Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Mom, Don't Look Now But.....


Recently I discovered this photo taken on our drive north when we were moving to Canada from the US.

Here we are driving through Georgia on I-75. Ahead you will see our Budget moving truck. I spent days looking at the back of that truck, when I fell asleep at night I would still see it. 

There are many reasons I decided to move my family out of the US to Canada.

One thing that really bothered me was aggressive military recruitment of children in schools. Those who know me know I was an active counter-recruiter. An earlier blog entry “My 14 year old child was approached by a Military Recruiter during art class", (read here) was pretty much the last straw for me.

Passing me on the right is a rather interesting truck.  I was having a discussion with the kids on “why are we moving to Canada” again, and I told them that I really didn’t agree with aggressive military recruitment in schools to make good little soldiers. Middle boy said “Mom, don’t look now, but there is a military recruitment truck beside you”. Here was this truck with an ad for “join the Marines” and photos of the soldiers plastered all over it.

Well, it was definitely a sign!

Monday, December 27, 2010

We're back!


Photo courtesy of clipartguide.com
Just arrived back in Canada. Went to the US to see family for the holidays. US border guard was polite – wow! We weren’t sure what to expect after our last experience at the US border.

Oddly enough there was more snow in Southern Ohio than in Guelph. The kids were able to go sledding while we were in Ohio.

So...this is the first time we have been back to the States since we moved to Canada two months ago. We were watching the local news in Ohio, and in 1 day someone had been shot in the face in an attempt to steal a motorcycle, there had been a couple of murders, and a woman was abducted from the parking lot of a local shopping mall and sexually assaulted. We felt ill just listening to the news, so we shut it off. We asked a friend how they felt about all the violence on the news and he said “I’m not bothered, so long as it doesn’t happen to me or my family”.

In comparison Canadian news is often boring, but I don’t mind.

We did enjoy the stores. Americans are excellent marketers – you can have it fast, free shipping, there’s a huge selection and it’s often on sale! Sometimes the choice is overwhelming. We were looking for multi-vitamins in Meijers, and we counted approximately 40 feet of shelving in the vitamin section.

I do miss internet shopping, it hasn’t really caught on yet in Canada.

Eric got to use his new PR card at the border when we returned to Canada – Yay!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Clause

Just a bit of Floridian Christmas fun here with this ad for the Florida Keys.

Enjoy!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Why are we in Afghanistan? Anyone? Anyone?

This video was made by an Afghan-American woman, and although it is about the US, it certainly applies to Canada in equal measure. Video courtesy of Afghans4peace.

Thanks to L-girl via http://wmtc.blogspot.com/ for posting.




There's only one thing missing: the real reasons for the continuing occupation of Afghanistan. No mention of oil, no mention of pipelines. No mention of strategic regional control of resources.

How many more people have to die because of this occupation?

I thought I was the only one who didn't get it.

Please share this video.

Another Dead Canadian

The attached clip is an earlier repatriation of 6 Canadian soldiers, shown from the viewpoint of someone riding in the procession. I think it's very moving.

Tip: Click on the bottom right hand corner to make the clip full screen size.



Last Saturday Cpl Steve Martin, aged just 24, was killed in Afghanistan. Today would have been his 25th birthday. He is the 154th Canadian soldier to die there. Today his casket was loaded on to a military plane in Kandahar for repatriation back to Canada. He will arrive back in Canada tomorrow.


His body will be flown to Trenton Canadian Air Force Base, in south eastern Ontario. From there the casket is loaded into a hearse, and the deceased’s family will join a grim procession that will head west along Hwy 401 to Toronto. This section of Hwy 401 has become known as the Highway of Heroes. The journey ends 2 hours later at the Ontario Coroner's office on Grenville Street in downtown Toronto.


Along the route Canadians turn out in all weather to show support and to watch the procession that no one ever wants to be a part of.


I always hope each repatriation to Canada will be the last.


Why are we in Afghanistan? Anyone? Anyone?

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Rocket ship car by day



Even an old carnival ride!


This rocket ship is an old carnival ride that has been dismantled, motorized, and is lit with colourful flashing lights. It sits about 12 people, plays holiday music, and used to go by my front door several times a night. It was always fun to catch a glimpse of, but difficult to take a good photo of.

Santa Cyclists



Here are the Santa Cyclists looking at the lights in our Florida neighbourhood and stopping for Hot Chocolate!

We would see them come by our house every year.

Florida Gators Christmas lights

This is one of our neighbours in our Florida neighbourhood during the annual Christmas light show our neighbourhood put on each year to collect money for Hospice. 

Note the alligators on the lawn and the Florida Gator colours of orange and blue.  












Christmas in Florida is different!




Photo: Another neighbours' home during the Christmas light show.

Part of the reason for this blog is to compare differences between our old life in Florida, and our new life in Canada.

When I first went to Florida for a vacation to spend Christmas with my snowbird parents, (quite a few years ago) I noticed that Christmas in Florida was different. It was Christmas Eve, I was swimming in an outdoor pool, there were Christmas lights everywhere, and holiday music playing. To my Canadian sensibilities, this was an odd combination, since I was used to Dec 24th being COLD!

Canadians would be surprised to know that many Floridians go all out decorating for the holidays. I suspect it is the lack of snow, or the fact that it is warm enough to be outside for long periods of time decorating.

So, if Floridians go all out decorating their homes for Christmas, add to this that the last neighbourhood we lived in was known as the “Christmas neighbourhood”. Back in 1993 a neighbour was diagnosed with terminal cancer, and the neighbours decorated their homes even more than usual to give her a beautiful Christmas. Her grateful husband continued the tradition the following year and collected money for Hospice. Every year since then the people in Lake Park Estates go all out decorating for the holidays, and now The Lights of Lake Park Estates has become known as the place to go in Tampa Bay to see holiday lights. So far nearly $500,000 has been raised for hospice.

Many evenings we would sit out with our neighbours and watch the people go by. Lots of buses, cars, and a couple of hayrides for the kids. Local tv news vans would come by and interview neighbours. The Harley Santas, a cycling club with lit bikes, and a very odd rocket ship carnival ride that had been dismantled, motorized, lit with holiday lights and playing holiday music would go by several times a night. It seemed the world came by our front door. The downside was that the world came by our front door and traffic was so backed up, there was no chance of going to the supermarket for milk if you ran out.

When the children were very small they did not realize they lived somewhere “different”. Every evening after dinner we would head outside. When my eldest was about 5 he asked me “why does everyone come to our neighbourhood to see the lights, why don’t they just look at the lights in their own neighbourhood”. He didn’t realize then that our neighbourhood was different.

