2009 in review. The thing to do.

So, word on the streets of blog-land has it that a review of 2009 is in order.

Alright, I'll oblige, but it may be more facts that feelings.

The count-down to 2009 took place in a friend-of-the-family's living room in Winnipeg. It was were my mom, Tom, and I were staying while my dad recouped in the Health Sciences Center's cardiac ward. The man recouped, we were able to stay in Manitoba until he returned home, then we returned home to Montreal.

In January we already knew we were heading back to Costa Rica later in the year, we hadn't really broken the news to many people, as we weren't exactly sure how or when, but we knew.

Having no idea what we were actually getting ourselves into, we volunteered to join our youth pastor and adult leaders in supervising a youth retreat early in the year. What we thought was going to be a one-time deal, turned into life-changing relationships and invaluable lessons over our remaining time in Montreal; just fast-forward from that youth retreat to 4:00am October 17th, and you'd see it too.

I turned a quarter of a century. We went to upstate New York.

On a last minute deal we flew out to meet up with Tom's parents on Vancouver Island, and
I was able to meet Tom's grandmother in beautiful Victoria.

Winter in Montreal was snowy and I was in my last semester of classes at grad school. I was busy writing a literature review, essays, and giving presentations. Tom and I enrolled in weekly Spanish classes at the college across the street. We were officially accepted by Lakeshore church to serve in Costa Rica for 6 months; a true answer to prayer.

We flew to Manitoba for a grand 60th birthday in April. We also used the trip to officially announce our missionary plans and start our (what seemed to be never ending) fund raising initiatives.

Two days after returning from Manitoba I had eye-ball surgery.

May was jammed packed with statistics work. Boy-howdy am I glad that's done!!

In June I had an 'exploratory interview' with World Vision, we toured Toronto and visited Niagra Falls while we were in the area. I had never been to the Falls before. We fell in love with Cambridge, Ontario.

The summer flew by, jammed with thesis prep, defense prep, CR prep, moving prep... and then implementations. We spent many summer nights walking along the board walk in beautiful Ste-Anne's. My mom flew in for August long weekend, which was a much needed and lovely break from everything. My brother also visited.

I saw my first live rubber-ducky duck race.

We leapt from the SRL to the micro 4/3 world.

On August 27th I defended my master's. On the 30th we moved out of our apartment.

We lived with friends in Montreal for a few weeks then went to Manitoba for a gloriously long visit after Tom finished up work mid September. We helped on my parent's grain farm and had plus 30 degree weather. We spent time at Tom's parent's cabin. I did my first ever scheduled 'photo shoot', with glowingly pregnant Lyla, but had to drive through a snow-storm to get there. Oh Manitoba weather.

The first load of good-byes came when we had to fly back to Montreal. Which was followed by two sleeps and another load of good-byes. I had never fully grasped the size of our family before that week.

We landed in beautiful CR a few short days before our 2nd anniversary. I was terribly ill, which was the beginning of (what seems to be) a string of health issues. We jumped right into Spanish lessons, serving within the community, and preparing for what would-be an amazing trip to remote Chirripo.

Our good friends Bob and Erica joined us for a short while late November. We visited a volcano. The four of us did, indeed, survive Chirripo.

Bob and Erica left.
Crystal left.

Combating loneliness, which seemed to be sneaking up on us as Christmas approached, we clung to our Costa Rican family. We headed to beautiful Punta Uva playa as an early Christmas gift for them. We ensured to busy ourselves with all sorts of Christmas activities.

Celebrating Christmas away from our (blood) families and traditions changed me a bit. As have many things over this past year. It has been a year of change, I guess. I'm done school, for the first time in over, gulp, 7 years. Tom left his job. We moved. Etc. We do fight feelings of rootlessness; no home, no jobs; but at the same time we feel so liberated by being bill-free, root-free... Well, home-free!!

God has brought us a long way in 2009. It was an amazing year, full of challenges and amazing experiences.

And, as I sit here reflecting on the past year, sitting in my cocoon hammock gazin' out passed the palm trees and listening to a man a few meters behind me chopping down a banana tree with a machete, I wonder where were we will be a year from now. The funny thing is, I draw a balnk, because I have no idea. And I've strived hard to get to that place: Peace in knowing we have no plans, but comfort in knowing God will reveal them in good time.


It's a small world after all!

We may be separated by a few thousand kilometres, and about 50 degrees celsius, but sometimes a little technology can make things seem a little closer.

A little video-conferencing magic. Gracias a Dios.

A Christmas message for everybody.



For those of you not familiar with our other blog, give it a look and find a link to a ton of pictures.


Not in Kansas, part II

If you've missed Part I, read it here.

  • You find a cat lounging on the shelf in the store... And he is in no way startled when you pick up the item next to him.
  • When you buy candy, it must be weighed at the candy section, receive a sticker for the price, and then you can proceed to the till. The same process occurs when you buy a pre-packaged and sealed bag of candy; it must be weighed, and receive a price sticker (Why must they weigh a bad that states 450g??? Why don't they price them before hand?)
  • In the middle of the day, when sitting on your couch, you may hear a random tuba rocking to Ricky Martin, as a rooster crows and a dog howls.. All at the same time.
  • To the question of "Do I bring an umbrella?" The answer is always yes.
  • Shopping involves English, Spanish, and charades.
  • Lawns are mowed with a weed wacker... Or a goat.
  • Oranges grow on trees.
  • Real lemons cannot be found. Anywhere.
  • While writing a post about not being in Kanses, a cockroach runs across the living room floor.
  • Sigh.
  • Christmas festivities include a two-man donkey, men dressed up in old lady outfits, and Christmas carols that are based off of "Noel Noel", in English, which of course is from French, but in Spanish.
  • While you are studying at the dinning room table in your house, a bat flies by your head.
  • Seriously, while sitting IN your house.
  • You have a house with a wall decoratively missing, so you can see the great outdoors... And the great outdoors can be attracted to, and apparently join, the bugs that are free to fly in and hang around your lights bulbs.
  • You've experienced 3 earth-trembles in less than 3 months.
  • Garbage bags are sold in "Lemon Scent"... Because a hint of lemon will make all that nasty garbage odor disappear (?)
  • When you look out your window, onto your lawn, there may be a horse on it. And you don't know who's it is.
  • There is no such thing as house numbers. Or street addresses. Which can make receiving mail a little tricky.

