Sarah turns 40.


Who’s Sarah?

In our house, she is known as “Auntie Di”.


We aren’t sure why…just that then Zach was little he started calling her that as I guess he couldn’t say “Sarah”.

And somehow it stuck. So she is forever Auntie Di.

Well, Auntie Di turned 40 this past week. We headed to Montreal to celebrate with her.

The three kids were with their Mom on the weekend however, so were not able to come. Josh was at a soccer tournament in Orlando (which I’ll write more about later), so it was just Zach who got to come with us.


We headed to Montreal early Saturday morning and upon arrival, feasted on our regular Montreal poutine.  We then did some shopping for the party before heading over to my Mom’s.

Sarah recently moved out into her own apartment though a supportive housing government program. She has done amazingly well in the program and was excited to show us her awesome apartment. We loved it! Way to go Sarah!


We then did a little decorating and spent the remainder of the night celebrating her turning 40! We got a few pictures:


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Sarah is the hugest fan of Taylor Swift that ever lived… can you see her excitement?!?!


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We stayed over and joined my Mom for the first part of church before heading back.


Happy 40th Auntie Di! We love you!

Monthly Snaps of Life

It’s been a while again… but here’s what’s been going on:


We get a lot of new ties around here ^^^


Let me help you clean your room by pulling all your clothes out ^^^


Getting the rooms cleaned for the “yard sale”



Cutie with all the stuffies ^^^


When your brothers want to watch you clean your room ^^^


The dishwasher ^^^


A boy and his dog ^^^


Another soccer game ^^^


Josh is getting ready… ^^^


St Jacob’s Market ^^^


Enjoying lunch and a sunny day at St. Jacob’s market ^^^


Had to get a pic of us in too at the market ^^^


Sam at his last tournament ^^^


Josh at The Mandarin celebrating a friend/teammate’s birthday ^^^


Love the lighting in late summer games ^^^


Hanging with Zach’s best bud’s little bro (such a cutie!!) ^^^


“Here’s how you snapchat, little man” ^^^


Tired doggie ^^^


Yard sale ^^^


Yard sale – raising money for a humanitarian trip next summer ^^^


Shoe shopping ^^^


Winning the league ^^^


YM activity – building fires in the parking lot ^^^


Cross country race^^^


Sam did awesome! ^^^


Another new job… working hard to save for school ^^^


BIST 5K run that we did:


Within seconds they were ahead of me ^^^


On his way back while I was still on my way “there”… ^^^


But I finished! ^^^


3rd place!!! ^^^


With the race winners ^^^


General Conference ^^^


We went to Gabe’s good friend’s (Malachi) mission farewell (going to Kenya!!)  – this was the only picture we got from the day unfortunately… but it was an awesome day ^^^


Zach loves to torment his younger brothers. He hung this pic in Josh’s window, so that when Sam looked out his window from his bed, it would freak him out! ^^^


Our kind neighbour/friend dropped off cookies after Rob’s dad died…they were so good ^^^


Gabe’s high school graduation ^^^ so sad that our schools do such a poor job with them:(


A walk through the Brickworks


Church shenanigans:

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My awesome husband ^^^


This is how we often find the boys…playing video games ^^^


This is how we often find our doggie ^^^

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Driving to Ottawa for Rob’s Dad’s burial. Sometimes this is the only time we get as a family all together – car rides… ^^^

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War time – trying to catch Zach after he was being obnoxious ^^^


New haircut:

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Showing off his new hair:


Oops ^^^

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A little love ^^^


More soccer:

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Winning the Cup ^^^

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Winning the league ! ^^^

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Leave my pumpkin alone ^^^


The only pumpkin this year ^^^


Our only kid going trick or treating this year (Sam) ^^^

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At a friend’s wedding ^^^

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Not sure why it looks like the mafia is guarding us…but we DID have a good time! ^^^


That’s it for now!!!

The final walk 

Yesterday we buried Rob’s Dad, Wayne.

I am definitely not in the habit of taking pictures at funerals and burials. (Although there is a part of me that wishes I had a few pictures of my father’s burial: it was a sunny day, I remember a few of the pallbearers; I remember Zach, only 23 months, so carefree but knowingly sticking by me as he knew something was different. But so much is a blur.) 

