Tag: frustration

Prince Albert

For years, friends back in the UK made constant “Regina” jokes (“snigger snigger”) – they loved the “University of Regina” and that my friend is a Regina Professor, and then when I started Wheelie Good Coffee on the Farmers’ market, I got “How do you become a Regina Farmer?” and so on. I feel that they would have as much fun with Prince Albert (as the towns called Climax and Intercourse in Saskatchewan are not subtle enough). I really hope there are loads of piercing studios up there.

Prince Albert first appeared on our radar when the Parents treated us to a camping trip up there in June. We wimped out of actually tenting, Mum and Dad citing their Old Agedness and ‘knackety knees’, but we hired a little cabin up at Waskesui lake in Prince Albert National Park. It was utterly glorious!

We swam in the lake, toasted marshmallows (as is a requirement), hiked – well, stumbled – through the forest (proper trees!!), rode wonderful Quadracycles and even saw bears (of the non-threatening, handsome type). It was a fantastic place for the kids, and not even that many mosquitos.

To get to the national park, we had to drive for nearly six hours (made longer of course by kid-and-granny cup of tea breaks). We drove through Prince Albert city on route too, and apart from the usual array of gas stations and the Timmies and Subway visible from the highway, there was little to see. Little did we know at the time that we would suddenly need to know far more about the place than that!

Carl applied for a job in Prince Albert a while back – out of total desperation, as he has been out of work for four months now. One job advertised in Regina just disappeared in all the stupid budget cuts,  one never responded to the application, and another took a full 2 months to even interview anybody.  His hope with the Prince Albert job was that they would let him work remotely, or at least, not require him to be physically present 40 hours a week. Besides, he figured he needed the interview practice. Meanwhile, my own job hunt is entirely hopeless. I have now applied for 45 jobs, and gotten just 5 interviews and no offers. This means that 40 companies (most with HR departments) just didn’t even bother to respond. It’s incredibly frustrating and every application makes me less inclined to ever want to work for someone else anyway.

The Prince Albert company got back to Carl remarkably quickly, however, and invited him to interview before they even closed it for applications. He made the effort and drove all the way up the for the interview. He talked for nearly 2 hours, and came back, exhausted, saying it was pretty positive.  Two days later, he got called for an interview at somewhere in downtown Regina, which also seemed to go well. That was the company that took two months to get around to interviewing for the position though.

Then, Prince Albert called, and offered him the job! On an amazing salary, a definite step up from what he was doing before, and even offered relocation costs. There lies the downside. He is going to be in charge of a new team, and so they need him to actually  be there.

We do not want to move again. We may have stayed in the same few blocks, but including emigration, we have actually moved 5 times in 5 years. And now we have a mortgage to contend with as well. Every single person we know in this whole country is in Regina. Miranda is in school here now. My Wheelie Good Coffee, which is the ONLY thing that has allowed us to actually eat in the last few months, (no exaggeration) is based here. We even have a brand new kitchen! All of us moving to PA is just not an option.

We stalled the company for as long as possible, still hoping to hear back from something I applied for and Carl’s other interview, either of which would have allowed us to stay here comfortably. Yet again, I was rejected, and we are STILL waiting for the results of Carl’s job, 3 weeks after his interview. So, at risk of losing the offer altogether, Carl accepted the PA job. The plan is, he will rent a small apartment up there for the week, and just come home at weekends. It will be very, very hard (especially since Miranda is home on summer holidays at the moment), but at least it solves the immediate financial crisis – there is no point in turning down an opportunity like that in favour of staying in a city that we can’t actually afford to live in anyway.

Hopefully, he will really enjoy the job – it does sound good. Hopefully, we can find a nice apartment for him and make it an adventure. Hopefully, it won’t be forever – they can let him transistion into remote working, or he will find something else in Regina first. Hopefully, me continuing to stay home with the kids will enable me to keep writing and find a publisher for the book and make my fortune… (yeah, right). Hopefully, Theia will reach her 2nd birthday and suddenly decide to sleep through the night without needing Daddy to wobble her to sleep all the time.

