Thanksgiving weekend 

This year we headed to Montreal for Thanksgiving to see my Mom. 

Rarely do we have the whole crew for Thanksgiving, and this year with my Mom’s upcoming hip surgery, we decided a visit was in order. Leaving early means everyone was happy to head back to sleep! 


We arrived around lunch time and picked up our Montreal fave of poutine and steamies. We spent the afternoon just hanging out and catching up.

In the evening we headed downtown to old Montreal. Coincidentally, a couple of Zach’s buddies were also visiting Montreal, so he had made plans to meet up with them. Josh and Zandra went exploring with Zach and his friends and I made sure they sent me some pics.We took advantage of having an only child and took Sam out for a nice meal. We wandered around Old Montreal (my old stomping grounds as I lived there for 5 years after my undergrad and during grad school ) while Rob snapped lots of photos.

On Sunday we accompanied Gran to church. Zach chauffeured Gran around, while making sure she paid him back with back scratches during the service! Lol.We enjoyed our favourite pizza (Gigi’s) for lunch and prepped a nice Thanksgiving dinner. Everyone shared their “thankfuls” which included the warm and fuzzies about how much we all our family:)Of course, there was some down time in the afternoon:On Monday, we headed back home and our usual 5 hours took 8.5 hours! Luckily we had a couple of movies and some karaoke type singing happening in the backseat! 

A nice holiday weekend:) 

Quote of the Week

“Money makes a terrible master, but an excellent servant.”

Zach came up with the quote this week. He had to read it to everyone a few times for everyone to absorb it.

I love that my kids will hear quotes and copy them down so they can share them as our weekly quotes.

Money is certainly not evil itself; it can make life so much easier and more enjoyable!

But if you let yourself get wrapped up into it becoming front and centre, you will become a slave to it. Use it for good, and make sure you stay focused on what’s really important.

Quotes of the Week

I always get so behind on these! We are at least  still doing our quotes during our weekly FHE and have them up in our kitchen. But I still like to capture them here as it’s “permanent”.

Here are a few over the past few weeks. I wish I kept better track of where these quotes are from. Sometimes I just hear them and so I don’t know the exact source; some I heard at YLC, some on random podcasts. All are pretty good (I think)

If you don’t make the decision in time, time will make the decision for you” (random podcast)

Reminds me of the idea that there is no such thing as standing still: you are either going forward or backward.

 

Part of the tragedy you must avoid is to discover too late that you missed an opportunity to prepare for a future only God could see for you (Pres. Henry B. Eyring used in the BYU speech “Women and Education: “A Future Only God Could See for You”, Eva Witesman)

Loved this talk. Love this concept. We don’t know what our future holds! We need to seize every opportunity that we have now. We need to educate ourselves and prepare ourselves as best we can. No, we can not know everything or anticipate everything, but we can do a lot so that when we bump into luck or trial, we will be as prepared as we can be. If we do it prayerfully, even better:)

 

Inspired questions get inspired answers”  (as recorded by Zach at YLC)

Love this concept too. The quality of the answers usually depends on the quality of the questions. You can ask questions through very different lenses, and the answers you get are usually a reflection of that same lense. Go figure. Zach and I were discussing this a few weeks ago, about how you really choose if you want to believe things or not. You really choose the perspective you can take. You can choose to see things through an eye of optimism or pessimism. The glass is really half empty – or half full. Depends on what perspective you choose to take.

 

…But that future, at least any qualitative aspect of it, must be vigorously fought for. It won’t “just happen” to your advantage. Someone said once that the future is waiting to be seized, and if we do not grasp it firmly, then other hands, more determined and bloody than our own, will wrench it from us and follow a different course.” (Elder Jeffrey R. Holland”)

This one gave me chills when I first read it. Those “bloody hands” create quite an image in my mind. But as I am raising my spirited teens, I can’t emphasize this point enough to them. Their future is theirs to grab!! Go grab it!! Get off the couch! Get off your phones:)) Seize the opportunities that are literally pouring out to you!

 

“When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves” Viktor Frankl

If you haven’t read Viktor Frankl’s “Man’s Search for Meaning” about his time in a concentration camp, then you simply must. It’s not a long book, but it certainly is not a light read. One of my client’s is reading it so I have had the opportunity to revisit it with him. Very powerful. It’s not about our circumstances. It’s about us.

 

First Day of School Photos

The school year rolled around pretty quick it seemed. Lots of transitions this year too! 

