December 2014

Wow! 2014 was an amazingly photogenic year. I could easily post 50 favourite photos just from our trip to Prince Edward Island alone (yes, I know, I’m on about PEI again – I never really stop thinking about it!) or 50 favourite photos of fun family adventures with the boys. I probably even have 50 photos of Bella and Willie, and 2014 was my most successful year with Mothership Photography, so I’m sure I have 50 favourite portrait session photos I could post.

I’ll restrain myself, though. Some of these are dear to me because of the moment they captured, or the memory they evoke, or even the fact that I look at them and think to myself, “wow, I made that?” Every single one of them, though, makes me smile. They’re in no particular order.

Brothers on a winter walk

Diefenbunker-14

PEI revisited

Tulips in front of the Chateau Laurier

snowy owl-2

Kayaker at Chapman Mills

Even after the worst storms, the sun comes back out.

Reflecting on family

On guard

Writer's Block

Boots and booties

team donder posse

Oops this was yesterday's #mo365 7:365 #dogsofmo365 #latergram

A girl who loves books

Snowflakes

Autumn cutie

Silly string

National We Day in Ottawa 2014

Family reunion

Simple little pleasures

Tattoo selfie :)

Five generations

And baby makes three

Beautiful Baby O

Urban duck about town

My Name is Donder

leafy bokeh

Red riding hood bubble boy on the way home from school

A 10 photo essay on pumpkin smashing

Cuties on a red wagon

Brainy boy on the porch

Siblings

Cavendish, PEI

A boy and his hedgie

Two boys in a wagon

Souris and Basin Head PEI

Father's Day in Perth

brady bunch 2

Souris and Basin Head PEI

Sir Lucas

Luke and Bella #latergram #mo365

At the Flavour Shack

Doesn't everybody keep their typewriter on the porch?

Simon is 10

Peace Tower tour

boys at the beach

Winter walk

Apple picking 2014 3

Pumkin Pickers

Hollywood girl

Menfolk

Easter eggs 2014

Me and my ski buddy on the chair lift#mo365

Diefenbunker-8

first & last day of school

Family fun at Baxter Beach conservation area

Winter walk to feed the chickadees

Birthday cupcake

Christmas tree quest 2014-9

Kerry's family

Cumberland Heritage Museum

Adventures in PEI

Pumkin Pickers

Apple picking 2014 1

Souris and Basin Head PEI

Siblings

Happy sigh. Thank you to everyone who was a part of this year, whether that was letting me get you in my viewfinder or letting me interrupt whatever it was we were supposed to be doing so I could take a photograph or letting me share my treasures with you. It’s been a beautiful year, and I cannot wait to see what 2015 has in store!

Happy new year!


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It wasn’t so much that I was resisting getting an e-reader of my own up until now. Beloved got a Kindle way back in the day when they first came out, and I’d use his every now and then, but it was attached to his credit card and it was always a bit of an inconvenience to get him to buy books for me. Besides, I’ve always been loathe to pay for books when the library has stacks of them for free. Then, my mom upgraded to a Kindle Fire and I inherited her old Kindle loaded with hundreds of books, and that kept me busy for a while.

Still, while there is a lot of overlap between what my mom likes to read (Stephen King, John Sandford, Janet Evanovich, John Grisham, Kathy Reichs, just about any of the good mystery series out there) and what Beloved likes to read (everything from classics to comic books), it just seemed easier to get a Kindle of my own so I could cater to my own eclectic tastes without having to be 357th on the waiting list for interesting new books that come out.

So that’s what Santa, erm, I mean Beloved, got me for Christmas. Hello 2008, I have a Kindle of my own! Of course, now I have to fill it up, which is where you come in.

Thanks to Goodreads, here’s what I’ve been reading lately – although it’s not incredibly accurate. For one thing, it’s got all the books I’ve read out loud to the boys. For another, it’s missed a few that I’ve tagged as read. I know for a fact we read Anne of Green Gables last year as well as at least one or two others in the Hitchhikers trilogy, and I’m sure I read at least one more Neil Gaiman and Gillian Flynn – and yet they’re not showing up here even though they’re on my Goodreads shelves. Who knows with my Swiss-cheese memory what else could be missing? Weird thing is they show up individually, just not in this list. *shrug*

Covers of books I have read recently

I’ve just started reading The Rosie Project, which seems cute but I’m having a hard time not hearing Sheldon Cooper as the narrator. People have raved about it, though, so I’m curious to see where it goes. I’ve been meaning to read Terry Fallis’s The High Road for quite a while now, so that might be next in the queue.

What say ye, bloggy peeps? What do I need to read in 2015?