Hopefully.

Yet more bureaucratic woes

Last February, I wrote about how nothing to do with immigration bureaucracy is ever straightforward or finalised. That was when the Saskatchewan  health services miraculously managed to “lose” Miranda in the system and then refused to believe she existed at all. This seems to be a common error, because this time it’s happened to me, at the exact time I am most in need of the health services! This last few weeks of pregnancy are pretty damn uncomfortable anyway, let alone when it’s extraordinarily hot and I still have things to stress about. I only managed to “leave work” last week (at 36 1/2 weeks) – but that only means not standing behind the bar any more, I am still doing general errands, marketing and admin stuff, except I am no longer paying myself to do it. On that note, I am also in the complicated situation of being semi-self employed, in that I have to issue my own Record of Employment in order to get Employment Insurance payments while I take maternity leave. Needless to say, this has turned into a complex nightmare of online registrations and waiting for special ID codes to be mailed to me, only to find they aren’t accepted. So at the moment I am living off thin air, and I really, really didn’t need any more hassle.

But noooooooooooo… I discovered  a few weeks ago that my health card – which is linked to my work permit – expires precisely TWO DAYS before my baby due date. I’d already sent off the forms to extend the work permit and paid the extortionate fee, but Citizenship and Immigration decided that they needed 76 business days to process it. Fine, I thought, I won’t be working soon anyway. But, eHealth say, no work permit physically in my hand = no new health card. And hospital birth with no health card means tens of thousands of dollars in medical bills!! So, after a lot of panicking, we eventually had to trek down to the US border again, flag pole, get refused entry to the US, re enter Canada, wait around for border control to go through my forms, then get a brand new work permit on the spot. It worked, fortunately, and I now have my new health card, but WHAT AN ORDEAL.

"The alien(s) listed below have been: Refused admission into the United States"
“The alien(s) listed below have been:
Refused admission into the United States”
THIS IS WHAT I WAS REDUCED TO!!!!
THIS IS WHAT I WAS REDUCED TO!!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So, angry Open letters have been written. The following went to the Premier Brad Wall, the health minister of Saskatchewan and our local MLA. So far, no response from any of them. Now there’s a surprise!!

Dear Sirs:

I am writing to you regarding my status as a British temporary foreign worker living in Regina and the almost insurmountably difficult circumstances I find myself in currently. While I recognise that my situation is exceptional, I cannot imagine I am alone in having fallen through a hole in the system. I wish to raise awareness of these issues and seek your advice.

Following a successful Labour Market Opinion application, my husband was granted a work permit with his employer, valid until April 2016. I was issued an open work permit to support his status. We have also applied for permanent residency through the SINP; we have so far received provincial approval for this but we are still waiting to hear from the federal office.

Despite my husband’s work permit being valid for another year, mine apparently expires  in July 2015. This is because my UK passport also expires on this date. I have renewed passport already and applied to Citizenship and Immigration Canada to update and extend my work permit accordingly. However the CIC website states that they currently need 76 working days to process these applications. What I had not realised until recently was that my Saskatchewan health card also expires at the end of July along with the original work permit, and it is this issue that is causing me a considerable amount of stress.

I am nearly 36 weeks pregnant, and my due date is somewhere between 29th July and 3rd August. As my health card expires on 31st July, I face the very real possibility of giving birth in Regina hospital with no health coverage at all. If I need any special treatment, c-section recovery time or neo-natal care for our baby, we could be billed for tens of thousands of dollars.

I asked E-health for advice and was met with utter inflexibility – in short, if I don’t have a work permit, I can’t get a health card. There is no system in place within Saskatchewan Health Authority to allow for “implied status” or to cover lengthy bureaucratic wait times.

