Quote(s) of the Week

Ouch, first of the year and I’m already off to a bad start with blogging. It feels like there is always just a mountain of things to do. But, I know from looking back on my past blogs, the importance of keeping up to date for me is there, so I will just pick up and keep going.

We’ve had a couple of quotes of the week that I wanted to capture:

Our first one of the year:

“Tomorrow is the first blank page of a 356 page book. Write a good one.”

We talked about this one on New Year’s Eve. Even though the older guys had places to go out, we had some Chinese food and had a nice dinner together first. We spent some time reviewing our past year, and then talked about the New Year. There’s something so refreshing about starting a new year. I know it’s a just a date, but you do sort of feel you can start fresh. So, that’s what we encouraged everyone to do.

The rest of the night the big kids headed out to some friends, and the two little guys hung out with us and we played some Apples to Apples and watched the NYC countdown. On New Years day, we pulled out our New Years goal books and wrote our short and long term goals in them. This year, I also had us each write a letter to ourselves that we will read in 10 years (Dear 10 years older me). We then wrote a 5 year letter too (to remind ourselves that we had 5 more years to do all the things we promised in our 10 year letter!!!) We also spent some time thinking about some people that we admired and relationships that we admired so we could see if we are on the path to becoming like the people we admire.


The next quote:

“Giving up on a goal because of a setback is like slashing your other 3 tires because you got a flat.”

Josh made a point with this one, that you don’t even have to slash tires; he suggested just getting out of your car and sitting by the side doing nothing because you have a flat is just as bad. Setbacks will happen. You just need to change that tire and keep going. Sometimes you have the spare tire in your trunk, sometimes you need to walk miles to get it. But there is always a spare that you can get somewhere. So go get it!


Finally, this week’s quote:

“You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.”

An oldie, but a goodie. Life is just so much easier when faced with a smile, rather than a frown. If you choose to be positive instead of negative, you will find yourself in a better space most of the time. If you choose to laugh, rather than become defensive. If you look for the good, rather than the bad. If you choose to be happy, you will find much more happiness. Now, life will throw curve balls, you will encounter unforeseen and unfair circumstances. You will be blindsided, and you will be angry. You will likely stomp your feet, cry a few rivers and curse many around you. But overall, you can choose the approach and view you take in life. And if you choose to use honey, your life will be so much sweeter.

Year in Review – 2017

So hard to remember all the great things that happened in 2017 – big and small but I always like to try!


Gabe starts BYU-I! Home in April for a week, home in August for 5 weeks, home for Christmas

Cambodia and Vietnam! (Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, HoiAn, Hanoi: crossing streets, tuk tuks, Angor Wat sunrises, massages, Italian food in Pub Street, fried rice for breakfast, getting suits made, Japanese floating lanterns, Halong Bay, Welcoming Zach and companions, street food tour in the HEAT, in search of pins, making spring rolls, chess, Happy, boat ride, a day in the village, biking in rice paddies temples, temples, temples, heat and cold cloths, hanging by the pool, eating spiders and tarantulas, donuts in Korea, northern lights from the sky, tae kwon do at sunrise, moving moments in Killing fields and Hanoi Hilton, Oyster farm, kayaking in caves – thin moments, fish pedicures, many hours of driving, laughing and talking….)

Early morning seminary

Hours of Netflix

Grade 9 graduation for Josh

Soccer soccer and more soccer

Dance recital

HEFY in Ecuador!! Amazing experience for Zach! Taking a breath whenever a picture was posted on instagram

Grade 6 graduation for Sam (last kid to graduate from Jackman!)

Lots of travel to Edmonton for Rob

Girls Montreal trip to visit Gran, Auntie Di, Tarina and Emma

Service Corps camp for Zach and Josh

YM Camp Lehi – Rob as a leader!

YLC – first time for Josh!

Referee job for Zach

Zandra and Sam baptism!

Part time job at Moss for Zandra

Soccer camp and volunteer soccer camp for Josh

Miami getaway for Rob and me: solo for first day, lying on beach, biking, walking, eating, Jewish memorial, drive up the coast, walking the boardwalk in Hollywood

Outer banks week for Rob and me: new location on sound side, stormy weather, fave restaurants and new restaurants, sunsets, lightening storms, reading, napping, beaching, beach walks

YW camp for Zandra

Zandra camp counsellor work


ACT prep started

Walks with Reggie

Photo shoot in Bluffers Park

Josh starting High school

Sam starting middle school

Gran’s hip surgery and Leah’s Montreal visit

Ki for special occasions

Valentine’s overnight

Yummy sushi dates

Josh changing teams

Regional Dances (Josh can go now too!)

