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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.


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.


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


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 Tristan, Age 11

by DaniGirl on March 7, 2013 · 4 comments

in Tristan

Happy Birthday, my handsome fellow. Today you are ELEVEN!!

Framed! (2 of 2)

Oh Tristan, where to start? You, my big boy, have had a very good year. You seem content and confident, and you are a joy to be around. You love movie nights and game nights with the family, caesar salad with bacon, reading, Minecraft novelty versions of pop songs, Phineas and Ferb, riding your bike, feeding the chicadees and Chinese food, among other things.

Cozumel, Mexico

You are getting SO tall – I fear this time next year you may be as tall as your old mum! You’re now at the height of my jaw, and I love how you come in to be hugged with your head tucked down so you land under my chin – but I imagine there is a day in the not too distant future when it’s me tucking my head under your chin! As long as there are still hugs, I think I will be okay with that.


You are still my explorer, my adventurer, the one who is always up for a walk or a climb or a bike ride. You are becoming the family’s athlete, and this year you played lunchtime football at school as well as running in the cross-country meet. You’d prefer to walk home from school than be driven, and I know if I am twitching for an adventure, you will be the first one to volunteer to come with me. (You’re also pretty patient with some of my crazier photography-related ideas!)

The red balloon session

You’ve fallen in with a good lot of mates at school, and I enjoy having your friends over to the house to play. You are less outgoing than your extroverted middle brother, but you are not shy either. You strike a pleasant middle ground, and the friends you do let in to your inner circle are fast and fierce. Your friends right now are Theodore and Owen and Carter and Ethan and Orion, and of course Sophie. Your ongoing friendship with her is perhaps the sweetest thing I’ve ever seen.


I couldn’t write about you at age 11 without mentioning your current obsession with the game Minecraft. I think you eat, sleep and dream about the game! Watching your ease with the game, and the technology behind it, makes me wonder if you don’t have a future in computers. To our delight, you even built a working app in school this year. You have slightly more old-fashioned career aspirations at this point, though. To my surprise and (I must admit) delight earlier this year, you announced with some conviction that when you grow up you want to be a blacksmith.

My blogger-in-training

Last year we saw a big turnaround mid-year in your attitude toward school and your behaviour in it. This year, you have really hit your stride and your grades reflect your much-improved attitude. You have been invited to test for the gifted program next year, and I think you will enjoy that if you are accepted into the program. You are curious and creative, two skills that will take you far in life. Even though you have honed your athletic side this year, your creative side continues to flourish. You still draw regularly, if not as obsessively as you used to, and you enjoy your guitar lessons with Dave.

Snowman fun

You get along well with both Simon and Lucas, which some days means you resist throttling them quite well. You melted my heart a few months ago when I found out that after your dad or I had finished reading to you and Simon at bedtime and tucked you in, you will often read aloud to Simon yourself. You are patient with Lucas as well, and we have even entrusted you with the care of your brothers for very (very!) brief interludes recently.


I enjoy your company, Tristan. I love that you are developing a sense of humour which perfectly complements your dad’s and mine. I love that we can watch movies and even read the same books (like the Hunger Games) and discuss them on an almost grown-up level. I love that I can rely on you and interact with you and share with you in a more sophisticated and grown-up way.

Feeding the chickadees

Mostly, I just love you! Happy birthday to you – and to your silly cat, with whom you are delighted to share a birthday. Happiest of birthdays, my sweet Tristan! You are very much loved.


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 anecdote. And now, I am super-proud to be able to share this: my first publishing credit on!

Click on over and enjoy my contribution to their new feature: Melt-Your-Heart Moments. I wrote about that most amazing parenting moment: watching your child’s first dance recital, first choir concert, or first halting acting performance as the third tree to the left in the school Christmas pageant.

Very timely, too (I love it when the universe is synchronific!) because just today my heart melted into a pile of proud goo at the school talent show where not one but TWO boys took to the stage. Simon and his buddies brought the house down with their dance routine to LMFAO’s Party Rock Anthem (there are not words nor photos that could do it justice), and Tristan finished off his first year of guitar lessons with a solo on stage.

talent show 2012

Could I be any prouder? I think this is as good as it gets.


Over the last decade, I’ve watched a LOT of kid TV. Most of it is to be endured rather than enjoyed, but I have to admit, when the boys are watching Phineas and Ferb, I get sucked in every time. It is by far my favourite cartoon, narrowly edging out Peep and the Big Wide World and the WonderPets. When I was recently offered the opportunity to host a giveaway of the not-yet-released DVD “Phineas and Ferb: The Perry Files” I knew I had to say yes, partly because I knew there had to be more Phineas and Ferb fans out there and (I admit it) largely because it’s Tristan’s favourite TV show, too.

