Tag Archives: mom

Be on a Radical Sabbatical from Munich to Milan

Munich.

Alps.

Milan.

Food and toilets too!

Travelling with these boys is ALWAYS fun!

Truly an amazing time. No social media fluff and puff.

Take a scroll through and see what we have been up to as we have wanders from Germany to Italy. Please leave a comment too!

November 10th

Munich.

Biggest toy store (and LEGO section the boys have seen).

Biggest beer.

Oldest central plaza in Munich (Marienplatz)

Walking everywhere on foot.

Seeing Steve at work!

This guy LOVES RC cars.
Yes, more handstands. We will have a whole blog with all of these.
We even made it to the City Hall at noon to watch the clock go round and round.
Hofbrauhaus – our waiter could carry 20 beer at one time!

With help from a friend, I was able to find gymnastics training for the boys in Munich. It was a cool experience for them and made them appreciate their gym back home even more.

After training, we were able to zip to where Steve was doing his Fair talking to families in the Munich area about his school district. We were very grateful to see what he does. CC bought a new jacket at H & M today which matched his Dada’s.

After the Fair, it was time to get back to the hotel, get packed as we had a 5 and a bit hour drive to Milan, Italy the next day.

November 11th

1 final shower in our bathroom/shower room. Have you seen this before?

1 hotel breakfast.

I loved this window where the tea sat.

1 shake for a boys who has eaten too much bread.

The rest of the family getting their breakfast.

1 more walk to Marienplatz.

1 more visit to the toy store.

Purchases of 2 Porsche’s and a German Shepherd figurine.

1 solo shopping trip to H & M for ME! I found some awesome Christmas gifts for the boys.

11:11 in Italy. Remembering.

1 final squeeze through the driveway from the hotel garage to the street. The rental car was beeping like crazy. Sexy Neck is a genius to work the angles to get our station wagon in and out of this garage.

5.5 hour car ride to Milan, Italy.

Through 5 countries.

From Germany to Austria, by Liechtenstein, Switzerland and then finally into Italy.

11 tunnels.

Clouds, snow and sun!

Switzerland

1 panic attack by ME! (The first 5km tunnel freaked me out and sent me into fight or flight even though cognitively nothing was wrong! It was a learning experience.)

1 very strange toilet. You pushed the toilet seat down to make it flush and the water to wash your hands went into the toilet. 🤪

Can you see the stream of water coming out of the wall? This is what you use to wash your hands. 😂😂

Another toilet for 50 cents.

5 amazing slices of margarita pizza, some gnocchi, a calzone and some gelato to end off this beautiful day.

1 awesome room at the Meininger Hotel/Hostel. (The same brand of hotel we stayed in in Brussels, Belgium).

This is how excited the boys get about a new hotel room!
This is mama asking them to sit still!

Steve is working hard to catchup on email and prepare for morning meetings. The boys are watching cartoons in Italian. I am doing laundry… Hence the huge pile by my feet!

Bongiorno from Milan, Italy!

November 12th

I had completely forgotten, or maybe I didn’t realize, how much Italians LOVE children. From the waiter ruffling our son’s hair and shaking their hands last night to the free metro rides and free entry to the museums, wow, I love you even more Italy.

Today was the day that our oldest son, twelve year old JC, has been planning for months. Tying in with his study of Ancient Rome, this would be as close as we would get. Milan. He rocked his negotiation of the metro system and got us everywhere he wanted to go. We even saw a movie being filmed by the fountain outside the Castle.

Today’s plan was a fun one! I love seeing my boys plan, take charge and speak with the locals along the way. Jackson even ordered our lunch in Italian and paid for it.

Parco Sempione (Park)

Castillo Sforzeaco (Castle)

FYI, we have run into these African men all over Europe trying to give you some string, that they then make you pay for. They were scary for the boys at the beginning but we have taught the boys to be very assertive.

Museum featuring the mind-blowing work of Leonardo da Vinci. Hallogram videos and sitting in the room he worked on for many years was incredibly awe-inspiring.

They said no photos… but I could resist taking these. It was a first person story of how Leonardo da Vinci came to be painting this corner of the castle in Milan.

