July 2011

Lacks “focus” — get it? Ha, I slay me.

I’m all over the place with the 365 project this week. Kid shots, car shots, flower shots, and even the return of TtV. (Actually, these aren’t this week’s shots — I’m still a week behind. These are last week’s pictures. I swear, I will catch up to myself eventually!)

You saw this one already, as part of my photo essay on our nightly vacation porch Uno tournament. I love the light in this picture so much it makes me want to frame it! The picture, that is. Not the light. Ugh, lacks focus, right?

207:365 Uno Lucas

And speaking of Lucas — is this not the biggest dandelion you’ve ever seen?! It’s bigger than my fist! If this is how big the dandelions are now, the mosquitoes must be the size of pterodactyls!

206:365 Biggest dandelion EVER!

I drive past Jack May Pontiac on Prince of Wales every day on my way to work, and just about any other time I head toward town, and have been admiring this gorgeous green chevrolet for weeks now. Finally one morning I had to stop to admire it with my camera. I’m just glad I didn’t set off any security alarms, poking around in the lot before anybody had shown up for work! It’s a 1953 model, and the sticker price is a little less than $20K.

203:365 53 Chevy

From green to yellow: this beauty was in a vase on my mom’s kitchen table, and I didn’t notice until I had my lens practically touching it that it had a neat double bloom. I added a bit of texture to give it that grainy, gritty feel — just a little bit of extra flavour.

204:365 Yellow

I’ve been so busy working on portraiture and other camera techniques that I’ve barely taken any TtV shots lately. When I saw these daisies in bloom in the back yard, though, I thought they’d look lovely through the viewfinder of my Duaflex.

202:365 Daisies, TtV

I got an action to create faux polaroids in Photoshop from Rita’s Coffee Shop Blog a while ago, and this picture of the boys at the Long Island Locks seemed like the perfect place to use it because it has a timeless vacation snapshot feel to it. I could put it in the album beside my old of my brother and me in the late 1970s and it would fit right in!

205:365 At the locks

I was getting ready for work and noticed Willie “helping” Tristan draw (on the kitchen table. Sigh.) The backlighting from the window created a great silhouette.

201:365 Willie and Tristan drawing

As I said in the original caption, it’s hard to draw pictures of Sonic the Hedgehog when your pencil keeps getting attacked by Willie the Cat!

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I absolutely love this idea! I was recently asked by the Manotick Village and Community Association to help spread the word about a fantastic family event coming up the third week in September: they’re staging their annual Picnic in the Park, and one of the new features this year will be a soapbox derby. Is that awesome or what?

A soapbox racer (originally built from a wooden soap or orange crate and rollerskate wheels) is simply a non-motorized car that uses a slope, gravity and a big push to power it. You can build your own based on the specifications on the Manotick VCA website, or there are kits available for purchase online. Or maybe there’s one tucked away in grandpa’s shed, waiting for a little WD40 and TLC? Wouldn’t it be fun spending a few days this summer building, test-driving and decorating a soapbox racer with the family? No batteries, no wires, no video screens allowed!

Here are a few of the details:

  • registration costs $25 per racer, and you must register before August 31. However, there is a limit on number of participants, so register early to ensure you get a spot!
  • the derby will be held Sunday September 18 starting at 10:00.
  • minimum age of a driver is 7 years.
  • each racer is guaranteed four races, and you don’t have to have the same person driving for each race.
  • racers must wear a helmet with chin strap, eye protection and gloves. (The mom in me needed to get that part out there!)

And even if you don’t build and enter a racer, come on out to the Picnic in the Park in Manotick’s Centennial Park on September 18 to cheer on the racers. A picnic and an old-fashioned soapbox derby? I don’t think it gets more family-friendly than that!


More than 20 years ago when I adopted my first cat from the humane society, getting her declawed was a no-brainer. Everyone I knew who owned a cat had it done. When Beloved arrived in my life in 1995 with his two cats, they too were already declawed (the cats, that is – not Beloved.)

Now that we’re about to take Willlie in for the big snip, we have to decide whether we’re going to get him declawed at the same time. I’m having a hard time convincing myself it’s the right thing to do this time around.

Willie for the blog 2

Maybe it’s because I’ve read too much about how declawing actually involves chopping off not just the claws but the whole first part of the toe? Maybe it’s because I was so vehemently opposed to circumcising the boys that I can’t justify any sort of non-essential removal of parts? Regardless, I’m feeling a little squeamish about the whole thing.

