November 2013

Wordless Wednesday: Snow(man) Day!

by DaniGirl on November 28, 2013 · 0 comments

in Ah, me boys, Photography

Snow(man) Day!

More snowman fun! #latergram

Snow(man) Day!

Snow(man) Day!

Snow(man) Day!

Snow(man) Day!

Snow(man) Day!

Snow(man) Day!

Snow(man) Day!

Snow(man) Day!

Snow(man) Day!


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This month, Lucas received a wonderful treat from our friends at Fisher-Price: the Imaginext Rescue City Centre play set. What little boy doesn’t love playing firefighter and police officer? Come to think of it, I know a few little girls who would love that adventure, too!

Like its cousin the Eagle Talon Castle (one of our most favourite FP toys ever!), the Rescue City Centre is programmed to recognize different accessories and respond to them. This never fails to delight Lucas! (I personally still to this day chuckle every time the drawbridge is lowered on the Eagle Talon Castle and a sing-song voice calls out “who eeees it?”) There’s lots to keep little fingers busy: the action figures drive the fire truck, you can zip up and down in the elevator or open and close various doors, and you can do fun stuff like shoot water projectiles at the fire. There’s a full line of extra accessories to the Imaginext line, too, so parents and grandparents can continue to build the collection for subsequent birthdays and Christmases.

Beloved and Lucas have been having fun exploring some of the Imaginext apps available to accompany the toy line. Just yesterday, Beloved was rather delighted to find out that through the Imaginext DC Super Friends Batcave app he was able to watch a brand new DC Super Friends episode he had never seen before. (Remind me again which one is the kid?) And Lucas was showing me how he can use the iPad, the Batcave app and his actual Batcave for an interactive game. Pretty cool stuff! There’s an Imaginext Dinosaur app we’re going to try out next. And by we I actually do mean we – talk about a game the whole family can play. 😉

Speaking of apps, the ones that accompany the toy sets are free but there’s another fun one for $3.99 in the iTunes store – it’s a comic-book style storybook app based on the Ed Venture Imaginext webisodes I mentioned in my last post. Lucas loves these! There are two modes, either “read to me” or “read it myself” and you interact with each pane of the comic. There’s also a choose-your-own adventure element at three places, so you can read through the story several times with different outcomes. These are perfect for my learning-to-read, technology-obsessed five year old!

If you’re looking for gift ideas this holiday season, I genuinely recommend any toys from the Imaginext line. You know that our friends at Fisher-Price have been kind enough to send us a few sets this year for testing and review, but we’ll be going shopping for several of the other sets for Lucas on our own dime. They’re great toys with a lot of play value, and I only wish we could have started investing in them a couple of boys ago!

What’s at the top of your “hot holiday wish list” this year?


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We drove down to London to visit my family a few weeks ago. It was a grey, blustery November sort of weekend, and while the boys were plugged in to their various devices to pass the time, I had some quiet time in my head to reflect on another long drive I took to London, one that changed my life forever for the good. It followed one of the scariest, hardest and ultimately best decisions I ever made: to leave my first husband.

Rainy day

I was sixteen when I met him. A year older than me, he lived in Sudbury and had been visiting his cousin and my friend one March Break. We kindled a long-distance romance between London and Sudbury through the end of my high school years, and I was blissfully oblivious to ridiculously obvious warning flags like him dropping out of school, moving erratically in and out of his parents house and losing a string of low-wage retail jobs. We got engaged while I was still in high school and moved in together in Ottawa the weekend after I finished Grade 13, ostensibly so I could go to Carleton, but I had applied only there because he was already living in Ottawa with his family.

My poor mother. She asked only that I live with him for a year before deciding to get married, which I did. We were married the month I turned 20. By then, I had quit school to work full time at Zellers. I’m surprised to this day that my mother still speaks to me.

It was a long time ago, and re-hashing those five years serves no real purpose. There were good times and bad, and some horrifically bad choices were made. Eventually I realized that not only was he lying to me and cheating on me, but he was rather relentlessly abusing me as well. On the eve of his best friend’s wedding, his marital advice was “Keep putting her down until she stops fighting back,” which pretty much sums up the last two years of our marriage.

Even though it was now fully two decades ago, sometimes I want to go back and shake that girl. I was so stupidly obtuse to my own situation that I had no clue up until the month before I left him that there was anything amiss. My friends could see it, and eventually worked up the cajones to tell me, and my family could certainly see the effects of the situation on my shrinking, fading personality even if they didn’t know the details of what was going on. Somehow, though, I rationalized some things and overlooked other things and willfully ignored still other things. Hindsight may be 20/20, but I was legally blind to my own situation at the time.

When awareness finally dawned, I did not waste much time. I remember being obsessed with a single thought: “This is how it’s going to be? For the rest of my life?” And that’s what motivated me. I remember calling my parents and asking, “Would you be angry if I were to get divorced?” I found out later my mom did cartwheels around the kitchen, but at the time she was remarkably stoic. “Of course we wouldn’t be angry. Why don’t you come here for a week to get some space to think?”