More than likely to be continued...


Hasta luego, mi amiga!

My bestest friend in Costa Rica, who just so happens to not be Costa Rican at all, returned to the states with passed week.

We will miss you dearly Cristal!
What a blessing you have been to our time here.

I can't thank you enough.

Here's my attempt at a farewell and thank you.

Te amo.



My husband's turning into a serial killer.

By necessity.

It was a matter of self defense, people.


Chirripo Trip

If you'd like to read about our latest adventure...

Please do from someone else's perspective

or our perspective.



You know you're not in Kansas anymore when...

  • A sugar cane 'train' passes you on your walk to school
  • Men carry machetes
  • Ants crawl over produce, cookie bags, etc at the store. And no one seems to mind.
  • Eggs sit on top of the fridge not in the fridge
  • You whistle at the bus driver to get him to stop.
  • Car insurance is a concept only known and appreciated by the wealthy. Why? "Most Costa Ricans simply can't afford the $300 a year."
  • While driving you need to swerve around cattle, horses, quads, stray dogs, pedestrians, and whatever else is using the road that day too. Which takes us back to the car insurance thing...
  • When an open-box delivery truck passes you on the road, you know what he's carrying by the smell it leaves behind. Chilies burn the nose!
  • Meetings, events, or anything else can be canceled or moved, without notice or reason. Not only can this be done by the person leading the event, but also by people attending the event.
  • When you go to someone's house for a 30mintue project, you must spend 2 hours having coffee and treats before the project can happen. Then have lunch after.
  • Roosters have no idea what time it is. They'll crow in the morning, evening, afternoon... they really don't discriminate.
  • Dogs make noise at any hour, too. And no one seems to care. Not even at 4:00 in the morning. Nope, no need to tell your pooch to cork it!
  • Insects can be so large that you think of them as an animal, so you refuse to hit them. (But do encourage and assist in getting them out of your house.)

Stay tuned, I'm sure we'll be adding to this list...


Because pictures are worth thousands of words

And I've been lacking a good quantity of them on our blogs.


Month 1

(Click on the photo to view more of them)


1 Month Update

Check here for an update video for our 'monthiversary'!!



I kid you not, the house just shook!

I'm in the hammock, which hangs from the rafters that just vibrated, and the tin roof trembled.

How awesome is that!!


CompleaƱos Feliz!

It's hard to believe it's been a year since New York City.

But what a year's it's been!

Happy Birthday Mom.
I love you!


A day in the life of homestay: part II

Now where were we?


Right, you were walking to school

8:55 - Arrive at the mission
Kiss your English good bye for the day. Throw your stuff in your classroom, say Hola to everyone (and pretend kiss on the right-hand cheek while one arm bracing - this only occurs between females, or between females and males. Never males and males), including the other 3 students, the 4 Spanish teachers, the cook, the director, and the admin assistant. Yes, your lips get sore.
9:00 - CISA daily devotional
Sing at least one song, one student reads from the bible (you hope it isn't you), and a group prayer.
9:15 - Spanish class
Do all sorts of things to keep it interesting.

But, in all honesty, you'll be frustrated a lot of the time. Thank goodness your proff and spouse are both patient and fun. You must keep in the back of your mind that language is a linchpin to a lot of the service you do here. Learning is a great opportunity to build relationships, many people are willing to talk to you because your not intimidating - because you talk like a child - but you realize that you need to improve to be more effective in the long run.
And be respectable, at the least.

Frustrating? Check.

Essential? Check.

So... Vamos.

10:50 - Recess
Enjoy beautiful coffee and some sort of sweet (baked or fresh from the fruit tree) snack.

11:00 - Back to class...
If it's Tuesday or Thursday, you have a conversation class for an hour. H*, a well read man, will challenge you with two "controdictary" versus from the bible. Your challenged to state your opinion to the group and build off of each others points. This is very difficult to undertake in another language. Very.

If it is Wednesday, you have Escuchando (listening) time. H* does an hour sermon and requests feedback/your opinion. The difference between this and a Tues or Thurs is that it is more listening, and easier listening. I love this hour.

If it is Friday, you have an hour of presentations. Each class, which means each of the other students then Tom and Candice, does a presentation for the others on cultural aspects of Costa Rica or their home country.

Things can get interesting.

But it is a nice way to end the school week.

12:00 - Lunch Outside
Because you are still in homestay, you get your lunch cooked for you at the school. G*, a fabulous woman, and even better cook, has whipped you up some wonderful Costa Rican cuisine while singing and dancing in the kitchen. She loves making you smile, calls you "Her love" when catching you doing the dishes, and puts up with your pigeon Spanish. She can also be found dancing with the broom outside your classroom window. Unfortunately, she often stays home for the day because of her bad shoulder.
12:20 Do the dishes
While G* isn't looking.


A day in the life of homestay: part I

I thought it might be fun to do a blog series about life here at Homestay in Costa Rica. There are a few things just are just a little different than our routine was in Canada, and I'd love to share 'em!


