Quote of the Week

“Let me fall if I must fall. The one I become will catch me.”

I think one of my favorite words is the word “becoming”. It is such a positive, hopeful word. 

There’s an awesome talk by Dallin H. Oaks, a leader in my church called “The Challenge to Become“. He talks about how the end result is not always the most important thing; it is the journey we take to become that. Who we are now is not as important as who we become. 

Similarly, one of my favorite poems, “Ithaka” talks about the same thing. It’s about the journey. Not the final destination. I talked about this poem here

When I look at my kids, what I love watching the most, is who they are becoming. 

Don’t get me wrong. I love who they are now. And I want to freeze the moment in time, and even go back in time as it’s going by too fast.

But since I can’t do that, I love watching, observing, supporting and admiring who they are becoming. I love who I know they will be in the future. I love watching them become who they were meant to be. And learn who they were meant to be. All the challenges they have in their life help them build character and they become stronger because of those experiences.
I love how this quote talks about failing, and falling, because we will all do that many times! But we can have confidence that who we have become because of the challenge will be there to catch us.

Isn’t that beautiful and so hopeful? 

Quote of the Week

What would you do if you were not afraid?”

(I am so insanely behind with our quote of the weeks! I look at what is up in my kitchen and both I have not written about!! (I keep 2 weeks up at a time). I will play a little catch up now, although the next few weeks are super hectic, so I think the next time we have a family night and I introduce the new quote with be in August — but BOTH Gabe and Zach will be back to have it with us!!! )

 Recently, I have been reading the book “Option B” by Sheryl Sandberg.

I am only about halfway through it, but honestly, it’s one of the most amazing books I have read. I look forward to a little time off the first week of August so I can devour it. Although for me, it’s a “stop and think” kind of book, so I don’t want to rush it! 

I started reading it, because I knew it would be a helpful read for many of my clients that are dealing with finding their “Option B’s”  in life. I thought it would help give me some perspective, some empathy and something to share with them.

It is an extremely powerful book. Not only have I learned things that I can use with my clients, but I am learning so much that I can apply personally in my life.

Because the reality is, in life we all at some point have to go with Option B. Probably multiple times.

In one chapter, she talks about fear, and how fear can prevent us from moving on, facing challenges, doing new things, engaging in a project, speaking up, showing up, investing in a relationship, chasing that dream, writing that book, running that race, embarking on that adventure, singing that song, asking that question etc. 

You get the point. We can be driven away from doing things simply out of fear. Of course we can justify that it’s not out of fear (“I changed my mind”, “I think I’m better off not doing it”), but so often it is! 

So she asks the question, “What would I do if I wasn’t afraid?”

That really resonated with me because often times I think we make choices based on fear rather than faith.   Asking ourselves what we could do if we weren’t afraid, can sometimes open up new avenues of opportunities.

Perhaps if we remove fear then we would be more willing to stick our neck out and try something new; learn a new skill, do something different, talk to someone new, write a book, give a presentation, travel to a new place. The options could be endless!

I do tell my kids that sometimes fear is positive. They should be scared of certain things. That is what will protect them from doing some dangerous, stupid things. But more often than not we are fearful of things that we really don’t need to be afraid of.

What would you do if you were not afraid?

Something for me to really stop and honestly ponder. 

And He’s Off….

I have sent my boys off many times now over the years without me on vacation but they have always been with their Dad (or their grandparents).

I have sometimes gone several days without talking to them while they are away. I definitely miss them and think about them, but I’m relatively used  to the whole thing. When you are divorced, you quickly realize it’s not an option to keep them with you forever. (People used to comment to me, “I could never do that” when I said the boys were away. Well, there’s a lot of “nevers” that you end up doing).

Well sending Zach off to Ecuador seemed different somehow. And now that he is there, I have essentially no contact with him except for the instagram pictures his group posts every couple of days so we know they are alive and well, I feel quite unsettled! Strange how the mind can play games on you knowing that you can’t reach them, so wanting to reach them even more!

The plan was for his Dad to take him to the airport and for me to pick him up. Truthfully, I wasn’t crazy about this plan. At all. But I agreed to it, not wanting to be the crazy helicopter Mom.


But who’s kidding who. I can not deny who I am!

