Gabe’s Prom

Gabe had prom the other night and I was able to capture a few pictures of him and his date before they went for the the full night celebrations:

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The box was a little tricky to open ^^^

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A little shadowy:( I was hoping to take some pics in front of our home garden, but we went to the hours that was hosting the pre-prom party, so had to make do!

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Zach’s soccer tournament

And let the tournaments begin!

(Well, actually they began at the end of March when Josh was in Tremblant, but I wasn’t able to attend that one.)

This was Zach’s first one this year.

His team had some changes this year because of some challenges his coach had with his soccer club. As a result, the team changed clubs. Most players stuck around, but a few left. They still did awesome and won the tournament in their division! Hopefully off to a good start this year!

It was FREEZING cold –  hailing during one of the games! We were wrapped up in blankets and jackets and still cold! I snapped a few pics, but my fingers were numb. Luckily, a Dad of one of the boys on the team took a ton of pictures and posted them for us all. He got some great ones. Forgive me or posting so many, but they do tell a good story:)

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Then there is this whole series that makes me cringe worrying about concussions:

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It was a little cold. They laugh at my Spiderman blankets. There was a time when they BEGGED me to buy them and wanted to use them all the time…and they were begging to use them to stay warm near the end of the game too!

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This was too close for comfort:

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Zandra’s Dance Show

Every year Zandra has a dance show that happens for a two full weekends. It is a lot of work and very tiring (as she has shows in the evenings on Thursday and Friday and then 2-3 shows on each weekend day!), but she loves it and she is great! She takes hip hop and lyrical all year and she is awesome at both!

Here are the pictures I snapped for her Hip hop routine:

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Then came the lyrical number. I loved the lighting and the simple costume… (don’t get me started on the costumes – I love it when they do simple and elegant like this one – it adds to the performance as opposed to detracts from it!)

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Love this girl.

Quote of the Week

“When everything seems to be going against you, remember that the airplane takes off against the wind, not with it” Henry Ford.

Robbie sent this one to me the other day, and I loved it as I always want to be taking off in airplanes:)

I’m not always fond of the wind against you, though.

We haven’t had any particular challenging situations (and I’m not complaining) recently, just the normal stuff of life. Which that in itself, can be enough!

Rob changed jobs a couple of months ago so is on a steep learning curve which can be stressful and tiring, me just dealing with some new clients and there’s a learning curve with that. Then, the kids are all growing up and having to deal with school work and challenges, growth in relationships and figuring them out, looking towards future – short term, longer term, jobs, volunteer, and then all the sports stuff in between. Life can just naturally cause lots of wind!

But, it is those things that make up your life and make you soar! The “little things” make up your life, so don’t dismiss them too quickly. You never know when the “little thing” will become the “big thing”. And those little things can create a lot wind that can help you soar to higher places than you ever imagined!

 

Mother’s Day Wrap Up

Mother’s Day is pretty much one of my favourite days of the year. I get to force my boys to spend some good quality time with me. So it definitely deserves its own blog post – a week late.

I know, pathetic that you have to have a day in a year where you have to “force” your kids to spend time with you, but I figure that’s only for a few years. When they were little, they couldn’t get enough of me, and when they will be older, they will realize just what an awesome, spectacular, cool Mom I am – and always was (I think just writing that makes me uncool now – but whatev…) and they will be clamouring to spend more time with me.

For now, I will take what I can get.

Started with some lay around in my bed in the morning with mumbled “Happy-Mother’s-Day-I-am-so-tired-do-we-have-to-go-to-church-today-and-what-are-we-doing-after” kind of love. Followed by some nice cards, a new pair of shoes, an awesome photo and poem, and chocolate milk and blueberry banana pancakes. It was followed by a little talking to about having a nicer, more appreciative attitude on Mother’s Day….(hmmpf).

We headed to church and they had a nice service and then a Mother’s Day lunch (which saved my family from having to come up with a nice lunch. Ha. Thank you. Yet another reason for them to go to church:))

Our usual tradition is to head out on a bike ride on Mother’s Day, but it was pouring rain:( We ended up going to plan B (which I usually sneak in there in the evening anyway) of watching a movie of my choice (which I try my best to make sure it is one that they would NEVER watch with me otherwise). And, they totally love it every time! (Ok, love is strong…)

After our film fest, the sun was out! Yah! We got to do our traditional bike ride.

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^^^(This is the cool Mom doing her snapchat face)

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Of course since Zach and Josh are totally competitive, most of the ride is them trying to pass each other, go faster and knock each other over, with me yelling “Stop it!” in the background.

