Anyone have experience with an Ergo baby carrier? As Will gets older, it would be nice to get some sort of baby backpack carrier, and this one looks comfortable. Plus, I could also wear him around the house in something like this. Or perhaps you can recommend other baby backpack carriers?
I know experiences in Canada differ depending on where you live, but here's a bit about my experience in Saskatchewan:
*When we arrived in Canada, we immediately applied for our Saskatchewan Health cards, as each province runs its own healthcare. It took 6 weeks for them to arrive though, so meanwhile, I paid out of pocket for my care. It was extremely reasonable though--$101 for an ultrasound, around $30 for a visit to the doctor. And then I got reimbursed once our cards arrived.
*I saw a family practitioner, and could choose whichever doctor I wanted. I believe in other parts of Canada, pregnant women see OB-GYNs, but here where I live, you only go to an OB-GYN if you are high-risk, which I was at the end of my pregnancy. Both of my Moose Jaw doctors were immigrants (one from South Africa and one from Nigeria). One problem with Canadian healthcare is a shortage of workers, so immigrants are welcomed! In the end, this is why I delivered in Regina (one hour away) versus Moose Jaw (15 minutes away). At the time, Moose Jaw only had one OB-GYN and he was on vacation. They now have another one--from Florida! You usually hear of Canada losing doctors to the US (for the higher pay) rather than the other way around.
*Yes, like any healthcare system, Canada's has its good and bad. But I loved the fact that I did not have deductibles, copays, exclusions for preexisting conditions, or caps. I find this very reassuring, and aside from the physician shortage in certain areas which did affect me in the end, I felt I received top notch care. I'm very grateful to the OB-GYN in Regina who advised us to hang on even though my water had broken at 35 weeks. A subsequent test revealed that Will's lungs were not mature, and had he gone ahead with the c-section, there would have been an NICU stay. As it turned out, Will was born at 37 weeks, and his loud cries in the operating room assured us his lungs were fine!
*Having said that, there is a bit of a two-tier aspect to healthcare here. While everyone can have care on a hospital ward, I was able to get a semi-private room only by using the additional insurance we have through Briercrest. But again, if I paid out of pocket, a private room would only be $90 in Regina and $25 in Moose Jaw per night. Ambulances and dental care are two more things not covered by the provincial healthcare, but generally covered by extra insurance. I find the fact that some people have to pay out of pocket for an ambulance ride to be a strange exclusion in a universal healthcare system.
*The Canadian Paediatric Society does not recommend routine circumcision for newborn boys, and no provincial healthcare system will pay for the procedure. This was not a big deal to us, however, as we had already decided not to have it done.
*After returning home, I had a home visit from a public health nurse and then a subsequent phone call a few days later.
*As I mentioned earlier, Canada has paid maternity leave. But I didn't qualify, as I think you need to have been working for at least a year and paying into the system.
*Just like in the U.S., babies born in Canada are automatically Canadian citizens. The rest of us still need to slog through the permanent residency process though.
Just a few miles down the Trans-Canada Highway to the west lies Besant Park, often called an oasis on the prairies. People go there to camp, hike, cookout, swim, and fish. We went there for a picnic and some frisbee!
Daddy teaches Kate how to throw the frisbee, while Will looks on
While baby Will is already a Canadian citizen by virtue of being born here, the rest of us need to gain permanent residency! Once we have it, we will no longer need a work permit to be here! I believe after 3 years of being here as permanent residents, we can apply for citizenship if we want to. Then our whole family would be dual citizens--I'll have to look into whether there are any downsides to that.
We begin by applying with the Saskatchewan Immigrant Nominee Program. If we are accepted, they forward all our information to Citizenship and Immigration Canada, and they will make sure our medical and security checks are done. Average time from application to approval is 13 months.
In case you're curious, Eric needs to have 35 points in the Skilled Workers category in order to qualify. Points can be earned in several categories: education and training, work experience, language ability, family support, Saskatchewan suitability, community support, age, and financial resources. Eric will easily have 35 points and more--but it's quite a process proving it to them! We need to send to them:
*Copies of our birth certificates, marriage certificate, passports, existing work permit, transcripts or diplomas, and an employment reference. *Detailed financial information, including exact dates we have opened each bank account, the amount of US $ in each one and Canadian value equivalent, and proof of any debt. *Permanent residency application (one for each adult). Included on this form are our parents' and siblings' birthplaces/dates of birth/current addresses. We also need to list every place we have lived in the last 10 years, and account for our work history over the last 10 years. It is so specific that I had to write: Sept-Oct 2003: transition to life in Scotland. You can leave no period of time unaccounted for. *Small photos of all of us.
That gives you a general idea! We've been putting it off due to other more pressing matters, but we now have to tackle it!
