Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Christmas begins tomorrow

This year I had my own usual personal deadlines for November 30th: finish Christmas cards and chocolates. Done. (Tis the season for burning the candle at both ends.)

Then there was the additional deadline for BYU early-consideration application (tomorrow, technically). Also done - not that I did much besides obsess over whether they'd receive Jaclyn's high school transcripts in time, or at all. We sent them priority mail, which is track-able and darn if those documents didn't sit in a post office somewhere for ten days after they crossed the border and before they were delivered. What was with that? Though the greater headache was the international applicant requirement to provide official bank statements showing an account holding $20,000 cash in U.S. funds. I'm pretty sure that was an American government requirement, not something unique to BYU. I guess they don't want anyone to enter the country on a student visa, only to stay and not have the money for college. Still. How many of you have a bank account with a balance over $20,000? Neither did we - and they didn't want to see mutual funds or anything like that. Cash only, please.

Speaking of money, I've been spending plenty of it and not on Christmas shopping. Carmen got braces. We bought Steven a new snowboard (Technically a Christmas present, but early. And don't worry about us, we're very good about holding strong and not buying more when Christmas gets closer.) Then I took my DSLR camera in to get fixed, and since that's going to take 6-8 weeks I walked out with a new point & shoot camera, which is counting as my birthday present.

But tomorrow is December 1st, the beginning of family fun and traditions. Good night, November.

Saturday, 20 November 2010

Coach's Award

" . . . as voted on by all the coaches. This player demonstrates commitment, a positive attitude, and is hard working. He stands out in dedication and athleticism. Basically if we could have 40 of any one player who would it be?"

Congratulations Steven!

About a month ago Steven gave a talk in Sacrament Meeting on the subject of patience. He referred to the April 2010 conference talk by Elder Uchtdorf: 

"I learned that patience was far more than simply waiting for something to happen—patience required actively working toward worthwhile goals and not getting discouraged when results didn’t appear instantly or without effort. There is an important concept here: patience is not passive resignation, nor is it failing to act because of our fears. Patience means active waiting and enduring. It means staying with something and doing all that we can—working, hoping, and exercising faith; bearing hardship with fortitude, even when the desires of our hearts are delayed. Patience is not simply enduring; it is enduring well!"
Steven shared his experience as a first year bantam football player (in 2009) and the active patience it required to be in the youngest age group on the team, second string, but how the payoff came this season where he had the opportunity to play almost every minute of every game.

I think Steven earned this award from his first practise that first year of Bantam. Nice work Steve.

Sunday, 14 November 2010

Seven on Sunday

First of all: I'm too old to sit in the back of stake conference with all the small children and hard chairs. It's time to get there an hour early to save seats with the other old people.

Second of all: There's nothing like getting recognized multiple times for the same thing. Steven earned his Chief Scout Award back in February and was recognized at a ward ceremony. Yesterday was the city ceremony for all recipients in the past year. (I made Steven do a self-portrait with me.) Coming up our ward is having a Youth in Excellence - the YW president decided to extend YW's in Excellence to the YM's as well - and guess what Steven is going to display? His scout shirt and sash of course. But he's not going to wear them because as he said, yesterday was the last day he's ever wearing his scout shirt again. (At least in this size - ha!)

Third: I had a great birthday this year and it didn't get blogged about because no pictures and pictures drive my blogging. But to summarize: Ken and I went up to Banff for one night just us. We left the kids behind by themselves and they survived. We more than survived in a world class resort 2 hours from home - why we don't go more often is beyond me!

Fourth: Nothing will ever top our Remembrance Day 2008, but I still like what we did this year. I bought tickets to a play,  In Flanders Fields, at Lunchbox Theatre downtown. It was the story of John McCrae, the author of the famous poem and his lifelong love of writing poetry, the reason he became a doctor, and his desire to be of the greatest service possible during WWI. It was touching. Jaclyn appreciated how well written it was. Steven appreciated the quality of the acting - there were only 3 actors playing multiple parts. The actor for John had to play his character as a child, a young man, and a more mature man. The other actors played multiple parts of parents, siblings, friends, and fellow soldiers. It was well done, impressive really, because as a one act play it didn't allow for elaborate costume changes. The change in the acting itself indicated the change in character as much as anything else. (A bonus: I found the perfect parking spot downtown. Score!)