In our new neighbourhood we have very pretty lights, and this year we have the snow to compliment them. It is beautiful to walk around in the evening.

The odd thing is, we have become used to the traffic, so our new neighbourhood seems to us oddly quiet. That’s not a bad thing. After 12 years of traffic it’s just a new experience for us.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Diary of a Demented Snow Shoveler


Snowed in car Photo courtesy of Liz at Picasa Web CC.
December 8 6:00 PM
It started to snow. The first snow of the season and the wife and I took our cocktails and sat for hours by the window watching the huge soft flakes drift down from heaven. It looked like a Grandma Moses print. So romantic we felt like newlyweds again. I love snow!

December 9
We woke to a beautiful blanket of crystal white snow covering every inch of the landscape. What a fantastic sight! Can there be a more lovely place in the whole world? Moving here was the best idea I’ve ever had!
Shoveled for the first time in years and felt like a boy again. I did both our driveway and the sidewalks. This afternoon the snowplow came along and covered up the sidewalks and closed in the driveway, so I got to shovel again. What a perfect life!

December 12
The sun has melted all our lovely snow. Such a disappointment! My neighbor tells me not to worry- we’ll definitely have a white Christmas. No snow on Christmas would be awful! Bob says we’ll have so much snow by the end of winter, that I’ll never want to see snow again. I don’t think that’s possible. Bob is such a nice man, I’m glad he’s our neighbor.

December 14
Snow, lovely snow! 8 inches last night. The temperature dropped to -20. The cold makes everything sparkle so. The wind took my breath away, but I warmed up by shoveling the driveway and sidewalks. This is the life! The snowplow came back this afternoon and buried everything again. I didn’t realize I would have to do quite this much shoveling, but I’ll certainly get back in shape this way. I wish I wouldn’t huff and puff so.

December 15
20 inches forecast. Sold my van and bought a 4×4 Blazer. Bought snow tires for the wife’s car and 2 extra shovels. Stocked the freezer. The wife wants a wood stove in case the electricity goes out. I think that’s silly. We aren’t in Alaska , after all.

December 16
Ice storm this morning. Fell on my ass on the ice in the driveway putting down salt. Hurt like hell. The wife laughed for an hour, which I think was very cruel.

December 17
Still way below freezing. Roads are too icy to go anywhere. Electricity was off for 5 hours. I had to pile the blankets on to stay warm. Nothing to do but stare at the wife and try not to irritate her. Guess I should’ve bought a wood stove, but won’t admit it to her. I hate it when she’s right. I can’t believe I’m freezing to death in my own living room.

December 20
Electricity is back on, but had another 14 inches of the damn stuff last night. More shoveling! Took all day. The damn snowplow came by twice. Tried to find a neighbor kid to shovel, but they said they’re too busy playing hockey. I think they’re lying.
Called the only hardware store around to see about buying a snow blower and they’re out. Might have another shipment in March. I think they’re lying. Bob says I have to shovel or the city will have it done and bill me. I think he’s lying.

December 22
Bob was right about a white Christmas because 13 more inches of the white shit fell today, and it’s so cold, it probably won’t melt till August. Took me 45 minutes to get all dressed up to go out to shovel and then I had to piss. By the time I got undressed, pissed and dressed again. I was too tired to shovel. Tried to hire Bob who has a plow on his truck for the rest of the winter, but he says he’s too busy. I think the jerk is lying.

December 23
Only 2 inches of snow today. And it warmed up to 0. The wife wanted me to decorate the front of the house this morning. What is she, nuts?!! Why didn’t she tell me to do that a month ago? She says she did but I think she’s lying.

December 24
6 inches – Snow packed so hard by snowplow, I broke the shovel. Thought I was having a heart attack. If I ever catch the son of a bitch who drives that snow plow, I’ll drag him through the snow by his balls and beat him to death with my broken shovel. I know he hides around the corner and waits for me to finish shoveling and then he comes down the street at a 100 miles an hour and throws snow all over where I’ve just been! Tonight the wife wanted me to sing Christmas carols with her and open our presents, but I was too busy watching for the damn snowplow.

December 25
Merry xxxxing Christmas! 20 more inches of the damn slop tonight – Snowed in The idea of shoveling makes my blood boil. God, I hate the snow!

Then the snowplow driver came by asking for a donation and I hit him over the head with my shovel. The wife says I have a bad attitude. I think she’s a fricking idiot. If I have to watch ‘It’s A Wonderful Life’ one more time, I’m going to stuff her into the microwave.

December 26
Still snowed in. Why the hell did I ever move here? It was all HER idea. She’s really getting on my nerves.

December 27
Temperature dropped to -30 and the pipes froze; plumber came after 14 hours of waiting for him, he only charged me $1,400 to replace all my pipes.

December 28
Warmed up to above -20. Still snowed in. The WITCH is driving me crazy!!!

December 29
10 more inches. Bob says I have to shovel the roof or it could cave in. That’s the silliest thing I ever heard. How dumb does he think I am?

December 30
Roof caved in. I beat up the snow plow driver, and now he is suing me for a million dollars, not only for the beating I gave him, but also for trying to shove the broken snow shovel up his rear. The wife went home to her mother.  Nine more inches predicted.

December 31
I set fire to what’s left of the house. No more shoveling.

January 8
Feel so good. I just love those little white pills they keep giving me. Why am I tied to the bed?

Monday, December 13, 2010

100 Words for Snow



Photo of snow plow at local school taken at 7.30am this morning. Still dark, and the days now are very short.
Legend says the Inuit have over 100 words for snow. Whether it’s true or not I don’t know, but the boys are learning that there are different types of snow.

We are having our first real snow fall. It started Saturday evening with a freezing rain.


Yesterday we had sleet all day. Not fun! When the temperature is hovering around freezing, you get a mixture of snow and ice. As the day progressed, it turned into a wet snow that resembled a proper snow on the surface, but was soggy underneath.

The boys had waited all day for some decent snow, and about 8:00 pm last night they could wait no longer and got their sleds to try the snow out. It was very pretty, Christmas lights, snow falling, street lights illuminating on the snow. There were my kids, the only ones, trying to sled down a slushy hill and going really really slow. Kids that have grown up in Canada know to wait for the better quality snow. You know, that powdery sort of snow that everyone loves. They had fun, and know that soon they will get better quality snow. Besides, you can always throw snowballs at Mom.

The first sound I heard this morning about 6:00 am was a scraping sound. I looked outside the window, and my street was a hive of activity with a little snow plow shovelling the sidewalk, and the salt men, and it was still snowing. The car was covered in a white blanket.


