Ah, me boys

Oops! I accidentally saved this as draft and then wondered why it didn’t post!

Here’s my wee babies, all grown up on the first day of Grade 2, Grade 6 and Grade 8.

First day of school

Handsome devils, eh? They get that from their father. :)

So far, the year is off to a good start. Crazy to think that next year, I’ll have one in elementary school, one in middle school and one in (gasp!) high school!


Sigh. I like autumn with it’s new faces and new schedules and new friends, but I’m always sad when summer ends.

End of summer jump

Happy end of summer, y’all!


Flashback faves: Back to school

by DaniGirl on September 5, 2015 · 0 comments

in Ah, me boys

Found this in the archives, published on this day back in 2007: Tristan starting SK and Simon in preschool. Where HAS the time gone? They’re starting grades 6 and 8 next week!

Last night was “meet the teacher” night at Simon’s nursery school. They had an open house, and everyone was invited to drop in, play with the toys, and say hello to the teachers.

Simon was beside himself with delight. His very own big-boy school! The funny part was how excited Tristan was on Simon’s behalf. You can see he delights in his role as the older brother, advising his brother on classroom etiquette (“you have to be quiet during circle time”) and protocol (“this is your cubby, and you keep your coat in here”) … even though Tristan himself never went to preschool.

I had one of those rare and satisfying moments of parental validation as we were getting ready to leave. Simon said he wanted to say good-bye to each of his teachers. The first remembered that Simon had asked about playdough, and promised him it would be there the next day when he came back, leaving him beaming with anticipation. The second one dropped immediately to his eye level when she saw he wanted to speak to her, and took his hand as he said a rather affectionate good-bye. Despite the busyness around her, 100% of her attention seemed focused on Simon’s simple message, and I could see him radiating in the warmth of her attention. The cost, the logistical nightmare of having them both scheduled to start and end at the same time five kilometers apart, the arduous search to find a caregiver who was willing and able to deal with it — all of it was validated in that small but lovely-to-watch two-minute exchange. I made the right decision!! Yay me!


Speaking of the nanny, did I mention I love her? LOVE her. We’re so, so lucky, and she was so worth waiting for. I love her, Beloved loves her, but best of all, the boys love her. And how do we demonstrate that love? By giving her a heart attack the first day she has to pick up Tristan from school.

The vagaries of Beloved’s schedule have him picking up the boys after school on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, so it wasn’t until last Thursday that the nanny had to meet Tristan after school for the first time. I’m not sure whether she went to the wrong door, or whether they just missed each other in the crowd, but for whatever reason, Tristan didn’t see her as soon as he came out the door. So he took a beat, probably not as many as two, and did what was to his mind the perfectly logical thing.

He walked home.

By himself.

Leaving the poor, sweet nanny to have several panic attacks, a couple of heart attacks, and a long conversation in her head about what exactly she would say to me when she called to explain that she had lost my son on his third day of school.

All’s well that ends well. You can actually see our house from the school yard, and after a few false starts, the nanny spied Tristan’s blond head bobbing happily along in the sea of escaping students making their way down the sidewalk. As she related the story to me less than an hour later, I could still see the residual panic in the whites of her eyes, and it was hard not to laugh.

For his part, Tristan was mildly perplexed by the whole incident. “I know the way, Mom,” he said with an exasperation that belied his years. “I’m a big boy now.” I couldn’t bring myself to scold him, but I did reinforce the nanny’s idea that the very next day they were going to go to the school and pick a meeting spot, and that Tristan was NEVER, EVER to leave without her again.

It’s a good thing there’s another baby on the way, because suddenly my babies are all grown up…

I didn’t have any back to school pictures of them from September 2007, but here they are later that autumn.

Pumpkin day

Tristan still talks about walking home by himself that day, and still doesn’t see what the big deal was. :)


The boardwalk at the Chapman Mills conservation area near Barrhaven has always been one of our favourite places for a wander on a summer day. I have dozens of photos of the boys on the boardwalk going back to when we had Katie and before Lucas was even in the picture, so to speak. When I’m going places that we’ve been many times before, I find taking along a different lens lets me see things in a new light, and yesterday felt like a fish-eye kind of day.

