Monthly Archives: November 2008

Matthew’s Early 6th Birthday Party

P1010282.JPGBecause of our move, we decided to hold an early birthday party for Matthew. He will turn six in December, but we would be in Sunnyvale by then. And we wanted to have a party where Matthew could see all of his friends in the Ottawa area before we left. So, we send out this invitation and arranged a party at Pro-Style Karate.

Matthew had a great time and he enjoyed seeing all of his friends. They played dodgeball against the parents, practiced kicks and punches and ate a bunch of cake. Matthew cut the cake with a sword.

Unfortunately, I was not there so I can’t elaborate much more. Cynthia took Matthew to his party. I stayed home with Samantha and prepared for our house hunting trip to California. As soon as Matthew and Cynthia got home, we went to the airport and flew into San Jose and signed a lease on the house we are in now. This past month was a real whirlwind. But, we did make some time for things like Matthew’s party and that has been very important for us and him.

Matthew Plays Soccer

Matthew played soccer this past summer in Dunrobin and had a great time. I have had some video footage of him in goal for a while but didn’t get around to doing anything with it until now. Click on the picture to see the video. Matthew did pretty well in goal. We didn’t get video of all the shots he stopped but there is some footage of him stopping one kick, but the other team pretty quickly tried again and got a goal. But, he did very well and most importantly had a great time playing soccer this summer. We will look into soccer here in California and we won’t have to wait until summer to get him onto a team I am sure.

Cynthia shot the video footage using our digital camera and I pieced this together using iMovie ’08. It took me probably 20 minutes to produce that. It isn’t anything special but iMovie sure makes it easy to throw something together like that. I might have to do some more video. Maybe we need one of those new, cheap HD video cameras which record to SD cards…

Matthew Back In School

P1010630.JPGOne of the major complications of the move was getting Matthew enrolled in school. He had his last day of grade one at Stonecrest Elementary on October 31st. While the movers loaded the truck, Matthew was at school saying goodbye to his friends. They had made a huge goodbye card for him and he was so excited to show it to us when he got off the bus.

There were a bunch of complications enrolling Matthew in school in California. The cut-off dates for the grades are different between Ontario and California. In Ontario, Matthew is just about the youngest student in grade one. In California, he had to be enrolled in kindergarten, where he would be one of the oldest students. According to California law, he had to do at least 30 school days in kindergarten and if his teacher thought he was ready, he could then be placed into grade one again.

The other problem was that the school right next to our house had no room in kindergarten. There was room in grade one but he couldn’t be enrolled in grade one. So, he started kindergarten at another school about 10 minutes away on Friday, November 14th. I had to drop him off and pick up him at the end of the day for the first three school days until they could arrange a bus. Now, Cynthia and Samantha walk with him to the local school where the bus picks him up. They meet him there again at the end of the day.

The other issue is that the school he is attending now is very competitive and advanced. In the kindergarten class, most of the students are reading and doing addition and subtraction. Matthew is reading pretty well but his addition and subtraction wasn’t as good. But, he was meeting expectations for grade one in Ontario. At this new school, most of the students have been in private pre-schools and are still getting private tutoring. So, it seems he will not be progressing to grade one based on these expectations. But, it shouldn’t really matter since the material isn’t that different. He doesn’t seem to care that he is in kindergarten again so that isn’t a big problem.

We are hopeful though that he will be placed at the local school, perhaps after the Christmas holidays. It would be great for him to meet other kids from the neighbourhood and making friends with here. The sooner he moves to this school the better. We really don’t want him to make a bunch of close friends and then find he is changing schools again and losing contact with more friends. We are told that spaces often open up after the holidays so hopefully that will happen for him.

We do have a funny story about his first day of school though. He came home that night and explained to me that the letter zed was in fact zee and that his teacher corrected him today. In Canada, I don’t think we really care whether you say zee or zed but apparently here it is zee. So, should I teach him “colour” and “neighbour” or will that be stirring up trouble? It will be up to me to teach him a measurement system which makes some sense (how many rods to a hogshead of gas does my car get again). And if we are here long enough, I will have to expose him to some of the history and geography of the world outside of the US borders. But he has already begun a conversion into an American now that it is zee and not zed.

We’ve Moved! (Updated, with pictures)

Samantha's BedroomSo, we actually did it. We have moved from the Ottawa area to Sunnyvale, California. Our house in Canada is for sale and we are renting a four bedroom house here in Silicon Valley. There are still a bunch of boxes around but we are unpacked enough and we will continue to work our way through them. This coming week is US Thanksgiving so I have Thursday and Friday off so with an extra long weekend, we should get a bunch of stuff done.

Moving Day - 02We moved out of our old house on October 31st, Halloween. The truck was loading our stuff all day while I sold both our van and my car at the last minute. We had hoped to take my car but the cost and complication to make it legal in the US made that unreasonable. We had already found a buyer for the van and lucked into someone who wanted the car that day. The truck was loaded and gone by about 4:00 PM. I had picked up the rental van earlier in the day and once we were ready, we said good bye to our house and left Dunrobin.

