From the category archives:

Ah, me boys

Next Wednesday, 16,000 students and educators from 420 schools throughout Canada will be gathering at the Canadian Tire Centre in Ottawa to mark Canada’s National We Day 2014. For the third year, TELUS is partnering with Free The Children as National Co-Title sponsor of We Day, and they’ve invited Simon and I to attend the celebration again this year. (Well, they invited me and one guest, and I’m thrilled that Tristan has earned his own ticket to We Day through participating in the Kids Helping Kids club at school for the last year!)

You might remember we had the priviledge of attending Canada’s national We Day last year as well. Watching the boys meet and be inspired by Craig Kielburger was truly one of the best moments of my year, and the lessons we learned at We Day last year have inspired our actions ever since.

National We Day in Ottawa - St Leonard shout-out

So what is We Day? It’s a series of events held across Canada and around the world to inspire youth to create change in their communities and around the world. You can’t buy a ticket to get in, though – admission is free of charge to those students who earn their way in through service. Students commit to take action on at least one global and one local initiative of their choice as a part of the year-long educational intiative called We Act. You might remember how proud I was last year when the boys’ school got a shout-out from Craig Kielburger himself for their amazing achievement of raising 170,000 pennies in support of Free the Children through the We Create Change program.

It’s truly wonderful to see the growth of We Day in just one year. Last year, there were 4,000 attendees at Canada’s National We Day and this year will welcome FOUR TIMES that number of participants. Attendees will be inspired by an incredibly diverse array of speakers and performers, from Her Majesty Queen Noor of Jordan to Martin Luther King III to National Chief Shawn Atleo. Craig and Marc Kielburger will be there, of course, and the hugely inspirational Molly Burke and Spencer West will be returning as well. If you read my post last year, you’ll remember that I was particularly inspired by Spencer West and I have been following him on Twitter ever since. I’m delighted to see he’ll be not only speaking again this year but engaging in a epic 10-week cross Canada road trip to talk to inspire and motivate Canadian students in the We Create Change Tour.

National We Day in Ottawa - Spencer West

I’m especially honoured to be invited to We Day this year because I’ve seen the effects of the We Act program in our family and in our school throughout the past year. Tristan joined the Kids Helping Kids club at school and worked throughout the year on projects like raising awareness and making and selling duct tape crafts to raise money for We Create Change. Through We Create Change, children are encouraged to collect coins to fundraise for Free The Children’s Year of Education initiative to build 200 schools and improve access to education in developing communities around the globe. The We Create Change philosophy is simple, and I’ve seen it on kid-made posters hanging in the school: $20 in change = one brick. One brick = the cornerstone of education. Education = change for the world. Over Lent, the whole school is engaging in raising funds by doing extra chores around the house, and I can’t wait to see what the final tally is.

You’d be vastly underestimating the real message of We Day if you thought it was just about fundraising, though. What We Day is really about is education and empowerment. That was my take-away from being blown away by last year’s We Day event. You’ll pardon me if I quote myself from last year:

The definition of “changing the world” has changed for this generation, for the children we are raising today. When I was a child, it meant that you grew up to be an activist or someone in a position of power, or you were one of those extraordinary young people like Craig Kielburger himself, who drew global attention to a cause he was passionate about. What I’m realizing is what our kids seem to know intuitively, and what We Day is promoting: you don’t need a megaphone to make a difference, and you don’t need to be famous or powerful or have a lot of resources behind you. Social justice isn’t about petitioning on Parliament Hill and letter-writing campaigns, it’s about the choices you make and the way you live your life every single day.

Choose organic and local produce. Choose to hold a door for someone rather than let it slam. Choose to donate a bag of used toys to charity rather than dump them in the trash. Choose to spend 20 minutes of your time promoting a cause rather than playing a video game. Choose to turn off the tap while you brush your teeth and turn off the lights when you leave the room. Choose to speak up to defend someone rather than stand mutely by and watch bullying happen. Like the pennies collected by the boys’ school, each small act on it’s own may seem so insignificant as to be worthless. However, when you start stacking them by the thousands and hundreds of thousands, they have unmistakable, undeniable worth and value.

