  There is no wind so the flakes of snow are fluttering to the ground.  The car was completely covered so we had to brush it all off.  The snow squeaks and crunches underfoot and we have had to teach Jack about brushing off the snow before coming inside.

We hope the snow stays for a while!  The ice rink down the road has opened as well, so we will be able to go skating more regularly.  It is an outdoor rink which has been made on the tennis courts. 

We hope everyone is happy and healthy and enjoying the heat in Australia!!