So the night before, he went to sleep at his Dad’s and I was fretting and told Rob I was going to go to the airport afterall.

His response: “Of course you are. I was already planning on getting up at 3am to take you.”

Have I ever mentioned how much I love this man?!

I’m sure Zach’s Dad thought it was not necessary for me to be there (hovering a bit too close), but he let it go.

My alarm set for 3:15, I got a call from his Dad at 3am. His Dad had some bad food poisoning and wasn’t able to leave the house.

So off we went to go get Zach first before heading to the airport.

I didn’t mind that one bit!


We arrived and checked in. His bag was a teeny bit too heavy. Which we totally knew. The night before it was a lot too heavy so we had tried to move things around and put more in his carryon. No, he’s not an excessive packer (like me), but he was taking things for the project they are working on, the kids at the orphanage, as well as the families that he will meet. So we couldn’t remove anything there. We were able to get it down to “not so bad, they won’t care about a little overage.”


Wrong. They care. At least their automated scale cares and when you are .2 over, you are charged $100. Eek. Out came his snacks for the next two weeks (luckily I’m a pretty good packer so was able to get most into his carryon which was stuffed to the max too as he had to have all his stuff for the weekend in the Galapagos in there as their checked bag was continuing on to Cuenca).

Anyhow…


We got to the gate and had a tiny bit of anxiety to contend with. I secretly love it when my kids act like they need some reassurance from me:))


And then he was off!!



We texted a bit to know he had gotten through security and customs (without a single question!) and then he was on his way.

I heard from him in LA where he was able to navigate the airport and find the right terminal, get all checked in and head to the gate. He met a couple of people from his group at check in and that put my mind at ease.

The next we heard was through a picture on instagram that they had arrived safely! At this point, he had been up for 24 hours and had another 6 hour wait and 2 hour flight to go!


But it looks like he’s doing just fine.

They already hit the beach (the next update):


What an adventure of a lifetime!

July Long Weekend Part 2

We woke up early and I headed over to pick Zandra up as she was at her Mom’s.

We had to take Rob’s car, as he needed my truck for camp. Rob is not a huge fan of anyone driving his car, so it was kind of hilarious that the time I do drive it, I take it away for a long weekend. Far.

He survived just fine. As did the car.

Zandra and I headed out and had a long drive to Montreal. Long Weekend traffic all the way there. Ugh.

But how I love this girl and the discussions we have! Time whizzed by and we stopped for some yummy snacks and lunch and talked our way to Montreal.

We hung out with Gran and Di when we arrived and caught up on everything before heading out for dinner to a place Gran always goes to celebrate my Dad’s birthday (it had been earlier in the week). We followed it up with ice cream, and then lots more talking before bed!


The next morning,we made a nice brunch and spent the morning visiting again. I talk to my Mom quite frequently on a weekly basis, but it’s nice to have the face to face!

We then headed off to pick Emma up and headed to the cottage for the night.

While the girls did a number on the remaining snacks in the car, we all chatted about life.

Then they pretty much disappeared as soon as we arrived at the cottage!

Which was fine by me, as Tarina and I had some face to face catching up to do. We too are in frequent weekly contact, but the face to face time is just so fun!


We had a great time talking, and laughing into the night. We also got to enjoy a great meal prepared by Robert (Tarina’s husband)!


The next day we headed out on a nice hike. We then went out on the boat (Robert was there too!) and then had some good girl time in the hot tub. We haven’t had a PG weekend in a couple of years, so our hot tub time was our mini version!


We had the best poutine in the village for lunch and then took a nice long boat ride in the afternoon.


Zandra and I said our good byes and headed back to spend a nice evening with my Mom and sister again. We headed out for a nice walk too.


We left early the next morning to beat traffic – so glad we did!

Meanwhile…back at camp…


The boys continued to have an awesome time by their account. They were assigned to work on clearing trails, so more manual work. But they talked about fun in the water, good talks on the dock, dangerously and stupidly throwing bug spray cans into the fire for them to explode (I don’t think they were the initiators, but certainly not the innocent bystanders either), and a whole lot of laughter and funny stories. AND they didn’t kill each other. SUCCESS!!



Sam had gone up on the Thursday night, with Rob joining him on the Saturday night. Sam had a blast. He just gets right in there and enjoys everything. He swam, fished, played sports, and participated in every activity. Including taking care of himself, which Rob complained that most of the boys this age still can’t do….


