Father’s Day 

Poor Rob. Having birthday and Father’s Day so close together is not as fun.

We try to separate the two: celebrating the birth and life of Rob; and then celebrating the father and stepfather Rob is. 

Not hard to do because he seriously rocks at everything! 

Rob is a patient, kind, loving, super smart, funny, compassionate, and a great looking guy! He will always put both me and the kids first, ahead of any of his own needs. He is often found driving people around or picking them up – at all hours! He is the go to guy for any school projects or work, and pretty much knows everything. If he doesn’t, he quickly becomes an expert on it. All that, and one of the most humble guys I’ve ever known.

He serves at our church as the leader of the young men, and he is constantly trying to find ways to teach them, inspire them, and have fun with them. He dedicates a lot of time to all this volunteer work and is always concerned for their well being. 

At work, he is so respected and admired for his smarts, hard work, integrity and relationship skills. So it’s not just us who love him! 

For our family, he not only is a Dad, but he’s a Stepdad. Many people don’t understand how challenging a step role can be and he does it so amazingly well. Even Zach and Josh’s Dad will sing Rob’s praises. The boys really feel they are loved by two Dads- how amazing is that? 

Rob also has the spiritual strength, hard work ethic and character filled with integrity that I know is what holds us all together. He calms the storm, finds the light, listens to understand and focuses on the important. He is a cheerleader, a guide, a negotiator and protector. He teaches gratitude and gives us all unconditional love.

Need I go on? You get the picture. We are blessed. Very very much.

Father’s Day is pretty fun because we have some traditions which include going to walk around the outdoor exotic car show. Rob missed having Gabe around this year though because he’s the biggest car lover out of the boys.

We had a good time; followed by a low key afternoon and then a nice dinner.
Here are some moments I captured: 

Father’s Day brunch after church (we decided we’d do a sleep in this year!):


The outdoor car show: 





Happy Father’s Day Robbie McHottie! 

Surprise!

Zandra had her Sweet 16 back in May.

A couple of weeks ago, Zandra’ s Mom sent Rob an email inviting us (including Zach and Josh) to a Surprise Sweet 16 party with all her family from her Mom’s side.

That in itself was a surprise, but we certainly jumped at the opportunity to celebrate the special occasion and surprise Zandra, in addition to try to make positive steps towards a much healthier relationship her with Mom.

Things didn’t start off too well when we were stuck in traffic along the way and ended up pulling up close to Zandra and her Mom (on their way to the party too) on the highway!! Zandra leaned out the window to wave and then quickly texted me to ask where we were going.

Luckily, the boys’ Dad lives that same way, or we are always on that route heading to soccer anyways so it was easy come up with an excuse. Not that she would ever be suspicious that we would be attending a family BBQ on her Mom’s side that she thought she was going to!!

We arrived at her Grandmother’s home (who has always been very kind and welcoming to us) and most people were just arriving too. I thought it would be stranger meeting everyone. But, the kids have talked about their aunts, uncles and cousins so much over the years, it was really just putting names to faces.

What was so nice to see (and really not surprising) was how happy everyone was to see Rob! He was greeted and hugged so warmly! Everyone said he had not changed a bit (although Josh nicely pointed out that he had more grey hair!!) and it was nice to see him catch up with people he had not seen in so long.

When Zandra arrived, I didn’t have my phone with me to capture the moment, but her reaction was priceless. It was irritation! She looked around and just said “What?” She had a lot of studying to do; she  thought it was a simple BBQ so she could sneak off and study, and all of a sudden her entire extended family was there. Then she saw us! She was perplexed and shocked, but then the realization set it that this party was for her!

I was so happy for her, as I know all the kids had wanted to have peace between their parents for so long. Life is just so much easier when you don’t have to worry so much about things between your two families. We have done things before all together and it definitely has gotten better over the years, but this was the first time that it was initiated by their Mom and we thought it was a great success. I think maybe we are all ready to turn a new chapter and forge a new relationship!

Here are a few pics of Zandra at the party:

 




 

 

 

Happy Birthday Robbie! 

Getting older can be such a drag. I know, we are only mid 40’s and that IS still young; but you feel it with how your body changes and how you feel emotionally and mentally. Just slight changes, but they are there.

However, having a heart attack in your early 40’s gives life a very new and very real perspective. While initially everyone always asked how Rob was doing after his heart attack, like most things, it fades in the past and people eventually forget. It becomes a minor thing you endured. Which is the way it should be to others.

But, not to Rob. It’s always there. It’s always a memory that can be pulled up instantaneously. Something that affected him to the very core. Not in a frightened, anxiety, fear driven way that it was initially, but almost in a reverent way. What blessing it has become in many ways. How grateful he is to be alive!  Every time he sets out for a run, no matter how tired he is, or doesn’t feel like running, he is so grateful to be able to run. That his legs move, that he is breathing, and his heart is pumping. 
It’s a honour to be able to feel all the small things that go along with getting older. 

