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The Official UofA BScN Group Photo
This is sooo like, Rachel.
"Honey, can you do me a favor?" (It's an hour after Edmonton gave up Game 1 of the 2006 Stanley Cup Finals in a pitiful game that saw them squander a three to nothing lead and, potentially, lose their goalie to an injury. It's 15 minutes before she bolts off to her part-time job at the Norwood, a graveyard shift.) In other words, it's late and I'm not exactly feeling in a "giving" mood.
"I need to find a way to get the group photos that we took with your camera, to everyone in the after-degree program and some are on dial-up."
"Okay," I think to myself, wondering where my white steed might be corralled at this time of night, "I know the right answer to this question." We've been married for, what, is it five years already? I want to keep it that way. I mean, my plan is finally coming to fruition. Rachel has her degree in nursing (just about) and can take care of me, when I'm old.
"I could make a web page and let everyone download the photos, at a variety of resolutions," I offer.
"Oh, that would be great!" she says, practically dashing out the door. "And, could you do it sooner, rather than later? The photos were taken last Thursday."
(Photos expire after 4 days? I didnt' know that.)
Read on to see how the knight turns out ... or does Rachel file for divorce? ... (Oh yeah, continue on if you want to see/get the group photo, too!)
A Great Time to be in AlbertaFebruary 4th, 2006 · stk
Sunny Days: Winter has been nearly non-existent this year. Notice the relative lack of snow on the ground? It was windy and chilly today, despite the sunshine. The Oop is bundled up snugly, though her nose is red.
Little did we know that when we moved from British Columbia to Alberta, half-way through 2004, we were timing our arrival perfectly. At the time, we were just happy that Rachel had been accepted into the after-degree nursing programs at both UofC and UofA. We chose Edmonton and have been happy with the decision (though we sometimes wonder if living in Calagary - which is four times closer to the Canadian Rockies than Edmonton - would have been a better choice for us).
Regardless, we can't complain.
Housing prices are reasonable here, as measured by Vancouver standards. We're renting an entire 3-bedroom house, complete with a finished basement, detached garage and a large, fenced yard (with a swing-set for Alex), at a price only a little more that what we paid for a cold, dark, 1-bedroom, basement suite in the Vancouver suburb of New Westminster.
Sure, the first winter was a shock for a California transplanted boy and Vancouver-raised girl (and to think that the neighbors remarked, "Oh no, it was mild winter." Are they crazy?) The difficulty of our first winter was undoubtedly exacerbated by having a 1-year-old Alex at home, all day. Because she wasn't yet walking well, going out-of-doors in minus degree weather wasn't a real possibility, so we experienced a tad bit of 'cabin-fever', as the winter bore on.
Of course, summers are absolutely glorious here and while we were gone for all of July last year, we'll be staying here, this summer. Rachel will be doing a 'practicum' at a local hospital, her last requirement before graduation. We're both looking forward to the summer ... great weather ... no more classes, term papers or final exams ... yay!
Our good fortune in Alberta continued, as we realized that we qualified for a Provencial child-care subsidy. As a full-time student, Rachel is a pauper. As a brand new transplant from the United States, trying to get a home business going, Scott's income doesn't put us in a high tax bracket. We took advantage of the program and we're glad we did. Alex LOVES the social interaction she gets at "school" and Scott has shifted focus from being "Mr. Mom" to Mr. Handy-man and a fledgeling web-developer.
Our good timing was also evident, as we were here to for Alberta's Centennial celebrations, not that we really partook. On centennial day, we rode our bikes to Fort Edmonton Park, because they were having an 'open house'. We celebrated by reflecting on Edmonton's roots, dating back to the 1800's, when it was a fur trapping, trading post, run by the Hudson's Bay Company. We had a fun time (till the end) and even wrote a journal entry about it.
And our good timing became very evident last week. It marked the end of January. Winter has been non-existent this year and spring is right around the corner. Yahoo! Then, buried in our normal bills and advertisement junk mail, were checks from the Alberta Provincial governemnt for $1200.00. Wow!
Perhaps it should go into the Guinness Book of World Records for the most University credits awarded in the shortest time: six credits in an intensive three weeks. Can anyone beat that?
The class was Nursing 309: "Mental Health Nursing", an 'intersession' class for the 'after-degree' program at the University of Alberta. There were some 70 students enrolled and for three weeks in May, after a brief 5-day break following their second term, these nurses-in-training lived and breathed the fundementals of psychology. Is that crazy or what? (ha ha ... get it? crazy?)