I then tried to contact CIC directly to try and expedite my application due to exceptional circumstances. The irony being of course that I won’t actually need a work permit after July as I intend to take maternity leave! Again, the response I received showed at best an inability, if not a complete unwillingness to help. There is no method to expedite applications, no accessible authority to contact, no means of adding additional, urgent information after the application has been submitted, and no alternative solutions to my problem offered. It also became increasingly obvious that the CIC do not communicate effectively with other governmental agencies, there is a large gap between provincial and federal authorities and furthermore, there is no central body that immigrants can rely on for comprehensive information and advice.

I ask you on a personal level, do you think it fair and reasonable to face a potential five-figure hospital bill entirely because the CIC are incapable of processing a simple, 4 page form in under 13 weeks? Is there any justifiable reason why E-health cannot accept implied status? What do you suggest we do in this situation?

Our only options as we saw them were extreme: either persuade my midwife to induce me early before the health card expired (an unnecessary and risky medical procedure), or even fly back to the UK in the hope that I would still be covered by the British National Health Service (now not an option since my pregnancy is too far advanced for me to be able to fly.) The fact that we even had to consider these options should speak volumes about the gravity of our situation.

As it happens, we are now indebted to an immigration specialist in the HR department of my husband’s work. On her advice alone, we drove the 7 hour round trip to the US border at North Portal, and despite a 2 hour wait there, the border control officer was able to look over our details and issue me with a new work permit in just ten minutes. This should allow me to get a new health card before our baby is born.

My final questions to you are: why did it have to take such an uncomfortably long trip (on the hottest day of the year so far) to sort this out? Why was our only source of useful information in the whole debacle an employee of a private company, who is actually based in Edmonton? In your opinion, should anyone be subjected to this level of stress at 8 months pregnant? If not, what are you planning to do to address these issues?

I look forward to your response.

 

 

 

Watching from the West

Warning: Political Ranting to follow!
My Twitter stream is still populated mainly by UK friends and businesses. As we still have no TV, they, the BBC news website and the iplayer are my only sources of world current affairs. Even so, it makes depressing, (and in the case of Twitter, amusingly sarcastic) reading.

I spoke to my parents via a Google hangout at the weekend, we were talking about selling our house (still no hope on that front), and sorting out extensions to our visas and work permits (I know it seems like we’ve only just got here, but the first ones took nearly five months to process! If the same happens, we’d better start reapplying as soon as possible!!). The Parents were not exactly very positive about the UK. The housing market is apparently getting worse and worse. We bought our house in 2004, we have 17 years left on our mortgage(!!) and now the only offers we’re getting from buyers are a full THIRTY THOUSAND POUNDS LESS than what we paid 8 years ago. It’s not even a horrible house, its a 2 bed semi with a garden (and a SAUNA!), it’s just in a region that always has been severely economically deprived, and is only getting more so. The only people who can afford to buy a house in the UK nowadays, are not the sort of people who want to buy in the North-East.

Dad reports that whole towns in their area are just shutting down, only charity shops, kebab shops and Poundland left in some places – and of course, those pariahs of modern Britain, the pawnbrokers, the Cash-For-Gold places and the payday loans shops. Incredibly depressing. A job was advertised for the manager of a charity shop, and had 45 applicants. This says a lot.

Meanwhile, letters and tweets from my wonderful, talented, personable, intelligent, responsible, creative and reliable friends are also filled with negativity – the depression and loss of confidence caused by years of frustrating unemployment. The Daily Mail ran the story recently of a girl who committed suicide after receiving her 200th job rejection letter. I know I started my own business in 2009 because I couldn’t face the soul-destroying post-university unemployment AGAIN, but by the sounds of it, it has got even worse since then.

And now, Twitter, and the online version of Newsnight inform me that there has been a Cabinet reshuffle. The most telling tweet?

New cabinet composition: 4/29 women, 29/29 white, 19/29 attended Oxford or Cambridge. Monocultural Britain.