Yesterday, Rob gathered the boys together at the cemetery prior to the burial to talk with them about the honour and importance of being a pallbearer for their grandfather. 

I saw them stand there, then saw them bow to say a prayer. I knew I had to capture that moment, uniting generations under that tree, where the veil of heaven and earth seemed so very thin. I took a few pictures. 

I ended up taking a few (very discreetly) more when they walked with the casket too, not planning on ever sharing them.

But last night, I asked Rob what he had said to the boys, and I was so deeply touched, that I knew it really was a very thin moment for them all that I needed to record it, in words and pictures so that we could keep this memory forever.

Rob told the boys:

“Grampy is looking down on us from heaven right now. He was an amazing man and never asked for much help from anyone. And in the last few years of his life, he didn’t get the dignity that he deserved, so we need to help him now and walk for him on his last journey on earth to his final resting place. Let’s do it with pride and respect.”

He said they were all thick with emotion and it was a moment he, as a father, will always remember. I’m sure it was a tender moment for Wayne too and he was so proud to see the legacy he has left behind.

 They said a prayer.

They then served Wayne for the last time, by helping him walk with reverence and honour to his final resting place.

Thank you Wayne for your love and support. Thank you for the example you were. Thank you for inviting me into your family and embracing and celebrating our uniqueness. 

Thank you Rob for being the son, husband and father/stepfather that you are. Thank you for teaching our boys how to be men of character. Thank you for following your own father’s example of humility, kindness and charity. 

Thank you my dear boys for making my heart overflow with love and admiration for you. You are truly becoming men of strength and character, and despite driving me crazy at times (and growing up way too fast), I am in awe of the fact that you are part of my eternal family and I was given the honour and privilege of mothering you.


Rob’s Dad, Grampy, Wayne

It’s been a rough week.

Last Sunday we got a call that Rob’s Dad was not doing well. He had been in the hospital for close to a year and a half, suffering from dementia, that seemed to be triggered by surgery following a hip fracture and tremendous stress over family discord. We spent the day with him on the Sunday, but he was sedated. Rob was very appreciative of the fact that several days earlier he had decided to take the day off work to go spend some time with his Dad. His Dad was alert and awake, though only intermittently seeming to be in reality. But he knew Rob was there. And knew of Rob’s great love and admiration for him.

He passed away quietly on Monday night.

As much as you expect it when someone is ill, when it is your parent, it still comes as a shock. Losing my own father, I have the understanding that it is not the “79 year old man who was ill with dementia” (as Rob’s dad was) or the “73 year old man who was ill with cancer” (as my dad was)…it’s your DAD. The man who was your hero for all those years, the man who played with you, counselled you, laughed with you, cried with you, supported you, disciplined you, fought with you, embraced you. You vacationed together, had celebrations together, shared interests together, shared meals together, drove miles together… long before anyone in your current life was ever a part of it. He had a huge part in shaping who you are. He gave you his name and family history. You carry similar traits and you learned through his example. It’s loss and it brings back all those memories and you reflect on your relationship and hope that you made your father proud.

The funeral was held yesterday. As much as no one looks forward to funerals, it was especially sensitive because of the family discord that has been happening over the years, in particular the past recent year and a half for the most recent bout. Rob has been troubled by this particular round of discord, not because of the impact on him (which I admit has been great and has been difficult for him), but because of how it robbed his Dad of being able to leave this life in peace, and robbed him from experiencing the joy of having a full extended family in his later years.

There were several speakers who paid tribute to Wayne. Rob’s uncle (his mother’s brother, John) spoke of him from the perspective of being a friend. He was a man of extreme humility, loyalty and steadfastness, with a great sense of humour. Rob’s brother spoke outlining all his worldly accomplishments – his academic brilliance and his contribution to the world of economics. He also highlighted his personal attributes of being a quiet man, but filled with humility, love, gentleness, generosity and his role as a father and a family man.

