January 2013

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 is February 8. A good six weeks in advance, we called and booked a party room and worked out a guest list. It was a lock.

Last Friday I was supposed to get the invitations, but I forgot them on my desk at work. Annoyed with myself, I figured two weeks less two days would still be plenty of notice. That Monday afternoon I sat down and wrote out all the invitations, confirmed the guest list with Lucas and stuffed them into his backpack to be distributed the next day at school. That’s when I found the invitation FOR Lucas, from a classmate.

For the same day.

For the same place.

For the very next time slot.

Yeah. Four straight hours of birthday party might be a little much for your average four year old to bear, don’t you think?

Luckily, I recognized the RSVP name as a mom who is also on the school council with me. I felt comfortable enough to call her and cross-check against her invitee list against mine, hoping there wouldn’t be too much duplication. The girls were no problem, he hadn’t wanted to invite any girls (Lucas takes after Simon in this regard; his bestie is a girl) but he had invited every boy in the class. Heartbroken for Lucas, I called to reschedule the party and the soonest time slot I could get was 10 days after his birthday. So much for planning.

Really, that was nothing more than circumstance and bad luck (although I can’t help castigating myself for not getting those invites out earlier!!) but I really can’t blame anyone but myself for what happened with Simon’s party.

Knowing the boys were desperate for their own handheld devices, we gave Tristan and Simon a choice this year – a big party and a little gift or a little party and an iPod Touch. Neither one hesitated to choose the iPod, of course. So we told them they could have three or four friends over in lieu of a party, and we’d have an extended sort of play date with cupcakes and birthday presents. (And then I scored the iPods at half off during a refurb sale after Christmas. Win-win!!)

So I picked up some invitations and wrote out three five (I am such a softie) and Simon sent them off to his friends last week. It was only earlier this week that I realized what I had done, or more specifically what I had NOT done. I hadn’t made a note, mental or otherwise, of what time we had put on the invitations.

“Um, Simon?”

“Yes Mommy?”

“Do you remember what time we put on the invitations for the party on Saturday?”

“Um, no?”


I mean, it wasn’t a big deal. We would be home anyway. I was pretty sure I’d said 1:00, or maybe it was 1:30. It might have been 2:00. Probably not as late as 3:00, right? Hmmm. The only challenge would be coordinating the arrival of the grandparents, who wanted to appear in time for cupcakes but not endure two hours of a houseful of kids hepped up on birthday energy. I figured I’d just call them when kids started showing up and tell them to show up in an hour.

But, it was bugging me, so I casually approached one of the moms today at school pick-up.

“Hey, how are ya? Warm out today, eh?” I said, and we chatted briefly about the unseasonable warmth. “So, I um, have a kind of a favour to ask. Do you, um, happen to remember what time I put on the invitation for Simon’s party?” She thought it was hilarious and confirmed that it was, in fact, for 1:30.

I thought THAT was one of my finer parenting moments, until the phone rang earlier this evening.

Ring ring.

Me: “Hello?”

Child’s voice: “Um, hi. Is this Simon’s mom?”

Me: “Yep, that’s me! Did you want to talk to Simon?”

Child: “Um, actually, no. I was calling to talk to you.”

Me, mildly surprised: “Oh, okay then. What’s up?”

Child: “Well, Simon said you forgot what time the party is, and we thought that it might be important that you know, you know? So I checked the invitation, and it says 1:30. Just so, you know, you, um, know. Okay?”

Me, dying: “That is very considerate of you sir. We will look forward to seeing you on Saturday.”

One of my finer moments indeed.

Moral of the story: do not, under any circumstances, hire me as a party planner.


Flashback faves: BOB books

by DaniGirl on January 29, 2013 · 0 comments

in Books, Lucas

Almost six years ago, I wrote this sponsored blog post for MotherTalk books, which eventually became Mom Central Canada. Tristan was five and a half at the time, and I still remember how he gobbled up the BOB books for beginning readers. Last week, we dusted them off for a-week-shy-of-five-years-old Lucas, and watched the same delight sparkle in his eyes as he read them to me. (The original blog post was sponsored, but I’m sharing again because you have a little one who knows most of the alphabet and the sounds they make, these books really are terrific!)


I have a confession to make. I didn’t read a single book in the boxed set I’m supposed to be reviewing today for my stop on MotherTalk’s Bob Books blog tour. In fact, I had them read to me – by Tristan, my five year old son.

(pause for gasps of delight and surprise)

Yep, it’s true. Neither one of us imagined he could read a whole sentence, let alone an entire book, and yet by the end of the first day, HE had read to ME not one, not two, not even four, but FIVE books of the twelve book boxed set. And they say boys tend to have trouble with reading!

