From the category archives:

Ah, me boys

About a week or two into the World Cup, Simon came home asking for a soccer ball called a Brazuca. He and his friends played World Cup soccer each day at recess, rotating who would be each country, and he wanted to play at home, too. My suggestion that he play with one of the 47 other types of ball we have stashed around the house was met with disdain. He really, really wanted a Brazuca.

I had put it on the vague to-do list that always runs in the back of my mind. If the boy wanted to play soccer, and buying him a soccer ball got him outside and moving more, I figured an official ball was a small price to pay. Imagine my delight, then, when that very week my contact through the Rogers Mobile Ambassador program mentioned she had a few official Sony World Cup soccer balls to share – did anyone want one? I think I may have replied in all-caps, I was so excited. Me me me me me, please!

It arrived when we were in PEI, but the boys have made good use of it ever since.

World cup fever

Simon loves it, and has called his school mates several times this week to see who wants to play soccer up at the school. Thank you Rogers and Sony for making me the coolest mom on the block – for this week, at least!


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It’s the end of an era. Sniff sniff. The last year all three boys will be in the same school together.

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

Sigh. Tomorrow I’ll be happy for summer. Today, I’m feeling sort of blue, thinking that sometimes time runs a little too quickly…


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Tristan’s grade school graduation

by DaniGirl on June 21, 2014 · 1 comment

in Tristan

Remember this? Tristan’s first day of school. Doesn’t it seem like it was just last week?

And then yesterday, this happened: Grade 6 graduation.

Grade 6 graduation

It was the most lovely day. The school thoughtfully thought to include as many younger siblings in day as possible, so Simon was asked to be an altar server during the mass. The lovely teachers wrote a few personal thoughts about every single graduating child to share as they received their diplomas, and every time I managed to stop the tears that were freely running down my cheeks, one of the teachers on stage would start crying and set me off anew. It was truly a lovely, memorable affair.

When I was looking for Tristan’s first day of school photo for this post, I laughed out loud when came across the blog post I wrote on his first day of school back in 2006. I wrote:

Tristan occasionally tends toward the stoic, and when I peppered him with questions about his day, he answered my excitement with a casualness bordering on blase.

Did you have fun? Yep.
Was the teacher nice? Yep.
Did you play with the other kids? Uh huh.
What did you do? Oh, you know. A craft. I made a school bus.

A school bus. He made a school bus. My son, the artist.

My son, the artist indeed. Guess who won the Creative Arts Award for his graduating class?

Grade 6 grad

My son, the artist AND the graduate. You read it here first. :)


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Easter eggs 2014

by DaniGirl on April 18, 2014 · 2 comments

in Ah, me boys,Photography

Beloved asked me, as I was mixing the dye for the eggs with the water and vinegar, if I’d still be taking photos of the boys colouring Easter eggs when they were in their twenties.

Easter eggs 2014

Easter eggs 2014

Easter eggs 2014

Easter eggs 2014

Easter eggs 2014

Of course, I replied. That’s the point.


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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.

IMG_3769

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

8 February 2014 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 [...]

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A love letter to Simon, age 10

1 February 2014 Simon

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

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Astronaut in Aisle 3

3 December 2013 Ah, me boys

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 [...]

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Wordless Wednesday: Snow(man) Day!

28 November 2013 Ah, me boys
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