Don’t just take my word for it, though. Look at these results! Since 2007, youth involved in We Act have raised more than $37 million for more than 1,000 global and local causes, have collected more than four million pounds of food, and have volunteered more than 9.6 million hours for global and local causes.

But here’s what’s equally, and perhaps more important: We Day inspires, engages and empowers youth to lead through service, building compassionate communities and transforming participants into active global citizens in the process. Independent third-party research shows that 98 per cent of youth participating believe they can make a difference after attending We Day, and 80 per cent of We Act alumni report volunteering more than 150 hours each year.

National We Day in Ottawa - meeting Craig Kielburger!

If you’d like to read more about We Act and We Day or better yet, if you’d like to get your family, school or company engaged in this movement, visit the Free the Children website. You can also download the amazing We365 app, a free mobile app and website that enables young people to track and verify their volunteer activities for school, as well as provide the tools needed to fundraise, take action, and amplify messages for thousands of different charities. Youth who participate in We365 challenges will have the chance to be rewarded with TELUS grants and scholarships. Further, through We365 TELUS will engage with kids via Earn Your Way challenges throughout the year, giving kids a chance to win exclusive opportunities like a hike with Spencer West or a day trip with Craig Kielburger. Challenges could include sharing a photo of one small act of change through the We365 platform. These actions will also be amplified through other social media platforms as We365 activity can also be shared through Facebook and Twitter.

I’ll be live-tweeting from Canada’s National We Day next Wednesday, April 9. Follow along at #WeDay, and watch the live stream at www.weday.com.


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A love letter to Tristan, age 12

by DaniGirl on March 7, 2014 · 0 comments

in Tristan

My dear darling Tristan, today you are twelve years old!

Tristan, you are a curious, creative, thoughtful boy with a delightfuly dry and wry sense of humour. You are warm and affectionate, shy but loyal, and full of deep thoughts. You are always a wonderful companion and I enjoy spending time with you.

Tristan's birthday

It seems you grow an inch every time I look at you lately, my son. You grow taller, your voice grows deeper, and the shadows of facial hair on your uppper lip are more than just peach fuzz now. It’s okay if I still think of you as my baby, though, right? Even though we may literally see eye to eye by the end of this year?

Birthday cupcakes

Your best friend continues to be Simon, whether you admit it or not. The two of you have an insular world of imagination woven from Minecraft and Pokemon and YouTube that comes replete with its own set of idioms and concepts impenetrable by your parents. It’s almost like a secret language of twins. And you continue to show great patience with Lucas, who adores you in ways to which I’m pretty sure you’re oblivious. You have a sweet circle of friends for whom you care deeply, and they clearly feel the same way about you. Especially one in particular. ;)

New treehouse-2

This year, your favourite things seem to be Minecraft, meatballs, that silly cat, Minecraft videos on YouTube, any artistic endeavour, Pokemon, Chinese food, family movie nights, animals of all sizes, and your dad’s baking. You are still my adventurer and my explorer, the one most receptive to my proposals of a walk in the woods or a ride on our bikes. This year we discovered a love of skiing together, and it was a wonderful adventure to share with you.

First ski day!

Tristan, you continue to show an amazing talent for art. In addition to sketching and drawing, you have lately taken an interest in digital artwork and your PicCollage app on your iPod. You made your own birthday party invitations with it, and you’ve lately taken to creating online avatars not just for yourself but for your friends as well.

Backflip!

You see yourself as a non-conformist, but you strive to make others happy. Given the opportunity to choose between two types of cupcakes to bring to school to celebrate your birthday, you sent around a poll to make sure all your classmates and teachers had a chance to vote for their preference. I read just a few days ago an article called 18 Things Highly Creative People Do Differently and I saw you in so many of the points. Daydreaming, observing the world, taking time for solitude, seeking new experiences, viewing life as an opportunity for self-expression, losing track of time, seeing things differently – all the things that make you ocasionally challenging to parent or manage in school, in other words. It makes me look forward to see where you are going in life.

Learning to knit

One thing in particular I’ve enjoyed this year is our evening walks with Bella. Although the long winter nights lately have been cold for walking, our chats have been a great way to get to know what’s going on in your life. You’ve shown an interest in astronomy and I’ve been happy to talk your ears off in sharing what I love about the stars and planets.