Last week everyone else got a lot of snow, Buffalo, and even London, which is 1 hour west of here. London got a couple of snow days. Kids are so excited to have their first snow day. Double bonus! You get the day off school, and you get to play in the snow all day – how wonderful is that!


I didn’t think the school board would cancel today, since this is only the 1st snowfall and I don’t think it’s that heavy.


We checked the school board website anyway and the site said “decision pending” check back at 6:30. When we checked back the site said there would be school today, so, no luck yet kids.


Temperature is -11C (12F), but with a wind chill it feels like -23C (-9F).
Florida comparison, today 7C (42F) and cloudy so it’s not warm there today either.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Toronto City Hall rink at night



Photo courtesy Toronto Star



The skating rink at Toronto City Hall looks very pretty at night. We didn't stay late enough yesterday to skate at night, but will probably go back. There are lots of rinks open and floodlit at night where we can skate, often at no charge.

Our brand new ice skates



This is a photo of the fountain at Toronto City Hall which doubles as a skating rink in the winter.

Ok: History alert! Toronto has 2 city halls that are side by side. "Old" city hall and "new" city hall. In the photo you can see "old city hall" which is a beautiful piece of gothic architecture (complete with gargoyles). In 1965 "new city hall" was built next door, and is the current city hall and houses this fountain/skating rink. "New" city hall, as you can see by the rink, is very modern in style.

Toronto is only just under an hour drive from home. Yesterday we took the children with their new skates to the rink. They have only been skating a couple of times, so they don't skate very well, and are intimidated by toddlers whizzing by them skating backwards. Many Canadians learn to skate almost as soon as they walk. Even the man who sold us the skates at Canadian Tire told the kids he got his first pair of skates at age 2!

I told the kids the only way to learn is to get on the ice and go. They had fun, and nobody fell down - which for us is good. Skating at this rink is free.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Winter Fun in Florida


Sometimes I like to compare our previous life in a sub-tropical climate to our new life in a colder climate.

Floridians go all out decorating for the holidays. All around the state there are Holiday boat parades. This Friday is the 25th annual St Petersburg Boat Parade. What Floridians lack in snowy weather, they make up with lots and lots of decorations. It’s fun. December evenings are usually cool, (still much warmer than Ontario) and there is hot chocolate on hand. It’s a different type of holiday season to “up north”.

For those of us on land watching the boats, the trees are lit, and there is even a little snow bank made from artificial snow for the local kids to play in. Many Floridian kids have never seen snow and are fascinated with it.

My boys saw snow for the first time once just a few years ago, so winter in Canada is very exciting for them.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Do You Like Hockey

It wouldn't be Canada without a little impromptu hockey from time to time. This game took place last weekend with some local university students on the parking lot of a local school.

Alas, the snow has since melted, and we are basking in a sweltering 35F.

I'm certain more snow is on the way soon.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Dog in Muttlucks



Here is Sophie all kitted out for winter.

Today she is sporting a fleece lined dog coat, which is water repellent, to keep her warm and dry.

To keep the salt out of her paw pads, she is wearing Muttlucks. She is fine wearing the coat, but she is not too happy about the paw wear.


Yesterday she saw snow for the first time, and refused to step in it. Today she had no problem with her new Muttlucks.

The problem for dogs is the amount of salt, which can dry out their paw pads, causing them to crack. The groomer suggested that we wash her paws every time she comes back from a walk to get off the salt and ice, or just put her in these pooch shoes. I think the pooch shoes will be easier for us, and more pleasant for her.

No.....she’s not spoiled at all.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

It’s snowing!


There is enough snow for my Floridian boys to go sledding, yay! It’s only about an inch deep, but that’ll do. They're so excited about the snow.

It takes us quite a long time to get all suited up to go out in the snow, but I expect we'll get quicker.

It's amazing to think that just a few short weeks ago we were on the beach and the water temperature was hot!

North Wind



Photo of man salting our driveways and sidewalks taken at 7.00 am this morning. Tip: I discovered if you click on the photo you can enlarge it to see it more clearly. Double click on the photo to get the largest size photo.

We are heading into Winter. We haven't had a real snow yet, but the snow flurries are getting heavier.

Eric has been enjoying the mild fall, but I told him that winter comes FAST!

The last few days have been windy. The younger two boys’ school sits on a hill, so it is especially windy when they get out of the car. Interesting!

The temperature dropped 10 degrees over the last few days from mid 30s (approx. +1C) to mid 20s (approx. -3C). It sounds colder in metric. Weather in Florida is averaging mid 80s (30C) and sunny.

The days are getting much shorter in Ontario. It’s getting dark around 5.00. Florida will stay light until 6.00. That hour makes a big difference. There is a trade off for the extra daylight in the winter. In the summer in Florida it is dark by 8.00, whereas Ontario has those long light evenings. It’s taking some time to get used to such shorter days, by the time 7.00 pm rolls around we feel like it is 9.00 or 10.00. We have to check our watch, since we have no sense of time in this new climate.

When Eric and I went for our evening walk last night it was bitter. My scarf, hat, and gloves are too thin (bought them at Target), so I am going out today to find something warmer. We were at the Bay Store yesterday and found some big warm hats. They had fleece lining and red and black polar fleece fabric. They even had ear flaps so you could open them to hear what someone else was saying. We thought they were funny and that we would look like lumberjacks wearing them. They don’t seem funny at all now.

There was a light snow last night. When I looked outside the window at 6:00 am this morning, there was a snow plow putting salt on the road. A short while later some men walked around the neighbourhood putting salt on the driveways and steps. Now, that’s service.

Even though I’m Canadian, it’s been a long time since I’ve experienced winter, so it’s all sort of new and familiar at the same time.

Kids are excited to see snow flurries. We need to go out and get some ice skates for everyone today.

Monday, November 22, 2010

It's ok honey, it's the Government touching you!

If one is living in a free country, one is free to take photographs or videos in a public place. If government employees feel they are doing something wrong, they will intimidate you to delete what you have on your camera/video. This is not freedom!

The TSA agents knew that strip searching the child was inappropriate, otherwise they would have no problem with it being recorded.

This government paranoia is similar to what happened to us recently at the US Border at Detroit (see U.S. Border Nightmare) where my family endured 2 hours of intimidation merely because I took a camera out of my pocket to put in my car. I didn’t even intend to take a single photograph. I guess I was lucky my family wasn’t physically molested at the same time.