Chapman Mills walk-5

Chapman Mills walk-4

Awesome tree, right? This one and the one below were amazing.

Chapman Mills walk-3

(Sigh, not a toddler any more.)

Chapman Mills walk-2

Chapman Mills walk

That last one is the inverted reflection in the water. I wasn’t actually thinking about cropping it and flipping it like that when I took it, but I liked it after I played with it.

Anybody want to go for portraits down at Chapman Mills? My models were patient enough, but I had way more more ideas than they had patience. Sometimes I wonder what their future selves will think of these childhood family adventures where my camera is like the fourth needy child. To their credit, though, they are generally patient with the obsessive picture-taking. So far. 😉

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Although we’d had a loose idea of what we planned to do pretty much every day of our epic PEI trip, we awoke the morning of the final day with no clear plan. We chatted as a family to make sure we’d done just about everything we’d wanted to do, and discussed how we wanted to invest our last precious hours. The forecast was rather grim, with grey skies and thunderstorms pending in the afternoon. The boys wanted to visit a Cows store for ice cream and souvenir t-shirts, and I wanted MOAR BEACH. The choice was clear: Cavendish!

The boys got their t-shirts and stuffies and browsed the kitschy shops on the boardwalk, and I looked speculatively at the heavy grey clouds, which seemed to want to disappate. We debated various beach options: Cavendish is right there, and we had not yet visited it on this year’s trip. Basin Head, our hands-down favourite, was a good hour and a half away. Brackley? Greenwich? Nope. As occasional peeks of sun broke through the clouds, I checked the tide tables. If we leave RIGHT NOW, we should arrive at Thunder Cove well before the tide climbs high enough to cut us off from the arch and teacup yet again.

As we drove, the peeks of sunlight grew in intensity, the clouds thinned, and by the time we pulled off on Thunder Cove Road, the forecasted thunderstorms had given way to unexpectedly sunny skies. Beloved and Simon found a comfy spot to park our blanket and sandcastle building tools, while Tristan led Lucas and me down the beach the 800m or so toward the rock formations.

As we got closer, I began to suspect that we were to be thwarted yet again. The waves, considerably calmer than our last visit, were nevertheless lapping gently at the foot of the cliff we had scaled. Tristan had already scurried up and over the rocks when Lucas and I arrived, and I tried to convince Lucas to walk through the seaweed-choked water to go around the rocks that we couldn’t climb over last time. Lucas took one look at the seaweedy waves and abjectly refused. I couldn’t say that I particularly blamed him, but there was no way that I was going to have come all this way not once but twice and be kept from the rock formations yet again. I’d even checked the tide tables! I was unsuccessfully trying to convince him to hop on my back for a piggy-back ride, and simultaneously trying to discern whether there were any jellyfish or sharks or killer whales hiding in the seaweed-tossed waves, when Tristan called to us from a ledge above.

“Come up!” he called. “There’s a path!”

Right. A Tristan path and a mom path are not the same. Mom paths are wide, have directional markers, and are maintained by the province. Tristan paths have scree, toe-holds and vertical drops. Regardless, turning back was not an option (oh you stubborn woman!) and the waterward option was less than palatable. Up we went to inspect Tristan’s path.

We started off where we ended our adventure last time, on a ledge that wraps around the edge of the cliff but becomes narrow, scree-filled and entirely inappropriate for seven year olds and those on the eve of their 46th birthday.

Revisiting Thunder Cove, PEI

I scowled and began to protest, but Tristan said, “No, look, we can go up and over.”

Oh good, higher is the direction I wanted to go. Not. But up we went, and to his credit there was a path, an actual path for humans and not just billy-goat kids, through the marran grass.

Revisiting Thunder Cove, PEI

What goes up must come down. Tristan skipped down, Lucas scootched down, and I eased down, one tentative, baretoed step at a time. Tristan coached me on each step.

