How often do you get to see FIVE generations in the same room?

Five generations

That’s Beloved’s grandmother, his father, his sister, our niece and our grand-nephew. Isn’t that extraordinary?


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I am the first to admit that when I launched my portrait business four years ago this month, there was a lot I didn’t know. I’ve learned so much about using or creating light, posing, interacting with subjects, the effect of various focal lengths, and digital post-processing to name but a few.

In the end, though, sometimes all you have to do is show up and point the camera in the right direction, because the cute speaks for itself. I mean, really, does it get any cuter than these two?

Portrait of sisters on a red wagon by photographer Danielle Donders

Sometimes the hardest part of a photo session is not keeping the adorable kids for myself at the end of the day!

More photos from this fun porch portrait photo session soon – if you think these two are cute, you should see the whole family!


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It’s been a week since we left PEI. I think maybe I’m drawing out the blogging of our vacation so I can continue to relive it in real time. We haven’t really left until the blog posts are done, right?

You might remember that through a fluke of good timing our departure was conveniently scheduled for the very day Hurricane Arthur was skimming its way up the Atlantic coast toward the Maritimes. As we regretfully packed up the car and headed back across the Island to the Confederation Bridge and then across the southern boundary of New Brunswick, we kept a wary eye on the (generally benign) summer skies. Interestingly, the temperature plummeted 10C and fog rolled in as we passed through St John, and then just as abruptly burned off again as we continued on toward the border at Saint Stephen.

We’d chosen that route, as opposed to Google Map’s suggestion to cross at Houlton, Maine and zip down the I-95, because I hate to backtrack, and the idea of driving all the way back to Woodstock NB, where we had stayed our first night, and then continuing for two more hours on to Skowhegan Maine down the interstate seemed unnecessary repetition. What I didn’t account for is how desolate the highway is through Maine from Calais to Bangor – yikes! Very little cellular reception, lots of abandoned and derelict properties, and not a soul on the roads. With a hurricane pending. You can imagine our discomfort. Also, while the drive on the New Brunswick side of the border seemed a lot less, um, downtrodden, it was pretty much the same as every NB highway I’ve seen – trees, trees and more trees. No offense to my friends who live in or hail from New Brunswick, but something about the province just makes me itch to be able to get through it more quickly. Maybe that’s why the speed limit is 110 km/h?

Regardless, we made it to Bangor just as the rain started, and made it on to Skowhegan without much more ado. Of course, having arrived on Independence Day made it a bit more challenging to find an open place for dinner, but when we did stumble across the Whit’s End Bar & Grill (thank you Trip Advisor!) we found an excellent family restaurant with fantastic fried haddock. Yum!

With not much else to do, the rain becoming more insistent and a few hours to kill until bedtime, we entertained ourselves in the tiny convenience store appended to a gas station where we marveled over the selection of American candy. No, we don’t get out much. Beloved found candy for grown-ups too: a whole selection of Duck Commander wine! You find all the classiest treats in the gas bar!

Another thing I learned on this trip is that you get better service and a greater willingness to accommodate families of five travelers in smaller motels than in the big chains. The Belmont Motel was cheap, clean and more than willing to offer up a cot for an extra child into a room with two queen beds, and cheaper by half than the Best Western that would officially only accommodate four of us. Plus the owner and his cat were both charmers.

By Saturday morning, we all just wanted to be back home. The soggy remnants of Hurricane Arthur ensured a constant driving rain, although no significant winds in our neck of the woods at least, and the wet grey morning perfectly matched my mood as Tim Horton’s failed to deliver a restaurant in Skowhegan that was clearly indicated on the Timmy Me app. Luckily for everyone but me, there was a WalMart with a Dunkin Donuts directly across from the motel, so our most basic coffee needs were met and Beloved managed to collect some of his favourite American sugar bomb cereals to bring home.

