California

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The Wee One is One!

I know it is a little late but… Mina is one!!! (Ok 14 months now but whatever.) We had a small party to celebrate and unkie Simon and auntie Chrissy came to visit for the week.

We did plenty of sight seeing while they where here; we visited the Winchester Mystery House, Big Basin (the redwoods), Santa Cruz, Hwy 1, San Francisco and Alcatraz.

For Mina’s birthday we visited Gary at work for lunch at Cafe Macs and the next day we took her to the Children’s Discovery Museum.

That Morning Mina got her gifts from Mommy and Daddy, her first trike (a jet trike at that) and from Grandma a Sweet Pea which she loves to carry around and dance to.  That evening we had a few people by for cake and ice cream. We made vegan chocolate cake since some of our friends are vegetarian. and allergic to eggs. It was actually really good! We managed to get he kids to wear party hats and got plenty of good pictures.

See Simon and Christine’s photos of the week on MobileMe
See our Birthday photos, Alcatraz and HWY 1 on MobileMe


As far as first year milestones go she started walking a week before her birthday (and hasn’t stopped walking, running, dancing or climbing) and her first two teeth arrived in August and her next two just arrived this month.

The BEST chocolate cake ever…that happens to be VEGAN. I kid you not! (and they aren’t kidding; we now use this recipe whenever we make chocolate cake)

1 1/4 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup warm water
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp distilled white or apple cider vinegar

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. In an 8X8 square pan/dish, mix together flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, and salt with a fork, making sure it is really blended together. Add the water, vanilla, oil, and vinegar, and again, mix together so that it’s really blended together. Use a spatula to scrape down the sides if necessary.

Place in oven and bake for about 30 minutes, or until a knife comes out clean. Cool on a rack completely (2 hours).

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Life has been very busy in the last month. The Gehiere family has moved to California – though their household goods have not yet arrived. Although this site has not been updated I have been keeping a blog and photo albums about my California trip at http://www.barbaraburkard.com.

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Avalon Campbell

Somehow Gary and I end up near trains. Our first apartment together was on Weber street in Kitchener near the VIA Rail station. When we moved into our house on Talbot Street we found ourselves a block away from a rail bridge running over Belmot Ave. Now we have our apartment here in California and it is on Railway Avenue in Campbell, named for the light rail line that runs beside it.

We will be moving into Avalon Campbell an apartment community near downtown Cambpell. The light rail station, walking paths and parks as well as downtown are with in walking distance. The light rail runs from Campbell to San Jose where I can transfer to CalTrain to San Fransico. Gary will have a aprox. 10 minute commute and I won’t need a car.

We have started looking at cars, right now it is looking like we will get a Ford Escape Hybrid. Though we won’t be able to do anything till Gary’s Social Security Number comes in.

We have had 2 of the 3 days alotted  with Destination Relocation. The first day David took Mina and I out to see apartments. It was fantastic! He only showed me apartments he thought would work as well as showing me around the area they where in. Where the parks moms go to are and where shopping is, how far away downtown is, all that good stuff you can’t tell from looking on-line alone (and not knowing the area). Thanks to him, I now know that we will be moving close to the Winchester Mystery House!

The second day Sashi took Gary to the Social Security Office and helped him through that process then showed us where the DMV is, helped him get a cashiers check for our deposit on the apartment and get his American bank account set up then took us to Avalon to sign the lease.  It is much easier to get these things done when you are with someone who seems to know somebody everywhere you go.

After I return to California Sashi would like to show me where all the fabric shops are for our third day. David and Sashi are married and also live in Campbell. They are excited that we decided to move there too, we already have offered to babysit.

Today is pack and clean (and maybe get some pictures) day as tomorrow morning we fly back to Canada!

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This is a movie Gary made of a tour of our apartment just after we arrived.

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Yesterday, after a good nights sleep, we ventured out to do a big shopping run. Fist up was house wares at Target. The apartment has the basics but there are still things we needed. (White sheets + Pink hair = Pink sheets same goes for white towels.)

After dropping off our loot we headed off to San Fransico to exchange our rental car. We opted for a larger vehicle, Kia Sorento, only to find it was too big to easily  park in our car port. Now we have a Nissan Rogue which still has the extra room we wanted but isn’t quite so big. Since we where almost there, we visited San Fransico.

San Fransico is a beautiful city but very different from anything I have ever experienced. The houses are everywhere and densely packed. The hills are steep, cars parked on them seem to be defying gravity. We stopped at Fluevog‘s so Gary could join me in my love of their shoes. We then had lunch at The Red Victorian Peace Cafe. We even got to meet Sami the founder.

On the way home we made some stops in Sunnyvale including Safeway, our first grocery store. Mina was quite tired of being in her car seat by the time we got home.

Looking forward to spending the day in today, maybe just exploring the grounds with the sling.

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Arrived!

We’re in California at our temporary accommodations, a furnished apartment just 1.5miles from Apple.