Revisiting Thunder Cove, PEI

And then – success!

Revisiting Thunder Cove, PEI

We made it to, and through, the arch, and on to the teacup.

Revisiting Thunder Cove, PEI

Revisiting Thunder Cove, PEI

My trophy photo. In two weeks of grey skies, I love that we a beautiful blue backdrop for this one!

Revisiting Thunder Cove, PEI

And then, back up and over we went, some of us more quickly than (ahem) others.

Revisiting Thunder Cove, PEI

For Tristan, the final descent back to the beach was as easy as one big leap.

Revisiting Thunder Cove, PEI

Then he climbed halfway back up to hold my camera for me while I scootched and slid and picked my way down one careful step at a time. Lucas was half way down the beach by the time I got down.

Revisiting Thunder Cove, PEI

And look at that sky, that cloudless perfect blue sky. One could weep for all those grey cool days, but instead, we celebrated the sun by playing in the waves.

Revisiting Thunder Cove, PEI

Revisiting Thunder Cove, PEI

And so the tide begins to turn on my relationship with Tristan. I never would have made it up and over those sandstone cliffs if he hadn’t been there. It was partly sheer stubbornness (if he can do it, I can do it!) and partly his genuine conviction that of course we could get over the other side that motivated me. I see a sea change here, and I’m not sure if I’m ready for it. But at the same time, I wouldn’t trade it for the world. Is there anything better than an adventure and exploring on a sunny summer day? Of course there is – when you share it with a friend!

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We’d been at the ceilidh for about 10 minutes when I leaned forward and whispered in Beloved’s ear: “Okay, so maybe not ALL my ideas are good ones.”

A ceilidh, pronounced “kay-lee”, is part dance, part social gathering, part kitchen party, and PEI takes its ceilidhs seriously. On any given night during the tourist season, you can choose from up to seven or eight different ceilidhs on different parts the Island. Being part Scottish myself, and loving east coast music, attending a ceilidh was high on my list of things I wanted to do during our time on PEI.

I was expecting an evening of sing-along Irish folk music, maybe a little Stan Rogers, a sea shanty or two, some fiddle music and a grand call of “Sociable!” In other words, what we’d come to love at a night out at a pub like the Heart and Crown. Maybe there are ceilidhs like that on the Island, but the one we stumbled into was an entirely different kettle of lobster.

While I’d understood them to be family affairs, I asked anyway at the table set up at the entrance whether kids were welcome. The lovely white-haired ladies at the table clucked and cooed over the boys and said there would be no charge for Simon nor Lucas, but they did charge the adult’s admission fee of $4 for tall Tristan. We entered the darkened hall and I had my first inkling that maybe this wasn’t the show for tourists that I had anticipated. We had arrived just as the musicians were getting ready to play, and the hall was full enough that we had trouble finding folding chairs enough for all of us. I could spot maybe two other obvious tourist families (the hoodies and shorts were a dead giveaway), and the rest of the hall appeared to be filled with locals, not a one of them younger than 65. As we sat and waited for the music to start, discussions flowed around us about who was spotted speaking to whom and whose house needed a little paint on the porch and who was looking a little tired tonight and oh my goodness but did you see Debbie wearing that red blouse, she knows she can’t pull off red, what in tarnation was she thinking?

And then the music started. Well, it was mostly music. The fiddle made occasional and unfortunate screeches of a most unmusical nature. I like to think I have a fairly broad, if not eclectic, knowledge of many genres of music, but there was not a single song that I recognized. I can assure you that they were not something that Alan Doyle will be covering on Great Big Sea’s next album, of that I am sure. The best approximation I could offer would be early Pasty Cline mixed with the very whiniest type of “my tractor’s got a flat and my dog died and my wife ran off with my uncle Joe” western twang. After a few songs, new musicians would take the stage and clearly the evening was part dance and part talent show, 50 years after grade school ended.

