As I am typing this, I am at the kids' toy room at our new house in Winnipeg - toys scattered all over the place, kitchen dishes are undone, laundry waiting to be folded. I took an hour nap when my kids napped, and now that they are still napping, I would like to share what has happened to us the past few months and what we think about our new assignment.
After the earthquake in Japan, we went to Manila for a month so Tim could focus on his 24/7 job in Tokyo. Kevin was almost 2 and Nina was 2 months then. We returned to Tokyo to say goodbye to our friends, flew to the US for a month long vacation. We went to Colorado first, then Tim and I went to Vegas for a couple of days while Grandma and Grandpa spent time with the 2 babies. Then, Tim started his management training in Washington DC and we stayed for a month as well. Before going to Winnipeg, we stopped in Ottawa for a couple of days so Tim could meet the ambassador and all his other colleagues in the main embassy in Canada. Then we went to Winnipeg.
My sister, Teresa and her whole family, drove for 14 hours from Calgary to meet us at the airport. Their friend's relatives, Ate Mylene and Kuya Larry who are both from Winnipeg, came with them so we had enough space for our bags. We stayed at an apartment in Downtown for a month, while Tim and I looked for a new house.
We found a house that was the perfect size for us, and somehow we have turned it into a home.
We arrived in the summer, and it was gorgeous. There were a lot of things going on in the parks and community centers. Around downtown, we went to a couple of playgrounds and splash pads. Both kids really enjoyed it.
When we moved to our new house, I started looking around for playgroups in our area, and found just the perfect ones. Four times a week, we go to playgroups, then on Fridays, we go swimming at the YMCA. Weekends are reserved for Daddy time.
I've met two wonderful ladies - Melanie and Rebecca. We all came to Winnipeg at roughly the same time and since all of us came from all parts of the world, we have become friends. It is lovely to be able to find people who struggle being in a new place with kids and it's been refreshing to support each other this way. I should really make the effort to make friends with other moms, but it is just hard to do. It is one of the things I think that has been a great challenge here.
Now that winter has arrived, we are slowly getting used to the cold - the hardest part I think is getting all the kids dressed up, taking them to the car and fastening their car seats, while hoping that they don't need a diaper change before leaving the house. I am slowly getting used to being a stay at home mom. It can get really tiring at times, especially when you know you have 3 bathrooms to clean, 3 beds to change every week, laundry every other day, prepare 3 meals everyday, do the dishes, mop the floors, vacuum the carpet floors, and go grocery shopping twice a week.
As we settled down and looked at our cash flow, we realized that we could budget a certain amount each week for househelp/babysitting. So to keep our sanity, Tim and I agreed to hire a cleaning lady once a week for 6 hours, and a babysitter once a week for 4 hours for our weekly date night. I think it's the best $100 we spend every week.
Tim has been enjoying his job a lot. He comes home filled with stories to tell about the interesting people he has met, and things he has been working on. One of his jobs' perks is getting free tickets to a lot of the cultural things happening in Winnipeg. I don't think I've ever watched this many plays, concerts, ballet and hockey games all my life!
To keep me going in my music, I teach voice to a 34 year old woman once a week, and I joined a Filipino choir. I come to rehearsals every Friday night and teach a couple of songs, and some vocal techniques (really late though, since I tuck the kids to bed first), then go to Tagalog mass and sing with them on Saturdays. It has been a blessing to be part of it because each person in the choir reminds me of how God's music brings people together. I cherish every moment that I am with them and I am knowing them more and more.
So thus is a life of a diplomat's wife. It is not always easy, but with a supportive husband, two beautiful and healthy kids and a wonderful faith community, I think I will be alright. Now as for the winter, (it is 8F/-13C right now) ask me again in January.