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While we were in Casablanca, we stayed in an apartment. It was several flights up and we usually opted to take the stairs.

In the evening, we started going down the stairwell and the lights suddenly turned off. It was pitch black. And I mean blacker than black. I quickly tried to turn on the flashlight on my phone and then I found a wall switch which turned the lights back on.

We all commented on how it kind of freaked us out.

Zach said, “That wasn’t just dark. It was the absence of light.”

For some reason that has just stuck with me.

Sometimes things in life are dark. But other times they ARE the absence of light.

I can handle dark. But the absence of light? I never want to go without. I have been there and it is not a place I will ever choose to go back to.

But it gets me thinking: what is my light? What light is still there even when I do have dark times? I’ve concluded it’s my God, my faith, my husband, my children, my family, and my friends.

I’ve also concluded that it is me. It is my willingness to be vulnerable and trust the light that comes from those listed above. To borrow that light when needed. To give back that light when needed.

Light is so much more powerful than darkness. I need to make sure that even in the midst of darkness, there is always some light.

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We bid farewell to Chefchaouen this morning and said good bye to Dar Hicham and our friend “Orlando Bloom”.

As soon as the car starts to move, we all crash again. Our poor driver Ali must think we are an incredibly pathetic bunch.

The drive to Fez was about 4 hours, so we had a few stops on the way. We stopped for lunch at a roadside lunch and had a surprisingly good meal!

We then continued to the roman remains of Volubillis – which some were more interested in than others!

   

We arrived in Fez and were met by the caretaker of our Riad (Dar Finn) who led us through the windy alleys.

Fez is a different experience all around so far! It’s dark and crowded and really feels medieval.

Our Riad is very traditional and will be a unique experience! It has a beautiful roof top terrace where we enjoyed hanging out.

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Though it was quite out of the way and a long drive to get there, it was so worth it.

We had a great dinner in our Riad last night (Dar Hicham) and wandered the streets for. a bit before crashing.

The 6am prayer call in the village was a bit loud, but we managed to fall back asleep before getting up for a day of exploring.

Breakfast at our riad was great – with all sorts of croissants, breads and condiments and the most delicious mint tea (we all agreed).

We headed out to explore the coolest little alleys and the most amazing doors!

The kids were annoyed with all the photos I was taking, lol.

So I just kept taking more…

There were some great colours too:

I tried to get them to pose for me:

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Down to the crunch. Rob and I were both working and Zach had a test until the very last minute, so we were just in time for our Uber to arrive to take us to the airport.

But then they sent the wrong car… so we quickly scrambled to order a second one. Thank goodness for the quickness of Uber.

Of course, we got to the airport and our flight was delayed:(

There are some perks to long haul travel.

I love being able to squeeze in several movies, tv shoes, a few hours of sleep and some reading. I also like arriving at my final destination at night and head right to bed.

No such luck with this flight. We flew to Montreal first and then caught a direct to Casablanca – which was under 7 hours.

Upon arrival, we stood in forever custom line, collected our luggage and then eventually found our guide/driver Ali. We were all a little worried about our luggage – but relieved when they tarped it!

It was raining when we arrived, so took about 2 seconds for my ‘”vacation hair” to appear, lol.

Our final destination was Chefchaouen – about a 5 hour drive. However, we planned to stop and explore along the way. Our poor driver had to endure us all being pretty much comatose from fatigue every time the car was moving though!

We headed to the capital city of Rabat, where saw the  Hassan Tower and the Mausoleum of Mohammed V, built in homage to the king, who passed away in 1961. His son and successor, Hassan II, who died in 1999, is also entombed here.

We then went to the Chellah Gardens  – old Roman ruins occupied now by massive storks!

We went to a cool little place for lunch called Dar Naji and enjoyed our first couscous, meat and vegetable meal, followed by some mint tea that was good, yet a little odd.

We aren’t quite sure of the tea just yet…

We snoozed as our driver continued north through the mountains to Chefchaouen.

Our first view of Chefchaouen:

We checked into our charming Riad, called Dar Hicham. Each room is super unique and cute!

We decided to stay at our riad and had dinner – it was really good – kebabs and rice (and Zandra had spaghetti! lol). We shared a lot of laughs – that’s why we are here!

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The month of February flew by.

It was a super busy month. We celebrated Josh’s birthday, as well as my mom’s 80th.

Unfortunately my mom fell and broke her pelvis – darn ice – the week before her bday.

This changed the plans we had of her coming here for a 80th birthday party and my brother arriving as a surprise.

