February 2013

I mentioned last month that Fisher-Price is about to launch a fun new campaign celebrating the many joys of mother- (and father!) hood. They’ll be inviting parents to share those moments when we are OVERjoyed, but also those moments when we are OVERwhelmed, OVERhugged, OVERtired and of course OVERstimulated! You know, just about every moment while you’re parenting, especially with wee ones in the house.

Last month, I shared my take on the idea on the theme of “overdue” – which I was three times in three pregnancies. I’m at the other end of the spectrum this month, because when it’s all said and done, tumuluous and overwhelming and amazing as it is, babyhood is over so soon!

over so soon

(Sigh, two years ago this month we disassembled the crib for the last time. One of the hardest things to watch was the garbage truck hauling it away.)

Would you like to play along? Fisher-Price is inviting you to enter their contest and share YOUR moment of joy!

Fisher-Price is celebrating the full range of emotions that we, as parents, feel from time to time, from overjoyed and over the moon to overtired and overdue. Starting next week, you too can share your Million Moments of Joy by uploading a picture, video or text to enter the contest and see what other moms are feeling. By uploading a photo, you could be eligible to win one of eight weekly prize packs!

The value of each prize pack is approximately $200 and each prize pack consists of:

My Little Snugabunny™ Bouncer ($89.99 CAD)
Laugh & Learn™ Dance & Play Puppy ($59.99 CAD)
Ocean Wonders™ Aquarium ($54.99 CAD)

The contest launches next week on the Fisher-Price Million Moments of Joy page and will run for eight weeks.

Disclosure: I am part of the Fisher-Price Play Ambassador program with Mom Central Canada and I receive special perks as part of my affiliation with this group. The opinions on this blog are my own.


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So can you stand just ONE more post about the Why I Love Ottawa/Gatineau photo contest? Because I really want to tell you how it all came out!

The auction was, as I may have mentioned, last Saturday at Harry’s OttawaStudioWorks studio. I’d hoped Beloved and I could attend together (on a – gasp! – date, no less!) but fate had other plans, so I found myself another handsome feller to escort me to the auction: Tristan!

When we arrived, voting was just wrapping up on the People’s Choice award, and bidding on the photos was brisk. The insecure 14 year old who lives not very deep in my psyche was relieved to see that at least someone had bid on my photo – in fact, there were quite a few bids registered. This is the photo that ultimately ended up in the auction, chosen in collaboration with Harry for maximum auction appeal.

Skaters on the Rideau Canal 2

So, as I said, we arrived just in time to cast our ballots for the People’s Choice. I was torn between Alan Neal’s and Ian Black’s entries – and not entirely because I am a CBC fangirl at heart — and Sandy Sharkey’s great photo. Tristan was given a ballot as well, and I asked him if he understood what was being asked of him. He nodded with a smug little smile and said he knew exactly which photo he wanted to vote for.

I grinned with a bit of maternal pride myself as I handed him my pencil, and watched over his shoulder as he carefully wrote down the name of the photographer of his favourite image. Andrea Tomkins!

I suppose I should have known Tristan’s deep love of chickadees would win out over his intrinsic sense of loyalty. Traitorous boy, I thought it would be many years before I was displaced in his heart by a chick(adee). 😉 Wonder if he would have voted differently if I’d entered the photo of him into the contest??

On Saturday I also had the chance to connect with Peter Tilley, the executive director of the Ottawa Food Bank. I eavesdropped as he explained a bit about the Food Bank to Tristan, and was astonished to learn that the Food Bank moves more than 12 tonnes of food every day. I knew they were a big operation, but I truly had no idea of their scope. Stay tuned, there may be another blog post pending about that amazing institution!

All in all, it was a terrific event and the auction raised more than $1200 for the Ottawa Food Bank. You can read a re-cap of the rest of the event on Harry’s blog, and see a picture with me and my traitorous but still adorable date. I was deeply honoured when friends showed up at nearly the last minute and entered the winning bid on my Canal Skater photograph.

Art auction

And I was further honoured to find out that the photo came in runner up to Sandy Sharkey’s gorgeous winter crows photo in the People’s Choice category.

A fun night, a great cause, a wonderful city: does it get any better than that?


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Still waiting for IVF funding in Ontario

by DaniGirl on February 25, 2013 · 8 comments

in Infertility

This is the last in a series of posts sponsored by Conceivable Dreams.

When Kathleen Wynne became Ontario’s new premier earlier this month, I was full of hope that she would revisit and revive an issue that has been stagnating for four long years in Ontario. Back in 2009, an expert panel recommended that the province should cover the cost of up to three rounds of in vitro fertilization (IVF) treatments for women under the age of 42. Last week, I was deeply disappointed to hear that Ontario Health Minister Deb Matthews has said the province has no intention of implementing these recommendations.