They celebrated Canada day in a nearby small town and it sounds like they had a great time.


They also spent Sunday up at the camp so had their Sacrament meeting there and I heard it was pretty special being out in nature. All the boys said the Sunday meetings were so great. 


Josh especially loved being able to serve the sacrament in his slides. LOL.


Luckily Rob was at camp as he took pictures for me!


They arrived home all stinky, tired and filled with stories and laughs – exactly what teenage boys are supposed to do.


Rob came home appreciating his bed. He had a great time too and was glad he went.

A very memorable, and fun long weekend for us all!

July Long Weekend – Part 1

Before I let summer completely pass us by, I need to back track and talk about our July long weekend. I’ll do it in 2 parts so it’s not too overwhelming!

Josh has very specific, and limited time off from soccer in summer. He pretty much has a game every weekend. Between that, and having to share time with his Dad, he is pretty crunched for any time away.

However, the past couple of years YM camp has been on the long weekend, when there are no games scheduled. Hurray! He was especially excited as this year he was old enough to go to service corps.

Service corps is a camp for our regional boys 14-18 that is pretty much run by them, with very little leader support. It’s a camp and where they have fun, but spend most of their day providing service. In the past years the service entailed building up the Thomas S Monson Camp (building docks, trails, pavilions etc), but last year they decided to add another project: run all the activities in a camp for the younger guys aged 11-14 (christened “Camp Lehi” last year).

Service Corps has the reputation as being phenomenal. The boys work hard (and get their volunteer hours), play hard, and then bond and grow spiritually in incredible ways. Gabe went one year and it was an incredible experience (and lets just say camping is probably his least favourite thing to do and he hated us for forcing him to go (and I’m not exaggerating, I think in his mind we scarred him for life by making him go). But he had an incredible experience nonetheless. That’s how good service corps is! And we don’t regret forcing him one bit because that boy changed after service corps. Just sayin’).

Anyhow.

Josh was super excited to go. Then he was additionally happy when the stars aligned and Zach could go with him. I was hoping for them to have a great bonding brother experience.

Sam was also going to Camp Lehi (and was so excited to go!!), and Rob being YM president and having all his boys at some part of the camp, went as a leader with another friend from our ward.

Which meant Zandra and I could plan a little girls trip! We decided to head on over to Montreal to spend some time with my Mom/Gran and Auntie Di, as well as our bestie Tarina and Emma.

We were all excited for the weekend!

But logistics are never easy and with the boys having graduations so close to the end of school and Zach working, it ended up that the older boys missed the bus to take them up to camp. Not wanting them to miss too much of camp, we decided it would be best if I drove them up early the next morning (the Thursday).

We threw all their gear in the truck and took off for the 2 hour trek. My reward came early, when as we were pulling out, Josh said to me, “Wait. Are you driving up for 2 hours, dropping us off and then turning around and driving home for 2 hours?”

Yes.

Then in the most sincere voice (and I am not being sarcastic!), he simply said, “Thank you, Mom”). Kids – that’s all it takes. A thank you and a little appreciation. Love you forever.

We had a great drive up with lots of laughs and discussions. I love holding my kids prisoners on car rides. It is the BEST quality time ever!

We arrived to pouring rain, and of course the boys had carefully watched Rob show them how to set up their tent so were able to do it no sweat. NOT.

Those rats didn’t pay one bit of attention to Rob about what they had to do!

Zach finally figured the instructions out (thank goodness they were there) and some nice camper offered to help (thank goodness he was there).



I left them a bit muddy, and unsure if they wanted to stay (given the weather)….oh well. We do hard things. Ha!

I headed back to the city, and arrived home only to have to turn around and drive another 2 hours in the opposite direction for another special adventure in Niagara Falls.


My beautiful friend, Joumana, who I had not seen in 13 years, was visiting with her family from Lebanon and we had made plans to meet up weeks ago.

I picked Rob up (who was super busy with work and had to work the whole time in the car) and we headed out.

It was so worth every moment in that traffic.

