Ah, me boys

You can pick out more than a few changes from September 2014 to June 2015, not least of which are haircuts, growth spurts, and the fact that mom remembered in June what she forgot in September – to turn on the autofocus!

First and last day of school!

They’re growing up WAY too fast! Simon in the bottom photo is the same age Lucas is now, and if you look close, you’ll see they’re coincidentally wearing the exact same t-shirt. Hand me downs FTW!

first & last day of school

First and last day of school

First and last day of school 2011-2012

188:365 First and last day of school 2010 - 2011

And just like that…. it’s summer! :)


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They say that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, but sometimes it rolls out of the orchard, down the farm lane and clear into the next county.

We were bemused last year when Tristan placed well in the school’s track and field events, as he’d never really expressed an interest in running – aside from never really going anywhere slowly. “He runs like the wind!” I remember his vice principal confiding to me in tones of hushed wonder, and he seemed to have a natural flair for running. We were so surprised and pleased, though, when he placed so well in several running events this year that he was invited to represent his school at the pentathlon (a 100m race, shot put, long jump, high jump and 800m race) that both Beloved and I made arrangements to come out and cheer him on.

We cheered ourselves ragged (okay, maybe that was just me) when Tristan came first in his heat in the 100m race to start the day. That’s him in red, #17.

Tristan's big race

He came in fourth of a dozen in the 800m race (missed third place by a whisker – really less than 3/10 of a second) and came in sixth overall.

As we sat in the stands waiting for the 800m race to begin, I was pretty sure my heart was going to either burst or come to a full stop from a complex mix of emotions covering the spectrum from “be careful” to “run hard” to “no matter where you place on this race, and no matter how big and smelly and hairy your feet might get, you are always my boy and I think you are a spectacularly amazing human being.”

When we teased him about where his speed comes from, he shrugged us off in the way only a teenager can. “I just don’t like to go slow.” I, who have nearly killed myself trying to keep pace with him on our evening dog walks, can testify to the absolute truth of that.

And you know what? He DOES run like the wind!


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Simon’s piano recital

by DaniGirl on June 2, 2015 · 2 comments

in Simon

The boys have given us no shortage of reasons to be proud lately. Lucas has been adorable in his enthusiasm about soccer, and Tristan has turned into quite the track and field star. Today’s post, though, is all about Simon.

Simon took a year of piano lessons and then took a year off. Throughout the year off, though, he’d return to the electric keyboard that passes for a piano at our house (sidebar: I crave a piano with an almost physical sense of desire, but cannot for the life of me figure out where we’d put it!) and play idly with it often. We picked up his lessons at the Manotick School of Music earlier this year, and his teachers have been very positive about both his ability and his progress.

As I mentioned earlier, the Manotick School of Music is under new management this year, and nowhere was that new management’s touch more obvious than at the spring recital. I have to admit, I was a little grumbly when I found out it was not to be in the church basement around the corner, but waaaaay out in Kemptville at the municipal centre. (I spent a LOT of my week in Kemptville this week – it’s a lot more accessible than I expected, and closer than a lot of destinations in Ottawa or Kanata to Manotick!) I was delighted, though, when I saw the recital was in an actual hall, with theatre-style seats, and a stage – it was a big step up from the church basement and stacking chairs!

How fun is it that the kids played their spring recital on an actual stage, on a grand piano, no less? Here’s Simon’s 36 seconds of fame:

(Sorry about the aspect ratio. My mad videographer skills are somewhat underdeveloped, and I completely forgot to bring my camera and was using my iPhone in Instagram mode. Thank goodness YouTube now compensates for hapless moms-with-a-camera like me and at least rotates the footage to the proper orientation.)

Are you interested in music lessons in Manotick? I really can’t say enough good things about our experiences with the Manotick School of Music, and right now there’s an early-bird incentive to register before June 12 – they’ll waive the administration fee. More info on their website.

I love music lessons for a lot of reasons, none of them more than the huge smile of self-satisfaction on a little boy’s face as he walks off the stage after playing on a grand piano in front of a crowd. I may be a reluctant and late-blooming soccer mom, but music will always be first in my heart.

Lessons on a grand piano

Disclosure: the Manotick School of Music is a sponsor of this blog, but this post was not part of our agreement. I just wanted our friends and family to see how awesome Simon is!