I had the opportunity recently to participate in a set of media stories for web, radio and TV about IVF. At first I said yes, as you know that promoting funding for IVF has been dear to my heart for years. Before production got underway, though, I backed out. I changed my mind for two key reasons. The biggest reason is that my beautiful IVF baby will be 11 years old next month, and maybe this story is no longer mine to tell, at least not quite so publicly. Second, though, is that I had a sense that the story would be focusing more on the “women putting careers first, waiting too long to have babies” theme.

It’s frustrating to me that the issue of IVF funding gets tangled up with this image of type-A career women who put off marriage and children until their late 30s or 40s, and then turn to IVF when they realize they’re long past their fertility’s best-before date. I’m sure this happens, and of course I have sympathy for ANYONE who wants a child and finds that they are unable to conceive.
[click to continue…]


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I read in the Citizen that we now have two full hours more daylight than we did on the winter solstice, and that the sun is now half way to the highest point it reaches in the summer sky. Clearly, there are signs that spring is pending – one of the greatest joys of February, in my mind, is finding a spot sheltered from the wind and turning your face soak up the growing warmth of the sun.

But dang, winter in Ottawa is long. Lucky for me, it is also pretty. One might even say spectacular. Is this not the quintessential Canadian winter photo? Skaters on the lake under a cold winter sun. I love this one!

And the sun sets on another Winterlude...

I wish I’d had my macro lens to zoom in on the delicate frost crystals on this spruce tree. I haven’t seen frosted tips like this since the 1980s!

Frosted tips

And here’s the other end of the Rideau Canal. I can’t even guess how many pictures I’ve shot of the Parliament Buildings, but I particularly loved the sky in this one, and the colours.

Parliament on ice

It was still colder than -10 when we decided to break out the bikes and play in the road for a bit. (Sadly, they are once again snow packed with more snow on the way. Spring is coming, right?)

Winter biking

I’ve been submitting photos to other stock agencies as well as Getty Images, and this one in particular was looking for a mom in her 40s on a computer. Um, I can suck up my massive discomfort with self portraits to try that! This was one of the outtakes. I am still massively uncomfortable with it, but other people seem to like it. I entertained myself by calling it “Laughing(stock)”. I slay me!

Laughing (stock)

January through March are a quiet time for the portrait business, so I was twitchy to get out and start taking people pictures again and was delighted to be hired again to cover the Family Day festival at Old Navy in the Rideau Centre. (Aside from being a fun way to see a lot of my bloggy friends, it’s a great yardstick to measure my own personal progress. I have become a much better photographer just in the last year, if I do say so myself!)

Half of the assignment was to capture the event itself, which was a blast. I couldn’t believe the size and energy of the crowd by the time the kids were dancing to Gangnam Style (for the 3rd time) and even doing the Harlem Shake.

Event overview

And the organizers had this fun idea of turning the kids into superheroes flying over a cityscape. I’ve thought of doing something similar to this – may have to steal this idea! (I tell you, though, climbing up and down the merchandizing ladder to take these shots left me with quivering quads of jello for three days!)

Old Navy Family Day

And speaking of events, last but certainly not least, somebody FINALLY had his fifth — and first ever! — birthday party on Sunday!

Somebody had a party today

It was so funny, three different employees said variations of “our boss says you’re a blogger” to me – and I hadn’t mentioned it to anyone at all when I booked the party. I was saying on Facebook that this must be what a restaurant critic feels like when she visits a new eatery. I knew my experienced mom’s guide to Ottawa birthday parties was popular, but I didn’t realize it had taken on a life of its own! Mark my words, it won’t be long now before I walk in to a place and demand, “Don’t you know who I am?” 😉

And finally, a quick aside: you might notice that I’ve changed the CSS on my blog template so the photos have a drop shadow instead of a light grey frame. Is it displaying okay for you? It works on my Mac, but not on my work computer, which only last week was upgraded from Windows 3.x, so that doesn’t really surprise me. But is it rendering okay for you? What do you think?


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Okay, you’ve heard me talking about it for weeks. Now’s your chance to get in on the action! This Saturday, February 23, drop by Harry Nowell’s downtown studio to place YOUR bid in the 2013 media/celebrity “Why I Love Ottawa/Gatinea” photo auction!

You might remember I spent a cold week in January traipsing around the frozen city, trying to frame up a few of the many ways I love Ottawa in a single photograph. Only one of my photos made the cut to the final auction, and it’s now professionally framed and mounted and ready to help raise money for the Ottawa Food Bank. I’d narrowed it down to six contenders when I had to farm out the final decision-making process to Facebook – I just couldn’t decide!

I can’t wait to see what some of the other “competitors” in this friendly contest have submitted. Drop by Harry’s studio and you could own a piece of original artwork by prominent Ottawans like Sandy Sharkey, Stuntman Stu, Mayor Jim Watson, CBC radio personalities Ian Black and Alan Neal, Councillor David Chernushenko and many others. The winners of the Facebook contest have also been announced – check them out, some gorgeous work here!

