October 2013

Beautiful Baby M’s Baptism

by DaniGirl on October 30, 2013 · 3 comments

in Mothership Photography

Way back on the Thanksgiving weekend (seems like a year ago already!) while everyone was stuffing themselves with turkey and fixings, I was on my way out to a church in Orleans, where I had the very great honour of photographing the baptism of gorgeous, blue-eyed Baby M.

I loved the idea of photographing a baptism from the moment I first spoke to M’s mom. Just like a wedding, I thought to myself, with all the family and a beautiful ceremony – but about 1/10th of the pressure!

It’s a good thing I had a vague idea what to expect from my own Catholic upbringing, though, because my moderate to middling French did not prepare me to be able to follow the entire service in French. The one time I lost absolute track of what the priest was trying to say was of course just after I had picked out the phrase “and when it comes to photographs…” Ah well, I didn’t get any dirty looks and did manage to capture the important parts of the service, so I guess my internal translator was more or less on target. In fact, I had a lot of fun trying to capture all the little “moments” to tell the story of the ceremony – more than a few shot from the hip because I didn’t want to be disrespectful of the ceremony itself.

journalistic storytelling photos of a christening in a church

Despite it being a rather gloomy evening, and despite the fact that the photographer had only the most tenuous linguistic grasp on the proceedings, and despite the fact that the guest of honour didn’t seem to be particularly delighted to be the centre of attention, it turned out to be an absolutely lovely ceremony.

photo of a baby's christening

My deepest thanks to Baby M’s lovely extended family inviting me and my camera to be a part of your day, and special thanks to Granny who had no problem holding off an extra day on our own extended family’s Thanksgiving dinner. Now that’s what I call the best of both worlds!

And that also reminds me that I really, REALLY have to get organized and get one last boy in *this* family baptized!


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One of the hottest new toys from Fisher-Price is the adorable Laugh and Learn Crawl Around Car. I heard it was so popular that they had wanted to share one with each of the Fisher Price Ambassadors but they kept running out before they could even send one to us!

Have you seen it? This is the latest TV ad. (If it doesn’t display for you here, you can also view it on the Laugh and Learn Crawl Around Car page on the Fisher-Price site.)

I would have loved having this in the house when my boys were wee. I know they would have loved it! It’s got buttons to press, levers to twist, balls to roll down ramps and shapes to sort. Please note this is NOT a moving toy – it’s perfect for little ones to crawl around and learn to pull themselves up with.

Here’s some great tips from the learning experts at Fisher-Price on how parents can play with baby and this toy together to make learning fun:

The Crawl-Around Car puts baby in the driver’s seat with a fun-filled learning vehicle just their size!

• Encourage exploration and discovery. As baby interacts with the different play features for the first time, show excitement and reinforcement as you label the different objects on the car. “You found the horn! That’s a key. Let’s see what it does.”

• Use word descriptors. It helps your child understand meaning and fosters developing language skills. “This is a BIG red car. Let’s find the green shape and put it into the door.”

• Show how to open and close the door. Baby will learn about opposites while opening and closing it…”Can you open the door? Now let’s see you close it!”

• Encourage early role play. Ask your turn on the car to go for a ride…”Where should we go today?”

• Introduce opposites. Roll a ball fast, then roll it slowly, talking about actions and opposites.

• Play Hide-and-Seek with the shapes—helping your child learn that things can disappear, then reappear.

• Help draw comparisons for your baby in your everyday life. “Remember when mommy drives you in the car? Our car is white, this car is red. Turn the key to start the car. What sounds does a car make? Vrooom!”

Super cute, eh? I can see this being great for any baby old enough to sit up all the way up to the toddler years.

And now, my bloggy friends, here’s a twist on the usual giveaway: YOU get to give this away! From today through November 1, I’ll be taking nominations and at the end of the week, I’ll randomly choose one lucky winner from amongst all the nominees. There are two conditions beyond the usual fine print, however. The first is that you cannot nominate yourself or your significant other living with you to win. The second is that either the nominee or you must be local to the Ottawa area for delivery. I have the car here and am willing to drop it off within the Ottawa area, but because it’s so bulky I fear the shipping charges may be a little out of control.

So here’s a recap of the fine print:

  1. This is a giveaway for a Fisher-Price Laugh and Learn Crawl-Around Car.
  2. By entering this giveaway, you are nominating someone else to win the toy.
  3. To enter the giveaway, simply leave a comment on this post telling me who you are nominating to win and why. For example, “I’m nominating my friend Dani because her blog makes me laugh.” Or “I’m nominating my daughter-in-law Emma because she puts up with my son and gave me a beautiful granddaughter.” You get the point? Please don’t use full names, we can sort all that stuff out later if you win.
  4. Either you or the nominee must live within reasonable driving distance of Ottawa, Ontario. Let’s call that within 45 minutes drive from the Parliament Buildings.
  5. This giveaway will run until 11:59 pm EDT on Friday November 1, 2013.
  6. The winner will be contacted via e-mail and arrangements will be made for delivery before November 30, 2013.