We made it to a little park, where we did some swinging:

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^^^There we are, having a good time, then this inevitably happens:

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It never stops.

Off to the teeter totter, where it starts out fun but then gets painful as they think it’s funny to “bump” me:

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When we returned, Gabe, Zandra and Sam had returned from spending the day with their Mom. We had our traditional Mother’s Day dinner (we order from the same Italian place year after year – which I love and want to do year after year), the kids had some nice little gifts, and Rob made a yummy cake. We just chilled for the rest of the day.

It was a pretty great day. I love my pretty great people. I’m so glad they give me the chance to be a pretty great mom.

xo

Quote of the Week

“Do you cheer up a room when entering it, or when leaving it?”

Have you ever thought about that? What effect do you have on the energy of a room? Do people smile when you enter, or roll their eyes and find an excuse  to leave the room.

I have always told Zandra she is a “sunny person.” When she walks in a room, it’s as if the sun comes out. She is bright  and cheery and makes everyone feel good. I compare that to those who are “cloudy” or even “stormy” people. When they walk in, you literally feel the energy being sucked right out of the room and it brings the happiness barometer down a couple of levels. Everyone feels it.

I work with people who have communication problems, and one of the things we often need to work on is their metacognitive skills. Their ability to “think about their thinking”. I also teach them that they need to “think about their communication exchanges”. Meaning, after they interact with someone, they need to ask themselves how they did. Did they complain a lot? Did they talk too much? Did they make the other person feel bad or good? Did they build the other person up, or tear them down?

The main question I want them to ask whether the other person walked away from the interaction thinking they want to communicate more with you in the future, or less? Did they leave feeling invigorated or did they leave feeling depleted?

Although we can choose who to interact with sometimes, we can’t always. So that means sometimes we are forced to interact with a stormy person. I think even with stormy people, we can help be a little silver lining for them, if we choose.

But, we have absolute control over the kind of person we choose to be. Sunny or stormy? We can energize, enlighten and invigorate; or we can drain, deplete and discourage.

Who do you want to be?

Mothers and Grandmothers

In about 6 weeks time we are off on another adventure. This time with just Zach and Zandra, as it’s their “15 trip”.

Years ago we decided we would take each child to Europe when they turned 16. That changed to 15 when we saw how busy our summers got, and timing wise it worked better for us. Each child was to pick their spot and we would make the trip “all about them”. We took Gabe 2 years ago (he was almost 16) to Munich and Venice (because Munich was all about him and his desire to see BMW and Audi factories, and Venice was because, who’s kidding who, it’s all about me too and my travel addiction too). Good times are recorded starting here and ending here.

Zandra selected Paris, and Zach wanted Berlin. Being our family twins, it would be a bit tricky to do two European adventures in the same year, so they negotiated for a little extra time if we took them together. Of course I had to add on to their trip, so a couple of days in Hamburg was added and then somehow Zach negotiated a few extra days to go to Prague. So, it will be a whirlwind of a trip, but that’s how we roll anyways.

As it turns out, my mother’s family is from Germany. Her father from Berlin, and her mother from Hamburg. I love that we are going back to my roots and I can share this special trip with Zach and Zandra. In preparation for the trip, I have started to dig around a bit for family research and find the points of interest that we need to add to our itinerary.

The list is getting long. We need more time. (Or likely another trip).

Luckily, my mother and her family have all been record keepers, so I have a lot to go on.

I have always loved reading about my beloved Granny’s life (we were so fortunate that my cousin recorded all her stories – many of which she used to tell us – in a book that we all received a copy of), and now I am excited about visiting some of the spots that are described in the book.

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All this reading and research has made me feel so nostalgic and think about what an amazing woman she was. I can hear her voice, with her thick German accent, nodding her head saying “mmm…ja…ja” and how she called us all “sveet heart” (and how my grandfather called me “Kindergarten girl… then plus whatever grade I was in). I don’t know how she was able to cope with the trials she had in her life: losing her father, and then losing her young sister to strep throat; being a German Jew, and being forced to leave her country; living through the war in London; coming to Canada – a land unfamiliar – and raising her 6 children with so little; and all the little stories in between that made her life quite incredible. She was one of the most caring, generous people I have ever known. She was always serving: involved in her church, community and a special connection to the local women’s shelter. She was bright, educated and a talented artist. And she always made you feel that YOU were the most important person alive. She asked a million questions, because she was truly interested, and she remembered the details. She never forgot a birthday – even Zach and Josh’s! In the final years of her life, she even remembered Gabe, Zandra and Sam’s! Yes, she was an incredible person and I miss her dearly. Planning to go to her homeland makes me miss her more, and I only wish I had had the chance to return there with her; although I know she comes with us in Spirit.

