Friday, January 30, 2015

Proficiencies, Old and New

Well, the girls and I are up in Ottawa again so that I can write an English proficiency exam in order to work as a nurse in the US. Yes, you read that correctly. I have to demonstrate English proficiency even though:
a) English is my first/native language
b) I attended high school in the US (at an English school in upstate NY)
c) I have two university degrees conducted at English universities, in English, and
d) English is the ONLY language I speak

Believe me when I tell you that I tried to get the good folks at the credentialing organization to see reason (read: by sobbing on the phone), but alas, rules are rules. As ridiculous as the rule is, I don't even think I'd mind so much except for the fact that I called in November to ask about this exact issue and was told that I would NOT have to write the English proficiency exam. So it was a bit of a bummer (again: sobbing) to find out that I did in fact need it right before I was supposed to start my job.

But I've listened to Florence + The Machine's "Shake it Out" about 1000 times and am trying to just let it go. It is what it is. I am also letting go of my need to have my "To Do" list be empty/void of boring moving tasks. Some things will just take longer than I would like, and I could either drive myself crazy about it, or when someone tells me I have to wait a month to get a letter so I can hopefully get my license one day I can say "Whatever," put my feet up and watch an episode of The West Wing. (It makes me happy when one of the characters becomes stymied by some silly government machination. I mean, if it happens to great minds like Sam Seaborne and Josh Lyman, then I shouldn't feel so badly when I can't cry my way out of an unnecessary exam. . .)

The girls are just delighted to be here in Ottawa. Honey Bee has discovered "hot cocoa," and looks for any opportunity to indulge. (Me: "Your cheeks are all red. Are you hot?" HB: "No, I'm cold. Brr! Can I have some hot cocoa to warm myself up?!") These days, she is so wonderful about playing "imagination games" with herself, Mouse, or anyone else that will indulge her. Tonight, she decided that Mom, Dad and I were all very sick due to "cracked fingers" and tended to our wounds. She loves to dress up as a princess, command her subjects, and issue royal decrees. She also loves helping to cook dinner, wash dishes, and clean the house. She loves to dance and sing, likes to say that she's "hungry and drinky" and will do just about anything for a bit of "TB" time. Its so fascinating to watch her evolve into her own little self. And boy, does she know her own mind. I just love that about her.

Having conquered walking fairly swiftly, Mouse is moving on to mastering talking. She can say "Mama," "Dada," something that sounds v similar to Honey Bee's name, and has started saying "Nana" for my mom since she's been here. (This morning when she woke up, she started calling for "Nana" to get her, even though I was lying in the bed in the same room as her, which I thought was pretty awesome. Too bad Nana didn't hear her calling. . .) Her favourite word is "YEAH!" usually proclaimed with a great deal of enthusiasm, no matter the question asked, and she is also quite fond of saying "HI!" with a big grin when she sees someone. She has quite a strong little voice and now that she's figuring out the whole talking thing, can be quite persistent until she gets her way. The moniker Mouse almost doesn't seem fitting sometimes anymore, but she is still so tiny and spritely, that it still rings true for me. 

Mouse dislikes meat and vegetables, so I sneak veggies into smoothies every now and then to reassure myself that she isn't 100% carbohydrate. 

Huz and Dog are doing okay without us. I think Dog has been a little lonesome for the daytime company she gets with us there - the other night she "asked" Huz to come up on the couch for some snuggles by casting a forlorn look at the couch and then at Huz. They were spared the horrific dump of snow fortold to the east coast of the US a few days ago, and then today, without any warning, experienced blizzard-level snow. (That reminds me of a part of a Berenstain Bears book where Mama decides "no TV for a week" and Papa says "But how will I know the weather?" and Mama, in all her smart alecky glory, says "Here try this: Its called putting your hand out of the window to see if its raining.")
I will look sad until you feel guilty and let me sit on the couch. 

