Saturday, May 30, 2009

Christmas in May

Whenever the kids finish a year of school, we plant a tree in the yard - so it seemed fitting that we get Barton a tree. It's a Dwarf Burning Bush (dwarfs not included).

Then we placed his little, fun presents under the tree. When he sent in his Medical School application we wrapped the envelope in Christmas paper, so again, it seemed fitting to wrap his gifts in Christmas wrap!
The tree will go in the backyard and should grow to be 5feet and grows bright red flowers.
And now to find some dwarfs...

Thursday, May 28, 2009

The Official Letter

May 28, 2009
Doctor Barton Paul Thiessen,

On behalf of the Royal College, it gives us great pleasure to inform you that you have been successful at the recent examination in your specialty.

We will confirm the result of your examination, by mail, in the near future.


Barton heard the word this morning that he passed and is on his way into the real world (are we ready?!)

Congratulations Barton - Dr Barton Thiessen BSc MD FRCPC

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Exam Day

Well, it's all over and done with. Our fate now lies in the hands of the kind examiners... Barton feels very good about the exam and will get the official report card sometime tomorrow (around the same time a cable guy would stop by). The results will show both the written results from April and the oral results from today. If he passes, we have a job here in St John's... if not - well, we'll head out to the boonies I guess!!! As if anyone has any hesitation on how he'll do, still, it'll sure be something to see it in writing, officially and irretractably. (That should totally be a real word). So, more on that tomorrow I guess!!!!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Tuesday update!

Barton left early this morning for Ottawa - leaving behind a snow storm. Yuk!!! I am 'patiently' waiting for this nonsense to turn to good, old-fashioned spring rain, but it doesn't look like it's turning anytime soon! We have had hot for two weeks, I planted my garden and thought the winter was behind me... I am hoping I don't lose my lovely little plants today.

But, there are more important things to worry about... Barton's exam is tomorrow. He sits the exam at 2pm Ottawa time, so it'll be 3:30 here and 11am in BC. It's an oral exam, so it's all about sounding like he knows what he's talking about! He's usually pretty good at that ;) He will be meeting up with friends from his UBC med class there and they'll celebrate before he comes back home Thursday night. So, this is it! It seems like it's all over, though he has to work a bit before the residency is officially finished. It's been 9 years since he started med school and this day didn't seem like it would ever come. To encourage anyone who is just starting, sometimes it doesn't feel like it, but it goes amazingly fast!

In other news:

Bridger and Nikolai finished yet another session of swimming lessons last week, both graduating into the next level! Bridger will move on to Silver next time and Nikolai to Aqua. Way to go boys!

The year is winding to a close, with activities wrapping up and lessons coming to an end. We have had an interesting year, this first of homeschooling. It's been fun, I've learned a lot and have lots to learn! I wasn't sure if we would carry on again in fall but I was very affirmed this past week to continue on for the next school year. We had our last monthly home school meeting of the year last night and again I realized how much more the seasoned HS'ers know than I. There are a few things I'd like to try differently and maybe by the end of next year I'll feel like I know what I'm doing!! Also at the meeting last night I was voted to join the board as the Director of Physical Education, which means I'll be organizing the differently weekly PE activities we do as a group; swimming, skating etc. I'm excited about the opportunity and hope we can find some fun things to do.

So, that's it for now, I guess I have to go shovel the driveway... no, I'm kidding, it's not that bad. It took me awhile to figure out why the snow looked so weird (aside from the fact that it's May 26) and it's because it's falling onto bright green snow and crab-apple and cherry blossoms. *sigh*

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

My Weekend in Saskatchewan

After 5 years of almost no family contact I got to spend 4 days with nothing but! How awesome!

I was so thankful to be able to make the trip out to Saskatchewan this past weekend for the funeral of my grandmother, my mom's mom, in Borden and the surrounding areas. After checking the forecast I flew out early on Friday morning looking forward to a warm and sunny weekend. As we descended the pilot lovingly informed us that it was 1 degree and snowing and there I sat in flip flops.

My dad and mom (and grandma!) arrived at exactly the same time as I, so we met there (mom was also in sandals...) and picked up our car. We headed out for lunch and then drove into Warman where we were going to stay with my Aunt and Uncle, mom's brother.

We had a quick nap and went for a long walk to clear our heads. Mom and Dad were only an hour behind, but my body was 3.5 hours ahead and with only a few days there I wanted to make sure I adjusted as best I could. It ended up going really well, normally I'm hit harder by time changes but I tried a few adjusting tricks and it seemed to work. We walked into town where some shops were and strolled a bit there. We ate a fantastic dinner at my aunt and uncle's and I actually stayed up pretty late. We slept well, though I woke up at 3am (right around the time Mattea would get me up... 6:30) but forced myself back to sleep. Then when I finally woke up, I lay in bed reading for awhile! How often do I get to do that?! Another of mom's sisters and my uncle with my cousin Jackie arrived for a visit and we ate lunch with them. It was fun to catch up, most of my family I hadn't seen in 15 years so obviously things have changed since then! Jackie and I have kids pretty close in age and she was visiting alone from South Carolina so we definitely have a few things in common. After lunch and another attempt at a rest Dad, Mom and I headed into Saskatoon for a little look around downtown.

