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This update has been hanging over my head for a month, waiting to be written. I know a lot of you already know this turn of events, but I wanted to update those who hadn’t heard. Unfortunately, Gabriel failed two of his final exams this spring. This means he did not graduate as a vet and will not be able to work as a vet until he passes those exams.

This felt like a major glitch in his professional life when it happened in May. He’d worked so hard for so long only to be told he couldn’t finish yet. We decided to carry on as planned to move back to Ontario in June, since we had already bought plane tickets, living expenses are so much less there, and we were really, really sick of Dublin and UCD. (The former doesn’t deserve our feelings. The latter could go somewhere dark and smelly forever and we wouldn’t cry, as long as it’s after Gabriel graduates.)

He’s currently back in Dublin for the month of July, redoing rotations in the modules that he failed. He’ll then return to Ontario and work as a vet tech at the clinic where he had signed on this past winter. In November, he’ll retake the exams.

A lot of people have asked how he could fail finals when he passed everything up until now. We aren’t really sure. Several things play into it. His studies suffered on account of his family, we know that. He expected to be able to bluff khis way through any knowledge gaps he might have had, and that didn’t work on the oral exams he failed.  He felt he was well prepared going into it, but obviously he missed some things. Of course we’d like to say the oral exams were subjective (he knows he wasn’t in the bottom of the class academically), but we know there’s no use pointing fingers now. He’s bending over backwards to please these people and learn what he needs to know to pass in November.

Another frequent question has been why retake the exams in November? Why not take them while he’s there in July? That would be the logical thing to do, and any other year he would have, but this year the school changed its policy to allow retakes only in November and May. It sucks, but there’s no changing it. He went to the dean of the vet college and literally begged (Do you realize what this means for me financially to lose a vet’s pay for another three months and pay for another airline ticket across the ocean? As a husband and father to be gone another two-three weeks?). But she couldn’t or wouldn’t do anything to change it, although she assured him how sorry she was.

His first day of remediation was yesterday. He said he did a lot of running around doing other people’s dirty work, and nothing related to the subject he failed (small animal clinical exams). Wouldn’t that be disheartening? You can pray for him when you think of us. Also, you can pray for the five other students who failed final exams. Some of them also had jobs lined up, and not all of them have the immense support system Gabriel does (God, family, solid friends to lean on).

It’s a bitter disappointment, yes it is. I don’t recall the last time I prayed so fervently for something to change and God so directly said, “No.” This summer it looks like the only thing to do is to keep my hand in God’s and watch to see how he redeems this situation.




I made him pose on his way out the door this morning. (The exam today was a mock consultation of a small animal, which requires formal dress.) That’s a relieved, ecstatic, over-the-moon grin. Two more exams tomorrow, and then he’s done, Lord willing.

Then it’ll be the weekend with no exams, no studying, no school. Maybe we’ll get pizza delivered and play the Farming Game. I mean anything could happen!

Hi! I haven’t let you know what’s happening in our lives for a long time, so here’s a post to fill you in.

We went to Ontario for part of the winter. Gabriel had a big chunk of time off rotations at school which he was supposed to use for externships (following vets around and learning from them), so he did those in Canada. He was able to land a job starting in July in his hometown with the local vet clinic. That is a HUGE blessing. He’ll be a large animal vet, spending most of his time on farms. It’s pretty much his dream job in every way. Now the last hurdle is to pass all of his exams so he can qualify for that veterinary license. (It feels surreal that we’re even talking about these things.)

He finished rotations last week and is now studying for exams. They end in the middle of May, and after that we’ll spend about a month around here packing, tying up loose ends, selling off our things, etc. I admit to a great deal of reluctance about all of that. I’m going to miss our house, our neighborhood, and our church very much.

I joined a writer’s group this winter. It’s good fun, but it’s highlighting  my procrastinating habits. I’ve also done quite a bit of manuscript editing since the first of the year.

Bronwyn is almost three (how? did that happen?). Her imagination is off the charts most days. Give her a pair of fancy shoes, a stick, and a snack, and she’ll spend a happy half hour in the back garden, humming to herself and talking to her friend Baza (who is also turning three on May 18, or sometimes May 16, and is usually her friend but sometimes her sister or her daughter).