And that’s exactly what I did. I packed up my little Mazda hatchback and made that long drive back to London with my tail between my legs, with the idea of “trying on” not being married anymore. I felt a strong sense of failure for not being able to make my marriage work – at the time, I still had no sense of how ridiculously one-sided the apportioning of blame really was. I was also astonished at how happy all our mutual friends were to see me “trying on” being unmarried. At the time, I thought it took me until the end of that week of safety and breathing space in London to make my decision, but really, I think my mind was made up the minute the car was packed, and it took me the rest of the week to let the idea settle in.

It was a longer drive back to Ottawa, but I was lucky enough to have a friend to share the ride and distract me from my anxiety. I never went back to the apartment that was “the marital home.” Instead, and more than a little ironically, I moved in for a couple of months with the same friend who had introduced me to my now ex-husband, until I could sort out a place of my own.

I was all of 24 years old and pressing the “restart” button on my life. It was, to this day, one of the scariest and best things I have ever done.

Over the years, and with a little bit of therapy, I’ve come to terms with what was a pretty dark period in my life. It took many, many years to let go of the anger and resentment that brewed after the fact. He still pops up in my nightmares when I’m feeling particularly stressed, but I finally feel like I’ve matured enough to let the negative feelings go.

I saw him on Facebook through a mutual connection recently, and for just a moment my fingers hovered over the keyboard as I contemplated sending him a friendly message. Twenty years is a long time, after all, and we were in love once upon a time, however misguided that love may have been. Altruism aside, I can’t deny that I was more than a little bit motivated by the idea of showing off how wonderfully my life had turned out without him. The impulse passed, though, as I recognized that I had nothing to gain from sparking that connection. It was, like leaving, the right and obvious choice.

What were some of the transformative moments in your life? Did you realize their significance at the time? Did you make the right choice?


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The phone on my desk at work rang and I could hear the smile in Beloved’s face as we spoke.

“Are you missing something?” he asked. I glanced around my cubicle, checking for my purse, my lunch, or anything else I had probably left on the kitchen counter.

“Um, no?” I said, with not much conviction.

“Have you seen your iPhone lately?” I was perplexed. I knew I hadn’t left it on the counter at home, because I’d used it at Starbucks on my coffee break. Before I could puzzle out the mystery, Beloved filled in the gaps. “The security desk in your building just called. Someone turned in your iPhone to them.”

Oh crap – and then I remembered. I had taken it out of my back pocket in the bathroom so it didn’t go for a swim when I dropped my drawers, put it on the little shelf… and forgotten about it. Not the first time I’d done that, either. And the kind person who picked it up was able to find me because I have my contact info on the lock screen, like this:

Untitled

Brilliant, right? I can’t remember where I even got the idea, but in the year since I have had the info there, my wandering iPhone has come back to me via the kindness of two strangers and one amused co-worker.

To make your own version, just choose a photo without too much competing detail and an app that lets you add text to a photo. Save that to your iPhone’s photo library, then set that photo as your iPhone’s lock screen. Even if you have a passcode lock on your phone (which you really should!) anyone who turns it on can see your contact info without the having to enter the passcode.

An easier still solution would probably be to stop leaving your iPhone behind on any old convenient flat surface. You think maybe there’s an app for that?


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Three tanks of gas, a whackload of leftover halloween candy, five hand-held computing devices, a bag of markers, a sketchbook and enough coffee to drown an ox… that’s what fueled our run down to London, Ontario to visit the cousins for a whirlwind weekend visit. This is what it looked like:

Golden maple leaves

Weekend with the cousins

Weekend with the cousins

Weekend with the cousins

Weekend with the cousins

Weekend with the cousins

Weekend with the cousins

Weekend with the cousins

Weekend with the cousins

Weekend with the cousins

A birthday party, an impromptu photoshoot at a dog park and several hours of Minecraft… yep, that’s about as perfect a weekend as you can get!


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Edited to add: Click this link for the 2018 Santa Claus and holiday parade info!

Welcome to one of my favourite holiday traditions, the 8th (!!) annual round-up of Christmas, Holiday and Santa Claus parades for Ottawa and Eastern Ontario! Wheeee!

It’s another busy year for holiday parades – apparently it’s not just on Christmas Eve that Santa needs his magical reindeer power to zip his way around to meet all the excited girls and boys! The parades seem to have inched back a week closer to Christmas, but the only significant jump in date is the Barrhaven parade. Here’s the 2013 Santa Claus parade line-up, in chronological order:

Photo of Santa Claus at the Christmas parade 2013

[click to continue…]


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New: Ed Venture webisodes from Fisher-Price’s Imaginext

1 November 2013 Reviews, promotions and giveaways

I may have raved a few (ahem) times about Fisher-Price’s Imaginext toy line. From the Batcave to the Eagle Talon Castle to the Imaginext Dinosaurs, we love them all. (Did you know that the dino on the left is called an apatosaurus? When I was a kid they were called brontosauruses, but apparently that was […]

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