Fried pizza for lunch. There was a HUGE line at Luini’s, so we knew it must be good. JC found this place on the internet through watching videos about Milan.

This young man was very brave ordering for our family in Italian.
Fried pizza. Was exciting but the boys didn’t love them.

Gelato in Gallerio Vittorio

Duomo Di Milano (Church)

Just wow!!!
Inside the church! I wish I had taken more pictures! The statue of St Bartholomew had us talking at dinner that night!
More prayers for Nana and Grandma in heaven. They have been ever-present with us this trip in so many ways. They had come visit us when we lived in Europe and we had travelled with them (and our two Papa’s) to many of these places.

Climbing over 200 stairs to the terraces of the Duomo.

FYI, this is on the Terraces is the DUOMO and they will blow a whistle and yell at you if you do a handstand!

A clean toilet in McDonald’s. (Probably the only reason I will take my boys there).

Meeting Steve spontaneously in between his meetings. (I almost hit him when he came up from behind and surprised us)

Love this picture… anyone know how to photoshop Steve’s eyes open? Reminds me of his Gramps. Xoxo

2 metro rides.

Many kilometres of walking.

Dinner back at a very Italian restaurant by our hotel in the Lambrate area. The boys declared that this was the BEST pizza they have had in their life. (Sexy Neck and I thought last night was better!)

And MORE gelato and a play at the park in the dark before we head to bed at 10:00pm.

November 13th

Cake and pie for breakfast. Sure why not! We are in Italy after all! This is how our boys started their day. We are finding our rhythm with a buffet breakfast between 8:30 and 9:30, then a mid-afternoon snack and then dinner around 6:30 or 7:00. We are all feeling GREAT and are truly eating our way around Europe.

The boys made Daddy’s coffee for him this morning. They are becoming quite the jokesters. It’s hilarious to watch. Look at CC and JC’s faces.

This is our second and last day in Milan before we head north to meet friends in the Swiss Alps. We have been asking the boys each morning what they would like to do and it was unanimous that today would include:

Heading back to the Parco Sempione, a stroll by the Duomo again, a stop at the largest LEGO store in Italy that just opened on the 11th, a visit to the main train station and dinner there too! And yes more gelato too! We even convinced Sexy Neck to take the boys back into the Museum to see the Leonardo da Vinci exhibit. He missed it yesterday when we went because he was working.

As the boys went back into the museum, I sat outside with a hot drink and got caught up on the blog. Now this is what a hot chocolate looks like:

It was hot and thick and absolutely delicious.

Ah my heart!!!

The boys wanted to checkout the largest LEGO store in Italy and along the way, CC decided to buy the Swatch Watch he had been looking at since we were in Brussels.

Lego, this is very cool! Which character are you?

We decided to head home to our hotel/hostel via the metro to cook dinner for ourselves. We had soup and salad. First, we went to our favourite grocery store, Lidl, to pickup some supplies.

One of the boys doesn’t like the metro noise!
What a man! A water man!
Dinner time!

A few handstands before bed doesn’t hurt! Right? JC attempting to walk around the room on his hands.

Ciao! Italy, it’s been a very fun couple of days. We want to own an apartment in Italy one day.

Next stop the Swiss Alps!

Be Taking a Radical Sabbatical to Europe

Do you have any teeny tiny dreams that are wriggling around in your heart right now? I have had one for years. I didn’t know how it would be possible, or even if it would be possible, but it was wiggling and jiggling around. I wanted to take our boys to Europe. To see, smell, taste how we lived for three years in Europe before they were born.

We spent our first year of marriage, at the age of 23, in a northern town in France called Harnes. Sexy Neck was playing professional volleyball and I coached and played a bit too! I used to go running around Vimy Ridge, carefully staying to the trails as I didn’t want to detonate a latent bomb from WWI.

We spent our 29th and 30th years on this earth in Germany and Switzerland.

At 32, I discovered I was pregnant with our first son while travelling in Europe for our friend’s Patrizia and Roman’s wedding in Switzerland.

And now, we are 45, our boys are 12, 10 and 8, and we are taking our radical sabbatical on the road…. to Europe!

