So, we realise now that it was unrealistic to think we could keep up this family blog! March 30th 2018 will mark our 1 year anniversary of moving to Vancouver. It has been a huge year for us, we have been through so many changes. But we feel so blessed to be here, making it our home after many years of dreaming. We cannot put into words what we’ve experienced this past year, so here are some pics instead.
So, we’ve been here 2 weeks now. In some ways it doesn’t feel like it, it still feels like we’ve always been here, despite having to navigate new bus routes, new food (new food standards particularly!), new vernacular, different customs.
We’ve been busy looking for a place to rent more long term and looking at possible schools for the boys to start in September. They’re a little anxious, not sure of what to expect, which is understandable, but if they get into the school we want, I’m sure they’ll settle in and love it. It’s a very small community school of 160 children. There are so many things about the school that are a good fit for the boys; forest school and outdoor classes, healthy snacks available anytime of day, huge library…and so many things that fit with us as parents; restorative justice circles to work through issues (for parents too!), Roots of Empathy programme that look at understanding others’ emotions, standing desks in classrooms so that they’re not sitting too long, working with the local First Nations people…I could write more about the things I love about it!
The difficulty is that the catchment area is so small that we’re having difficulty finding a house in that area, they are either too small or too expensive! I check Craigslist every day (sometimes more than twice a day!) looking for accommodation but I am also reminded of how we found our temporary accommodation 2 weeks before we arrived! I’m sure (I hope) something will work out!
The boys have been really patient with all the admin we have had to sort out. They have been dragged here and there, the bank, the town hall, schools, house rental visits…all they want to do is run and play so we make sure we’re at the beach or at a playground most days.
But we also go because I need to. I’ve realised I can’t be away from the sea or from a mountain view for more than a few days – I start to feel claustrophobic. I need to be standing by the sea and looking at the snow-capped mountains. It’s where I feel alive. I feel put in my place and in awe.
We went to the Easter Service at Vancouver Cathedral today. In his sermon, the bishop talked about how the resurrection story is present throughout the book of scripture, but how the resurrection story is also present throughout the “book of nature” ie creation. As I thought of how standing in front of the mountains made me feel, I noticed that tears were streaming down my face, not because I felt sad but because I felt I understood. Being drawn to the sea, looking out into the vastness, looking at the beauty of the mountains, I’m being drawn into nature, I’m being drawn into and connecting with God.
But we are still finding out feet. We’re enjoying exploring the city, we are not enjoying the rain but having adventures figuring out where we Gibbs’ fit in Vancouver.
Two things we’re not so excited about, however…earthquakes and bears!
So, we’re here!!! We arrived on Thursday afternoon and it took 3 hours to claim our baggage and obtain our work and study permits. We couldn’t check into our rented apartment till 31st, so we stayed overnight at a hotel in Downtown Vancouver.
Having been here for 4 days now, I don’t feel elated. I’m not sure how I’m supposed to feel but the over riding feeling right now is tiredness. We’re here, but we can’t relax just yet. We have 2 months to find a school, a more permanent abode as well as getting paperwork together for our long awaited Invitation to Apply (for Permanent Residency) which came through a week before we were due to leave London.
I’ve wondered why I haven’t been elated and I think it’s because I feel as though I’ve always been here. We came last year for 2 months and perhaps it’s because everything is still so familiar. I’m happy to be here, certainly, but not quite beaming. The boys remember everything they did last summer and have been looking forward to returning to many of the places we spent time.
But alongside the stress and tiredness, I have felt overwhelmingly grateful. Much of March was spent spending time with family and friends around the country and for most of that time, despite being emotionally drained I have felt full of gratitude to those who have journeyed with us.
I’m grateful for our “Manchester ” family (who are actually scattered across the country now). We journeyed through uni, getting married, having children, the happiest of times and the darkest times of our lives and our marriage. The depth of friendships, the lessons learned and the support this lot have given us is truly unique and irreplaceable.
I’m grateful for our year and a half in London. Although we didn’t anticipate it being for that long, I’m grateful that we got to live centrally in a wonderful, vibrant city. I’m grateful that I had the opportunity to see more of my “London” friends (who all but one still live in London) who may not be part of the minutia of my everyday but always make time to laugh together, drink together, eat together…they have known me since I was 11 years old…something still holds us together…I don’t know anyone whose friendships have survived that long!
I’m grateful to the London Home Ed community and local activity groups who welcomed us, made friends with my children and I and blessed us with new adventures and new experiences, even though it was for a short time. It has been a joy to see the boys grow in many ways through the different courses and activities they did during their time in London.
I am grateful that I got to see family more frequently (well, we did live with my parents!!!) The boys’ got to see more of their cousins too. I’m grateful that I got to see my brother more frequently. He is a primary school teacher and his school was near us in London, which means we bump into children/families he has taught. It has been such a pleasure to hear how wonderful Mr Tamayao is, how well respected he is by both parents and children, how nurturing he is and how gutted some parents have been when their child wasn’t assigned to his class. So proud!
And I’m grateful to my parents who put up with us for the last year and half. They have blessed us in so many ways I cannot count. It will be strange and difficult not sharing life with them on a daily basis anymore. But thankfully they love Vancouver so hopefully visits won’t just be to come and see us, but to enjoy the city and what it has to offer.
I am certain that had it not have been for the support, prayers and love of all of our family and friends, we couldn’t have made the move. Sitting here now, writing this all, it’s difficult to not ask myself, “What are we doing? We are giving up so much!” But since we have been here, the boys have taken to the city like a duck to water. On our first day, we went to the beach and Milo ran towards the sea shouting “Freedom!”
There is a bigger picture here for us in Vancouver and we will have adventures finding out what that looks like!
I’ll leave it there for now. I’m tired but so so grateful.
P.S. However I am not grateful that it took me 20mins to make toast in this contraption and that I now have to pronounce Mocha, “Mow-ka”