June 2011

Did you hire your babysitter and mark your calendar? The bloggy social event of the season is only a week away!

Yes, next Thursday is Blog Out Loud Ottawa, and you don’t want to miss it! Lynn has been teasing us for weeks by releasing details of each of the 20 local bloggers who will take to the stage to read a favourite post from the last year, and I’m beyond delighted to be one of them!! (Isn’t that description about the most lovely thing you could ever imagine reading about yourself? I’m still blushing!)

This will be the third year I’ve attended BOLO, and I can tell you that they get exponentially better and more fun each year. After seeing who my fellow readers will be, I can barely stand to wait seven more sleeps. BOLO 2011 is going to blow the doors off the Prescott!

Will I see you there?


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I am so excited about this!!

I’ve been wanting to offer summer mini-sessions, but I have been waffling over the location. I wanted a location that was unique, accessible, interesting from a photographic perspective and most of all, filled with delicious light. It was my friend Christine who suggested the porch, after I posted my pictures of it last week.

Of course! The porch!! It’s big, it’s got great photogenic furniture, it’s covered in case of inclement weather, and the light is magnificent. See?

185:365 Porch party

So what’s a mini-session? Here’s what you can expect:

  • a 30-minute session on the porch and in the garden
  • 10 – 15 custom edited proofs to choose from
  • one 8 x 10 or two 5 x 7 prints
  • three high-resolution digital negatives
  • Cost is $100 (more than 50 per cent off my lowest portrait package!)

This is a great package for families, kids, teens, grads, or even engagement photos. Sessions are available the afternoon of Saturday July 9 or Sunday July 24. However, they are limited (the best light of the day is actually a pretty small window!) and it’s first come-first served! Contact me or send an e-mail to danicanada(@)gmail(dot)com to book your appointment today!

186:365 Porch week continues!

And! Since you’ve made the trip to Manotick, you might as well take a look around while you’re here. I’ll throw in a complimentary $5 gift card to Manotick’s My Toy Shop, snuggled down on Tighe Street between the Gingerbread Man and the HodgePodge Shoppe (with ice cream, coffee and antiques!!) That’s just a few steps down from Watson’s Mill and the used book sale in the carriage house, not to mention all the other fun and interesting things Manotick has to offer!

Don’t wait, book your Mothership Photography Perfect Porch Mini-Session in Manotick today! 🙂


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You might remember last year I wrote about an amazing choir program at the boys’ school. I wrote, in part, about my surprise and delight when they spontaneously burst into song at dinner one night:

I was impressed when they started talking about works by “Mr Beethoven” and was gobsmacked when Tristan opined that while he liked the first and second movements of Moonlight Sonata, he definitely favoured the third. I nearly fell off my chair when Simon asked if we could put “Mr Beethoven’s” Rage Over a Lost Penny on his MP3 player. My six-year old wants Beethoven on his music player?!

And then they burst into a harmonic version of Jubilata Deo. They have beautiful, soft singing voices and while they were not perfectly in tune, the spontaneous burst of sacred music at my otherwise chaotic dinner table shocked me into fat, proud tears. What wormhole has opened up and deposited me into an alternate universe?

That moment was courtesy of Maestro Uwe Lieflander and the Sacred Music Society’s Sparrows program. You might have heard about the program recently on the news. Maestro Lieflander stepped down from his position when he was told by the school board that he could continue only if he promised to continue with a “no touching” rule in place.

I spent several snowy November evenings in a school library, watching Maestro Lieflander in action. He is physical with the kids, poking them in the diaphram to encourage proper breathing, touching shoulders to adjust posture, and even patting them on the head when they are successful. He has a strong sense of the silly, and knows how to use it to keep the kids engaged. And, at the end of each lesson, the children would line up to be whacked in the head affectionately with their own songbooks, a ritual Simon came to look forward to. You really have to see it in action to get it, but when you see it, it’s fun for both the participants and the observers.

I have no problem whatsoever with the kind of physical interaction the Maestro had with my boys. He may be a few miles off the beaten path of political correctness, but there is no doubt that his eccentric style completely engaged the kids.

This year for Father’s Day, we made a recording of the boys singing. My dad had requested it after the boys spontaneously burst into song at Granny and Papa Lou’s dinner table one night. This is one of the songs that Maestro Lieflander taught our boys. I continue to be tickled that the boys spontaneously burst into sacred harmonics while doing puzzles or trading Pokemon cards.

The schools that have been exposed to Maestro Lieflander have indeed been blessed. The school board would be wise to reverse this decision. When I told my seven-year-old that there might not be a Sparrow’s program next year, his face fell. “Why?” he asked, clearly disappointed.

For no good reason, from what I can see.