Rob’s tribute was especially touching. Obviously, I am biased as I think the sun rises and sets on Rob, but that was not why. Everything he said about his Dad perfectly described him – who he was as a man and father. It also happened to perfectly describe Rob. Brilliance, humility, generosity, supportive, caring, “the rock”, and most importantly, meekness. Rob is a son who truly took after his father – in all the good ways. I think there is no greater tribute to his Dad. Even the way Rob presented his eulogy: quiet, thoughtful, filled with emotion and humility – it was perfect for his Dad. Rob even captured the lighter side of his Dad – his passion for cars, and even managed to slip in a toy/model Saab car into his Dad’s casket. As Rob said, “I was able to give his car back to him.”

The after part was shaky given the tenseness between his brother’s family and ours. It’s has been a interesting journey with the whole family dynamics. While Rob and I have certainly made mistakes and contributed to the dynamics at play, we have for many years tried to bridge gaps and open communication channels. Families will always have their battles, differences – and some may seem unforgivable and unsurmountable. Some probably are. But not these problems. These problems are easily solved with one of Wayne’s greatest characteristics: humility.

As much as the years have been trying and upsetting for Rob’s family, there have been blessings for our own immediate family. Our kids have been able to watch what happens when pride gets in the way. They have been able to watch as binds and ties that were once so strong, can easily be allowed to be severed over mistakes, hurt feelings, unwillingness to communicate and avoidance of conflict. We have talked endlessness of the importance of sticking together as siblings, supporting each other, and putting family first. When there is conflict – which guaranteed there always will be – the solution is to keep on talking. Keep on communicating. Keep on sharing. Keep on apologizing. Keep on forgiving. Avoidance is never the answer and creates a bigger divide and builds higher walls because things get taken out of context, misunderstood and fabricated. I write this blog post partly to remember Wayne, and partly to remind my kids of the lessons they have learned during this time in our lives (and I think we need to keep it real and share how difficult families can be.)

So, while Wayne may have passed with great sadness over how his family was torn apart, I know it is with much happiness, that he sees that his grandchildren are learning valuable lessons and learning from his wisdom to alway have humility and that family is number one. Wayne was never happier than with his family.

They had a series of photos playing on a loop during the reception and visitation. I was able to get some screenshots and make some copies, so while not perfect, I think they capture some very happy times. And of course, the happy times are always with his family. I came into his life late, only 9 years ago, but we had a wonderful trip shortly after to St. Marten and I am so glad that we were able to share some good memories there. I am also so glad that we were able to share many meals, conversations, and holidays. We were able to share a lot of everyday stuff as he was always a great help when the kids were little, and Wayne was one of our greatest supporters when we merged our lives together.

He was a great man. I am honoured to have known him. I am so grateful for the father he was to my husband, as he helped make Rob who he is today. Your greatest accomplishments are reflected in the character of your child. Well done, Wayne. Til we meet again.

Quote of the Week

This has been a bad year for keeping up with quotes, so I will try to do better until the end of the year. However, the quotes often make it into our Family Home Evening, or onto our kitchen wall, but it’s the blogging about them that is pushed to the wayside sometimes…

This week’s quote comes from a podcast I listened to with Wayne Dyer. I don’t think he actually came up with the quote, he simply used it in the context of the podcast. I was sitting in traffic (traffic is always horrendous, but it has been particularly bad the past few weeks) and was so so bored, and so so tired. I decided to see if I had any audiobooks on my phone that I could relisten to. I found a whole bunch of Wayne Dyer stuff downloaded already. My phone often has a huge mishmash of stuff on it because I download various things for different clients, so my selection is as diverse as my client caseload!

Anyhow, good old Wayne quoted, “It is better to reach high and fail, then it is to reach low and succeed.”

My friend commented not so long ago that often my quotes are about doing hard things, doing better, working, pushing yourself, reaching high, endurance, perseverance…they can get exhausting. Chill already!

I guess it is true, but I choose quotes that are applicable in my immediate life. And having 4 teenagers and one tween, all things to do with hard work, reward, endurance etc. are particularly pertinent! Work is an eternal principle too, so the more you accept it, and the more it becomes part of who you are, the easier it is to get through it all. PLUS I read this article that talks about successful women are usually women that had nagging, pushy, high expectation Mom’s. The article said that there’s no reason that doesn’t hold true for boys as well. So nag, push, place high expectations away! That’s my Mama job!

Except this quote isn’t just for my kids.