Macleans magazine had an interesting article this week on Canada's dwindling population. Immigrants like us do help the situation, but apparently not enough for long-term labor needs. The article attributes the drop to women delaying having children, having only one child, or deciding not to have any. This is a problem in most developed countries, and is thought to be best combatted by helping women achieve better work-life balance. Canada, like most other Western countries, already has paid maternity leave (50 weeks!). But the government committee dealing with this issue thinks parents need even more breaks.
This is my first year being at home with my kids full-time, and I keep running into articles and blogs about the choices women make around children and career. Some are kind of extreme, like the new book by Leslie Bennetts, The Feminine Mistake. I haven't read it yet but Macleans did an interview with her a couple weeks ago. Bennetts rightly points out that there is risk involved in depending on a man for financial support, because he could leave, die, or lose his job. I think it is good to think about these issues, but she seems to be exaggerating things to prove her point. She encourages women to stay in the work force, full-time, with no breaks or even scaling back, regardless of the presence or ages of children. She says it is very hard to get back into the working world after opting out for a few years. I hope that's not true! And to the extent it is, isn't this also society's problem (ie. Canada's baby shortage) and not just one that every individual woman has to wrestle with alone?
I much prefer the views of Amy Tiemann, writer of the Mojo Mom book and blog. Check out her recent post with a video clip of a debate on "The Today Show" with several women, including Leslie Bennetts. I like what Amy has to say because she's an educated, Gen X, Christian mother, who believes that there are many ways to achieve a work-life balance once you have kids! She sees the value in continuing to work, going part-time, sequencing, opting out, and entrepreneurship. She's part of the Moms Rising website, where they tackle the problem of work-family balance (primarily in the U.S.) in practical ways.
Anyway, I'd be interested to know your thoughts if you read these articles or check out Amy's blog!
I'm reading the novel Gilead by Marilynne Robinson, for my book club this month. It's set in 1956 in Gilead, Iowa, and written from the perspective of an old pastor who knows he doesn't have long to live. He writes it to the child he never expected to have, his 7 year old son. I won't give too much more away, but I did want to share this quote, which I'm sure all parents can relate to:
I'd never have believed I'd see a wife of mine doting on a child of mine. It still amazes me every time I think of it. I'm writing this in part to tell you that if you ever wonder what you've done in your life, and everyone does wonder sooner or later, you have been God's grace to me, a miracle, something more than a miracle. You may not remember me very well at all, and it may seem to you to be no great thing to have been the good child of an old man in a shabby little town you will no doubt leave behind. If only I had the words to tell you.
I was reading this blog by an Englishman in Ontario, and asked to be part of this interview chain. Below are my answers to the five questions he posed to me:
1. How were your children’s names chosen? We tend to like classic names that are gender distinctive. I never liked it when people thought my name was a boy's name! I have always loved the name Kathryn and the nickname Kate, and Grace of course reminds us of what God has done for us. William is a good strong name, and popular in Britain, as is Andrew. Other than that, nothing particularly meaningful about our choices!
2. Would you consider putting your children in a French immersion program? Definitely. In fact, we have already signed Kate up for a French immersion preschool in Moose Jaw, assuming she is fully potty trained by fall! We'll see how it goes, but I would consider keeping both kids there for elementary school and beyond. It just seems like such a unique opportunity, and so much easier to learn a second language young. Many jobs in Canada require or prefer a person to be bilingual. Also, I imagine knowing a second language could open up educational and professional opportunities around the world.
3. To what degree do adult expats ever “belong” to their new country? I think it will always be a matter of degree, depending on how much a person embraces a new culture, learns its language/politics/history, and firmly sets down roots. I think it is easier to feel like I "belong" in Canada than I did in Scotland, much as I loved our years there. Scotland felt more foreign, and of course, people could immediately tell I was not from there. However, even if I become a Canadian citizen and live here the rest of my life, I'll still be an American at heart. I can never know what it would be like to have been born and raised here, and to have my family history based here.
4. At what age will you allow your children to have an email account / blog etc? And until what age will you insist on having full access? (This is becoming an issue in our household!) Hmmm...not sure. I'm sure it would be a great way to communicate with people far away, but there are those internet dangers parents should be aware of. Anyone have any advice?
5. Do you associate any songs with turning points in your life? Which and why? Engagement: "One of the Best Ones" by Bruce Cockburn. Eric loves Bruce Cockburn and introduced his music to me. Scotland: Dougie MacLean "The Deepest Part of Me." I remember buying this album in a secondhand shop in Edinburgh, and listening to it in our first tiny flat on Dalgety Street in our initial months in Scotland. Babies: "The Planet Sleeps" album--lullabies from around the world. Not only is it wonderful to introduce my children to world music--these songs are really good! My favorite one on the album is actually from Cape Breton in Canada.
__________________________________________________ If you want to be the next interview victim (whether or not I even know you!), here are the steps to take:
* Leave a comment for this post saying, “Interview me” and include your blog URL. If you don't think I know your email address, either include it in your comment or email it to me.
* I will respond by asking you five questions. I get to pick the questions and I'll email them to you.
* You will update your blog with the answers to the questions.