TSA rules state that no child under 12 is to receive the pat down (strip search). Yet children were still strip searched. TSA reiterated last week that no child was to receive the pat down. This boy was strip searched on Friday, so clearly children are still being strip searched.

Yeah, I feel a lot safer knowing that the theatre of security is strip searching little children. There are other videos on you tube of children being molested, including a 3 year old girl screaming “Don’t touch me”!

Who wants to fly to Orlando to see Mickey Mouse? Let’s teach our children that no one is to touch them inappropriately, and then watch helplessly as the government molests them. How does a child tell the difference between “It’s ok honey, it’s the government touching you”, and “I think a grown up did something bad to me, I better tell someone”.

I would like to know how many “terrorists” have been detained using this procedure? El Al, the Israeli airline, says this type of security measure is not effective. El Al screens effectively for real terrorists, not children carrying a snow globe, or other trinkets.

Can we have some real security at the airport, instead of this farce passing for security?

Let’s not forget the real reason behind these new procedures – profit, not safety.

Here is a question I have about those plastic gloves. Why are they wearing them? Are they touching you so intimately that they need to protect themselves from bodily fluids etc? Are they changing the gloves between "personal examinations"? I certainly don't want to catch anything - I would insist the inspector change their plastic gloves.

Here is another question regarding the effectiveness of the scanner/pat down security theatre. In addition to passengers' luggage, airlines routinely carry commercial shipments. How thoroughly are these items scanned? All one has to do is to send a printer cartridge through, and detonate by cell phone.

Here is a comment from the person who took the video. One person asks "Are they harrassing a kid?" I'd rather drive than fly and put my children through this.

Lets get the facts straight first. Before the video started the boy went through a metal detector and didn't set it off but was selected for a pat down. The boy was shy so the TSA couldn't complete the full pat on the young boy. The father tried several times to just hold the boys arms out for the TSA agent but i guess it didn't end up being enough for the guy. I was about 30 ft away so i couldn't hear their conversation if there was any. The enraged father pulled his son shirt off and gave it to the TSA agent to search, thats when this video begins.

******* THIS VIDEO OCCURRED AT SALT LAKE CITY INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT ON NOVEMBER 19TH AT AROUND THE TIME OF 12:00 PM *************

After I finished videotaping the incident I went through the check point myself. I collected my things and went over to talk to the father and son. Before I could get to them a man in a black suit who had been talking with the other TSA officials approached me. He asked to speak to me and I obliged, wondering what was to come. He then proceeded to interrogate me about why I was videotaping the "procedures of the TSA". I told him that I had never seen such practices before on a young child and decided to record it. The man being frustrated at this point demanded to know my plans with the video, of which I didn't respond. Repeatedly he asked me to delete the video, hoping his mere presence could intimidate me to obey, but I refused. By this point it became obvious that he felt TSA had done something wrong and that I caught it on tape. After the interview, I left for my gate. I called my brother who told me I should put the tape on YouTube because this had been a recent hot topic in the news. My gate was a long way off, but about 15 minutes after arriving 2 TSA agents came and sat 15 feet or so away from me. I stood up and moved so that they were in front of me and then took a picture. A 3rd and then a 4th agent came and sat down with the others. They would occasionally glance at me and talk on their walkie-talkies. I don't know why they were there or if it was a huge coincidence but they stayed for 30-45 minutes and left just before I boarded the plan. Interesting to say the least, intimidating? Maybe a little... ”

Sunday, November 21, 2010

It's snowing! Sort of...






Ok, so it's a little snow flurry. It's exciting to us to see our first snow flurry.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Saturday, November 13, 2010

My 14 year old child was approached by a Military Recruiter at school during art class


Navy recruiter, at my son’s previous high school (in the U.S.), giving a recruitment presentation in class during the Great American Teach In. Personal photo collection.

This is the actual recruiter who turned up in my son’s art class wearing full naval white service dress uniform, (a white tunic, white trousers, white shoes, complete with white hat, with all his gleaming medals). Very intimidating!

Last April our eldest boy, then 14, was in grade 9.

One day, without warning, a military recruiter for the Navy, in full military uniform, took over his grade 9 art class for the entire 50 minute period. The art teacher sat at the back of the class for the recruitment session. The military recruiter handed a military recruitment form to the class, and said that all students must fill it out immediately and hand it back to him. My son refused to fill out the form, and the recruiter told him it was mandatory. Another kid sitting next to my son said “Don’t fill out that form – it’s bad, they’ll never leave you alone.” Smart kid.

Meanwhile, recruiter is telling the class how wonderful the Navy is, and you get to travel to lots of different countries. “Does anyone here like fishing? I get a lot of chance to fish in some pretty amazing rivers in different countries and I caught some really big fish.” (Huh! I’m a tad confused with military and fishing, but I guess they can catch some whoppers on those big naval ships.)

Mr. Recruiter starts handing out key fobs, blue water bottles with NAVY on them, pens marked "US Military", and other trinkets to the children, and asking questions like “does anyone here know how to put out a fire? You can become a fireman, the navy has lots of interesting jobs”. He walked around the room to collect the recruitment forms, and my son had not filled his in, and the recruiter told him he had to fill it in, but my son still refused (empower your child to say no to military recruiters) and eventually Mr. Recruiter backed down.

I was flabbergasted the day my son came home from school and said, "Mom, you'll never guess what happened to me in art class today". I'm thinking some lesson on drawing, or other artistic endeavour. Then he showed me his military recruitment form, a NAVY water bottle, and a pen marked "U.S. Military" and told me a recruiter took over the art class and he won some prizes for answering the recruiter's questions. This is why you must always talk to your child throughout the school year, because he still participated for the prizes. My son told me the questions he answered were "how do you put out a fire" and general in nature. He did remember that I had told him not to answer anything personal and not fill out the form.

I was angry with the school, and I felt violated. I had done everything to protect my son from military recruiters. The school had a Military Opt Out form and had ignored it. I had advised other parents how to avoid recruiters.

I had to find out how this could have happened.

At the beginning of the school year I located and filled out a Military Opt Out form, handed it to the school and had it date stamped “received”, delivered a copy to the principal and superintendent of the local school board.

I called the school and was told that my son's school records stated "No military opt out on file, ok to release information to military". I was told that I had not handed in a military opt out form. I told them I had and my copy was date stamped received. The school then admitted that they had a form after all, but it was in my son’s file, and had never been entered into the database.

I went to see the principal, and told her what had happened, and she said “oh, oh”. Well, I’m probably the worst person this could have happened to, since I counter-recruit as much as I can. Now I'm concerned my son's information has already been sent to JAMRS.

