March 11, 2014

First of all, if you have helped me get to Brazil in any way, such as; letting me collect your recyclables, buying things from my fundraisers, or any thing else that you can think of… I can’t thank you enough! Brazil has been a blast already and today is only our second full day here! I can’t wait to see what will else will happen over the rest of this wonderful adventure.

The total travel time was somewhere around 17 hours. Which was kind of boring but at the same time, was also really fun! The first thought in my head while landing in Brazil was, “WOW!” Because the city that we landed in (São Paulo) is the largest city in the Southern Hemisphere!!

After ten hours in the São Paulo airport we finally made our way to São Luíz with one quick stop in Brasilia. It was a great feeling to know that this would be the last plane that we would be on before starting our wondrous adventure!

So far we’ve gone to a barbecue, toured the school, and had an orientation at Viamundo which is the travel agency that is helping with our trip.

Once again thank you (Obrigado) to all that have helped me over the past few months to get me where I am now. I can’t wait to update you more as the trip goes.









June 7, 2011

For anyone who has been following this blog over the past couple of years, you would be aware that D’Arcy has been taking his M.Ed and for the past two-and-a-half years, was writing a Thesis under the advisement of  Dr. Ottilia Chareka.  It started back on January 13th, 2009.   The thesis was part of our family – always there.  I mentioned it here and  here and here and here and here and here and here…  You get the picture!

I didn’t get a chance to update here much this winter or spring because life was so busy with my teaching and D’Arcy trying to get everything finished up.  One post I did take the time to make though, was on February 5th, the day after D’Arcy “defeated” his Thesis!

D’Arcy walked across the stage at graduation on May 1st, and while it was a day to celebrate D’Arcy’s accomplishment, it was bittersweet because Ottilia was missing.

Ottilia had been at our house on Monday, March 14th and delivered some papers to D’Arcy.  He printed the pages of his work to be bound on Tuesday night and took them, along with our four children, to her office at the university the following morning.  She wasn’t there, and a colleague took him aside while the kids stayed with a receptionist, and she told him shocking news.  Ottilia had died in hospital through the night and her husband was in police custody, charged with her murder.

I can’t imagine how D’Arcy kept himself together to drive home safely with the kids.

Ottilia was a beautiful woman and you couldn’t help but love her.  The photo in that last post is the only one we have of D’Arcy & Ottilia together, because I figured we’d get photos at the graduation celebration.  Ottilia was the type of woman who would ask D’Arcy to pass the phone over when they were finished talking work and then she would ask me how things were going.  At his Defense, she pointed out the fact that I was in the room and thanked me for giving her so much of my husband’s time.

The following is a short documentary film by Cara Jones, a Nova Scotian filmmaker, featuring Ottilia.  It gives you a glimpse into the woman she was and why she was so highly respected:

We celebrated Ottilia at D’Arcy’s graduation, as much as we celebrated him.  His was the first Thesis she had acted as an advisor on – other projects, but not a Thesis.  She was so proud of him!  We had a basket set up for donations to a fund set up for Ottilia’s five daughters and were pleased through the generosity of our family and friends in attendance to be able to contribute $1200.  We told a few stories about her and raised our glasses in a toast to her.  There were tears shed, and our children sang the song, “Happiness Is” which had been sung at the beginning of her memorial service.  D’Arcy is making sure that Ottilia’s daughters receive their mother’s copy of his & Ottilia’s work.

This week, we received the following email which was written by Ottilia’s oldest daughter:

“Three months ago our mother, Dr. Ottilia Chareka, passed away. 

Our lives have never been quite the same. However, we are so thankful to the hundreds and thousands of people who were there for us during a great time of need. We would like to thank the many people in Canada and those around the world who rallied behind us to send our mother back home to her native country of Zimbabwe. Our mother was buried in her rural homestead on April 4th, 2011. Her body was accompanied by her eldest daughter. 

We have received hundreds of cards and letters from around the world. There are also many wonderful instances of great generosity. There was a teenage girl who heard of our situation and gave up her entire pay cheque and had her Mum send it to us (but asked that she remain anonymous). A person we had never met contributed thousands of dollars. A person came up to us and said he didn’t have a lot of money but all he had was ten dollars and he wanted to give it to us. A senior citizen who heard of our story sent us grocery gift cards. 