Joumana and I were  very close friends back in my Montreal days. We met while working at the bank and lived through some pretty turbulent and life altering times together. But, we also having amazing memories of the fun we had, and the special years we shared. Our bond is a forever one and when we saw each other, there were tears of joy (literally) and then we picked up exactly where we left off; the sure sign of a forever friend.


We had a great dinner (who knows what I ate, we just could not stop talking and laughing) and I met her wonderful family (one beautiful daughter, named Leah(!!), and her two spunky sons). Her husband was there too, as well as one of his cousins and nephews and Rob spent the evening talking to them as Joumana and I were joined at the hip for the several hours together.



Unfortunately, we had to part, with promises not to let it be so long again….

We headed home, and I texted the boys who informed me that camp was “really, really good”. Phew. I was constantly checking the weather too – and it seemed to have cleared up after I had left.

All was right in the CDF clan and we headed off to bed, ready to start the next part of our adventurous weekend!

 

 

I Can Do It

My boys were very young when I got divorced. 

In some ways it was easier for them that way, as they don’t really have much of a memory of ever living with both parents. 


However,  it was initially really hard all the same because even though they were young, they still knew something was different. There was a lot of clinginess, calling out in the night and general insecurity and anxiety.


 They both seemed to struggle with the fear of abandonment which I talked about over here.

They always wanted to be with me. 

I think that’s pretty normal for most kids at different stages, but it became extreme in our home. The daycare would call me daily letting me know that Josh would be crying and crying at nap time (not that I could do anything, but they needed to let me know – that’s how bad it was!) Drop off at daycare was also a complete nightmare. It would have me crying after I left….

 Even at home, Zach would refuse to go upstairs without me. 

Our house had three floors. In the basement was where my office was. I usually was only in my office when they weren’t at home or when they were asleep. So, they rarely came down there. (Josh suspiciously created the idea that a “mean mommy” lived down there — hmmm, I wonder if I was stressed when they did see me come up from there?! He swears it was unrelated to how I acted….)

The main floor was where we spent most of our time. It was open concept, so they could see me wherever they were.

Upstairs was where the bedrooms and bathroom were. Zach would sometimes need to go to the bathroom or go to his room to get a toy and insisted I go with him. He became so scared of doing that without me. 


Initially, I thought it was cute, and I actually liked being needed. But then I started getting really concerned. I didn’t think it was normal for a four-year-old to be so scared of going upstairs on his own. Even in full daylight. For 2 seconds. And even if it was “normal”, it was not practical.

I started to tell him that he had to go up alone. He did not like this idea, and pushed back with many tears. Regardless of how much I was a sucker for his tears,  I knew he needed to learn how to do it. He certainly was capable of doing it. I just needed him to know that he was capable. 

We decided on two main strategies for him to get upstairs. The first one, was I would be speaking to him so he could always hear my voice. That way he knew that even though he couldn’t see me, I was still there. And I wasn’t going anywhere. 

The second strategy, was to teach him to self coach. He would start talking to himself. At first he would talk out loud with me, then gradually he would talk outloud alone and I would just reassure him every so often (“I’m right here; you’re doing great”.) 


Then gradually I would encourage him to say it softly, or even in his head.

We decided his mantra would be a very popular one: “I can do it. I can do it. I can do it.”

I so clearly remember having to go through the stages with him. And hearing his little voice telling himself he can do it. And me telling him he was ok, and he could do it ; he was doing it! 

Eventually he would go up the stairs and just say, “I’m doing it Mommy!”, and then, “I did it!” Finally, he just did it. It became a complete non issue.

It would come up here and there throughout his childhood when he’d get a bit anxious about something. “Talk yourself through it”, “tell yourself you can do it”, “what’s the worst that can happen? What’s the best that can happen?”

I don’t know how much of that initial “stair climbing” saga he actually remembers. Perhaps vaguely. 

I, on the other hand, have the memory etched into my heart. Because as a mother, I learned a very valuable lesson. It was nice being needed and wanted and having him depend on me, especially at such a vulnerable time in our lives. It was nice to feel that he needed my support always.

 But what was even better, was was seeing him learn that he can do things on his own. That he is capable. That even though he may feel anxiety, or be outright scared, he can coach himself through anything. Hopefully he will also always have my voice in his head reassuring him that I am always there and I believe in him. And hopefully, in all those trying moments, he will also know to turn to prayer and that will be a great source of strength and comfort to him.


