Oh hypocrisy, thy name is mother. If parenting has taught me anything, it’s that any righteous judgement I make will promptly or eventually come back to bite me on the ass.

Once upon a year or two ago, I was firmly of the opinion that trick-or-treating was and should remain the domain of young children. The wee-est Harry Potters and Disney Princesses always got an extra treat on my porch, while roving bands of half-costumed teens got whatever my kids had rejected as unsavoury from their own sacks, and maybe a barely concealed scowl as well. Trick or treaters are supposed to be little kids, right?

In which the evil Lord Vader protects the innocent Frog Prince and half-Batmanned Bruce Wayne from the evil Mamarazzi

And then two things happened. First, my elementary school aged son started shaving, sprouted past five and a half feet tall and had his voice drop an octave or two. Second, I read this lovely article in the Huff Post (no, that’s not actually an oxymoron) called What You Need to Know About 6-Foot Trick-or-Treaters. It’s a sweet and insightful article, and you should read the whole thing now, because I’m about to totally spoil it for you by cutting and pasting my favourite bit, the conclusion:

That night I was reminded that parents are not the only ones who regret the passing years. A year earlier, for the first time, my son gave out candy instead of trick-or-treating. It was an OK experience, but not worth repeating. It’s much more fun to go trick-or-treating with a bunch of guys and if the neighbors are grumpy, it’s easier to laugh things off when you’re in a crowd.

So here’s what I can pass on, if you don’t have your own 15-year-old boy.

When a crowd of under-costumed teens shows up on your doorstep, welcome them. It’s a big group because they find strength in numbers. They’re not wearing costumes because they didn’t realize that they’d want to go — nor how badly.

Give them big bars. Don’t tell them they’re too old. They already know that.

Let them pretend it just isn’t so.

I think this is both lovely and 100% true. We’ve been having discussions for the last year or two about how old is too old, and even last Halloween I thought maybe twelve years old might be our family threshold. I’m rethinking that now, though. If the boys want to keep trick or treating for a few more years, I’m not going to stop them.

Not least because then I’d have to buy my own candy stash! ;)

What do you think, bloggy peeps? Should there be an upper age limit on trick or treating?


Like yesterday’s post, this photo of the day post is from the weekend. Forgive me, but I think they’re too lovely not to share. And it’s not Halloween yet, so it’s not too late, right?

My babies in the pumpkin patch:

Pumkin Pickers

Eep! When did they get so grown up?

Wait, here’s one more. Can you believe I got all three of them to (more or less, close enough) smile TWICE IN THE SAME DAY?

Pumkin Pickers

Lookit how much they’ve grown up since our first trip to Millers, the year we moved to Manotick in 2010. It’s a Wordless Wednesday and Throwback Thursday all rolled up into one! (Except, not Wordless. And, um, not Thursday. Throwback Wednesday anyone?)

Pumpkin picking 2010-2

In case you were wondering, I have an extraordinary number of photos in my archives tagged with “pumpkins”.

And here’s a gratuitous shot of pumpkins, to show my love for you.

Pumkin Pickers

Because pumpkins.


Oh dear, I am falling further and further behind. At this rate, I’ll be posting my Chrismas photos next July! When I say “photo of the day” one can no longer assume I’m talking about *this* day!

This fun family came for porch portraits this past weekend. The boys, ages 3 and 6, were full of monkey business, which made them an absolute delight to work with. I love families with a great sense of humour who are willing to have a bit of fun with the photo session. Aren’t they a gorgeous family?

Two boys in a wagon

And that warm autumn light – so lovely. It may be true that I have just a wee bit of a bias in favour of families with boys. ;)

Speaking of boys, I put mine to work not long after this photo session raking up those lovely leaves in the background. Just a few days later, I’ve got a studio full of leaves again!


This is #MyOttawa

by DaniGirl on October 24, 2014 · 3 comments

in Life in Ottawa

When I left the house this morning, I knew I’d be going across downtown for a meeting. Beloved and the boys had brought home some beautiful yellow roses for me earlier in the week, and I took a minute to pluck one out of the vase on the table to bring with me to lay near the War Memorial.

As I crossed Majors Hill Park, the sun behind me shone brightly on the Parliament Buildings. The Peace Tower, with its flag at half mast for Cpl Nathan Cirillo, blazed in light against dark clouds behind it, and all I could think of was this: even after the worst storms, the sun still comes out.


Isn’t that how we are all feeling today?

I breathed deeply in the soft morning air and made my way between the Chateau Laurier and the Rideau Canal, a walk I’ve done dozens, maybe a hundred times over the years. As I came up the stairs on to Wellington Street, I could see the barricades had been pushed back even since yesterday.