29 days.

5 countries.

Hotels, hostels, a bible school, a mountain resort only accessible by tram, the Oberamerhof where we lived in Germany and dear friends’ homes will be our abodes for this adventure.

Over 3000 kilometres in a stick shift European automobile and on the autobahn to boot! Those little towns we lived in don’t even have a train station, so its car travel for this family.

Plus some gymnastics training thrown in for fun!

Where would you go if you could choose an adventure for your family?

Any advice on travelling Europe with kids?

Here we go folks.

The dream is unfolding in under a week!

We know we will get lost.

Meet the most interesting people.

See castles, villages, forests and cities.

Eat interesting food.

And get hug after hugs by our amazing friends.

I am MOST excited about this last one.

Friends we have known before we had children.

Friends who grew with us through living overseas, travelling and having children.

Friends who have walked the gift of grief with us from across the Pacific.

Friends who just “know”.

The words aren’t always known, but the feeling is unexplainable.

And now they get to meet our boys.

Dreams do come true!

Let this 3000 kilometre adventure unfold in His will.

With His ways.

Unfolding before us every day.

Amen.

And Amen.

Be Observing International Women’s Day

What is a better what to observe and notice International Women’s Day than with words and photos.

This wordsmithing woman threw together some words and founds some pics to show you the faces of the inspiring woman surrounding me.

May the women around you stand by you.

Lift you up.

Hold you up.

Pray you up.

And never stand you up.

The woman in my life that is ALWAYS very present was my Mama.

She made me a better mom to my boys, a more thoughtful friend, a more forgiving wife and always helped me to get over my temper tantrums.

I am grateful for all the women in my life.

If you are the sum of the people you surround yourself with, I am kick *ss.

These are the women in my life.

The ones that truly care and you know that they are there.

Ones that help you with your babies and your business.

Those who nurture your mind, heart and spirit.

Women that help you grow, that you may not even have in a photo. 😉

Thank you to all you wonderful women!

😘 Joanna

Be Sharing a Song

🎵 This is what I do! 🎵

I love seeing Mama’s who live “on purpose” in their day whether it is at work or at play.

They plan, schedule and make it happen and when someone gets sick their is no more lapping.

They shut things down, they hold the fort tight and just hold their baby knowing it will be all right.

No striving or goals will be checked off on that day, they just sit still and maybe have a play.

With the ones they love.

That override it all.

With the ones they love.

That they help hold tall.

With the ones they love.

They see them through and through.

With the ones they love.

They know inside what to do.

When things are flowing, the checklist may be long, but us Mama’s know that we need to be strong.

We need to hold space and show up with grace.

When we are focused and fierce and know exactly what to do, there is nothing that will stop us, not even the loo.

We need to have goals and show up as we are.

This is what I do!

With the ones I love.

That override it all.

With the ones I love.

That I help hold tall.

With the ones I love.

I see them through and through.

With the ones I love.

I know inside what to do.

I love being a Mama who lives “on purpose” in my day whether it is at work or at play.

There is no shame in doing, as long as you are being you!

There is no harm in being exactly who you are.

Show up.

Be you.

With the ones you love.

Show up.

Be you.

With the ones you love.

(A song written in the gift of grief, with fond memories of our Lab, Summer. May this bless you to be present and to live fully as a human being, not just as a human being. Be enough. Be free. 😘 Joanna)

NOTE: I started writing songs after my annual conference for my nutrition business in NASHVILLE in August. These songs just started pouring out of me there. What fun writing songs are… cannot wait to hear someone sing them!

Be Leaving a Legacy (5th Anniversary)

December 26th, 2013 7:00am

The lady that will leave the largest legacy in my life left the earth.

Five years ago.

She breathed her last breath.

My dad at her side.

My boys and I sleeping at her house.

December 26th, 2018 7:00am

I set an alarm.

I woke and took a deep breath.

I began to ponder this adventure we have created these last five years and I must admit that I am shocked it has been five years living on this earth without my mama.