Sound good? This is the first time I’ve done a reverse giveaway like this, so if you’re the lucky nominator of the winner, you’ll have to bear with me as we figure out the logistics – you can keep your nomination a secret if you like, for example. I will work out all the details with the winning nominator so this is as fun as possible for everyone.

Remember, you are nominating someone else to win, because it’s fun to share, right? 😉 Good luck to everyone!

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


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I recently had one of those moments that make you completely rethink everything you’re doing as a parent. Like most world-shaking insights, it was innocuous in its beginnings.

Tristan and I were standing in line at Pet Smart, buying dog food. There’s a Bulk Barn next door, and I’d wanted to pick up a few of Beloved’s favourite candies for him. Time was getting tight, so I contemplated sending Tristan over to Bulk Barn to pick up the candies while I waited in the longish queue for dog food. I was fairly confident he would be able to complete the transaction without any trouble, but I realized as I was pulling a twenty out of my wallet that he might never have gone in to a store to buy something by himself before.

I actually paused in surprise. Could that be possible? Has my eleven-and-a-half year old son never actually been in to a store by himself before? So I explained what I wanted him to do and asked him if he wanted to do it. Ever agreeable, he said, “Sure!” and off he went.

I was done in my queue before he was done in Bulk Barn, so I stood outside between the stores, wanting him to complete the entire transaction by himself. He came out clutching the bag of candy in one hand and my balled-up change and receipt in the other.

I thanked him, then asked if he had ever been in a store by himself before. “Um, nope, I don’t think so.”

I was gobsmacked. How has this happened? Me, who espouses a parenting philosophy of trust until proven otherwise and benign neglect and argues against coddling kids at every turn? I am all about the free-range kids, about letting them walk home from school by themselves and play outside by themselves and letting them earn trust and independence. I’m the mom who was mortified to send a child out to walk over to a friend’s house for a playdate, only to have the other parent walk my child back to the house afterward. How is it possible that a child of mine is almost a teenager and has never been in a store to buy something without a parent or grandparent with him?

My understanding of myself as a parent is seriously compromised here.

Going to the corner store was a huge part of my childhood. I was probably four, maybe five, when I started. It was all of a three block walk, but it was a hella busy road, and we moved when I was six so I know I was doing it before I hit the first grade. I can clearly remember being eight or nine and getting an allowance of 25c. I had to budget two weeks of allowance to accommodate the tax on my favourite treat, a 25c bag of chips. (Remember, the foil and paper ones ones you could split down the fold in the side?) And let’s not even talk about all the times I wandered down to pick up some smokes for my parents. Hey, it was the 1970s, none of us knew any better. And I couldn’t have been much older than 10 or 11 when I walked from my Granny’s house to Kmart on my own for the first time.

I was talking to Beloved about my utter shock at this realization, but he was less perturbed than me. “The store is pretty far from our house, and you hate walking down Bridge Street even when you’re with them because of all those trucks and the traffic. You’d never let him go alone.” It’s true, the traffic on Bridge St gives me a stomach ache, and there’s no stores on the island, but still!

photograph of a boy walking a dog

(I suppose it’s a good thing that I don’t have any pictures of my kids walking by themselves in traffic to illustrate this post, right?)

It makes me sad that so many of the experiences that shaped my childhood will never happen for the boys. I can’t get over the fact that he’s almost a teenager and he’s never been to the store by himself. When I was not much older than him I was taking the bus downtown to check out the book and music stores. There isn’t much in the way of public transit out here either, which makes me wonder whether he’ll be in his thirties by the time he makes it downtown on his own. I’m only being a little bit sarcastic.

Is this just the norm for kids now, or did I miss some essential parenting here?


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Okay, I apologize in advance for this. It’s not even Halloween and I’m going to blog about holiday gift giving. I’m sorry. Well, not really. I love Christmas, and I love even more having great gift ideas so I’m not panicking at the last minute.

When I think of essential toys for toddlers, the Little People farm is at the top of my list. Farmer Eddie and his animals provide lots of interesting things to do – there are doors that open and close with sing along songs and fun animal sounds, a drop through silo and slide with funny sounds, a baler that tips up to deliver the hay into the top floor of the barn, a ‘clucking’ chicken on her nest and fences to create a separate corral. So much to keep little fingers and little imaginations busy! And here’s a tip from a mom who does not always love toys that make sounds – it’s still a terrific toys if you (shhhhhh!) take the batteries out! Every boy of ours loved that farm, and I spent many hours lying on the floor listening to the boys howl with laughter as I made the horse cluck like a chicken and the cow quack like a duck. Ah, memories…

My other favourite Little People set was the doll house, more formally known as the Little People Happy Sounds Home. The vast archives of this silly blog are recalcitrant to cough up the post I wrote at least six years ago about buying a doll house for Simon, but I do remember having the conversation, and it was the Fisher-Price Little People doll house Happy Sounds Home that we acquired. It was, at the time, the most gender-neutral one we could find. Because boys do like to play house, too.