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Photo of the day: Birthday Bella

by DaniGirl on December 28, 2014 · 1 comment

in Photo of the Day

I took so many photos over the last few days, and I’ve barely edited any of them – and clearly I’ve shared almost none of them. I decided a while ago that Christmas photos are more for documentary purposes than fine art or even sharing. I heaved a huge sigh of relief when I gave myself permission to simply enjoy Christmas without trying to turn every moment into a perfect piece of art.

Having said all that, when the presents are all open and the kids are playing with their new booty and we’ve entered that zen period of calm late Christmas morning, it’s a perfect time to try to capture a last little bit of Christmas magic. I was trying to get a nice defocused shot of the shapes of the Christmas tree lights when a curious pup stuck her head into my frame. And I remembered – hey, Christmas day is Bella’s birthday, too.

Bella birthday

Happy 2nd birthday Bella! Let’s hope this is the year you learn just a wee bit more impulse control. (But we love you anyway!)


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Happy Christmas!

by DaniGirl on December 26, 2014 · 0 comments

in Happy holidays, Photo of the Day

Oops, I’m a day late. We were too busy having a low-key, wonderful family Christmas for me to be playing on the computer.

But, I hope it’s not too late to wish you and your families a wonderful Christmas season, and a new year filled with magic and joy.

Christmas card 2104_front

Merry Christmas, with love from DaniGirl, Beloved and the boys!


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Aside from the Reindeer Rant, this post from last year is probably my holiday favourite, and definitely worth sharing again!

If you’ve been around for a while, you might remember I spent some time working with the Canadian Army. When I was there, I was lucky enough to work with Captain Jennifer Stadnyk, and long after I left we stayed in touch over mutual interests in photography and social media. Capt Stadnyk has since moved from Ottawa to Colorado for what I think is an incredibly cool job – she’s the public affairs officer for the North American Aerospace Defence Command, aka NORAD. Peeps, she works with NORAD’s Santa Tracker team! How awesome is that?

I’ve blogged before about how I’ve always loved the NORAD Santa Tracker program. I remember the sense of wonder and anticipation that was torqued by watching NORAD’s Santa Tracker updates on the evening news when I was growing up in the 1970s. Now the kids and I visit the Santa Tracker website frequently on December 24 to track the Big Guy’s progress around the world.

I gotta tell you, when Capt Stadnyk was kind enough to grant me an interview, I kind of froze. Oh the pressure! What should I ask? How to strike the balance between hard-nosed journalist and fawning fangirl? In the end, her answers totally redeemed my questions – and I’ve been giggling like a schoolgirl in my excitement to share them with you.

DaniGirl: I have been watching NORAD’s Santa tracker as long as I can remember. Tell me a little bit about the program?

Capt Stadnyk: NORAD Tracks Santa traces its roots all the way back to 1955, when the local Sears-Roebuck in Colorado Springs took out an advertisement in the local newspaper inviting children to call Santa’s private line on Christmas Eve. The ad that was printed however, had a misprint and the number given was for the Continental Air Defense Command. Colonel Harry Shoup, who was on duty that night, answered the phone to a child’s voice asking if he was Santa. Once he realized what was going on, he played along, giving the child information about where Santa was and instructed his officers to do the same. Thus an annual tradition was born! NORAD continued the tradition when we replaced CONAD in 1958, and still each year, we track Santa around the globe and tell children where he is and when he’ll be at their house!

DaniGirl: You are a soldier in the Canadian Army. How did you end up at NORAD?

Capt Stadnyk: It is funny, most people think that NORAD is solely Air Force, however there are members from all elements of both the Canadian and American militaries. I definitely feel blessed to be down here and be a part of this incredible program during the holiday season!

Army Maj. Gen. Charles Luckey, NORAD and USNORTHCOM Chief of Staff, prepares to do a media interview via satellite from the NORAD Tracks Santa Operations Center Dec. 24, 2012. Dozens of interviews were conducted with NORAD leadership to get the word out on how NORAD tracks Santa every year. (U.S. Navy photo by LCDR. Bill Lewis)

DaniGirl: What kind of technology do you use to track Santa?

Capt Stadnyk: We are definitely well-equipped to track Santa, being the bi-national command responsible for tracking and keeping airspace over North America safe! We use the same satellites, radars and fighter jets that we use year round to track Santa. He knows we’re tracking him and often coordinates some of his plans with us! We also have “Santa Cams” strategically placed around the globe so that kids can catch a glimpse of the jolly old elf!

DaniGirl:: How many people are involved in the operation?

Capt Stadnyk: Well, along with our 55 corporate partners, we have over 1,250 volunteers (Canadian & American military, civilians, and members of the local Colorado Springs community) who donate their time on December 24th to answer calls and emails. Planning starts early in the spring of each year in order to ensure the event is a success.

