Explore: Life in Pictures, Vol. 6

The end of 2013 whipped by. Last time I did a photo update on my word for last year we were finishing summer and transitioning into kindergarten and I was getting ready to go back to work. And now it’s 2014. January 7 already. Before I know it May will be here again and the snow will be gone and 2013 will seem very far away. So here’s the end of the year in pictures.

I didn’t do much in the way of exploring, at least not in the traditional sense. But we hit some milestones and had some fun, and I guess that’s what it’s supposed to be about anyway.

Someone turned one.


You would think he didn’t like his birthday cake.


But you’d be wrong. He devoured that piece.


It was a good birthday. The last first.


Christmas came even though I wasn’t ready, as predicted.


It was fairly low-key – a rare thing in my family. But we did the obligatory (and enjoyable) things. Now I just need to clear the detritus from my living room. (I did mention that it’s January 7, didn’t I?)


We had a cold snap in there too. A very, very cold snap. Did you know you could get ice an inch thick on the inside of your windows? In Alberta you can.


But winter is beautiful. At least I think so.


So we took advantage of it.


We walked, and found signs of beauty and love.


Winter lasts for a long time here, but sometimes you just have to throw yourself into it and become one with the snow. (Literally, even.)


He looks like he’s not enjoying himself (or maybe he just thinks the hat is goofy) but he had a blast. Deep snow is apparently quite fun when you’re one.


We had some losses…


…but many more wins.


And so ended 2013.

#iPPP is back for 2014! Join Greta from Gfunkified and I for #iPPP (iPhone Photo Phun), a weekly link-up that requires nothing more than a blog post with a photo from a phone camera (any phone camera, not just iPhones). We want to see your funny, your yummy, your heartfelt, your favourite phone photos of the week. 

Finding Magic

You won’t often find me blogging about work—I try to keep some space between work and blogging, and there’s not much I could (or would) say that would be of much interest to anyone else—but yesterday was a pretty cool day.

For months now we’ve been working towards a big announcement and one that I knew would be pretty cool. But I really didn’t imagine how cool. You see, I work for an airline and we’ve done something as part of our partnership with Disney. It looks like this:


I knew what the design entailed but I hadn’t actually seen it, because I wanted to keep something a surprise. So when I went into our hangar this morning in time to catch the last rehearsal of the big reveal I was pretty excited. We ran through speeches and introduced Mickey Mouse and played the video…and then the curtain dropped. It just… I mean, it looks SO cool.

The team responsible for the event did a really good job. The lighting and music made for a really fun atmosphere, and Disney provided the crowd with Mickey ears that light up in sync with elements of the show. When they changed from random colours on the heads around the room to coordinated colours I was reminded of why Disney has the market on magic firmly in their corner.


There was a huge curtain covering half the hangar and at the end of the presentation it dropped. It was totally a goosebumpy moment.


So why am I sharing this with you? Because this working-mom-of-two gig is hard – way harder than I imagined it would be. I’m struggling with it – the hours, the commute, the normal, corporate-job frustrations. We all have them, and I don’t know what the answer is. Maybe there isn’t one. Maybe this is just how it is when our kids are small.


But I had a moment of magic at work yesterday, and it was nice, and needed.

I know not everyone has Mickey Mouse visit them at work, but I bet we all have a source of magic in our lives if only we take the time to look for it.


What’s yours?


I’ve joined Greta from Gfunkified as co-host of #iPPP (iPhone Photo Phun), a weekly link-up that requires nothing more than a blog post with a photo from a phone camera (any phone camera, not just iPhones). We want to see your funny, your yummy, your heartfelt, your favourite phone photos of the week. 

First Day of Kindergarten

Connor had kindergarten orientation yesterday, just half an hour with three other kids. Parents stayed, they did a scavenger hunt to learn about their classroom, and his teacher gave the parents a gift – a Kleenex (to dry our tears) and a tea bag (to have a calm cup of tea after dropping them off for their first day), along with a lovely note about entrusting our kids to her for the year.

Connor loved it. He was excited about school and he really likes his teacher.

Today was the first official day – the day he got dropped off and changed his shoes and then hung his own backpack and sweater on his hook. The day he went to sit at his desk, in a group with three other kids, and got to see what school will be like for the coming year.

This morning he went in happily but came out a little overwhelmed. I can imagine; I don’t think I was especially keen on throwing myself into a classroom with a bunch of other five-year-olds either. (I was shy but cute.)

But he will be fine. He’ll be great, actually. And us? We probably won’t need the Kleenex (though certainly have an appreciation for a calming cup of tea).

Kindergarten has begun.

first day of kindergarten picture

Explore: Life in Pictures, Vol. 4

Alternatively titled: How to Make a Thursday Feel Like a Saturday

We had an adventure last week. The exploring kind. More for me, I guess, since we went somewhere I hadn’t been before that Rich had (and he has the scar to remember it by). It was somewhere I’ve wanted to go since we moved here and now that we’ve been I have no idea why we didn’t go sooner. It’s a town not all that far from here that’s best known for its dinosaurs. The real kind, and, as it turns out, the kind people put on signs to make the most of the millions-of-years-old tourist attraction dinosaurs create.

I figured it would be fun to go, and a dinosaur-themed day was sure to be a hit with Connor. Rich suggested a couple of other stops along the way and, like any good explorer, I was game.

And, oh, was it a good day.

Here, then, is how to make a Thursday feel like a Saturday. It’s really not hard at all.


1. Put your kids in the car and drive for an hour and a half until the landscape looks like something from another planet.