Today we will cover from 4:00am - 8:20am

4:00am - It's still very dark. Your house mother and father wake and prep him for work. They do this routine quite quietly, but many people in the neighborhood are doing the same, which wakes the dogs, which tend to bark. A lot.
4:45 - your house father catches his bus to work. Your house mother tends to her chores.
5:00 - dogs bark
5:50 - roosters crow
6:29 - dogs bark
6:50 - roosters still doing their thing
7:00 - alarm sounds, do your quick morning reading
7:20 - hop in the shower.
Now, this is no ordinary shower you're having. You see, hot water tanks are an odd thing to see in this country. Cold water only, except for some showers. Some showers have add-on shower heads that contain a heating element. Yup, cold water runs over this hot (electrical!) element to create a comfortable temperature shower. You get some choices: actual water pressure with cold delivery, or hot and trickle. But, considering electricity is relatively expensive, you actually shower like this: Turn on water, rinse (30sec), turn off shower. Lather, suds up, shampoo hair. Turn shower on, rinse (repeat process for conditioner if necessary).
7:30 - prep self, cloths, and allow spouse to shower and do the same.
7:49 - Kiss your English good-bye.
7:50 - coffee time.
Your house mother is patiently waiting for you to come take some (superb) coffee from the freshly brewed pot. She knows you like yours black so you go first, then the minute you both take your mug-full, she takes the pot out and dumps a mound of sugar inside, gives it a stir, and now has a pot of coffee ready for drop-in house guest for the day. Like relatives, or the hydro workers, or the water line layers, or...
8:00 - Breakfast and morning Spanish lesson.
Your house mother usually makes gallo pinto, but this can be switched up with empanadas about once a week. Both are hot off the press (she manages to whip these up in the same amount of time it takes you to grab a mug and pour the not-yet-candied coffee for you and your husband) and often accompanied with a banana. While whipping up the hot meal and pouring some juice, your fantastically entertaining house mother also sees to it that you get a Spanish lesson before (Spanish) class. A well animated and often hilarious story is delivered.
8:15 - Realize your going to be late.
Gather the Spanish text books, umbrellas, suntan lotion, sunglasses, and flip flops
8:20 - You're out the door.
Head out the back door and into the most beautiful surroundings ever. You've got a 35mins brisk walk to do.


DO go chasing waterfalls

So, we are in training for the Chirripo outreach project. The project that entails hiking through the mountains for hours to reach a remote community (or two, or three.. depending on how many days we can hike for).

Tom and I are in poor shape, hence the training.

Yesterday we went for a practice hike with a fellow student. She took us for a (straight up!!!) walk. The views were amazing, but my lungs, heart, legs, arms, head, and feet were not amazing. Regardless, we did about an hour uphill then decided that was enough for the day and turned around to go back (straight down!!!). But then we saw our friend with his horse. In true Costa Rican style, we were asked if we want to see his farm.

Well sure!
"It's very close."He says.

Yeah... Right.

My pathetic un-in-shape self actually got to ride his horse.

I've decided I like horses again.

Anyways, we go check out his cattle farm. It was gorgeous!

So he asks, "Would you like to see a waterfall?"

Well, sure!

"It's close."

Yeah... Right.

But check out the hike there!!!

It was such a blast.
My word. What a gift!!!

And we didn't even reach this yet:

An amazing venture.


But then there's the sad reality behind many of the beautiful peices of land here. Our friend told us he's sold the land. An offer from "very rich people in Canada" with the plan to to take it over next week, and build cabanas along the river side, have a zip-line down the trail, and canyoning off the side of the waterfall. This is the reality for many of the beautiful areas in Costa Rica. Because of the increase in demand (due to foreigners seeking business opportunities) and increase in living costs due to foreigners moving into the area, nationals are finding it harder and harder to keep up.

Then along comes a "very rich" foreigner to scoop up their land... With the intent of exploiting it for tourism opportunities and the inevitable garbage that accompanies 'development'. While all the while claiming echo friendly.

On the happier side, I feel so blessed that we were able to take in this pristine untouched area... leaving nothing behind except echos of laughter and taking nothing but precious photographs... before it is developed by foreigners.


Just a reminder

Updates are happening over here too


What a wonderful anniversary!

This morning, during our gathering at the Spanish school, we were asked in Spanish how we were feeling this morning (practicing responding to questions, etc). I mentioned that I was pretty happy, considering it was our anniversary. People clapped, and we moved on to the next person. Never really thought much of it.

Then our teacher 'forgot' about class-break (10:50-11:00).
(Oh well. We were having fun, right?)

Then, when we were dismissed, we found this:

With the other students, teachers, and cooks circled around it.

Like a birthday, it's customary to sing Happy Birthday (except in reference to the birth day of our union, of course) on an anniversary.
And, like a birthday, we were to blow out the candles

But, like a wedding, we had to cut the cake, hand-in-hand.

And if that wasn't enough, Micheal, an American student, played us a song on his harmonica. Although slightly different to us, this enthralled the Costa Ricans, as they have never heard the harmonica played live before.

The whole thing was pretty special. And completely melted my heart.

How amazingly nice was that, though!?!?! For them to get a cake and celebrate our anniverary with us! Now that made our day super extra special!


To my handsome, honorable, and humorous husband:

On this day, two years ago, we were joined as one...

And that was the happiest day of my life.

And over our yearS of marriage we've faced trials and endured numerous fantastic times together.

And have grown closer through it all.

And today we celebrate two glorious years together, and do so in the middle. of. nowhere. Latin America.

And I wouldn't be here if it weren't for you.

And I mean that in a good way.

Much love,
Your Wife of Two Beautiful Years


technology rocks

In reference to Tiffany's comment over here, technology rocks! Already e-mails and blog comments from friends and family back home have provided such an encouragement. Thank you so much. Please, keep 'em coming! I have a pretty good idea that things are going to get tough around here in a few weeks/months, which I'm guessing will coincide with the timeline in which people back home start 'forgetting' about us out here. That said (I know, I've been using that lead-in a little too much lately), I don't want to focus more on communicating with those back in Canada than with those around us here in Tuis.


The GPS reads...