Funny way to start a birthday post for the love of my life, but one of the things I adore about Rob is his gratitude for being alive, and his ability to live in the present.

So turning 46 is a privilege! (And don’t worry, I know he is still young and there’s lots more to come. But what an honour to be able to wake up every day to create whatever day you want).

As my kids get older (and my nieces and nephews, and friends’ children) I look at them experiencing the joys of falling in love, the heartbreak of breaking up, and all the in between. As they explore who they are, and strive to find their place in the world, as well as the perfect companion, I am filled with excitement (and worry for them). So many adventures lie ahead of them! 

I feel so so blessed to be married to this birthday boy who is the perfect match for me. We are perfectly imperfect together. He is perfectly imperfect on his own.

I sent my niece a text a couple of weeks ago (she has been dating a boy who seems really awesome and I have been drilling her with questions) and told her that to this day, I can spot Rob in a crowd of people across the room and think, “wow,  he is mine” and he’s still my favourite person to be with. 


There’s no one I’d rather share my dreams with, parent with, laugh with, plan with, travel with, debate with,clean with, work with, binge watch Netflix with, eat sushi with, walk with, converse, explore with, serve with, pray with, and certainly grow old with.


I can not think of a better father and stepfather. There is no difference to him; which makes him the perfect father of our family. His wisdom and concern is always   there. As is his ability to to have fun and share in their lives. He is always sacrificing and doing things for them with pleasure. 



He is truly a joy to be around and you feel a little bit wiser after spending time with him.

We are so blessed to call this guy husband, Dad, and Rob.


Happy Birthday Robbie! Enjoy your special day (or days since we have to squeeze in celebrations around the kids’ exam and sports’ schedules!! Another testament to what a guy you are….)

A few snaps of the celebration: 

Cake number 1 on the actual day: 


Presents:

It had rained so our picnic plan was ruined; front porch it was!


The boys always try to blow candles from afar! 


Zandra and I made the famous oatmeal cake and it was delicious!

Quote of the Week

“Live in such a way that if someone spoke badly of you, no one would believe it.”

Today marks 14 years since my Dad’s passing. So when I came upon this quote, I thought it fit perfectly.

My Dad was certainly the kind of guy that you really couldn’t say much bad about.

Well, ok. Maybe you could say he was a huge talker. And sometimes talked about random things. He also tended to name drop about people on his mission (like you were supposed to know who they were??). And Sundays took him FOREVER to leave church (this one scarred me for life I think, as now we are usually one of the first families to leave the building after church)! He also liked to get into political debates particularly when he knew you would get flustered. He could be a bit of a bugger like that.

But anything “BAD” about him? No.

If anyone spoke badly of him, it would be hard to believe.

All his talking was usually because he wanted to see how people were doing, or he would be giving some advice, or telling a funny story to make people laugh. Or sometimes because he was just in a social mood. Despite all his talking, he was generally a loner.

However, you would not hear him criticize anyone. He was the first one to go visit someone who was ill. He would stop to chat with people on the street  and say hello to absolutely everyone. He would pick things from his garden and deliver them to neighbours. He would shovel people’s driveways in the winter.

He would go into random churches to pray and light candles for someone he knew was suffering. And take you to those churches every chance he got which fostered a love of all churches everywhere. This was of course in addition to diligently attending all his own church services and meetings.

He was a teacher who didn’t work school hours. In early, home late, and delivering course work to the homes of student’s who were sick.

Most importantly, he would show up on my doorstep with a danish pastry, after taking the bus and subway for 1.5 hours just because that morning he thought I sounded sad.

I miss him. I feel like with every year I miss him more, as there are so many things I would like to ask him. As the kids grow older I wish that they had a chance to know their Grandpa. When I see one of the boys do something that he used to do though, it makes me happy to see that part of his legacy is continuing on in small ways.

He blessed our lives when he was here and continues to bless our lives now that he is watching over us.

Monthly snaps of life 

It’s been a long time since I’ve documented all the in between moments:

Church and visitors:

Found this one mixed in of the kids having to take the preventative drink prior to our Cambodia/Vietnam trip! :

Napping:)


My mom sent me this pic of my dad:

Sometimes teenagers can just stay up too late:

Heading to the BEFY conference: 

Gabe came home for a week in April; this is the only pic I got:

Heading to early morning seminary:

Reggie enjoying FHE:

Heading to church:


Braces off! :

School concert and Zandra in the choir:

Refusing to get up:

Zandra’s dance show. She was awesome!!:


Screen shot of the school weekly update. Look who’s in it! :

Cherry Beach:

On the soccer sidelines for a tournament for Josh; so freezing!!! :

They came in 2nd:


May 24 fireworks. Gone are the days where the kids watch them with us:

Our regular sushi date on Wednesday nights:

Reggie:

Rob was away most of May and Reggie missed him and couldn’t get enough of him when he was home:

Josh’s soccer team BBQ:

Trying to beat his coach Marko in basketball:

Leftover from Cambodia; driving on the wrong side of the road?!