Rachel doesn't like it when I post too much information about the results of her coursework, but because she did so well in the class, I can't help but be proud of the fact that she nailed an "A" in the class and brag about it a bit. Way to go, Rachel!
Having a nursing student for a wife comes in handy when we're watching "ER" on television, because it's nice to get the skinny on all the procedures and drugs that they're using. She could probably join the cast and fit right in, now that she knows what is going on. Of course, now thathas left the show, her incentive for moving to Hollywood has waned. Whew! One less thing for Scott to worry about!
Rachel sat down to her fourth, and last, final examination at 9AM this morning. She's one hour into the three-hour Pharmacology exam. In just under two hours, she'll have completed the 2nd term (of 6 terms total), for the UofA after-degree nursing program. She will, no doubt, be relieved it's over, second-guess her exam responses and bite her nails till the final grades are posted. Regardless of the marks, this term has been very busy and every one of the 70 or so post-grad students will agree that it was a tough go (families or not).
Rachel has only 5 days off, before she turns around and starts the very next term. And to toss a bit of salt into the wound, the very next term begins with an intensive, 3-week, 6-credit condensed course. I cannot recite all of the details now, but in that three weeks, they'll be plenty to do, a couple of mid-terms, a term paper, final exam and nearly a chapter per day of reading - 666 pages total. Yuck.
I'm proud of Rachel. Not only for getting very good grades, sitting well in the top third of her class, but also for taking care of two babies at home (the Oop, whom you've met, and her dad - the much bigger baby). Time managing full-time University work is difficult by itself, but to do it with a family makes it nearly insane. Great job, baby! Enjoy your break! (We're going out to dinner TONIGHT!)
Finally, spring has sprung! It's raining today (sleeting, actually), but the past 5 or so days have just been beautiful. Glorious sunshine, warm(ish) temperatures and a snow-free ground to walk upon. We are happy.
It's been a great relief, to take Alex out-of-doors. She knows what 'going outside' means. She toddles down the steps (crawling backwards down them still) and into the mud room. She makes a valiant attempt to don her jacket or sweater and now knows to put on her 'sun hat'). Once outside, she heads down to the swing set, hoping that we get the hint and give her a push or two. Maybe a ride down the plastic slide, which has rapidly become one of her favorite 'thrills'! She'll climb on the glider and can even manage to get it rocking by herself. When she's not swinging, she's exploring. The problem with this is that she has no fear of anything and is more willing to expand her horizons than Mom & Dad are comfortable with. Combine this curiosity with a backyard that isn't fenced, too many cars going by, driven by people that are 5 minutes late for their very important date and you have the makings of a disaster.
So, Scott built a knee-high knocker fence that spans the width of the driveway. It's short enough for adults to step over, but tall enough to keep Alex confined to the backyard. Because we're in a rental home, we weren't too keen on dumping a pile of cash into the solution, so we ended up
stealing liberating some wood pallets (though I mock, they were, indeed, destined for the trash). Busted apart and with the nails removed, the pallets provided the raw materials. Scott designed it with a pull-out section, so we can get the lawn mower and other large objects through.
Thus, the very first spring project: "The Oop Containment Field", has been completed.
That's where we've been for the past few days ... outside, enjoying the sunshine and the warmth. We've thatched the back yard (getting 10-12 large trash-bags full of dead grass ... amazing). Built the fence (and painted it white). Pushed Alex about a million times on the swing and sent her down the slide, screaming with glee. Scott even managed to fly the $1 plastic helicopter a few times, before (idiot pilot that he is) crashed the thing into an electrical wire, breaking off a rotor. Until that time, Alex had great fun watching it fly and retrieving it. (Repairs have been attempted, but it is doubtful the thing will fly right again). We've raked up the garden, dusted off the deck chairs, had two BBQ dinners and gulped plenty of fresh air.
Ah... FINALLY, one of the mildest winters in Edmonton (but still the worst winter either of us have EVER experienced) is over! "You hear that snow? Stay AWAY!" we say.
Rachel even managed to avoid massive amounts of studying and joined in the family fun. This is her last week of classes and final exams are just around the corner. She's already bemoaning the effort that will be required over the next couple of weeks and the fact that she'll have only 5 days off before the madness begins again.
Unfortunately, during the building of the containment field, Scott (the old bugger that he is) managed to hurt his right knee. Probably nothing that time won't heal, but he's hobbling about, downing ibuprofen like candy and constantly complaining of pain. (Rachel can't wait for his knee to get better, as she is tired of him using it as an excuse to get out of tasks that involve kneeling - like diapering the Oop, bathing the Oop, putting the Oop's toys away.) Scott's worried that this acute knee pain just might become a chronic problem. ha ha