Gregory, at one and a half years old, is a joy. He loves his daddy and will take him over me anytime. He’s starting to repeat words a lot. He has four upper teeth and three lower teeth, and the other day I noticed that two upper molars are starting to come in. His favorite activity is turning light switches on and off and breaking my glasses.

Speaking of glasses, Gabriel and I both had laser eye surgery done in the last month or two. Due to snagging price discounts, we decided to do it now instead of waiting until he was out of school like we had planned.  Neither of us are seeing totally clearly yet; we’re told that it can take a few months to clear up. Even so, we can hardly believe that we don’t need glasses or contacts to drive or do everyday tasks.

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This was diaper cream and toilet paper, and yes, the oldest one undoubtedly knew better.

Speaking of messes, a few days later Greg shattered a glass bottle of maple syrup onto the floor.

A day or two later, Gabriel wondered why Gregory “smells like a young man.” Earlier, I had heard Bronwyn upstairs saying, “There, now you’re all clean.” When I came upstairs, the smell hit me like a wall. She’d found a bottle of Axe shower gel and was “cleaning” her brother by loading his hair with it. (Maybe it helped get the diaper cream out of his hair.)

DSC_0002Gregory crushed his thumb about two weeks ago. A little kid at Bible study playfully picked up a rock about the size of a football and dropped it on Greg’s hand. He cried and cried–it was pitiful. The nail dropped off today, but the thumb is still swollen and misshapen. I’m a little worried that it’ll never look normal. I guess worse things have happened to toddlers.



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Bronwyn has discovered the joy of hanging up laundry. She can also fold washcloths and handkerchiefs, and she does a decent job too.


Up on Ticknock Hill one evening at sunset. You can see all across the city on a clear day, and at dusk the white tailed deer come out.


OK, here’s what you need to know.

1) Exam periods, like May and December, are sacred to exams. To studying. To freaking out about exams. When he’s not studying for exams, he will need either food or sleep or clean laundry. Pretend that, instead of a husband, you have a room-and-boarder for a month; it’ll be a relief to both of you.

2) When your husband gets to grad school, you will be proud of him and will enjoy telling new acquaintances that “my husband is in so-and-so college studying such-and-such.” Dear sister, instead of boasting you should begin praying for the peace of Jerusalem.

3) When he gets to rotations or clinicals or anything similar, you will be excited because you will see this as the beginning of the end. It is, in the sense that it’s like the time you were in labor (sorry) (it’s the most relevant example I can think of) and they said, “It’s time to push,” and you were relieved because you thought it was the beginning of the end. And then you pushed for three ever-loving hours that later made you think, Never again. So help me. That is how excited you should be about rotations.

4) Which brings me to the next thing you should know: Children. If you have kids while your husband is in school, plan them so that they aren’t born during exams. Because if you have a new baby or go into labor during exams, even the peace of Jerusalem isn’t going to give your husband time to study. (Kind friends and family members will help out, though, enabling your husband to stay in school and both of you to stay happily married to each other.)

5) You can raise kids while your husband is in rotations. Just know that rotations are like exam periods times two, and they last a lot longer than one month. You will be responsible for most of the diaper changes, mealtimes, snotty noses, bedtimes, baths, spankings, stories, snacks, potty breaks and questions a toddler and a baby can generate or require. They will be all yours. For WEEKS and WEEKS.

6) Someday your husband will graduate from school (this bit of advice is given in faith at this point). Both of you will be happy–and a tiny bit sad–when that day comes. Make him go to the graduation ceremony if for no other reason than that you stayed married to him through school and you are! going! to watch him walk across that stage in his cap and gown while you cry because you are so relieved but mostly just so proud of him.

There. NOW do you still want to marry a student?


Look who passed his spring exams and is now in rotations! A final-year vet student! Whee!

We are so pumped about this, y’all. It’s exciting for Gabriel to do some hands-on learning.

I’m happy to see the final year approaching even though it looks intense from a family life viewpoint. The schedule leaves a lot to be desired.  Gabriel leaves before the children are up in the morning and comes home usually an hour or so before their bedtime. He’s been home for dinner twice in the last two weeks. I don’t know how single moms ever, ever do it. At least our family knows this kind of thing has a deadline on it.