Some days, my breath gets taken away with grief and it seems like just moments ago that I was told that my mom had died. Other days, it feels like she has been gone for a hundred years. It truly is like the disciple Peter says: “With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. “

On days like today, I am able to look back and see five distinct legacies that my mom created for me and my boys:

  1. My Mama was thoughtful! She was incredibly present with her people and truly saw how she could add value to their everyday life. She used her “spidey sense” to buy the best gifts. She really saw people and what they needed. Most days, she was the gift people needed.
  2. My Mama was a “mover”! She was cycling in Mallorca, Spain eight months before she died, cycling up to 90km per day. If she said that she was going to do something, she did it. Plain and simple. Joanna, “I was to learn Spanish!” Boom, at 65 years old she signed herself up for a Spanish class. My Mama was an athlete her whole entire life from living on the farm, to playing basketball, to being one of the first moms to join a gym and finally her passion for cycling, hiking and cross country skiing. My mama was woman of her word and a mover to boot.
  3. My Mama was creative! Whether it was when she was quilting, creating in the kitchen or working in her garden, my mom always added her own flare to what she was doing. She was never afraid to try new recipes or create something with our boys, even if it involved sparkles. My Mama was a creator.
  4. My Mama was not perfect! She was the person who gave me permission to be perfectly imperfect. I saw her shed tears over the things that her relatives chose to do to her and I saw her unsure at how to respond. I saw her get angry and apologize. I heard her speak about other people and also then apologize. I watched her when I was younger as she moved jobs and share what it was really like to work as a teacher in an antiquated system. My Mama was a human “being”.
  5. My Mama was LOVE! At 7:00am in the morning when the boys wanted to watch cartoons, she would let them crawl into bed with her. Whenever we showed up at her front door, my Mama always gave the very best hugs and made space for us in her life. Every time, I needed to talk with her, she listened. She listened really, really well. Time. Hugs. Listening. And so much more than my simple words can convey. Who could ask for anything more? Pure love!

Today on December 26th, we put on our skinny skis and went down the nordic trails to remember my Mama and my boys’ super Nana. We talked about the legacy that she has left for each of us. We cried. We laughed. We sent a balloon up to heaven. In rememberance. As a symbol of our connectness and the legacy that will never leave each of us.

With gratitude for every moment that I could spend with my Mama here on earth.

For the legacy she left.

With gratitude for the Mama that I now get to be for my boys.

For the legacy I will leave.

Thoughtful.

Mover.

Creative.

Imperfect.

LOVE.

And the greatest of these is love.

Unconditional.

Unwavering.

Unforgettable.

LOVE.

Remembered on the trails today.

And every day as we live out our legacy now!

Leave a beautiful, imperfectly perfect legacy my friends.

Love, Joanna

Be Opening the Treasure Box (Mother’s Day 2018) 

Five Mother’s Days! 

2014

2015

2016

2017

2018 

Five specific moments to ponder the gift of grief that I received when my mom died.  

Five seasons of pondering, praying and seeing what my hamster mind would create with the unthinkable fact that I won’t have my mom’s physical presence with me until we meet in heaven. 

Five Sundays to remember that I made a decision that nothing bad would ever come from my mom’s death.  

And it hasn’t. 

Ever! 

The moments where the waves of grief come over me have helped me uncover treasure.  

The waves have washed away the debris and clutter.  Clarity has come.  

These waves have made me sit or lie down and ponder what pieces of gold that my mom gave me that I am now missing. 

This grief has given me the privilege to see my mom’s life in totality from a perspective I never imagined.   


As a daughter.  


As a neighbour.  


As a teacher. 


As a friend.  

Watching my mom’s life come to an end allowed me to see and feel in a new way!  I was able to see and feel her influence, to this day, as my fingers tap on this keyboard. My mom/Super Nana’s presence is still felt in our lives by those who knew her and people that now know us, but never met my mama.  

Below are the treasures I have discovered about my mom.  Miraculously, now ALL these treasures are held and given to me by different people in my life, especially Sexy Neck!  The light has overshadowed the darkness of the valley of the shadow of death. I am incredibly grateful for these treasures given in DEATH to me by my mom and now given to me in LIFE by my close family and friends.  