Zach and friends heading to the Athletic’s banquet (Zach won MVP for the soccer team!!) :


I came home and wondered if my brother was visiting?! Rob had been golfing and the boys were practicing inside! :

Soccer Sam! Soccer season is in full swing! :

Embrace the mess 

I’ve talked about “the mess” in our home before. 

We aren’t particularly messy people, but with all those kids, there’s gonna be some mess. I’ve tried to let it go and sometimes I can and other times it drives me crazy.

I was listening to a podcast a couple of weeks  ago (I’m addicted to podcasts now) and the guest was talking about how fed up she was of having her kids’ toys in her living room. She was complaining that she didn’t have a basement to have a playroom in. 

The host, very wisely pointed out, while having the toys in her living room may be a pain now, it allows her to be around her kids more. Now when you have toddlers and young kids, I’m not sure that that is such an appealing idea. Maybe you sort of want a break from your kids! Haha. 

However, my challenge is that my kids study in the dining room. And as they are getting older, I find they are more and more leaving all their books all around the dining room. So it gets messy! I was constantly on them to put their stuff away, and not let our dining room look like it’s a high school locker! I told them to keep their books in their rooms after they are done.

In our house, our bedrooms are not really used except for sleeping. They aren’t allowed electronics in their rooms, so everyone tends to hang out in the living room or the family room (in our basement). No one really has a desk in their room either. So the dining room it is. However, the idea of lugging their books up to their rooms was not appealing, so it was a fight to get them to do it. 

 This podcast got me thinking; instead of resisting the mess, I should embrace it and be grateful that they are all very present in our house – even when studying! Soon enough those books will be all gone. Just like I no longer have toys in my living room; eventually they grow up and the mess disappears.

I decided to embrace the study mess, like I had the toy mess (I always kept baskets of toys in the living room – I didn’t have a family room). I went out and bought a big basket (I think I actually need two now!) that can be used to store all the binders and books (we already have a few drawers of supplies in built in shelving in our dining room). 

Every time I see them study, or see the mess, I remind myself that one day there will be no mess and I’ll look back on these days so fondly. Right now, I need to appreciate that they are around when studying and that they are actually studying(!!)

Quote of the week 

This week we were talking about failure.

Not all failure is bad. In fact, failure can be good.

Of course, we talked about what kind of failure is good.

Failure that comes from not trying, not putting effort in, not taking responsibility, not showing up, sitting back and letting things slide… that’s NOT the failure we’re talking about. That’s not a good kind of failure, and not the kind that will  help you grow.

Failure as a result of putting effort in (but still not having success), trying new things (but not doing well), taking smart risks (but falling flat on your face)… this is the GOOD failure. 

That is the kind of failure where you can learn and grow. Getting out of your comfort zone could result in failure – but it’s a great failure! You tried something new, you pushed yourself, you learned valuable lessons. 

I love the second quote that a work colleague told Rob his mother used to teach him: success is built on the pillars of failure.

How many success stories have you  heard that DON’T include some failure? Often multiple failures! Or big failures! Not many. Because we are bound to fail if we are aiming to succeed. We are bound to fall while learning to walk.  If we anticipate the failure, maybe it won’t be so scary anymore. 

We told the kids to aim to have great successes, but expect a lot of failure too. And welcome that failure. Embrace it. Learn from it. Don’t fear it. After all, it shows you are on the right track. 

Granny and Papa’s Video

I’ve written about my grandparents before, especially last year when we had the opportunity to trace some of Granny and Papa’s steps from their early years in their native Germany, when we took Zach and Zandra on their 15 trip. You can find some stories of our adventures last year (which share the stories of my grandparents) here, here and here.

I got a text from Zach earlier this week in the middle of the day telling me he had found a one hour  interview with what he thought were “Gran’s parents” and wondered if I had seen it? I didn’t know anything like that existed!

He said, “It’s either another Paul and Erika Busing who emigrated from Germany due to the war met at a place which started with T and both went to uni, or it’s them.”

Lo and behold, it was them.

Apparently, “the interview with Paul and Erika Busing was conducted on August 31, 1989 by Dr. James Kelley in Rengsdorf, Germany and is part of the Bagby Videotape Archives of Early Christian Resisters to the Hitler Regime. The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum received a copy of the interview from Dr. Kelley on May 29, 1996.

