Marie Lovez Photoz On Tumblr

Wednesday, June 27, 2012
Find me here

On a recent occasion I gushed about some picture taken of my Christmas gift and I did promise to elaborate more on the budding photographer in our midst. My eldest has been bitten by the bug and we have all fallen victim now that she's got the shutters.

I have also mentioned on a prior post before that she is into the arts. I think she is now branching out into other forms, not just the pencilled kind. This is all good and great, and should serve her well when she goes into university in a few years and chooses her path into visual arts, perhaps?

For now, check out her humble beginnings....

The Emigration Art Of Digging Up Documents - Part 3

Monday, June 25, 2012
After a fairly easygoing compilation of documents locally, it was time to turn our sights overseas. The next lot of document search became a bit more complex.

*Original birth certificates* - Not the kids', but ours. Hubby and I were both born in the Philippines. I thought this was gonna prove challenging but after a quick search through the Net, I was impressed that Filipinos all over the world can now actually request for this kind of information online via e-Census. I was a little worried about the journey the important documents were gonna take from Asia to Africa so I thought it best to authorise my relative in the Philippines to request and fetch the birth certificates on our behalf.

*Proof of relationship with Canadian relatives* - Canada works on a point-system to work out the eligibility of prospective applicants. One of the criteria you earn points on is if you have a relative in Canada and you are able to prove your relationship with them. Hubby has a sister in Montreal and so we also ordered a certified copy of her birth certificate with ours (as above). Further, she had to prove her Canadian citizenship so we asked her to have her Canadian passport notarised and mailed to us.

*NBI clearance* - Police clearances were required for all the countries that we stayed in for more than 2 months since we were 18. I didn't need this as I had been in South Africa since I was 16. However, hubby was in Philippines before he came over to South Africa when he was 27 so we had to get him his NBI clearance. Luckily, hubby was scheduled to visit the Philippines at the time, so he killed two birds in one stone. He applied to get his NBI clearance while on the holiday. The clearance was valid for a year. By the way, you are also able to apply/re-apply for the NBI clearance online.

There were more documents required but it was not just paperwork but basically new things that needed to be added with the application, like the language test (coming right up next in future posts). For the digging up part, I think we had it okay as we didn't have anything major to go through. I know other applicants had issues with obtaining police clearances overseas and some had employers that couldn't be found anymore.

Incidentally, I also kept a filing system for the family's important documents from years ago (I'm a hoarder what can I say?) I have all sorts like baptismal certificates to first payslips to letters of recommendation. I suppose this practice paid me well when it came to digging up the important stuff.

The Emigration Art Of Digging Up Documents - Part 2

Wednesday, June 20, 2012
From Part 1 - continuation of looking for required documentation:

*University transcripts* - A quick phone call to my alma mater, UNISA (University of South Africa), was all it took. I was told to email my request. So I did. I was a little skeptical at first if the original transcript would ever see the light of day. But I was proved wrong, the letter arrived 2 weeks later, in a university-sealed envelope.

*Police clearances* - Hubby and I made an appointment to pass by the local South African Police Station to apply to get police clearances. We had to supply a certified copy of our identity documents and fingerprints (which were done at the station). The application was sent off to Pretoria and would take 6-8 weeks to come back. We opted to collect it from Pretoria. For the complete procedure of applying for South African police clearance certificates, check this page on the Department of Foreign Affair's website. The only downside to the certificates was that they were only valid for 6 months. So after the 6 months was up, hubby and I had to re-apply for new ones.

*Proof of settlement funds* - There were minimum funds required to make it in Canada. At the time, according to the CIC (Citizenship and Immigration Canada) website, we needed CA$20,654 to support a family of four. That worked out roughly to about R176,000. No small change in there. As I had a mortgaged home, I sent in a copy of my title deed. Plus I added in 3 month's worth of bank statements from both hubby and my cheque accounts. I don't know if it was enough but I think we just made the limit.

And that was the "easy" part done.

The Emigration Art Of Digging Up Documents - Part 1

Monday, June 18, 2012
Before we even sent off our initial application to Canada, about six months before that, hubby and I were both already busy gathering all the long-lost documents required for the application.

I was not deceived by the 120-day grace period given to compile the requirements once your initial application was approved. I knew that gathering documents in itself was time-consuming, and there were so many things that could go wrong. It was really better to be prepared for things to go wrong outside of the grace period, rather than pressurise yourself into fixing the problems within.

For my documents, it was relatively easy to compile. Most of my certificates and whatnots were South African based.

The first things I worked on were:

*Certificates of service* - I contacted all my old employers and asked for a certificate of service to be mailed. I was lucky enough to have had contacts in most of the places, and where I did not have, I spoke to somebody at the HR department and confirmed my employment with them. Once I got the confirmation telephonically, I asked the person nicely if they could put that in some sort of letterhead and mail to me.

*Reference letters* - Again, I personally contacted all my old bosses/supervisors. I think it works best when it is personal and heartfelt. It gave me a bit of time to catch up with them and their lives. The only issue that I found was that most of them did not really know what to say or did not want to say anything bad about me (haha). I ended up having to write my own reference letters. I used Google for some reference letter templates to describe how impeccable and brilliant I was. I then emailed the letters and asked my old employers to put in on their letterheads and sign off. Of course, they have to agree with what was written. I think I may have left them dumbstruck at how highly I thought of myself. LOL.