 The treasure box has been flung open: 

✨ My mama had a golden heart.  She was always open to others and felt things deeply.  Her heart was incredibly good. It was pure gold.  She was the most non-judgemental person you could meet.  (And she never commented on my choice of clothing!). 


✨ My mama had a silver stature and posture. She could have been a President of a large company or a Principal of any school, but instead she chose family first and help raise myself, my sister, my cousins, our friends and anyone she taught. We were given the ability to hold our posture no matter what came our way. She exemplified this.   She even helped me keep my posture when I said “F*ck off” to our neighbour Chris H. by washing my mouth out with soap.   


✨ My mama had a shining smile and life-giving words that flowed from those lips. She always found something good to say, even when  people, in the same situation, may not have found something good to say.   I remember when she was close to the end of her cancer journey and we were talking about her having cancer and she responded, “Why not me, JJ?”  


✨My mama was clothed in humility.  Her volunteerism, going above and beyond in all her teaching job was a treasure for me that I now out on every day.  She created healthy boundaries but still often found ways to put others first.  We often had our cousins on family vacations, neighbours over to swim and we even had one of my sister’s friends live with us for a year just because she needed a place to live.  She was always helping and connecting with her three siblings and often our summer holidays involved visiting them or having them at our house.   She was incredibly thoughtful and now I aim to be a magical memory maker, like she was for our family.  

(My mama always made homemade birthday cakes for me and then my boys birthdays.) 

✨ At the bottom of my mama’s treasure chest after all that gold, silver, shining words, and cloths of humility, I have found nuggets. 

Not the nuggets that my boys like to talk about, but the nuggets that stick with you that you pass onto your children.  Well, I guess in some way my boys did get their nuggets from me.  My mom’s words about these specific topics still ring in my mind: marriage, parenting, the cycles of teaching, friendship and life.   

💥 Only boring people are bored.  

💥 Don’t share anything that’s negative with her (or anyone) about your marriage because they will remember and you may not tell them how you worked it out.  

💥 Don’t be so hard on your oldest child. 

💥 You are a great mother.  

💥 Wash your hands before you eat. 

💥 The same issues in teaching cycle around and around, just wait for it to correct itself. 

💥Find friends who love the same things you do.  

💥 Be a good person.   

💥 Make your bed.  (I have to admit that I still make my bed, but I really could care less if my boys make theirs.) 

💥 It’s never too late to do anything.  (My mama got her teaching degree in her late 40’s, took Spanish classes after my cousin moved to Spain and was cycling with a group in Mallorca, 90km per day, eight months before she died.) 

💥 Make no excuses.  Find a way to do what you want to do or ask for help.  (I am not very good at asking for help, but I am working on that!) 

💥 Be kind.  Work hard. Make shit happen.  

💜 MOM 💜

Her treasure box is open. 

Feel free to take what landed on you today.  

I thoroughly love all the treasures I have personally have been given and continue to discover.  

Thank you God that light always prevails.  

Always look for light, my friends!  Even in the darkness, you will find a sliver.  

This is my wish as we all celebrate Mother’s Day in our own way! 

Take something from the treasure box of my mom’s life.

A golden heart. 

Silver stature. 

Shining smile. 

Cloth of humility. 

Nuggets.  So many nuggets.  

With gratitude for all the women in my life who have my mother’s loving, vibrant and thoughtful heart!  I am blessed.  


😘 Joanna 

Be Knowing the Opposite of Love 

I am a feelings girl. 

I no longer apologize for this. 

I feel things deeply. 

I am impacted by the words and even vibe of the people around me. 

I know this. 

Now, I harness this. 

People are powerful. 

We have emotions that fuel behaviour. 

We have passions. 

We have love!  

In my personal journey that I entered into as I walked through the gift of grief, the loss of my mama, I saw love.  

Pure love that no amount of pain could suppress. 

One moment my mama would be writhing and the next moment my boys would walk through the door.  

In that single moment, a smile would come on my mama’s face. Her eyes would open up and she would see them. She would hear them. She would be fully present and LOVING!  


On this journey, I also learned the opposite of love and it wasn’t what I had thought. 

During my four decades of life, I have surmised that the opposite of love was the feelings, thoughts and actions of hate. I realized the untruth of all of this. 

