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!)


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…

CDF 24 hours 

I’m getting a glimpse of our future life; the one where I am the crazy Mom who obsesses about having all her children together under one roof for a meal.

Because that’s what I’ve become.

We arrived home from our getaway with Sam and Josh and quickly started unpacking and getting laundry going! I sent Gabe a text to let him know we were home and he was nearby and home in 5 min. (I laughed because I also sent him this pic suggesting he come help unpack (I was kidding) and he was there 5 min later  (but hadn’t received the picture):

Rob’s bag had never made it home from Edmonton last week with him but they delivered it to our neighbors while he was gone. Phew. So happy to add that laundry to the pile too.

The boys quickly unpacked and decided to go on a biking adventure. The littles are loving having Gabe around and he’s being such an awesome big brother with them! He took some hilarious video of Sam getting stuck going up a mud hill and sent me these pics:

That night we headed out for icecream and saw an incredible sunset (well bits of it; hard with all the trees and buildings!) 

The next day we did the usual run around and then got excited for Zandra coming home! Her leader (my good friend Julie) had sent me this pic of her at camp :

We were super excited to get this girl home and hear about her fun adventures! 

That evening we sat outside and caught up more with Gabe and enjoyed the new set up in our backyard:

(Yup that’s me lying on the couch on my phone checking flight updates for Zachs flight home!!)

I had heard from Zach finally at 5pm via text and he called when he got to his gate in LAX. I was so excited to hear his voice! Within the first few seconds I could tell that this trip had been a life changing one that he will always remember.

His flight was scheduled to arrive at 1:30am, but was late and landed at 2:50am! But by 3:30 he came out! (Rob and Gabe were there too and took most of the pics except for 1 (the one from a different angle!)

^^^ ok I know that is a terrible picture of me but it shows how crazy happy I was to see him! 

He was awesome. Had the most incredible time. Ever. Best 2.5 weeks of his life. 

We all ended up getting up for church, as exhausted as we all were! But, it was Sam’s first time to pass the sacrament, and Zach’s to bless (you have to be 12 to pass and 16 to bless) so they wanted to go. It was so beautiful to have all 4 boys together and partake of that sacred ordinance for us.

We headed off for church (and they all indulged me with pictures):

I know. Crazy Mom.

Here’s a glimpse of them before the meeting:

^^^Sam’s on a lower step. He’s not that short!!

So happy to get my girl back too (even though we talked and texted while she was at camp — just that little bit of contact is so helpful,  I have learned!!!)

(And as an update… Zach did have technical issues with his email, but had sent us one using a leader’s email, but we never got it!)

It was “testimony meeting”  at church (which means there is no set service, people just go up and share their thoughts/feelings/testimony if they want.) It’s not a common thing for Rob and me to do, but we both did, as did Zach. He shared the most beautiful thoughts and testimony and I will jot them down in my personal journal to remember forever.

The afternoon we had FHE which we spent hearing about some of Zach’s trip and seeing some pics.

(Side note: Let’s take a look at our new set up:)

 Later on I spent more time with Zach and went through his travel journal (he is an awesome recorder and writer). He shared some souvenirs, including my fave:

It has become tradition that when  he goes away without me, he brings me back a nativity. I have some cool ones as he goes to some cool places without me!!!

He also brought back a hammock, which he is working hard at either figuring out how to hang it in his room (not going to happen) or how to convince us to pay for a hammock stand (he’s working on it…)!

It was so awesome to have all these guys together and share so many laughs! There is no place I’d rather be then with them (even when they drive me crazy). We are so so blessed to have the best family!

Love you all more! 

Quote of the Week

“In your moments of decision, is where your destiny is shaped” Tony Robbins

I know I’ve harped on this one with my kids for years; they are sick of hearing it.

But really, who can argue with Tony Robbins? Who would want to argue with him? I shudder at the thought.

It doesn’t hurt that Thomas S. Monson back in the 70’s coined, “Decisions determine destiny.” (Sorry, Tony, I think he beat ya to it)

And you definitely don’t want to argue with that man. He’d love you to death.

My kids are pretty sick of hearing how what you do now, impacts you later. Your choices now, will either open or close doors later.

I heard another quote that I LOVED:

“Easy choices now, hard life later. Hard choices now, easy life later.”

It may not always hold true, but I sure have found it pretty darn accurate in my life.

(But,  I also think it’s a good idea to make some easy choices now too! It needs to be a balance…)

Happy decision making!