Fifth: Jaclyn was telling me earlier about a study done by BYU that the single best predictor of success in college is to form or join a study group. I can see that this is true in Jaclyn's high school experience. She and some of the other students at her level have created a culture of collaboration rather than competition and the result has been exceptional grades for everyone. It also reminds me of a TEDtalk I watched recently:

(This guy has a book on this subject - I've placed it on hold at the library and I can't wait to read it.)

Sixth: I spoke up at parent council this week about my opinion on using gaming money. It went well; people were respectful and appreciative. The interesting thing is the more I talk about it (and write about it now, I'm sure) the stronger I feel. I think it's wrong to profit off the addictions of others. The reality is that households with a family income below $20,000/year are twice as likely to be impacted by a gambling addiction as households with a family income over $80,000/year. And which schools are most likely to benefit from grants through Alberta Lotteries or pull together enough volunteers to man a casino as a fundraiser? Why, the schools situated in wealthier neighbourhoods. A school in a poor area has trouble forming a parent council at all and doesn't tend to benefit from gaming money. So it's First World exploiting Third World, only on a local level. And don't even get me started on the way gambling destroys families. Anyhow, I managed to be well spoken and it was something that needed to be said.

Seventh: infection control procedure is changing for health care workers in Alberta. There's new law. My office has been at the cutting edge in this area, so the impact should be relatively small for us, but this is going to mean big changes for other dentists. Costly changes. So expect rates to go up people. Personally, the first thing I did when I comprehended what the new guidelines law meant was to book Carmen's braces. Hopefully we'll make our financial arrangement on the old fee schedule, not the new/near future fee schedule.

Monday, 8 November 2010

I Hate Cancer


I'll never forget just about 19 years ago sitting in the kitchen of our apartment on 99th St. and 90th Ave. in Edmonton when Ken got off the phone with the news that his sister had cancer. It was a shock, to say the least. She was (what were you Christy?) like 22 years old, had her first baby only months earlier - not the usual demographic. It was a melanoma in her eye, and the best advice was to remove the eye, and with it, the cancer.

On medical advice Christy and Bruce delayed growing their family for a bit while doctors followed up with blood tests and cancer screens, but eventually Christy was pronounced clear and more babies came.

The artificial eye is so good. I mean, it looks real, it moves like it's real - it doesn't provide any vision, but I forget it's there all the time.

A little over two years ago lesions were found in Christy's abdomen. She went in for surgery, which ended up being purely exploratory, and since then the doctors have scanned and watched and waited for change. And like the eye I mostly didn't notice or think about it because Christy isn't sick. But the most recent scan showed tumour multiplication and growth, so now it is time to fight. Christy went in for a consultation a week ago and wound up staying for chemo that very day (so much for the slow socialist health care and long waiting periods for treatment - not in this case anyway). But we know chemotherapy doesn't really work on melanoma, and that's what this is: a metastasis from 19 years ago.

And it's just as shocking as it was the first time.

This week Christy is essentially quarantined at home (if she's being a good girl) while her white blood cells fall and then regenerate following the chemotherapy, which in other circumstances would sound pretty great to lock yourself up at home and actually get something done for a change (speaking for myself here). Once she flushes the chemo meds out of her system it's on to investigatory medications / drug trials, which for some people are having very good, excellent even, results. Our prayers are that Christy will be another patient with success in these trials ("medical" is where I was going with that - she's already a spiriual/emotional/example success of trials in general).

I feel a little silly blogging about this since she hasn't blogged about it herself. But this blog is about what matters to me, and Christy does.