Brampton fish tacos nights

Youth Conference

Video games

Constant phone time and social media: SnapChat, Instagram





Birthday celebration

Temple Visits


Calabogie: lots of tennis, beach, pool, hike, smores, paddle boarding, kayaking

New backyard: fire pit and smores

Gabe in Denver x 2

Birthday celebrations: traditional cakes, Mandarin

Zandra’s Sweet 16 at Yia Yia’s

Band and vocal concerts

Zach’s Patriarchal Blessing

Dairy Queen

Family Home Evenings

Family Prayer (better in morning!)

Light the World

Traditions! (Especially at Christmas: Christmas Market, Christmas tree, baking, buffet, delivering baking and driving to see lights in our new matchy PJ’s )

Valentine’s albums and meal

Rob and Zandra art date

Josh’s soccer banquets (two!)


Teaching at church

Blessing bags delivery

Kid’s busy social lives!

Starting to drive (Zach and Zandra)

Blue Jays Baseball game with Rob’s work

Coldplay concert with Zach and Josh (and me)

Festival of Carols

Zach blessing the sacrament, Sam passing it!

School Semi

School Athletic’s banquet: soccer player of year

Quiet Elfie and his new accessories

New car for Rob

Thanksgiving in Montreal with Gran and Di

Old Montreal (Steakes Frites with Sam!)

5K BIST run

Biking the Don Valley trail

Air museum (Rob, Sam and Gabe)

Couple of fender benders


Dates with kids

Honda pilot hits 300K!

Josh Montreal school trip

Father’s Day exotic car show

Mother’s Day Bike ride

Ski weekend (Horseshoe)

Blue Rodeo with friend (and Gord Downie special appearance and was his last one)

Sam Island School trip


That’s a glimpse of our 2017!











Rob’s Christmas Eve poem

It has become a tradition that Rob writes a poem for Christmas Eve summarizing our adventures over the year. He then reads it to us all after we’ve read a bunch of Christmas stories and done the Nativity Play.

Here is this years! We all loved it:)

Another year older and certainly a little wiser 2018 is soon to be seen

It was a year to remember, funny, twisty and curvy it’s been.

It started off on a wing and flight to the I, where Gabe landed sweet in a residence on high,
It was packing and checking and making sure he was ok
We filled his fridge and his closet with what he knew he needed for his stay

A cold wintery place we soon said goodbyes and made our way back without many cries

With snow a blowin and hearts a little swollen,
Sure enough that vomit stained Kia was a rollin

We got stuck a little on the roads but pushed on with great might

We knew we would have to catch a flight

Josh 14 and no longer so small
Soon to be 6 feet tall

Home to TO we had finally come and then a little skiing, beaver tails in the sun!

And then it was soon time to leave as it were, on a trip to the orient to a place Khmer

Landed in a place we have never been, Cambodia and mopeds oh my where to begin!

We have rice for breakfast and watch a city a break neck speed,
The traffic so crazy who would take the lead!

We found our hotel nestled in the Pen,
We were ready to see a world of beauty and zen

A spoil so royal we saw a great palace
We saw markets and pagodas and developed some callus

Then somber we went to a place that shouldn’t exist, a place so sad to make your eyes mist

Too many were lost to a crazy regime
We paid our respect and prayed for those to redeem

Then back to our travels we went to the North, to see Angkor Wat and temples so fine

The beauty and awe was worth every long line

Along the way some tasty food they say but it was spiders and scorpions and beetles we thought we have would died

Especially given the guy selling them as a little cross eyed

We went and came back and Tuk tuks we did ride

Heat and lots to try to take in, the temples so many which one had we been.

Our feet worn and our minds kind of tired
Little fish around our feet kept us quite wired

Built thatched roofs and behind an ox
We were in the dusty fields definitely without sox

To Vietnam we flew to a wonderful small town, welcome traveling group Zach Fiore

Hey what’s the story

A river of lights and a beach to see too
We saw the Japanese bridge and bought suits more than a few

With a pedal or two we saw rice fields and some birds
We had a tour guide that that an environmentalist called a turd

Then to the bay with rocks and misty beauty all day
Even in kayaks did we play

No accidents had, not even a scrape on he chin
Off to Hanoi to see the communist system of Ho Chi Min

A trip of a lifetime oh what a gift but the a bigger one in store
Something we’d hope for before

Zandra and Sam they took the plunge in a pool
An honour to see and watch them covenants make, with the Holy Ghost they had a new tool!

