Mid-Block Update…and Hello Spring!

Spring is finally here and it’s been a fantastic weekend enjoying the outdoors and spending time with the family. This afternoon, the kids and I spent about 2 hours outside attempting to tidy up the lawn now that most of the snow has melted. The miracle of Spring never fails to amaze me as I witness new bright green buds bursting their way through the ground with utmost determination. It is so refreshing! I also love hearing the sound of the Canadian Geese making their much welcomed return back home.

I am about half-way through the next block of medical school. This block is aptly titled “Defense” as we are learning all about the Immune system. I have to say that this has been one of the most enjoyable blocks of medical school so far. It is complex but simultaneously fascinating. There has also been a significant emphasis on differential diagnosis in this block where we act as medical detectives trying to decipher what could be the diagnosis of a patient’s symptoms. I’ll be wrapping up my Longitudinal Family Medicine Experience next week and I can’t believe I have had the opportunity to see over 100 patients over the past few months of medical school. I have learned so much and benefited greatly from a positive learning environment.

As the weather continues to warm up and we move into a new season, I am so thankful for my family, the people around me, the strength that God gives me daily and the wonderful opportunity to be studying medicine.

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This was the last big snowfall of the season (view from my daughter’s bedroom)
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The kids are super excited that Spring is finally here! We can finally go on the deck!

 

Glorious Sunset

One of the things I love most about where we live is getting to experience beautiful sunsets, particularly after fresh snow has fallen and the pink-purple rays of the sun cast a magnificent contrast to the gleaming white flakes of snow. I took these pictures from our dining room last night as my family and I settled down to eat supper, thankful that we live in a safe and beautiful neighborhood where my children are thriving.

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Glittering Sun, Family Love and the End of Exams!

As I type this, the setting sun is gleaming off the ice and snow that covers the grass in our backyard. I love to write at our dining table because of the beautiful view that I get to experience. My daughter is sitting to my right, testing out a box of markers to make sure each pen is still working well and up to her standards. Every so often, she proudly points to her artwork which at this point mostly consists of multi-colored doodles.

This week was an intense exam week consisting of Anatomy lab exam, Digestion/ Metabolism Final exam and the Reflective exam (which covers clinical material since the beginning of medical school). I found this block to be one of the most intense so far. Despite the challenging exams, the week ended on a great note with a fun patient simulation activity and then dinner with the Dean of Medicine. I was really impressed that the Faculty made time to meet with us in groups over the past few months and that the Dean talked to each of us individually to find out more about us. When asked what he considers to be the features of a good doctor, his words stuck with me….”listen, be kind and be humble”.

Now that this set of exams are over and we are on Spring break, I got to spend a beautiful simple day with my daughter. We did silly things like dancing around the dining room to her favorite music. I love how she would look at me with her big brown eyes and giggle as she tried to copy my dance moves. My son spent the week with his grandmother in the Laurentians since his school was on Spring break and I was having exams. It was the first time he has ever been away from us overnight and it went very well. He had a blast with his granny. I really missed him though and look forward to seeing him  when we drive up to the Laurentians for the weekend.

Today, I had the chance to reflect on the wonderful blessings in my life, especially my husband and children. My husband came home early from work today and surprised me with beautiful flowers. A few weeks ago my son presented me with some of his artwork depicting our family and it really moved my heart to see his perception of us. Sometimes in the busyness of life, we can forget how much we as parents mean to our children and how important we are to them. I love being a mother and wife, and despite the demands of medical school, I am so happy to be learning so much and that I have been given the incredible opportunity to do this. I look forward to the next block after the Spring break!

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Beautiful surprise flowers from hubby!
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My 5 year old’s drawing of our family (including our black dog!)

 

All Aboard the Winter Express

This evening, after my husband arrived home from work, he found the kids and I on our way out, ready to get to work on a snowman after it had snowed all day. It’s interesting how my affection for winter has steadily grown ever since we had our children. Their sheer delight at frolicking in snowdrifts has gotten me out of my winter hibernation mode and much more willing to be outdoors during the cold season.

This evening was simply beautiful. It turns out that the snow was not quite the right consistency to make a snowman (according to my husband anyway. I, the African girl, would not know the difference!). We still made the most of our time outside. I attempted to walk through knee deep snow around our backyard tugging my children behind me on a sled. “All aboard!” I would shout every time I was ready to take off on another tour around our house, as the kids scrambled to get on to the sled. It’s days like this that I am especially grateful for where we live. Our home has seen so many special memories.

As my son and husband began rolling around in the snow, my daughter perched herself on a snow-mound at a safe distance observing with keen interest the scene unfolding before her. I noticed the empty sled discarded on the snowbank and spontaneously decided to lay down on it with my face upwards to the sky. The snow was still gently falling. It felt fresh as it tickled my cheeks. I looked over towards my husband and joked, “Look, I’m ‘snow-bathing'” before I closed my eyes, listening to my children’s giggles float through the winter air.

 

Fall Fun…A Visit to the Pumpkin Patch

One of the things I love about the Fall season? Pumpkins!

There’s so much you can do with pumpkins, from carving funny faces in them, to making pumpkin pie to baking the seeds for a crunchy snack. Today, we visited a pumpkin patch at a nearby farm and there was plenty of fun for kids and adults alike. We went on a tractor ride, frolicked through row upon row of pumpkins, played hide-and-seek in a cornstalk maze, visited farm animals and devoured delicious freshly baked pumpkin muffins! The weather was warmer than usual for October, the perfect temperature for an afternoon outing!

 

Month 2 of Medical School…and the Beauty of Fall

I am now well into my second month of medical school. I am happy to have passed my first exam and am about half-way through the second block which covers the topic of respiration. I have really enjoyed my anatomy and histology labs and find that this ties in nicely to the lecture material which explains the physiology and disease processes affecting the respiratory system. Although there is a mountain of information to learn, I am enjoying medical school and I am so grateful to have been given this opportunity!

This past weekend was a beautiful relaxed one as my family and I spent many hours in nature enjoying the splendor of the Fall colors. The children loved exploring the woods not far from our house, picking up different types of leaves and pine needles, and observing different kinds of mushrooms.  After long, busy days at school, I feel so blessed for the time I get to spend with my husband and children. It is so precious!

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Beautiful Fall colors against the backdrop of a crystal clear blue sky
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Brother-sister love!
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Little Miss Sunshine
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Our cutie-pies sitting on a tree-stump that they discovered in the woods
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Daddy and the munchkins!
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I love the lighting in this photo!
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Taking a break from our walk
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I love being by the waterside!
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Beautiful turkey tail mushrooms flanked by a striking red maple leaf

 

 

Delicious, Nutritious Fruity Smoothie

I recently discovered this delicious, nutritious smoothie recipe with mango, banana pineapple, avocado and spinach.

How to prepare

Simply blend together 0.5-1 cup water, 1/2 banana, 1 cup roughly chopped mango, 1 cup roughly chopped pineapple, 1 avocado and 2-3 cups baby spinach.

What I love about this recipe

  • Packed with nutrients
  • Full of flavor
  • A great way to use up spinach that would normally be lying neglected at the bottom of the fridge
  • A hit with the whole family and a good way to include  healthy fruits and vegetables in the kids’ diet

Suggestions/Modifications

  • If you are not too keen on banana, I would reduce the amount or even eliminate it altogether because even just half a banana can overwhelm the other flavors in the smoothie
  • If you don’t have time to chop up all the fruits, try using pre-chopped frozen fruits instead (lightly thaw before blending)
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Ready to drink!
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My testers….this smoothie is “kid approved”