Before rotations started, Gabriel had two weeks off school, so obviously his schedule was a lot looser than it is now. When he went back, Bronwyn asked every morning, “Daddy home?” and kept asking it all. day. Now when she wakes up in the morning, some of her first words are, “Daddy school?” Aww.

With all the inconveniences aside, we are so happy to be heading into this last year of vet school. Gabriel is optimistic about rotations and is looking forward to the challenges of his last year of vet school. (Oohhh, those last phrases were fun to write.)

Apparently I’ve been rendered incapable of producing a cohesive piece of writing, so here are some scattered observations on New Year’s Eve.

I’m listening to Bronwyn sing to herself as she plays with Duplo, her Christmas present from us. I didn’t know they’d be such a hit, but she’s been playing steadily with them ever since we gave them to her yesterday. We won’t tell her that the set was a thrift store find. She’s perfectly happy with it, and so are we.

We’re planning to sleep the New Year in. Doesn’t that sound exciting? Hopefully the neighbors have similar plans or else are invited far away for their parties.

Gabriel and I have spent a lot of time rocking, walking, bouncing, or jiggling Gregory to sleep–only to discover that often he goes to sleep perfectly well by himself, in his cot. Now for a way to get him to bed earlier than 10:30pm. No matter how I try, it seems he just can’t settle before then. But then he sleeps until 6:00 or 7:00, so I shouldn’t complain.

We celebrated four years of married life by going to Newgrange with Gabriel’s parents and sister, who were visiting us from Ukraine at the time. Newgrange is a burial mound/religious site that is older than Stonehenge, purportedly built a few hundred years after the Great Flood. (This is a must-see if you tour Ireland.) Each year at sunrise on winter solstice (the day that is also our anniversary), the sun shines into the entrance to the mound all the way to the back of the chamber. You can enter a drawing to be one of the few hundred allowed in to see it at sunrise over the few days this happens. We put our names in for next year. As it was, the day was cloudy, but we still got to enter Newgrange on winter solstice, on our anniversary.

Our Ford Galaxy van, which we love so much and which has made our weekly trips to church and back so much easier, has had the clutch go out and needs extensive repairs. At least it didn’t totally go out until exams were over. As it was, the first time it happened was to me on an early morning trip to the airport, the day of Gabriel’s last two exams. I couldn’t get it into gear, so Gabriel got a taxi to the airport (5:00am is too early for city buses) and drove it to the mechanic in second or third gear. Sometimes it would let him shift, but other times he’d have to turn it off, put it into second, turn it back on and immediately GO.

I mentioned airport trips. Living close to a major airport in a city with no other Mennonites means we get a decent number of overnight visitors heading to or from the airport. We enjoy it. One of Gabriel’s friends thinks we should have our own parking bay at the airport — not a bad idea considering how often we go there.

This story made me laugh out loud.

Here is one reason you (we) aren’t hearing much from Gabriel on this blog lately:

This is his schedule for next week. Now, it might look manageable until you consider that for every hour spent in class he should spend two or three out of class doing homework. We’ve quit saying “maybe next semester will be easier” and changed our mantra to “in so-and-so many months we’ll be done.”

I was telling him my brilliant idea for holiday cards this year, and he wondered if he’d be put through the torture of participating in a family photo shoot. He thought maybe I could Photoshop him into a picture of our family. I said I could do better than that; we could put his picture in an oval in the corner of the photo like they do for deceased family members. Underneath it we could print, “Gabriel Jantzi, dearly beloved husband and father. We look forward to reuniting with you in about 20 months when you’re done with that ding-dang-dong vet school.”

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Baby is due in a week and a half, more or less. My family doctor assured me yesterday that I’ll go into labour today “at 4:00, and it’ll all be over by tea time.” He was joking, of course, but I’m pleading with this baby not to take TOO long to come out, because if it does, Mama will go OFF HER HEAD.

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Last night from about 11:30 to 1:00 we listened to the neighbor’s adult son as he sat in front of their outdoor fireplace, listened to loud Christmas and country music, drank beer, and shouted randomly into the fire. (I got the giggles when “Country Roads, Take Me Home” came on. Does anyone else who worked at Yoder’s Restaurant remember Moose belting that out on his gittar?)

“Is he retarded?” Gabriel wondered. “Why would you drink yourself stupid all alone on a Friday night? How could be any fun?”

I suppose someone else might look at the schedule above  and wonder how that could be any fun, too. These are the mysteries we ponder at midnight.