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When we adopted Willie last weekend from the animal shelter, it wasn’t only because kittens make for excellent photo fodder. At least, that’s what I keep protesting. *wink* Truth be told, I’ve always been a dog person, and even though we’ve had cats for many years, I was unprepared for how quickly the little furball would endear himself to me! I’m only a few shutter clicks away from my official membership into the crazy cat lady club.

And hey, milestone fun this week – yesterday’s picture was 183 of 365, the half-way point. Hmmm, doesn’t seem nearly as momentous an achievement as it did the first time I did a 365 project. Maybe because I can’t really imagine *not* continuing this project for the foreseeable future?

I did manage to tear my lens away from the furball a few times this week, though. Last Sunday, we invited my parents over for a Father’s Day dinner, and then roasted a few marshmallows over the firepit as the perfect day descended into evening. The light as the boys played on the tire swing was magical, and something about this one epitomizes summer for me.

178:365 Summertime

After a long stretch of sunny, dry weather, we’ve had quite a few days of rain. I liked this picture and the raindrops a lot when I took it yesterday, but looking at it this morning only reminds me of the torrential downpours from last night that seem to have flooded something from our well and caused water to (yes, sign, can you believe it?) flood into the basement. It’s not a lot, but enough. The well guys are coming this morning to look into it for us, but I’ve heard that a lot of people in Manotick had problems with flooding last night. 🙁

183:365 Roses in the rain

And of course, there were a few (!) cat pictures this week. This one was actually taken at the shelter, just when we were choosing Willie. It was nice to see on the LAWS website that the female orange tabby we were also considering was also adopted on Saturday. I love happy endings!

177:365 Hello kitty

He’s kinda cute, and poses for pictures better than the kids!

179:365 Buttercup

He seems to like the patio door in my bedroom — the only place in the whole house with curtains. Admire them now, I fear they may not last the summer. 😉

180:365 Willie formerly known as Buttercup

This one made us laugh. We’d just finished dinner and the boys were searching the house for Willie. Tristan eventually found him in the closet in his bedroom, just about the most isolated corner of the house. He’d tipped over a bin of stuffies, and then curled up and gone to sleep with them. I know he’s happy with us, but in the shelter he was in a cage with half a dozen other kittens — maybe he’s wondering where they went?

181:365 Cat nap with the stuffies

After a week of cat pictures, I was feeling disloyal, so here’s a portrait of my first baby, the patient and always delightful Katie. You can read the whole story in her expression, eh? “Really? More pests in the house? Sigh.”

182:365 We interrupt this cat fest for a doggie moment

And this one wasn’t an official picture of the day, but it makes for a fun post-script, no?

Willie for the blog

You know what I just realized? I’ve inadvertently named our pets after the Royal Couple, who happen to be due to visit here this week. Willie and Kate. Ha!


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As I mentioned yesterday, this summer I’m launching a new bloggy series: Friday Family Fun! I thought I’d get us started with one of my favourite summertime activities: meeting the animals. Here’s five great places to visit if you’d like to get to know our furry friends in and around the Ottawa area.

1. Valley View Little Animal Farm

Valley View is the perfect place for the toddler to early school age set. There’s fun stuff to climb on at the front of the park, and a small barn with goats, chickens, rabbits and the usual petting zoo type creatures that you can feed by hand. My boys have always been fans of the dozens of metal yellow Tonka trucks strewn around near the entrance… when they were toddlers, I think we could’ve just paid our admission fee, play with the trucks for three hours and then leave again without actually looking at the rest of the farm! If you do that, though, you’ll miss the wonderful animal barns (pigs, ponies, peacocks, geese and chickens, bunnies, ostrich and deer and so much more), the most amazing playgrounds and climbers, and a fantastic agricultural museum. You can read my blog post about Valleyview from 2009 or visit the Valley View website for more details. Valley View is open every day except Monday, and admission is $8 per person.

Tristan airplane

2. Papanack Park Zoo

It’s been quite a few years since we’ve been out to the far east end of town to visit the Papanack Park Zoo, but I’m surprised that I’ve never blogged about it. At this zoo off Highway 174 near Wendover, you’ll find an assortment of animals from lions and tigers to gibbons and squirrel monkeys to arctic wolves and black bears and much, much more. Admission is $17.50 for adults, $10 for kids 6 – 18, and $8.00 for kids 2 – 5 years old (kiddies under 2 are free!)

3. Parc Omega

Parc Omega is on our list of places to visit again this summer! Parc Omega is a kind of African Lion Safari with native Canadian animals like wapiti and wolves and bears instead of lions and baboons. It’s the same concept, though. You drive a 10 km loop through gorgeous forests and plains amidst the (mostly) free-roaming animals. Instead of baboons crawling on your car, you can feed carrots (and, in our case, soda crackers) to wapiti and red deer. There are also hiking trails and an interpretive centre.