Sam was off to a new school; middle school, grade 7, extended French:

Josh joined the high schoolers and started grade 9. He said he has been trying to avoid his siblings at school because Zach is always trying to kiss him and Zandra is always trying to hug him! lol 

Zach headed off to grade 11 and wanted some extra poses: 

Zandra started grade 11 too. I think they have one class together this year:

Gabe was still around for the start of school here but has since headed beck to BYUI. He’s actually working this semester on campus as it’s his off track semester. He’ll officially start his 2nd year in January and do his two semesters from Jan – July like last year:

Reggie is most concerned about how his  walks are implicated. Sam used to start school later than everyone and walk him, now I think it’s up to me and he’s concerned about the consistency….

Reggie also makes the family photos a touch more complicated. Everyone was awesome though to get up to take these photos! Sam and Josh had to leave before 8, and Zach and Zandra only had to be there after 10! (Luckily Gabe worked at 8 too!) 

^^^ I was only around for when the little guys left so got these pics (and notice how annoyed Josh is stopping to turn and tell me to stop!!) 

Here’s hoping for a great school year!! 

Family Photoshoot

Last month we headed to the beach with www.arianadelmundo.com and had a fun family photo shoot!

As everyone is either flying the nest or getting ready to, I feel the pressure to capture this moment in time! So, here’s a sampling of the CDFs 2017:

     

And of course, our famous pile up picture (which unfortunately we just couldn’t pull it off – but had fun doing it!)

Outerbanks

We try to head to the Outerbanks every year. Sometimes it’s been with all the kids in the summer, and sometimes it’s been just Rob and me on our own in shoulder season. 

Always it’s been amazing.

Last year we weren’t able to go and we missed it tremendously! This year lined up with having the opportunity to head out on our own while the kids were with their other parent (Zach and Josh spending their last week of summer in Brazil!!)

 We decided to go to the Outerbanks last minute, and decided to try a different area (much further south) and not be on the ocean, but on the sound. 
A different experience for sure. 

We definitely prefer ocean front, especially if we had the kids around! There’s something about being able to step off your balcony right onto the sand, or hear the ocean waves 24 hours a day….

But, we are so glad we experienced something different! I think differences help you tease out what you like and don’t like. 

You also get to appreciate the differences – like the amazing sunsets we got on the sound side! 

We also had some visitors at night:We had some amazing walks on the beach, even in some cloudy weather (no filters… looks like we are in a black and white world on this cloudy day!) We also got some awesome sunny days:

We did a bit of driving and checked out the lighthouse (I love love love lighthouses). We have visited all 4 in Outerbanks several times, but only went to Hatteras this time.

Part of the reason we didn’t venture out much was because the weather caused some flooding and blocked some roads (and we didn’t bring my truck so driving was a bit more challenging):They are doing work on this bridge which looks so cool! And we were happy to make it to some fave spots:

We had several encounters with these guys:

And certainly enjoyed time in here:

We had a wicked lightning storm for hours the last night:


Then the long drive home….:( 

Another completely awesome trip with my guy:) 

Monthly Snaps of Life 

It has been a busy summer. I have captured some of the main events in some separate posts, but there’s still a lot more to capture about what happened in the month of August! 

I got a few more pics of Zandra at camp. She had an awesome time:We had a few more city sunsets:Zandra had our favourite gal Emma come and stay for a few days. I had to get them to send me pictures as I barely saw them!! They went to Canada’s Wonderland, downtown shopping and out and about in our neighborhood. We had another super fun visitor, Shannon. Gabe and Shannon met at BYUI and then he had spent a week with her in her hometown in Colorado when school ended. It then only seemed fair that she come for a hometown visit here! We loved having her around. They went on a fancy date one night:

We got our family photos done one night (can’t wait to see those!), and Shannon was a trooper and watched all the excitement around that:But not to fear, Shannon and Gabe were in their own little world too so maybe she didn’t notice all the shenanigans …Insert Zach:We went on a family walk to the Brickworks:We enjoyed our new fire table and smores:And enjoyed having Sam in the front seat, and getting some soccer awards at camp:Somehow Zach’s hammock from Ecuador made it up to his room (which was a disaster as it housed everyone while Emma and Shannon were here): We had some nice family meals:And enjoyed a lot of Reggie love:While I was at YLC with the 3 middle guys, Rob hung out with these two and they went to the air museum:Rob had to go back to Edmonton and at the last minute I decided to take Zach and Josh to see Coldplay. Don’t let their distressed faces fool you, they were raised on Coldplay and loved  every minute. Who better to see a concert with then your Mom?! Right?? It was awesome:The dramatic faces ^^^Oops… I caught them enjoying themselves! That seems to be a wrap for now…

YLC 2017


For the past several years, I have had the chance to go to the Youth Leadership Conference (YLC) put on by our church (LDS) in our region. This year it included all of Ontario, which means about 600 youth between the ages of 14-18.

