The power of a thought

Since I drive so much, I often listen to podcasts.

I listen to a whole variety, trying to expand my learning or simply to be entertained. Unfortunately, I can’t always remember which info came from what podcast. The downfall of driving and not being able to write things down.

Recently I  have been listening to several that have talked about the power of our thoughts.

Last week, our quote of the week (I never posted it, so this can be a “quote of the week” post too) was:

“If you realized how powerful your thoughts are you would never think a negative thought again.

Of course, right away, it reminds me of the quote:

“Watch your thoughts, they become words;
watch your words, they become actions;
watch your actions, they become habits;
watch your habits, they become character;
watch your character, for it becomes your destiny”


According to some podcast I listened to, we process approximately 60, 000 thoughts per day. That’s a lot of thoughts! It made me stop and think, “How many of my thoughts are positive? How many are negative?” And I’m not so sure I was comfortable with my answer.

I also learned (from a few different podcasts, so I really don’t know where this model came from), the whole idea that in life, pretty much all we can control is out thoughts.

We are handed certain circumstances in life. At any given point, we have a set of circumstances, which either can never be changed; or will take a while to change. Things like: the weather, other people’s behaviour, our past etc. will NEVER be within OUR control to change. Other things like where we live, the job we have, are changeable, although not usually very quickly. So these are the things that we are stuck with (at least for a certain period, although some we are stuck with forever). So often we complain about our circumstances, which really is complaining about things we have no control over!

We then THINK about our circumstances. We either think positive things, neutral things, or negative things. We have a running monologue (or even dialogue?!?) in our head about our circumstances, about our lives. We attach meaning to things, we make things up (not in a bad way, but just in a way that helps us cope, or what we think is fact). Out thoughts are buzzing around at record speed, becoming our reality.

Those thoughts then trigger FEELINGS. Whether we feel good, bad, angry, sad, joyful, frustrated, irritated, curious, ambitious, melancholy…our feelings are a direct result of our thoughts. That’s a huge “aha” for me. I know it is sort of common sense, but the “aha” for me, is if I don’t like the way I am feeling, then I just need to change my thoughts. (And please note, I am simplifying this; there are things such as real depression and anxiety that some people struggle with that are much more complex and need other treatment and support for; but even then, attempting to change your thoughts likely won’t hurt – it just may not make it all better). There is so much power in our thoughts! We have the ability to at any time change our dialogue in our head to make a change in how we feel.

Our feelings then lead us to take ACTION or NO ACTION. I will do or not do, based on how I feel. If I am not happy with my actions (or lack of them), I can try to change them directly, but unless I change my thinking, which changes my feelings, my change to my actions likely won’t stick.

Finally, my actions lead to the RESULTS I see in my life. If I am “not happy” with the results I am seeing, then I know where to go back to: the only thing I can control, my thoughts.

It’s worth it to take a little inventory of what you are feeling (sometimes easier to recognize our feelings) and then look to see what thoughts are behind it.


Happy 16th Zandra 

Today is a special day — it’s Alexandra’s 16th Birthday! Sweet 16! I’m not sure if she was more excited to turn 16 or to get her braces off yesterday! 

Either way, it’s been a good week for her!

Here are 16 reasons why I love this gal:

1. Her gorgeous smile

2. Her big, kind heart

3. Her hugs and affection 

4. How she loves her doggy. She gets down and doggy talks with him and he just loves her so!

5. How she loves her Daddio! She has a special language with him too!

6. Her creativity – it always shines through 

7. Her thoughtfulness and kindness 

8. Her sisterly love to her bros. This girl tolerates a lot from all these boys!

9. Her dancin moves! 

10. Her talents with hair, nails and makeup

11. The effort and hard work she puts into things

12. Her sense of humour. She can make us laugh and will laugh along too!

13. Her artistic abilities 

14. Her values and integrity 

15. Her willingness to help 

16. Her wonderful sweet spirit that is growing more and more each day

We are so lucky to have her in our family and I am so blessed to have her as my stepdaughter. She is truly a special girl! Love her so much! 

Here are a few snaps of the day:

(In addition to a few little pressies, Rob got her a necklace that says, “Bloom”.)

Happy 16th Sweet Pea! 

Quote of the Week 

“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” George Bernard  Shaw 

It’s been a little while since I’ve posted a quote of the week. I guess it’s a combination of laziness, busyness and lacking inspiration. 

But sometimes you just got to get back on track despite those things.

I came across this quote that Rob had sent me a long time ago. 