Luckily my brother was able to switch his flights and we were all able to go to Montreal to spend her 80th with her in her rehab room! Not exactly the same party, but a really nice weekend all together all the same. So nice to spend that time with my brother too!

My sister in law made her a gorgeous book from our families which was a highlight I think! (We missed her though!!)

We brought in her favorite Chinese food and a cake.

And no pictures?!? What the heck?!?

While in Montreal, we got a call early Saturday Morning – I answered it and heard Zach excitedly exclaim, “I got into BYU!” So happy for him! Lots of hard work and dedication from that kid!

Right before we left for Montreal, we did our traditional Valentines dinner and I gave the kids their yearly book. As much as I love Valentine’s, I found it a very bittersweet night knowing that next year, two more of my kids will be somewhere across the world.

Rob and I didn’t have a chance to do our usual Valentine celebration this month. We are going to have to celebrate it another month!

The month was also the month where Zach got working on his mission application:

Of course, I was over the moon excited with the new changes that you can speak/FaceTime with your missionary every week now! Weight lifted off my heart!

He has a few more things to do and then it becomes too real for me….

But we still have a huge adventure in store for us as we head to Morocco in a couple of days! Hopefully this blog will get a little busier again as I document our travels!!!

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I don’t even know how behind i am with monthly snaps! Maybe some are repeats?!

This gal was on the tennis team this year! So proud of her for givin it her all:

Reggie was givin it his all too:

I was sad to say good bye to my trusty Honda Pilot with 350000km:(( It served me well and luckily I was ok – but man, those airbags hurt!

Some boys are just tired:

School photos for the high schoolers:

Getting his wisdom teeth out:

Zandra at a YW night doing an amazing job singing:

Love the sneak peaks of the engagement photos we got of these two! :

CN tower all lit up: the kids did the United Way CNTower stair climb:

I’m gonna sneak in another sleepy Josh (then back to stair climb):

Not sure if our Christmas shopping date made it in the Christmas recaps?!:

Zandra at work:

Reggie at work too:

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I held my first Travelling Sisterhood Meeting Group meeting last week.

One of my sweet friends brought me flowers :

and and wrote this note on the packaging:

It seriously made me teary.

You see last year, I had shared with her my experience reading the book “Big Magic ” by Elizabeth Gilbert.

It’s a really great book. Gilbert talks about growing your creativity, finding your passion, and just “going for it”. She talks about fear and not letting it take over – but know that it will always be with you so don’t let it stop you and just get comfortable with being a little (or a lot) fearful.

She talks about not worrying whether or not “it” (whatever it is for you) is going to be successful or if it’s going to make you money. In fact she talks about in her own experience as a writer that she vowed never to ask her “writing to pay the bills.”

I was so struck by that in particular because travel is such a huge passion but in my mind starting a travel business wasn’t really practical because it’s not really lucrative (especially initially). But while reading the book I realized I wanted to try something different and even though it would not pay the bills, (and that’s ok because I have a career that does) I wanted to set myself up for doing something I love and perhaps growing something in the future. This is a long term investment in myself and in my new venture.

The Travelling Sisterhood Group is even a greater extension because it’s really all about developing relationships, learning, growing, sharing. Something I’m super excited about – especially combining it with travel!

I shared this with my friend ages ago and I love that she remembered our conversation and reminded me of the whole reason why I started this.

It is magic.

Doing something for the love of “it” and no attachments.

Thank you, my friend. Xo

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“It may seem impossible until it’s done” Nelson Mandela

Oh the beauty of breaking things down and just getting to work.

Every task is so overwhelming at first glance.

So much to do, so long to do.

It is too hard.

I don’t know what to do.

I don’t know how to do it.

I can’t do it.

I’ll never get it done.

These pesky thoughts play in my head often.

So I’ve been working hard on changing them.

I can figure this out.

I just need to do the next step.

I just need to do a bit more.

I can do this – even if it’s not perfect.

Focus on what is right in front of me.

Look at all the things I have achieved.

It’s not supposed to be easy or fun all the time.

I got this.

Remember the compound effect.

These thoughts are ones that are pushing me right now.

One step at a time.

Amazing what a shift in your thoughts can do.

It can all get done.

It is not impossible.

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Two quotes from the past couple weeks:

“Never let the fear of striking out keep you from playing the game”

“Very little is needed to make a happy life; it is all within yourself, in your way of thinking” (Marcus Aurelius)

Our discussions at home seem to revolve around mindset a lot. How your thoughts create your feelings which lead to your actions and those actions determine your results.