Don’t take my word for it, though; let Tristan tell you about it himself! Without further ado or even (oy, this part was hard) correction of the original typos, here is Tristan on what is Phineas and Ferb and why it’s a great show:

What is Phineas and Ferb? Phineas and ferb is a tv show that has two boys named phineas and ferb and they’re sister Candace .Phineas and Ferb are always building crazy contraptions. They’re sister is always trying to bust them for it. Phineas and Ferb have three friends Isabella, Buford, and Baljeet. They’re friends help them in construction and testing their contraptions.

Perry the platypus and Dr.Doofenshmirts. Perry the platypus is Phineas’ and Ferb’s pet . Dr.Doof is always inventing machines to take over the tri state area. All of Dr.Doof’s inventions all end in the word “inator”. Perry the platypus is always destroying Dr.Doof’s “inators”. Parts of Dr.Doof’s inventions always falling in to Phineas’ and Ferb’s yard and making their inventions disappear .

Phineas and Ferb is a good television show. It is a good show because it is good for just about all ages even adults like it. It has good humor and it is good for creative people. It is also a good show because it has a song to each episode that is funky and fun to listen to. It is so strange how when ever Candace brings their mom home Phineas’ and Ferb’s inventions disappear . It gives the show a little bit of mystery .

(My little blogger-in-training. I’m so proud! You can’t quite see it in the photo, but by clever planning on my part absolute fluke he’s even wearing his Perry the Platypus T-shirt.)

My blogger-in-training

So, whether you’re already a member of the P&F fan club or your curiousity is piqued by Tristan’s review, here’s your chance to win one of three copies of the about-to-be-released DVD, “Phineas and Ferb: The Perry Files!” From the publicist:

While Phineas and Ferb do it all to make every day the best day ever, evil lurks just around the corner! But there is hope for the unsuspecting citizens of Danville. Now, for the very first time, crack open the top-secret archives of O.W.C.A. (Organization Without a Cool Acronym) to expose… THE PERRY FILES!

Join Perry the Platypus–a.k.a. Agent P.–on his most exciting adventures as he thwarts his nemesis, Dr. Doofenshmirtz, at every turn. With groovy gadgets, mad skills and his trademark brown fedora, this semi-aquatic, egg-layin’ mammal of action is unstoppable! Experience the hilarious havoc as he defends the Tristate Area against Doof’s “inators,” battles rogue agent “Dennis the Bunny,” and much more. When it comes to secret agents, Perry’s not only the real deal, he’s real teal!

Fun, eh? Here’s the details:

  1. This giveaway is for a DVD of Phineas and Ferb: The Perry Files.
  2. Three winners will be chosen from all entries using the random number generator at
  3. To enter, simply leave a comment on this post telling Tristan your favourite show from when you were a kid.
  4. The giveaway starts today, Monday June 4, and ends at noon EDT on Friday June 8, 2012.
  5. This giveaway is open to residents of Canada, with the exception of those residing in the province of Quebec (sorry!)
  6. If you win, you must be willing to supply your full name and mailing address to me, and I will share it with the publicist for Walt Disney Canada, who will mail the DVD to you directly.

Thanks to Walt Disney Canada and especially Tristan for making this blog post and giveaway possible!

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A love letter to Tristan, age 10

by DaniGirl on March 7, 2012 · 5 comments

in Tristan

My darling Tristan, you are TEN years old today! A whole decade! You’re up to my shoulder now, my tall son, and your feet are the same size as mine. Won’t be long now and I’ll be looking up to you even when your feet are on the ground!

Backyard fun (3 of 6)

Tristan, you still have boundless energy and a good appetite for adventure. You like to climb things, to leap off things, to balance on things. You like to wander and explore with me (and I’m delighted to admit, you seem to share my sense of humour!) You’re a great companion, and I enjoy chatting with you as we walk. I was very impressed early in the spring last year when you committed to training for your first 5K run, and I was especially proud when you persevered through bucketloads of cold rain to finish the run.