DaniGirl: Have poor weather or other obstacles ever prevented Santa from getting to any locations?

Capt Stadnyk: There have been a few times over the years where Santa has had to adjust his flight path due to poor weather, but he has always been able to make it to every house! He has been flying for centuries, so little snowstorms have nothing on him!

Marine Staff Sgts. Hugh Wood and Randall Ayers, NORAD and USNORTHCOM, take calls at the NORAD Tracks Santa Operations Center Dec. 24, 2012. Wood and Ayers came to the operations center to collect toys for the Marine Corps' Toys for Tots program and took a break to participate in NORAD Tracks Santa. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Thomas J. Doscher)

DaniGirl: Does Santa need permission to fly over Canadian or American air space?

Capt Stadnyk: Santa travels faster than starlight, so if he wanted to, he could fly over our airspace without letting us know, but we have a close relationship with him, having worked together to keep the Christmas spirit alive all these years. He always coordinates his travels with us, although he may not tell us his exact route. Each year, Canadian fighter pilots are chosen to meet Santa as he enters North American airspace to say “Hello” and escort him across the Great White North. This year, Lieutenant-Colonel Darcy Molstad and Captain Sébastien Gorelov from 3 Wing Bagottville will meet him over Newfoundland and pass off the duties near the Ontario-Manitoba border to Captain Rich Cohen and Captain Brian Kilroy from 4 Wing Cold Lake.

DaniGirl: Now that you’re seeing it in action from the inside, what’s your favourite part of the Santa tracker program?

Capt Stadnyk: It’s incredible to see what a large operation the NORAD Tracks Santa program is. There is so much magic involved in Santa’s journey that I kind of expected tracking him would be a piece of cake. Not so much! Tracking Santa becomes our main effort around this time each year, and we all work together at NORAD to make sure we continue to share the holiday spirit with the young, and young-at-heart around the world!

Awesome, right? I KNOW! Even better than a conversation with the Universe, eh?

Want to track Santa with NORAD this Christmas Eve? He’s multimedia – check it out!

On the web: http://www.noradsanta.org
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/noradsanta
Twitter: @NoradSanta
Phone (starting 4 a.m. MST on Christmas Eve): 877-HI-NORAD
Email: noradtrackssanta@outlook.com

Thank you, Capt Stadnyk, for the exclusive scoop and for making me a cool mom this Christmas in the eyes of three little boys! Warm wishes and thanks to you and and everyone at NORAD for the great work you do with Santa!


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When your best friend asks you to collaborate on a family portrait project to celebrate her extended, blended family, of course you say yes. And when she has an idea that is equal parts silly, fun and hilarious and perfectly exemplifies a family that prides itself on chaos, humour and love, you know you have to make it work. A little 1970s retro pop culture reference is just the icing on the cake!

The Silly Bunch

And then, you have a little fun.

brady bunch 2

Pro tip: When you’ve been friends for 30+ years, you cannot make faces like this in front of a camera and not expect them to end up on the Internet.

And if your photographer friend has a truly evil streak, she’ll go one step further and turn them into one of these:

Merry Christmas to my best friends in the whole world. I love you guys and I’m always happy to be a part of your crazy. 🙂


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Reindeer Rant Redux – and a reindeer rampage!

15 December 2014 Happy holidays

My bloggy peeps, I have a reindeer-palooza of fun for you today! You might have read the reindeer rant a time or two (or coughninecough) before, but now we have reindeer trivia! And photoshop! And webcams! And even reindeer on a rampage! Oh my. But first, the rant. Because especially at Christmas, traditions matter. Also? […]

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School lunches made better with Rubbermaid LunchBlox

15 December 2014 Reviews, promotions and giveaways

The other day when I was talking about Rubbermaid’s Easy Find Lids containers and the unexpected benefits of learning to cook from real ingredients, one of the things I mentioned was leftovers. When the food tastes better, the leftovers taste better too. Somehow I’m thinking this should be less of a surprise to me than […]

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Photo(s) of the day(s gone by): Christmas tree decorating then and now

9 December 2014 Photo of the Day

And *this* is what makes my endless curation of family moments worth while. Christmas 2014: Christmas 2013: Christmas 2012: Christmas 2011: Christmas 2010 (our first in Manotick and our first with a natural tree): Christmas 2009 (in the midst of my first Project 365): It looks like I didn’t take any photos while we decorated […]

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Bloggy gratitude

8 December 2014 How I love the Interwebs

There are a lot of needy things in my life, and I’ll be the first to admit that blog has slowly slid down the hierarchy of things that get my attention. Facebook steals all my short-form content and impulsive commentary, and while I still love to write for blog, finding the time to get all […]

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