9 50 46.80 N 83 35 47.90 W

Check it out on Google Maps.


Twitter Talk

To those of you new to Twitter, check out the right hand side of this page.
Did you see 'em?
Those are short updates as to what's going on with us... We'll be using those to keep people updated when we don't have time to make a whole blog post, or when the internet is too sketchy to get a good enough connection to load our blog to post on it.

No need to apply to Twitter to reply to a 'tweet', simply reply in the comment section the usual way under a post.


It's time

To leave Manitoba :(
To go to Montreal :)
To leave Montreal :(
To go to Costa Rica :D

Yes! The whole month has past...
We've farmed
and visited
and raosted through +35degree weather
and quad'ed
and cabin'ed
and amazing raced..
We've visited in Winnipeg
and in Portage ;)
and in Winkler
and headed out to Elkhorn to celebrate our 2nd anniversary (early, I know, but I'm not too sure how much time we'll get to ourselves on Tuesday, our first day of Spanish class)
We've 80th birthday'ed
and drove through a snow storm
and 35th birthday'ed
and cottaged
and went to a weddin'
and cottaged again
and ate lots of pupkin pie
and retreated to the woods
and had great dinners, with great friends, and fantastic family.

And now this beautiful time has come to a close.
How wonderful these past few weeks have been!

Anyone up for a wave??? See you at the airport at 5:00!!


What's going on where

Yet another blog is up and running regarding CR updates. The TomCandiceandCostaRica blog will be dismantled soon as Costa Rica fully merges into our lives. Then, weekly updates to the church will be posted on a seperate blog ( leccostarica.blogspot.com) while the daily details will be posted here, on our regular ol' site.

K, got it? Lets summarize:

This blog
- most the good stuff and daily stuff and stuff for family and friends.
LEC Costa Rica blog - weekly updates for extended church family, supporters, and anyone else who's interested... Mostly for those that are most interested in the Mission's happenings and not so much in posts about "The BIGGEST Toad EVER" type material.
TomCandiceandCostaRica - will only be around for another week or so.

Question: I'm actually contemplating setting up a twitter account... I'm wondering if it may be easier to update people on what we are up to on a more regular basis if I used a smaller medium, like twitter... And sketchy internet connection won't disable all communication considering I may be able to twitter from our CR cell.
What do you think???


A love list.

It's interesting to note all the things that I love in my day-to-day life here in Montreal. For me, at least. So often when we were living abroad, we would note things that we loved about where we were living and working. So why not do the same while living here?

Here's my love list about days I go to the office.
  1. The commuter train. It's punctual, safe, clean, and warm. The seats are comfy and I'm able to get a half hour of work done on the way in, and then again on the way home. This makes for a much shorter day at the office. I love that I get to break up my workday and be paid for my commuting time.
  2. The rush of the metro when it comes out of the tunnel to pick up passengers. The wind, the sound, the blurry streak. It stops, and we all step forward. It kind of gives you a rush.
  3. Picking up a skinny Chai tea Lattes from the Second cup on the walk to the office.
  4. Walking up the steps of the building. I know the appreciation of this one will probably fade quicker than the others, but I still get a little rush out of "I'm going to work. I'm getting paid. As a professional. In a clinic that helps at risk pregnant women in Montreal."
  5. The francophone work place. Yes this has it's challenges, but it's amazing how much the language acquisition and survival skills I learned to use while in Spanish settings have translated into this French setting.
  6. Being productive during the day in a readily recognized, tangible way. Sometimes the hardest part about mission work was going to bed at the end of the day and not being able to place your finger on what exactly you did that day. Worked? Most definitely! But in a much different way than when you are working for an employer. During my days at the office (or working from home) it's nice to be able to point to something and say 'That. I did that today." I do miss many of the aspects of mission work, but this post is to focus on what I'm loving about what I'm doing right now.
  7. Chatting with Tom online. We're connected to each other pretty much all day via gmail chat... and I love it. It's so nice to get home at the end of the day and already have a good idea of how his day went.
  8. Heading home. No matter how well my day went, it's always nice to be homeward bound. I leave at 3:30 to catch the train, which gets me home in good time to get a homemade healthy supper on the go and tidy up before Tom gets home.
  9. Tom getting home. My heart still skips a beat when I hear his key in the door. No matter where in the world we are.
  10. Not having to always work in the evenings as well. This is the first time in, well, ever that I haven't had to study during the evening or run a dozen programs from our home throughout the week. We do participate in programs, and will be hosting a weekly one soon, but the higher-than-ever-before down time is so appreciated right now. But I'm sure that will come to an end before we know it!

Wordless Wednesday


Season of Change

Harvest has always been special to me.

As a little girl, I would play on the floor of the combine with a little dump-truck full of grain while my mom and I rounded the fields, and my dad drove the (real) truck. As the years past, so did life. Soon I was rounding the fields by myself. The long hours on the slow-moving combine were often spent contemplating the up-coming year. Harvest has always aligned with big changes.

I remember worrying for hours on end about starting grade 9, then grade 10, 11, and then 12. My graduating year! I still distinctly remember the harvest season right before I went off to university in Brandon... That was the first year I couldn't help to completion. The next years' combining hours were spent contemplating Winnipeg and the big bad University of Manitoba. Then I got got a summer job in the city, and no longer came home for the summer. Thankfully I had a boss that would grant time off when the weather was good and the harvest was ready.

Then, the harvest after I graduated from university, I rounded the fields in the combine for the last time as a Baker. Yet again harvest was upon us and big changes were on the horizon. I drove those hours dreaming of the up-coming wedding, and how life would be like in Montreal with Tom.

I also wondered if it would be my last time helping at harvest.

The following year we were unable to make it back.

But this year, we were here!
Back and better (two for one special).

But how ironic that changes are on the horizon... Thank goodness for those long hours on the combine to contemplate!