Every year, it’s been a fantastic experience. The kickoff is Wednesday at 9am, so it’s an early start as I drop my kids off at the bus leaving from our area at 6am (they prefer to bus it with their friends) and I continue up to to University of Waterloo where it’s held. I am a “houseleader” which basically means I am in charge of a “house” of 10 girls (5 dorm rooms). Then everyone is divided into branches where there are 2 girl houses and 2 boy houses together. You travel around with your branch, attend workshops and activities with them and do devotionals at night with them. 

(I had to snap a pic when I saw Zach below scratching the backs of two friends (girls). Finally  he is doing some work!): We start each day with a general assembly for everyone where there is a keynote speaker, followed by a couple of workshops (usually 3 branches per workshop), and lunch. In the afternoon there is either sports/games, or a big service project (one day you do sports, one day you do a service project – packaging 150,000 meals for a local food bank). I was with the younger kids, so I got to see Josh on occasion. 

Zandra sent me this one of her group:

The YLC Photographer snapped these ones: At night, after dinner, there is an opening social dance the first night, and a variety show the second night. 

The final day we have what we call a “testimony meeting” where people have the opportunity to share some of their experiences and feelings.

This year we had a couple of interesting speakers, but the highlight was David Archuleta. Not only did he inspire us with his music, but he gave an incredible keynote address. Being only 26, I think he was especially sensitive to the challenges teenagers face.Another huge part of YLC is the emphasis on social. In our branches, when we go from workshop to workshop, or head off to the assemblies or activities, everyone is encouraged to go with an escort. Traditionally the boys ask the girls, but guys can be shy! Basically you are encouraged to walk with a partner to get to know them better. It’s a great opportunity to work on your conversation skills (something that most teens really need to learn how to do. Snapchat gives the illusion that you have conversation skills…) It’s especially fun when your big sister wants you to escort her…The last night is the formal. There’s a lot of hype about this! The guys in the branch prepare a “special ask” to the girls in the branch. We were in group “Enos” and our boys did a fantastic job! They spent a lot of time learning the dance, and making the puppets for the puppet show:The formal itself is fun, where you get all dressed up, have dinner with your escort, then head to the dance. My kids know that the “mamarazzi” in me comes out so they geverally are good about posing: alone, with dates, with their group, with friends and with each other:To choose their dates, they picked a tie:I was only around for pictures of Zach’s group (I did have to spend time with my group too!) 

I had to get a few pics of Zach with his good friend Rachael, as I do every year (got some with her and Zandra and Josh later on too!):Josh was taken care of :

My favourite people all together:Then they get annoyed with me:Dinner: The first dance is dedicated to your escort. Ok, this is not her escort, but I love how Zandra stands out looking even more beautiful in red! : My roommate and I took puppets as dates (the boys in our group had made them for the ask):The kids always have such a great time at formal because they’ve gotten to know so many people over the last few days.


This year was Josh’s first year. First year is a bit nerve wracking, but by the end of it, he loved it as much as my older kids have! There is no convincing them to go! We plan our summers around it!

I love  stalking  my kids; it’s one of my favourite past times! Luckily, they are pretty chill about it ( I try to stalk from a distance and only occasionally get in their face – like for formal photos) or when then want them at the end: ^^^Gonna miss this girl in particular as she heads to BYU! I love getting to know their awesome friends too! I have to say my kids are pretty awesome, as are their friends! We have the same picture of these two every year, except they keep getting older!!: My absolute favourite part is the end… where I get to drive my kids home! We stop for McDonalds and then debrief about everything. I love hearing their funny stories, strange stories, inspirational stories, spiritual stories, and then compare notes on what we liked and didn’t like.

 Its always a truly awesome few days and this year was no exception! 

Zach’s experience in Ecuador (with HEFY)

I finally convinced Zach to write about his experience in Ecuador. He had such an awesome time, and he did a great job documenting in his travel journal and taking pictures, but I wanted to have something on here to share with all those who helped with fundraising (or who were checking in with me daily to see if they had posted a pic on instagram, which helped calm my nerves and miss him a little less!) It truly was the best experience for him and I hope that his siblings do something similar!

Here’s Zach! (I have added in all the pictures he selected but not sure if I got them all in the right order!)

I left for Ecuador early Wednesday morning and didn’t know what to expect. I first met the group in L.A then flew through San Salvador to Guayaquil, Ecuador. We spent the night in the airport and slept literally on the ground before our flight to the Galapagos Islands.

