From the category archives:

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.

header history collage

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 I couldn’t have on Friday when I had to have takeout. Did I thank you for that yet?

So we had these terrific friends of ours over, and they brought their baby daughter. Okay, I can see it’s going to take me forever to tell this story, because I already have to correct myself again. What really happened is, we really really wanted to see, hold, cuddle, play with and otherwise fawn over their beautiful two-month-old baby daughter, and since she isn’t getting out much without a chaperone these days, we had to invite them along for the ride.

So anyway, they all three come over for cuddles and fawning and some dinner on the side. They are there exactly long enough for me to serve them each a drink when J (aka the guest who might not want to be named on the Internet) caught Simon with his hand submersed up to his wrist in J’s drink. This is the first of many times I will think throughout the evening that I am incredibly glad these are very good and patient friends of ours who genuinely love our boys and who are on the cusp of some major parenting foibles themselves. So J is pretty good about the whole thing, gets a towel and wipes off Simon’s hand and the drink spilled all over the end table and doesn’t even mention the fact that I totally didn’t offer to get him a new drink. Can you believe I only just NOW thought of that?

Now, you’d think that with the ratio of parents to children rising from 2:2 to 4:3, the odds would be improving in our favour over your average level of household mischief. Not so much. Beloved is so completely enthralled with beautiful baby girl that he forgets he even has boys, let alone that said boys are running rampant through the house. Not even 10 minutes after the Simon-as-stir-stick event, somehow Simon gets into the bathroom, closes the door behind him, and makes his way – in the pitch black, mind you – to the toilet, lifts the lid, and begins washing his pop-soaked hands in the toilet water. Beloved intercedes and washes Simon’s hands, I go back to making dinner, and within five – I’m guessing it wasn’t even three – minutes, Simon was back with his hand up to his wrist in J’s drink. God bless J, who only asked Beloved, “Are you sure you did a good job washing his hands?” And you know what? I honestly can’t remember if I got him a fresh drink even then.

So we have dinner, and it’s the usual chaos of dinner with Tristan not wanting to eat (a blog for another day) and it’s too late for Simon who passed through hungry the previous hour and had arrived at too-famished-to-do-anything-but-holler-and-throw-food, and JJ (as opposed to J) has to leave the table mid-meal to be a meal to her baby girl, and I remember the days we used to have dinner when it was just the four of us and we’d linger over dinner and dessert and conversation for hours. Or was that somebody else’s life?

You’d think having his very own baby in the house for the past 14 1/2 months would have left Tristan jaded on the concept of babies in general, but just the opposite is true. He really had no use for Simon as a baby, but he is fascinated by the new babies in our life, particularly his almost six-month old cousin Noah and beautiful baby girl. Beautiful baby girl is particularly special, however, because she is the only baby girl in any of our lives. My brother has a son, my closest friends have sons, my cousin has a son – even the day care provider has nothing but sons. So you can see why beautiful baby girl is a princess in all of our lives. On the way home in the car from our first visit to introduce beautiful baby girl to the boys, Tristan pronouced (with no prompting from us) that beautiful baby girl is his girlfriend. (pauses to let you “awwwwww” properly)

So anyway, JJ finishes feeding beautiful baby girl while we clean up the kitchen, and of course the next thing on the agenda is a diaper change. Tristan, who hasn’t really moved more than a foot away from beautiful baby girl all afternoon, is ‘helping’ and JJ is extremely patient with him. As she removes beautiful baby girl’s diaper, Tristan begins to howl with laughter, and I am mortified when he exclaims “Look at how small her penis is!”

Needless to say, we won’t be hosting too many more dinner parties this decade. We might even have to hold off until the engagement party of Tristan and beautiful baby girl…


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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 when given the choice, she will choose to lie on top of one of them rather than just about anywhere else.

Like this:

Pups in a pile

I can’t figure out what I like more, the fact that Tristan is tolerating this or the expression on Bella’s face as she looks directly into the camera that says, “What?!”


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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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This might be one of my favourite Christmas photos of the boys ever. My friend Henry on Flickr gave this one an alternate title that I also really like: we’re going to need a bigger wagon!

My Name is Donder

Fun, right? The expression on the reindeer slays me. That’s a Donder face if there ever was one.

This one almost went sideways on me right from the start. The idea was to have Bella pulling the wagon, and I was going to put some reindeer antlers on her in the style of Max the dog from the Grinch Who Stole Christmas. Except as I was getting the boys settled on the wagon, she managed to find a pile of poop in the front yard and roll in it. We don’t actually allow her to poop in the front yard, so I have some other neighbourhood dog to thank for that gift. And we were quickly losing the light, so we had to improvise.

This was the original shot:

My Name is Donder - before

I loved the expressions on their faces. The dog was a bit blurred though, and even with a few other poses to choose from, it just wasn’t working out to be what I imaged. The boys had been good sports and adorable, though, so I wanted to make it work.