Blogger MB

Shall I meet some of you ladies tonight?!
What can I bring?!
What time are we gathering?!

And, to answer one of my biggest questions, can someone please e-mail me the address? ;)

Oh yeah, and are any other guys going?

!!!Can't wait to meet you!!!


Hot new farm hand.

And if I didn't know any better, I'd say he's thoroughly enjoying himself.


Manitoba Bound!

One half arived on Monday, the other half will fly on Friday.

We can hardly believe we are at this stage of 'the plan'!!!

Amazing! Emotional. Anxiety. Exciting! Life changes yet again.

The plan is to spend the next few weeks living here in Manitoba, not just visiting. For once we get to unpack, help out (with harvest!!), have un-rushed visits with friends and family, and get to see those we haven't been able to in previous visits due to brevity.

I love harvest. Brings back a flood of memories, and unfolds into some of the most picturesque scenery the prairies have to offer.



We sadly yet excitedly moved the last of our stuff out of our home. Before the weekend we sent out an e-mail plea for moving help, and a crew of people showed up! One word: Wow.

Although now homeless, we are far from lacking a place to stay. People are so generous! Not only with a room to crash, but with dinner on the table! Never before have we had so many dinner invites that we could actually accept! This whole 'no (absolutely obligatory, grades depend on it) university work' is great! Although I am lacking motivation to keep working on my project to try and mold it for publication. It just seems so daunting! And I'm soooo not up for another daunting task right now.

But, in a nutshell, last week as a huge week for us. Finished the degree, moved out of our apartment. This Tuesday is so drastically different than last Tuesday. And this will probably be the case for a few Tuesdays to come.


Welcome, Benjamin!

And THREE became FOUR!

A HhUuGgEe congratulations to Magda and Jason on their beautiful new baby boy, Benjamin; born yesterday, at 12:30pm, and weighing in just over 7lbs...

It was such a privilege being one of the first to know and to walk with you over the last 8.5months!! Congrats again, he is beautiful!!!!!
You two, three, four rock!


All I have to say is...






You may not have to hear about my university woes any longer.




A little perspective

My girlfriend M: "I'm sooo sorry, I can't make it to your defense on Thursday! I had to call and tell you right away."

Me: "That's okay. Why, what's up on Thursday?"

M: "My doctor scheduled my C-section for the morning. At 10:00! It's the exact same time as your presentation! I'm really sorry. This sucks because I also can't go to my friend's birthday party on Saturday. I tried to rebook for Monday, but my husband said Thursday is better considering Pat leaves start on Sundays."

So while I encroach on death Thursday morning, M will be giving birth.

I love it!

Me: "That is the best excuse I've ever heard!"

Now things are gettin' official!

"Welcome Back Everyone,

We will be holding an early Colloquium M.Sc. Applied Project Presentation on:

Thursday, August 27th, 10:00 a.m. in R2-045.

Candice Scatliff - M.Sc. Applied student

Supervised by Dr. Kristine Koski and Dr. Marilyn Scott

Candice is finishing her M.Sc. Applied degree this summer, therefore she needs to present before our regular Colloquium series begins. The abstract for her presentation is attached."

{Sent to everyone in the faculty...This is really happening!!! GASP!}

Tom's translation of the last section:
"Candice is finishing her M.Sc. Applied degree this summer so that she can go practice in the actual field and not pay any more student fees, therefore she needs to present before our regular Colloquium series begins."


It's hot, hOt, HOT!

humidex: 41 degrees

I'm not ready to go into acclimatization training this early!!


Part II

If you read the post "The Power of (Verbal) communication" you're ready for this.

If not, read *this*, and then the post below it.


A day for the history books.

*UPDATE below

Today, a few days early and with confidence, I marched over to the graduate department of the School of Dietetics and Human Nutrition, at McGill University in Montreal, and formally submitted the documents that make up the final third of my degree.


It is in.

And now it's time for a cocktail on a water-front patio in Ste-Anne's!!!

Then it will be time to get crackin' on the grand finale presentation.
To be reviewed Tuesday.... To be presented to the department and defended on 27th...

!!Also, everyone wish Tom *good luck* with his open-water exam for his Scuba Diver's license this weekend!!!


The momentous event was celebrated with nothing less than mac'n cheese with BBQed hot dogs for dinner, a walk down the boardwalk, and shared ice cream on the water front for dessert.

Yes, we live on the wild side.

Vote Rigging

Do you know how many computers I had to find, to rig the sidebar vote? And I still only managed a tie!

The power of (verbal) communication

It is a well-known and previously discussed point that I am the primary 'dishwasher-correspondent' in this household. I load it, I run it, I empty it. This is fact. It is also fact that I would never want to trade for one of Tom's man duties, such as having to install it, or clean the clogged lines.

I can whip those dishes out of there and another load back in and get the party started in a matter of 4 minutes. I've timed it. Four minutes would be the same time as a commercial break... Which would only really matter if we own a T.V... and T.V. channels. But I digress.

Where was I? Oh right: Day-to-day dishwasher duties: mine. Manly, gross,take-all-afternoon stuff: His.

So, being the primary dishwasher girl, I take pride in my job. I know what cycle works best for what dirty products I so decide to shove inside and balance these needs against my desire to save the planet and only use the minimum amount of energy possible. I also know how to pack things in just-so in order to have them fit, remembering which items are only allowed to go in the top rack... etc.

I take pride in my duties, I'll have you know.

Now, knowing all this background info, you can probably relate to my minor irritation that started to build a month or two after we moved into our new (second) apartment. You see, I'd happily unload, load, and then go to start the dishwaher just o find that ... GAH!.... "someone" changed the settings. Garg! I do not use the drying feature. In my cheap economical mind, the hot water will evaporate on it's own and there is no need to heat the apartment with the humidness from the dishwasher elemts drying the dishes. But no, no, no, I would find this feature to be turned to the "ON" position. AND, if that wasn't enough to kill me, 'Pots 'N Pans' would also be on. GASP!!!

