Be The Best.

The circle of life…I mean gingerbread.

Ethan eats gingerbread, Max eats Ethan.

Do you really need an explanation?

It’s the circle of life.  The smaller species eats gingerbread, which in turn becomes prey for the larger cousin…I mean species.

Ok, there was a bit of encouragement from the part of the photographer, but I love this pic.

Ingrid had a great idea that we’d have teams building gingerbread houses.  What could go wrong?

Editorial comment:  We tried this once with our Marketing group at BCIT.  Wow.  One group built a gingerbread brothel…but I digress.  Ladies of the evening built out of gingerbread…yah, what could go wrong indeed!? (excellent creative skills…just need some guidance from time to time…) 😉

We had no such incidents at our most recent building event.

These were great houses and Ethan and Max built the one you see above.

It was a fun way to add a positive memory and experience to our Christmas gathering.

That wife of mine…always the good ideas!

As the calendar flies so quickly away from Christmas into the New Year, these houses will become a fun memory of Christmas 2010.

We couldn’t go a minute without thinking of Chris.  He would have loved this event too and probably somehow worked a lacrosse theme into his gingerbread house.

The new normal includes great memories of the past with Chris and everyone else and new experiences too…maybe that IS the circle of life after all.

Gingerbread Street.
Be The Best.

Vince Gill, friends and the bigger family.

I had heard this Vince Gill song a bunch of times.

In fact I think we own the Vince Gill Christmas CD.

Only thing was, aside from the chorus, I hadn’t really ever listened to the words.

I received an email from someone thinking about us with the song attached.

I listened intently and then looked up the lyrics which I’ve put in below.

Vince Gill is an amazing artist.

His voice is full of feeling, emotion and passion.

When I understood what the song was actually about, it was that much more powerful.

Yes…Christmas is all about family and I love the last line as well.

We’re all part of a bigger family…he states, ‘we’re all children of the King of Kings’.

What I’ve loved (really!), so much about the past 9 months is people reaching out to us from all walks of life.  All religious backgrounds.  All cultures.

When you look at the big picture, we, as in the human race, are all brothers and sisters and truly children of the King of Kings.

Has Christmas been easy?


Has knowing that we are connected to a bigger family, literally and figuratively, helped us?


Here’s those lyrics.


It Won’t Be The Same This Year – Vince Gill

It’s time to pack our bags and hit the highway,
And head on out for Christmas holiday,
I’ll fall apart when I pull in the driveway,
It’s my first time home since brother passed away,
His favorite time of year was always Christmas,
We’ll reminisce about the days gone by,
Oh how I wish that he was still here with us,
My memories with him will never die,

But when the stockings are hung,
And silent night has been sung,
And Christmas is finally here,
It won’t be the same this year,

Losing my big brother hurt so badly,
It’s help me learn what Christmas really means,
There’s nothing more important than your family,
We’re all the children of the King of Kings,

Be The Best.

Winning the lotto with stockings.

Four soldiers stand guard over the stockings.

We were left with another decision a couple of weeks ago. Do we put out three stockings or four?

We decided on four and have also decided that we will put out four stockings for as many Christmases we have in our future.  That’s the way it’s gonna be!

The BC Lottery Corp has run a little campaign this season encouraging people to not give lottery tickets as gifts to underage (under 19) children.  Oops.  That’s been a family tradition for as many years as I can remember.

You know, a family that gambles together stays together.

Editorial comment:  The preceding sentence was mild sarcastic humour.  We don’t have a gambling problem.  We could quit any time…we just don’t want to right now.

Serious editorial comment:  I know gambling is a serious issue.  Just stick with me for this piece.

Anyhoo…each Christmas, ‘Santa’ would throw in a few scratch and wins into the stockings.  It was a little bit of fun and became this tradition.

I was at the grocery store a few days before Christmas and bought 3 sets of scratch and wins.  It felt wrong, so I added a fourth. They went in Chris’ stocking along with some m&m’s and a lacrosse magazine.

Now, a great alternate ending to this blog would be to say those fourth set of tickets won $4 million dollars and we added to Chris’ fund etc etc…but the ending is mainly similar to the real life story of the lottery business.  99% of tickets lose…just don’t talk about that part.

We had fun scratching the tickets and ‘won’ back about 80% of the ‘investment’ into the tickets.

I call that an entertainment expense…and yes, the ‘proceeds’ will go to Chris’ fund.

Those stockings have been with us a long time.  Ingrid made them when the boys were very young.  Hers has the lace bit on top to set it apart.  All of them have our names on them, Christian, Mackenzie, Mommy and Daddy.

That’s how long they’ve been in our family and as I walked by them every day for the past weeks I was so happy that there were four.