A child is entitled to an education without being harrassed by military recruiters. In the U.S. this is a gargantuan task compounded by the local culture of the military being a "benevolent" organization fighting for "freedom" that pervades much of American patriotism.

I e-mailed the art teacher and asked why she was “allowing 14 year olds to be exposed to military recruitment during class time, when students are unable to walk out and leave”. My e-mail was not aggressive, I only asked her this one question. The art teacher e-mailed back that since I was so sensitive to classroom presentations, she was cancelling an artist who was going to visit the class soon. She then berated my son for the rest of the year. Several times in front of the class, she told my son that he was such a disappointment to her and a loser. As a result of this experience, my son hates anything to do with art.

This year I hand delivered another military opt out, and had to make several ‘phone calls and office visits before someone was finally able to confirm to me that the military opt out was actually on file. My son only spent 1 month at school before our move, but I was taking no chances. I didn’t trust the school.

Recently we went to a parent teacher open house at my son’s new high school in Guelph. The school confirmed that, currently, there is no military recruitment in Canadian schools. There is a career day, when the universities etc., set up booths in the cafeteria and students may visit them. The military is allowed a booth there should a student have questions about recruiting into the military. Apart from that, military recruiters are not wandering the halls, lurking in the cafeteria, nor are they trying to go behind parent’s backs to recruit their children


How refreshing!

No Child Left Unrecruited in American Schools



Image courtesy of: Aaron Lee Fineman

http://www.aaronleefineman.com/

Photo of military recruiter just outside the lunch room of a Georgia High School

People in Canada are surprised to learn that in the United States military recruiters are given unfettered access to youngsters at high school and increasingly at some middle schools. Schools receive funding from the federal government (No Child Left Behind Act), and in return they must allow military recruiters unlimited access to the schools, and send the names and addresses of all high school students to the Pentagon database kept on youths under 18, or they will lose funding.

American parents are not aware how aggressively their children are being pursued at school by these recruiters.

I was active at my son’s high school as a counter-recruiter. I talked to as many parents as I could, and have yet to find one parent who was aware of a form called a Military Opt Out. If a parent fills that form out, the recruiters are supposed to leave that child alone. Many parents are unaware of the form which is hidden deep in the Code of Student Conduct. This information is purposely suppressed from parents, so few parents ever complete and return a military opt out to the school. Many schools routinely ignore the military opt out form.

Military Recruiters in schools have several ways to cancel parental military opt out paperwork leaving the parent unaware this has occurred.

I have personal knowledge and/or experience of the following, but my son’s school is not the exception.


· Every October high schools sends the Pentagon (for release to military recruiters) all the information they have on the child, including the child’s personal cell-phone numbers, e-mail address, grade point averages, college intentions, height and weight information, schools attended, courses of study, social security numbers, and any other personal information.

· Military recruiters from all branches of the military will use the information received from school to contact the child behind the parent’s back, without parental knowledge or consent. The child is literally bombarded with mail, telephone calls, e-mails and the like from recruiters. It is useless to ask the recruiters to stop contacting your minor child – they will continue to contact your underage child regardless of your opinion. It is, somehow, creepy that a grown man/woman is stalking your child.

· Military recruiters are in the school cafeterias every day at lunchtime. They will smile benevolently and attempt to engage your child in friendly conversation. If your child speaks to them, this will cancel the military opt out form. When I told my son not to speak to recruiters he told me they looked friendly and they would smile at him. Of course they do!

· They will entice students with key fobs, drink holders, and other trinkets. Come and do some push-ups, or fun rock-climbs , and win a t-shirt. In order to get the trinket, you have to sign a form that cancels a parent’s Military Opt Out form. Once the military opt out form has been cancelled, the military recruiters can recruit the child without the parent’s knowledge or consent.

· They will take over classrooms, during instruction time to recruit. Take note of this part of the Army School Recruitment Handbook advice to recruiters; Section 5(8) “Deliver donuts and coffee for the faculty once a month. This will help in scheduling classroom presentations and advise teachers of the many Army opportunities”. Should Military Recruiters be using classroom instruction time to recruit, when the child is unable to leave because it’s class time?

· They will often ask the child not to tell the parents they have been talking to a recruiter.

· They will become friends with guidance counselors who then suggest a career in the military.

· The school will administer a test called the ASVAB (Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery). Parents will be told this is a career searching test that will help their child. Some schools make the ASVAB mandatory. It is a military recruitment tool only, designed to let recruiters know a child’s interests and academic strengths to help recruit that child. The ASVAB cancels a parent’s Military Opt Out form.

· Home schooled children are not exempt, the school board will still forward all personal details to the Pentagon.

Predatory military recruitment does not end once your child has graduated high school, but continues on University campuses as well. Section 10-6(b) suggests military recruiters aggressively target first year college students who may be unsure about their studies in an attempt to get the students to drop out of college and enlist in the military instead; “b. Generally, attrition during the first year of college is higher than in subsequent years, and occurs especially at the mid-term grading period, at the end of the first semester, and again at the end of the second semester. Students drop out during this time because they are homesick, have to work, are out of money, or are in academic difficulty.”
Here is a link to the Army School Recruiting Program Handbook, which is an interesting read.
http://www.grassrootspeace.org/army_recruiter_hdbk.pdf

One school board employee once told me “good luck with 3 boys, you will be fighting military recruiters for 8 years apiece, and they will just laugh at you when you try to get them to stop”. Both her sons were recruited, one from school and the other convinced to drop out of college. Both were recruited without her being aware this was going on. Each son just came home one day and had already enlisted. Both of her sons were, at the time of my conversation, in Iraq.

Most civilized countries do not recruit children, and it is a violation of the US’s pledge to the United Nations not to recruit children into the military. The U.S. claims that no one under age 17 is eligible for recruitment, but the Pentagon’s Joint Advertising Market Research & Studies Database (JAMRS) scoops up data on all High School students in the US, as young as 14. JAMRS has data on 30 million Americans between age 14 and 25 for recruitment purposes.

Now, the U.S. Military starts its recruitment campaign as soon as a student hits high school (as young as 14). If the child is too young to actually sign up, the following may happen;

(a) Military recruiters (Marines, Navy, Army, and Air Force recruiters) will gather information on that child, buddy up with them, (wow, your child will have a lot of friends), and start convincing them early that when they are older they should enlist. Enticing a child to join the military when they are older is still recruitment!

(b) Future Solders Training Program; Recruiters often sign 17 year olds into the inactive reserves under the Future Soldiers Training Program as a “trial” introduction into the military (while they earn their high school diploma). Not only to the recruiters fail to tell the youngster they can withdraw with no penalty, but they are often threatened with jail time for going “absent without leave” if they later fail to complete the enlistment procedure.

