Since we had to go to the consulate in Calgary, we decided to add on a couple days in Banff! It's only about an hour outside of the city. Banff is a small town that lies within Banff National Park. We stayed at a hostel called the Banff Y Mountain Lodge. We've discovered that when camping isn't feasible (or you just don't feel like doing it with two small kids!), hostels are often a great choice. They aren't just for young people backpacking through Europe, willing to crash in a dorm room. You can find hostels all over the world, and many have private rooms suitable for families. Our room looked just like a hotel room, but it only had a shower, and you couldn't get room service. Hostels are usually much cheaper than hotels, and offer amenities like community kitchens, small libraries, perhaps a cafe, laundry, and internet. And even better, this hostel did not charge taxes, and used our payment to help fund the work of the YWCA in the area.
Kate at the Bow River, behind our hostel in Banff. The Bow River Falls are in the background.
Throwing rocks is fun!
At Moraine Lake
The Canadian Rockies
Eric and the kids
Overlooking Peyto Lake, the highest point on the Icefields Parkway
Banff has to be one of the most beautiful national parks in North America! It's great that we are only a day's drive away, as we definitely plan to return (who wants to join us?) But despite the excitement of a big city like Calgary, and the beauty of a park like Banff, I didn't feel any desire to live there. We are loving the prairies more and more, and are happy to be home.
Kate has a series of books by Amy Tan about some cats living in China. They have Chinese names--and the other day, she was outlining a game we could all play by saying, "I will be Sagwa, Mommy will be Dongwa, and Daddy will be the Holy Spirit!"
Also, Kate was giving Mommy "communion" yesterday by lifting a water glass for Mommy to drink from. (I guess that's what happens when you bring a three-year-old to an Anglican church.)
1. Find out which embassy or consulate you need to visit. I first went to the US Embassy in Canada website. Here I found out that we would need to go to the consulate in Calgary. This little consulate serves the populations of Alberta, the Northwest Territories, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba (well, there is a consulate in Winnipeg but only for emergency services). That is a huge geographical area, considering that the child must be seen in person! That puts our 8 hour drive in perspective. In contrast, we took a 2 mile bus ride to the consulate in Edinburgh after Kate was born!
2. Download and print the various forms you will need, and information regarding passport photo requirements, consulate hours, fees, etc.
3. Fill out the application for a US Consular Report of Birth Abroad. They will need to see the child's birth certificate, parents' passports and marriage certificate, and in Canada, additional ID for the child such as a health card. This document will serve as Will's US birth certificate for the rest of his life.
4. Fill out the US passport application, and submit two small photos of the child (they are picky on the dimensions, so make sure the photographer knows exactly what you need if you get them done anywhere other than the US).
5. Fill out the application for a US social security number. We will need this as early as next year when we do our US taxes. See my previous post, The Long Arm of the IRS.
6. Arrive at the consulate with your child, leaving all electronic devices behind. Go through security, and wait until you are called. Hand over all your forms and documents, answer any questions, sit down and wait some more. Get called to another window and pay your fees (in US dollars). Finally, take an oath at yet another window, go back to security to collect the water bottle they wouldn't let you bring in, and then wait 4-5 weeks for your documents to be sent in the mail. Or pay extra to have the documents expedited.
*Incidentally, just being a US citizen does not guarantee a parent can pass that citizenship on to a child. At least one parent must pass the physical presence test of having lived in the US for 5 years, two of those after the age of 14. Eric and I both pass that test, but I wonder if my children will? If they don't log that time in the US, nor do they marry Americans, nor are their children born in the US, they can't pass on their US citizenship. This really bothered me until I discovered that:
Whether or not the child intends to reside in the United States, an alternative procedure now exists for becoming a U.S. citizen. If the child is under eighteen years of age and has a U.S. citizen grandparent who meets the physical presence requirements as specified above, the child may qualify for expeditious naturalization under the Immigration and Nationality Technical Corrections Act of 1994. Although not entitled to U.S. citizenship at birth, the child can, through this procedure, become a U.S. citizen by naturalization without first having to take up residence in the United States. It is, however, necessary for the child to travel to the United States for the naturalization, and all applications and documentation must be submitted and approved beforehand.
So if it comes to that, we'll definitely take up this option.
Eric's cousins, Laurie and Mike Hausam, are blogging about the adoption of their Ethiopian daughter, Elianna Ray. They are still in Addis Ababa, and posting lots of photos and insights about what they're experiencing there, and the adoption process.
Our friends and next door neighbors, Galen and Dale Plett, are in the process of adopting a First Nations boy from Ontario. Dale is of First Nations heritage herself, and this little boy is biologically related to her. They are detailing their journey here. We can't wait until they clear all the adoption hurdles and we hear his little laugh from over the fence!
The circus came to Moose Jaw, and since I've never been to one and neither have the kids, we went with some friends and got front row seats! It started with the Canadian national anthem (note to self: learn the half of it you don't know yet!), and then we saw so many amazing acts: acrobats, elephants, clowns, motorcyclists, trapeze artists, high wire performers, and horses! A fun time was had by all!