142:365 Goode Run (1 of 6)

One of the definite highlights of your year was the arrival of Willie the Cat. Maybe it’s because you share a birthday (Happy Birthday Willie!) or because you’re just a cat person at heart, but there is no doubt there is a special bond between you and that cat. And perhaps even more endearing, it’s clear the cat feels the same way. I’m pretty sure he thinks you’re a tall, hairless, funny-looking litter mate. (In sorting through my pictures from the year for this post, I laughed at the fact that nearly if not more than half of my pictures of you for the year also feature the cat somehow.)

177:365 Hello kitty

It’s great to know I can count on you to help around the house without too much complaint, even if I have to micromanage you, and you’re clearly comfortable taking on more responsibility in the family with tasks like feeding the pets and small household jobs. You also learned to play chess this year, and started taking guitar lessons. You seem to be enjoying your lessons quite a bit, even if you don’t practice nearly as much as you should. You can play a few songs now, and I enjoy hearing you practice.

361:365 Guitar player redux

You still love video games, of course. You like to play Club Penguin on the computer and Skylanders on the Wii and DS. You still like Super Mario Bros and Pokemon. Your favourite shows are Phinias and Ferb and Hello Charlie, and you and Simon like to watch tween shows like Witches of Waverly. I love how you comfortably stand between the childhood that is nearly behind you and the teen years ahead with an easy comfort in both worlds.

140:365 On the carousel

Your best friend is clearly Simon, though you might never admit it. You two are partners in crime, joined at the hip — often literally. I love how the two of you flop together like puppies in a litter, and how you make each other laugh. Outside of the house, your best friends are Theodore and Sophie, and even though Sophie moved across town last year you’ve stayed in touch through letters and weekend playdates.

Uno Boys

You are extremely patient (most of the time) with Lucas, who is more like you that you realize or would care to admit. This photo was one of my favourite memories of the year, when you asked out of the blue if you could read to Lucas at bedtime.

Big brother reading

You’ve done well at school this year, better in the second half of the year than the first. I think it took you a while to find your groove in your first year of French immersion and while your grades have been good, you needed a bit of an attitude adjustment in the first semester, which your latest report card reflects you’ve clearly done. Just last week, I eavesdropped on a conversation you and your Dad were having about what you wanted to be when you grow up. You said you’d like to be an artist, because it would be fun to draw pictures and make paintings all day. It’s no surprise to me that you’d consider a career in the arts, because you draw and doodle so relentlessly that your teacher gave you a special doodle pad to keep you from filling your desk with endless bits of scrap paper. You have special permission to use it only when you’ve finished your in-class work.

333:365 Homework is boring

This is the year when you’ve clearly come to love reading as well. I’m charmed that each night after either your Dad or I read to you and Simon that Simon falls instantly asleep and you lay quietly in your bed reading to yourself. Lately you’ve consumed Bone books and Calvin and Hobbes cartoons and Diary of a Wimpy Kid books, among others. I like the quiet conversations we have when I come down each night to turn off your light and tuck you in.

Hey look Willie, mom got a new iPhone!

Tristan, you’re warm, sweet, smart, energetic and artistic, and I genuinely enjoy your company immensely (when you aren’t fidgeting madly or making the weird, random, repetitive noises that boys your age seem incapable of repressing!) Your quirks make you even more endearing to me, and it’s a genuine joy to have you as my son. Happy birthday, my darling Tristan! I wish you a year filled with joy and delight. :)


Tristan’s race

16 May 2011 Tristan

A couple of weeks ago, Tristan came home with a permission slip for the running club at school. It said they were preparing for a 5K race in Osgoode, and the kids would be working their way up to the 5k during lunch hours over the next few weeks. Tristan loves to run, and I [...]

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118:365 Laces

22 April 2011 Photography

118:365 Laces, a photo by Dani_Girl on Flickr. (I’d originally posted this on Flickr, but by the time I was finished writing it, it sounded suspiciously like a blog post!) Via Flickr: My oldest is not good with change but even I was surprised by the depth of his aversion to even the most rudimentary [...]

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A love letter to Tristan, Age 9

7 March 2011 Tristan

My dear, sweet Tristan, Today you are nine years old – the last year of single digits! You, my eldest son, have had quite the year. I feel like I’ve gotten to know you much better as a person this year. I have seen bits of you that foreshadow the teenager you will soon be, [...]

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A love letter to Tristan, Age 8

7 March 2010 Tristan

My sweet baby Tristan, You are eight years old! No longer a “little” boy, but a boy to your core. How could I call you “little” when I can rest my chin on the top of your head? Not so long now, my son, and we’ll be seeing eye-to-eye literally as well as philosophically — [...]

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