That’s the way it should be.

Be The Best.

Merry Chris-Max.

I’ve used that greeting for years.

No, we didn’t name the boys so we could have this built-in family pun every Christmas season…it just sort of worked out.

As I write this, we’ve had Ingrid’s side of the family over for dinner tonight.

The Ethanator was intently tracking Santa’s flight across the world via Norad’s Santa Tracking system.

Hey, if you haven’t seen it, you’ve got to check this out.

He’s right on target to visit British Columbia in the next few hours!

Ethan reminded me that we had forgotten to make name cards for the places at the table.  I asked if he could handle it and this sharp Grade 2’er took charge and wrote all the names down.  He then showed me the tag he had made for Chris.  Of course Chris needed a tag too.  I told him to add it to my plate.  It was very cool.

I mentioned at Thanksgiving that we didn’t set an extra place for Chris, but rather toasted him and acknowledged that he was with us always.  Tonight we did the same and raised our glasses and told Chris we loved him.

Then Ethan told some reindeer jokes.

Hey, did you know what the wettest animal in the world is?  Duh.  Raindeer.

That’s how it goes.

I love the eyes of a child.  Poignant. Pure. Powerful…and just plain Funny.

Merry Chris-Max to all.

Be The Best.

Don’t take the Lacrosse out of Laxmas?

As much as we look ahead and live for tomorrow, there are still times to reflect on history.

I stumbled across some pictures from Chris and the Bantam Box Lacrosse squad from BC as they represented the Province so admirably in August of 2007.

I had written updates for the BC Lacrosse magazine and this was my final piece summarizing the tournament.

In that final game Chris played the game of his life to that point, being a physical presence that helped BC clinch the Bronze medal in a heavyweight showdown with Alberta.  (ok, as heavyweight as 14 year olds can be…which is actually quite heavy…!)


Chris with good bud Brett Dobray

The journey for the Bantam BC boys began months ago.  There were regional selection camps.  There was the Team BC final selection camp.  For those chosen to represent BC, a number of weekends were spent training for the national championships.

The 22 lacrosse players, along with coaches and entourage, jetted out of Vancouver on Thursday, August 2.  After spending 2 days in Peterborough, Ontario for a conditioning camp, the team traveled to the dorms at Durham College in Oshawa, which would be home for the next week.

On Sunday, August 5th, the highlight of the day was the opening ceremonies at the Iroquois Park Sports Centre, touted as Canada’s largest municipal sports centre.

The teams were cheered on by enthusiastic supporters as they entered the arena.  Team BC looked strongly West Coast in their multi-blue and gold jerseys proudly showing the mountains and a west coast ‘feel’.

Chris with Mr. Will VH

It felt like every team would be immediately ready to set up the nets and get playing, but there was one more night to go.

On Monday morning, seeing the Team BC players hit the floor in the warm-up of game one against Manitoba produced chills.  “Those jerseys look awesome”, whispered one onlooker from an opposing team to his buddy.  His friend couldn’t say anything.  They were.  And as good as the uniforms looked, Bantam Team BC looked even better in them.  This was the first official game they had played together and the game ended with a score of 16-1 for the BC crew.

Team BC played Saskatchewan Monday afternoon which was a hard hitting matinee with both teams making their opponents pay the price to get to the net.  Team BC finished the game strong with a final score of 10-2.

With two solid first-day games under their collective belts, rest was the top priority post-game, with a major test against Ontario on Tuesday.

Monday’s muggy weather made the arenas the equivalent of being in a steam room with a parka on and you could add an additional 10 degrees on the floor itself.  The event staff could not operate the exhaust fans either, explaining that by doing so the draw of air into the building would produce dangerous slippery floor conditions because of the moist, humid conditions outside.

Tuesday’s conditions improved somewhat in the morning with overcast skies and less humidity allowing the exhaust fans to run.

Team Ontario plays big and they came out hitting and highly aggressive.  Team BC took the first period to adjust and came back hard in the second with an exceptional effort but the spirited affair ended with a 5-2 loss for BC.

Team Ontario looked strong, but Team BC was immediately hungry to play again.  They didn’t have long to wait as Nova Scotia was the challenger in the 6:30pm game.  Team BC jumped to an early lead and dominated the run of the play.  The final score was BC 10 and Nova Scotia 2.

Wednesday was a rest day.

Thursday’s results were not what Team BC would have wanted.  The morning affair featured a game against a rough and tumble brand of lacrosse from Alberta.  The Bantams got behind early and could never completely recover.  The game ended in an all-out frenzy with Team BC running out of time to mount a full comeback.