This is what a perfect Mother's Day looks like (4 of 4)

This has been your last year of primary school. Next year you will move on to the challenge of a middle school embedded in a high school, but for now you have enjoyed being among the kings of the school. You have very much enjoyed participating in your school’s morning “radio show” and dressing up in the school mascot costume – two of only a few of the rewards of being a sixth grader.

Winter walk to feed the chickadees

These letters get harder and harder to write as you get older. I’m no less proud of you, no less charmed by you, no less delighted by your company – but I feel like I can’t be as candid about my affection or your personality and interests as you grow older. Your stories are your own now, crafted more and more by your own motivations, passions and dreams. With each passing year, you become more in charge of writing the story of who you are and where you are going with your life, and I’m only along for the ride and the companionship – and maybe to take a photo or two along the way.

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You may be bigger, my man-child, but you’ll always be my baby. Happy birthday, my sweet Tristan! We adore you!


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A love letter to Lucas, Age 6

by DaniGirl on February 8, 2014 · 2 comments

in Lucas

My dear, sweet Lucas, today you are six! years! old!

Sweet Lucas, you are an adorable kid. You are warm and affectionate and love to share kisses and hugs, not only with your mom and dad, but grandparents and teachers, too. You draw beautiful artwork woven with expressions of “I love you mom” written right into them. I secretly hope you never grow out of the practice!

Lucas in the sunshine

You are a smart, curious boy, Lucas. You ask intriguing questions out of the blue that give me an occasional glimpse into your busy mind. “How do you stick the light to the ceiling?” and “Where does the snow go?” and “How do you see only one thing if you have two eyes?” and my favourite, “Where does the water in your mouth come from?” You are unique among your brothers for both the sheer number and the startling complexity of your inquiries.

"Take a picture of me upside down, Mom!!"

Ah, your brothers. It’s not easy being the third of three boys, but you have found many ways to cope. You will repeat yourself, never escalating your tone or volume, again and again until you are acknowledged to your satisfaction. Being the youngest leaves you in the precarious position of being both wise beyond your years and “the baby” in everyone’s eyes except your own. You’ll forgive me if I hold on to your sweet babyness for just a little while longer, won’t you?

Weekend with the cousins

You started school full days this year, even though you are still in kindergarten. I struggled for quite a while with the idea that you were too advanced for a mixed kindergarten class, and wanted to skip you ahead to Grade 1 this past fall. While I think we made the right decision, I still wonder if you weren’t more than ready for Gr 1 even now. You can read quite well now, recognizing many sight words and sounding out many more complex ones. You can count well past 100 in English and know all your colours and the seasons in French. In fact, I worried you were a little bored in school before the Christmas break, as you became quite resistant to going, but the lure of seeing your best buddies seems to be winning you over again. I still miss your company on my Wednesdays off, though!

First flower of spring!

You are a boy who knows what he likes. Currently, your favourite things are peanut butter, just about any fruit, breakfast for dinner, animals (especially dogs and cats, but you were recently charmed by a hedgehog and you love to browse at the pet store), Minecraft, daddy’s iPad, Playdough, dinosaurs, your Imaginext playsets, Lego, Hexbugs, and anything involving arts or crafts. And video games, of course.

Lazy day

You are still best friends with Owen. In fact, since you two are joined at the hip and even share the same birthday, you’ll be hosting a joint super-hero birthday party this year! Your other friends are Cole and Darrien and Hudson and Matthew and Dante. You are sweetly oblivious to the names of most of the kids in your class, especially the female ones, but you do profess great affection for Mme Spicer, Mrs Innis and Miss Cheryl.

This is totally why I had kids.

Oh my Lucas, how you can draw! You surprise me every day with your creatitity and your ability. Your talent is far beyond your years, and I am truly amazed by your drawings, not to mention the copious amounts of them. Oh the trees we have killed! How many six year olds know about primary and complementary colours, and the ROYGBIV order of the colours in the rainbow? Not only do you love to draw but you are startlingly sophisticated in your creativity.

Artist at work

You love your bedtime stories, Lucas. We have recently graduated from board books and simple storybooks to chapter books, and we are currently working our way through Charlotte’s Web. You also love the National Geographic Kids books that Daddy brings home from the library – books about everything from stars and planets to meerkats to dinosaurs, and you and Daddy have discovered the fun of iPad digital books this year. Your preferences are wide-ranging and ecclectic!