* You will include this explanation and an offer to interview someone else in the same post.
* When others comment asking to be interviewed, you will ask them five questions.
We've never bought a house in the US, but I know enough about it to see that Canada is a bit different. I know Wikipedia isn't always the most reliable information source, but here is an interesting comparison nonetheless:
While homeownership rates in both countries are very high compared to worldwide (or even developed countries), the United States has a slightly higher level of homeownership at 68.9% versus 67% for Canada.
The narrow gap is interesting as the U.S. has implemented many incentives for homeownership, whereas Canada has no notable incentives. The most notable U.S. incentive for homeownership is the tax-deductible mortgage interest expense. In Canada, and many other countries, there is a prevalent view that this market distortion unfairly penalizes renters, who often have less income than owners.
I'm not sure how many Americans realize how unusual this tax deduction is--I know the UK had no such thing either--does anyone know of another country that does?
Some other differences: *In Caronport, few people use a realtor. Most home sales are private, and the deal is then drawn up by a lawyer. *We can make extra payments toward the mortgage, but if we pay off the mortgage early (even due to selling the house) then we pay a penalty worth 3 months of mortgage interest, unless we take on another mortgage with our same bank (Royal Bank of Canada). *Most mortgages have a term of 3-7 years with the same interest rate, and then we take on another one. Our house should be paid off in 25 years, or perhaps a bit less, as we opted for a biweekly payment. *I'm still pretty amazed that the bank gave us a mortgage at all, given that we are living here on one-year work permits until we gain permanent residency!
Probably one of the toughest things about parenting a baby is the crying! But in the midst of it, have you ever stopped to think how it's the perfect signal? God knew what he was doing when designing babies! Some interesting info from the Dr. Sears article, 7 things parents should know about baby's cries:
An infant's cry – the perfect signal. Scientists have long appreciated that the sound of an infant's cry has all three features of a perfect signal.
*First, a perfect signal is automatic. A newborn cries by reflex. The infant senses a need, which triggers a sudden inspiration of air followed by a forceful expelling of that air through vocal cords, which vibrate to produce the sound we call a cry. In the early months, the tiny infant does not think, "What kind of cry will get me fed?" He just automatically cries. Also, the cry is easily generated. Once his lungs are full of air, the infant can initiate crying with very little effort.
*Second, the cry is appropriately disturbing: ear-piercing enough to get the caregiver's attention and make him or her try to stop the cry, but not so disturbing as to make the listener want to avoid the sound altogether.
*Third, the cry can be modified as both the sender and the listener learn ways to make the signal more precise. Each baby's signal is unique. A baby's cry is a baby's language, and each baby cries differently. Voice researchers call these unique sounds cry prints, which are as unique for babies as their fingerprints are.
Gonna make this garden grow! Yes, I think Kate and I will try our hand at gardening this year! Our friend Judy has already shown us the rhubarb and chives ready for the picking, and given us some helpful gardening tips. We've decided to try potatoes, carrots, and tomatoes this year, with a few more herbs as well. We'll see how that goes! Gardening is popular in Caronport--last summer we frequently had visitors coming to our door with the overflow bounty from their gardens!
My houseplants tend to die on me, so hopefully this experiment won't be a disaster!
Incidentally, in the UK, what we call a "yard" they call a "garden." I found this rather confusing at first, as I scanned the little grassy yards for signs of growing vegetables!
I love the Gentle Christian Mothers website and the wealth of good information it has, although I think you'll find gentle mothers following many different parenting philosophies. Here's a good one very relevant to me these days!
This has been a doozy of a year! Eric successfully defended his doctoral dissertation last June, and that very night we had a positive pregnancy test! We left Scotland with all the logistics that entailed, visited with family and friends all around the US, drove for 3 days up to Saskatchewan, settled into a rental townhouse and began our life in Canada! Eric had his first year of teaching, I took care of a 2 year old while pregnant, and then January brought a c-section and a newborn! In February, we made an offer on a house and it was accepted, and we moved in last week. Friends and family had their own trials and transitions which often weighed on us as well this year. We still need to do all the US consulate stuff for Will, and then the big application for Canadian permanent residency is hanging over our heads! Canada wants to know everything about our little family--every address where we've lived for the last 10 years, the addresses of our family members, all the jobs we've held, our education and finances, proof that we are fluent in English, and eventually, there will be medical exams and probably police checks.
What a good year! What a tiring year! We are so grateful to God for all the wonderful gifts we've received this year. We're hoping to catch our breath this summer, and enjoy a more restful school year starting next fall.
We have moved this week, which is why I am not blogging much. We had a lot of help with the actual moving, childcare, and meals, which made it much easier! We are enjoying our backyard, the added space, and having two bathrooms! And I love having a dishwasher--didn't realize what a difference that would make. We are first-time homeowners though, so we'll have to get used to things like mowing the lawn and paying property taxes!
Our address is still PO Box 12, Caronport, SK, S0H 0S0 CANADA. Phone number is the same as well.