Our mother’s alma mater, The University of New Brunswick held a Memorial Service for mum on April 20th, 2011 and many of her former class and work mates came together to share memories of mum. We are also so very thankful to Crandall University (formerly, Atlantic Baptist University) where mum once taught, and to Acadia University. 

The people of St. Francis Xavier University have continued to be a pillar of support. We are so thankful for what this institution has done, during what has been such a trying time. 

There are many other professors from several Universities  in Canada (and abroad) who have been in touch with us. Our mother was part of large academic family and we thank you for your thoughts and prayers. 

Our letters of thanks have been so very challenging to write because there have been so many acts of kindness. It is therefore, not possible to name everyone, but we want you all to know that we are so very appreciative. Collectively, you have allowed us to feel so very cared for. 

The people of our home province of Nova Scotia, did and continue to do so many great things for us. There were many fundraisers held for mum, including one done on Mother’s Day, and we are so very thankful to the many people who have donated to the Daughters of Ottilia Chareka Memorial Fund. Words can never relay the thanks in our heart. 

In regards to our mother’s passing, all we know, is that we grew up in a loving home as the daughters of two professors. We never imagined anything of this nature to occur and no one can ever truly explain it. However, we now have a wonderful, new home and we look beyond the horizons, to the future. We look to God and have faith in Him.  We look at each other and encourage ourselves to not let this stop us from becoming great, strong women.

Thank you, 

The Daughters of Ottilia Chareka”

The eulogy given at Dr. Ottilia Chareka’s funeral by her eldest daughter can be viewed here,   and the ending can be viewed here.

There is no doubt in my mind that they will, as she wished, remain great, strong women – just like she was – and Ottilia will live on in all those of us who had the great fortune of knowing her!


February 5, 2011

Last night was a milestone for our family that I some times thought would never happen!  D’Arcy defended his Thesis and has now completed all the requirements for his Masters of Education (Administration).


Forgive me my excitement, but he started this program back in 2006 when I was on bed-rest; pregnant with Olivia.

It feels like a lifetime ago.

(This program has encompassed almost a third of our marriage!)

To say I am proud of him is an understatement.

When he found out that yesterday was the date to defend, he asked if I would accompany him.  I immediately called my parents and they offered to take the kids to their house for a sleepover so that I could go.

The timing of yesterday wasn’t the best, as his students wrote their last exam on Monday and he had to turn in his end-of-semester marks on Tuesday.  Luckily, he had “storm days” when school was canceled on both Wednesday & Thursday so he was able to get some work done.  (Not so much on Wednesday when I still had school so he was home with the four kids!)  Nonetheless, he got his power point presentation designed and ready.

I taught yesterday morning, then left straight after class so that we could head to the University.  I drove while D’Arcy practiced and I have to admit, I was really nervous for him.  His presentation in the car was awful!

We got to the university with just under an hour until the time of his Defense.  We met up with his advisor and the dreaded APA woman.  (At the third reading of his Thesis, it was discovered that he had improperly cited some of his references, so he had to go back through his entire paper (123 pages) and fix all his references so the paper would not be considered to be plagiarized.  This involved getting copies of all the books, journals, etc. and going back through them all – hence the “dreaded APA woman”!)  It was the first time he had met her in person and she actually turned out to be very lovely and supportive!

Because the third reader and external reader were in Ontario, D’Arcy presented his Thesis through Elluminate.  There were eleven people present in total, either in the room or through the computer.

I was able to snap a photo with my phone before it started:

He began at 4:00 and spoke for 40 minutes about his work.  Then his advisors/readers/audience asked him questions for another hour-and-a-half.  (The presentation and the first 45 minutes of questioning were really interesting!)  It was enlightening for me to be in the room.  My husband is SMART.  Not that I didn’t know that, but listening to him talk to me and listening to him present in that situation – there’s a difference.  I hung onto every word.

Finally, his advisor shut the questioning down and told the audience to leave the room.  She looked at me and nodded; at that point I realized I was considered part of the audience.  When we all were outside the room, D’Arcy was speaking to some of the other faculty and I called the restaurant where we had 6:30 reservations to tell them we would be late.

Everyone else left, with the exception of his two advisors and the two readers on Elluminate.  We were invited back in and one of his advisors shook his hand and said, “Let me be the first to congratulate you for earning your Masters of Education!”  His other advisor went on to explain that there were very few changes needed; just some spelling/typographical errors.  “Very Minor”  we were told.