Jeremy Hunt, who’s only really positive contribution during his time as Culture secretary was to provide us all with a new bit of Cockney rhyming slang, who utterly ballsed up with Murdoch and BSkyB, and who tried to block the NHS celebrations at the Olympics opening ceremony is now Health Minister. This means he gets out of dealing with the fall out of the Leveson inquiry AND Andrew Lansley avoids implementing the NHS policies he was universally loathed for dreaming up. Worse still, former employment minister Chris Grayling from DWP – that’s right, the Department of Wankers and Penpushers whose bureaucratic nightmares have resulting in such a failing in the welfare system that 200,000 people were forced to use the Food Bank last year despite half of them actually being in work (according to Newsnight!)- and the man who brought in ATOS, the company that terrorizes the disabled and mentally ill and who famously deemed a partially paralysed woman ‘fit for work’ is now Justice secretary. That is an irony far too bitter for me.

Even worse, George Osborne is still Chancellor. He wasn’t really likely to be moved, but this (from Twitter) did amuse me: Apparently, Osborne was booed by 80,000 people when he attended the Paralympics medal ceremony. Why 80,000 people? Because the stadium doesn’t hold any more.

I can summarise thusly:

The UK is truly fucked.

My Mum said, “don’t even think about coming back!” – I assume that wasn’t an insult. Don’t worry, we won’t.

Meanwhile, there was an article in the Canadian Globe and Mail about student tuition fees costing a whole $5000 a year here, and how students are protesting in Quebec….. Quelle Horreur!

Even Canadians get negative sometimes. Here’s some comedic relief:

Cathedral Village Arts Festival, Day 1

Victoria Day

First rule of blogging – never type whilst cross.

I am in a better humour than I was earlier, having had my mood improved by chatting to my dearest insomniac cousin online, and also by a large glass of wine. But nevertheless, today was all round PANTS if you ask me. I’m sorry to report that the Cathedral Village Arts Festival wasn’t so much rubbish, as actually non-existent!! Well, this afternoon at least. Tomorrow may prove more entertaining.

I have a whole list of things that went wrong today – namely me not realising that a.) it is Victoria Day and b.) that Victoria Day is actually a national holiday. No one warned me of this until Friday evening, when Arun – also an immigrant  here, I should add – announced it just as I was about to leave work. We had a discussion on why the English don’t bother with Dead Old Lady Holiday: which particular dead monarch would you pick? we would end up with A LOT of holidays if it we were to commemorate every dead member of the royal family.  But anyway, I did not realise at all that Victoria Day meant people don’t go to work. I had my shift posted for today already, and didn’t even realise I’d been scheduled to work on a national holiday. Normally I wouldn’t mind – it’s not like I have other plans at the moment :-s However, Miranda’s daycare doesn’t operate on national holidays. Luckily, I had the sense of paranoia sufficient to ring Carolina to check before traipsing over to her house with a half-alseep Miri. No daycare today. Doh. So Miri had to spend the day cleaning the cafe with me. This is a lot of work in normal circumstances and involves bleach and swearing and plenty of dishwasher-saunas. Doing all that whilst trying to stop Miri jumping off chairs or invading Mike’s kitchen or painting the tables with yoghurt or dropping marker pens in the detergent bottle, was nigh on impossible. I ended up very tired, cross and smelly, and Miri was bored stupid, poor baby!

We tried to phone Daddy earlier than usual, but on today of all days, my microphone – or possibly Carl’s speakers decided not to work, so he couldn’t hear us. I got so frustrated I gave up in disgust. Poor Warly 😦

So, to try and cheer ourselves up, I tried to take Miri to what remained of the day’s events at the Arts Festival

All Afternoon [it said]: Food sales, The Living Statue & Living Pictures, Participation Stations: Games, DIY Face Paint, Balloon Twist, Hula Hoops.

Great! I thought, Miri will love that! Could i find anything??? Could i hell! We must have walked round in circles for about eight blocks, never found anything like that, not even any sign of stalls that had already closed for the day, absolutely nothing!! I walked all the way down to the river without seeing another person, let alone a festival crowd, and was going to give up and take Miranda to the swings instead, when I realised she’d fallen asleep in the pushchair anyway!

gah. all in all, an incredibly frustrating day.

