Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Quit Whining and Get On With It!!

Okay . . . I didn’t drop off the face of the earth . . . just was dropped into a different country. I’ve said it a million times . . . but, I have been a bit preoccupied. I’ll do my best to fill in the gaps. But, I’m sure all of my fellow American comrades have some questions about our new adventure in Canada . . . and, I don’t want to disappoint.

I’m sure in two years, if I were to look back on this entry, that I’ll have a much different perspective. But, here are my initial egocentric American views of our new home:

1. The milk here comes in bags - not plastic gallon jugs. Three separate smaller sealed bags are housed within a larger bag that equals 4 liters (roughly a gallon for my metrically-challenged friends). I never even contemplated using the standard milk pitchers that are sold everywhere (since they don’t have a lid). Our Pampered Chef pitcher has come in handy. And, to be honest, the milk is incredibly fresh and has less of a weird taste than what we were drinking before. So, rest assured . . . for all of my many friends who know how weird I am about milk . . . this one has a happy ending. And, hopefully soon I’ll get better about pouring from the bag into the pitcher so I spill less.

2. Recycling is a law. Yeaa for Canada!! Booo for not having a garbage disposal. Let me explain. You can’t scrape your food scraps into your trash can – because your biggest trash can is for recycling. And, you are only allowed one small green bin each week for trash (that is slightly bigger than an under the sink trash can). So, your food is scraped into a small pail (with lid) that sits beside your sink. You take that small bag out and place it into the green bin each day . . . which has festering, rotting, stinking food sitting in it smoldering in the sun until the trash is picked up the next week. Yep. Gross. Jeff and I have already purchased and installed our own garbage disposal.

3. Costs are higher. Chicken is between $8 and $9/pound. Gas is around $5.12/gallon. Milk is about $5.49/gallon. There were no $50 or less cheap dressers that we were expecting to buy to replace the ones we left behind. Even WalMart’s cheapest option was $170. And, cell phones are ridiculous. It’s hard to even describe how dramatically different the prices and features are. Thank goodness Autumn hadn’t watched TV in over a week when we went into the cell phone store . . . because we were there for a LONG time and she was (thankfully for once) completely mesmerized by the tube.

4. We ride a movator (it’s like the moving surfaces at aiports – but, it’s on an incline) to get our cart up to and down from the grocery store (and we park in a parking deck). Autumn loves it. It combines “magic stairs” (aka an escalator) with shopping. She couldn’t be happier. And, to be honest, I think it is totally cool, too.

5. I am breaking out like a teenager. I’m honestly less stressed now than I’ve been for months preceding the move. So, I blame it on the new climate. It’s also A LOT more humid. So, I asked Jeff if he liked the most recent way I had attempted to tame my wavy/curly/frizzy hair . . . and, my sweet husband said that he hadn’t been able to look past the enormous zit on my forehead to even see it. Nice. Unfortunately, I don’t blame him. I should post a picture of it. I may have to see a doctor.

6. Selection is different at the grocery store. There are no blueberry muffin mixes with the can of real blueberries inside (I like these once a weekend with a big berry/lime smoothie for breakfast). Bacon has a different texture no matter how long you cook it . . . and I still haven't seen our idea of "Canadian bacon" here which was a regular topping on our homemade pizzas back home. They don't sell Jimmy Dean ground sausage (a Jeff must-have) . . . or any sausage that is not in links. Ritz crackers come in a half-size box. Oreos taste different. Now that you're thinking the Peterson family only eats junk food . . . maybe it's a good thing that we cut these out of our diet!

Okay . . . and so I don’t sound like we don’t like it here . . . or that I really AM a snobby, egocentric American . . . here’s what is fabulous about things here:

1. The diversity is so refreshing. I was very nervous that we would be the only ones speaking English . . . but, we haven’t hit one single language barrier yet. I love the multi-culture population here. And, people are so nice and friendly. Ironically, I have seen only one person do a double take on Gavin’s casts here . . . not so in Utah . . . especially the Utah moms. Seriously . . . I’d prefer you to ask than stop and stare.

2. Chocolate is divine. It is different. It’s the more “European” chocolate . . . and it is goooo-ooood.

3. We’ll learn the metric system. Right now we have to use the conversion feature on our cell phones to equate what we are paying now to what we were paying before (although based on prices, I think it’s better not to know). But, soon enough I’ll know what temperature to expect when they say 30 degrees Celsius.

4. Hopefully we’ll also pick up on some French. Everything is bilingual . . . every box, every sign, and every announcement. It works here.