Bronwyn is all into coloring right now. I'm not sure which she likes better: coloring on paper or eating the crayons.

A friend recently closed her email to me with the hope that I could find common things to be grateful for. I feel like there’s been an abundance of those around here:

>Clean windows (and the energy to have washed them)

>A child who’s happy even though she’s in a body cast

>A surprise baby shower (!) on Saturday, held by some of our friends from Gabriel’s class at school. Gabriel had known about it for a long time but just led me to think that we were getting together with a few of them for tea, because Bronwyn and I hadn’t seen them much since school started this fall. When we walked into the house, I saw a pile of gifts, which seemed odd, but it still didn’t register until everyone yelled, “Surprise!” I was completely shocked and still feel overwhelmed at their kindness. We had a great afternoon, full of good food, games, and fun. It was nice to get to know those girls a tiny bit better.

>While I partied, Gabriel came home and worked in our front flowerbeds. (We don’t have much landscaping around here, but what’s here has been neglected and overgrown for years.) We had started earlier in the day, and I figured that was all that would get done since I thought he’d be at this “tea” in the afternoon too. When we came home a few hours later, the flowerbeds were raked free of litter, dug up, weeded, perennials thinned out, and mulched. It blesses me every time I look out the window and see those beds. The amount of work they needed felt overwhelming to me, and I’m so grateful for Gabriel taking the time (a big sacrifice for him) from other priorities to do outside work for us.

>The fact that it’s only a matter of about four weeks until this baby comes. (Eeek!)

>The kindness of strangers. Here’s the story: I need to get a learner’s permit to drive our car, since we changed insurance policies to one that requires each driver to have at least a learner’s. (I had been driving on my Canadian license, but this company doesn’t accept that.) I’m not especially grateful for THAT, but the blessing here is how I’m getting the training CD that helps you prepare for the test. I could buy it, but I didn’t really want to spend twenty euro on it. This morning I called UCD’s library to see if they have it, hoping Gabriel could pick it up for me. The librarian I talked to said, no, they didn’t have it, but she has one at home that I can borrow. If Gabriel can come in tomorrow, she’ll bring it to work with her. !!!

I should do this more often; it reminds me just how many “common” blessings I have.

Happy Monday to you!


1. Gabriel and I baked together in our (more) spacious kitchen last night. We made the bars pictured above.  You can find the recipe here. They are decadent, except next time I think I’ll add less sugar. I could hardly eat them without coffee to cut the sweetness. (I live a hard life.)

2. Bronwyn is slowly learning how to crawl in her cast. This morning she moved from our bedroom to the bathroom and, true to form, went straight for the toilet brush. It made me so happy to see this part of her personality again that I didn’t have the heart to scold her.

3. We’re going on holidays next week. We had dreamed of a road trip through Scotland and Wales this summer, but that isn’t going to happen for several reasons out of our control. So we’re taking up a friend on the invitation to his house in Co. Kerry, a few hours to the west of here. We’re hoping to take a few day trips from there. Exploring Cork or the Ring of Dingle, anyone?

4. It made me happy to wake up to the sound of rain on our roof this morning. I’ve missed that sound in the last two years of living in apartment buildings.

5. Gabriel is working only a few minutes away from home at his current externship position at a small animal vet clinic. He comes home for lunch every day instead of packing a lunch to eat there. Can’t say I mind! 😉

6. On Tuesday, I got into our manual-transmission car, with the steering wheel on the right side, and drove on the left side of the road through busy Dublin streets to a shopping centre where I bought things for my family. I felt like a big girl.

7. Three weeks down with the cast, hopefully only nine more to go.

8. Six months down with the pregnancy, three more to go (hopefully very quickly).

Happy Thursday to you,


This is his “done with exams” face. As of today, the worst semester of his entire life is history, and that ROCKS.

Also, three years ago today, this happened:

Awww. We look so young … and happy … and naive. 😛 I loved those newlywed days, but I love these happily-married-for-years days even better.

We just got eight inches of snow in the last 24 hours. I’m starting not to believe people who claim that Ireland has mild winters.


EDIT: Gabriel thought I should add that I ran a 70’s action on that first photo, meaning I made it look like a photo from the 1970s. I like it, but he isn’t so sure.

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