Of Lolcats, bread and (de)motivation

I have quit Facebook.

In many ways this is quite liberating. I spent far, far too much time faffing around on it, I had nearly 300 friends on there but only ever talked to the handful of friends that I saw locally anyway, and frankly it got too annoying. I am not a fan of “kittehz”, ‘cyoot’ or otherwise, and having a timeline full of Lolcats drove me quietly insane. However, my main qualms about leaving facebook were because if I ever do get to emigrate, Facebook is the method of choice for the vast majority of people to keep in contact internationally. By deactivating my account, I risk losing touch with a great many people.

But then I asked myself, who is on there that I would really be completely unable to contact without it? Only the people who I never talk to on there anyway. If I really want to talk to my friends, or if they want to talk to me, we can find a way. (and given recent events which I will spare the public airing, my enthusiasm for keeping in touch with one or two “friends” has been severely curbed anyway, but that is a different story.)

This is not to say that I am puritanically shunning all forms of social media – a fact made acutely obvious by this blog and my shameless promotion of it. I have discovered the wondrous simplicity of Google+ and my Twitter addiction is getting worse by the hour. Google+ is an odd one though – it is not a direct replacement for Facebook because it allows and actively encourages you to converse with total strangers. It is not just ‘boast-by-post’ popularity contest like facebook, and I’ve got into some very interesting discussions on there. However, it also gives rise to all manner of well-meaning but slightly nauseating motivational memes, more bloody lolcats and “epic lolz” videos of people falling over. I now have a ‘circle’ for all people who I normally like, but who post cute kitten pictures, so that they can be censored before perusal. Sound harsh? Well you’ll never know if you’re in the circle, so go swing a cat! 😛

The sort of motivational memes are sometimes sentimentally inspiring, but mostly just toe-curlingly insipid. I give you an example:

Believe it or not, that is one of the less cringe-worthy ones.

I’d argue that anyone who designs these things, anyone who advocates the carpe diem, ‘chase your dreams’ or ‘reach for the stars’ or ‘just do it’ attitudes has obviously never dealt with international migration bureaucracy. I would dearly love to ‘follow my heart’ and jump into the unknown and ‘never stop believing’ or whatever little soundbyte you care to mention, but it is never as simple as that!! I posted a rhetorical question on Twitter the other day: “why can’t life be cheaper and less complicated?” I got one response: “because then it wouldn’t be life, it would be, erm… BREAD.” I like this metaphor. Bread is simple to make and relatively cheap. It is also quite dull unless you add things to it. It takes a long time, to, erm, (im)prove.  And the more you beat the crap out of it, the better it gets. Yep, I could do with Life being more like Bread.

But back to real life: my lovely new employers have been busting their proverbial guts to satisfy the immigration office’s requirements, continually phoning to see how long the application will take and so on. But the standard answer is still “12-15 weeks from 9th December” (when, apparently, they received the application. Or at least, when they opened the letter a week after we’d sent it). It has now been 12 weeks since then.

So it can’t be long now.

Can it?

It could still get rejected, too…..

 

I have escaped for the weekend to my parents house with Miri, just to chill out for a bit. This wait is depressing me so much, I really cannot stand Darlington now, there is nothing there for me any more, and I don’t want Miranda to be in such a depressing, grey, unpleasant place any more than she has to be.

Being here has given me time to mess around too, so I’ve made my own pastiche meme in my favourite style, the Demotivational Poster. I fully expect it to go viral and find its way all over teh interwebz. Service Canada take note, here is the world’s first “LolMiri”:

demotivational

Worried. More than Worried.

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaargh.

I celebrated too soon. At the beginning of January, New Employers phoned Service Canada and were told that the decision on the LMO should arrive in the last week of February. This sounded excellent news. Unfortunately, it is now unlikely to happen.