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We tried to enroll you in skating lessons this past fall, but you were so miserable that we pulled you out after a few weeks. On the other hand, you adore your springtime swim lessons and one of your favourite places in the world is the Manotick pool during the summer. Although the pool closed for the season on Labour Day weekend, you asked regularly if we could go back until there was snow on the ground.

Christmas Tree Quest 2013

Another huge event in your life this year was the arrival of Bella. It was you who seemed most affected by her arrival – you were the easiest for her to catch and nip as a puppy, and your toys were the ones she found and chewed, and you are the only one not tall enough to step over the baby gates that still, to my lasting annoyance, bar the stairs and your room from her. I think it was safe to say that you did not love having a puppy in the house, but you do love her now. Every night, the two of you charge up and down the hallway together, and you’ve learned that if you give her a toy to carry, she doesn’t try to catch your pajamas with her teeth as you play. It’s sweet to see how much she obviously loves you and your brothers, despite the fact that you might occasionally forget to be gentle with each other.

There's a new girl in town!

Lucas, I could go on for pages telling you how much joy you bring to our lives. You are a delightfully affectionate, clever, sweet boy. You charm us, you delight us, and you make us laugh. You’re a wonderful companion and a talented artist and you hold your own ground impressively against two older brothers.

Black and white beauties on the beach

Happy sixth birthday, my adorable Lucas. We love you!!


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A love letter to Simon, age 10

by DaniGirl on February 1, 2014 · 2 comments

in Simon

My dear, darling Simon, today you are ten! A whole decade old.

Winter walk

Simon, you are a delightful child. Not only do we love you (how could we not?!) but it’s clear your teachers and classmates feel the same way. At the most recent round of parent-teacher interviews, your teachers smiled pleasantly and were happy to chat, but they could not think of a single concern to raise with me. In fact, one teacher confided that it would be wonderful to have a class full of 30 Simons.

Snow(man) Day!

School seems to come easily for you, and I am amazed at your conscientiousness. In a house full of distracted daydreamers, you alone seem to have both feet on the ground. I never need to remind you to do homework – you cheerfully pull it out of your own accord the minute we settle into the house after school. You are the one who remembers permission slips, library books and due dates. And that focus is clearly paying off – you regularly bring home tests and quizzes showing perfect marks.

First and last day of school

Earlier this year, you said you wanted to be a math teacher when you grow up and my heart swelled with pride. More recently, you’ve decided that your future lies in being a chef or a baker. Either way, I know once you set your mind to it, you’ll be amazing at it.

Happy birthday Simon!

Simon, you are silly and playful and have a wonderful sense of humour, and you love an audience. This year you finished a second year of piano lessons, and played a few recitals. You also loved being on stage after a week of drama camp and you clearly love music. You’re my connection to popular culture – it’s thanks to you that I’ve become what I never expected in a million years, a fan of rap and hip hop music! You’ve injected life into our family iTunes account.

Fall fun at the Lime Kiln Trail

You are warm and generous, my Simon. You have a delightfully sunny disposition. I occasionally tease you by observing that you can be the sweetest, most thoughtful boy – and you can also be absolutely wretched to your little brother. You’re fast friends with Tristan, but I do have to remind you to be patient and tolerant with Lucas.

Sharing a taste

Your favourite things are Minecraft and videos on YouTube about Minecraft. You also love making Rainbow Loom bracelets, your iPod, those silly tween dramas on YTV, family board games, your bed so full of stuffies that there’s barely room for you, tacos, your friends, and did I mention Minecraft? You are more tolerant of vegetables than you have been in years past, but they are still, as I have requested you to phrase it, ‘not your favourite.’ You prefer raw veggies over cooked, and will eat just about anything doused in ranch dressing. You will also choose being sendentary over being active, something we have been working on this year.

Diefenbunker-8

You, middle child, are my teenager in waiting – pushing the boundaries that your older brother has not yet considered crossing. I let you have an Instagram account but put my foot down on a Twitter account, although I do love your sweet texts that you send me at work before you leave for school.