It struck a chord as I find it to be true so often. “I thought I told you”, or “I didn’t think I had to tell you”, or “I thought you just knew”, or “I thought our relationship was strong enough that we didn’t need to communicate often”, or any version that sends the message that it’s ok to slack off on communication. 

Communication is one of the most important things we can do to build healthy relationships. I find myself talking to our kids about the importance of communication. As they grow and try to assert their independence, I think they sometimes mistake communication as being something that you don’t need to do as you get older. But it’s just as necessary, and sometimes even more necessary as you try to develop more mature relationships.

 Good communication is a sign of respect. It’s a sign of caring. It’s a sign of gratitude. It’s a sign of interest. It’s a sign of love. Good communication will help prevent many misunderstandings, hurt feelings, and pull people together. Good communication is the foundation of marriage, family relations, friendships and business relations. 

It’s well worth evaluating your communication style. Are you ensuring you are communicating with those who are truly important to you? Or are you assuming that somehow you have communicated; perhaps living with the illusion that you don’t need to communicate to build stronger relations. 

And really, good communication doesn’t even take long, but the benefits are really for forever.


A while ago we planned for a getaway over Easter weekend. We didn’t have kids over Easter and I really don’t like spending holidays on our own; plus my birthday is coming up, so it seemed like a good plan.

And it was; except Rob had to head out west on business at the last minute, which meant having to re-route himself to arrive a day after me. Instead of a 2hr45 min direct flight,he spent 9 hours in transit and had his flight delayed no less — and missing an entire day of our short getaway. Such is life.

We decided to go to Miami. I have always wanted to go, and we got a good deal to stay right in South Beach with our points.

I arrived later in the evening and checked into the National Hotel. I was staying on the 3rd floor and went up with the bell hop. I walked down the hall in the direction of my room number, and came to the end of the hall. 

No room 305?

“No, no”, the bell hop told me, “keep going”.

Into the stairwell? The emergency fire stairs? 


Yeah, well rest assured I was back to the front desk pretty quick. Unfortunately they had no other rooms that night. So I had to spend the night in this little room (with views of other buildings so close I could touch them). I dreamt all night about being in prison (dramatic, I know).

The next morning we were moved to a lovely, bright spacious room, with an ocean view. Phew.

I spent my time alone on the beach taking in the scene, napping and reading (heavenly).  While the ocean is pretty, and there is a lot going on, I am very definitely a “Carolinas” girl!

After Rob arrived, we explored the area and grabbed some dinner. 

W spent the next few days not doing much. We laid on the beach, read,and caught up on life. 

We explored the area, and even rented bikes one evening and went on the boardwalk. 

We had some yummy food:

 We visited the Holocost Memorial nearby (which is beautiful).

The final evening we had a really nice picnic on the beach, which is definitely more my style then all the busy restaurants and bars!

Our hotel looked pretty at sunset:

We had a late flight, so we ended up renting a car and driving up the coast. We stopped at some sleepier beach towns and explored other areas. We ended up grabbing a low key fish sandwich lunch and found a nice beach to lounge on. A nice little getaway for sure! 


In our faith, you get baptized when you are 8 years old.

We don’t actually believe in the concept of “original sin”, so babies and children are seen as completely innocent and pure and therefore have no need for baptism.

But at the age of 8, it is deemed that they are at an “age of accountability”, where they are old enough to know the difference between right and wrong and are able to make choices.

Of course, for many reasons, many people get baptized at a later age as well. Regardless of the age, it is a pretty special occasion. It’s a simple service, but an important ordinance in our faith.

While Zach and Josh were both baptized at the age of 8, Gabe, Zandra and Sam were not. We were expecting them to wait until they were 18 and could make the decision themselves without any parental permission, however they all had a strong desire to do so earlier. Gabe decided he wanted to be baptized a couple of years ago, at the age of 17, and a couple weeks ago, Zandra and Sam had the opportunity to do the same.

Gabe was home for a week in between his two semesters, so we decided to hold the baptism then.

A bunch of Zandra’s friends came, but I only got pics with these guys:

And of course Sam needed to get in on the action with the girls:

The famous five reunited:

These are the wonderful sister missionaries that helped out and spent a lot of time helping Zandra and Sam prepare for their special day:

Getting ready:

Then they changed into their whites:

We had a little reception afterwards:

It was a beautiful day!




We slept in a bit and got all our stuff organized so we could check the kids out of their rooms. We had our last breakfast: 

Our guide picked us up and we spent the day exploring Hanoi:

First, we went to the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum.