The last lesson we learned on the way home is to be careful when travelling through rural Maine and following a printout of Google Maps because of the spotty cellular coverage that you don’t veer left when you were supposed to forge ahead. Although we had passed a few signs assuring us the Canadian border was less than 50 miles ahead, when we’d driven for more than an hour up and then down and then up again on twisty mountain roads and we suddenly found ourselves in Hillbilly Hills, New Hampshire instead of Canada but still with no cellular signal – well, you can imagine our dismay. This is the route we should have followed.

This is the route we actually followed, which added not the optimistic 30 minutes that Google Maps supposes, but I’m guessing at least 90 minutes to the full trip.

The good news is that our little detour was truly gorgeous – we passed Sugarloaf, the Green Mountaints and the Dixville Notch (population 12) as well as endless hunting and fishing camps, but alarmingly few gas stations and other signs of civilization. And did I mention no cellular signal? Yeah. We did see a moose, though, so that was kind of cool!

My Maine moose

Sadly, he didn’t know the way to Canada, either. Eventually, blessedly, we picked up a signal and oriented ourselves to a small border crossing at Canaan, which may have been in either New Hampshire or Vermont – by that time, I’d lost track. We pointed ourselves in that direction, figured out the most direct route, and promptly got stuck in Colebrook NH as we tried to turn on to Route 3 N, aka Main Street Colebrook, and got stuck watching their Independence Day parade, delayed by a day by Hurricane Arthur. Vexed yet AGAIN by a hurricane! So that added another good 20 – 30 minutes to the trip, but by that time all we could do was laugh. Well, Beloved and I laughed. The kids were not nearly so amused by the parade as one might have expected. Even kid nerves can be worn a little thin by excessive amounts of travel delays and mishaps, I guess.

We did eventually make it back into Canada, and were delighted by the four bars of cellular access and the wide, flat, well-populated highways of the Eastern Townships. Such amazingly gorgeous countryside that is – and all we wanted to do was zip through it as fast as the speed limit would carry us. We finally did make it home about two hours later than I’d estimated leaving the motel in Skowhagen, but we made it intact and without serious mishap.

And hey, it’s all good when it makes for good bloggy fodder, right?


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About a week or two into the World Cup, Simon came home asking for a soccer ball called a Brazuca. He and his friends played World Cup soccer each day at recess, rotating who would be each country, and he wanted to play at home, too. My suggestion that he play with one of the 47 other types of ball we have stashed around the house was met with disdain. He really, really wanted a Brazuca.

I had put it on the vague to-do list that always runs in the back of my mind. If the boy wanted to play soccer, and buying him a soccer ball got him outside and moving more, I figured an official ball was a small price to pay. Imagine my delight, then, when that very week my contact through the Rogers Mobile Ambassador program mentioned she had a few official Sony World Cup soccer balls to share – did anyone want one? I think I may have replied in all-caps, I was so excited. Me me me me me, please!

It arrived when we were in PEI, but the boys have made good use of it ever since.

World cup fever

Simon loves it, and has called his school mates several times this week to see who wants to play soccer up at the school. Thank you Rogers and Sony for making me the coolest mom on the block – for this week, at least!


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One of the unexpected beauties of our trip to Prince Edward Island were the beautiful pink, purple, yellow and cream lupins growing wild almost everywhere we went.

Lupines at Basin Head PEI

These ones were growing between the dunes at Basin Head provincial park, but they were in just about every vista we saw. I don’t remember ever seeing them around Ottawa – surely we’re in a similar temperate zone, can I grow them here? Honestly, before we went to PEI, everything I knew about lupins I learned from Monty Python!

PS WordPress really wants me to spell “lupin” as “lupine” – but they’re not really wolf-like, are they? Hmm, today’s photo seems to raise more questions than it answers…


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I‘m taking a break from All-PEI-All-The-Time blogging to share a terrific little bit of news that hits a little closer to home. Did you hear that my very favourite toy store, Mastermind Toys, has opened a Barrhaven location? You might remember last year I blogged about it when they opened their first store in Ottawa, and it quickly became a family favourite.