I would, seriously, have to consciously move my thoughts from:
"Why does he do that! If he wants his way with the settings and how the dishes are done, why can't he tell me or, better yet, help!"


"Oh, that's nice, he's trying to help."

This went on for months. Honestly, months. It didn't happen everytime, just once every two weeks or so. Jsut often enough to remind me about it... And have it seep under the skin .

So, one day when Tom was with me in the kitchen and I went to set the dishwasher and saw it was set to Pots 'n Pans with the Dryer on, I let out one of those "now famous" sighs of mine.

C: "WHY do you do THAT?" (pointing)

T: "What?"

C: "I don't like using the dryer, it heats the apartment and wastes energy. I wipe the dishes when they come out, if needed. And, I seldom put pots or pans in there, it's a waste of a cycle so don't set it to that cycle. If you don't like how the dishwasher is set, and therefore the way I do the dishes, quit passive aggressively changing the settings, and actually tell me."

The look on Tom's face was evident; he had no idea the dishwasher had different settings. Or why I was looking at him with piercing squinted eyes.

T: "I don't touch that thing. Not unless you ask me to clean the line or something, otherwise I don't touch it."



So who in the world is changing my dishwasher settings and trying to "passive aggressively" kill me when my husband isn't home to defend himself ?

To Be Continued... HERE

Oh Leanon!

A while ago, hubby and I were hanging in the kitchen, waiting for water to boil for some diner concoction. We had virgin pineapple margaritas in hand, were talking about the day, and having fun. I leaned against the counter for support from laughter, and heard a faint...Click.

It was soft and barely noticeable.
And it probably wouldn't have been noticed, but considering we had this conversation a few days prior, silence fell over the kitchen. Tom and I looked at each other then at the dishwasher below the counter I just leaned against.

Smiles grew, and laughter brewed.

Yup, seems as though the culprit was me.

Lesson learned.




I like our life.


In Montreal.


I love it.

University, working from home, routine, community...

Ever growing church-family.

A place we really fit in.

Early mornings sending off my husband to work.

Heading to the couch to watch online news cast with coffee and breakfast in tote.

Working in my housecoat.

Lane swimming right across the street.

Car, English, family, friends.

High speed internet, affordable phone bill.

No international calls, bartering with garbage men, collecting used toilet paper in a trash can.

I like it.

It is our home.

But in two weeks, things turn up side down.


they have already started turning.

But I know I will like it then too.

But I know I will mourn the loss of routine, morning coffee on the couch, working in my housecoat, and not having to barter with the garbage man.

But I also know that these things are not the things that make life, life.

And we are not promised happiness, but given joyfulness if we follow the path we've been given.


"Minor Revisions"

In the words of Hes "BAHAHAHAHAHA"

I (finally!) received feedback on my project yesterday. Nearly a(n anxiety filled) week late but, in all honesty, I'm alright with the results. Okay, since I led off with "in all honesty" I guess I have to be honest: It went waaaaaay better than I expected!!!! Whoo-hooo!

I received an e-mail on Monday from one of the supers asking me to come to her office (gulp!) so we can discuss the 'minor revisions' that had to be made. I refrained from jumping-for-joy considering this came from the same proff who referred to writing a literature review as "a weekend activity'. Tiffany would probably agree; that must have been a joke.

So, I met with said visor yesterday, reviewed the (413,612) 'minor' revisions to be made. And yes, I agree, most are minor. I'm not so eager to agree with "...which should only take you a day to edit." Need I remind you, lady, that I am a peon graduate student, whereas you are a renowned doctor in your area of expertise? What you qualified as a 'weekend' activity, I took 2 weeks to pump out. I'm not so sure "1 day" with do the trick. Unless you are referring to 24 hours.

That said, we've agreed on setting MONDAY, AUGUST 17th, 2009 as the submission deadline for my last, ultimate, final, this-is-it, the-moment-I've-long-awaited submission day for my project. That's 5 days away. Double gulp.

But that day will go down in history, folks.

However, the very next day I am to meet with her again and show her a complete, fully drafted/put together & practiced PowerPoint presentation for my big kahuna presentation scheduled for AUGUST 27th, 2009; the day this whole graduate thing will come to a close. THAT day is 15 days away. Triple gulp.

BUT, the fun won't actually end on the 27th. Oh, nonono! it will drag on into late September. Yay! You see, all the while editing my project, making the powerpoint, and practicing/presenting my final graduate project, I am expected to be working on drafting up a manuscript for publication in a research journal.

Risky to juggle them all at once? Yes, I agree. The method to my madness: Get my graduation requirements out of the way and submitted ASAP (before the smiles on my visors' faces fade after returning from their vacation time) and let them think I'm working on the manuscript (while moving out of the apartment, packing for Manitoba/Costa Rica, presenting at the church, running a fundraiser, invigilating exams,...), and actually mostly leaving it to be September's problem.

Yay for dragging things out!!

BUT, it's all coming together people.
This is happening.
I can hardly believe it!!!

I'm so excited. I love this!

I (may) be a graduated graduate student in 15 days!!!!!


A 'real' eye-roll???

During deep diner discussion and new-camera test-driving we came across the following inconsistencies in North American culture. We've now decided to turned to our blog readers to settle the following... Please watch video and vote on the sidebar.

(apparently 'image stabilization' can only compensate for so much)

So, is an eye-glance-to-the-side a *real* eye-roll???


Shameless self-promotion... The Continued plea

Deadline error: Today, August 6th, 2009 is actually the cut-off. Lucky you!

I'm not delusional, I now I really don't stand much of a chance... But someone has to win! Right?