On the other side of the equation, just this morning I’ve watched Willie climb two different window screens and the clothes in Beloved’s closet. I’ve already paid to repair one patio door and upgrade it to a high-end pet-proof screen, and will have to do the other by the end of the summer. I haven’t yet noticed any damage on the furniture from him scratching, but I’ve caught him doing it many times. He’s going to be an indoor cat, so he will never really need those claws.

What do you think? Did you / would you declaw your cats? Why or why not?


A lot of my Friday Family Fun posts have talked about ways you can enjoy summer with your kids, whether engaging them or supervising them or taking them out on adventures. But vacation is supposed to be a break for Mom and Dad, too, and sometimes kids need to learn to play on their own without direction from the grown-ups.

I think independent play is hugely important. Kids need to learn how to entertain themselves! But even more than that, I think kids learn through exploration, and this is where they begin to develop creatively. Kids need time and space to learn to think for themselves, come up with new ideas, and integrate familiar concepts into new scenarios. I love watching the boys combine parts and pieces of various play sets to come up with scenarios that would have never occurred to me, like when Scoop and Muck help Bob the Builder fix up the Little People play house so that Thomas the Tank Engine and Franklin the Turtle can move in.

We recently received a set of amazing toys from Fisher-Price that have been terrific for encouraging independent play. I’d never seen the Trio building blocks before, but Lucas was instantly entranced by them. The snap-together pieces are easy to manipulate for smaller hands, brightly coloured, and have some interesting shapes and pieces. There’s a book in the box that provides schema for a few constructions to get you started, but of course the real fun is building your own creations.

Lucas with Trio toy

Play isn’t just about down time for kids when they’re not doing other things. When kids play, they’re learning. Through interaction with each other and adults, they learn social skills. Toys like the Trio sets and other building toys help to develop hand-eye coordination, but also concept development like understanding the meaning of relationships and intrinsic characteristics of objects. Toys like play houses and character sets and dress-up costumes encourage children to explore creativity and relationships. And of course, you know I’m a huge fan of any toy that encourages a child to express him- or herself creatively — art projects are a daily occurrence in our house!

Of course, playing independently is nice, but it’s also great to have toys that as fun for Mom and Dad as they are for the kids. It helps if you give in to your barely-repressed inner child. 🙂

Lucas & Beloved with Trio toy

If you’re looking for some ideas on new toys, you can try the “Find the Right Toy” interactive tool on the Fisher-Price website. And if you register on the site, you’ll be entered to win a “Celebrating Milestones” prize pack of Fisher-Price toys valued at $200, plus a spa gift card valued at $200! There’s a winner every month!

Disclosure: I’m part of the Fisher-Price Play Panel and I receive special perks as part of my affiliation with this group. However, as always, the opinions on this blog are entirely my own.

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My Mothership Photography porch portrait mini-sessions have been a huge success, and I’m just thrilled with all the results. I wanted to share some of the best pictures of each session with you.

The first session of the day was with the T family. When I saw this lovely head of blond curls, it was all I could do to contain myself — isn’t she adorable? She’s just as sweet and charming as she looks, and her parents are equally charming. They claim neither one of them like having their pictures taken, but I would have never guessed.

Tyers storyboard 1

Tyers storyboard 2

Tyers 7

When the session was over, I was hoping maybe they’d forget to bring their daughter home and I could keep her for my own, but I was out of luck.

Thank you, T family! I truly enjoyed working with you!

I don’t have too many spaces left for summer bookings, so if you would like to book a porch session, please contact me soon!

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It went something like this…

*ring ring*


Hey Universe, it’s DaniGirl calling.

DaniGirl! Good to hear from you! I’ve been peeking in on you lately, I’m surprised you found the time to pick up the phone.

No kidding! Each time I think I reach a new high in busyness, and think that things can’t possibly get any more crazy, they do.

It’s nice to see that your photography business has taken off. That must feel pretty good.

It feel amazing! It’s been an incredibly busy but validating month with five family portrait shoots just in the last ten days. And the clients have seemed to really love the results – one family bought a print of every single proof in the gallery.

Great stuff, DaniGirl. No wonder you’re feeling so busy. And I hear you had a blast at Social Capital this weekend.

Oh my goodness, it was amazing! So many interesting people, so many great connections. I learned a lot, met a lot of amazing people, and really enjoyed having a captive audience for a while, even if I was a little scattered in my presentation.

Mouth getting a little ahead of your brain, eh? Yeah, that happens to me, too. It’s been a busy vacation for you this year, no wonder you’re feeling a little discombobulated.

Ha, and that’s hardly the tip of the iceberg. I seem to be caught up in a whirlwind of change right now. Did you see that we finally found a new daycare provider for Lucas?

I did see that. She seems like a warm, lovely lady.

