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!


A love letter to Simon, age 11

by DaniGirl on February 1, 2015 · 1 comment

in 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 Simon Sunday!

March Break on the Rideau Canal

Simon, you are funny, smart, argumentative, opinionated, thoughtful and goodhearted. You are the first one to notice when someone needs a hug, and the first one to notice a new haircut or a piece of rearranged furniture. In a household of daydreamers, you are the one with both feet rooted in reality who pays attention to life’s little details. Your attention to detail means you are the one I ask to help me remember things. You’re also the one who knows all the gossip, in our community and in the wider entertainment world. “Simon, who sings this song?” “Simon, who’s the girl who’s in that movie with the guy and the thing?” “Hey Simon, who’s that tall guy over there with the blue shirt?” If anybody knows, it will be Simon.

National We Day in Ottawa 2014

We had a fun year together, Simon! You enjoy our family adventures, even if it takes a bit of cajoling to get you away from the computer screen. You like to know things: where are we going, how long will it take to get there, is it the place we went last time or the time before that? Oy, the questions you ask – you do keep me on my toes. Your love of knowledge shows in your grades though – you continue to do well in all your subjects, but you say your hands-down favourite subject is math. (Yay!)

Apple picking 2014 1

You may be eleven, but you’ve been a teenager for years. You’re the one who pushes the boundaries of my comfort zone with your online explorations. You love Instagram and Minecraft and YouTube – especially when you can stack them up by posting Instagrams of screen caps of Minecraft games being played on YouTube. You’re often at the centre of a massive online Minecraft skype playdate. You like things offline too, although you’d play online eight hours a day left to your own devices. You still like to play board games like Uno and Apples to Apples, and this year we’ve started playing Dungeons and Dragons, too.

Easter eggs 2014

You are also interested in food and cooking, and love to watch the Food Network. You know more about cooking techniques at eleven than I did at 35! You like to help make dinner and have even made a few meals on your own. I look forward to seeing your culinary talents develop along with your palate, and I’m delighted to see that vegetables are no longer your enemy. You are still not much of a sports guy, but you do love your new brazuca soccer ball, and you embraced skating, skiing, floor hockey, swimming and biking this year to varying extents.

Father's Day in Perth

You have a tight gang of friends, and I’m always happy to see how loved and respected you are. Your buddies include Mason, Dylan, Ben, Jacob and Nathan, among others. Your easy and friendly nature seem to make it easy for you to see almost everyone you meet as a potential friend – I love that about you. In addition to Minecraft and Nintendo games, you also love pop culture and reading. It’s you who got me reading the Divergent series this year, and you continue to influence my iTunes playlists. You have a strong streak of romanticism in you, as well. I think you have loved discovering exploring the world of Anne of Green Gables this year as much as I have, and when I thought your attention may have waned in the sea of characters and details, you have surprised and impressed me in how much you relate to the story written a hundred years before you were born.

Souris and Basin Head PEI

You’ve got a finely tuned sense of responsibility as well. You remember permission slips, homework assignments and obligations with little prodding from me. When you decided you wanted a tablet of your own and it wasn’t something we could afford as a gift, you simply started saving up for one. I’m very proud of your determination and discipline!

Christmas tree quest 2014-10

Simon, it’s not easy being the middle child, but you always manage to shine. You are witty, thoughtful, playful, warm, smart and adorable. I could go on for hours about the sheer joy you bring to our lives. I wish you every happiness on your eleventh birthday, and I can’t wait to see what amazing things your second decade has in store for you. Happy birthday, my sweet Simon. You truly are my sunshine!

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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!


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.


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!


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!


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 website a few weeks ago. I think it’s a bit of a stretch to call it “camp” as the sessions are only 90 minutes over three days, but if you are looking for an amazing free (did I mention free?!) summer activity for your preteen kids, check this out!

At Apple Camp, kids ages 8-12 learn how to shoot their own footage, create an original song in GarageBand on an iPad, and put it all together in iMovie on a Mac. This free workshop, held at Apple Retail Stores, spans three days and ends with campers debuting their masterpieces at the Apple Camp Film Festival.

Tristan and Simon attended the one in the Rideau Centre this past week and they had a blast. I was highly impressed with both the idea and the execution. (Those Apple people are pretty clever – offer free and excellent workshops for kids, using Apple products natch, and require the parents to remain onsite throughout the workshop. But they were content to let me work away on my Blackberry and iPhone and stack of paperwork I’d brought along while the kids attended the camp.)

The kids learned to conceptualize and lay out a storyboard, and then use the Garage Band app to lay out a soundtrack. They were on their own to film up to a minute of footage overnight, and then they used iMovie to put it all together during the second session. (The third session, a “film festival” of all participants, is this Saturday, and we’re just skipping that part.)

They didn’t need to bring any equipment of their own, although they both brought their own iPods and used them to capture the raw footage. You don’t need any Apple devices to attend the workshop, but be prepared to covet one if you don’t have one. We had iMovie for the iPods already (annoyingly not the same as the iPad version Tristan had used with a friend to make movie trailers a few weeks ago) and although I have Garage Band for my Macbook it is apparently not the same Garage Band as the one for the iPad. (Which we had to download because it is a wicked cool app, so we were in for $5 by the time the dust settled.) That’s my only complaint about the whole process – the difference in apps across devices confused the heck out of me. But that’s an Apple problem, not a workshop problem.