Here is what you need to know to protect your child at school
(1) Fill out a Military Opt Out form and hand deliver it to the school with a copy to the principal and the Superintendent of your local school board. If you are unsure where to find it, call your local school board and ask where it is. This “should” prevent the school from sending your child’s information to military recruiters, and “should” keep the military recruiters off his/her back at school. Note: You must do this as early in the year as possible to prevent your child’s personal information being sent to the Pentagon in (late September/early October), but even later in the year is better than not at all.

(2) Get the school to date stamp “received” or other proof of receipt when you hand it in at school. Keep a copy, with received date stamp, for your records.

(3) Don’t assume the school will honor the opt out. My son's school ignored our military opt out. Call the school and confirm that they have entered “military opt out” on your child’s school records database, and will remove your child from class should a recruiter take over class time.

(4) Find out your child’s school policy on the ASVAB and what date the test is given. Is the ASVAB test mandatory at your child's high school? If it is voluntary, what procedures are in place for students who are not taking it. Some schools give the test in the cafeteria outside of class and a student has a choice whether to take it or not. Empower your child, tell them if they ever see a test marked ASVAB or Armed Services Vocational Aptitute Test, they are to refuse to take it. If you believe the school will pressure your child to take this test, keep them home that day.

(5) The best protection is an informed child. Teach your child (a) not to talk to recruiters at school and your reasons why, (b) and not to take part in any activities for prizes, (c) never fill out any paperwork from a military recruiter, even if they pressure you to do so, and (d) refuse to take the ASVAB test.

(6) Children sometimes forget advice from a parent. I know.....it’s true! Ask your child periodically what recruitment activity they have seen at school and remind them throughout the school year not to have any contact with recruiters at school.

(7) IMPORTANT REMINDER: The home school department of the school board has your child’s records and information and may be required to send that information to JAMRS. Home school parents must send Military Opt Out to home school department of school board, with a copy to the Superintendent of Schools. Have the school board mark your copy “received” with the date and keep a copy for your records.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Permanent Resident Card Arrived Today!

Photo of sample Permanent Resident Card courtesy cic.gc.ca

Today hubby received his Permanent Resident Card (like a Green Card in the U.S.)!

He wants to celebrate at Swiss Chalet tonight. I know, any excuse to go to Swiss Chalet.

Monday, November 8, 2010

So we drink milk from bags. Does that make us weird?


Story courtesy Cathal Kelly The Toronto Star Staff Reporter

I saw this article in the Toronto Star recently and wanted to share it with you.

"In the video, Sheryl Ng lays out a bag of 2%, a jug and a pair of scissors.

She runs through the milk drinker’s skillset: the proper triangular cut, the cautious first pour, preventive measures to keep an overfull bag from collapsing.

Collectively, the viewing world outside Ontario leaned back in its seat and said, “What. The Hell. Is that?”

“My friends find it pretty amusing, because we all grew up in Toronto,” Ng, a 22-year-old York University student said. “We thought it was normal.”

Apparently not. Ontario, the world has seen your milk drinking habits, and the world now thinks you’re a weirdo.

Ng posted her milk-drinking video as a way of illustrating the differences between Canadians and Americans. They drink milk out of jugs. We drink it out of bags. She titled the whimsical instructional, “Milk in bags, eh?”

Bagged milk hits an impassable imaginary wall at the 49th parallel. Almost uniformly, Americans are jug/carton people. Wisconsinites, people who know something about dairy, buck that trend.

Among other forward-thinking nations that have warmed up to the plastic udder – South Africans, Argentines, Hungarians and Chinese. Those latter also bag beer, which means we have some catching up to do.

In 1967, DuPont debuted the milk bag in Canada using equipment developed in Europe. The local dairy industry jumped on the change, happily abandoning the hassle of breakable glass bottles.

Bags also use 75 per cent less plastic than jugs.

Drinkers discovered that milk in bags costs less than a comparable amount sold in a jug. Mainly, that’s got to do with economies of scale. As bags began to dominate the market, the cost to manufacture single-use jugs jumped.

Today, you can’t find a young Ontarian who remembers that unhappy time when you risked a shoulder injury trying to get a drop of milk out of a 3-quart jug.

Ng’s been buried under the response. Enough American doubters piped up that she felt compelled to film a follow-up
showing bagged milk at the supermarket, “just to prove it really exists.”

Enjoy the video "Milk in bags,eh";

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VTPgd4HUk4w

If they think that's discombobulating, the next entry is going to blow their minds. "Hey everyone," she begins. "Today I'm going to be showing you guys ketchup chips and dill pickle chips."

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Best fish and chips in Toronto



Duckworth’s Fish and Chips at 2638 Danforth Avenue, opposite Canadian Tire, was opened by current proprietor’s grandfather to serve fellow UK immigrants their beloved deep-fried fish and chips.

My family has been going to Duckworth’s Fish and Chips since it opened in 1930. My father grew up in the Woodbine Corridor, near the Beaches. Every Friday my grandparents would take my father to Len Duckworth’s Fish and Chips. Growing up in Toronto, my parents took me there every Friday. It’s definitely the best fish and chip shop I’ve been to, and I lived in England for many years.

Halibut, chips, coleslaw, and bread is $9.75. There is a family special with 5 pieces of halibut, 3 fries, 2 breads, and 2 coleslaws for around $35.00, which is reasonable value. Monday a Halibut meal is on special for $7.50. If you like fish and chips you won’t be disappointed. Batter is crispy and light, chips are traditional British doorstep type chips.

Tip: If you go there avoid the basement washroom – it has always smelled musty. Restaurant itself is very clean, but decor is older, sort of greasy spoon atmosphere. Overlook that, and the food and service is great.

Centre des Sciences de L’Ontario Adjourd hui



Ontario Science Centre photo courtesy Jane Sims.





Today we went to the Ontario Science Centre in Toronto. The kids love this place! This was the world’s first interactive science museum, on several levels, built into a ravine. I used to go to the middle school next door, so I spent a lot of time there after school as a kid. Loved it!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Weather getting cooler......


Photo courtesy Collyn Rankin at Flickr


Guelph Ontario today:

Cloudy with rain;
Temperatures;

high 3 (37F) low 0 (32F)



Largo Florida today:

Sunny;
Temperatures;

high 19 (67F) low 4 (40F) clear

Thursday, November 4, 2010

We're not tourists anymore

Sample Florida licence tag courtesy myflorida.com












Sample Ontario licence plate courtesyProvince of Ontario

For the past 3 weeks we have been driving around with our Florida licence plate. In Florida there is no plate on the front of the car, only a plate on the back.


