Gone are the hats, scarves and skis. Now, we’re unpacking sun cream, shorts, and swimsuits so the kids can splash in cool water.
In our home country of Ireland, the seasons are not nearly as extreme, so swinging from -30°C to +30°C is taking a bit of getting used to. The weather, like everything in expat life, has been a bit of a learning curve for us. A few short months ago, we were relying on central heating to keep us comfortable, while now we’re just as grateful for the air conditioning unit. Where once we tried to keep the children out of the icy wind, now we have to protect them from the glaring sun.
The great part about the warmer weather is that we’re able to explore more of our new home. Last week, we escaped city life and took a family holiday to the neighbouring province of British Columbia (BC). While the drive was long, it was well worth the trip, and we got to visit an ice hockey arena, a heritage park and the beautiful Banff National Park along the way. There we went horse riding in the stunning natural surroundings, coming across rabbits, hares and plenty of deer in the mountains. Although we did pick up some bear spray first, in case they were tempted to join our picnic!
We based ourselves near a lake, so we could kayak, swim and finally take the stand-up paddle board out. It turns out, our eight-year-old is a natural — he had no fear of falling in, and powered across the water as though he’s been doing it for years. It occurred to me that while we might have felt like fish out of water at first, it hasn’t taken long to settle in and become accustomed to a different way of life.
We visited my husband’s family in BC, which is always a great excuse for a big family meal at our favourite Chinese restaurant. My father-in-law is fluent in Cantonese, so he usually orders for us, which means we get to enjoy an authentic array of delicious dumplings, spicy noodles and, on this occasion, fresh Canadian lobster. These meals are a great opportunity for us to celebrate our children’s Chinese heritage, with great food and even better stories from their yeh yeh. Although to be honest, our toddler was more interested in scaring his sister with lobster shells all evening!
My own parents travelled from Ireland to visit too, which was a lovely treat for the kids — they got such a surprise to see their granny and grandad arrive at their door, laden with gifts from home. The price of toys is far higher here in Canada than in Ireland, so they made sure to pack plenty of Barbies and action figures in their luggage. It still comes as a surprise to me how some things are a lot cheaper here — such as gas / petrol, for example — while others, like fresh meat, are more expensive. This means we’ve been eating more vegetarian food lately, which isn’t a bad thing for our long-term health.
Grandparents are always happy to offer their babysitting services, so we took full advantage and popped out for a rare date night. It was a great opportunity to visit the city, eat at a trendy restaurant, and get to catch up on all our news.
It’s been a heck of a few months, with a new country, new home and new jobs. Sometimes it’s good to pause for a moment and take stock of how far we’ve come, and all that we’ve achieved. Our life overseas is still in its early days, but we’re so glad we made the move — and so excited for all the adventures still to come.