It seems like all our quotes are centered around this too.

And so many of our Family Home Evenings.

I feel like the sand in the hourglass is running out – and quickly.

I feel that way, because, well… it is.

Two more of my babies are getting ready to fly and I worry if I have prepared them enough with the tools that they need.

I don’t know.

I hope so.

But as my back up, I am trying to prepare them with the most important things:

Remembering who they are, where they came from and why they are here.

Remembering that they are more than just themselves, they are part of a larger eternal unit.

Remembering that they are never alone. They have a loving Heavenly Father, they have the gift of the Holy Ghost and they have us. Always.

Remembering that they can never go too far  – there is always a way back.

Remembering that we are always there for them. Thick and thin. Good and Bad.

Remembering that they can choose their thoughts and choose the results in their lives.

Remembering that they are not responsible for anyone else’s happiness.

Remembering that life WILL give them lemons. Expect them 50% of the time.

Remembering that they CAN handle the lemons. They CAN do hard things. They are meant to do hard things.

Remembering that they only fail if they fail to try. And if they do fail, then fail forward – learn from their failures.

Remembering that they are loved and have great worth – inherently. They don’t need to earn love or worth.

There are so many things I want them to know… I hope that these next few months I’ll continue to reinforce these and remember other things I want them to remember…

So for now, our quotes will likely revolve around the same type of message:)

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My Barbaloot turns 16 today.

Unreal that my baby is now able to do 16 things: drive and date (we wait until 16 to date).

But even though he’s 16, there is still so much “Baby Josh”  or “Baby Dosh” as Zach used to say, in him.

Josh wasn’t the easiest baby. He was colicky and spent a lot of time in tears (me too. It was my coping mechanism). He grew to become a toddler who spent a lot of time in tears. Granted, that was when his Dad and I divorced and there was so much transition in his life. He was always a very sensitive child too – to noise, environment, textiles, and people, so life could be pretty stressful for the little guy.

But, man, he was cute. And super friendly; he would say hi to anyone on the street. He adored dogs too and would always stop for a cuddle! He was filled with courage and adventure. He adored his brother and they were best buds (and I’m happy to say despite the competition and sibling rivalry, they really are still best buds). He was charming and hilarious and had a huge heart!!

When he was 4, he started soccer and he shined even more! I remember within a first few minutes of him playing, people wondered who he was; while the other kids meandered around the field, he was focused and fast. He was able to grow and develop into a great soccer player and a great athlete.

Funny though, because when he was 2, he had two toddler fractures in both legs (at different times) and I had to carry him everywhere so they would heal. We took him to some specialists as they were concerned about his hips and his balance. They told me that he likely wasn’t going to be a sporty kid as he had these issues and to nourish his other talents.

Well they were super wrong. He is very sporty.

Let me start here with the 16 things I love most about this boy:

  1. He will play most sports, and play them well. He loves sports. And even if he’s not the best at a couple of sports, he still enjoys being on the team (in grade 6 he was on the baseball team but never played. I worried as he sat on the bench…would he be devastated that clearly he was being overlooked?  I approached him about it (delicately) after the game. He laughed. He said he wasn’t great at baseball, wasn’t crazy about the sport, but loved being on the side to eat sunflower seeds and cheer on his team. He excels at so many other sports (his all time sport is soccer) and loves to play as much as he can.

2. He is committed. That’s one reason why he’s good at sports. He will practice. He will train. He is a team player. He supports his other team mates. He will show up on and off the field or court. You can count on him. I so love that about him.

3.He has a super sensitieve side. Likely why he cried so much as a baby, but he feels things. As he’s gotten older, he tries to hide it, but it’s there:) And I love to see it. There’s a sensitivity and a compassion there and it comes out when he interacts with little kids (or Reggie!), or when he sees someone less fortunate. I’m sure that side will develop even more when he goes to HEFY in Paraguay this summer.

4. He is an awesome hugger. And I can get a hug for him every time. He will put his arm around me when talking, even though he towers over me now!

5.He is super funny. He makes us all laugh! Great sense of humour. We can count on him keeping us entertained!

6.He is smart. He knows stuff, remembers stuff and is figuring out how to maximize his learning – starting to plan things out, manage his time etc.

7.He has a great smile and a great laugh. He can get hysterical with silliness.

8.He loves his sweets. He loves weird things too. A super picky eater, he will eat every dessert in sight, and then he will try every weird thing when we travel too!

9.He is a solid fortnite player. Ha. Had to add that in. He can play that game for hours straight. That’s got to be something, right?

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