And didn’t the dance floor just fill up with all those grey-haired locals? Couples danced, women without menfolk danced with each other, and each song they switched partners. Beloved nailed it when he called it a box social at the senior’s home. It was equal parts weird and delightful, and I couldn’t help smiling at how much everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves. Everyone except the boys, that is. While I can certainly appreciate the joy of the dancers on their social outing of the week, you can surely appreciate the torture that the evening wrought on their teenage souls. To their credit, they clapped politely after each song, but I could see plainly on their faces that they’d rather be trapped in the car through endless hours of New Brunswick highway than endure two hours of sitting through this. That’s the point at which I leaned over, laughing, and whispered in Beloved’s ear, “Okay, so maybe not ALL my ideas are good ones.” I think Lucas was actively sliding off his chair onto the floor as I said it.

I should mention here that I have serious dance anxiety. I have never enjoyed dancing. I’m naturally clumsy, and have no sense of rhythm whatsoever, and while I am incapable of ceding the lead to my partner I am not a strong enough dancer to lead. Beloved, on the other hand, is a wonderful dancer, which makes me feel even more clumsy and wooden and anxious. Watching the dancing couples filled me with joy, though, and I knew it was up to me to make the best of what I already thought was a rather delightful memory in the making. I asked Beloved to dance, and I managed not to break any of his toes in the process. More importantly, though, the boys watched us with interest. Another song passed, and when I asked Tristan if he would like to dance, he blushed and hesitated long enough that Simon jumped in for his opportunity. And then this happened.

At the ceilidh

At the ceilidh-2

At the ceilidh-3

And then Simon wanted to dance again, and Lucas wanted to dance again, and the other families were dancing, and some of the local men asked the young daughters of the tourist families to dance, and it was the sweetest, most charming evening. There was one fellow in particular who looked alarmingly like Mike Duffy to me, and he was having the time of his life. He jigged and stepped and kept his handkerchief in his pants pocket to wipe the sweat pouring from his bald brow as he danced with every lady in the room. He was adorable, and I harboured a deep fear that he’d make is way around to asking me to dance by the time the night was through – thankfully, for the sake of his toes and mine, he did not.

Just as we were getting ready to leave, the floor cleared for a square dance of sorts. It was really a bit of a disaster of couples, and every turn seemed to leave someone standing awkwardly out of place, and people bumped into each other and there were really only two or three folks who seemed to have any idea of their way through the chaos. One fellow in particular, I’m going to conservatively put him at 80 years old, seemed to know what he was doing and I so enjoyed watching him that when we happened to bump into him on our way out, I had to let him know how much I enjoyed watching him dance. His brogue was so thick that I could make out only about half of what he said, but the gist of it was, “I used to teach square dancing but there’s only so much one man can do. I can’t teach the whole bloody floor!” The disgust in his voice was priceless and worth the price of admission alone.

As we made our way out, several of the locals stopped us to wish us a good evening, or to tell us to stay. “We’re about to put out the lunch, you can’t leave now!” Lunch, at 9:30 pm, was being laid out as we left, and of course it comprised sandwiches on white bread, cut into triangles. While we didn’t stay for lunch, we were charmed by the kind words from the locals, complimenting the boys on the dancing and speaking to us as if we showed up every week and would be back the next week for more.

So while not all my ideas are good ones, some of them turn out for the best despite my intentions. Our ceilidh adventure was nothing close to what I’d expected, but I’m willing to bet the boys will never forget it.


I listened to you and let Lucas play keeper. You won’t believe what happened next!

7 July 2015 Lucas

Remember a few weeks ago when I asked you if I was crazy for not wanting my sweet little baby boy to play keeper for his soccer team? And to a one, you told me yes, I was being crazy, and to get over myself and let the child play keeper, for the love of […]

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Photo of the day: First and last days of school

25 June 2015 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! They’re growing up WAY too fast! Simon in the bottom photo is the […]

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Photo of the day: Tristan’s big race

12 June 2015 Photo of the Day

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 – […]

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Simon’s piano recital

2 June 2015 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 […]

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