In fact, I was surprised to be able to walk right up to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. There were at least a dozen uniformed police officers standing by, and probably a dozen more that I could not see. News trucks lined Elgin Street in front of the NAC and a few cameras were pointed at the War Memorial. Barricades had been pushed to the side, and city workers in orange jumpers were in the process of reverently carrying armloads of flowers, candles, notes and other tributes from their original location at the southern-most tip of the block right to the steps of the War memorial and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. I was able to lay my yellow rose right on to the steps.

I took a few steps back and then settled briefly on a nearby bench to reflect, and to breathe the still morning air. And to cry, just for a minute, overwhelmed by the moment and the beauty of the autumn morning and touched by the stream of people who approached to pay their respects or genuflect or to lay their own flowers down. A stranger passed behind me and ever so gently touched my shoulder, saying nothing, then continued on his way.


It was one moment in a series of moments, like pearls on a string, that have sharpened my love of this city over the past two days, like the hashtag being used on Twitter called #MyOttawa, to celebrate what makes our city beautiful. A terrible, horrible thing has happened, and in its aftermath, we have defined ourselves through acts of beauty. From this heartbreaking article about the ordinary heroes who stepped into the path of danger to come to the aid of the fallen soldier to this video of the House of Commons paying tribute to Sergeant-At-Arms Kevin Vickers to the leaders of our political parties standing in solidarity and exchanging hugs in the House of Commons to the simple gesture of a passing stranger… this is #MyOttawa.


It was a warm September day in Ottawa, and I had just picked up a takeout lunch from the Ribfest on Sparks Street. I had a styrofoam box filled with beef ribs, beans and cole slaw, and I was looking for a spot in the sun to enjoy my lunch. I stepped out of the shadows of the big buildings around Sparks Street and into the bright sunshine beaming down onto the square around the War Memorial and found a spot on a bench to enjoy my way-too-heavy lunch.

As I ate, I happened to be watching the Honour Guard in front of the Canadian War Memorial. The different elements of the Canadian Forces take turns rotating through Honour Guard duty, standing guard over the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, and this happened to be the Navy’s time of responsibility. Two seamen stood on active guard and two others were at ease nearby, interacting with the dozen or so tourists in front of the memorial. I laughed to myself as I watched one of the tourists hand her iPad to the at-ease guard and pose with her husband while the guard obligingly took a photo of them. I wondered if the couple, obviously not from Ottawa and probably not from Canada, knew they had just asked a member of our armed military to take their photo.

Charmed, I watched the Navy reservists continue to interact with the tourists. I inched a little closer so I could hear some of the interactions, and listened to the young guard field questions not only about the War Memorial and the Honour Guard, but about Ottawa, about the Rideau Canal, and about (snicker) the nearest public washroom. The young man was unerringly polite, kind and helpful as the others guards stood at rigid attention in the blazing sun.

I thought about turning my camera on them, but I didn’t. I wish I had. As I wandered back to my office that day, a piper emerged from under the keyhole cutout at the base of Elgin Street and approached the War Memorial, and I took this photo of him.

Standing on guard for thee

How can I reconcile that beautiful sunny afternoon with what happened today in Ottawa? How many times have I paused to admire the ceremony of Changing of the Guard at the War Memorial, as I criss-cross downtown on my way to a meeting or out for lunch or just on a meander in the sunshine? My heart absolutely aches for the family of the young reservist who was killed today. How can such a brutal, cold, horrific thing happen?

As I type this, I am at home listening to news updates on the radio. I’m typing with several browser windows open, one to updates on Twitter and another on Facebook. This is my day off work, but had I been at work today, I would have been mere meters away from the chaos at the heart of our city. My friends and office mates are in lockdown. I simply cannot wrap my head around this senseless violence at the heart of my beloved city.

Remember these photos I took, just a few days ago? This peaceful, majestic Hall of Honour in our beautiful Parliament Buildings?

Peace Tower tour

This is that hallway this morning.

I’m willing to bet it’s never going to be that easy to aimlessly wander those gorgeous hallways. We’ve all lost something beautiful and innocent today.

But much as my heart aches for our city, our home, it’s the fallen soldier that I’m crying for right now. A dedicated young man who woke up to an ordinary day, and was just doing his duty – standing on guard for us.


Looking for spooktacular family fun in Ottawa this weekend? Whether you’re a fearless adult or a tiny trick-or-treater, the City of Ottawa museums have an adventure that’s perfect for you. Here’s the details, in their own words.

Haunted Historic Village – October 24 and 25
Experience starts at 7:30 pm with the last admission at 10:00 pm
Cumberland Heritage Village Museum

Confront your most basic fears in Ottawa’s newest and hottest Haunted Village! Our cast and crew will chill you to the core as you wander unassisted in small groups through creepy forested areas and dozens of historic buildings in the pitch black dark of night. This experience will disorient and frighten you over and over again until you’re not sure what you’ve imagined and what was real. Are you sure you can handle it? We’ve got a safe word, just in case.