In addition to the artwork, at Saturday’s auction and exhibition there will be auction items from Henry’s Camera, Mountain Equipment Co-Op and the Ottawa 67s, among others, and you’ll be able to cast your vote for the coveted “People’s Choice” award. *coughVoteForMecough*

Harry summed up the event perfectly on his own blog:

Reasons to visit the exhibition and auction:
• meet some celebrities
• see some artwork
• buy some artwork!
• support the Ottawa Food Bank!
• Bid on other prizes from sponsors!

Here’s the details:

  • Saturday, February 23rd: Noon to 8:30pm.
  • Ottawa Studio Works: 160 Preston St. (between Gladstone and Somerset)
  • Auction and “People’s Choice Ballot” runs until 7pm; Presentation at 8pm.

Will I see you there?


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This week’s lesson in photography is about carpe-ing the diem. On Sunday morning I was up early and restless. I was twitchy to get outside when I saw the morning sun, but when I checked the temps it was still around the -20C mark. WAY too cold to go outside.

After a bit of restless pacing, I decided to go out anyway. There was no wind and it was brilliantly blue and clear. As I walked out down toward the river and the Mill, I noticed some of the trees has a bit of frost on them – more the closer I got to the river. I started over the bridge over the back channel and literally gasped when I saw what the morning frost had done to this willow.

Ice tree

I crept around the banks for the best part of an hour, shooting the trees and the ducks and tried really, really hard to remember where the bank ended and the ice began. I wasn’t so much concerned about the danger of falling in as having to explain to Beloved the circumstances by which I came to fall through the ice. With my camera. Luckily, it didn’t come to that.

Ice tree-2

By the time I worked my way to the other side of the bridge, there was an amazing ice fog rising off the open water around the Mill. This may be my favourite picture ever of Watson’s Mill:

Mill on a frosty day

There’s a lot going on in that picture, but I think the depth of the layers and the various textures keep it from being too much. I like the drama of the B&W. But the tones in the colour version are beautiful, too.

Mill on a frosty day

Wall-worth, yes? 🙂

Walk this way

By the end of the hour, the frost was snowing down on me. It was a blissful hour of wonder, though, and I had an amazing morning working the scene and chasing the good shots. You can see already see in this last shot that the brown willow branches are starting to show through the frost. When I drove by about two hours later the sun had completely melted it away.

Ice tree-4

Seize the moment, get out there and capture the magic when you see it. It’s fleeting!

Any week that starts off like that can’t be all bad! The rest of the week not quite so frosty and magical, though. This was downright cozy!

Bedtime reading

And I went exploring the Canal for Winterlude a couple of days this week, since it’s an easy lunch-time walk. I am not usually one for street photography or surreptitious photos of strangers, but when I walked by this couple framing up a kiss on the Canal on Valentine’s Day, I simply couldn’t resist.

Valentine Winterlude Kiss

By the end of the work week, Winterlude was looking more like Waterlogged as the warm February sun (not an oxymoron!) melted the snow and ice. Made for some pretty neat reflections!

Winterlude or Waterlude

Everything has re-frozen just in time for Family Day weekend, though. If you’re out enjoying the festivities on Monday, be sure to drop by the Family Day Festival at Old Navy in the Rideau Centre!

And now we’re off to Lucas’s first-ever birthday party — better late than never!


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Family Fun on Family Day at Old Navy

14 February 2013 Mothership Photography

Looking for some free family fun in Ottawa this Family Day? Come on down to Old Navy in the Rideau Centre! This is a great complement to Winterlude fun if you want to warm up and dry off and let the kids have some creative fun. You’ll also get a sneak peek of the spring […]

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Crowdsourcing the bloggy peeps: What should I call my photo biz?

14 February 2013 Editorial asides

I thought maybe the new bloggy banners would scratch my spring-ish itch for re-invention, but no such luck. Now I’m thinking of re-naming the photography business, and I need your help! Back in 2009, I launched an Etsy site to sell some of my photographs as fine art prints. Due partly to inattention and neglect, […]

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Thomas and Friends: An e-storybook to share

12 February 2013 Reviews, promotions and giveaways

If you’ve got a preschooler in the house, chances are you’re already friends with Thomas, Gordon, Percy, James, Sir Topham Hat and the other denizens of the Thomas and Friends universe.. But did you know that Thomas and Friends are now owned by Mattel, the parent company to Fisher-Price? I thought that was pretty cool. […]

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This week in photos: Banners and birthdays and brrrr!

9 February 2013 Photo of the Day

This has been a week bookended by birthdays and full of brrrr. Oh my good god, is winter not over YET? Saturday was warm and cozy inside the house as Simon celebrated his 9th birthday party with a few good friends. These horses were from Manotick’s shiverfest a few weeks back but I didn’t get […]

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