We are nearly done with our Little People days, I do believe. After more than a decade of play, and by play I mean sucking on them, throwing them down the stairs, floating them in the tub and rescuing them from at least one chewing dog, they are still in surprisingly good condition. We gave away most of our Little People sets recently, and while I was sad to see them go, I was happy to see them toted off for another family to love. We kept the Little People DC Superhero sets, though. I don’t think either Beloved nor Lucas were ready to part with those yet! 😉

I mentioned a few months ago that Fisher-Price has launched a new line of Little People characters. You can “meet” Eddie, Mia, Tessa, Koby and Sofie on the Little People Meet the Friends site. And through October into November, there’s a fun contest being hosted by Fisher-Price and TreehouseTV. Kiddies, with their parents, can play a hide-and-seek game to find new characters on the Fisher-Price playsets, watch videos, and enter to win one of five Little People prize packs worth $265.

Each prize pack will include the following:
• Little People Happy Sounds Home Playset
• Little People Fun Sounds Farm Playset
• Little People Wheelies Stand ‘n Play Rampway
• Little People Zoo Talkers Playset
• Little People Disney Princess Klip Klop Stable

Visit Little People – Big Discoveries to check it out!

So, too early for holiday shopping? I feel like I’m ahead of the curve thinking about it, if not yet actually doing anything about it. Intention is 90% of the law, right? Or something like that.

Disclosure: I receive special perks as a part of my affiliation with the Fisher-Price Play Ambassador program with Mom Central Canada. However, as always, the opinions in this blog are my own.


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I love my iPhone. I love it madly, maybe even obsessively. I carry it with me everywhere and sleep with it charging on my bedside table. It’s half talisman and half umbilical cord. Like all great love affairs, though, ours is a tumultuous one. As passionately as I love it, I despise it when it misbehaves. The recent upgrade to iOS7 has been a lover’s spat of epic proportions. Suddenly my endlessly loyal companion was running out of passion (erm, battery juice) before noon, when I regularly get at least a day’s performance out of a single charge.

I clearly wasn’t the only one having problems with iPhone battery life after iOS7 upgrades (1.5M search returns and counting on iOS7 battery drain!), and I found these articles in particular from the Huffington Post and Mashable helpful in identifying and rectifying the worst battery-draining culprits. I’ve never allowed e-mails (or most notifications, for that matter) to push to my phone, but I did find out that apps were running in the background and draining a lot of juice – and data. It took me nearly a week of tinkering, but I’ve got it back to a point where I’m actually getting improved battery performance over where I was before the upgrade to iOS7.

In the process, I learned a few tips and tricks I thought worthy of sharing beyond the preservation of battery power. Maybe you knew all these things already, but they were news to me.

So then, five things I learned about my iPhone this week:

1. How to close apps running in the background

Did you know apps don’t close when you hit the home button (the circular button with the square on it at the bottom of your screen)? You just shove them into the background, and some of them keep running and sucking up power and resources. Double-click on the home button and you’ll be able to see all apps that are currently running. Flick the little screen cap above the icon upwards to close the app. I am now in the habit of going in and closing all running apps a few times a day. (I believe this only applies to iOS7 and not prior OSes.)

photo 4

2. You can set a delay on the passlock screen

It’s a good idea to have a lock on your phone, especially if it has sensitive contact info and photos on it. However, it always drove me nuts that the the second you click the phone into sleep mode, you have to re-enter the pass code to unlock the phone. Especially when you’re trying to snap photos, this can be tedious and time consuming. I thought I had searched every directory for an option to add a delay to this but could never find it — until now! Voila, delayed passcode! Look for this option under Settings > General > Passcode Lock.

photo 2

3. Apps running in the background may be updating over wi-fi or cellular connection

I was doubly annoyed to find out that not only was I burning through battery power faster than my five-year-old burns through goldfish crackers, but that I had smashed through my data cap by 20% only half way through the billing month. Turns out my iPhone was updating itself willy-nilly for apps that I didn’t even know were running. (See point 1 above – closing an app does not mean it’s not still running.) I turned THAT tap off in a hurry. Look for it under Settings > General > Background App Refresh.