Following a brief lunch break, it was ‘game-on’ with Iroquois Nation.  A win in this game meant advancing to the 2 vs. 3 playoff game on Friday with a chance to proceed to the gold medal game on Saturday.  A loss in the game would mean a bittersweet day off on Friday with a run at the bronze medal.

Chris gets ready to take on all comers in that familiar defensive stance.

The Iroquois Bantams showed BC and every fan in attendance a little thing or two about lacrosse on Thursday evening.  Their passing was quick and rhythmic; almost mesmerizing.  Their shooting was beautifully wicked.  It was as if the Iroquois were stating, “Don’t forget who invented this game.”  The symphony of drive, desire, and stick skills mixed with quiet aggression and flawless execution culminated in a 9-1 win for the Iroquois.

This is not to say that Team BC didn’t show up.  They did.  They worked hard and at times their hard work was misinterpreted into penalty minutes that ended up putting them in multiple odd man situations.

Following the unexpected day off on Friday, the Bantam squad had one thing and one thing only in their sites on Saturday.  The Bronze Medal.

They hit.  They ran.  They shot.  They never gave up.  If they wanted to have an excuse to fold their tents, they had one in the first period after out-chancing Alberta but finding themselves down by a couple of goals.

In a battle against a team that plays a mean and physical brand of lacrosse you have to play hard and you have to play smart.  Team BC executed their game plan perfectly.

Building on a 2nd period attack that just wouldn’t quit, goals were scored by Wesley Berg, Drew Millikin, Mason Pynn, Steve Ferdinandi and Michael Henry.  The final score was Team BC 8 and Alberta 4.

The boy’s elation was palatable.  Parents and supporters hugged in the stands.  The coaches high-fived each other as the players swarmed their goalie, Ryley Brown, in an embrace of champions.

“I’m glad we got things done”, said a proud Coach Sean Beasley.  Getting things done was not an easy task.  This team could have easily been very down after losing to Alberta and Team Iroquois on Thursday, but they rallied and came to work on Saturday like a team possessed.

With the Bronze Medals proudly around their necks, the players traded gear with new friends who had been foes and looked forward to the next time they could play for their Province in a National Championship.

The Bantam squad from BC did their province proud and they will inevitably bring back experiences, emotions and skill that will build their club teams and ultimately continue to build the beautiful game of lacrosse.

Be The Best.

Roller Derby?

Take a look at this pic.

It’s from the very early 70’s.

My Dad…preacher by day…roller derby by night.

Ok, maybe not roller derby, but he and Mom found roller skates for the whole family and turned the basement into a roller zone…complete with a ramp!

It was great fun.

We were at some friends recently and their two daughters put on several skits, songs and dance routines throughout the evening.  We loved it.

As the rush of Christmas week comes surging on us, I love to think of these simple, fun family times and the memories they create.

I’ve heard of families heading for ski hills and others heading to warm beaches over the next week.

Whatever you do, I wish you a lifetime of great memories.

For us, we will be creating new ones and also dipping into our bank of memories.

We are thankful every day for the deposits we’ve made through trips, adventures, and just crazy stuff around the house…just like my Dad did with roller skates in the basement!

Dad (Rev. Jake), Grace, Val, Randy and Cathy (AC).
Be The Best.

Be The Best. Newspaper style.

We got home from work a little earlier than usual the other day.

It was just in time to see our young community newspaper carrier hoofing it up the rather steep grade of our road, getting those papers to the front doors along the street.  I liked his approach.  Not walking across lawns, bringing the paper all the way to the front doors, etc.

Ingrid suggested I should give him a Christmas tip.  Great idea.

As he came up the driveway I asked him how long he had been doing the route.  Since November he said. Great timing, I replied,….just before Christmas!  I asked how many times he delivered the paper.  Tuesdays, Fridays but in the Christmas break, Sundays too as he would be covering for someone else.

I asked him if he liked working hard.  Yes, he said.

You can’t fake sincerity.   I gave him his whopping $2 Christmas tip and his eyes lit up but he stayed professional…for a 10 year old kid.

I told him my name was Mr. Friesen and shook his hand.  He told me his name and we concluded the business transaction.

I then went into the garage and finished getting stuff from the car with the biggest lump in my throat remembering the paper routes the boys had and helping them out and all the ‘fun’ that happens when you have a paper route.  Paper routes are a fantastic way to work, but better yet, a fantastic way to learn about dealing with people.

What my young paperboy is learning is that working hard is good.  And working hard can get you noticed.  Combine working hard with quality and consistency and you’ve got a Be The Best formula that will carry you for the rest of your life.

I remember when the boys would get a few bucks as tips.  It would make their day and week.  It allowed us as parents to tie the concepts of hard work to being rewarded.  It was a great learning experience.