Fast-forward 12 years later and he is setting out on an adventure on his own. He’s heading to Ecuador on a Humanitarian trip all on his own tomorrow morning.  He knows no one going on the trip, is the youngest in the group, and has to navigate three different terminals in LAX on his own to meet up with his group. 

As exciting as this adventure is, it actually makes me feel a little sick.

 I look at all the challenges that he may face, and I wish I could be there to talk him through it. 


However, I have complete faith and confidence that he is able to do it on his own. He will grow so much from this and have experiences that I know will forever change him.

I know that that little voice in his head will reappear every time he feels a little stuck or anxious, reminding him that he can do it. Hopefully mine will be there too reminding him of my love and faith in him. 


And of course, prayers along the way from both me and him will bring strength and comfort as a constant companion for him to travel with.

Off to finish packing. 

Happy 16th Birthday Zach! 

I can’t believe we have another 16 year old in the house!

I can’t believe that my baby is 16.Oh I said it. My baby.Because that’s what he will forever be, right?And my baby is getting ready to head to Ecuador all on his own on a humanitarian trip.That freaks me out a bit.But makes me darn proud at the same time.  Combining the passion of travel with the passion of service.The downfall with turning 16 in the middle of the summer is that no one in our family is really around to celebrate with you (other family schedules/vacations), and Zach is also pretty much out every night either with soccer practices/games or his job reffing (and of course heading out with friends after each one of those).The upfall is 16 is the “official” dating age in our home (I haven’t let him know yet that all dates have to be prearranged by me, though, haha), as well as his eligibility to get his driver’s license (learner’s) Woot woot!!So it certainly will be an exciting year ahead!There are many things I love about this boy, and the man that he is becoming. Let’s just focus on 16 of them:

1.I love that he is who is wherever he is and with whomever as well. Whether it’s with me, Rob, his Dad or his siblings, with his friends, or the girl he likes, his teachers or his coaches, he is Zach. Through and through. You get what you get. 2. He is a communicator. Not only is he willing to share, he is willing to listen. He also responds to texts right away, and is quick to let me know things (where he is, if he’s running late etc.) I really appreciate that! (In fact, as I write this, I just received a text from him letting me  know he is walking home now from a specific friend’s house!)3. He is a hard worker. He wants to do well and puts his mind to it. He puts a lot of effort into his studies; he will wake up early, go to bed late. He wants to succeed.4. He is hilarious. He makes us all laugh all the time! He can also be a little “edgy” and that comes out in his instagram meme account “edgymormon”. I often laugh outloud when I see a new post!5. He is a great brother. He can bug his little brothers like there is no tomorrow (I won’t mention the poor friend of Sam’s who slept over at our house and had to call his Dad at 1am to come pick him up as Sam’s older brother had scared him so much…) He cares about his siblings, likes to teach them, and will always have their backs.6. He is our fashionista! Except he now has way too many clothes….7. He is a great soccer player and captain of his team. He also won MVP this year for his school soccer team. He has put a lot of work into his game and over the years it has paid off.8. He is completely obsessed with tickles. Still. You can’t be anywhere near him without him asking you to scratch his back. And if you want information, you know what you need to do…9. He is quick. He’s responds quickly, acts quickly and even walks (too) quickly!10. He is passionate about travel. And when he travels, he takes pictures and always keeps a travel journal. I think I’m biased about why I love this so much about him…11. He is a very positive person. He is an optimist. He is cheery. He laughs a lot and  usually has a big smile on his face.12. He is a negotiator. I know it will serve him well in life; sometimes I wish he wouldn’t try to negotiate as much… but as he gets older, he is learning about limits and when to stop pushing them:)13. He is a good friend. He looks out for his friends and he is supportive.14. He is fiercely loyal and reliable . You can count on him. When he says he will be there, he is there. If he says he will do it, he will.15. He is ambitious. He sets goals. He makes plans on how to obtain them. Then he follows through. And these are HIS goals (but he is open to discussing them with you and open to suggestions too.)16. He has a very strong spirit that is developing every minute! He stands up for what he knows to be true and right and he is proud of his values and character.Who could not love this kid? Couldn’t be prouder to be his Mama.

Love you more and always!

(And now a few pics summarizing his day:)

I was the only one around when he woke up, so a little breakfast was in order: 

He has been taking a driving course and it ended early and my client conveniently cancelled so we got to head out for lunch! A little schnitzel in memory of his Germany 15 trip!!

We ran a few errands picking up stuff for his upcoming trip and started to pull together things for packing. We had a good chuckle at the 4 different medications I got for him “in case” he has stomach problems:)

We then did some gifts when we had a bit more of an audience (Josh):

He had a soccer game that Rob ended up joining us for (he had a huge work meeting so had been gone all day). Good thing he did because it was an awesome game with Zach scoring 3 of the 6 goals (they won 6-3)! Birthday hat trick!!!

And then we celebrated with some of Zach’s traditional homemade icecream cake:

(Note the driver’s manual… he’s been studying to go take his learners test!!) His birthday celebrations continue tomorrow with Canada’s wonderland with his friends! 

Ah…16….

Happy Birthday Sam! 

Well he’s our littlest guy, but I have to say he ain’t so little anymore.

The big 12. 

Heading off to middle school, young men’s, priesthood, and shaving. All that combined with a deeper voice and a little bit of attitude.

Summer is so hard to celebrate birthdays as everyone is out (usually at soccer) or off with their other parent. This year we had to celebrate Sam’s birthday dinner and cake the night before (on Gabe’s bday), because Sam has a soccer game tonight and soccer pretty much dominates our lives…


We had his favourite rapini pasta, and then topped it off with an ice cream cake:


In the morning, we squeezed in the candy poster and small gift before he headed off to soccer camp! His big gift (a soccer jersey) hasn’t arrived yet.


I really can’t believe this little guy was 2 when I met him. Diapers and mischief. And chocolate milk in a sippycup in bed at night (say, what?!?! Yup. I didn’t even mind being the mean stepmom who squashed that habit immediately!!) But he was a cutie.


And still is.

12 things we love about Sam:

1. He is a natural born leader with his peers. Everyone loves Sam and everyone follows Sam (so we are always encouraging him to make sure he’s leading the right direction!!) 

His friends’ party (nerf gun fight with a sleepover had a cake too):

2. He is enthusiastic! He’s energetic! He’s spunky! 


3. He is so appreciative and grateful. Without being reminded. He says thank you for everything, all the time. 


4. He is helpful and is usually the first to ask if you need help, and when he sees need, he gets in there to help!


5. He’s quick as a whip. He picks things up quickly, he’s quick to do things (and yes, sometimes too quick with homework!) and quick to get going.


6. He’s always got a smile on his face! And with his braces, it’s a big smile! It really lights up a room!


7. He is a great brother. He loves his siblings and tolerates being the baby brother really well. They can be a bit hard on him and he is able to cope!


8. He’s tough. Being the youngest of the herd means there’s no time to be sucky or whiny. We notice a huge difference compared to many of his peers that he can “handle” a lot more: work, rough play, exertion and even conversation. He’s a survivor.


9. He’s a smartie. He does well at school, and enjoys learning. He likes to read which is a huge plus for learning!


10. He’s independent. Maybe a little too independent?! Have a feeling we are going to have to keep an eye on this one as a teen so he doesn’t fly under the radar… 


11. He’s a loving guy. Big heart, big hugs. Kind spirit.


12. He still says the cutest nighttime prayers. Love that he is so excited to progress to Young Men’s officially and ready to start serving the sacrament with his brothers. Love that his Spirit is growing. 


Who wouldn’t love Sam? Everyone loves Sam.

But we love him more and always.

Happy 12th! 

Happy Birthday Gabe! 

Today is Gabe’s 19th birthday and the whole country he now lives in is celebrating in his honour! How welcoming!


(It is sort of nice to have the day off from school on your birthday…)


It’s weird having him across the country, (in a different country!)  for his birthday and not doing the birthday usual. He still has a couple of more weeks at school and then he will be heading home for a bit at the end of the month. We will celebrate officially then with him!


But it doesn’t stop us from sending him lots of good birthday love and vibes and celebrate all things we love about Gabe:

1. His smile is contagious!!


2. His humour is spot on. He knows how to tell a story and he knows how to make people laugh. 


3. His passion for cars; he is so like he Dad in this way! Drives me a bit crazy, but it’s a family trait! He will sleep in or complain about getting up, but if a race is on?  Doesn’t matter how early!