2. Climb up high.


3. Take the opportunity to admire the view and get some perspective.


4. (If you do it on the day your baby gets his first tooth, you end up with a sad little dinosaur.)


5. But he’s a good sport about it, so play with him anyway.


5. Find the world’s largest dinosaur.


5. Climb into its mouth. (Resist the urge to add to your four-year-old’s terror over the situation by making loud roaring noises.)


5. Decide to see what happens if you take the aforementioned scaredy-cat child to a museum with actual dinosaurs.


6. Clarify that the dinosaurs aren’t really real, because the four-year-old thinks real means alive and he seems convinced that the Tyrannosaurus is going to eat him. (Secretly think he’s lucky he’s behaving well that day, otherwise you might have been tempted to see if T-Rex wanted a nibble.) Then measure him next to a dinosaur’s foot (but don’t point out that the dinosaur could crush with one toe any small boys who throw things at their little brothers).


7. Watch your boys draw. Smile.


8. Then get up close and personal with a wooly mammoth (without the wool).


9. Head back out and find some dirt to play in.


10. Ponder life and the elements and the meaning of time in the context of evidence of the millennia that created amazing things.


11. Be grateful you live in a place that offers such diversions close enough to do them as day trips with your kids.


12. Finish exploring and hit the highway so you’re home in time for dinner.


But stop for ice cream first.


How to Find Your Beauty

Two years ago I never would have posted a self-portrait here. A year ago I never would have posted a picture of me without makeup. Heck, a month ago I probably wouldn’t have. But today I’m going to change that.

I’m not sure what’s changed, exactly, but it has something to do with spending less time caring and spending more time finding my own beauty.

Dove is encouraging women to find their beauty with their latest video, which has been shared often on Facebook and elsewhere.

The women I’ve seen share this are all different ages with all different kinds of faces. Their sentiments in sharing the link have included things like made me teary, made me stop, made me think. They’ve said we don’t see our own beauty and I need to take this message to heart.

My first thought was different.

The Dove video is clearly professionally produced and edited. It appears—and I’m assuming here—that the artist in the video was in on the concept. Maybe my impression of it was different because I had seen this video talked up before I watched it. Or maybe it’s because I’ve produced video and I know how much goes into scripting the message and editing the content to fit. But upon watching the video the first thing I thought about was the approach Dove took to make their point.

Did Dove focus on the women’s negative descriptions of themselves while highlighting the strangers’ positive descriptions of the women they described? Yes. Did the artist’s work involve bias (intended or not) that resulted in the women’s portraits seeming less attractive when the women described themselves and more attractive when others did? I don’t know. Probably.

Does any of that change the message? No.

Dove is doing a great things with this campaign and others they offered before it. They’re challenging our notions of beauty and asking us to think about how we see ourselves. And, perhaps more importantly, they’re making us talk about it.

Maybe the other reason this video didn’t hit me as hard as it appears to have hit others is that I don’t have a tendency to berate myself for not being beautiful enough.

To be clear, I don’t think I’m especially beautiful. I like my eyes (sometimes). I like my hair, but only when I’m having a good hair day. I hate my chin and my nose and the extra weight that likes to gather around my midsection. The thing that’s different, I think, is that I’ve somehow mostly come to terms with how I look.

I do, however, struggle with photos of me. I hate them with a red-hot passion that I can barely begin to describe. I see pictures of myself and focus on the features I hate and how not photogenic I am and I want to hide under the covers on my bed and never come out.

So I’ve been doing something about that.

For the last few months I’ve been taking self-portraits. Random shots at random times – sometimes when I like how I look and sometimes just to take some shots to see if I can tolerate any of them. Mostly I can’t and I spend a lot of time deleting.

But I’m going to challenge my own perception of what’s beautiful enough and share some of those photos here.


This is one of the first ones I took and the only one here that’s been edited. I took it on a casual, hoodie sort of day but didn’t like how washed-out I looked so I added an effect to jazz it up a little. I like how my eyes look but I think the rest is sort of freaky.


We went to a winter carnival a couple of months ago and I had to feed Ethan before we left. A selfie while nursing? Why not.

This picture is from a series I took while playing with Ethan on the floor one day. Most of them were horrific (gravity will do that to you) but I kept this one because it was representative of our playtime that day.


This is a recent one I shared on Instagram. I think most sunglasses look ridiculous on me (and my husband will agree) but I wanted a picture of me with my little owl that day.


And, finally, this one.

I posted my thoughts about the Dove campaign and the potential of the artist’s bias on my Facebook page. Does questioning that make me horribly cynical, I asked? Yes, said one person who responded, and then posted what I thought was an unnecessarily snarky comment about putting the shadow of doubt on a beautiful concept.

But like I said, I’m not questioning the message. It’s media. It’s a large corporation. I work in communications, so my brain just went to wondering about their methods. So what?

I’m not saying we shouldn’t look for our own beauty. All I’m saying is that this particular video didn’t challenge me the way it challenges others.

That last photo is my challenge. My moment of truth. I took it at 5 p.m. today, right after reading that comment on my Facebook post. I’m wearing no makeup. I hadn’t had a shower and my hair was sticking out at all angles this morning so I threw a hat on my head before taking Connor to a class. There is nothing contrived about that photo – it wasn’t planned, it wasn’t edited, and it’s not how I look when I feel beautiful.

It’s just me as I looked today. I looked like this while I played with my kids, while I cleaned the kitchen, while I took my passport application in. I looked like this while I sat in Starbucks this morning with Ethan while we waited to pick Connor up.

It’s just me.

And I’m choosing to find beauty in that.

How do you find your beauty?