Yesterday we got our Ontario plates.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

No driving license for Immigrants who reside legally in the U.S.


This is a very timely post, considering the success the (anti-immigrant) tea party candidates have had in the U.S. elections yesterday. I believe there will be more laws written that target immigrants. Unfortunately, the media has blurred the line between “legal” and “illegal” immigrants. Many politicians have capitalized on the anti-immigrant sentiment by frightening people with immigrant horror stories. Recently Arizona’s Governor, Jan Brewer, stated that “immigrants are beheading Americans in Arizona”.

Arizona’s SB1070 makes it a crime for any non-U.S. citizen not to carry “papers” to prove they are in the U.S. legally. How do you know by looking at someone whether or not they should be carrying papers? Are they tourists from another country? Are they U.S. citizens with “brown skin?” Are they “legal” immigrants who decided to go for a neighbourhood walk with the children, a swim at the local pool, or gardening in their front yard? No matter, if you are a non U.S. citizen and you leave your front door, you must “carry papers” or risk jail time.


In the U.S. the local police force and the driving licence bureau have been empowered to determine one’s immigration status.


The problem is, U.S. immigration law is complicated, and there are many types of documentation to prove one is in the country legally. There are Green Cards (like Permanent Resident Cards), H1B work visas, student visas, just to give a small example. The police and local authorities are not qualified to determine and apply immigration law. This often leads to mistakes. Add to this the confusion of the terms "legal" and "illegal" immigrant. They even sound the same. People who are in a country unlawfully are not immigrants.


Several years ago I attempted to renew my Florida driving licence. I had lived in Florida and had a Florida driving licence for many years and was due to be naturalized as a U.S. citizen in a few days. Because of the fear in the US of "illegal immigrants" driving, the rules for all non-US citizens renewing or obtaining driving licences had changed. I had to bring proof that I was in the U.S. legally. I brought my Green Card (which is like a Permanent Resident card) to the licence bureau.


The clerk took my driving licence and Green card and then told me that I was not eligible for a Florida Driving Licence because she didn’t know what the document was (Green Card) that I handed her. She was uncertain whether or not I was in the U.S. legally. I asked for a supervisor, who told me that, as a non-U.S. citizen, I was not eligible for a driving licence in the United States. I should return to my home country and get an international driving licence. As I was not a resident of Ontario, I was not eligible for an Ontario issued international driving licence and was fearful I would be left without any type of driving licence. I asked for my unexpired Florida licence back (it had 30 days left) and the clerk cut it up with scissors and said that non-citizens are not allowed to have unexpired licences back.


My car was parked outside, and I was left with no way of driving home, or getting my children from school. I had no alternative but to leave my car and walk home! I pleaded with the supervisor for help, and she said she would send my info to Homeland Security for a decision, and gave me a letter stating I could drive for 30 days. The letter stated that this was not to be used for identification purposes. I drove home and called the Sheriff’s department to see if this “letter” was valid and was told I would be arrested for driving without a licence. The only type of driving licence acceptable to them was the one with a photo id. Since I was still a legal immigrant for a few more days being arrested for driving without a licence would make me subject to deportation. This is another example of the criminalization of immigrants, both legal and illegal. I had no option but to take the chance, since I needed to collect my young children from school.

When I arrived at school the lady at the front desk refused to allow me inside the school because I did not have my driver licence on me (she knew me, but those are the rules). She would not take my Canadian passport or Green Card as photo id. I had to stand outside the chain linked fence and watch my children while American mothers were able to walk up to and greet their children from school.


During this 30 day period I needed to talk to someone at my bank regarding my bank account, but was told that since I did not have a valid driver licence or state issued photo id, no one would help me. They ignored my Canadian passport and Green card as sufficient photo id.


I had become a non-person.


30 days of this farce were almost up, and still no driver licence. I contacted the Governor of Florida, and someone in the driver licence bureau called me back and said that I had shown proper identification and should have received my renewed driver licence over the counter the day I went in, and they would expedite a licence to me.


I collected my new licence, and the clerk told me it was an “immigrant” driver licence. I told her I was naturalized, and she said that I would have to apply for a driver licence again, and pay an additional $50.00 just to remove “immigrant” from my licence. They still would have to prove my papers with Homeland Security. This was the last straw! I was not going to go through all that again and pay $50.00 for the privilege.


The new governor of Florida, Rick Scott, has promised to bring an even harsher version of SB1070 to Florida. What happens to an immigrant who is a naturalized U.S. citizen, who no longer has a green card, but possesses an "immigrant" driver licence? The law states that if the person is an immigrant, and has no proof of lawful presence in the U.S., they must immediately be sent to jail. A U.S. passport must suffice, but are there now two tiers of U.S. citizen? Native-born U.S. citizens don’t need passports, but naturalized U.S. citizens need to carry a U.S. passport everywhere they go?


I'm obviously not welcome in the United States.

Yesterday I obtained an Ontario Driving License. My American citizen husband is now an immigrant in Canada. He was treated courteously, and able to get the exact same driving license that I received.


I handed in my “immigrant” Florida Driver licence in to the Ontario Driving License office who will return it to Florida for cancellation.

Driver licence exchange

From this (sample Florida license courtesy myflorida.com)















To this: (sample Ontario licence courtesy Flickr)

Notice change in spelling from license to licence.

Our Florida car insurance expires on Saturday, so this is a good week to get everything done with the car.

Yesterday we turned in our Florida Driver licence and received our Ontario driver licence.

Because there is a reciprocal arrangement with the U.S., we did not have to take a driving test.

Tip: If you are coming to Ontario, it is a good idea to bring a complete abstract of your driving history as they require all the information on it. Your abstract will have the date you became licenced, and your complete driving history. You can order your driving records abstract from your current driver licencing authorities. Ontario has a graduated driving licence, and if you can show proof that you have had a driving licence for a few years, and you are from a reciprocal country, you may qualify for a full driving licence.

And the best thing about our new Ontario driver licences – no immigrant class driver licence. My immigrant husband will have the same driver licence as I have.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Polar bear viewing in Churchill


Photo courtesy of Funpics.
Here is a smile for today that a good friend forwarded to us.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Canadianizing our car

Photo courtesy of Canadian Tire

We are still driving around town with our Florida tag. In order to complete the import of our vehicle, we need to have Canadian modifications. So we went to Canadian Tire today to have this done.