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He’s as tall as me, all lanky legs and limbs, and his hair might be a little longer than I’d keep it if I were in charge of the scissors, but he’s still willing to humour me and my relentless camera.

Tristan in the dandelions

I love that you can see vestiges of the toddler he was and hints of the man yet to come.


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A love letter to Tristan, Age 13

by DaniGirl on March 7, 2015 · 3 comments

in Tristan

Wait, what? I have a TEENAGER in the house? How could my sweet baby Tristan possibly be 13 today?

Tristan after

Tristan, it has been a great year for you. So many big changes, so many big moments, and so delightful to watch you grow from a little boy to a man-child.

Family fun at Baxter Beach conservation area

And when I say you’re growing up, I really mean UP. I’m still a meagre inch or so taller than you but not for long, and your feet are already well bigger than mine and almost bigger than your dad’s. You like being as big as the high school kids, though you don’t seem to use your size for nefarious purposes. Yet.

Hockey day in Canada-9

Your spring was filled with adventure as you discovered first that you love to ski and then that you had a talent for running and competed on the school track team for the first time. Who would have ever pegged a child of mine for an athlete? “He runs like the wind!” your proud vice-principal confided to me, an undertone of amazement in his voice.

My track star

And then you left grade school behind and graduated from Grade Six! We couldn’t have been more proud to see you earn the Creative Arts award, and even if we didn’t quite understand your teachers’ inside joke about you and not wearing your shoes, your class certainly found it funny.

Grade 6 grad

This year you moved to middle school – a big transition for all of us, but one you seem to have taken in stride. You’re doing well in all subjects, but you seem to be enjoying math and English in particular. Mr Peters assures me with enthusiasm, “Tristan is a math guy!” and Mr Ireland mentioned how much he enjoys your quick wit and that he’s never seen such a dry sense of humour in a Grade 7 before. That’s my boy!

Red riding hood bubble boy on the way home from school

You absolutely have a quirky sense of humour and you take great pride in not following the crowd. You covet weird things like boots up to your hips and a sword and shield and an ocarina, which you got for Christmas. You seem to like the Legend of Zelda and Minecraft in equal measure, but you are also always up for family game night. I loved introducing you to Dungeons and Dragons this year! And you love to express yourself in art, either with a pencil or a set of fabric markers on a t-shirt or with PicCollage.

You are becoming very particular in your preferences. You prefer wooded trails over city sidewalks, cheese pizza over pepperoni, individualism over conformity and comedy over drama. You don’t understand why there are “rules” like boys don’t wear skirts to school. You like to question authority but are not particularly compelled to rebel against it, and you have a strong sense of justice and what is ‘right.’ You’re an irrepressible daydreamer and a bit of a scatterbrain, but you’re also easy going, kind and thoughtful. You are developing a delightful appreciation of beautiful sunrises and picturesque scenes.

Cumberland Heritage Museum

You have a lovely gentle touch with animals, and they seem drawn to you. Willie, with whom you share a birthday (happy birthday Willie!) sleeps on your bed most nights, and Bella likes to sleep on you when we watch TV. You loved having Sir Charles the Hedgehog and his Ratty friends visiting us during the March Break last year as much as I did, and you often ask about adding another cat to our menagerie.

A boy and his hedgie

Your friends seem to be the same gang as always: Sophie, Theo, Carter, Owen, Ethan and Oreo, and you’ve added a few new ones this year at your new school. The gang will be here today to help you celebrate your birthday, with Monty Python and board games and Super Smash Bros and pizza. Or, as you called it, “just an ordinary day in Tristan’s life.”

Pups in a pile

In a year filled with awesome moments and milestones, I think my favourite time with you would still be our evening walks with Bella. Your legs are almost longer than mine and I have to work hard to keep up with you, but we have an easy peace between us on those walks that I enjoy more than I could explain. I love chatting with you about your day, telling you stories from my own school days, and exchanging opinions and insights. You’re a clever, quirky and sublimely funny guy, and I’m glad you’re my friend as well as my son.

A visit to Rideau Hall-9

Happy birthday to my sweet, silly, smart and funny Tristan! I hope this year, your first as a teenager, is full of adventure and discovery and laughter. We love you!


