Monthly snaps of life 

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

Church and visitors:

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

Napping:)


My mom sent me this pic of my dad:

Sometimes teenagers can just stay up too late:

Heading to the BEFY conference: 

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

Heading to early morning seminary:

Reggie enjoying FHE:

Heading to church:


Braces off! :

School concert and Zandra in the choir:

Refusing to get up:

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


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

Cherry Beach:

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

They came in 2nd:


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

Our regular sushi date on Wednesday nights:

Reggie:

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

Josh’s soccer team BBQ:

Trying to beat his coach Marko in basketball:

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

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


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

Soccer Sam! Soccer season is in full swing! :

Embrace the mess 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Quote of the week 

This week we were talking about failure.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Granny and Papa’s Video

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

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

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

Lo and behold, it was them.

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

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

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

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

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

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

I miss them so much.

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

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

Families really are forever.

 

 

Mother’s Day

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

Ha. 

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

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

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

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

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

I still liked snuggling with them.


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


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


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


Some fun at the park: 






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


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

It really was a lovely day. 

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

Quote of the Week

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

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

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

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

Huh?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

Miami

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? 

Yup.


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!