The toughest part was actually coming up with the concept. (Isn’t it always?) The final footage bore little to no resemblance to the storyboards, and the soundtrack Simon created on day one was with an action movie in mind, although his final product was a commercial. (More about the product featured in his commercial in my next post – and stand by for an awesome giveaway!)

Curious? Here’s the final cut!

First up, Agent Meow: score, direction, inspiration, filming and editing done by Tristan with props (and apologies) to Henry Mancini:

And this is Simon’s masterpiece, featuring the Zoku shake and slushie maker from Mastermind Toys (watch for a blogger cameo!):

Not bad for a couple of hours, eh? I think they did a great job and I know they had a great time. In addition to the experience, they got free t-shirts, USB wrist bands and iron-on patches. For FREE! Mad props to the Apple store for this program.

It looks like they’re offering more workshops at the Rideau Centre and Bayshore Apple stores the last week of July – check with for a location and date near you!

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A love letter to Simon, Age 9

by DaniGirl on February 1, 2013 · 11 comments

in Simon

My darling Simon, you are NINE years old today. You are my joker, my sweetheart, my comedian and my flirt. You are a natural charmer; you love people and they love you back. I have had more than one mom tell me in the last year that her little girl is head over heels with a crush on you, Mr Adorable.

Gloucester fair-2

This has been a great year for you, my Simon. You’ve shown that school comes easily for you, and you seem to do well in most of your classes. To my surprise, your best subject seems to be French. I did not see that one coming! Your teachers speak of you with affection, and I can see your classmates feel the same way. You zip through your homework quickly and without me even having to ask you, and your grades are enough to make any parent proud.

Leafy fun-4

Simon, you have a quick wit and you love to make people laugh. You are warmhearted and considerate and when you see someone is upset, you are quick to try to help with words or deeds. You like to help, to participate, and to please people. It’s easy to see why you have so many friends.


You have a surprisingly sophisticated sense of humour for a nine year old boy, and you play along with grown-up inside jokes as easily as you crack potty jokes and play fart humour. You have a teenager’s appreciation of pop culture, and if I need to know who the latest and greatest band is or who is that person everyone is talking about, I can come to you. It was YOU who introduced ME to LMFAO and Carly Rae Jepson and One Direction. I’m not sure if I feel older or younger because of it!

Cozumel, Mexico

You do love music, though. You took up piano lessons this year and to my delight you have really taken to them, whizzing through your first study book. I smile when I hear you randomly stop to pick out a tune on the keyboard, not because it’s practice time but because you simply enjoy playing. Your current favourite is Ode to Joy and you can play it from memory. I love that you have chosen to love the song that your dad and I walked down the aisle to many years ago!

Simon in the dandelions

You also continue to love video games. This year started with a Club Penguin obsession, but you have since migrated to a deep adoration of Minecraft. You also love to play Just Dance 4 on the Wii U, yet another way you drag your old mum’s muscial tastes forward from the 1990s. (Although truth be told, the Time Warp is my favourite track on that game!)


If you have an Achilles Heel, my sweet Simon, it’s that you can be snappish and cranky, especially with your brothers. We’ve taken to uttering the single word “Tone!” to remind you to speak with kindness whenever possible. I have marvelled aloud many times that it surprises me that one child can be so utterly charming, so kind and sweet and considerate of others, so empathetic and thoughtful – and so absolutely intolerant of his brothers in the same breath. Ah well, it is the nature of siblings, I suppose. Of course, they are clearly your best friends as well as your worst enemy, to which the many nighttime giggles emanating from your bedrooms attest.


Your friends this year are Mason and Alexa and Dylan and Alex and Grace. This weekend, we’re having a simple party at home with a few friends, as you and your big brother were earlier given a choice: a big party and a little present, or a little party and a big gift. When you heard the gift I had in mind was your very own iPod Touch, there was no question in either of your minds which option to choose. (And then I got them for half price after the holidays and we were all delighted!)


Simon, you are growing into a wonderful young fellow. Cheeky and wise beyond your years, sociable and outgoing, funny and attuned to those around you, it’s always a delight to have you around. Except when you’re cranky. But you’re so otherwise lovely, it’s easy to forgive you those times, too.

richmond fair-5

Happy birthday, my Simon. I’m proud to be your mom.


Great moments in parenting – the birthday party fail edition

30 January 2013 Lucas

I thought I had it all under control. Clearly, I did not. Poor Lucas, poster boy for the third child, has reached the ripe old age of five and has never had a birthday party. Knowing this, we started making plans to ensure he actually got one this year in December, even though his birthday […]

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26 June 2012 How I love the Interwebs

When I started this blog a million years ago, one of the dreams I held was that I might some day have my writing published in a major glossy magazine. My storytelling focus has wandered from my keyboard to my camera over the years, but I have never lost my love of telling a good […]

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The wisdom of Simon

18 March 2012 Simon

Simon and I in the car, chatting amiably as we drive back from buying new school shoes for Simon, when a propos of nothing he says, “You know, you’re really lucky to have such a smart dad.” The non-sequitor throws me for a loop and I’m quiet for a minute, wondering where this is coming […]

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A love letter to Simon, age 8

1 February 2012 Simon

My dear, darling Simon, You, my middlest boy, are eight years old today. Of course, in your own mind you’ve been eight years old for at least as long as your older brother was that age. You may be the only eight year old boy I know who is dipping his toes in the ‘tween […]

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