I think so, too. I really like the fact that some of the older kids who come for after-school care have been with her for nine or ten years. That kind of endorsement speaks for itself. And she’s literally right around the corner. We start with her at the end of the summer, right around the time I hope to be starting my new job. Cuz, yanno, if you’re going to change one thing, you might as well change everything.

New job, right. I noticed you were working on that. What’s up with that?

Well, remember back in 2007, you were up to your usual antics. The very month that the Canada Revenue Agency created that special social media manager position especially for me, I found out I was pregnant with Lucas. I managed to work in the position for about six months before I went on maternity leave, but then when I left they hired a friend of mine to replace me.

Right, I think you cursed me out for quite a few months on the timing of that one.

Um, yeah. Of course I was delighted to be pregnant because we had been trying for months, but I was truly heartbroken to lose that job. And when I came back from maternity leave, even though I was disappointed, I could completely understand why they didn’t want to just bump the person who had been doing the job for a year. So I took a position in another part of the public affairs branch.

And then you started managing the Army Web site and all the social media channels there shortly after that, right?

Yeah, that’s when I joked I was quitting the CRA after 20 years to run off and join the Army.

Thanks for the history lesson, but what does that have to do with your current situation?

Well, the person who took over for me in 2007 is now moving on to other opportunities and she called me up to see if I’d be interested in coming back.

Don’t you love it when a plan comes together? Easy-peasy, right?

Ha, you’d think so, wouldn’t you? You’re such a joker, you know you pulled the rug out from under me again on this one.

Hey, you passed the hiring committee with flying colours. It’s not my fault you forgot to check to see whether your French levels were up to date.

Sigh, you’re right. It’s just painful that they were ready to issue a letter of offer, and now I have to pass my reading and writing exam before we can move ahead. I tell you, the last thing I expected to be doing on my summer vacation is spend an hour or two each day snuggled up with Schaum’s French Grammar and a stack of practice tests.

There’s a plan B though, right?

Actually, I’m calling it Plan E. There’s a chance they can move me to an English Essential position in another directorate and transfer me over. But I’d rather just pass the French test, because I’m not sure how solid that option is. Think you could help me out on that one, maybe make my rusty old brain a little more fluid for the next week or so?

Sorry DaniGirl, I’m just the omniscient overseer. I may be omnipotent, but it would be bad mojo if I rigged the outcome of your French test.

Okay, I suppose that’s fair. And besides, the reason I called wasn’t really about that anyway.

Oh really? Why did you call then?

Well, first to once again commend you for your sense of humour. You’ve got me going literally in circles again, back where I started four years ago if this works out.

It’s not like you haven’t enjoyed the intervening loop, though, right?

Fair enough. And that’s the other thing. I wanted to say thanks. My life may be so busy right now I’m breathless with the pace of it, but it’s all really quite good.

I’m glad you’re happy, DaniGirl.

I am, Universe. I know sometimes I call you up to bitch and complain when things are going poorly, so I thought it would be nice to drop you a line and let you know that aside from being a little dizzy at the pace of it all, I am really and truly happy right now. And I’m proud of myself, too. I think I’m on the right track right now, and I’m trying to acknowledge that out loud, if for nothing else than it will serve as a good reminder when I do something dumb to derail myself again!

Great idea, DaniGirl. It’s important to be grateful for the good things in our lives, the things that make us happy. Keep me posted on the job situation.

I will, Universe. Take care…


Project 365: Eek, slipping further and further behind!

24 July 2011 Photo of the Day

Oh my goodness, do I ever owe you guys a post about the craziness that is my life right now. But first, I have to clear the backlog of posts I didn’t write last week. And um, maybe a few from the week before. Like this 365 post, covering a week now almost two weeks […]

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Friday Family Fun: Five crafty ideas to keep kids busy

22 July 2011 5 things

I was in Costco the other day and they had the back-to-school supplies out already. Nooooooo! I’m not ready!!! Yeesh, summer has barely begun! And yet, when the kids are restless, those long summer days can seem less like something to be enjoyed and more like something to be endured. For this week’s version of […]

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(Mostly) Wordless Wednesday

20 July 2011 Ah, me boys

We’ve evolved a new vacation tradition in the last few nights between dinner and bed time: the porch Uno tournament. Lucas is old enough to follow the colours and numbers, and to my delight has recently showed his understanding of the “miss a turn” and “change direction” symbols. He doesn’t quite get the idea of […]

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What would you give up for the Internet?

20 July 2011 How I love the Interwebs

I read an article this morning that said a survey commissioned by Primus Canada found that almost half (46 per cent) of Canadians would give up their television before giving up their Internet access, and 35 per cent would give up their phone to keep Internet and television access. The survey also found that 20 […]

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