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“The value of our lives is not determined by what we do for ourselves. The value of our lives is determined by what we do for others”  Simon Sinek

I am often amazed at how much some people do for others. How they put others’ needs in front of their own, how they consider how other people feel, how they sometimes make choices that may not be in their personal best interest, but know they are in the best interest of others. When I see that, I truly do admire the person and want to try to be more like them.

The same holds true when I see others who aren’t that example. As much as it is disappointing to see how some only think of themselves, or do what’s in their best interest, when I do see it, it helps me take stock of what I am doing. So often I am in my own world, doing my own survival thing and sometimes forget that the true value comes from serving others.

This is the Christmas season and an opportunity to “light the world”.  I know in our little family we are talking about what we can do and hopefully we can move more from talking to doing. Because truly what we do for others is the most important thing.

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Every year for the past 11 years, Rob and I go to a Christmas concert called the Festival of Carols.

This year I was disappointed to hear that Rob had to be out of town on business on the night they were performing.

I decided to ask Zach to accompany me to the concert. This is his last “official” Christmas prep season, so I have been using that as a bit of a bargaining chip. He agreed to go without too much cajoling!

We decided for dinner to head out to a nearby restaurant that served schnitzel. We both were feeling like having it – reminiscent of our trip to Germany two years ago.

We first walked through this cool little “Tunnel of Glam” that is in Toronto right now.

We had a nice dinner, and then laughed at some fellow restaurant clients who were elderly and clearly going to the same concert we were:)

The concert was nice; not as Christmasy as usual. It was a different conductor this year.

Zach thoroughly enjoyed it as the pictures show…

I had a great night – and I’m glad he was a sport and accompanied me. I like to remind him how much he will be missing things like this next year when he is off on his own:))

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The beginning of December marks the time we start our yearly traditions!

This year, due to time constraints, we had to head to the Christmas market in November. We got to start the season off earlier! I’m not too upset by that considering it’s the last Christmas we have 4 kids home for Christmas prep….

We walked around the market, enjoyed the lights in the freezing cold, grabbed some poutine and schnitzel sandwiches and yummy dessert:

Quiet Elfie made his debut and continues to entertain (although seems to be much more creative when Robbie is not out of town on business – although 2 out of 3 pics below were when he was gone) :

I had a shopping date and dinner with Josh (one with Zach too but he was in super rush so it was super speedy)

We both really liked these quotes:

We then did our traditional walk to get the tree and decorate it. Sadly none of my pictures took of them decorating:((

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“The first mistake is never the one that ruins you. It is the spiral of repeated mistakes that follows. Missing once is an accident. Missing twice, is the start of a new habit”.

James Clear

If you haven’t heard of James Clear, then go check him out. www.jamesclear.com

He just came out with a book called “Atomic Habits” and pretty much every page I have tons of highlights. I love his ability to explain things and put it in a way that makes sense. I signed up for his newsletter a while ago and twice a week he writes these absolute gems that make me think and shift perspective.

I love this quote, because it gives leeway for errors, and room to change. One mistake is fine. It is the cumulation of the mistakes that will get ya…

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I am so falling behind with blogging my quotes! So many different balls in the air right now to juggle….

Here are the quotes from the past two weeks:

“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about.”

I think it’s so important to really remember this. What we see on the outside, what we see on social media, or even what people tell us initially, is often not the whole story. We need to always err on the side of compassion and “find explanations in charity.” Everyone has a story. Everyone has a struggle.

I sometimes hear people “compare problems.” Death is worse than divorce. Depression is better than anxiety. Chronic illness is worse than acute. It’s better to miscarry than to lose a month old baby. It’s easier to have money problems earlier in life than it is later. It’s worse to have a troubled teenager than a troubled young adult.

And maybe some situations are way worse than others. Who knows? No one has experienced it all.

The worst situation – to you –  is the one that you find yourself coping with.

I’m not a big advocate on “comparing problems”. I’m a big advocate in developing empathy and recognizing that everyone is dealing with their own pain and carrying their own personal cross.

So just be kind.

“People’s circumstances are often merely a reflection of the choices they make.”

This one always makes me think.

Because, I agree and I disagree.

The power of choice is incredible, and we make tiny choices every day that determine our circumstances. So, it’s very important to choose wisely. One of my favourite books right now, “Atomic Habits” by James Clear, talks a lot about the power of seemingly inconsequential decisions that shape our success in big ways.

At the same time, we are also impacted by other people’s choices. We don’t have complete control over some things that happen to us – although we have complete control over how we choose to deal with the situation.

And then there is the random, out of the blue, luck of the draw circumstances that are often unexplainable. Things like, why was I born at this time, in this country, to this family? Those circumstances are not a reflection of choices. And to me, they are really unexplainable right now.

Overall, it’s important that we consider very carefully what we have influence over and not underestimate the power that we do have.

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Reggie lies on anything that is ours. Maybe it makes him feel close to us:

This made me chuckle so I shared it with my sassy kids:

Josh had another soccer tournament and went with his Dad. This was the picture I got:

A summer night trip to Dairy Queen (and capturing a brother fight)

Soccer summer skies:

Love this text from Zandra that she can hear my bracelet. It’s a little joke in our family that they know I’m coming bcs they hear the jingle:

Some fun church pics (with Reggie thrown in there, lol) :

We headed out after church one Sunday in August to visit Rob’s Mom, then got the privilege of hearing Pres Nelson speak in Hamilton:

These kids went on a fun double date to Canada’s wonderland:

Some behind the scenes of our family photo shoot:

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We have been in the habit of doing a Family Photoshoot every couple years. But, with this being the last year of Zach and Zandra being at home, and Gabe soon starting the next chapter (or is it a whole new book??) of his life, we wanted to squeeze an extra one in.

We asked our friend/photographer Emily Lim to take them again, and loved how she captured our family – and the silliness too. She also got to see the drama and spice of life that we all live with too – but she politely didn’t document that. (But it will be a funny memory to see all these smiling faces while remembering how mad I was at a few choice spirits when they broke out into a fight…. I constantly have to remember that the times with this kind of drama, upset, frustration etc. are often the best stories to remember later and keep it real now in the times of “perfect glossy smiley pictures”)

I am going to share a ton of pictures (and unfortunately they aren’t perfectly ordered, despite me uploading them in the right order?!?!) Feel free to abandon this post right now, because this kind of blog post is purely for my later viewing pleasure:)

Love this of them; they goof around all the time:

Individuals of the kids with us:

Sam schooling Rob:

  

Gabe trying to drive home his point:

   

Getting a little love from my boy (I liked this little series, so included them all!):

  

We got some cute ones of Gabe and Shannon:

Some individual shots. Zandra was more keen to have more taken and I think more just turned out so you’ll notice more of her:)

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