4. His passion for technology. He’s the go-to guy. 


5. His big brotherness. He sure is missed around here. When we FaceTime him, his siblings are always asking us to make sure we get them so they don’t miss the call. And he’s there for them. Still often knows about stuff before we do…. I love to see as the boys get older how their brotherly bond continues to grow. I hope they will always be the best of friends (and they know my plan is to force them anyways. Nothing like having and being a good brother.) 



6. His laugh. He gets right into enjoying himself and can get very silly which is great, because it is contagious too! We miss the family dinner banter with him as he tells some ridiculous stories or does some funny impressions.


7. His guts. It takes a lot of guts to pick up and move clear across the country to a small town to attend school! Definitely courageous and he has done it with such ease.

8. His growth: this year has definitely been a year of growth and maturity. There is no real safety net when you are so far away! You need to rely on you!

7. His loyalty. I see so many parts of his Dad coming out in him, and the fierce loyalty is developing more especially as his roles and relationships grow. Love that he is a rock. 


8. His appetite! We miss him at our dinner table for also being appreciative of every meal and being an easy going eater! (Ok, I miss that more than maybe the other kids do!) 


9. His helpfulness : his offers to help around the house are also missed! He will make a great equal partner one day:) 


10. His desire to learn and quest for information. Such an important lifelong skill! 

11. His curiousness. One of the best qualities one can have in order to learn is the ability to be curious; he’s got it! 


12. His big shirts. We always tease him that he’s wearing shirts two sizes too big, but it is now “so Gabe”.

13. His kind heart. His genuine niceness.


14. His ambition. It’s tough being a teen and figuring out what you want to do! While he’s still exploring, it’s clear his ambition is there, just trying to figure out the right path!

15. His ability to express affection and show what’s in his heart.


16. His ability to negotiate and debate. Although I think I like those skills better outside of the home:) Ha!

17. His independence. He really has taken moving out to school as an opportunity to be himself, and take care of himself. He is taking responsibility and becoming his own man.


18. His love for family. Being so far away can have perks, and I think one is missing each other and gaining a bit more appreciation. 

19. His ability to love. His heart is so big and he has a strong capacity to love. 


We love and admire you Gabe and look forward to you being home if only for a short period of time! 


Happy 19th!! 

Love you more always! 

Sam’s Grade 6 Graduation 

I remember when we first went to Gabe’s grade 6 graduation.  I counted that over our lifetime, we would attend 17 graduations: 1 for grade 6, 1 for grade 8, and 1 for high school, for each child. That would end up being 12 all together (Zach and Zandra share all their’s being the same age, otherwise it would be 15!) Then of course, University, so that’s an additional 5 (likely Zach and Zandra will be at different times/schools!?) So we are up to 17 (and if they go on to graduate work, even more… ) 

The other night I sat in the gym of the elementary school that all 5 kid went to and thought about the many concerts, and activities, as well as 4 graduations we had attended there. This was the last time I would sit in that gym! And I calculated, we have attended 8 graduations so far.  We are pretty much halfway there.

Yikes.

The days are long but the years are short.

Sam had a dance at school in the afternoon that I was able to catch him running out the door to get a picture:


The graduation was early evening, and Sam got ready at his Mom’s. Before going to the school however, he had to stop here so someone could tie his tie:) (I didn’t realize that Zach ties his tie for him every week for church; we will have to make sure he learns for himself this summer!)

I was able to quickly catch a couple of snaps before he left:


We headed to graduation where cutie little Sam graduated!


I told him he looked like Zach in his outfit with his hair. His response was, “Really? That’s such a compliment!” So cute. The brothers really do love each other! 

We headed outside for a reception where I tried to get more pics:(I will upload more off my good camera soon!) 


Of course, they served blue cupcakes (why?!?!)




His best buddies ^^^

And just like that, he was trying to ditch us to head to a graduation party….which by now, being the youngest of 5, we were prepared for and sent him on his way with the wise words of wisdom “remember who you are and what you stand for and why you stand for it.”

Ok that is often my parting words to all the kids when they head out, but Sam was gone before I even had the chance to say it. But I thought it.

And he had a great night.

Oh the places you will go, Sam!