4. Constantly seeking wi-fi and Bluetooth connections is a huge battery drain
You know that little window that pops up to tell you about nearby wi-fi connections? Your iPhone is always looking for connections (kind of like a randy teenager) and that’s a huge battery drain. My pedometer “talks” to my iPhone via bluetooth, which is very cool and I will write a separate post about that one of these days, but it also sucks battery life as the iPhone looks for Bluetooth devices to connect with. (I think this was one of the things that I turned off that made the biggest improvement in battery life, because I forgot to turn it back off after updating my Fitbit stats yesterday and battery life plummeted again.) And I don’t know about you, but most of the open wi-fi connections I find are cantankerous and I can’t usually get my mail to download over them anyway. I’m looking at you and your “free” wi-fi, Starbucks! Anyway, if you turn off the option to always seek new wi-fi connections, your iPhone will still connect automatically to recognized wi-fi networks, and you can seek them manually via the Settings function. Bonus: no annoying pop-up screens full of locked networks you can’t access anyway.

5. You can see how much data each app has gobbled up – and tell some apps never to connect on a cellular network
Wondering which apps are data hogs? Go to Settings > Cellular and scroll down to the bottom. You can see how much data each app is gobbling up here and turn connectivity over cellular off for the worst offenders. I like Facebook but I was gobsmacked to see how much data it consumed this month – probably almost entirely because I’d check it early in the day and close the app without turning it off so it would just keep updating all day long even though I wasn’t looking at it. Sigh.

photo 3

Oh, and here’s a bonus tip for you. I have had the old “nostalgia” ring tone on my iPhone pretty much since the day I got it. I have a newfound love for Macklemore, though, and decided that I really needed the opening riff from “Thrift Shop” as my ring tone. You can buy a Thrift Shop ring tone, but it’s not the funky sax riff with the “whut whut”s in it. I downloaded an app called Ringtone Designer that lets you take a 30 second snippet from any song in your iTunes library into a ring tone. Hey, if I can figure it out, anyone can. Not just any custom ring tone, but a hip hop one. I am cool now, right? RIGHT?!

I hope you found these useful! This actually ties in really well but absolutely coincidentally with a new gig I’ve taken on as a Rogers Mobile Ambassador. More about that soon!

So how are you and YOUR iPhone doing after upgrading to iOS7? Have you found it troubling? Any other tips to share? Ha, what ELSE don’t I know??? 😉


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Each time someone invites me to take photographs of their family or special event, I am deeply honoured. However, there is little compliment greater than having the same family come back for portraits year after year. I first met this sweet family last year on a warm summer day in the Arboretum. Remember this?

Picnic in the park

This year, we moved a little ways down the road to the Fletcher Wildlife Garden, and a little ways down the calendar to a crisp autumn morning in September. What didn’t change was my delight at being able to follow this family on an ordinary family adventure, capturing photos as they played and picnicked together on a sunny Saturday morning.

photography story of a family picnic and walk in the park

I am beginning to think this is my favourite kind of family photography session. While I think more formal portraits do a wonderful job of capturing how cute your kids are, especially when they’re cleaned up and maybe even a little fancy, there is something that I love about being able to capture a family at play in an almost journalistic style. Imagine combining a family photography session with the annual trip to cut down the Christmas tree, or picking apples in the local orchard, or picking the perfect pumpkin for Halloween! How fun would that be?

But there’s something wonderful about the simplicity of a walk in the park, isn’t there? It lets the littlest kids move at their own speed, and it’s a lot easier to get them to stand still for a more formal posing every now and then if they’re able to run a little wild in between poses!

photos of a family taken near experimental farm in ottawa

It’s Thanksgiving weekend as I finally get around to blogging about this session, but that’s rather appropriate as it reminds me of so many things for which I am thankful: that we live in a city with pockets of beauty like this, that people invite me to join their families to record and share their moments together, that we’ve had this extended season of beautiful autumn weather, and that I can share all of these things with you. 🙂

Happy Thanksgiving, friends!


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Alice Munro wins the Nobel Prize for literature

10 October 2013 Books

I have two blog posts I’ve been noodling away at in stolen moments this week, one on skating lessons and one on Instagram. So it makes perfect sense that I drop everything and write a post about Alice Munro, right? Well, it does because I just heard the lovely news that she has won the […]

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Finally found a keeper of a stew recipe

7 October 2013 Eating and thinking and thinking about eating

I am posting this here partly to share, but also because I want to remind myself how I did it so I can do it again! I have been looking for a hearty beef stew recipe for ages, and I’ve tried a few flops over the last few years, but this is the first one […]

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Extended family portraits at the farm

1 October 2013 Mothership Photography

Back in July, I received the kind of invitation that set my imagination on fire: an extended family including out of town relatives would be gathering on the family farm just outside of Ottawa, and they wanted photographs of each family, the grandparents and the grandkids together. There would be horses, tractors, gardens, tireswings, hay, […]

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