Bumper car fun-3

You are empathetic and attentive. You are the one who notices and calls out to see if I’m okay when I say “ouch” when doing silly things like burning a finger or being uncareful with a knife while making dinner. You notice haircuts and new clothes and changes in the house – some day, your girlfiend(s) will realize what a treasure you are!

Weekend with the cousins

Your friends this year are Mason, Ben, Jacob, Nicky, Alex and Dylan. Although you seem to have no shortage of female friends, this is the first year your party will feature a guest list of all male friends at LaserQuest. You can hardly wait!

BFFs

Simon, I love your enthusiasm, your warm-heartedness and your joie-de-vivre. You are the kind of person who lights up a room, and you easily charm every one you meet. One of the things I admire most about you is how you greet everyone as an equal – you fit in as easily chatting with the grownups as with other kids. You were a happy, cuddly baby who loved attention, and you are growing into a happy, sweet young man – who still loves attention.

Christmas Tree Quest 2013

Happy happy birthday, my sweet, adorable Simon! I wish for you that all the joy you bring into our world is reflected back to you one hundred times over!


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8:50 am Beloved calls me at work. “Did you know Chris Hadfield is being interviewed about two blocks from you right now?” I gasp and instinctively look out the window. He’s not floating outside my fourth-floor window, and I’m kind of relieved by that.

“No kidding?” I ask, and hatch a plan to meander casually past the Market Media Mall under cover of heading out for a cup of coffee.

“And he’ll be at Costco tonight signing his book!” Beloved continues.

“Costco?” I ask. “Seriously?”

And that’s how capers are ignited.

9:05 am I am outside the big plate glass windows of the Market Media Mall, resisting the urge to press my nose against the glass as I peer in, trying to catch a glimpse of Cmdr Hadfield. No such luck. I’ve never been inside this building, so am not sure if it is private or open to the public. I weigh my options and decide being charged with tresspassing on my coffee break will be exceedingly difficult to explain to my boss and slink back towards Starbucks.

12:20 pm I am standing in line at Indigo with a copy of Chris Hadfield’s book, An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth in my hand. I feel slightly guilty, because not only have I asked for this for Christmas, but when I mentioned I’d like it Tristan had immediately said, “Okay, I will get that for you!” At the time, I whacked him with my mitten and told him he was supposed to keep it a secret, and he looked at me with that expression that is increasingly common on their faces, the one I see often on their father’s face – mom is weird, but we love her anyway.

3:45 pm I pick the boys up at school and I am practically bursting with excitement as we pile into the car. “Who wants to go meet an astronaut at Costco?” I blurt. They look at me blankly, waiting for the punch line. “No, for real! Commander Hadfield is at Costco, do you want to go get him to sign a book for us?” You would think I would learn by now not to pose these escapades as options.

“Will it take long?” asks Simon, who has the stamina of a goldfish.

“Well, probably,” I admit. “There will be a lineup, I’m sure, but the sooner we get there the faster it will go!”

“I have homework to do,” Tristan says tentatively.

“What about dinner?” asks Simon.

“And I want to play Minecraft!” adds Lucas, who is always sure to make his opinion is counted.

I look at them, weighing the mature response (“Oh, okay, I thought you would love this but if you’re not keen, then I understand. Let’s go home.”) versus my using my mom-guilt powers for evil. I settle for a middle road: “How often in your life will you get to meet an astronaut in Costco? It will be an adventure! C’mon, let’s do it!”

They are, I must admit, less than jumping-up-and-down excited, but they’re curious and happy enough to appease me for the sake of an adventure, so we let the dog out for a pee, pack a wee bag of snacks, and drive down to Costco.

4:15 pm I have never seen the Costco parking lot this busy. Ever. Uh oh. We park at the Petsmart across the way and make our way in.

4:25 pm We find the line snaking down the aisle from the centre of the store where a little table has been set up with a small stack of Cmdr Hadfield’s books. “Hey, this isn’t so bad,” I tell the boys brightly as we walk down the aisle past 50 or so people. Then I get to the end of the aisle and see that the line snakes back down the next aisle – and back up the aisle after that, and another one after THAT, and then up the back wall of the store. We settle in to the end of the line, which snakes up and down FIVE aisles in front of us – and this a full half hour before the book signing even begins.