5. They have Costco stores. Anyone who knows me knows this is critical. And, they sell Hellmann’s Light mayonnaise in a big container at Costco. It’s THE only mayo to buy . . . and critical since I like to make my own Ranch.

6. Things are sweeter here. Heinz ketchup (THE only ketchup in the Peterson household) is sweeter here. Same delicious texture . . . just sweeter. It’s an interesting, but nice, change.

7. Most importantly . . . Jeff and the kids are happy. He is absolutely amazing as a stay-at-home dad. I know we’re only a month in . . . but, even I, who have always thought Jeff was about the most amazing daddy around, have been pleasantly surprised by his patience and laid-back attitude . . . even when I left them for a week to go to England for work. He’s taken the kids to the zoo, the beach (sandy area along the lake – but “unswimmable” unfortunately), swim lessons, the park . . . he works on letters with Autumn, reads books constantly, makes crafts . . . he’s amazing. I will live vicariously through him. If it can’t be me at home with the kids . . . we are all so blessed that it is daddy.

8. There is a division for me between work and home that I haven’t had in years. I go to work early (Jeff would still like it to be earlier – but, we’re getting there) and come home at a decent hour . . . and don’t even bring my computer. I just come home and am a mom and wife – and I try to make every minute count. Now if I could only learn to turn that cursed Blackberry off!

As for work . . . I am starting to wear high heels on a regular basis. I am getting really good at maneuvering my Explorer in an underground parking garage and fitting into really tight spaces. I take an elevator to the 15th floor for work each day. I ride the subway . . . and, it’s great. I’ve had business lunches, business cocktails and business dessert at nice restaurants around town . . . I’m trying to relearn how to eat in front of other adults.

As for our house . . . it’s definitely in a nice neighborhood (which you really realize once you drive into other neighborhoods). No kids on the street. None. But, our house is completely renovated and very nice. The two rooms downstairs are HUGE. And, we brought the spare King-sized mattress. So, the doors are open to visitors anytime!!

Unfortunately, there is so little storage that we have spent a lot of time and money buying containers and armoires and cabinets . . . anyone that saw our truck before we left Utah would know these are not discretionary purchase . . . but absolutely necessary. Jeff has reminded me again that it was a brilliant decision on his part to move ourselves so that we have plenty of moving money leftover to purchase things. we want/need for the house . . . instead of trying to do without. I knew he was right all along . . . but, I was still a pretty disgruntled worker while packing!

There’s so much more . . . so, congratulations to those of you who made it to the bottom. I will post more soon . . . I promise . . . really.


  1. I was just logging off when I saw your post. I'm so glad that everyone is doing so well & are accepting the changes between the
    2 cultures. Makes you appreciate home even more.
    With the milk, could you hold the bag over your pitcher & carefully snip off the corner & let it drain into the pitcher? Might be better than trying to pour it from the bag. Love, MOM

  2. Glad you are alive. I was starting to worry.

    I was also worried when I started reading about the milk. I know how crazy you are about it. Good to hear you are enjoying it still. LOL

    We miss you. Update more often!

  3. The funnest part about reading your updates is that none of it was news to me. Yay that I got to come and see it all first hand. The kids and I went and checked on your house today, unplugged the very empty plug-in and made sure your playset wasn't lonely. Fun to once again read your blog, looking forward to more. Love you guys!!

  4. So exciting! It sounds like things are going really well for you and the family! We sure miss seeing you walking around the neighborhood, but know the 2 year countdown is on! I got lots of fun details from Becky, I'm glad you had a good surprise birthday! Keep in touch and hopefully we'll see you soon when you make a trip out this way!

  5. Hurray, Karen is back! I love reading about your adventures so post more when you can. It sounds like your enjoying it and that work is going great. Post pics & more info when you can. Miss you!

  6. It truly sounds like things are going to be and are great for the Peterson family. We wish you all nothing but the absolute best. We would love to see it first hand. We have have less than 2 weeks before we go back to school. Who knows maybe we can plan something for next summer.

  7. I still miss everything up there and would move back in a heart beat. I will work on sending you that disc of our trip when we came up. I'm so happy to hear things are going well for you guys.

  8. so great to hear about what's going on. I haven't heard a thing since you left and I really have been wondering how it was going. Take care!

  9. Don't feel bad about the culture shock, it's normal, and it's not because you are egocentric! It's sure fun to hear about and I'm glad your family is happy. Keep posting!