It’s particularly relevant for me.

I’ve taken up a bit of a new interest in my life and decided to start educating myself in that area and am taking myself out of my comfort zone. Months ago, when talking about a “missed opportunity” in my life with Zach (and encouraging him not to miss the same opportunity), he simply said, “You just didn’t take enough risks in your life Mom.” (I might have shared this already – but clearly it impacted me). Ouch. Harsh. But true.

So, I decided more risk (smart risks however) were needed and I began on my quest for a new adventure.

Hence the quote. It IS better to reach high (and succeed!), then it is to reach low or do nothing.


Forever vacations

You hear all the bad things about having teens.

And, I have to admit, it can be a challenge. It’s a combination of their attitude, and your wisdom. Ha.

Ok, maybe their attitude combined with your wisdom AND fear.

I love the analogy of parents being in the watchtower looking over the pathways where you see your kids walking. Not only do you see the paths they can take and where they lead, but you have also BEEN on many of those same paths. So you are thinking to yourself, “Don’t go that way! It’s a dead end! Don’t you know the shorter way is over there? The prettier path is over there – turn, turn, turn!”

And so ensues the many challenges of raising kids to becomes responsible human beings. I think if it’s all smooth sailing, you are doing something wrong!

Anyhow, despite the challenges, I LOVE this phase of life.

I think I have said that about EVERY phase. But that is because I have loved every phase (and not loved every phase equally!)

One Friday at the end of summer, I left our house to pick Zach and Zandra up at a Leadership camp they were attending. Of course, this was a camp that they were NOT happy about attending initially, but then they started having fun AND realized that this would lead to a summer job for them next year, so all of a sudden it was a great camp.

I continued along the way to pick up Josh who was at his team soccer camp. He loves this camp as he loves soccer and loves his team. I watched as both Zach and Zandra wanted to get out of the car to go greet him, then watched as Josh went around shaking hands with all the coaches as he was leaving (this is a requirement from his coach and I love it… most of the kids shake all the parents’ hands too when they see them).

Finally, I hit the last location to pick up Sam. All three kids now wanted to get out of the car and go greet Sam, and they did. He was still playing soccer so they cheered him on, then talked a bit to the coaches (who had previously coached them in years past).

We headed back to the car and they were all talking about their day, laughing, and joking around with each other. They were so NICE to each other. We were stuck in traffic (usual thing here) and we started talking about our upcoming trip to Chicago, and that quickly turned into discussions about previous trips (funny adventures and stories) and planning for our next big March adventure trip. We talked about how our vacations and travels are some of the best memories we share.

I was so overwhelmed with love for these guys and how much fun we have together (it seriously was one of those rare moments when they are not bugging and teasing each other and making me want to scream.) I told them that for the rest of their lives they have to promise to vacation with Rob and me once per year. They laughed and agreed (of course Josh agreed, as long as we pay!) Anyhow, I really was serious, and I said, “No guys, I mean it. For life. Every year. Maybe one year it will be at at house in the Outerbanks and another year an adventure.” They all agreed that was a a great idea (as long as we paid…said Josh).  I told them I was going to hold them to it, and pulled out my iPhone and made them sign their names to agree to this!!

Of course, in typical Zach fashion, he’s not giving something for nothing… they would only sign if we went through the McDonald’s drive thru and got medium fries and a McFlurry.

What’s with my boys always needing to cut a deal?!?!?

Anyhow, I agreed.

So they signed. With medium fries and McFlurries. For life, they have agreed to vacation with us one time per year for the rest of their lives.

I thought I’d better document this moment, as one day, they will have some explaining to do to their partners!

So here’s the proof (sorry future daughter in laws and son in law!)

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Thought their signatures were pretty cute – looking forward to seeing if they change! Ha.

Signed, sealed, delivered and locked in for life on my blog:)



Chicago Final Day

We woke up to another beautiful day and headed downtown.

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I love how much Zach loves the selfie stick I use for some of these shots:) It makes me want to carry it around ALL the time and take selfies with him ALL the time!

We made our way to Navy Pier and walked around for  few minutes before taking an architecture cruise on the river.

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We learned a lot about the different buildings and some history as well. It was pretty cool.