4:30 pm Lucas asks “How much longer?” for the first time.

4:30:30 pm Lucas asks “How much longer?” for the second time.

4:30:45 pm Lucas asks “How much longer?” for the third time.

4:45 pm We hear a small cheer from somewhere near the centre of the store. Either Cmdr Hadfield has arrived early or people are way too excited about finding a jar of olives the size of a human head.

5:02 pm We are out of snacks and juice boxes. I try reading aloud from Cmdr Hadfield’s book to pass the time, but the natives are too restless and the people standing around us seem less than appreciative of my spoiler efforts.

5:20 pm Reinforcements arrive! Beloved finds us and takes the boys over for a $2 hot dog dinner. Word is the line now snakes past the meat department.

5:31 pm Simon returns with a slice of 800 calorie cheese pizza for me, which the people in front of me eye covetously.

5:45 pm The orginal plan had been that Beloved arrive to take custody of Lucas and bring him home, as we had thought the line-up would be too long for him to endure and the chance to meet Cmdr Hadfield not something he would appreciate. This would also liberate Bella from her crate, in which she has been confined all day. However, Lucas decides he wants to stay and Simon decides he wants to go home. Tristan stoically endures any adventure I propose, as always.

5:46 pm Costco staff wander the line with a gigantic box of chocolate, appeasing the crowd. We’ve come about half way from our starting place to the front of the line. The end of the line is far from sight, possibly in Barrhaven.

5:51 pm Simon decides the wait may in fact be worth it and that he wants to stay. All five of us are in it for the long haul.

5:53 pm We are officially enumerated. Ours is the 528th book to be signed. I weep for Cmdr Hadfield, who is probably still as you read this sitting in Costco facing an endless line of weary autograph seekers.

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6:02 pm We achieve the penultimate aisle, and the line moves steadily. While we are waiting we browse vacuums, shavers, stools and office chairs, and a $50 block of post-it notes. Seriously, who needs a $50 block of post-it notes?? We peer through the crockery at Cmdr Hadfield. He was once so far, up on the International Space Station, and now he’s SO CLOSE!!

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6:19 pm As we make our final approach, I try to think of witty, engaging things to say to a man I so deeply admire. I consider various inscriptions I will request. I dicker with my camera settings, and all I can think of is “Don’t blow the photo. Seriously, do NOT blow this photo.”

6:28 pm At last, we are meeting Cmdr Hadfield. He shakes hands with the boys, scrawls his name on the book, and smiles at me. I say, with the wisdom of the lifelong wordsmith, “Wow, it is so great to meet you. Thank you, for – well, everything!” I’m sure I made a memorable impact on him with that, yes?

7:32 pm Back at home, after we walking the dog and taking a brief and unenthusiastic stab at a few of the things we should have been doing instead of stalking an astronaut in Costco, I tweet a copy of this photo to Tristan’s teacher, telling her he had a pretty good excuse for not doing his homework tonight. She agrees!

Worth every minute!!

Astronaut in aisle 3


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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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In which she has to re-evaluate her entire parenting philosophy

26 October 2013 Ah, me boys

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 [...]

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And you thought the time she enrolled the boys in dance camp was bad…

19 August 2013 Ah, me boys

I was pleased with our choices around summer camp this year. When I was too slow to catch spots in the local city-organized camp in Manotick, I was forced to look for a camp outside the neighbourhood and came across some arts camps I thought would be of interest. Simon chose drama camp and Tristan [...]

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In which the boys launch their movie careers at the Apple Store (alternate title: more free family fun this summer!)

17 July 2013 Fun for kiddies

This is a shameless but absolutely unsponsored plug for a great summer activity for kids aged 8 to 12. It was Beloved who noticed the ad for free kids’ camp on the Apple.ca website a few weeks ago. I think it’s a bit of a stretch to call it “camp” as the sessions are only [...]

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The one with the new treehouse

14 July 2013 Ah, me boys

It was almost three years ago that we first saw this house. I joke now (in that joking sort of way that has more than a nugget of truth in it) that there was a spectacular porch that I adored, an amazing treehouse that enchanted Tristan from first sight, and oh yes, a very nice [...]

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