In fact, we learned that he had earned a “Category A” rating which is the highest rating you can get.  The written comment:

“This thesis is very well written.  The purpose of the study is clear and the research questions are clearly outlined.  The student did a great job using mixed methods and using appropriate statistical analysis tools.  The data analysis is complete and a comprehensive description of the findings is provided. Implications for the study and relevant further areas of research are provided.  Congratulations for a job well done!”

When it was over, D’Arcy called the kids to tell them it was over.  The best reaction was when Sarah asked, “So you mean you did it? You defeated your thesis?”

Yes Sarah, Daddy certainly did defeat his thesis!

We invited D’Arcy’s advisor to join us for a small celebration, but she declined, telling us to go out and enjoy our evening alone together; she wants to put a celebration on for D’Arcy at graduation.

I now am starting to plan the graduation party in the back of my mind.  It is so hard to imagine that this is finally over.  I started my Diploma in Adult Education last semester and expect to take at least two years to complete the program.  D’Arcy’s advisor made a comment about building on his thesis for his Doctorate and I was quick to tell her – not for quite some time! It’s my turn right now!

We went out for dinner to celebrate and had a wonderful time.  It was as if a weight had been lifted off our shoulders!

We’ve marked May 1st on our calendars!!  It’s going to be a big day!!

The Big Day is Here!

February 4, 2011

I can’t believe it, but the big day is here – D’Arcy is defending his Thesis this afternoon at four o’clock!!  Please keep him in your thoughts!  My parents are keeping the kids overnight and I’m leaving right after class to tag along for moral support.    Wahoo!!


October 2, 2010

We’re hitting a number of milestones around here – Evan’s in Junior High, Sarah started Primary, Olivia’s started Preschool, D’Arcy’s on the (hopefully) final edit of his Thesis…

I promised some photos recently and haven’t come through, so here are a few:

First Day of School, September 2010

The whole family is at school now - D'Arcy teaches Gr. 9 & 10 Science, Evan is in Grade 6, Alex is in Grade 4, Sarah is in Primary, Olivia goes to Preschool and Mom is teaching Tourism Management at the Community College

First time on the School Bus!

Olivia walking Evan to the Junior High bus on his first day!

She loved it!

Olivia, ready for her first day of Preschool!

Walking to preschool!

And this weekend, Sarah started riding her bike without training wheels:

Getting started

Almost there!

And she's off!

Is this thing on?

September 13, 2010

Hello?  Hello?

Is anybody still out there?

We’re getting settled into a school routine – Evan is in Junior High, Alex is in Grade 4, Sarah started Primary (sniff) and Olivia – starts Pre-School tomorrow!!

All has gone well so far and Olivia can’t wait.  I don’t have to be at class until 9:30 tomorrow morning, so I’ll be walking her to school!

I will make a point to check back in tomorrow with all the back-to-school photos!

School Girl

May 18, 2010

Yesterday, Sarah got to go to the school for Primary orientation.  How exciting!

She had received her invitation in the mail last week and had been carefully guarding it from her siblings.  She put on her prettiest princess dress for the occasion, even though I suggested that she might be over-dressed for her fire-hall tour with the preschool, immediately following! How could I argue with the logic that it was a very special day, so she needed to wear her special dress?!

We got to the school with all the other children – there are currently 70 children registered in the school for English Primary, and 18 in the French Immersion class.  She was put into group “1” of four with one of her best friends, Katerina, and with Kaylee and Ella, whom she knew from dance class.

At the first station, they listened to one of the Primary teachers read them a story and answer questions, the second was to play with play-dough (building fine motor skills), the third was following directions (print their name at the “top” of the paper, draw their favourite foods, then cut and glue some other pictures from the flyers), and the fourth station was identifying lower case letters with magnets.

Sarah & Katerina

At each station, they met a different teacher and were given a bag of goodies at the end.  The bag contained three books (one in French), construction paper, scissors, glue, crayons, a pencil, a container of play-dough and some magnetized upper & lower case letters & numbers.  Sarah was so excited by this, she has carried it everywhere and even slept with the bag last night!

We met some of the other children who will be in her class and know two-thirds of them already.  We were interested to learn that the class will be made up of an even split of boys and girls!  She will get a call in another couple of weeks with a time that she can go to school and spend the morning with the primaries while they are in class.

The hardest part now will be waiting for September for school to start!