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But as I am nostalgic about her, I think of my own mother. I have a client whose mother is 78 years old. In the past few months, I have talked to this client about her mother, asking things like, “would your mother help you bake the cookies for your annual charity bake sale?” and each time my questions are met with, “My mother is 78. She can’t do that” and my client looks at me as if I am a weirdo for making the suggestion.

Yet, each time, I think to myself, “well my mother is 77 and SHE does that”.

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Yes, she is baking for her friend’s daughter’s wedding shower, she is taking her neighbor to the grocery store to do her weekly shopping, she is having the missionaries over for dinner or teaching with them, she is visiting her old neighbors in old age homes, she is driving my sister around town, she is arranging phone and internet plans for my sister, she is writing up some family history for Zach and emailing it to him, she is “googling” information for my upcoming trip to Germany and sending it my way. My 77 year old mother “googles” things; and does so with ease!

We talk several times a week and she asks the specific details about each of my kids – much like Granny did – remembering who was writing what test, who was going to what party, who had a soccer game, and all the little details. And, she loves to iMessage or email her grandkids (and is thrilled when they respondJ) Her life, like Granny’s life, is embodied in service and family.

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While driving to Josh’s soccer game with Zach today, I told him how excited I was to share a bit of my love for my grandmother with him and Zandra when we go to Germany. I also told him I hope that he builds the same love and appreciation that I had for my Granny, with his own grandmothers (his Gran, and also his Ama). I certainly hope that I can carry on the tradition that my role models laid out for me: to live a life devoted to family and service. To live a life so that one day my kids will be able to say that I followed in the same footsteps as my grandmother and mother. No greater goal, and no greater honour that will be.

Happy Mother’s Day, Granny. You are loved and so missed, but I know you will be with me in spirit when I get to walk the streets that you once loved and walked.

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom. You are loved and appreciated, even though we don’t always say and show it! No one makes better brownies and fudge (the kids will be placing their orders for when we visit in May) and you are such an example to us all in every way. While I appreciate the big things that you do, it’s really all the little things that make you so special. I am blessed to call you mother.

 

PS. Mother’s day marks my 5 year anniversary of writing this blog! My first blog post is here.

My favourite mother’s day story is here.

Happy 15th Birthday, Zandra!

15? Can you believe it! And what an incredible girl she is continuing to become!

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For her birthday, we celebrated last night with a birthday dinner of her choice – pasta with rose sauce and (I did one with a cheese sauce too), caesar salad and a strawberry cake (a little thick on the icing as it kept melting as I was putting it on!)

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This morning we gave her some gifts, including her traditional candy poster card. Her main gift, comes in the shape of her “15 trip” to Europe (in June – which she is doing with Zach – so excited!), and we gave her a little spending money for it now.

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What can I say about one of the sweetest human beings on earth? Well, I can come up with tons of things, but I will share 15:

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  1. She has a true heart of gold. She is so so so kind. Kind to everyone – (even when they don’t particularly  deserve her kindness.
  2. She has such a creative, artsy streak. I love how she can think up great art projects and make everything look so simple.
  3. She is a very loyal friend. She is a friend you can rely on. She tries to treat everyone with compassion and empathy.
  4. She is an awesome dancer!
  5. She is willing to try new things, even when she knows they will be hard! She keeps going (even though she rolls her eyes at me pushing her to “Do Hard Things!”
  6. She is a great sister. Loves her brothers; is always willing to help them, hug them, tickle them, talk with them, laugh with them, share gossip with them…
  7. She gives great back and head scratches…poor girl. She is always being asked!
  8. Her willingness to accept that she makes mistakes, owns them, repairs them and then tries her best to change them. So open and so humble.
  9. Her beautiful spirit. There is a innocence, a pure heart and soul and a glow that she radiates.
  10. Her sense of style and her talents with hair and makeup! She can do almost anything!
  11. Her willingness to always help! She always offers to do things for people, and she is cheery when she does them too!
  12. Her bubbly personality, her amazing smile, her constant laugh. She is a ray of sunshine on our house always!
  13. Her love of her pets! She smothers Reggie with love!
  14. Her ability to know right from wrong and to advocate for what she knows is right!
  15. Her flexibility. She is super easy going. Willing to go with the flow, share with others, let others shine too.

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She really is a spectacular girl and we are so blessed to have her in our family! Love her sooooo much!