We couldn’t go in as it was closed, but we walked the grounds and still got to see the other buildings (his homes, the house on stilts, the government building).

We then went to “One Pillar Pagoda”.

After that, we headed to the “temple of literature”.

There was a high school graduation happening!

We took a break and had some yummy drinks at a local coffee shop – Hanoi has a ton of these shops! Not sure where my pics are though…

After a quick break, we headed to Ho Loa prison (Hilton hotel prison), where it was interesting to see the perspectives (as well as the propoganda). It is always great to talk to the kids about history and learn more.

A little brotherly play:

Finally, we headed to the West Lake Pagoda. I think that was my favourite. So beautiful!

Turtles are considered to be very sacred offerings:

Getting a little tired!:


Our final pictures:

Our guide dropped us off at the hotel and we wanted to head out to try some famous Vietnamese sandwiches (Banh Mi). We asked for directions from front desk, but she said we would get lost – so ordered them for us from a local place (Banh Mi 25). They were awesome! (Porc and chicken).

The kids hung out in the room, all cozied up in our bed and watched movies on tv. Rob had I had a hot stone massage (kids opted for no massages; traumatized by the differences from Western massages experienced in Siem Reap!) Their loss! It was really amazing!

We decided to have dinner again at the top floor restaurant of our hotel. Ashamed to say we were all craving Western food and had burgers (although a few of us had Pho to start!).

After dinner, we bid farewell, and headed to the airport for our 12:30am flight. Zach set a timer from door to door and it took us: 25 hours and 47 minutes.


Back to reality, forever changed by our travels.

Halong Bay to Hanoi 

The next morning we were up bright and early at 6:15 and up on deck to do some tai chi.


We then had a light breakfast before heading off to explore “Surprise Cave”. There were about 500 stairs to climb – but the caves were worth it!

We went back to the boat to get ready and then had a nice brunch.

The boys continued their chess and Zandra and I relaxed!

We checked out and were collected back by our driver for the long drive back to Hanoi.

When we arrived at our hotel, they had upgraded our room to a suite (knowing we would need to keep a room for late check out due to a late night flight the next day). So nice of them. Awesome hotel (Siesta Diamond).

We had a guide meet us in the late afternoon for a street food tour. The hustle and bustle of Hanoi was incredible. Crossing the street, weaving through traffic was quite an experience! We really had to stick close to our guide, but getting all 6 across was no easy task!

Our guide took us to some really local places. We had actually tasted many of the things already as we really had been trying to eat local specialties the whole way (except for our Italian Cambodian meals!). But it was an experience sitting with the locals in the teeny plastic chairs and tables on the sidewalk!

Zach also wanted to find a pin for his collection. We had to hunt for that! But eventually found it!

We headed back to the hotel after the tour and every headed to bed early. One more day….

Halong Bay 

I was especially looking forward to Halong Bay so was concerned that the forecast was calling for thunder and lightning storms. Our driver was to pick us up early for the 4 hour drive, so I didn’t want to drive and arrive and find out our tour was cancelled.

We hoped for the best and drove through little towns and villages. Such a different life.

We arrived a bit early and had to wait around. No wifi was available either!! So, we played some cards.

We boarded our private junk boat and were impressed with the cabins and space to ourselves!

We had to take a 30 sec boat ride to board our junk boat:


We got some information about where we were heading:

They served us lunch, and we spent most time on deck, oohing and ahhing at the beauty! It was cloudy, but it was pretty magical too with all the mist:

The boys found some chess sets and that became a highlight.

It was pure relaxation and soaking in nature:

We made our way to some caves (light and dark caves) and set out on some kayaks. Our guide told us to leave the cameras behind because they would get wet. I was so so bummed (and I really would have been fine with my camera). Especially since the kayaking was one of my favourite parts of the trip! I guess I’ll just have to hold it all in my memory. Sam and Josh paired up and were pretty speedy and smooth sailing leading the way. It was so cute to see how quick and in sync they were. They are a good little pair, full of adventure and enthusiasm for anything sporty. Rob and Zandra were in another kayak. Zach and I held up the rear most of the time, talking and soaking up the scenery and appreciating the moment. Zach is pretty good at appreciating beauty and often points it out to me.

At one point our three kayaks went through a cave and emerged on the other side to a little bay. It was just us. We could hear ourselves echo, and then we all stayed silent for a few minutes and just listened to nature. My heart definitely took a picture then. Thin moment.

We continued to kayak a bit and then the little boys wanted to go for a quick swim. It was pretty misty and cool, but they really wanted to!

