Driving with snow

January 20, 2007


It had been 10 years ago since I lived in the snow. My car is parked in the outdoor. I almost forget the experience of removing the “cream” covering the car, and scraping hard to remove the ice off the glass. It is all coming back now. Of course, the exciting part is to drive on the snow with ABS kicks in.


The first month in Toronto

January 20, 2007

Moving to Toronto is a re-location in reality. There is a lot of settle down work to be done. I had to apply the Ontario Health Insurance for me and Carina, surrender my California driver license and replace with the Ontario one, apply a new cell phone, get a new or used car, find my own apartment, continue my existing job in US or find a new job in Canada, etc.

On the first weekend (December 30) that I came back, there was a year end sale with Honda dealers. So I hurried to put a down payment to lease a 2007 Honda Pilot that day. It was Shirley and my plan to get a Honda Pilot when Carina was born. However, I figured that it is at least $10k more expensive to buy the same car in Canada than in US. And it seems that moving forward I will need to spend a lot of money to support baby Carina. Also I am not sure how secure my current job is and how soon I will be able to get back to work. So I hesitated and backed out the purchase. Instead, I bought my parents’ 1999 Toyota Corolla and helped them to shop a brand new 2007 Corolla. It is under their plan anyway to buy a new car every 6 years in order to avoid any used car repair hassle. It relieved my urgent need and at least I got a car that I’ll need right now.

I am temporarily residing in Ada’s big house. The nanny and Carina occupy her guest room, and I am living in the basement. With the help of a real estate agent, I have started looking at apartments near my parents’ place in Scarborough. I will probably be moving in a couple of months.

Similar to the situation in San Francisco, the highest priority is to find a live-in nanny for Carina. I posted an ad in Toronto Sing Tao Chinese newspaper. In the following week, we interviewed about 8 nannies. During that week, I was full time taking care of Carina. It was more than a full time job. We found the first one, and had already replaced by the second one. Hopefully this one can work longer.

In the long run, I will be hiring a Philipino live-in nanny from Hong Kong. I have phone interviewed some of them already, and there will be some more interviews soon. Even if I have finalized my decision, it will take 4-6 months before she can start working in Canada.

Ada brought me to baby classes in different libraries and baby centers on weekdays, which kept me occupied. I am attending a class called “Focus on Father” every weekend. I have also made appointments to have different counseling sessions with social workers and psychologists starting next week. Some of them are recommended by my mom and Ada. The others are covered by Shirley and my company’s EAP (Employee Assistance Program).

The 16 packages from San Francisco finally started to arrive last week. Every day I had to go to the post office to pick up 3 or 4 of them. I would open them up and figured out what were inside each box. Fortunately, they had all arrived safely.

The last month in San Francisco

January 20, 2007

It was already 3 and 1/2 weeks since Carina and I came to Toronto, Canada on December 26, 2006. I had planned to start writing a blog for myself, but haven’t got the time until now.

When Shirley passed away, the funeral and cemetery do not put the plight to an end, but are rather just the beginning of a series of unending events. As the utmost priority, Carina needed a live-in nanny. I posted an ad in San Francisco Sing Tao Chinese newspaper. In the next few days, my two sisters and I drove around the city and interviewed about 8 – 10 nannies. We found one, and fortunately, she turned out to be good. In addition, I had also got our neighbors Elisabeth and Madelaine to help me taking care of Carina during the weekends.

In the meantime, there was a suggestion to get breast milk for Carina. There is a place in San Jose where it can be bought at $3 per oz, and our friend Margaret had also volunteered to give those that were originally stored for her baby Theodore to Carina. At the end, my mom and mother in law were concerned about the source of the breast milk. So they opposed the idea and it never came to fruition. Nevertheless, Carina did get a week of breast milk from my sister Ada when she came visiting us in San Francisco in mid-November.

Then the thought of having a 1-month old birthday party for Carina arose. I remembered Shirley would like to hold one for her, and she had specifically suggested to have it at the Sausalito Cruising Club. It is not a very decent place, but the people and environment there are extremely nice and friendly. The food served there was also excellent. More importantly, it is one of the very few dining places that Shirley has discovered. The party was held on a sunny day. We had a great gathering and celebration. The guests enjoyed the sea view, the spacious environment, and the food. Photos can be seen here:

The next big event was the decision to move back to Toronto in 3 weeks, because my mom’s passport expired on December 27, 2006. Mother in law had put all Shirley’s clothings and shoes together. They were donated to a place called Image For Success in San Rafael. For the big pieces of furniture, my sister Alice helped me to post them on Craigslist. I had a lot of gadgets that I put on eBay for sale. My mom and I had 3 consecutive weekends of moving sale. I had also sold one of my two cars. And we had to pack the books, clothes, pillows, blankets, photo albums, photo frames, gadgets, filing documents, baby stuff, kitchenware, etc. This is really a huge rush and is a mission impossible project. Fortunately, I had got Rene, Connie, David, Alesia, Elisabeth, and Yuchih’s tremendous support throughout the move. There was not enough time to finish off everything. They had to help even after I left US, in order to ship the packages and hand off the cleaned apartment back to the landlord.

Moving across the country in 3 weeks is a full time job by itself. Meanwhile, I had to manage Shirley’s various company benefits and insurance, transfer bank and IRA accounts, hold multiple meetings with Kaiser doctors and attorneys, communicate with my company HR, meet with tax and financial consultants, take care of Carina, etc. That’s why I still felt that there wasn’t enough time even though I had worked from 5am till 11pm every day.

I was so looking forward to getting out the busy and hectic days as soon as I left California.

The beginning III

January 20, 2007

The beginning II

January 20, 2007

The beginning

January 20, 2007