1. Daytime running lights
2. Conversion sticker showing miles to kilometers
3. French language sticker by airbag
4. Safety inspected to Ontario provincial standards
5. Emission inspection to Ontario provincial standards
6. There is a RIV registration fee of $195.00, which we already paid at the border.

Here is a lot of information if you are considering importing a vehicle into Canada.

http://www.cbsa-asfc.gc.ca/publications/pub/bsf5048-eng.html#s6

While we were at Canadian Tire today we also had a radiator flush with antifreeze. We already have new tires, so car should be winter ready.
The gentleman was very nice, and talked to us about getting used to winter driving. He said the first time it snows, go to a parking lot that is empty and practice driving around and getting used to how the vehicle handles in snow and ice. Good advice.


While we were waiting for the car hubby found an extendable scraper, big brush on one end, and it extends so you can reach to get the snow off your roof, and a big scraper on the other end. He loves his snow toys, does Eric.
When we got home, the builder had completed the digging, and the gas leak had been mended, and we have gas for hot water and heat Yay!


The home held it’s heat for a couple of days, and was only now beginning to chill a bit. Everyone said it’s a good thing it wasn’t January ;)


Temperature today is high of 5 (41F) low of -2 (28F) and beautifully sunny.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween


Kids just had their first Canadian halloween, and they had lots of fun. Photo is of youngest son at the door - good looking isn't he?

It was cold tonight - we had to put on coats, and arrange our costumes over them. At first the kids just wanted to throw on their costumes and run out the door. They really don't want to wear sweaters or coats at all. They're used to warmer halloweens.

They had fun looking through their treat bags full of goodies they haven't seen before. They asked me if Maynards Wine Gums has real wine in it. Smarties here are like M & Ms, whereas in the States Smarties are candy sticks. There was even a pack of Maple Leafs chewing gum shaped like hockey pucks - fun!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

We have no heat

Remember that mound of earth in our backyard last week that resembled the lunar surface? Well, yesterday the diggers came and smoothed it out, and a heavy machine flattened it, to get ready for our patio. Last night I went to turn the heat on for a few minutes to take the chill off the house and, nothing. Ok, we obviously don’t know what we are doing since we’ve never had a furnace before, but home is very well insulated so we’ll just put sweaters on. This morning, same thing, no heat. So, we call the builder who sends out the service guy for the furnaces, and he says he just got a call from our next door neighbour that she smelled gas. He confirmed there was a gas leak, so he called out Union Gas, who arrived very quickly. They are checking the lines when another call comes in, and it is the neighbour to the other side of me saying he has no heat. The Union Gas fellow says the gas lines were nicked yesterday by the digger. He is shutting off the gas to the entire building because of the leaking gas. The Union Gas gentleman says he has called the builder, since they will need to bring the digger back and dig everything up again.

It’s all very exciting here today, gas trucks, furnace companies, and employees all over the place. Dog is going crazy at the window, so she is downstairs in the basement with the kids. If we’re very very lucky, we’ll get a digger too. Oh, wait, there’s the doorbell..... ok, update. Builder cannot get digger out until Monday, and the furnace company has to go get some parts.


So, we have no heat or hot water, but are told that our home will retain heat for at least 24 hours. I will say I’m very impressed with the home, we have had a few chilly days and cool evenings and we’ve never needed to turn on the heat yet, home is always toasty warm.


Another interesting thing about this house is there is a whole house fan that one can run in the winter to circulate fresh air because the home is so airtight. No need to open a window when it’s cold.


Everyone is so apologetic about the loss of heat, but I’m just glad it’s not January. It’s really not that bad. It’s just one of those things.


Oh, and everyone took their work boots off before they entered the house. Still lovin’ it.

Winter help please



Photo courtesy of Noaa.

Does anyone have any winter tips for us? It’s been a long time since we have experienced winter. I’m concerned about driving, but any winter tips would be appreciated.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Swiss Chalet



This is a photo of our favourite restaurant, Swiss Chalet, on Gordon Street. Swiss Chalet is famous for it's delicious rotisserie chicken dinners.

When your days are filled with interesting things like visiting Service Canada, Canadian Tire, and Zellers, somehow it is dinner time before you know it. That's when you realize that the lasagna you were going to bake tonight isn't going to happen because you got rid of your nasty old casserole pan before the move and forgot to buy a new one at Zellers 5 minutes ago. It's on days like these that we are happy to go to Swiss Chalet, even if we have been there 3 times in the last 2 weeks.

Our first snow shovel


Ok, ok. We finally did it! We were in Zellers today buying storage units reduced from $29.99 to $9.99. Can someone please tell me why, when you move to a smaller house, you end up buying more stuff? I need to buy more stuff to store the stuff I had in the larger house. I’m also continuing to get rid of stuff, but we still have so much stuff.

So, we were in Zellers (similar to Target) and Eric bought a red snow shovel. So, we are ready to shovel the driveway and front step. This is the first time either one of us has owned a shovel. We’ve noticed the bags of salt appearing in the store also.

The temperature is dropping from a summery 20 (72F) to a high today of 3 (35F). I told Eric it would be like flipping a switch when the temperature changed. The sky is starting to look more wintry with interesting clouds. There are still lots of autumn leaves, but I didn’t see that much red this year, probably because it was so warm.

One day last week there was frost on the car, and Eric scraped it, and thought that was fun. A couple of days later when we were taking the kids to school there was a light layer of ice on the car, and we had to scrape harder (less fun this time), and the sliding side doors had frozen shut – oh come on, it wasn’t even that cold! Our neighbour came out of his house, and with a few expert brush strokes, he was in his car smiling benevolently at us and was gone. There’s us with the Florida plates on our car, still trying to figure it out. So, kids entered the car from the front and crawled over the seats to the back, since the doors were stuck fast. Oh, I know, perhaps one should warm the car first before opening the automatic doors. Someone told me to put WD 40 on the door seals so moisture would not freeze the doors stuck. Do we do this every day, or just once in a while? During the drive to school the warning lights finally came on because the doors must have just unstuck, so we had to pull over to the side of the road and open and shut all our doors. You never know what those crazy Florida people are going to do next.

Monday we are taking the car to Canadian tire to have it modified. We have to have “daytime running lights” and a couple of other things. The fellow at Canadian Tire said we don’t need a heater block (to plug the car in at night to keep it warm) because it is too warm here in Southern Ontario.

After the car is modified we will go and get our Ontario driver license (reciprocal so we don’t have to take a test) and get our insurance and Ontario plates. Last week Eric went to Service Canada and got his Social Insurance Number (like a social security number). Fun. Our days are still filled with odd chores.