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Sunday, May 25, 2014

The McEwens are back in Canada

This is it - the final blog entry.  I admit it, I've been putting this off. Somehow this makes it all feel very final. It's written in 2 parts because when I started early after we arrived back home, I ust couldn't bring myself to finish it and put it aside knowing that if I couldn't complete it now, I was going to have to do it later. I chose later.  Now that a few months have gone by and life is slowly returning to normal, we decided it was finally time to close the chapter on this written account of our amazing experience.

[February 2014 - one month after our return to Canada]

We're "home" How does it feel to be back? The million dollar question. For the first month we really weren't sure how to answer that question. We got home safely, had a lovely warm reunion with our family and friends, received our shipped luggage shortly after, got the cupboards and the fridge stocked, made sure we had working transportation, got back to work and the kids back to school with their friends all pretty smoothly.

First day back to school - check out those tans!
Scott had an easy transition back to school with a week of review followed by a week of exams.  It didn't take more than a couple of weeks to feel like he never left!  He's happily settled back in to the old routine for this second semester. Both staff and students have commented that as much as they enjoyed having our Aussie counterpart for the year, it's nice to have Mr. McEwen back in the hallways of OTHS.

In an effort to combat the homesickness we have dove back into our Canadian life. Hannah and Tyler are busy with their friends (some old, some new). Birthday parties were had and it seemed as though everything was back to the way it was just one year ago.

But something was missing and we couldn't quite put our finger on it. It could be the wildlife, we live very rural, but there are no kookaburra's to be found; I had to buy a lemon at the supermarket the other day - that was different than picking it off the tree in our backyard; and we still see our Aussie friends and family regularly with the help of Skype; but still - there's something different. 

We reckon it's us that are different. This experience has changed our entire family in ways that we simply couldn't anticipate, and we are so thankful for all those changes, because we are all better for it. 

After getting involved in the exchange community here as well as making contact with some of our friends that were on exchange with us over the last year, it's reassuring to hear that it's all perfectly normal. At least we can all relate to each other!

[May 2014 - 4 months later]

It's the end of May. After what was by all accounts one of the longest and coldest winters Ottawa has ever seen, spring visited us briefly with some much needed rain, and finally it seems as though the warm summer weather is finally here to stay.  To be perfectly honest, I don't know how we would have gotten through the entire winter, we were only here for half of it and this is the first time I've been warm since the plane landed in January!
March 12, 2014 - I got out of my car to take this one on my
way home...I can't see the road...can you?
May 25, 2014 - Spring is here!
We're definitely not such a novelty anymore, there aren't as many questions about our year, and we've tried to stop boring our friends with the phrase "In Australia...", and focus more on our lives in Canada.  It was an incredible year, but it's important to remember we have a life here as well.

It didn't take long for us to fall back into the "rush everywhere and fit it all in" mentality that we left behind a year ago - busy work schedules, kids activities, family responsibilities, and friends all taking a piece.

But we're smarter with our time now and we're trying to make some changes. If we can move our entire family to Australia for a year, certainly we can get done what needs to be done, and still make some time for ourselves! So - no more late nights of work, we're more involved in the kids school days, weekends are for us, the kids and friends, and we're even working in some travel (mind you it's currently of the summer camping variety).

Hannah is thoroughly enjoying her time back at the barn with her pony Denver, it really is her happy place. Seriously, there isn't even a whinge about any of the chores, but heaven forbid I ask her to pick up her dirty socks here in the house and put them into the laundry!

Rodney is of course happy to be home (even though he had a great time with Uncle John and Aunt Sheila) he's excited to have his kids back, so we got him a little gift - his own cat! He and Timmy are still working out the kinks in their relationship ;)

Tyler is a busy boy too. Baseball season has just started, and he's looking forward to getting back in to basketball in the fall.  There's even been some recent discussion about guitar lessons.  He's a well rounded boy, even if he is currently toothless!

Both kids have learned so much over the last year. They've grown so much (in height and in experience!) They've made lifelong friendships and their confidence in life shines through them now. We're so proud of all they've learned over the year, and can't imagine this experience without them.

All that being said, we still miss Ferntree Gully and our friends all the time, and we're already planning a visit in July 2015.  We're also lucky enough to have a treat in September when our wonderful Aussie family comes to visit us for a week on their way to the UK. This is a visit we're looking forward to with great anticipation. It'll be a whirlwind, and not near long enough, but such a special treat for us, and we can hardly wait.

This may be the end of our blog for now, but it certainly isn't the end of our exchange adventures. Stay tuned for news of our next big adventure (soon, but not too soon).

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