It wasn't hot and we were wondering if we should do a quick shop for the funeral for which we were inappropriately prepared. The sun came out and it ended up being gorgeous so we took our chances. I did make a 'little' trip into Lululemon (which on a Saturday afternoon was a gong show!) and we got some stuff for the kids in shops I won't see for a long time, (Roots and The Children's Place). Then we met up with more family at the Knotty Monk, a great little pub in Warman, for supper.

Sunday was the funeral service, so after a brunch out on the deck I headed into Borden with Mom and Dad.

I have, very unfortunately, not known this side of my family very well. My mom moved to BC as a young adult (to go to CBC in Abbotsford) and so we only went back for special occasions and the occasional summer trip. Because I saw a few families on my dad's side more often, I grew up seeing the similarities I have to members of those families. It was fun this weekend to spend time with my mom's family and all my cousins to see that I have such roots there too! I'm pretty sure my blood knows that it was half brewed in Saskatchewan because anytime I enter the prairies, by flying in or driving like last summer, I can feel that it is part of who I am. I love it there; the open space, the clean air, the quiet lifestyle. I'm sure it's part of what draws me to life here in St John's. In fact, over the weekend I noticed many similarities between the two places and my mom has often said when visiting us here that it feels much more like home to her too.

I was excited to find that I have one other cousin horribly vomit-phobic like me. I thought I was alone! I also discovered a cousin who was working on exactly the same odd craft project that I was... and made me excited to finish my own. I also have cousins and an aunt who despise wearing socks the way I do... who knew?! I see the sense of humour and love of life that my late-aunt had, in many of my family members and discovered also that the thick hair my grandpa possessed until the very end has been passed on to many of us. Silly things, I know, but having known so little of my family these things meant a lot.

The funeral started in the cemetery, where grandma, who was cremated, was buried into my grandfather's grave. After the burial we headed into the church (where dad and mom were married!) for a short service and then downstairs for lunch. It was really well done and the man who led the service (my mom's cousin) did a really nice job. There were at least 120 people there so grandma obviously left an impression in her time! My family has also had many heart aches over the past few years and so the weekend a mix of devastating pain and joyful laughter. It was wonderful to celebrate someone who had lived so long, had loved life and left many fond memories behind and yet it was terribly sad to miss those who left us early and should have been there with us.

We ended up staying and visiting very late, leaving at about 7:30pm. We stopped for a drink and snack along the way and made our way back to my aunt and uncle's. I had to leave in the morning so we visited a bit and then I packed to go.

It was short and sweet and I'm so thankful I could go. It was a nice break for me, though I thought the kids would have had lots of fun playing there. I'll take them back soon, because I don't want it to be another 15 years before I see my extended family again!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Thursday's Alright

So, my bags are packed and I'm ready to go. I leave atrociously early in the morning tomorrow, though I did opt out on the 5am departing flight... I'm no good at 3:30am! I take off at 6:20 with a very short (like, bags-don't-make-it short) layover in Toronto. Thanks to the time change and the one short stop I arrive in Saskatoon just after 10am! Nice. I've rented a car that I'll share with my parents as their flight arrives about 2 minutes after mine.

I'm starting to wonder if travelling without kids is almost more work than taking them along; making sure they make it to this and that and this is arranged for that etc... phew! Anyway, the funeral service is Sunday and I leave Monday morning so it'll be a quick weekend but I'm really looking forward to it. So many of my extended family that I never get to see will be there, as well as my parents and I haven't had time away on my own since... hmmm... since the fall of 2005? Maybe...

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Update Quicky

Riley plays trumpet with the junior band at school and last week they won a silver medal in the local Rotary Festival. We made it back from DR just in time for the performances and they are excited about their jump up from their bronze placement last year. Also winning silver was her volleyball team, The Tigers, at the Grade 7 Provincial Volleyball Championships. This championship was cancelled last month and unfortunately rescheduled for while we were away. She was missed by her team but had a fabulous year playing with them.

The boys have restarted swimming lessons; Bridger is in bronze (certainly further than I ever got!) and Nikolai is in green. Swimming has been our Friday fixture with the homeschooling group since Sept and just this week the boys said they might be looking forward to the break from lessons over summer! They will also wind up their music lessons in the next few weeks; Bridger has been doing drums and Nikolai guitar since Sept. They are doing very well!

I registered yesterday for the Tele-10, an annual 10 mile race here in St John's on July 26th. It's my pre-half-marathon-in-January training. I'm terrified. I'm trying to follow the 12 week training program they printed in the paper but quickly discovered that a week on holidays (read: "eating and lying around") followed by a lazy week actually causes quite a de-conditioning... who knew?