Grandma Barb dropped us off at Pearson Int’l Airport Terminal 1 at ~5:00AM today. We got our boarding passes and navigated the baggage check by ~6:00AM. Trina handled the baggage check really well, but it wasn’t easy to pass all out luggage, the carrier and stroller through the x-ray machine while holding Mina too. Thankfully everyone loves a baby so no one gave us dirty looks for moving slowly.

By ~6:30 we had gotten through the passport and visa process, and learned somethings about how to cross the border in the future, and also gotten a light breakfast.

Our plane boarded and left on-time at ~7:00AM on 5 hour 40 minute direct flight to San Francisco. Mina slept for most of the flight but as we began our 2 hour descent she woke up and cried because the change in air pressure was hurting her ears.

We arrived at SFO at ~10:00AM local time, got out bags and took the AirTrain to the car rental building.

We took our time getting to Cupertino because our check-in time here was not until 3:00PM.

By 12:00 noon local time we had not eaten for almost nine hours and used my iPhone’s “Yelp!” app to find somewhere to eat – we ended up just down the street from my new work place, at a tiny restaurant named Pebble’s Deli Cafe. Good sandwiches with kind of a asian flair.

And we’re already meeting people! Thanks to Mina, of course. At Pebble’s we met another couple with 2 little ones of their own and got directions to the nearest Whole Foods and some info on a local mom’s group. In the current style email addresses were exchanged.

Mina has just gotten to sleep after a bit of a fuss. She’s done so well today but ended up hungry and over-tired. It’s tough being a little person!

We’re going to bed very shortly too…

Want to see what $60 of groceries at Whole Foods and Target looks like? Check out the first image below. Other images illustrate our bare-bones but comfortable temp. accommodations minus the spare bedroom and 2nd bath. The man-made creek bed is right outside our kitchen/living room.

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The Bilmore

This is Gary’s last week at home. We fly on Saturday.

Apple travel has booked our flights early on December 12th, out of Pearson flying direct to San Francisco. We will land at approximately 9:50 AM (Pacific Time). Mina will have her own seat so we can bring the car-seat on the plane meaning we wont need to rent one when we get there. We will likely check her stroller. We almost flew out of Ottawa by accident but luckily the mistake was caught quickly and fixed. (It would have had 1 stop over on top of a very long commute to the airport.)

(We’re having a relative house-sit and take care of our cat Sebastian, so don’t worry about him. – Gary)

We will return Christmas Eve, flying out of San Francisco at 7:15 AM (Pacific Time) and landing at Pearson at 3:00 PM. Gary will return to California on the 27th and I will stay here to finish packing.

We also have our first month of accommodation confirmed. We will be staying in an apartment rather then a hotel; in fact one of the properties we were looking at for January, The Biltmore. We will be staying in the Clarion, but we are interested in the Drake or Crowne.

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California

Gary’s visa has been approved.

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Christmas
Gary has received his Apple employee login so that he can begin his orientation. His holidays for Christmas are:

• Christmas Eve: Thursday, December 24
• Christmas Day: Friday, December 25
• Winter Holiday Shutdown: Monday–Thursday, December 28-31

He also gets New Years Day but we are still not sure when exactly he will be home.

Pass Ports
We submited our application for Mina and my pass port, as a rush we expect it December 3rd.

The photographer taking our photos sure earned his money doing Mina’s. Trying to get a front on shot of her face with her eyes open and showing both ears was not an easy task.

Visa
We are still anxiously waiting for Gary’s visa. Hope it comes soon! (It better or he can’t work!)

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The Offer

We’re moving! To California! By the end of January!!!

Just before Mina was born Gary was contacted by a recruiter from Apple. This has happened before but nothing ever came of it due to visa issues. This time however was different. This time they have a workaround to the visa issue by sending him to Vancouver tow work for a year then doing an inter-company transfer to California. So on the day Mina was born Gary had a phone call with the man who would be his boss.

Many calls and emails ensued, samples of his work sent over, ’til Thanksgiving weekend when we found out they wanted to fly him out for an interview. In a whirlwind of a trip Gary flew out for 2 days of interviewing and 2 days of traveling.

Needless to say it went well.

Once he returned Apple had him work on a sample project to see how he would work from a distance. (The team he would work with would still be in California even if he was in Vancouver.)

Needless to say that also went well.

Next Apples lawyers got involved and found that they may actually be able to get Gary his visa. After hunting down or getting new copies of and scanning every form about ones life imaginable and getting letters of reference from his employers the lawyers seemed satisfied that the US government would grant the visa. (The visa hasn’t been approved yet. – Gary)

So an offer was made and we are off the Cupertino California. (Not permanently.)

Gary starts work on December 7th and we will all go down, I’ll stay for about 2 weeks to help find housing etc. before returning home. I will be finishing the the arrangements here before flying out mid January.

I am so proud of Gary for landing his dream job and having the courage to take it. (Even if it isn’t easy.)


There are plenty of other details but I’ll post about them later.

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