BOB booksThe Bob Books are designed for beginning readers. Each book in the set of 12 introduces a few new letters and increasingly complex sentence structures. The letters seem to roughly follow the same introduction schedule as the Jolly Phonics program they’ve been using at Tristan’s school – first M and S and A, then D and B, then G and H, etc. Book one starts with simple constructions like “Mat sat.” By the fifth book, he was sounding out full sentences like, “Dot and Mit sit on a mat.” A little thin on plot, maybe, and they lacked character development. But it was really something to watch Tristan sound out new words and assimilate familiar ones with only a little bit of coaching from me, and the look in his eyes as he realized he was actually reading was truly a great moment in my parenting career. His attention span is a little sketchy sometimes, so I was delighted when we finished one book and then another and he continued to ask me if we could keep reading. It was his idea to continue through the box, not mine, and he was eager to continue reading books to Beloved the next night at bedtime, too.

It was also a good way for me to see where we might have to do a little more work. He was having trouble distinguishing between a lower case “n” and “h” for a bit, and confusing his “b” and “d” (I’ll give it a bit before I start to panic about dyslexia, which does run rather rampant though my family.) Like his mother, he wants to be able to rush ahead without actually reading the letters themselves, and I had to keep reminding him to slow down and read the words and not just guess based on the picture. “Trust the letters,” I told him. “The pictures can be tricky, but the letters will always tell you the truth.” I was really astonished at how quickly he assimilated entire words. By the end of the fifth book, he didn’t have to stop to sound out “the” or “and” or “is”.

I was really impressed by the first set of Bob books, and was pleased to see that there are four additional sets we can work through. (You can read more about them on the official Bob Books website.) Might be a good way for me to invest the $20 Amazon.com gift certificate I’ll be getting for this MotherTalk sponsored review!


Tristan and I went for a hike on the Lime Kiln Trail today. Poor wee chickadees are so hungry in this midwinter deep freeze that they were dive-bombing us and fighting for the food!

Feeding the chickadees

(Posting this to its own page for BlogHer’s Photo of the Year consideration!)


Cold enough for ya? *rolls eyeballs*

I’d like to thank Nowell (really, no sarcasm!) for inadvertently scheduling the “Why I love Ottawa/Gatineau” photo contest during the coldest week in eight years. If it weren’t for his inspiration, I’d have spent my lunch hours this week huddled in my cube with my wee pedometer recording only the steps required to get to the bathroom and the printer and back. But my fierce sense of photo competitiveness, mixed with a good dose of adventurousness, and an utter lack of common sense, had me out scoping and shooting some of my favourite downtown subjects almost every day this week in temperatures that dipped to a brain-numbing -40C wind chill. So I got both the photos and my desired number of steps almost every day, and only a little bit of windburn on my cheeks. I think we can call that a win!

At the risk of tipping my hand and spoiling the big reveal during the upcoming silent auction, I’m pretty sure it’s safe to say that this photo will be one of the ones I submit to the contest. If you’ve been reading for a while, you know how much I love the Rideau Canal in all seasons, and from the moment I heard about the contest, I knew I wanted to try to capture a good canal shot to submit. I was delighted when the last bit of the canal was opened for skating at the end of the week, and yesterday spent a delightful extended lunch doing the penguin walk down the canal from the NAC to the Corktown Bridge and back.

What says I Love Ottawa/Gatineau more than love itself? (As I said on the Flickr caption, I have deep admiration for people who can skate holding hands. Personally, when I skate I need my arms free to flail and pinwheel.)

Skaters on the Rideau Canal

I tried not to take too many photos of the Parliament Buildings, but at the end of every day the ones I loved the best all seemed to feature them. I mean, I do love them – I think they represent Ottawa’s history, and being the capital has of course shaped the city we love today. Aside from all of that, though, I just think they are lovely and my camera is magnetically drawn to them. See?

#ottgatlove contender?

Parliament silhouette

Rideau Canal - almost ready for skaters! #OttGatLove

Speaking of cold (did we speak of anything else all week long?) this was the scene on Sunday as I was driving home from Barrhaven. That was the day it started out 6C and raining, then turned into a blizzard. Then the wind kicked up, and I found myself in one of the more intense white-outs I’d ever seen. Then the temperatures started dropping and the sun came out, but the wind kept howling. What a day!

Blustery blowing snow

But it wasn’t all cold and bluster this week. I spent a warm and lovely hour indoors meeting this interesting woman, an entrepreneur who needed headshots for the business she is launching. I hope I have this much energy and gumption when I’m in my retirement years!!

Ottawa entrepreneur

(I’m also really pleased with this one for technical reasons. We didn’t have a great spot for backgrounds, so we used a bedsheet draped from the kitchen covers and then I used photoshop to smooth it out and add a bit of colour and texture.)

Although it was great to be back using my Nikon again (it’s more reliable in the deep freeze than my iPhone, which shut itself down more than once in complaint this week!) I did manage to catch a few extra shots that didn’t make the shot of the day list.

Only my profound love for Ottawa would get me out snapping pix for #ottgatlove in -18C!



So although working downtown has given me a lot of ideas and inspiration for the photo contest, the one thing that’s hugely and obviously missing is the thing that’s just about impossible to capture while I’m wandering around downtown at lunch time: the boys! Because much as I love the canal, the Market, the Parliament Buildings and the rest, the thing I truly love about Ottawa is what a great place it is to raise a family. Hoping to find a good shot or three at Shiverfest this weekend!