Also, I will be leaving this Friday morning for Saskatoon for a family gathering to honour the passing of my grandmother last month. I am quite looking forward to seeing all my extended family, my parents and also to having 4 full days without anyone needing me... sorry, was that mean? ;)

Barton leaves in 3 weeks for his final exam and after our holidays has started studying again. These exams are oral so they practise and study a little differently. He treated himself to an I-Touch which basically hasn't left his ear since, as he listens to past exams being asked and answered.

Mattea is Mattea. Busy as a bee, saying a million words and being quite a funny piece of work.

That's it for now!

Monday, May 4, 2009

Our Dominican Getaway

On April 20th we Thiessen Six jetted off to the Dominican Republic for a week of much needed R&R. I can't believe that I'm writing this a week after getting back home but we hit the ground running and I've barely sat down. Not only did we have to immediately get back into the swing of things but add onto that the mounds of laundry and sand removal and it makes for a fairly busy post-vacation week. (I think Riley is still getting sand out of her hair!) That's always the downfall of travel though, and no matter how much you prep for it, it doesn't seem to help. Oh yeah, and you're feeling cold and slightly depressed to have come back to reality (okay, I speak only for myself but you know what I mean...)

So, we went to a resort called the Holiday Village Golden Beach Resort (yes, it does have the world's longest resort name...) in Puerto Plata, DR. We did the all-inclusive thing and I'm pretty sure it was worth it just to not cook for the week. We have no complaints; we swam, ate, played, ate, drank, ate, read, tanned and did I mention we ate?... and repeat. The resort was fantastic, clean and convenient and the beach gorgeous. Because of 'the sheer number' of people in our family we were required to get two rooms and on the way down I was slightly worried because, although they request adjoined or side by side rooms, there is no guarantee until you get there. But we were very fortunate and it all worked out.

We took a direct flight, which from St John's is rare. It was quite long, 5.5 hours there and just under 5 coming back but he kids did really well, they are seasoned travellers by now though I'm pretty sure that's the longest direct flight they've been on (other than my trip to Aus and NZ with Riley), so they did hit an 'are we there yet?' point. It was getting late, we don't own handheld devices, the portable DVD player had lost it's juice (it didn't even make one movie!) and "7 Pounds" just wasn't interesting enough! But, as soon as there's less than an hour, everyone gains some extra steam and then the city lights come into view. Mattea did pretty well. She hit a point where she should have been sleeping and couldn't that wasn't so fun, but then she knocked off and awoke there bright eyed and bushy tailed, back to her neighbour-charming self.

Because it was a direct flight, all of our luggage made it (yay!) and as soon as we grabbed our bags, we found our transport bus as all the St John's passengers fanned out to different resorts. We went with Signature Vacations (my second time with them - highly recommended) and when we arrived at the bus they already had our room keys and registrations ready. We didn't even check in and I could see from the room numbers that we were side by side! (As an aside, I, in a stroke of brilliance, had packed the baby monitor just in case we were a few rooms apart and it ended up being so handy anyway!)

Our rooms were family rooms, which not all resorts have. Both rooms had a king sized bed and then a little alcove with bunk beds. So cute! The alcove was painted with animals, had it's own little TV and had the entrance to the bathroom. We put the older three kids in one room, and us in the other room with Mattea, for whom they had already placed a crib in the alcove. The rooms had fridges - that were well stocked with pop and beer and huge bottles of fresh water - as well as a safe, closet, desk and TV. Both rooms were ground level with sliding doors and patio furniture which worked out so well because when Mattea napped (which she totally needed after playing so hard!) one of us could just lie out in the grass in the sun. We were also really close to the pool so, I will admit, we may have run to cool off for a second while she slept... shhh, don't tell.

So that was the start of our week and from there on we just played and played. The beach was fantastic and very quiet as far as numbers of people. The kids loved the big waves and spent time on the boogie boards every day. They loved the pool too, so our biggest decision every day was to decide where to start - pool or beach? Yes, it was rough.

We even made some friends! Our rooms were in a little entrance that we shared with another family of 6 in two rooms. They ended up being similar in age to our older kids and they played a ton over the week. They are also from St John's so we could see them again! It was really nice that there were so many other families, big ones too and no one is a stranger when Mattea's around; we met lots of people simply because she has to meet everyone!

The food was fantastic and we ate a lot of it. On top of the regular buffet restaurant there were four themed restaurants that we enjoyed; two on our own and two with the kids. On two occasions we walked into a little mall close by and one day we went on a tour that took most of the day. We went to a coffee 'factory' and a soap carving 'factory' and went on a hike through waterfalls and even stopped by a school. It was a little weird for us to just walk into a classroom, but it seemed totally normal to them! We were fed lunch at a little restaurant in a tiny town and got to see lots of fruit plants and even a demonstrative cock-fight. Yes, you read that right...

It was a wonderful get away. After working so hard all year, Barton was able to just play and relax with the kids which hasn't happened in a long time and we got a little sun that will hopefully carry us over to our regularly scheduled summer.


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