Today is the last day to vote. Please? Pretty please? Pretty please with a cherry on top???
It will take like, 3 minutes of your time.
Wouldn't it be fun if I did win, and it was because of you???


It's in!

By the grace of God, and the amazing support of my husband.

I. Met. The. Deadline.

Whoo, hoo! That was a *huge* 70 page paper. Lit review (thanks Tiffany!), project, tables, figures, conclusions, oh mine!!!

I actually sang "I am Free" (by the Newsboys) on my way home.

I should have about a week before the request for revisions come back. (D'hu!)

But until then... It's time to get this neglected apartment in order for my mom arriving *tonight*!! We're going to a fundraiser Luau on the beach, spending the weekend together, and taking up the sights and sounds of the big city and our small town.

It's back to work on Wednesday, but I'm going to enjoy the glorious weather and great company, until then!!!!


"In other news..."

"Seems as though the swine flu is still kicking and the recession is still taking it's toll."

"In other news, mac and cheese sales are through the roof!"

Totally unrelated, I'm sure.




We're ill.
We got the flu.
Not sure if we got THE flu, but we are whine-o's nonetheless.

Just thought I'd let you know.
I hope I don't have to let my supervisors know... if I have to explain why I didn't meet the deadline of a lifetime.

Shameless Self-Promotion... The "How-to"

Alright, here's how to donate the next five minutes of your life to supporting a great cause. Um, maybe that's a stretch, but it sure would be nice of you to do it anyways!!

Are you an AirMiles collector?

Are you interested in making someone's day?

Are you willing to take the next couple of minutes to vote for me?


1) Click here. (This will open a new window, so you can keep following this easy-peezy directions.)

2) Log in using your AirMiles number and PIN (your PIN was set up when you received your card. It's the same 4digit number you use when you phone AirMiles.)
If you're in, great!! SKIP TO STEP 3.
If you can't remember your PIN, follow these directions:

2) a) Can't remember your PIN? That's okay, click on the side "create my PIN"
2) b) And fill out this info.
Don't worry, you aren't providing more information than AirMiles already has. This info is just to ensure that you are, well, you.

2) c) Then click Here, and actually sign in.

3) Once you're in, click "Community" in the middle of the blue bar. Let me show you:

4) "Memories N' More" contest should be featured. Click "Vote Now"!

--> It may prompt you to become a Community member. No big deal!! This is easy (just sign up with a Screen Name, it will send an e-mail to you to 'activate your account', open your e-mail click on the link, an Viola!! It will bring you back.)

5) Go to page 3, by clicking on page 3. Here, let me show you where it is:

6) Click on "Maids of Honour"

7) Enjoy the story and click "I Like This" on the left side bar. It's right here:

And you're done making my my day!!!

!!!!THANK YOU!!!!!

Care to ask your mother, aunt, uncle, brother, sister, and neighbor to do the same???? lol


Shameless Self Promotion

Are you an AirMiles collector?

Are you interested in making someone's day?

Are you willing to take the next couple of minutes to vote for me?


Visit Airmiles.ca and log in with your AirMiles collector number (located on your card) and PIN number. Once logged in, click "Memories 'N More" contest and, although you may enjoy other entries...
vote for Lyla and my beautiful faces!!!


The top five entries, as voted on by collectors, will be entered into 'round two' of voting by a panel, and the winner gets 10,000!!!! We could use those!

So please, please, please take a few minutes for me?
And, if willing, contact your mother, sister, brother, co-worker, friend, and neighbor to do the same?

I will thank each of you in person if we win! ;)

Hopefully I will be able to provide better directions to get there very soon, just have to convince Tom to help me out a little with some screen captures...


Me Three

Stolen from Sonya and Tiffany


First the rules:

1. Respond and rework. Answer the questions on your blog. Replace one question that you dislike with a question of your invention, and add one more question of your own.

2. Tag other people.


Now the questions:

What are you wearing today?
P.J's. My fuzzy pink housecoat is an essential accessory.
I work from home (and love it!).

What's for dinner?
Ribs. At Tom's request. I'll be putting some tofu pieces along with them in the crock pot for me.

What relaxes you most?
My husband. Sappy, I know. It's just that any problem seems so much smaller when he's around. Maybe because he's capable of fixing anything.

If you could go anywhere in the world for the next hour, where would it be?
Watoto orphanage in Uganda, relieving a dedicated worker from her duties so she can have a break. Considering Tom's at work right now, I'd take MiL with me. She knows why.

What language do you want to learn?
Spanish, but boy howdy is learning a language challenging at times!

What do you love most about where you currently live?
That it's 'ours' in the sense that we built our marriage here.

What style is your current home decorated in?
Not sure what to call it... Beautiful Gifts from Wedding Guests Plus Stuff We Liked From Value Village.

What is your favorite color?
Pink, maybe?

What is your favorite piece of clothing in your own wardrobe?
A long brown sweater I found for $10
new, which is a bonus around this house. It was exactly what I was looking for in a 'Christmas shirt' this year.

What were you doing ten years ago?
July 1999. Hmmm....I was going into grade 10. I would have been working at Dauphin's SAAN store and cruising in my beloved first car:
The Road Runner.

What are you going to do after this?
Getting back to writing my project thesis. These kinds of things take a while. Apparently.

What are your favorite films?
Little Miss Sunshine, Armageddon (until I grew up), and Signs

What is your favorite book?

Do you collect anything?
Gaudy magnets from places we've been. Our fridge looks hilarious. I love it.

What makes you follow a blog?
Keeping in touch with people I know and/or entertain me or people I can learn from.

What was the most enjoyable thing you did today?
Made my husband a latte before work this morning. I love being able to do something special for him right before he heads out the door to provide for this family.

What makes you comment on a blog?
To encourage, send condolences, and just plain letting the blogger know someone's actually listening. Who likes posting blogs 'to a wall' ?

What is your favorite thing to do when you have free time?
take pictures, volunteer, and blog.