We headed back to our boat and then continued on to a pearl farm, where we saw how pearls are made. I bought a small pearly pendant to remind me of this trip forever:)

Back at the boat we were able to just lounge and relax. The boys played more chess and Zandra and I read.

Our butler then showed us how to make spring rolls.

It was drizzling, so chess moved indoors a bit:

We had a nice dinner (including the spring rolls) consisting of fish soup, spring rolls, shrimp, squid and oysters. We had good chuckles at Zach’s description of what oysters taste like….

We did a lot of squid fishing off the side of the boat (but caught nothing).

By then it was raining, thundering and lightning. We all piled in our room and played cards until bed. Ah, the perks of no wifi.

What an incredible day. One of my favourites…..

In between days 

I knew we were doing a lot of tiring things on this trip, so we decide to work in a couple of down days in Hoian.

I’m so glad we did!

The first day, we headed to the beach in the morning and the kids went into the not-so-warm South China Sea.

They decided it was too rough and too cold so off to the pool they went.

The kids always come up with some great pool games!

But also enjoy getting some drinks and lounging:

Some get a little sunned out and head off on their own:

The kids also played some ping pong (with Rob).

We all went to relax in our rooms and then headed out to dinner.

(Our hotel ^^^)

We found a great little restaurant called CaoCao Grasshopper close by (who also did our laundry) and had a good meal.

Rob and I headed back out to Hoian while the kids went to bed early.

The next day we had the last of the amazing breakfasts and headed into Hoian again. We wandered the streets and shopped for souvenirs and picked up Rob’s suit:

It was so hot, that when we stopped to go into an ATM machine, we all wanted to go in because it was air conditioned (but it was tiny!)

We headed back to relax a bit in our room, and the sadly had to say goodbye to our beautiful view:

We headed to the airport and then flew to Hanoi. Everyone was exhausted!

We arrived to a cooler, rainier city:(

Our driver ended up dropping us off at the wrong hotel (a sister hotel) and that was a bit of a fiasco! They couldn’t find a taxi to take us all to the right hotel so Rob and Josh walked over in the rain while a couple of guys took our bags over on scooters!

We settled in and then went for dinner at the hotel’s restaurant (it is supposed to be excellent and no one wanted to venture out into the rain). It was a decent meal.

Bed earlyish in preparation for heading to Halong Bay!

Exploring Hoi An 

We flew into Da Nang and immediately transferred to Hoi An.

We slept in a teeny bit before heading to our buffet breakfast (so nice that it’s always included). It was delicious!

Our guide, Lee, met us in the lobby and had brought bikes for us all to ride. He also had helmets and I think was surprised when I said we would use them!

I was about concerned about riding bikes but he had assured me that it was quiet where we rode.



And it was. In most areas. But there were some interesting moments too! Of course the really hairy ones I couldn’t capture as I needed to concentrate on not crashing!

He took is through side paths, between rice fields and then to a couple little villages.

We continued on (in the heat) to get to our final destination: the lake:

There, we stopped to rest and then he paired us up to go into “coracles”- these little round baskets that looked so easy to tip!

Each basket had a little driver who brought us through some swamp land (which apparently was where the North Vietnamese had hid out during the war).

We searched for crab, spun around, and then eventually came to some fishing boats where the boys got their try with casting the nets.

We made our way back and had the most fabulous lunch ever. We didn’t order, they just brought food. Love this kind of meal! We had spring rolls, shrimp mango salad, Calamari, shrimp, pancakes (specialty of the area) wraps and a type of curry and rice. Best meal so far!

After lunch we took a boat ride from e little village into old Hoian.

Our tour guide then showed us around the city, which is really very cute. But we were melting!

The famous Japanese covered bridge

We stopped in a store where silk is made and saw the process from start to finish… Of course it finishes up in a store.

Hoian is known for their tailoring and Rob decided to be adventurous and had a suit made! The boys got ties, and Zandra got a kimona. Great souvenirs from our awesome trip!

We headed back to our hotel where we needed to cool down and rest! Some of us explored the beach a bit and dipped our toes in the South China Sea!


A few hours later, we went back to Hoian. Our guide found us a boat that would take us into the water where we could light the lanterns, make a wish and send them floating down the river. It was so pretty!

After our little boat ride, we were zonked. We all decided to skip dinner even! Good thing too, because the whole little town lost its power! I had heard that was common, but it was a little eerie. We made our In the dark to where we thought the hotel shuttle picked up, but it didn’t. We finally found a cab and headed back to the hotel.

A truly amazing day!