P1010542.JPGWe went to Kanata and got some dinner at Subway before we met with Dhruv, a good friend of Matthew’s, and his family. The plan was to go trick or treating with Dhruv in Kanata. Then, Matthew would spend the night at Dhruv’s house while Cynthia, Samantha and I stayed the night in a hotel. We did the neighbourhood and Matthew got a bunch of treats. Not long after that, the three of us left for the hotel. We were looking forward to some rest after a busy day.

P1010590.JPGThe next morning, we picked up Matthew and headed to Washago to visit with my Grandmother. Samantha was all smiles for Grandma and I think everyone enjoyed catching up. Matthew enjoyed a couple of cookies also. After a couple of hours, we had to move on and get to Toronto. Our plan was to stay at Cynthia’s dad’s place Saturday and Sunday night and then fly from Toronto airport to San Francisco airport. We still had a fair bit of driving ahead of us so we hit the road. Shortly after starting, both kids fell asleep and we made good time to Toronto and delayed dinner until we had arrived.

On Sunday, we went to visit Scott, a friend of mine from university. We had a chance to visit with him and his family, Karyn, Gavin and Natalie. Gavin and Matthew had quite a bit of fun together and Scott and I went out to bring some sushi back for lunch. After playing a bit of Rock Band 2, it was time to get back to the house. We were planning to have dinner with Cynthia’s dad and Nannette and Kay. Cynthia and Kay grew up together in Toronto. It was another busy day and we slept well again that night. We didn’t see everyone we would have liked but appreciated the time we had with friends and family that weekend.

By about noon on Monday, we loaded into the rental van and drove to the airport. Other than being able to visit with people, we also were in Toronto for the direct flight. It was much easier with the kids not having to make a connection in Chicago. Once on the ground again, we got another rental and I opted for the GPS which had been a great decision. They provided a Garmin Nuvi and I think we will buy a pair soon (after we buy some vehicles to put them in). Not knowing the area, the GPS has been very helpful. We are often out buying all of the little things we need for the new house. It helps us find Sears, Target, Ikea or whatever store we need. When lunch time rolls around, it tells us what is close and away we go. Of course, if you have any feedback on what GPS to get or avoid, let us know.

P1010598.JPGWe stayed for a week and a half at the Staybridge Suites in Sunnyvale while we waited for the truck to arrive with our stuff. Staybridge was a great place for us to stay. There was a living room/kitchen area and two adjoining bedrooms with private bathrooms in each. Matthew had a bedroom and bathroom to himself. We put a crib in an alcove intended to be used as a closet in our bedroom and everyone was well accommodated. Every morning, there was a wonderful breakfast and they provided dinners most weeknights. One night when dinner wasn’t provided, we bought a couple of steaks and I used a gas BBQ there to prepare them. I was surprised how dark it got while BBQ-ing. I am just not used to having winter-like daylight but spring time weather. But, I did OK without the light and we enjoyed our dinner that evening. It was a good change from all the eating out we had been doing.

The lease on our new house had started already so we spent some time preparing the place. We bought a TV stand and I spent one evening putting it together with only a screwdriver. I thought I was planning ahead by bringing a screwdriver set with me in my checked bags. That way, I would have some tools handy. Did you know that you can hammer finishing nails with the back end of a screwdriver? Turns out it mangles the handle a bit but works. But that was the only tool I had, everything else was somewhere between Ottawa and California.

During that time, I was trying to spend some time at work but that was difficult. We only had the one rental vehicle and someone had to go to the school and enroll Matthew. And someone had to go to the property management office and pick up the keys. And someone had to be at the house to let the cleaners in. For every hour I spent at work, I probably spent two dealing with these kinds of things. But, that was expected really.

P1010607.JPGThe truck arrived with our stuff on Wednesday, November 12th. They unloaded the truck as we checked off each item on the list. For the last couple of hours, Cynthia and I watched as the garage filled up bit by bit. Most of the rooms were already too full and couldn’t accommodate more boxes. We were moving into a house which was probably less than 2/3rds the size of our old house. Lots of stuff had been given away, sold or thrown out before we left but not enough. Since then, we have dropped off two boxes to the Goodwill already and there are two more ready to go. Thankfully, we kept the room at Staybridge for that night. Thursday, we returned to the house and started the unpacking. We had checked out of Staybridge so we needed to make everything livable that night.

Now, we have been here a couple of weeks. We are online, have our TV and phone hooked up, have a full fridge and freezer and I have a tank of propane hooked up the BBQ. We are enjoying the beautiful weather and slowly settling into our new environment. We miss everyone and Matthew often talks about his friends and missing Canada. But we will be back to visit before you know it and I will try to update this webpage more frequently so everyone can hear how you we are doing. In the meantime, send us an email or give us a call. We would love to hear from all of you.