It's really convenient that introducing Will to solids is coinciding with my garden vegetables being ready to harvest! It makes it all the more fun to make homemade baby food when fresh, organic produce is a few steps away. And when people call and ask, "Could you use a bushel of apples?" or "Would you like a couple zucchini from my garden?" I say yes and know I will add them to my frozen baby food stash!
Here's a look at the transformation of carrots from the garden into baby food:
Kate digging up some carrots
Finally the carrots see the light of day!
Kate picks a few sprigs of parsley as well
Here are all the ingredients I need to make a lentil puree. Besides the carrot and parsley from our garden, I have store-bought garlic, onion, celery, red lentils, olive oil, ground coriander, ground ginger, and then filtered water from the fridge. As for the rest of the carrots, I will just steam them, blend them with some of the cooking water, and make a simple carrot puree which can be mixed with other vegetables.
Cooked up in the saute pan
Blended in the blender into a smooth puree. If Will were older, I'd just mash the lentils and vegetables.
I freeze the puree into small portions by using ice cube trays
And I end up with lots of bags like this one in the freezer!
Besides being something fun to do, it is quite economical! We just bought a few jars of food for our trip to Alberta this week. Most fruit and vegetable purees were $.59 a jar at Superstore, but the small jars of beef and beef broth were $1.29!
We got married August 18, 2001 in Evanston, Illinois. Two countries and two kids later, we are still happy to be together! But while we've found that having kids adds so much to our joy as a family, it can take its toll on a marriage. We can get to the end of the day and find we have hardly spent any one-on-one time together! So this year, we resolve to be better about finding ways to have regular dates, even if it's a "mini-date" at home.
It's hard to believe our baby boy is already 7 months old! Where has the time gone? Will is becoming more alert and active every day! He can sit with some support, make music on a toy piano or drum, and laugh at all kinds of things! He has started solids, and so far enjoys banana, avocado, apple, dried apricot, beef, sweet potato and millet porridge. We know it won't be long until he's on the move so we're enjoying these days when he can entertain himself without getting into much mischief!
We are almost ready to submit our initial permanent residency application to the Saskatchewan Immigrant Nominee Program. After they approve us (we're assuming they will!), they nominate us to Citizenship and Immigration Canada and our medical and security checks will have to be done. We need security checks done from every country we have lived in for 6 months or more after the age of 18. This means the US, the UK, and Kenya (because I was there for 7 months when I was 22!). We're going to go ahead and get the ball rolling on those--who knows how long it will take, particularly the one from Kenya?
Kate, after putting on a purple raincoat: "I'm Little Purple Red Riding Hood!"
Also, daddy has been trying to be a good spiritual leader so we've been having "Bible time" maybe twice a week. We've been reading 1 Cor 13 and talking about what love is. After learning that love is not rude, we asked Kate if there was a time when she saw someone being rude. She said, "Yes, one time I was doing something and Mommy said, 'Stop doing that, Kate!'" Impressed with her humility, we agreed that not obeying Mommy was rude. But she disagreed with us - I can't remember what she said, but she finally communicated that she thought what Mommy had said was rude and unloving. She got a confused look on her face as she saw her parents laughing their heads off.
One thing I've noticed in Canada is that almost everyone takes their shoes off before entering a house. At first I thought it was because it's snowy or muddy much of the year, but that's true in northern states as well. Perhaps more people in Canada have carpet?
So weigh in! Are you from Canada, the US, or somewhere else, and do you take shoes off before entering a home?
I think Americans tend to think of Canada as usually being cold, or at least temperate. But when we went to California last month, the weather there was cooler than what we were experiencing in Caronport at the time. This really seemed to surprise people. We had some very hot days this summer--definitely in the 90s and perhaps hotter. This chart shows what the range of temperatures tends to be in Moose Jaw throughout the year. Pretty extreme!
I found an interesting story on abcnews.com. Here are the first few paragraphs:
It may seem like a quiet country where not much happens besides ice hockey, curling and beer drinking. But our neighbor to the north is proving to be quite the draw for thousands of disgruntled Americans.
The number of U.S. citizens who moved to Canada last year hit a 30-year high, with a 20 percent increase over the previous year and almost double the number who moved in 2000.
In 2006, 10,942 Americans went to Canada, compared with 9,262 in 2005 and 5,828 in 2000, according to a survey by the Association for Canadian Studies.
Of course, those numbers are still outweighed by the number of Canadians going the other way. Yet, that imbalance is shrinking. Last year, 23,913 Canadians moved to the United States, a significant decrease from 29,930 in 2005...
One thing potentially tricky about being an expat is retirement planning. We lived in the US for several years of our working lives, and contributed to social security. Now we live in Canada and contribute to Canada Pension Plan. And who knows where we will retire? Fortunately, the U.S. has totalization agreements with various countries. So if we retire in Canada but have trouble meeting work/residency requirements for various benefits, we can apply our US credits to Canada or vice versa.
Does anyone know someone who has made use of this? I'd be interested to know how it worked out.