Briefly, an LMO is a Labour Market Opinion which identifies a skills shortage in the local area. If there are no applications for a job from local people with the necessary skills, then the company is allowed to recruit from overseas. I’ve moaned enough on this blog already about the Epic 12-weeks-and-5-days it took for my first one, for Kave Haz, to arrive. This one, apparently, may take even longer.

Service Canada, who are the office in charge of processing LMOs, applications for temporary residency and work permits, never admit on their website how long it takes to process an LMO, with good reason. 13th Ave are now being told 14-16 weeks, and someone on the ex-pat forums I read has reported 21 weeks and counting!!! It’s utterly ridiculous.

Here’s a Canadian lawyer explaining the situation:

http://www.canadianlawyermag.com/4012/processing-delays-in-the-age-of-increased-scrutiny.html?print=1&tmpl=component

This puts us all in impossible positions. New Employers offered me the job because they genuinely need a new staff member. With all these delays, they are having to cope without a key worker. Worse still, all the bureaucracy means that they are frantically faxing off every single irrelevant document they can to satisfy a random audit for Service Canada, on top of running the business and working full time.

Meanwhile, I just do not know what to do here. We are just keeping out heads above water financially but it was all done with the view that I would be over in Canada very soon and earning a salary. If that is not going to happen then we are stuck: there are no jobs here, which is why we want to emigrate anyway. I can’t go back to my cafe because Miranda would be climbing the walls in there nowadays, she needs more entertainment than “coming to work with Mummy” now. And Jo would kill me. I am apparently not eligible for any sort of help or support whatsoever from the benefits office. Even if I could find a job, I can’t work full time because I can’t afford childcare for Miri. I am therefore restricted to working evenings and weekends when Carl can look after her for me. And those sorts of jobs tend to be minimum wage – a fine toss up between the advantages of a minimal income vs the disadvantages of seeing even less of my husband and general exhaustion.

Another potential buyer  is coming round to view the house again tomorrow. If they do decide they want it, do we accept and risk having to move out of here before we can move to Canada?

After my truly gutting experiences with Kave Haz, I am totally and utterly paranoid about whether or not 13th Avenue will just give up on the LMO application, not hold the job open for me and find someone else to do it in the mean time. It is asking so much of them to wait for me, they’ve got a lot to deal with anyway, and for a small business, the wait is crippling. I can totally understand their frustrations – neither of us expected anything like this amount of hassle, and I wouldn’t blame them if they decided not to wait for me. However, they both seemed lovely, I do trust them, and they’ve never given me any reason not to, they always respond and update me, and a rational person would have no reason to believe they won’t wait for me and sort out this LMO. I am losing my rationality very quickly though.

But if they did cancel the application, that would just leave me hung out to dry, house up for sale, unemployed and with my business here already gone. And I don’t think I could cope with that AGAIN!

Very, very worried.

Everything Must Go!

I am finally beginning to get EXCITED about moving! We are so wretchedly broke that it’s hard to stay positive sometimes and all the “we’re going to Canada” euphoria gets buried under the “how the hell are we going to afford this?” type paranoia. I am Stressed and Anxious, it’s Official, and I have definitely been losing a lot of sleep over it all. Also, my PhD is finally out of the way!!! I still have some corrections to do, but I survived the Viva (which wasn’t nearly as horrible as I’d feared) and I can more or less get away with using the title “Dr” now! But now that it is dealt with, I just want to get on with moving; the PhD was the last thing tying me to this place. Now, I should be FREE! If only moving was also free!

On the upside, I’ve had a few lovely, helpful and very encouraging emails from 13th Avenue, and Service Canada assure them the dratted new LMO should appear by 24th Feb. A little later than we’d hoped, (and there is still the chance that they will reject me, in which case I will cry, and then possibly go on a killing spree…) but giving me another month does allow more time for General Panics. They also suggested a flat for Miri and I, which isn’t a definite yet so it will remain under wraps for now for fear of jinxing it. But it would be lovely to get that place! That bit is definitely exciting!