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Happy 15 Sweet Pea!

xox

 

Soccer Round Up

Well the winter season has wound down, and the summer season is winding up!

At the end of the season,  both Josh and Zach got to head out to the Tim Horton’s stadium in Hamilton where the Pam Am games were played last summer. Apparently the change rooms were pretty cool for the kids to go in pre and post game. No pics of those though, as that would be creepy:)

Funny that we were there 2 weekends in a row and had never been there before, but it was a fun experience for both of them.

Here’s some snaps of the games:

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^^^ Josh’s game was in the evening so we had some nice magic hour lighting, followed by the big spotlights coming on in the stadium.  The night before I drove Josh and two of his teammates to practice and they were talking about heading to the stadium the next evening and how they needed to be in tip top shape, because “we are playing on the big stage tomorrow night, boys” as one of them said. So cute! Love 12- 13 year olds!

Zach’s game was played in the day and it was a gorgeous day! The sun was bright, but it was a little cool, so I bundled in a blanket.

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^^^ I’ve told Zach he needs to be a little nicer on the field….

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^^^ The stadium. We were all sitting on one side.

Josh has headed off to a tournament this weekend in Mont Tremblant with his team.

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He is flying solo, with no parent! His Dad is away and it was hard for me to get away this weekend (it gets pricey too), so we decided to send him on his own (under the supervision of some of his teammates’ parents of course!). I have to admit, I am a bit nervous about him flying solo…but no fear, my friend sent me this pic of him on the bus and I think he is doing quite fine! Lol:

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I loved Rob’s commentary when I texted it to him:

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Oh my. They grow up.

This is 44

I remember when 40 seemed so old.

It wasn’t that long ago actually. I think I thought 40 was old when I was in my early 30’s. Amazing how “old’ changes as we get older.

Of course turning 44 a couple of days ago made me take stock in how I think my life is fairing so far. What have I done so far? Whom have I helped? Have I focused on the right things? Do I have too many regrets? What do I wish I had done differently?

Of course, it’s too late to redo things, so I started to think about my future and what I still want to do. For me, travel is a high priority; living internationally, serving and volunteering internationally and leisure travel. I also mentioned to Rob that I wanted to own a beach house by the time I’m 50. Zach was around when I said it, and he had the realization shortly after, “hey, 50’s not so far for you. I was thinking that getting a beach house is such a long way away, but for you, it’s only 6 years.” Thanks, Zach. Family is of course top priority in any future plans I envision for myself too. Travel and family, combined, to me is the best.

So while the past may seem a little depressing, the future seems a little daunting and uncertain, I focused on the present and enjoyed my day.

I like to extend my birthday over the whole week:) When everyone has different schedules, it’s hard to nail a celebration down to one time in particular. So, it started with a trip to my all time favourite restaurant for sushi and an incredible chocolate tart with Rob on our date night a few days earlier. (I’ve gotten out of taking pictures, but really need to start it up again).

It was followed by some arguments with some teenagers over plans that weekend, but then ended up with two different dinners out over the weekend with varying combinations of kids: Mexican and Indian. (I even snuck in an Italian lunch with my three highschoolers on their day off mid week; not officially for my birthday, but the timing was perfect.)

On my actual day, I had to get Zach out to his final season end games and team dinner 1.5 hours away. Although I will complain about the drive, it’s pretty awesome to have your child your prisoner for that whole time with no wifi connection and only you to talk to.  That in itself was a gift, but I also got spoiled in the morning with some awesome gifts which included chocolate, foam bath, tootsie rolls, travel magazines, lip gloss, two coupons for lunches out (“when we are both free” one of them said….), some pretty awesome poems, pictures, collages and notes and the coolest little book (Famous Last Words) and an incredible painting of a tree – symbolic of some reading that I have been doing and sharing with Rob. Although I need to be a tiger Mom when it comes to birthdays and gifts, I don’t mind. I love having to force everyone to think about birthdays, because, hey – you are celebrating the life of someone! (I also figure the “forcing” that I do now, will only benefit my children’s future partners. I don’t want to be raising lame-os who put no effort into celebrating someone’s birthday. You’ re welcome, future daughter and son in laws). I sure appreciated the messages, text, cards, calls and face times too that came throughout my “birthday week”.

We finished off the day with an awesome cake and cuddles with a little and everyone heading to bed early (was that part of my birthday gifts too? It sure felt that way.)

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Now to really enjoy 44. I plan on living a long time (like both my grandmothers), so despite feeling a bit old, I figure I’m just hitting the halfway mark.

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Cheesy smile and all…