What do you think of the shots so far? I have until Monday to decide which one to submit. Got a favourite or an idea for another shot? Let me know! And by the way, in case you didn’t see it, if you decide to play along and submit a photo, it doesn’t have to be a current photo. You can submit your entry here.


Hoo boy, is it cold out there or WHAT? If I understood the forecaster correctly, this is the coldest stretch of weather in Simon’s entire lifetime, and he turns nine next week. Brrrr!

But this weekend, we’re warming up to a temperate minus 15C, so it will be perfect to come out and play during Manotick’s annual winter festival, Shiverfest!

Don’t like the cold? There’s indoor fun to be had as well, including a chili cookoff and a trivia contest (with a raffle prize of a porch portrait session with a certain Manotick photographer you might know!) Here’s the schedule of fun:

Friday Jan. 25th:
6:00-6:50 pm Rideau Skating Club Exhibition (Manotick Arena)
6:30 pm start Outdoor Bonfire (Centennial Park)
7:00-8:00 pm Family Skate Night (Manotick Arena)
8:00 – 9:00 pm Dr. Kaboom (Manotick Arena Hall, upstairs)

Saturday Jan. 26th:
7:30-11:00 am Kiwanis Pancake Breakfast (Manotick Arena Hall)
9:30-11:15 am Children’s Fun Time, Ages 2-6 (Manotick Cooperative Nursery School at the Arena)
10:00 am-Noon Horse Drawn Sleigh Rides (Centennial Park)
All day: Tobogganing and Skating (Manotick Mountain/Outdoor Rink – Centennial Park)
1:00 – 2:00 pm Dino Reptiles (Manotick Arena Hall)
2:00 – 4:00 pm Chili Cook-Off (Manotick Legion)
6:00 – 9:00 pm Bands that “Raise the Roof” (Manotick Arena Hall)
9:00 – closing Open Mic” Night (Mill Tavern Restaurant)

Sunday Jan 27th
1:00 – 4:00 Pm Trivia Contest (Mill Tavern Restaurant): Grab a few friends, put together a team of 2 -6 people and have a memorable afternoon at The Mill. Contact trivia@manotickvca.org for tickets.

Sounds like fun, right? Here’s what Shiverfest 2011 looked like:

Sleigh ride

Snowman sledding

Lucas and the red sled

Think of it as the perfect opportunity to take your “Why I love Ottawa/Gatineau” photo contest photo. And HEY! There’s a Shiverfest photo contest, too!

Check out the Manotick Village and Community Association website for more info!


In February, Fisher-Price will be launching a fun new campaign celebrating the many joys of mother- (and father!) hood. They’ll be inviting parents to share those moments when we are OVERjoyed, but also those moments when we are OVERwhelmed, OVERhugged, OVERtired and of course OVERstimulated! You know, just about every moment while you’re parenting, especially with wee ones in the house.

The campaign will be launched next month, but the Fisher-Price Play Ambassadors have been invited to share a photo for the OVERjoyed campaign. It made perfect sense to me to start where I started my mothering journey with all three boys: OVERdue!!


(Hee hee, doesn’t this seem like yesterday and a million years ago? Taken almost exactly five years ago!)

I’ll have more info on Fisher-Price’s official launch of the OVERjoyed campaign next month, but for now, would you like to play along? What “over” word most described you in the last few days of your pregnancy? OVERtired? OVERwhelmed? OVERanxious? OVERcooked???

Disclosure: I am part of the Fisher-Price Play Ambassador program with Mom Central Canada and I receive special perks as part of my affiliation with this group. The opinions on this blog are always my own.


Come and play along with the I Love Ottawa/Gatineau photo contest!

20 January 2013 Life in Ottawa

I mentioned last week that I’ve been invited to participate in a fun new contest to help raise money for the Ottawa Food Bank. The launch event was this morning. It was a horrible morning outside (sleet and howling winds that turned into a blizzard while we were there!) but a warm and friendly morning […]

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A new year and new beginnings with Fisher-Price

19 January 2013 Reviews, promotions and giveaways

January is the calm before the storm at our house. All three boys have birthdays in a five week span coming up, and my mom’s birthday, Valentine’s Day and my parents’ wedding anniversary falls in there, too. This is the season of new beginnings, but for me it’s also a season of nostalgia and looking […]

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This week in pictures: The end of (yet another!) year in photos

19 January 2013 Photo of the Day

When I finished my first 365 project three years ago (almost to the day), I felt like there should be a ticker-tape parade in my honour. Heck, it was a big enough deal that CBC’s All in a Day invited me in to the studio to talk about it. (Heh, I still like to joke […]

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A week of walking

17 January 2013 Me, only better

I mentioned last week that I’ve got a new gadget: a fancy little pedometer called a FitBit. I’ve spent the last week walking around with it tucked in my pocket to get an idea of exactly how many steps I take in an average day, and then I’ll try to figure out a reasonable plan […]

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