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We then went back to Navy Pier and walked around a bit.

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We headed off to find some chick-fil-a:) (We always look for things we can’t get back home to eat).

We stopped in a few stores on the Magnificent Mile and then decided to head back to our place for a little siesta.



We rested, and then headed to Little Italy where we did a little bit of our own food tour.



We went to the park to have our frozen lemonades and then the boys had a little pushup competition (Rob won:))

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At the final restaurant, some of the kids got hold of my phone and played around with taking selfies and they got some cute ones:

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Zach likes to pretend he’s grumpy^^^

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Another little awesome adventure completed…

First Day of School

There’s aways a bit of nervousness, excitement and anticipation around the first day of school.

Everyone is excited to see friends, see who their teachers are, see who is in their classes (more importantly) and get back into the swing of life.

I’m excited to not have to do a zillion different coordinations for camps and summer activities. With school, everyone is now able to independently get to where they need to go and home.

But, the reality of making lunches, regular bedtimes, and homework quickly kicks in and I have to remind myself every year that we WILL adjust.

The first day was pretty standard, except for the fact that the high schoolers only had to be there for 1 hour (?!?!?) and Gabe didn’t START school this semester! Yikes! They were all troopers to get up though for our traditional pics when the little guys left:

Gabe is working and saving for University which he plans on starting in January:


Zandra excited to be heading into Grade 10:


Zach also excited to head into Grade 10:


Sam has his last year at the Junior Public school in grade 6. Our last kid in that school:


Josh starting Grade 8 in the senior public school; last year there too!


As we are getting things ready for the “perfect” shot:

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Ok, I think we got it:

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Not sure why this one turned out tiny (I tried to fix it) but I didn’t not want to include it!


Looking forward to an awesome year!!

Chicago Getaway – Part 2

For our first full day in Chicago, we decided to get up early and head to the Willis/Sears tower to beat the lineups.


We also decided to take the car into the city instead of the “L train” as we calculated it would be cheaper for us to pay for parking then pay for everyone on public transit.

It was a good move, as parking was easy to find and pretty convenient.

We headed up to the Skydeck and enjoyed the beautiful views.

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Some Ferris Bueller flashbacks:

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We walked around a bit:


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Cool subways:



We missed our little guy:


We then walked around a bit and went to Millennium Park:


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And, of course we did a ton of pictures with “the bean”. It is pretty cool….

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We then went and had lunch in an open air plaza where all the food trucks were gathered. We each chose what we wanted and then sat by the fountains to enjoy!

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The afternoon we spent doing a “River Walk and Loop Tour” (with Chicago’s Finest tours — they were awesome). We got a great deal on Groupon, and during the tour we won about 8 Starbucks gift cards between us answering trivia questions! It was a really interesting, informative tour and we walked away knowing a lot more about Chicago’s history and architecture. It really is a beautiful city!

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After the tour ended, we headed to “Eataly” which had been recommended by some friends:

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We enjoyed a really yummy dinner before we headed back to our place to crash from exhaustion!

Great day!

Chicago Getaway – Part 1

We decided since we didn’t have a full week to take off this summer, that we would take a long weekend and head to Chicago.

It has been a city on my list for a long time.

I found this great apartment just outside the main city in a place called Roscoe Village. I did a bit of research and booked a couple of tours and printed off some self guided tours too, and off we went! We left early Thursday morning to make the 8.5 hour drive.


Leaving Toronto ^^^


Whenever we do road trips, there’s usually a lot of sleeping at the beginning, followed by some movies. We also play our traditional “trivia” game, where the kids can earn candies by answering trivia questions – mainly about our past travel. Zach had his travel journal this time, so he used it as a reference guide. It’s a fun way of keeping some of our travel memories alive!

We gained an hour because of the time change, and checked into our super cute apartment. Everyone was pretty hungry, so we made our way out to try some of Chicago’s famous deep dish pizza. It was super filling and we had over ordered by a whole pizza!

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It’s the background that makes these pics…^^^



We decided to take the car and head to North Avenue Beach. We parked near Lincoln park and wandered through the park and then made our way to the beach. Such a pretty area!

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We picked up a few groceries and then headed back and crashed for the evening.