I really love Mastermind Toys, and I especially love that I won’t have to make the trek out to Kanata or St Laurent Blvd when I’m hunting for birthday gifts or treats for the boys. In fact, the day the new Barrhaven store opened, Beloved stopped in and stocked up on a couple of party gifts and a neat jigsaw mat for Lucas. I love that the selection of products at Mastermind Toys seems to be a curated collection, not at all the same old things you see in all the big box stores. Sure, they have popular toys like the Rainbow Looms and Playmobil, but they also have toys, books and games I’ve never seen in any other store. I especially like the wide selection of things that only cost a few dollars but aren’t junky, perfect for loot bags, wee treats and things for boys to spend their allowance on.

The new Barrhaven Mastermind Toys is celebrating its grand opening this weekend, July 10 – 13. Drop by the store and you will enjoy free loot bags for the kiddies, special offers and giveaways and only on Saturday July 12, cupcakes! Of course, Mastermind’s complimentary gift wrap will be available all weekend as well.

Speaking of giveaways, I’m delighted that the fine peeps at Mastermind Toys have offered a $50 gift card for me to share with one lucky reader. Yay for sharesies!!

Would you like to win the $50 gift card from Mastermind Toys? Leave a comment on this post (on the blog, not on Facebook, please!) telling me what you love about summer. That’s it!

Here’s the fine print:

  1. This is a giveaway for one $50 gift card from Mastermind Toys.
  2. To enter the giveaway, simply leave a comment on this post (not on Facebook, must appear on danigirl.ca/blog) telling me what you love about summer.
  3. One winner will be chosen at random from all comments posted.
  4. Everyone who “likes” Postcards from the Mothership on Facebook will get a bonus entry. (This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook.) If you already like Postcards from the Mothership on FB, just say so in your comment.
  5. This giveaway is open only to residents of Canada, excluding residents of Quebec. (sorry!)
  6. This giveaway will run until 11:59 pm EDT on Friday July 11, 2014.
  7. If you win, you will pick up your gift card at the Barrhaven store. You must be willing to share your contact information with me so I can share it with Mastermind Toys.

Thanks to Mastermind Toys for sponsoring this giveaway (and for opening a store around the corner from us!) and good luck to everyone who enters.

If you go:
What? Grand opening of Mastermind Toys third Ottawa location in Barrhaven
When? July 10 – 13
Where? 71 Marketplace Ave (in the Chapman Mills Marketplace, near Loblaws)


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Photo of the day: Beach jump!

7 July 2014 Ottawa to PEI 2014

I wouldn’t have thought a rocky beach would be preferable to a sandy beach. Luckily, the beach at Greenwich PEI National Park has both gorgeous sand and great big red sandstone rocks for jumping. This is one of my favourite photos of the trip. It says summer and sand and sea and play – all [...]

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A happy anniversary in Souris, PEI

7 July 2014 Ottawa to PEI 2014

Fifteen years ago on July 3, 1999 Beloved and I were married. It seems fitting that 15 years of marriage is celebrated with the most fun day of our adventure on Prince Edward Island. It also seems fitting that it was our favourite day not by design but happy accident. That’s pretty much how we [...]

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Photo of the day: Basin Head beach

6 July 2014 Ottawa to PEI 2014

So! Many! Photos! Now that we’re back home I’m hoping to work my way through a bunch of my favourite photos from PEI as the photo of the day over the next little while. This was from our last day. While we were visiting Chef Michael Smith’s Flavour Shack, some of the girls who work [...]

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Photo of the day: Stalking Chef Michael Smith at the Flavour Shack

4 July 2014 Ottawa to PEI 2014

Remember how my mom said I should call our trip to PEI “Stalking Chef Michael Smith“? Well we couldn’t very well come all the way here without making the drive up the coast to Souris, PEI, to see his brand new (9 days old!) shop the Flavour Shack, could we? Is it ironic that my [...]

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