I started by cloning Bella and Beloved out of the image and editing it for exposure and white balance. I found the perfect reindeer, but he was too big for the canvas, so I extended the edges of it upwards and to the right. I positioned the reindeer and tweaked him a bit so it looked like he was standing in the grass. He was already wearing the red harness, so I took Bella’s leather leash from one of the other poses I hadn’t used and painted it to match the harness, then stretched it to fit into Lucas’s hand. And I painted a bit of a shadow for the reindeer. I had to play a bit with the colour and contrast of the reindeer to look like he was actually standing in the same light as the boys, and then I tweaked it a bit more overall for the bright and contrasty look.

What do you think? It makes me chuckle when I look at it, which makes it a win in my books!


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I‘ve seen a lot of photographers using an edit that darkens the background and makes for warm, rich tones. I had my handsome model pose for a portrait so I could have a play. Here’s the final edit:

Tristan after

Here’s the image straight out of the camera:

Tristan SOOC

I think his face might still be a little too warm/yellow, now that I see it here. It’s a clean edit in raw in Lightroom, although my white balance might be a little too warm, and then a lot of layers in Photoshop – a bit of radial blur, masked off of him, and a couple of levels layers. One layer darkens the midtones in the background, one gives it that reddish golden tint, and I popped the contrast around his eyes a little bit. I need to figure out how to make his freckles pop more!

What do you think? Do you like the clean edit or the more creative edit? I always struggle to find a balance between the two. I love the creative edits, but wonder if people don’t find them too heavy handed. It’s still fun to play!

(Also? Pre-teen – SMILING FOR THE CAMERA!!! #win)


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This year represented a pretty significant milestone for us. Like so many parenting milestones, it was begat not of careful thought and extended discourse, but by poor planning, chaotic lives and the lack of any other options.

This is the year I let Tristan carve the pumpkins. Well, two of the pumpkins. I’d cut off the top and gutted them and done a rather half-arsed and pathetic job translating Lucas’s illustration on to one of the pumpkins before running out of time (and perhaps enthusiasm) so Tristan may have been willing to take on the job just so I didn’t do any more damage to other unsuspecting pumpkins who deserved a better fate.

I’d like to tell you that he used one of those blunt and kid-safe pumpkin carving kits. I’d further like to tell you I hovered him, watching carefully how he handled the sharp paring knife.

Nope. I pretty much handed him the knife, warned him he’d have to clean up the mess if he cut off a digit, and went on making dinner and overseeing homework and unloading the dishwasher and keeping Lucas from terrorizing the dog too much and all the other insanity that usually happen between five and eight pm each evening.

To his credit, Tristan did a great job, and all ten of his fingers are still attached. He started small with a tri-force on the smallest pumpkin on the left in the photo below. (A tri-force is “something created by three different goddesses who created all the world and represents power, courage and wisdom.” It’s from the video game Legend of Zelda.) With elevated confidence, he took on a more complex design for the larger pumpkin. It’s the one on the far right.

halloween

In case you’re not well-versed in the lore of the Zelda video game, you probably don’t know that’s the pattern on Link’s hylian shield. You should, however, note that the same design appears on the shield in Tristan’s costume (also hand drawn and coloured by Tristan). He’s also carrying a wooden sword we rescued from the garbage (boy after my own heart) in much the same way Arthur drew Excalibur out of the stone, except Arthur’s sword didn’t need a good sanding and a coat of paint.

I’m pretty proud of all three boys for coming up with pretty much all the elements of their own costumes this year. Simon is “the Shadow” and Lucas is Wolverine. Lucas probably had the most help, but when gluing silver-painted popsicle sticks onto gloves is as hard as you have to work on a Halloween costume, it’s a good Halloween indeed.

So maybe this thing about the kids growing up and learning to do things for themselves isn’t so bad after all. And this parenting by benign neglect thing? I should have thought of this YEARS ago! ;)

How was YOUR Halloween?


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Photo(s) of the day: Pumpkin pickers

29 October 2014 Ah, me boys

Like yesterday’s post, this photo of the day post is from the weekend. Forgive me, but I think they’re too lovely not to share. And it’s not Halloween yet, so it’s not too late, right? My babies in the pumpkin patch: Eep! When did they get so grown up? Wait, here’s one more. Can you [...]

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Photo(s) of the day: Smashing Pumpkins at the Cumberland Museum

6 October 2014 Ah, me boys

We stood in line for two hours for our turn. They ran out of hot dogs at the concession stand and I had foolishly not thought to pack any food. And yet, we all agreed – the wait was well worth it. For what? To decorate and then launch our pumpkins across a field to [...]

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Photo(s) of the day: Apple picking with three beautiful boys

5 October 2014 Ah, me boys

It was a madly busy but wonderfully photogenic September, and I’m just now starting to catch up. Back a few weeks ago, we went apple picking at one of our favourite places, the Log Cabin Orchard near Osgoode. I was delighted to capture three very different portraits of three very different boys. Each pose and [...]

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Photo of the day: Silly string

27 August 2014 Ah, me boys

Summertime shenanigans in the back yard! I’ve got mixed feelings about the end of summer, but love that I get to spend this last week of it in the sunshine with my boys.

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