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A love letter to Lucas, Age 7

by DaniGirl on February 8, 2015 · 0 comments

in Lucas

Lucas, my baby boy, today you are seven years old. Not so much a baby anymore, I guess!

Souris and Basin Head PEI

Lucas, you are warm and affectionate and curious and stubborn and an incredibly talented artist. You love nothing more in life than a blank page and the time to fill it, and I continue to be blown away by your natural artistic ability. Not only do you draw well from your own imagination, but you can mimic just about any style you see and you can easily reproduce posters, book covers and video game boxes. When I recently took up learning to draw myself and found the process rather tedious, you assured me “it’s a great start Mom! It was hard for me when I started, too – just keep practicing.”

A 10 photo essay on pumpkin smashing

Aside from drawing, you love to play games. Uno, Apples to Apples, Settlers of Catan, Dungeons and Dragons, mancala – you are always the one most willing to play a game with me. You also love Lego and hexbugs and Sonic the Hedgehog and superheroes, and of course you love video games like Minecraft and Super Mario Bros, just like your big brothers. You’ve discovered watching videos on the tablet, and you’d do that for hours sometimes if we let you.

Two on a swing

You love to play outside, and you are always willing to go for a walk with Bella in the evenings, even when it’s wintry and cold outside. You also love to go on walks in the woods or to feed the chickadees. In the summer, your favourite place in the world is in the swimming pool – diving off the diving board and swimming in the deep end.

Winter walk to feed the chickadees

I have been sad to see you in a different class this year from your friends Owen and Cole, but I think you are finally starting to get comfortable with some new friends. This year you have invited Owen and Cole, along with Matthew, Hudson, Adam, David and Chris, to your birthday party. You insisted on a party at your house, so we turned it into an art and cupcakes party. You, of course, can hardly wait!

Sir Lucas

This year, you started grade one. In just a year, you have gone from reading your first complete book (“If you give a pig a pancake”) to reading dozens and dozens of books. You are reading way above your grade level, but you seem to like math and French in school as well. You have a quick and curious mind, and you absorb new information like a little sponge. You have a bit more of a tendency toward mischief than I’ve seen in your brothers, but I think that may be partly from boredom. I still wonder if I didn’t do you a disservice by not pushing harder to get you skipped ahead a year in Kindergarten.

Catching snowflakes

Your favourite foods are peanut butter, just about any fruit, goldfish, pizza (but with the cheese peeled off), edamame, and tacos. You’re still a bit of a picky eater, but I have confidence that you’ll come around soon. You also love to help, whether it be setting the table, putting away the silverware or acting as my sous chef.

Adventures in PEI

Lucas, you are a delightful little boy who loves to laugh and who brings joy to us every single day. I enjoy our “coffee and newspapers” mornings and silly games like “pee race” more than you can guess. I hope this is your happiest birthday and best year ever.

Birthday cupcake

Happy 7th birthday, my sweet boy. We love you!


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How to host an at-home art themed birthday party for seven year old boys in five easy steps

7 February 2015 Lucas

For his birthday party this year, Lucas was insistent on an at-home party. Really, I asked. Are you SURE? I am always willing to throw money at an on-location party, partly so someone else will have to deal with the mess and the noise and the chaos, and party because I am just not the […]

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A love letter to Simon, age 11

1 February 2015 Simon

My dearest, darling one and only Simon, today you are eleven years old! Eleven years ago today, it was Super Bowl Sunday when you burst into the world with one hand over your head. Today to the rest of the continent it might be Super Bowl Sunday again, but in our house it is Super […]

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Flashback faves: So THIS is why we don’t host dinner parties

15 January 2015 Ah, me boys

In celebration of 2015’s anniversary-palooza and 10 years of blogging, I’m revisiting some of my favourite blog posts ever. This is from the spring of 2005. We had some friends over on the weekend for dinner. No no, we didn’t have them à la Hannibal Lecter, we had the grilled chicken fajitas you told me […]

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Photo of the day: Pups in a pile

13 January 2015 Ah, me boys

Our darling old dog Katie arrived in our lives long before any babies did, and I think that’s why she always acted in a very maternal way toward them. Bella, on the other hand, arrived into a pack of noisy, playful boys, and it’s clear she thinks the boys are her littermates; never moreso than […]

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