Kate really knows how to drive a bargain. Yesterday, the following exchange took place during her bath:
Kate: "Daddy, do you want to take a bath with me?" Dad: "No, Kate, I'm just going to watch you." Kate: "Well, Daddy . . . did you say no or yes?"
Also, this morning I was trying to get some work done while Kate wanted to play. I told Kate to go make me some food at her play kitchen. She brought back a toy hot dog, which I pretended to eat. Then I asked her to go make me some dessert, which I hoped would give me a few more minutes. But her response was: "Well, you can have dessert after you finish your hot dog."
Did you know that not all owls nest in trees? Burrowing owls nest underground! They take over existing holes and tunnels from prairie dogs, badgers or gophers. We visited the Saskatchewan Burrowing Owl Interpretive Center in Moose Jaw today. It was fun for the kids to see the owls, although we were sad to know that burrowing owls are endangered.
If you don't know what that is....someone (in this case, my friend Bethany Michelson in Princeton) tags you with a bunch of questions that you answer and then you tag other bloggers. Just a way to get people to divulge information about themselves and give those of us that like to blab something to blab about...or maybe I should say blog. I think people tag me because they know I'll do it!
4 jobs I've had: 1) assembly line worker putting together Bath and Body Works lotion baskets 2) lunch and recess monitor at an elementary school in the Chicago suburbs 3) working with mentally ill adults in Edinburgh, Scotland 4) summer camp counselor (Michigan and Virginia)
4 films I could watch over and over: 1) The Lord of the Rings trilogy 2) Hotel Rwanda 3) The Bourne Identity movies 4) Pride and Prejudice
4 Places I have lived: 1) Caronport, Saskatchewan 2) Waynesboro, Virginia 3) Holland, Michigan 4) Mombasa, Kenya
4 Favorite TV shows: I don't watch TV but we do rent seasons of "24" when they come out on DVD
Here's a picture of Newport Beach, California--this is where Renewal Ministries is based. We attended a private graveside service for Eric's grandfather, and two memorial services, one in Newport Beach, and the other at Pasadena's Lake Avenue Congregational Church, where Ray was pastor for 20 years. In the midst of it all, Eric and I took an evening walk on this beach and reflected on all we had seen and heard. It's much more than I could think of now, but I'll likely be sharing reflections and quotes for some time to come!
*Grandpa Ortlund's prayer was "Lord, Make My Life a Miracle!" This was not out of a desire for wealth or fame, but a real desire to be used fully by God. It is not selfish of us to pray such a prayer--in fact, what is selfish is when we shrink back from following God, or taking risks, or living fully, because we fear failure or we're lazy or don't want to draw attention to ourselves.
*Ray's life became a miracle because he prioritized his relationship with God, practiced the presence of God (even setting his watch to go off every 15 minutes!), and then was able to powerfully reach out to fellow Christians and the rest of the world. This didn't just happen, but was the result of a disciplined life. How easy it is to coast along and give little time and attention to those things that matter most!
*Ray and Anne have talked about "two ways to enter a room." You can either be a "Here I am!" person or a "There you are!" person. It renewed my resolve to instill emotional security in my kids so that they can forget about themselves and be "There you are!" people. Let's get over ourselves so we can truly love others.
*Ray Ortlund Sr. certainly modeled how to live and die well. I doubt he left an enemy behind. He left a loved and grateful family. And his influence will live on in his books and the many congregants and disciples he had over the years. It inspires us to think of how we can maximize whatever time we have left on this earth, and how to major on the majors!
*We were so grateful for the people who opened up their homes, cars, and time for those family and friends who traveled to be there. And we were grateful to see family again, even Eric's cousins who studied in Scotland the same years we were there.
People already need to show a passport when crossing from Canada to the U.S. by air. Eventually a passport will be needed for the land and sea borders as well. It was thought this would happen January 2008 but it looks like it will happen no earlier than summer 2008.
We knew yesterday would be a long travel day but in the end, we were just grateful to make it home! After two flights, we landed in Bismarck, North Dakota at 7 PM. We still had around 6 hours of driving ahead of us. We passed through the border and the good-sized town of Estevan, Saskatchewan, not realizing that we really really should have filled up the tank at one of those stops! We got to Weyburn, the biggest town before Moose Jaw, and realized that all the gas stations were closed at that hour. We still thought we could make it home on the quarter of a tank we had, but the light went on, and after driving for a further 10-15 minutes, we pulled off into a tiny town called Milestone so as to not run out of gas on the highway. The gas stations there were closed as well, and there didn't even seem to be any small motels. At that point, we really expected we would park our car near the gas pump and try to sleep in the car as best as we could until morning. I wasn't anticipating any sleep given the uncomfortable seats and the likelihood of lots of crying from the kids! But fortunately, we saw a light on at a tiny little station of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. An angel of a policewoman, new to her job, had mercy on us. Once she found out we had some Canadian cash, she led us in her police car to a gas station 10 kilometers back (while we prayed the whole time we'd make it!) and was able to open up a gas pump for us and deposit our cash in a "lock box." At first we thought we would only have enough to get us to a 24 hour gas station in Regina (out of the way) but in the end, we had enough to go straight back to Caronport. You can bet we were happy to crash into our own beds!!