*Unabridged birth certificates of children* and *Unabridged marriage certificate* - Since both of my kids were born in South Africa, and hubby and I were married here as well, a trip to the local Department of Home Affairs was all we needed. I was quite concerned as the Department was going through an overhaul at that time. The media was all over the Department after a man had killed himself out of despair that he could not get the identity document that he needed for a job. It was a sad incident but I am thankful that it served as a wake-up call for the Department to improve its service to the masses. I got all the certificates back in 4 months.

How To Get Children To Sleep In Their Rooms

Wednesday, June 13, 2012
On one of those days when I became domesticated and started changing the bed sheets, a funny story about instilling independence in my child came to my mind and brought a smile to my face. I simply have to share this! I remembered a time when my eldest was around 5 years old and she was still sleeping with hubby and me in our room.

I know, I know....I am once again showing my "bad mommy" signs but in fairness, prior to this time, our living conditions were a bit tight. We used to live in company houses (meaning they were owned by the company that hubby worked for) and we would only be allowed one room, big enough for the three of us. The rest of the rooms in the house were occupied by other employees.

To get back on I was saying, around about the time my eldest was 5, we bought our first home. Yes, home, complete with all the other rooms, all to ourselves. So I dedicated one room for my daughter.

However, since she was so used to sleeping with us, she did not want to sleep in her own room, even opting to sleep on the floor in our bedroom. I felt bad for her. Here I was the mommy wanting her daughter to have some privacy and independence and it seems that I've left it a bit too late and she may never wanna leave our side...ever!

One day while out shopping, I had a brilliant idea. I went into a bedding shop and spent about R400 (about $50) worth on bed sheets and linens. I bought new pillows and blankets, you-name-it-I-had-it. I brought it all home with me and placed it on my daughter's bed. It looked so fresh and brand new and so "I wanna sleep on you so much" that my eldest just could not resist.

And how I got my daughter out of my room :-) I enticed her into sleeping on her bed :-)

So if you have problems of getting your children out of the bedroom, I'm no expert, but this could be one way of doing it. Okay, it might not also work if the child is not of right age. But hey, the easiest way would be to just do it early before they even get wind of it.

VTT Postcard - Bela-Bela - Thaba Kwena Crocodile Farm

Monday, June 11, 2012
Feeding time at Thaba Kwena

We actually went to this farm the day before but realised that they were only feeding the crocodiles the following day and so opted to come back the next day.

Thaba Kwena Crocodile Farm boasts to be one of the biggest crocodile farm in the southern hemisphere. And rightfully so. They have 22000 crocodiles in their farms (not all at the same farm that we were in), big and small. They had one old resident dominant male crocodile named Piet, who is 40 years old and about 9 feet long. He was quite scary when he came out of the water to lie on the ground just beside where we were viewing the crocodiles. He was so big!

Alpha Male = Piet

On the other side of the farm, there was another dominant male named Battle X. He was about 25 yers of age. Also quite big in size. According to the tour guide, Battle X and Piet are never in the same place at the same time as crocodiles are territorial creatures and both males will fight to the death to be the Alpha Male of the pack.

The tour was very informative and interesting. We were quite lucky to have attended just in time for the crocodile's last feeding this season. They do not get fed during winter. The crocodiles appeared tame and boring while being fed. Aside from them opening their mouths and catching the chickens, they just lay about, unmoving. But we were assured by our guide that we must not even attempt jumping over the fence to test the crocs ferocity. As if we had any ideas like that! It's in their instinct to maim and kill, and they will do just that.

Croc fillet

After the tour, hubby tried some croc fillet at the restaurant. I am not so adventurous so I did not order anything. Hubby commented that it tasted like chicken.

Check out the Bela Bela Tourism website where they have more information on Thaba Kwena.

My Gift From Christmas

Wednesday, June 6, 2012
Okay, so this post is way belated. I had not planned to actually even write anything about my gift as there was really nothing much to say about it except that I've been looking for something like it for a while and hubby and I happened upon it whilst looking around jewellery shops in December.

It was the last one in the shop. It was on sale. It was the right size. It was an anklet. And it was perfect. Bought my inexpensive and sentimental gift and have been wearing it everyday since.

Not to sidetrack, but I actually wanted to introduce the gift for another reason. My artsy eldest has recently taken up photography and have been taking pictures of inanimate objects with much candor. She has taken a picture of my gift and I must admit that she has made it a more spectacular item on film than it looks in real life.

Borrowed photo

The picture is taken with an excellent eye. But I suppose it is to be expected of someone with her art calibre.

Yes, so in all honesty, I am actually gushing about the photo (which is also on her photo blogsite, but I'll introduce that another time).

It was a great gift. Now it's captured in the blogosphere.

VTT Postcard - Bela-Bela - Forever Resorts

Monday, June 4, 2012
Hot springs....that's the name of the game when you visit Bela-Bela.

We made our way to a local resort, The Forever Resorts, to get the full hot springs experience. The Resort was situated in the middle of town so was not hard to find.

The children enjoyed the swimming a lot. The hot mineral water just flowed out from pumps. At first, Missy was a bit shy and scared in her Dora bikini, but later on, there was just no stopping her.

Missy and me playing with hot mineral water

Water slides are not for sissies, I tell you. Eldest and hubby tried out a couple of them at the resort. The resort boasts a total of 11 pools and most of them were filled with hot mineral water and so became more enticing to play around in. I even tried my hand at one of the water slides. It felts so refreshing and healing. I don't know what it is that makes us connect warm water and healing powers.

There were other things to do at the resort but as we were a little pressed for time, we only had the chance to prance around in the pools.

We left just after lunch and went onto our next stop.

For more information on The Forever Resorts in Warmbaths, visit their website.