Big ol' black bear

Parc Omega is about an hour from Ottawa, down Hwy 148 to Route 323 near Montebello. Rates are as follows: adults $18; children 6 to 15, $13; and 2 to 5, $7. I blogged about our visit in 2008.

4. The Canada Agriculture Museum

We! Love! The! Farm! I’ve had the joint membership to the Canada Agriculture Museum, the Aviation Museum and the Science and Technology Museum for years, and they have paid for themselves over and over again. It just wouldn’t be summer without a morning at the Farm, visiting the smelly cow barns, petting the baby calves, admiring the muscular horses and the chubby pigs, and taking a ride in the tractor simulator. And have you checked out their relatively new (2009, I think?) play structure? It’s awesome! The Agriculture Museum is definitely one of the best places in Ottawa to visit with kids.

189:365 At the farm

Admission is an affordable $16 per family (oh how I love family-pack admissions!) but there are excellent membership and day-pass combo prices as well. Check out their website for details!

5. Little Ray’s Reptile Zoo

Let’s face it, summer is not all sunshine and clear skies. If you’re looking for a rainy day activity or need to get out of the blazing sun for a while, consider a trip to Little Ray’s Reptile Zoo in the city’s south end.

DSC_0636

You may have encountered Little Ray’s traveling show at a summer event or a birthday party, but if you’ve never made the trek out to see them on the south end of Bank Street, you should! They have an amazing array of slithering, swimming, creeping and flying creatures, and an amazing educational program that keeps kids riveted. Family admission for four (sigh) is $38, and $8 for each additional person. I’m particularly fond of Little Ray’s because that’s the first place I ever took all three boys on my own back in 2008, and we make sure to go back at least once a year.

That’s my five recommendations – do you want to play along? If you blog about animal adventures in the national capital region this week, let me know and I’ll put up a link to your post. Or you can play along in the comment box. Got a suggestion for family fun with animals in or around Ottawa?


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Hooray for summer!!

194:365 Birthday beach bliss

I don’t know about your house, but at our house we’ve been counting down the days. Only three more days of school lunches and then we’re free for the summer. Yippee!!!!

230:365 Mud Lake dock

One of the things I love best about living in Ottawa is that there is no shortage of fun family activities. In fact, I’ve made a whole bloggy career about exploring them and then telling you all about them! I’ve been thinking for a while now that this would make a fun summer series, so here we go. Every Friday from now through Labour Day, I’m going to try to post an idea for family fun in Ottawa. Some of them will be specific to the city — places to visit, things to do, events to attend — but some of them will be fun ideas for family play no matter where you live. Some may be repackaged ideas from the deep well of my archives, but some will be fresh new ideas too. Sound like a great way to launch a weekend? I thought so too!

Hiking the rocks

I’ll post my first entry tomorrow. If you have ideas you’d like to share, feel free to pass them along. Maybe we can even make this a carnival sort of event, where lots of us post on Friday Family Fun ideas and we can cross-link the posts. What do you think? I even toyed with the idea of a button or a badge, but I think I exhausted all of my graphic capability for the week on the new photo banner! 😉

Sunglasses

Tune in tomorrow and we’ll get started on a summer of family fun!


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In which Buttercup becomes Willie. For now.

22 June 2011 Life, the Universe and Everything

Who knew naming a cat could be so difficult? Yeesh! At the shelter, his name was Nero. That was definitely not a keeper of a name, although Simon did call him that for the first 30 hours or so while we tried on other monikers. I was an early fan of Percy, and Henry, and […]

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IHF Challenge – Let’s hear it for the boys

21 June 2011 How I love the Interwebs

I’m sure you can imagine my delight when I saw that this week’s I Heart Faces photography challenge: Let’s hear it for the boys. The problem, of course, was narrowing it down to just one of the dozens (hundreds?) of pictures that express how much I love the boys in my life, and boys in […]

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Photoshop fun

21 June 2011 Mothership Photography

As I mentioned, I’ve really been enjoying the act of photography lately. More particularly, I’ve rekindled my romance with Photoshop, a program I’d left more or less alone since I discovered Lightroom about this time last year. (Cuz, yanno, I have so many spare hours in my day for idle noodling on the computer. Sleep? […]

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Hello kitty

18 June 2011 Ah, me boys

It started innocuously enough. (Doesn’t it always?) A friend had a free kitten to give away. We haven’t had cats since the two that came part and parcel with Beloved moved on to that great catnip field in the sky, maybe three and four years ago. But I know Beloved has been pining for one. […]

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