Cost: $10/person. Not recommended for anyone under the age of 14. Visitors under the age of 12 must be accompanied by an adult.

Edwardian Séances – October 24, 25, and 26 from 7 pm to 9:30 pm
Billings Estate National Historic Site

Your senses will be in overdrive during these popular events as you look, listen, and feel for changes in the environment that signal a presence from the beyond. Psychic Connie Adams leads a size-restricted group of participants through a traditional séance in one of Ottawa’s oldest wood-framed houses. Sign up soon as our séances are super popular and sell out fast!

Cost: $30/person. Registration required. Adults only, please.

Ghost Stories of the Ottawa Valley – October 25 from 7 pm to 9:30 pm
Pinhey’s Point Historic Site

A common form of entertainment, storytelling has remained popular throughout human history. During this event, you’ll be led through the site in the dark by a costumed guide, making stops at different vantage points next to historic ruins or overlooking the Ottawa River, and listening to different haunting ghost stories.

Cost: $15/person. Registration required. 14+ years of age only, please.

Halloween Party – October 26 from 10 am to 4 pm
Billings Estate National Historic Site

Child-sized scale models of some of Ottawa’s most iconic landmarks – like Parliament Hill and Rideau Hall – set the scene for some truly epic trick-or-treating! But the fun doesn’t end there. Wear your costume and create your own legendary monster using our large-scale mix -’n’-match book and then use a Nerf gun to capture some of these fiends for further investigation! Have your face painted and be the star of our costume parade!

Cost: $6/person, $10/pair, $16/family

Halloween Hijinks – October 26 from 10 am to 4 pm
Cumberland Heritage Village Museum

Looking for a safe location to trick-or-treat but want a more authentic neighbourhood feeling than a mall can provide? Our Halloween Hijinks lets your family enjoy all the fun of going door to door to pick up treats and learn a thing or two along the way from our historic costumed characters like Little Orphan Annie, Popeye and Olive Oyl, Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson, and the all-time classic characters from the Wizard of Oz. Play a game to match our characters to their history and make a 1930s tabletop lantern to take home in your goodie bag!

Cost: Regular admission

Halloween at Horaceville – October 26 from 10 am to 4 pm
Pinhey’s Point Historic Site

Family-friendly ghost stories, turnip and pumpkin carving, making a miniature birch bark canoe, playing fortune-telling games, and crafting traditional Halloween greeting cards make Halloween at Horaceville a great choice for an October weekend. You and your family will be treated to 19th century snacks cooked over an open fire using historic recipes, too!

Cost: $6/person, $10/pair, $16/family

Pumpkin Party – October 26 from 1 pm to 4 pm
Nepean Museum

Looking for a safe, family-friendly place to celebrate Halloween? We’re pulling out all the spooky stops with a costume parade (make sure to don your Halloween best!), fortune-telling games, bobbing for apples, face painting, and pumpkin decorating. The museum is definitely the place to be for Halloween fun!

Cost: $6/person, $10/pair, $16/family

546:1000 Pumpkins!

Disclaimer: The City of Ottawa is a sponsor of this blog and provided the information about the various events. I wouldn’t share them if I didn’t think they were terrific family fun!


Photo of the day: Adorable AND smart!

19 October 2014 Photo of the Day

Oh babies! So! Many! Babies! on the porch lately. I’d ask where they’re all coming from, but with three of my own, I’m pretty sure I’ve got that part figured out. This handsome fellow was so curious and interested in me and my camera, but he was not at all interested in having those fake [...]

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An ode to two t-shirts

16 October 2014 It IS all about me

They came from the clearance rack at the Gap. It’s really rather astonishing what a large percentage of my clothes come from there. I’m sure I didn’t pay more than $6 each for them – just plain old cotton t-shirts, one in a nice cool magenta, and one in utilitarian navy blue. I’ve had them [...]

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Photo of the day: Handsome fellow fall portraits on the porch

13 October 2014 Mothership Photography

I‘ve had a rush of babies on the porch for portraits this month. Lucky me!! Babies are a lot more work when it comes to portraits: they are terrible at listening to directions, I have to get down on my belly to see them eye to eye, and they have the disconcerting habit of suddenly [...]

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Photo of the day: Sunflowers in a vintage mason jar

11 October 2014 Photo of the Day

I have a new obsession: mason jars. And the only thing better than new mason jars is vintage mason jars. Not really so good for food storage, but really quite fantastic for storing other beautiful things, like say sea glass. And sunflowers. Sunflowers + porch + autumn colours + vintage mason jar = happy.

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