Now off to the summer and much fun was had
Sam and Josh two more to grad

One gone to middle the other off to minor niner
We were done with Jackman Avenue for more education even finer

Then Ecuador bound was Zach
Poor Leah couldn’t wait until he came back

But fun he did have building spirit and brick
We’re not really sure we ever saw a building pic

But helping out orphans and giving service so free
This trip was to help him become the person he can be

Miami and 12, 16’s and one 19 too, they’re all growing up, it all seems too soon
But happy as can be we’re singing the CDF tune

Of course the head two, mid forties boohoo
But they look so darn good… huh… who knew

Then back out to school but first the Outer Banks
To Hurricane Irma that dumped so much water we say thanks!

And that brings us around for another closing year
One that we know was filled with good cheer

We worked through the fall and in to some snow
Missed Gran and Sarah but are trying not to feel low

Quiet Elfie still here and playing lots of tricks
Only we wait now for Old Saint Nick’s

So with a hug and kiss we enjoy our Christmas bliss

We certainly do think of those we miss.

But Merry Christmas to all we shout out nice and clear.
We love everyone so much whether far or near.

So until next year we’ll be right here.

Christmas Celebrations

I better squeeze Christmas festivities in before NYE! 

We had everyone from 6pm Christmas Eve until 9:30am Christmas Day. Not enough time but we make do!

On Christmas eve day we went to church with the boys. We then came home and watched a Christmasy movie (Family Stone – love that movie but I totally bawled!) 

Everyone was here by 6 PM and we got started. We did our traditional Christmas Eve program: 

Rob and I then put all the Christmas presents under the tree and the kids waited to hear “the bell”. They ripped through their presents:) (we do all the gifts to and from each other on Christmas Eve) 

We then had our Christmas eve buffet. The long story of the buffet was in my Mom’s German family tradition, the Christmas Eve buffet was herring salad, cheese, meats, breads, tortiere, deviled eggs etc. Growing up, I hated all those things, so when we stopped having Christmas Eve with our extended family, I asked my Mom if she could throw in some chicken balls for me…. the year after we added spring rolls, and then eventually every single hors d’oeuvre you can imagine! We still have the bread, meat and cheese, but that’s about it from the original buffet! I reall should bring the herring back….

We missed having my mom and sister here, but knew they were having a good time in Ottawa with my aunts and uncles and cousins (with the original buffet!)

That night, we climbed into our Christmas pajamas, and watched a movie together (Love Actually).

I loved this view:

Zandra and I were dressed too:It’s a pretty late night for Santa when you have big kids. They don’t tend to want to go to bed too early and we all know Santa can’t come when kids are still awake. 

Reggie was intrigued:The next morning we all woke up for stockings and Santa gifts. We then had our Christmas breakfast (wifesaver, cinnamon buns, butterhorns and chocolate milk), and the boys were on their way to their dad’s by 9:45 for their next Christmas! 

The rest of us just spent some time relaxing, until Rob‘s mom and sister came for Christmas lunch. They stayed until later in the afternoon. The kids then  left in the evening to go spend some time with their mom and grandma. 

So we just had Reggie: 

Since Christmas, we’ve been enjoying a full house of teenagers (and their friends), having some meals together, and generally just relaxing. Josh did go to soccer day camp for 3 days, we did some shopping, Zandra and I went to see a movie, (as did Josh with friends), and they’ve all been out and about in the city with friends too (Zach even braved skating… brrr). 

Another nice Christmas! 

Leading up to Christmas 

This year I thought it would be fun to buy some matchy matchy PJ’s. Normally we give everyone new PJs the night we deliver all our Christmas treats to friends and neighbours. The idea is for us all to wear the PJs, deliver the treats (bringing some hot chocolate to drink along the way) and then drive around a fancy neighborhood, looking at the lights and having some bizarre conversations (this year’s theme seemed to be mass murder and serial killers throughout history – don’t ask me how we got on the topic!!) 

The kids were such sports in their PJs!! I think the matchy matchy theme might stick!! We love visiting Larissa, AJ and cutie Adam and love that she did a little photo shoot with us and takes great selfies. (The kids also love the little gifts and cookies she gets them ever year. Love her!)Meanwhile, back at the ranch… Quiet Elfie was going strong:Zandra and Josh were in the high school holiday concert. Josh was in beginner band on the trumpet and Zandra in vocals: Zach had a Christmas costume party with all his buddies (and this is the only pic I got)Reggie enjoyed playing in the snow:He’s been sporting his Christmas tie: And the Santa outfit Zach got him:Rob and I went on a little date night to our absolute fave restaurant but first stopped to take in  the city lights and decor: Of course the kids finished decorating the sugar cookies:Rob and Zach both spoke at church (Zach read the Christmas story from Luke and Rob spoke on light). The only pic I got was them racing to reach the front door first (yes it’s a thing): We had our “Christmas turkey dinner” as soon as we could after Gabe arrived home:Zach happily helped me make some buterhorns for Christmas breakfast: 

And that’s a wrap of  our pre Christmas festivities! 

My Christmas Baking

We put together our Christmas plates of treats for our friends and neighbours the other day and it reminded me I want to get my recipes posted so they are all in one place (as opposed to scattered around in my white recipe binder). Here’s a bunch of them (I’ve already posted Hello Dollies):


Saltine Toffee
1.5 sleeves of saltine crackers
1 stick (4 oz) of butter
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 cups chocolate chips.

Preheat over to 350. Prepare baking sheet lining with foil and spray with cooking spray.
Arrange crackers in single layer on baking sheet so there are no empty spots. Crush any remaining crackers and set aside.

Place butter and sugar in saucepan and heat, stirring until it comes to a rolling boil. Once boiled, carefully pour sugar-butter mixture over the crackers on baking sheet as evenly as possible. (Don’t worry if it doesn’t cover it all as it spreads when baking).

Bake toffee at 350 for 5 min until toffee is bubbling over. Remove from oven. Sprinkle chocolate chips on top of hot toffee and allow them to sit 1 min to soften and melt. Once softened, use a spatula or knife to spread the melted chocolate over the entire surface even layer. While chocolate is still sticky, sprinkle the top with crushed crackers. Refrigerate the pan to let it set. Once set, break apart into small uneven pieces.


Ginger Snaps

3/4 cup of butter
1 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1/2 cup molasses
2 1/2 cups of unbleached flour
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
3 tbsp granulated sugar on a small plate

Cream butter and first amount of sugar really well together. Beat in the egg. Mix in the molasses and then stir in flour, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, and salt. Mix well. Shape into 1 inch balls and roll each ball into sugar on the plate. Place on greased cookie sheets or parchment paper. bake in oven at 350 for 10 min. Do not overcook as this makes them crunchy (unless that is your desired outcome). Cookies crack as they cool.


Lemon Bars

1 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup white sugar
2 cups all purpose flour

4 eggs
1 1/2 cups white sugar
1/4 cup all purpose flour
2 lemons, juiced.

Preheat oven to 350.

In medium bowl, blend softened butter, 2 cups flour and 1/2 cup sugar. Press into bottom of an uncreased 9×13 inch pan.

Bake for 15-20 min in preheated over or until firm and golden.

In another bowl, whisk together the remain gin 1 1/2 cups sugar and 1/4 cup flour. Whisk in eggs and lemon juice. Pour over baked crust.

Bake for additional 20 min in oven. The bars will firm up as they cool. Dust with white icing sugar.


Mrs. Herweyer Bars (Rob family favourite)

1 cup butter
2 cups sugar
3 tsp almond extract
2 eggs
3 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 sliced almonds
1 tbsp cream or evaporated milk.

Mix first 4 ingredients and then add flour and baking powder. Press into a 9×12 pan. Brush with cream or mil on top. Sprinkle with almonds. Bake 350 for 30 minutes.


Chocolate Truffles (Zach’s fave)
8oz (250 g) semi see chocolate (or whatever you prefer – try to use the best chocolate you can)
1/2 cup (125 ml) whipping cream
2 tbsp (25 ml) unsalted butter
1 tbsp vanilla (you can use flavourings too e.g. orange, raspberry)
unsweetened cocoa powder for coating

Break chocolate into chunks and place in small saucepan with whipping cream and butter. Place over low heat and cook, stirring almost constantly until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth. Remove from heat and add in vanilla or flavouring. Transfer to a bowl and cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm – several hours or overnight. Put some unsweetened cocoa powder on a plate. Working with about 1 tsp of truffle mixture, roll by hand into ball and then drop into cocoa and coat. Mixture melts fast so work quickly. Refrigerate truffles.


Coconutties (Josh’s fave) (coconut meringues – Josh just called them coconutties when he was little so that is how they are known around here!)

4 egg whites
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 teaspoon cram of tartar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 1/3 cup sugar
1 14 oz package of flaked coconut.