We had our first weekend excursion in the Galapagos where we toured around one of the islands there and got to know everyone else in the group a lot better.

The island is so beautiful but not what I expected. There were some arid parts and other greener parts it was super cool. We also saw lots of cool wildlife like tortoises, sea turtles, and reef sharks.

We headed back to the mainland and bussed the beautiful drive over and through the Andes mountains from Guayaquil to Cuenca where we spent the majority of our time.

We went to church on Sunday which was really great, we also did some home teaching and spiritual activities throughout the day.

We had pretty much a set routine from Monday-Friday and different activities at night. It started off around 6:30 Am everyday then breakfast which was usually bread and egg (not the best). We then had an hour of scripture study and morning devotional.

We went to the work site and did different work every day; which included plastering, chisling, throwing cement, sanding, pickaxing and a few other things. We would work from 9-11:30, have bread break then continue work until around 1:15.

We had lunch then continued work until 5, went back to the hostel, showered, chilled, then went out to dinner.

Throughout the week we had the opportunity to visit the orphans and school kids as well with the physical labour.

We worked on a mural as well.

Every night we went to a different restaurant, all of which were nice, and did different activities. We went to a local family’s family home evening, the ward sports night, an alpaca store, on a double decker tour bus, and a swing which swung over the city.

The second weekend we got to go to a place outside of the city called El Churro which was around an hour and a half drive from Cuenca. We started of going on some hikes which were super beautiful. We then went to a waterfall and took turns jumping in with a rope tied to us incase we went into shock as it was so cold. We had lunch, and went ziplining on two big ziplines with super nice views. We got to cook and eat guinea pigs which was a super cool experience but weird because of my former pet guinea pigs. We did some traditional dancing, had dinner then headed back to Cuenca.

On last day, we had the opportunity to go to the Guayaquil temple.It was pretty cool because everything was in Spanish.

We chilled, and enjoyed our last night together sharing our thoughts about the experience. The next day, we flew home and had some tearful goodbyes. 

All in all, it was an amazing time and I will remember it forever. I’m grateful I had the opportunity to serve the people of Ecuador and make some amazing friends.

You can get more info about HEFY here.

Monthly Snaps Part One 

I love that my iPhone is overflowing with pics right now; so much so that I will divide this post in two, and create some individual posts too. These are basically from mid June to end of July. 

Let’s take a look: 

I finally made Grammie’s famous oatmeal cake and it was so good. Grammie used to make us this cake whenever she saw us and it’s a family fave. (Recipe is here):

During exams, a quick snooze:These two studied like crazy (and had great success):Sam was a trooper to sing for Father’s  Day with the primary kids one last time:Reggie watching our family home evening :Totally how I feel: Our Honda turned 300000km!!! And that’s mostly me driving over the last 9 years. I’ll say Rob maybe gets 50k from it because of vacations, but it’s mainly me. I don’t even want to think of the hours this took!!:This is how it’s done boys: Meanwhile, back in Idaho, Gabe was having a little bit of fun: Josh set out to read, then quickly fell asleep:The boys had a blast a YM/service camp. This area in our house can get so congested leaving and coming home, but one day I know I will miss it!!:My beautiful niece Abby left to serve a mission for 18 months. Super proud of her for sacrificing this time to serve the people in Vancouver, Washington. Also super proud of my brother and sister in law to give her up for a short time so she can serve and love  those people she meets:Always have to include Reggie: Zach had to take a concoction before his Ecuador trip:Sometimes they are tired at church and you have to go find them:Zach’ soccerteam: Day after his 16th Birthday, Zach went and passed the test for his driving learners permit!:Sam turned 12 and moved from primary to the YM, and got the Aaronic Priesthood:We celebrated a special friend’s bday: Zach prepping for Ecuador:Walk to Dairy Queen (night before Zach left). It’s a common summer family night treat:A reminder of some of the vows we made to the kids on our wedding. Sent it to Zach as he was leaving for Ecuador. I have a feeling this will be sent to all our kids multiple times throughout their lives as they chase their dreams:Gabe had a great time in Colorado with his girlfriend, meeting her fam: Need to appreciate our beautiful city and sunsets:Went out on a smom/sdaughter date with good friends (missed taking a pic of my friend and me — next time!!)  to see a musical play in by BYU-I. We grabbed dinner first: Rob spent a week in Edmonton when Zach was away too. So Josh and I spent some fun time together. We went for wings one night, and fish and chips the other. Loved having time with this growing boy!:And we snuggled with Reggie too: That about raps up July… stay tuned for August because there’s good times ahead…