I am trying my best to Be Enterprising and sell as much stuff as I can. Not only do we desperately need the money, we also need to get rid of as much stuff out of our house as possible. We *finally* had someone viewing the house the other day, so we are all crossing digits that something comes of it. The bloke was an investor-buyer, looking to buy up houses then rent them out again. He seemed friendly enough but only had the briefest look at the house, so I don’t really know what to make of it. I won’t hold my breath…

I have been running “Bel’s Curiosity Shop” on Ebay.

I am not a massive fan of Ebay because the fees are nothing less than extortionate (listing fee, plus 10% final value fee, plus paypal fees…) and the whole thing is so skewed in favour of the buyer that idiots can scam the sellers so easily, and get away with it. However, having a virtual shop alleviates at least some of the fees, and so far I have only had one Idiot in the past 20 sales. The shop has got a load of general stuff from our house, some of my clothes, books (I HATE parting with books!!), treasures we have unearthed from the garage and most recently, some Cyberllama stuff I’d forgotten we had. In 2005 I started a little online business called Cyberllama, where I imported alpaca wool clothes, lovely silver jewelery and giftware from Peru all via my adopted family out there. Direct trade in action! I did craft fairs and markets with all my stuff as well as selling online, and everything was generally Llama-related for a year or so. Sadly, it wasn’t successful enough to warrant turning down another good job offer so I ceased trading. However, having finally dared to go into the loft for the first time in ages, I discovered some stock I had no idea I still had. So, once more it is available online! If you fancy any genuine Peruvian alpaca wool clothes – and I dare say it’ll be very handy for Canadian temperatures – then please have a browse of my shop!

My UglyCakes have taken on a life of their own as well. I’ve even made a whole £10 from sales of my book! They now have their own Facebook Page and a Google+ page and I’ve been doing a few orders outside of the cafe too, just birthdays and stuff. The UglyCakes are coming with me to Regina!! Hope to be baking a few for 13th Avenue and for Roca Jacks too if Tamara still wants them. Last week I did a savoury birthday cake – chilli-cheese corn bread with red pepper jelly. This week I’m working on a giant jammy dodger, and even better, a ‘Valentines’ giant jaffacake!

Yesterday, we held a stall at a local Baby Fair, trying to sell a load of Miranda’s stuff that she is now too big for. We did fairly well, shifted a lot of her clothes which I honestly didn’t expect to sell, but unfortunately we didn’t get rid of big things like her high chair and baby bouncer which take up a lot of room in our house! And of course, with Miri with us, we couldn’t leave empty-handed either. Considering she was in a huge room with loads and loads of toys and other children, she was remarkably well behaved. So we treated her to a 50p Upsy Daisy and a Ninky Nonk  from In The Night Garden. I still do not understand her fascination with that show, but it makes her so happy!

The Baby Fair:

Our Stall
It was pretty busy!
More Stuff
Happy Miri!

Finally, it was time to say Bye Bye to my beloved Betty. That is, Betty the Pink Bike. I haven’t actually taken her out for ages because, erm, I kinda replaced her with Twyla the Trike, but I was very fond of her for a long while! She has a new home with the lovely Tallulah and Mylo, and I am told she will remain her cheery, ironic hot pink paint job.

Betty the Bike in all her Pink glory

So, the proceeds from all of this, so far, have yielded enough pennies in the Get Us To Regina fund (GUTR for short, all our money is going in the gutr) to pay for our work permits and Miranda’s flight fee. Oh and I’ve paid my phone bill out of it too….This is all good. We WILL get there!!!!

Miranda has even been practicing making coffee! We got her a little toy coffee machine for Christmas, and she loves it! She knows exactly what to do to make plastic espresso, (the machine makes all the right noises and plastic milk foam even pops up in the cup!). I guess she has watched Mummy do it every day for virtually her entire life… It makes me so proud!! Of course, she will probably rebel later and never touch coffee ever again by the time she’s a teenager, but for now she is my perfect little barista who’s soon to become a pseudo-Canadian!

Expertly textured plastic latte!