It’s hard to believe how quickly 6 weeks can fly by! After 5 weeks in Manitoba and then 1 week in Vancouver, it’s an understatement to say that I was happy to sleep in my own bed again! Our cats were well cared for over the holiday and are happy as clams to have us home, back in our little routine. Poe continues to act as my alarm clock and Hugo seems to be even more cuddly than ever! Life is good here back in Suzhou!
Manitoba was a grand time. We were able to catch up with friends, spend time with family and I even got to meet my nephew, Zachary, for the first time. It’s funny because adults change so little from year to year, but the kids….WOW do they grow! I’m convinced that at least 1 of my nephews is going to be taller than me next year! My niece, Ellie, learned how to read over the past year and her little sister began talking…things change so much in their little lives while we’re away!
Addyson is growing up into such a goofy kid!! And Ellie continues to be all sweetness and intellect
My nephew Dmitri! He didn’t know I was taking a picture haha! We spent an evening help him build a wooden model we brought him home from China
Getting to know my little Zachary
Our 5 weeks in Winnipeg were spent well. We were able to see a Fringe Show, visit the Forks and even visit the Canadian Museum for Human Rights! Last year had been too rushed to stop by this architectural marvel, but I really enjoyed our afternoon there, learning new things and being reminded of things that shouldn’t be forgotten.
I really love this building
We visited the museum with one my favourite people in the world: Dianne!
Beautiful ramps going up the museum
Why is Fair Trade helpful? Because it allows people….
My views on reconcilliation
Loved in interior architecture!
I organized a Paint Night with some of my favourite gals and that turned out to be a tonne of fun! I’d recommend it as a fun night out to anyone who wishes they can paint or actually can paint! I have artistic skills in that way and mine still turned out pretty well! See!!!
A good portion of my summer was spent outside. I was able to play at the pool with my nieces and nephew, sit around bonfires and spend LOTS of time outside! The air is so fresh and clean in Canada and the temperature is perfect for being outside. Currently, it’s sitting at about 40 degrees Celsius in Suzhou, so I definitely miss the Prairie temperatures already!
Sitting out on the deck with our dear neighbor Yvonne and her fabulous puppy, Brodey!
Playing with the girls at the park
Geese at the Forks
Oddly enough, it was a game that took up most of our time in Manitoba! Pokemon Go was all the rage back home and Dave and I spent countless hours walking around Steinbach and The Winnipeg Forks trying to catch a Pikachu or hatch a Snorlax. I was never lucky on either of those counts, but my sister managed to catch 3 of the little yellow Pokemon! I will forever be jealous, because Pokeman Go is banned in China. It runs through Google Maps, which is blocked by the Great Fire Wall, so there is no Pokeman here for us to play.
Finding Weedles at Tim Hortons! Such a Canadian Picture!
My gorgeous sisters 🙂
We often paired up our Pokeman hunting with Geo caching! We were able to find a few in Steinbach!
We also had our yearly BBQ at St. Malo Provincial Park! It was such a blast last year that we planned it out again this year. We had loads of people come down and spent the day out in the sun with ys, playing in the water and enjoying WAYY Y too much food!
The yearly update picture. None of us felt like taking it seriously this year!
My dad takes any opportunity he can to spoil the grandkids!
My sister, keeping a sleeping Zach company (hahaha! Such a sport for coming out, even though she was ‘under the weather’!!!
My sister knits the cutest hats!!!!
I mentioned the food…
My oldest friend, Veronique, make her way down to the beach even though she only had 30 minutes to spare! My summer would not have been complete without her!!
It’s hard to point to a ‘favourite’ memory of our 2016 trip home, but the most inspiring event was definitely Steinbach’s 1st Pride Parade. Dave and I attended, expecting there to be a small crowd of maybe 100 or 200 people…little did we know that over 3500 people came in from all over the province for the event! There were actually people who flew in all the way from Orlando for Steinbach’s first pride. It was a pretty huge deal!
The number of attendees was inspiring in of itself, but Steinbach’s reaction to the event was also good. The Automobile City has caught a lot of flack over the last few years for their stance on LGBT rights and a variety of other subjects. There have been issues within the school division over these matters and protests regarding bullying bills aimed at protecting LGBT students. But instead of holding a protest or causing a fuss over the parade, Steinbach let it happen.
Some Mennonite Humour!!!
By standers brought signs too!
Although some companies in Steinbach refused to support the event, far more came with signs and showed their belief in equality! It was fantastic!
There were plenty of spectators there who were watching the parade and there was a tonne of support. Many people in Steinbach have softened their views on homosexuality as they’ve grown to know people in the LGBT community or have learned that people in their own families are gay. I saw many signs that said things like ‘proud parent’ or ‘supportive parent’. It was really beautiful to see such acceptance in a city that has previously been branded intolerant. It was a huge step for Steinbach and although I know not everyone in the city agreed with the event…that’s not the point! It’s ok not to agree with it…I’m just happy no one showed up with eggs or protest signs. That’s what tolerance is, after all…accepting that people might thing differently than you. You don’t have to agree with them, but you should give them the freedom to have their own beliefs.