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Taking the Good with the Bad

Happy New Year! We had a wonderful time ringing in the new year with my parents, who came down to spend the holiday with us, and then visited for about a week. It was so fun to share our new home and new neighbourhood with Mom and Dad, and they were happy to see for themselves where we've landed. Mainly, we enjoyed trips to Wegmans (Dad's favourite) and Kohl's (Mom's favourite), cooked some lovely meals, played Euchre and Yahtzee, and just enjoyed each others company. [Note: Spell checker is telling me I am spelling "neighbourhood" and "favourite" incorrectly. I suppose at this point I should just switch to the American spellings, but it feels SO WRONG.]

Huz began work (YAY!) on January 2. That was his official start date, so he dutifully went into work on that day, only to find that he was pretty much the only one there. So really, he started work on January 5. Its been lots of forms, online modules and the like to begin, but he is incredibly excited to be where he is, and this is an incredible opportunity for him and for our family.

Since the post-move euphoria and holiday euphoria have worn off and Mom and Dad left, I've been a little blue. While I'm enjoying my alone time with the girls and love our little home, I've had moments of feeling overwhelmed and so incredibly frustrated by all the ridiculous crap that needs to happen when you move, particularly to another country. EVERYTHING costs money (Need a letter from GM to say your van meets US standards in order to import car? Costs $120. Need to get your medical records sent to a doctor down here? Costs $50. Need to get all your credentials verified to work as a nurse in US? Costs about $1000+. Need to activate your gas and electric? Costs an extra $200 because you have no US credit history.), EVERYTHING requires some silly form to be filled out, its IMPOSSIBLE to talk to a real live person about things (so you go in person to try and make something happen, only you're missing something, and the customer service person's snooty response is: "Well ma'am, its all on our website." Nuts to you! Your website is confusing and impossible to navigate, you disgruntled public servant!!!), and NOTHING is straightforward or simple. 

For example, I have tried four times to get my driver's license, without success. FOUR. The first time, I went on a Monday morning--after having checked the hours of operation of the downtown DMV online--only to discover that they don't "do licenses" on Mondays. So I went back with Huz and the girls the next day, and the office was bursting at the seams with people and I was quoted a 4 hour wait time. So we left. Later that day, I went to another DMV out in the burbs with Honey Bee and waited 2 hours, but apparently I was missing something they needed because of the type of visa we're on. So we all went again on Saturday to try again, all necessary documents in hand, and Huz was able to get his (on his first try, no less), but I was told that "they" ("Who's 'they'?" I asked. To which I got no reasonable answer) were unable to verify my identity on the computer. WHAT DOES THAT MEAN?! So now "they" will send all my "information" to "Harrisburg" and then I'll receive a letter in the mail in about a month, after which point I am able to try again. 

(gifs make my old rickety laptop so sad and slow. . .)

I spend the better part of Mouse's naptime each day on the phone, trying to figure out some ridiculous thing or another (car insurance, international banking, health insurance, etc, etc, etc):

Today, I even cried on the phone to two different people out of desperation/frustration:

But I've been trying to pull my head out of the rabbit hole and focus on the good. Here are some small, but joyful moments:

Cuddling with Dog

Having a ball at "the happy place," which is what Honey Bee calls the playgym/coffee shop we've been frequenting

Mouse not feeling well. I'm always so sorry for them when they're not feeling well, but I always enjoy the extra snuggles.

Sometimes when we check on the girls before we go to bed, we find them like this in Mouse's playpen. And then my heart explodes.

Riding the vacuum.

I've joined a mom's group here and went to a party they hosted last week. They seemed like a really friendly group and were very welcoming. They have a monthly book club, which I am going to attend this week, and they're also setting me and the girls up in a regular play group, which will be so great. I am anxious for Honey Bee to make some new friends and to make some new friends myself!

In these early weeks, I am also grateful for American Netflix (we are currently binge watching Sons of Anarchy), this thingie that Huz set up on Skype so that you can call Canada like its a phone but its over Skype (clearly, I was not the brains of that particular operation, since I can't even clearly articulate what it is. . .), and Songza living room dance parties.