Zach was doing research for a couple of assignments on WWII and the Holocaust for school, and had decided to try to look them (Granny and Papa) up to see if anything was written about them, when he stumbled across the video. He was shocked that no one in the family had seen it before. When I sent an email out to the family, some said they had known that Granny and Papa had done several interviews like this, but no one had seen the recording. I suspect it was recently put on the internet as I had done some research before our trip last year and had come across some of my grandfather’s writings, but nothing like this.

Hearing their voices, and seeing their faces and mannerisms made me cry as I quickly played it as soon as Zach told me about it. I texted Zach that it made me cry and shiver, and he responded, “Yeah, I knew it would. I can’t believe I found that. I wanted to see the tears in person crap.” Lol. There are always plenty of tears from me, Zach.

I love that in the video, they tell parts of their story in their own voices, and we hear their thick German accents (“They sound so GermanT”, Zach commented, and Josh said “Granny is like a German Gran!” (haha Gran – but I do see it!!)

I have heard most of the stories before (and many are recorded in Granny’s book), but to have them tell the tale is priceless. It’s also priceless to see Papa holding his chin, scratching his head, sitting far back in his chair, and seeing him wiggle his ears (no, he doesn’t do that on the video, but I could so picture him turning to me and wiggling his ears, then winking, calling me “Kindergarten girl” and then taking my picture:). Granny’s laugh, her eye roll when she is thinking and talking and how she often looked at Papa as she was responding, to get his agreement and check in to see how he was feeling. All simply priceless!

I laughed outloud at about 11 minutes in when the interviewer called Papa, Herr Busing, and he quickly said, “By the way, please don’t call me Mr. Busing, my name is Paul”, and then Granny piped in “Ja, and mine is Erika.” They were such down to earth people.

I miss them so much.

While this video won’t mean much to many, I decided I absolutely needed to document about it on my blog so that I could save the link (as I try to figure out how to permanently download) and remember how we found it.

Here it is:  https://collections.ushmm.org/search/catalog/irn513451

Families really are forever.

 

 

Mother’s Day

Mothers Day is my children’s most favourite day of the year.

Ha. 

This was one of the first conversations I had in the morning while snuggling with my teenager(s)  (thanks to Rob for forcing the boys to get up early on Mother’s Day), I asked him what his friends were doing with their mothers today?

Him: “I don’t know. I don’t think it’s that big of a deal”

Me: “Well, we (mothers) did give you life”

Him: “I know, that’s why we talk to you sometimes.”

What a beauty.(I know some people have been appalled at that exchange, but given the mouth it came from, it’s meant in good humour).

I still liked snuggling with them.


We had a pretty nice day, including a breakfast of my choosing and some nice gifts:


We headed to church (don’t worry,he hams up the face too) :


We then came home for our traditional bike ride down the trail and ended up in the same park we go to every year. Boy that area is sure building up:


Some fun at the park: 






Afterwards, I got to just chill, relax, read and nap, got some nice texts from the kids and facetimed Gabe. Reggie was exhausted by the day’s events:


We then had our traditional Mother’s Day meal (traditions are really so handy because you don’t have to think about everything all the time)!

It really was a lovely day. 

So happy to be a Mom and stepmom to my amazing crew. 

Quote of the Week

This week’s quote was actually more of a story.

Gretchen Rubin writes (and talks, as I was listening to her podcast) about the one coin loophole, based on “The argument of the growing heap”, which is found in Erasmus’s “Praise of Folly”, which reads:

“If ten coins are not enough to make a man rich, what if you add one coin? What if you add another? Finally, you will have to say that no one can be rich unless one coin can make him so.

When I read this outloud during family night, everyone just sort of stared at me with blank faces.

Huh?

It helped when I added, “Often when we consider our actions, it’s clear that any one instance of an action is almost meaningless, yet at the same time, a sum of those actions is very meaningful. Whether we focus on the the single coin, or the growing heap, will shape our behaviour.”

That resonated so well with me. But I could see my kids were still a little blurry eyed until I gave them some examples:

“What difference does it make if I spend one afternoon playing video games instead of studying.”

“What difference does it make if I skip going to the gym today.”

“Saving this $5 won’t make a big difference, it’s not enough to buy anything anyways.”

“Eating just one cupcake is not a big deal.”

In isolation, nothing is a big deal really. “It’s not going to make or break you,” is a saying we’ve encountered many times over the years. And this “single coin” analogy sums it up nicely. Focusing on the one, lonely, measley coin won’t make you rich. But the accumulation of coins is what we are focusing on, and that makes all the difference.

How many times have I use the single coin loophole? How many times do I justify doing or not doing something because it is just this once? I think I need to start focusing on the heap and taking pride in watching it grow.