Whether our paperboy headed down to the local convenience store to buy some gum and a slurpee or just kept the money and put it in his piggy bank, I know it sparked a thought in his mind about equating work with reward…you could see those wheels turning.

That’s a priceless Be The Best learning moment.

Be The Best.

The long and the short of it.

I wrote a few lines the other day and just couldn’t hit the ‘publish’ button.

The thoughts were plenty deep and plenty real, but like a good wine, they have now aged an appropriate time and I can provide some greater context.

This Christmas season is not the easiest as you can imagine.

Christmas is all about family, food, traditions.

Of course that invokes memories.  That’s not a bad thing…not at all.  It’s just that this being our first Christmas without Chris, really feels weird.  You shouldn’t take the Chris out of Christmas right?  (yes, this is a a very bad pun at an inappropriate time…but that’s how we roll in this family!)

I wrote these four lines the other day.  They just sort of blurted out of my head.

How broken is my heart?

How deep is my love.

How deep is my love?

How broken is my heart.

One of the things I’ve realized is that the pain we feel, and so many of you feel too, is simply symbolic of the love we had and have for Chris.  You CANNOT have a broken heart if you had no love.  Plain and simple.

For some of you, you never had a chance to meet this kid in person.

He was amazing.  He would light up a room when we walked/bounced/stormed in!

His spirit now lights up many hearts and rooms.

We get through these times by making decisions, giving, and even taking shots in the dark.

If you’ve read this blog before, all of the above will make sense.  If you haven’t…you’ve got some work to do!

That’s the long.  Here’s the short.

I had pieces of two batches of shortbread cookies last night.

Both were unbelievable.  Those of you who know me know I don’t eat wheat so these were rice flour shortbread cookies.  They are hard to find and hard to make.

Yet two different people went out of their way in a gesture of kindness to show us that they were thinking of us at Christmas.

I’m telling you, we are again humbled by these act of kindness.  They not only help us through this journey, but it burns in my mind the incredible positive impact that the action of giving can produce.

I put a few bucks into a Salvation Army kettle last night like so many us have done on this and every other holiday season.  This time though I had more of a sense than ever about how any act, even one so small,  can make an impact.

That’s the long and short of it.

Be The Best.

Shake it up.

I made a shake today for breakfast.

I hadn’t made one in a while…a long while…months, actually.

Chris loved these morning protein shakes.  He wrote the recipe down one time.

Dad’s Jacked Shakes he called it.

The recipe is very simple….a little orange juice, frozen bananas, frozen strawberries, yogurt and a little protein mix.

I’m not sure how long frozen strawberries last, but guess what we still had in the freezer.  Yup, those strawberries all cut up from the funeral on April 1 and frozen.  They were even sweeter today.

It reminded me again of the generosity of so many and I re-read the More Soup for You blog post that was so early in this journey.

You never know the impact of your actions.  We appreciate every bouquet, card, cleaning service, thought, prayer, food item and word of encouragement that has come our way.

I’m looking forward to a few more of those shakes…maybe again tomorrow.

Be The Best.

Everyone wins in Sin City


Everyone wins in Las Vegas right?

Of course not.

You’ve heard the other name for the town…Lost Wages.

What better place to take a bunch of underage kids for a lacrosse tournament!  Joking aside, the supervision for Burnaby Mountain Selects is always awesome and last time I checked, the fields weren’t right on the strip.

Guess what.  One of the squads…the U12 (so these are young men 12 years of age and under) won their entire division securing the victory with a come from behind win just hours ago.

That is fantastic and for all the teams, win or lose on the scoreboard, these tournaments just make you better.  The competition makes you stronger.  It’s all good.  Everyone wins.

And now for the completely unexpected.

The winners of this tournie get a cheque for $250.  I can think of a lot of things a team could buy.  All deserved.  Dinner, snacks, souvenirs, lacrosse gear, odor-be-gone for lacrosse bags, etc 🙂

Guess what they just did?

Donated the whole thing to Chris’ fund.

Here’s the pic to prove it just an hour or so ago. (see link below)

I’ve talked a lot about giving and grieving and how those go together.  This gift to us is so amazing beyond any dollar amount.  What an amazing gift.

THANK YOU boys.  THANK YOU Joyce, Brent and Jeff and the entire BMS gang.

Be The Best!

We are humbled, proud and grateful.

I think Chris might just bodycheck someone up in heaven tonight in your honour…if that’s allowed…wait, I’ll check with Rev. Jake (Chris’ Grandpa) cause I’m pretty sure there’s a lacrosse section up there!  In fact I know there is…I just wasn’t sure on the bodychecking rule…

Here’s the link to the pic: