Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Just a matter of days...

Our visa applications have finally been approved for submission! Hurray! I didn’t realise just how stressed I was until I got the phone call saying that all the applications had been approved. We’re going to Vancouver tomorrow to pick up our visas. I must say that I’ve been impressed with the number of things that Consulate has in place to help with application hiccups. For one thing, although your application may get sent back a few times for additional information there is no fee to pay for these rejections and I never was left with the impression that things wouldn’t work out. Other countries want the fee upfront, before you learn if you’re accepted or denied. As well, the office is set up with a photocopier and printer, so that if the documents you need are readily available you can actually procure them without leaving the Consulate. This came in quite useful to us on Monday past. 

Now comes the part that, in years past, was the most stressful – the packing of the suitcases. This time I am not freaking out, or at least not freaking out most of the time. I think it helps that the luggage allowance for Asia isn’t as horribly restricted as for the rest of the world. 2 suitcases per person feels like a luxury now that most international destinations only allow 1. And when two of those people are basically the size of one large suitcase, there is perhaps a little more space available for packing than one those suitcases all belong to one adult! It also helps, of course, that I’ve done this move & setup thing so many times in the past. It’s not that I don’t think there will be stressful times, it’s just that I’ve learned not to bother anticipating that stress this time around.

This morning I woke up to the sound of the rain running through the pine trees outside my window. The sky is a luminous white which suggests that the rain will stay. The children & I have been snatching outdoor time here & there, whenever we can, and it’s not often because the rain will not stop. It is easier to embrace the dreary weather because I know there are not many days left of waking up in a 100 year old logging-shanty-turned-cottage in the middle of a coastal rainforest. Soon I’ll be waking up to…I don’t know what. I know that our place has a lot of opportunities for cleaning & tlc, but that’s ok. For the first time in three years I’m looking forward to having the time & energy to creatively turn our home into something cozy.

See? Cozy
When it's not raining
And sometimes even when it is

Sunday, 12 March 2017

Waiting to Move

I mentioned that the kids & I were waiting for some paperwork to come through before we could join David in China. As difficult as it is to be without him, there have been a few benefits to this (for us, probably not for him!):

  1. Settling in to life in a new country is always challenging, and I don’t just mean the learning to do things in a new place. Expat life has this really glamorous image thanks to those Expats who work for big multinational corporations that give them incentive packages to live overseas. This is certainly not the reality for many of us, so travel to a new country usually involves trying to squeeze all one’s worldly goods into 1 or 2 suitcases and then doing a fair bit of roughing it until one has a chance to set up home. I really hate that David is going through this set-up experience without us, but I’m glad for the sake of the children that things will be a little more settled when we do arrive. 
  2. Having time to ease into back into stay-at-home-mum life is amazing. I keep having to remind myself that it’s OK to take as much time as I want to play games with the children – I’m used to having to squeeze all of our fun into a few hours balanced with housework. I know a big part of this is due to being at my parents, since my mum is taking care of most of the meals and if I have any urgent business to attend to I can easily shut the door and get it done, but it’s certainly helping me feel more relaxed and that’s leading to an easier transition with the kids. I’m not sure how things will change once we’re settled but I think there will be a nice change of pace with David coming home from his office every day to give me some downtime. Walter is also supposed to start school in September so I’m trying to enjoy every last moment with my big boy preschooler right now. 
  3. Being able to have all this quality time with my parents is great. It’s the first time since the kids were born that my visits will them haven’t had an undercurrent of change & stress. I mean, maybe this sounds crazy since I’m in the middle of moving overseas, and certainly I have my moments of feeling incredibly stressed, but there’s also lots of time to just kick back and enjoy life. The kids are running around the house & playing with my childhood toys, mum & I spend our days doing spring cleaning and planning yummy things to make, we go for walks in town, there’s lots of opportunity to visit my Gramma, and mostly we’re just enjoying each other’s company on this extended quasi holiday.
sleepy Annie is happy she can indulge in green apples & peanut-butter 

building before breakfast

Thursday, 9 March 2017

Our Next Big Move

I’m back again, perhaps not so briefly. This time the silence was intentional, as there were things in the works that couldn’t be spoken about in public until everything was in place, and that time is now – The Porters Lodge is moving to China!

Greater Vancouver was not a great fit for our family. Yes, there were positives. I loved living so close to the mountains and the sea, my job was amazing, and I got to see my brother a lot. But there were also a lot of negatives. The high cost of living meant a constant tension between work and childcare, without much time left over for us to enjoy our family life together. We were much closer to home than when we lived in England, but it was still really difficult to see family because traveling around Canada without a car is difficult due to the immense distance between places and the relatively small population doesn’t call for better public transit infrastructure. And, raising two little kids and having work eat up most of our spare hours meant it was very difficult to meet new people or even see our existing friends. As we talked about the years to come, it seemed pretty clear that we weren’t getting the work/life balance we wanted and the current situation needed to change.

One day, a little before Christmas in 2015, David asked me how I felt about moving to China. And I found myself giving a very positive “yes, sure, new adventure” as a response, and he told me that he’d been approached regarding a Post Doctoral research position at one of China’s top universities. I gave him my blessing to start the process and we broke the news to our families.

Fast forward over a year later and here we are, or at least there we are going… David has already arrived and the children and I hope to join him in the next few weeks. We just need to wait for David’s residency number to come through. Until we move the kids & I are staying at my parents, soaking up as much of the Island as we can before our next adventure.

morning snow -- shot over the front deck
morning snow in the back garden