What is a talent you wished you had?
The ability to handle all the setting on the camera at once. I always forget about one or two until I get them onto the computer. Then all I see is that cranked up ISO.

Who is your favorite actor?
I have no idea.

Other than Blogger, Facebook, Twitter, etc. what are your most frequently visited websites? G-mail, pubmed, McGill's online library service,

What was your favorite subject in school?
Global health - mix of nutrition, water security, parasitology, midwifery, and development all in one.

As a child/teen how did you envision your adult life?
A husband, a house, and career where I'd have to dress up and my work would fly me places.
Thankfully I have moved from wanting to work for an organization that can do something good for me, to wanting to do something for a good organization.

How much time do you spend on your average blog post?
10-20 minutes. I suck at spelling, so I have to look things up or ask Tom.

If you could, would you want to control the weather?
Nah, someone would always be mad at me!

Tiffany's Question: If you could have any job/career you wanted, and money wasn't a factor, what would it be?
Health practitioner in a refugee camp.

Sonya's Question: What major event are you really looking forward to? The moments after my defense on August 27th!!!

Candice's Question: Will Lyla actually play along with us?

I'm tagging: you.


!!!!Happy Birthday Tom!!!!!

Today, the man of the house...

..is one year wiser!!!

Babe, I love you soooo much. And could post pictures and stories and mushy things about you all day...

But I don't want to make anyone puke

considering I'd have to talk and talk and talk

Because it would take a while

To express

how much

I love you

!Happy Birthday Babe!


Giveth and Taketh Away

Our kitties.

Two out of three were getting better. One was getting worse. Some sort of skin irritation was occurring and the one kept loosing more hair. It isn't surprising for foster parents to find extra health ailments in animals and I knew it was time I called the vet.

What I thought would maybe be an allergy or something, with an outcome of creams and ointments, would have been terrific news, in hindsight.

The kitties are gone.
For real.

Over the phone they were tentatively diagnosed with a skin condition... Transmittable (and easily treatable) to humans, but a real concern for cats. We were asked to bring them in for a diagnosis by the vet.

"So, after the tests I'll come pick them up and they'll stay with us again?" I asked over the phone.


"Candice... Treatment is very expensive... We just don't have the resources..."

Oh, no.

"Okay, so I'll take them to a different vet, and we'll take care of it. Is that okay?"

"I'm sorry, but treatment can take months, it's transmittable... And it's not pleasant for kittens to have. You'll have to bring in all three considering they have been in close contact with each other. I'm really sorry to have to tell you this."

I was shocked.

I felt like a traitor coaxing them into the cat carrier. Those three little tykes went in without a fuss (they were actually purring) knowing that I would never hurt them. Thinking that everything was going to be okay.

I picked up Tom from work, and we dropped them off together.




I'm not phased by having to disinfect our apartment (which my beautiful husband did, so I wouldn't have to find their toys and such), nor that I have, indeed, contracted it.

But I am phased by the fact that these little guys had such a short life, ended by a simple condition that we simply didn't have the resources for. I am phased by the fact that, besides our foster home, these guys have had no home. So please, please, think of these kitties with me, just for a moment? They will be at the SPCA for a few more hours, can you offer them your thoughts, have them mean something to a few people before they leave? They have meant something to me, but for such a short time. Maybe that can be rectified by having more people think about them???

I am reminded to rejoice in trials. I am honoured that God entrusted us with the few weeks of their lives. It's better to have loved and lost than never loved at all, and I'm really feeling this. When we reach out and attach ourselves to others, it increases the odds for heart break.

I am reminded that human infants die everyday from simple conditions, with known treatments, due to a lack of resources.

I am reminded that death is inevitable, and it is not our physical health that matters, but our spiritual health.

I am reminded that seemingly 'unfair' things happen, but all for a reason.

I am reminded that it's time to throw the taboo of talking about Jesus out the window, considering everyone around us will die at some point, and we won't always be given notice, allowing a few minutes in the car on the way over to ensure our loved one has accepted Christ as their saviour and offered their life to him (assurance they will go to heaven).

I am reminded that there are those around me that, if they died tomorrow, I would feel forever guilty of standing idly by, hoping my actions and indirect words would prove sufficient... and they would come to me and ask to be ministered to.

I am so thankful for this reminder, for these kittens, and for this trial.

Rest in Peace


Ask and you shall receive

I've often struggled with this:
How is it possible that we are more than willing to open our home to discarded cats, while hundreds of humans live on the street, women are battered, and children are in fear their own homes?
I feel sick that we live comfortable little lives, in our comfortable apartment, and not really willing to *really share* with those who need it. We share, sure, from afar. But we aren't willing to get as 'inconvenienced' with humans as we are with kittens.

Feeling this conviction, Tom and I have looked into refugee and immigration programs that hook up people new to Canada to those that can offer a short-term place to stay. To our amazement, there are no any such programs in Montreal.

We've gone to an information session on foster care (for actual children, not cats) and learned about the process and entailment of being foster parents, but considering we were leaving within 6 months at the time, we were on no real use to them either.

So we've continued taking in cats.

But now I've been reminded that God prepares you for things to come. He lays passions on your heart before you know why.

And sometimes, you don't need to go looking for opportunities... One may just knock on your door.


Cat Names

Okay, so the voting is over an we've had a stupid tie. So I'm squashing "democracy" and naming them myself.

Scabby McWierdSpots I, II, and III. I'm not really worried about which one is which.

Seriously, they all have this crazy, patchy, flaky, spottiness going on and all I see is kittens that I have to take care of for so long that they end up and jump-on-my-leg-and-try-to-climb-it-y and run-around-my-apartment-and-hide-y and big-and-ugl-y. A couple of things that currently bother me in this world: kittens and cyclists.

I wonder what Candice is going to think about me commandeering the blog to rant.