Preheat oven to 325. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper. In large mixing bowl, beat egg whites, vanilla, cream of tartar and salt with electric mixer on high speed until soft peaks form (tips curl). Gradually add sugar, 1 tbsp at a time, beating until stiff peaks (tips stand straight up). Gently stir in coconut, half at a time.

Using spoon or scoop, drop mixture into mounds on prepared cookie sheets, leaving about 1 inch apart. Bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes. Turn off oven. Let cookies dry in oven for another 30 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and cool.

Chocolate Oatmeal Haystacks

1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup milk
1-1/2 cups sugar
6 tablespoons cocoa powder, sifted
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1 cup shredded coconut

Combine the butter, milk, sugar and cocoa powder in a saucepan and melt ingredients together over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Bring to a boil. Once a rolling boil has been reached, continue to cook for approximately 4-5 minutes, stirring often.

Remove from heat and add the vanilla. It will steam and bubble up a lot when you add it, so be careful. Then add the rolled oats and coconut and stir until completely moistened. Spoon out onto sheets of wax paper or parchment paper and allow to set.


Quote of the Week

“Plans are worthless, but planning is everything.

I think this is one of my favourite quotes, ever.

I am a HUGE planner, and I have to say, most of my plans, have fallen through! They really are completely worthless.

BUT. The ACT of planning, is everything. It helps you set priorities, goals, and find different ways to do different things. It is so helpful and helps keep you motivated and focused on what you do want to achieve. It ensures that you achieve something. The act of planning also helps you become more flexible as your brain has thought things through already and can jump into “back up plan mode ” if needed (which is usually needed).

Planning is also fun. Sometimes planning can be just as fun as doing (think travelling – planning is one of the best parts of the trip!).

So don’t be disappointed if your plans fall through. Appreciate the act of planning and the benefits it gives you along the way.


It’s beginning to feel a lot like Christmas…. 

Last weekend we headed out to get our Christmas tree, wearing the Santa hats and taking our usual wagon (only thing we really keep the wagon for!) 

Reggie got a little ride: 

I lay all the decorations out in piles (they each have their own pile of ornaments they have been given over the years and they put up their own.) This year we put Gabe’s up for him since he’s not home until the 21st. 

Our quote wall goes up of all the quotes we’ve done over the year:Zach got a Christmas sweater this year! Reggie Love! He’s always beside me when I’m baking or cooking:Quiet Elfie arrived, with a whole bunch of new accessories and clothing! 

We went to the Christmas market but were sad to see the night we went all the stalls were closed! The lights were still pretty:

Rob and I went to our annual Christmas concert. It was beautiful as usual:

Reggie loves napping under or near the tree!And the baking begins….

A nice start to the Christmas season! 

Monthly snaps of life 

Since the end of October, here a few snaps of life: Halloween:

Zandra was Veronika from Riverdale. I love the look on her! Beautiful! Zach’s group dressed as superheroes: I went to Montreal to beveith my mom for hip surgery and had some good FaceTiming with Reggie:

Zach’s friend made some visits and proved she’s a strong girl all around! We tried to get Reg to sleep in a new bed. He now feels he can go between our bed and his… except he needs help getting on ours and doesn’t mind patting my head when I’m asleep to wake me to lift him up. I was hoping he’d be content in his own cozy spot!

Josh changed soccer teams and had a fun banquet with his new team who are so welcoming!

Rob runs in the morning when he takes the kids to early morning seminary:

Sam went to a fun youth activity: Here’s the only pic I got at Josh’s soccer banquet:

Rob likes to send us all pics of cool things going on downtown near his office, including “Suits” being filmed frequently and the hype for the MLS cup (which TFC won! )

Recipe: Baked Ham and Cheese Sandwiches

These are super yummy, and we will often have them for Sunday lunch. They are super easy to bring to a brunch too.

24 dinner buns
12 slices Ham
12 slices swiss cheese

1/2 cup Butter
1 tbsp Mustard
2 tbsp Brown sugar
1 tsp worcestershire

Melt butter, add in mustard and brown sugar and worcestershire sauce until it is all blended. I sometimes play around with the mustard and sugar depending on how sweet you like it.

Cut open small dinner buns, and place in half a slice of ham and half a slice of swiss cheese (can do more if you want).

Put buns in a baking sheet, squeeze them in close to each other. Drizzle the sauce over them and then bake at 350 until the sauce on buns is bubbly (15 min). You can drizzle the sauce on them and then put in fridge until ready to bake.