The incongruency. 

The inconsistency. 

I witnessed people, people I dearly love, be silent.  

Be unpresent. 

Eyes closed. 

Ears firmly shut. 

I asked them “why” and implored them to tell me “What could I do differently?”.

I received no responses. 

I had to sit with no answers. 

And then the moment hit me that the opposite of love had never been hate. 

Hate allows for discussion, emotion, action of some sort.  

The opposite of love has never been hate. 

It’s apathy. 

The nothingness. 

The unresponse.  

Love and hate are actions. 

Apathy is lethargy. 

Action and apathy are opposite. 

Apathy is meeting people to go sledding and one person decides to take a nap on the top of the ski hill.  This is not love! 

Apathy is inviting someone over for a two hour birthday party and they fall asleep on the couch in the middle of the party. (Note: The person is in their 30’s!). This is not love! 

Apathy is talking to someone daily and seeing someone weekly and then never being invited over to their house again.  They end up texting to tell you they are selling the house. This is not love! 

Apathy is having your phone in front of your face when someone is trying to have a heartfelt conversation. This is not love! 

Living in my gift of grief and my apathy examples, I implore you to be awake to love and aware of apathy.   


Keep your eyes open.  

Ears ready to hear.  

Be present. 

Be loving. 

I am a feelings girl 

Apathy is brutal! 

I no longer apologize for this. 

Nothingness is worse than hatred. 

I feel things deeply. 

I am impacted by the words and even vibe of the people around me. 

I know this. 

Now I harness this. 
I don’t spend time with apathetic people. 

People are powerful. 

If THEY choose to be! 

Overflowing with love, with action and knowing it’s opposite. 💖

Lessons from a Super Nana who would be celebrating her 75th birthday this week!   I love you Mama. 😘 Joanna 

Be Leaving a Legacy 

Words often can’t do moments justice, except maybe if you are an Inuit person who has fifty words to describe snow. 

Today, I had an incredible moment where my mom showed her heart and the legacy that she has left myself, my boys, her family and her friends.  I pray that my words will do this moment justice.  

Since my mom died three years ago, there are a few memory making places that I haven’t been back to because of circumstances or choice.  The beautiful Cottage Day Spa with the extraordinary human being, Pam, was one of those places I chose not to go.  The Cottage Day Spa holds a very special place in my heart as it is a place where my mom felt peace and was truly cared for, in body, mind and spirit.   Pam has a gift to share and a beautiful Cottage to share it in.  


For my mom’s last birthday, I planned an elaborate surprise birthday party including a limousine scavenger hunt, poster collage, brunch at her favourite restaurant and an afternoon with Pam at The Cottage for a facial.  

Jump forward three years and I hadn’t made an appointment to see Pam. Before Christmas of this year, was when I ran into Pam for the first time.  I hadn’t seen her in years.  I then ran into Pam a second time in the parking lot of our ski hill about a month ago and I knew it was time to go back for a visit. 

Today, I stepped into The Cottage Day Spa.  The memories of coming with my mom enveloped me. She was always so full of joy coming here.  Truly free and truly happy. Today, I was shocked when I sat down and Pam pulled out this note from my file: 


Before my mom died, she paid for my treatment today! Pam honoured my mom’s legacy gift to me from over three years ago and today I was given the most relaxing, kind, beautiful, mom-inspired facial.  

Legacy. 

Living legacy.  

Loving. 

Learning.  

Giving.  

Thoughtful.  

Kind. 

My mom’s legacy.  

What will you be leaving as a legacy through your thoughts and deeds? 

My hope is to leave a legacy of:

✨ My love of ALL people. 

✨ Being a river of money, constantly supporting and passing on. 

✨ Home being a place of peace and joy. 

✨ My desire to be strong and athletic.  

✨ My moments of creativity and inspiration through solitary actions of writing, painting and photography. 

✨ My gratitude for God’s divine moments in our lives woven through people, greatness, mistakes and living imperfectly perfect.  

My legacy. 

My mom’s legacy.  

My inheritance.  

My heart interwoven through her constant encouragement and presence in our lives. 

Forever and always. 

Amen.