Thursday, July 12, 2007

Scenes of Life

These are busy and momentous days around our house. But with so many things going on, it's been hard to settle on a good theme for it all. So this will be a "bitty" blog, to use a good north-east of England term.

We recently spent a weekend in the lovely west coast village of St. Bees with a couple of other families. Lars and Claire were amazing hosts and seemed completely unfazed by 10 people coming to stay with them! Lars is the local vicar and lives in an amazing house next to the church. Good food, good friends, my first chance to try my hand at playing with a Wii (Crystal punched my lights out in the boxing game!), games, a walk on the beach, and amazing seaside scenery. Just the thing to keep me from worrying about my viva!

Ellie's best friend is Avi, the one year-old daughter of our friends Joel and Teresa. They will be moving back to Canada soon, but before that, they will be living in our neighborhood for a month. So Ellie gets to spend a lot of time playing with Avi.

Ellie enjoys being "a big girl" compared with "baby Avi" (although Ellie also insists on being "baby Ellie" at times). She enjoys helping Avi try new things. Now Ellie, what exactly did you put in Avi's mouth??


Ellie and Avi have lots of adventures together. One morning while Crystal was keeping both girls, they needed to go into town. But what is one to do when there is no double push-chair (aka "stroller")? No problem if you're as creative as Crystal and fun-loving as Ellie!

Avi also enjoys being the big girls sometimes. While we were in St. Bees she did her first serious walking so she decided she could handle pushing Ellie around for a change.

All of this fun has been nice for lightening the mood when the pressure of finishing up my PhD has grown too intense. Crystal took a picture as I set off for the big defense, Bible and thesis in hand. Do I look nervous???

Fortunately, there was nothing to worry about. Crystal likes to point out that my worrying is excessive and that the worrying is worse than the actual thing. I counter that if I didn't worry so much then the worrying might not be the worst part! In any case, I have a very short list of changes that need to be made to the thesis to satisfy my examiners, which is a great outcome.


Ok, I'm running out of stories to go with the pictures, so let's just file these in the "Isn't Ellie the Cutest Thing?" folder.

Finally, we finally captured one of Ellie's favorite games on video. See the big gray ball in the background? How can one resist her charm when she looks at you like this and says, "Bounce big ball!" Click on the video below to see what she means.

Friday, July 06, 2007


Thanks for all of the thoughts, prayers, emails, and encouragement -- it's over with a happy conclusion! I had my viva this afternoon and passed with only the requirement that I make very minimal changes to my thesis. This is basically the best outcome that can happen. (Almost no one gets by with no changes. There's always at least one typo!) They thought I could make the required changes with white-out and a pen with an hour's work, but I somehow think I'll print it out again.

The examination was a good experience. The examiners were friendly but challenging, pressing me on points they didn't agree with, but satisfied with my responses. They said I "viva'ed" well.

We also talked about how my work might be developed into a book. On that front there were many more comments about things they thought could be improved. But for the Ph.D. it was deemed "Plenty Good Enough" (my paraphrase)!

My special thanks, as always, go to Crystal, who has supported me through so many different things. And today was the sacrifice of sharing our fifth wedding anniversary with the biggest exam of my life!