It isn’t pride without some crazy costumes! These guys were my favourite!
Even the animals showed up!!!
People came from all around the province!
3500 people showed up!
Dave and I…happy to see so much acceptance in our city!
So that is a very brief summary of our stay in Manitoba! Our final week in Canada was spent in Vancouver, which I will be writing about soon! I have 1 or 2 posts planned before I can get to our time on the West Coast, but I’m still off work until September 1st, so I should be able to get a fair amount of blogging in between now and then!
So, stay tuned for entertaining posts such as:
Beginning a new Semester in China…things teachers should know
Tips for new Expats living in Suzhou
Vivacious Vancouver: From Kits Beach to Stanley Park
It has been far too long since my last post, and I apologize to all my readers! But, if it’s any consolation…the reason I haven’t been writing is a happy one! I have been far too busy enjoying life to have the time to sit down and write about it! But I’ve got a lot of catching up to do, so I better get to it!!
We left Guiyang on August 3rd and I finished my class at 8pm on August 2nd. I knew it was going to be hard; I’d grown quite attached to my monkeys…but I didn’t realize just HOW hard. It took everything for me not to cry and in the end, it was the apology and the hug from my boss, Huang, that did me in. She thanked me for all my hard work and told me that she had been very wrong about me when she thought I was a bad teacher. That meant more than I can really explain.
My final day at Interlingua was the hardest, because I taught most of my favorite classes on Sundays. My Reading and Writing class was particularly difficult because I loved teaching them so much. The mood in the class was blue, and I ended up bringing in Sylvester…the school’s kitten…to cheer them up. It worked for a little bit, but eventually the bell rang and we had to say goodbye.
The most surprising thing for me was the parents…I expected to feel sad about saying goodbye to my students. They are who I was closest to. But Some of the parents are the ones that made me truly well up.
After saying goodbye to my wonderful K2 class, Dave and I head down to Trip Smith’s for a few final beers with the staff from the school. Before we knew it, it was 2pm the next day and we were boarding our plane to Hong Kong. From there….we were on our way home…
Our Trip Home to Canada
Goodness it was good to be home! We only had 3 weeks, but WOW did we make the most of it!! We were able to meet up with everyone who put in an effort to meet up with us and got to spend lots of great time with our wonderful families and friends. The only downside to our trip home was the food poisoning I had for the last 5 days of our trip. Other than that, we had a magnificent time and can’t wait to return again next year!!! (For a longer stay!!)
It would be impossible to choose just 1 highlight from our trip back home, but if I absolutely had to choose, it might be the day we spent in St. Malo park with our families and a few friends. Even though we were late for our surprise party, it was such a blast and when I think back to our time in Canada, that’s always the memory that sticks out. I grew up in St. Malo and it was so wonderful being back there, at the provincial park, walking the same stone paths that I walked with my dog, Trace, as a teenager. I love my country and when I think of Canada, this is what I think of. This is home to me.
The rest of the scenery we saw in Canada was fantastic as well. I missed the big skies and the open fields that make Manitoba the beautiful province that it is.
Our trip home was finished far too soon and before we knew it, it was time to say goodbye again. Next year we plan to be home for closer to 6 weeks (twice as long) so perhaps we’ll be able to find time for a camping trip at Rushing River. I’m so grateful that so many people took the time to spend their time with us while we were home and I really can’t wait to for July of next year when we can do it all again 🙂
The Trip to our New Home
We arrived in Suzhou on August 27th after a long trip back to China. We got to know the LeQiao area of Suzhou, which is actually a lot like the nicer parts of Guiyang. We quickly found the essentials…a BBQ place, a noodle place and a milk tea place.
We spent our first day in Suzhou apartment hunting. Eight apartments and three real estate agents later, we found our new home. We are SO thrilled with it!!! The building is gorgeous and secure and the area is quiet and very modern. Just outside our apartment building is a EuroMart, which sells everything from blue cheese to port wine to taco seasoning (all things we’d never seen in China before!).
I should also note that both our landlords and our real estate agent are amazing. It was Jean (the agent) that suggested the air conditioner in the upstairs den and the landlady had 2 women come in and clean the place til it was spotless before we moved in. And we moved in the day after we saw the place, so she did that with very little notice.
The whole process of moving out here has been so easy. Last year, we arrived to find a run down apartment with mold and bug issues and when I asked for some help getting it set up I was called negative and told that I shouldn’t complain so much. This year, I’ve been welcomed to Suzhou with a clean apartment, kind coworkers and wonderful students.
But I’ll have more on that in my next post! And I promise it won’t take me 2 months to write it next time!!!