February Photo Challenge : Faceless Portrait

I have always liked taking photos of people from behind and walking away.  Most of my photos from this month are variations on that theme. I like how the photos of Adrian and his two friends portray a sense of their friendships.  They aren’t aware that I’m taking their photo, so the pictures are quite natural.

Can I reach it?  Fraser learns to walk and gets into everything.

Can I reach it? Fraser learns to walk and gets into everything.

Reading with Uncle Paul

Reading with Uncle Paul

Looking at the ice sculptures

Looking at the ice sculptures

Winter makes for many faceless portraits.

Winter makes for many faceless portraits.

Friendship (I think this is my favourite of the bunch)

Friendship (I think this is my favourite of the bunch)

And the moment is done...

And the moment is done…

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December Photo Challenge: Gifts

This was an easy theme to photograph although as usual, my photos are more about the stories and less about the technical mastery of the subjects.  My 4 year old is at a perfect age for Christmas and was excited about everything, giving and receiving.  These photos center around him giving and getting presents on Christmas day.  But the baby is also a bit of a gift, especially after some pregnancy challenges before he came along.  So his first Christmas was certainly a celebration of him as well.

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This is Fraser’s “official” 10 month photo taken on December 5th (or maybe 6th).  He is quite a gift, a fun, happy, healthy boy, who keeps us on our toes and amused most of the time.

 

Wow! What is all this stuff?!

Wow! What is all this stuff?!

I think that Fraser was amazed at Mt. Present on Christmas morning.  We had both branches of the family celebrating with us, so there were a lot of gifts under our tree.  Fraser made a bee-line for them and just climbed on up! (this is the first photo in a series).

 

What could it be?

What could it be?

The 4 yr old is not that great at smiling on command yet, but I love this photo of him with his big present from Santa.  (Santa is a terrible wrapper and next year will have to do a better job!)   – The gift from Santa was ordered online and arrived at noon on Christmas eve.  Santa’s helpers were relieved!

Super Hero Comic book

Super Hero Comic book

We want to encourage the 4 yr old to enjoy giving as well as receiving, so encouraged him to give some gifts.  He (With help from dad) made a comic book for his comic book loving uncle.  It didn’t really have a plot, but was all kinds of awesome like a story by someone who’s 4 can only be.  Uncle Paul was thrilled of course!

And for Grandpa, a squash!

And for Grandpa, a squash!

You can bet that Grandpa was surprised to receive a squash from Adrian!  My mom had said that Grandpa really liked squash in an attempt to get Adrian to eat some the week before.  That didn’t work, but he did decide that the perfect gift for Grandpa would be a squash.  He picked it out himself at the grocery store.  Grandpa was suitably pleased.

 

Optimus Prime!

Optimus Prime!

Optimus Prime was the gift from Santa and was just as appreciated as we’d hoped it would be.  The Iron Man costume (purchased on sale the week after Hallowe’en was also a hit.)

 

Advent Calendar

Advent Calendar

My mother-in-law is an amazing quilter and made us this beautiful advent calendar. I look forward to filling it up for the boys every year.  Adrian was so thrilled and amazed by it at the beginning of December that he changed where his chair went in the dining room so that he could look at the Advent Calendar the entire time he was eating his meals.  We were able to take a beautiful video of him telling his Granny how he “loved it so much”.

to Mommy with Love...

to Mommy with Love…

I also got a gift from Adrian who apparently looked at everything in the dollar store and picked this out for me because it was the most beautiful thing in the store.  It’s a star for the top of our tree (which doesn’t currently have a proper tree topper).  He was so excited about the present and managed to keep it a secret from me for 4 days. Needless to say I love it, in all its ridiculousness and yes, next year, it will be on the top of our Christmas tree and for many years to come I imagine!

Knitting, the retrospective – (Part VII)

It’s been a hiatus of over a year since I blogged about sweaters or anything other than photos.  My free time has been spent on other creative pursuits without taking the time to document them.  Here at long last, I continue my sweater retrospective.  There are a few more to go.  However: the babies seem to be slowing down, so perhaps I will finish this project after all.

DSC_0016 DSC_0018This sweater continued on my previous theme of making a sweater with the specific interests of the parents in mind.  It was fun to design and relatively easy to knit since I only used two colours and it was largely a fair isle type design.  There were not many ends to weave in at the end and many really long floats.

The design has skiiers, and bikes for the parents favourite outdoor activities and bird for the dad’s academic pursuits and flowers and bugs for the mom, who studies pollination.  I love the red colour.  As usual, I was knitting this without knowing if the baby would be a girl or a boy.  It ended up being for a little boy.

My Favourite Person: Photo Challenge

I really liked the idea for the February photo challenge:  Here’s the quote from the e-mail that was sent out –

The theme for February is: “My favourite person”. (Or “My favourite people” if you wish to avoid hurting anyone’s feelings.)  
 
BUT — here’s the rule!  You may not take a picture of the actual person/people!  This challenge is all about taking pictures of the things or attributes that sum that person up. You’re trying to convey their personality or what you love about them through the details of their life.
I had a baby on February 5th, so what few photos I took in February had to do with our new little dude.  Of course, we don’t really know him very well yet… but there are things that can sum up his baby-ness as well as his new-ness, some of which I captured for this month’s challenge.  I would have enjoyed having time to take photos to represent the other two boys in the family – perhaps we’ll have to revisit this theme in a year or so when I don’t have a newborn and can try and capture them all.
Here's the new guy!  only a couple days old.

Here’s the new guy! only a couple days old. – I know, we aren’t supposed to have a photo of the actual person, but who can resist!

Our nest.  The baby was born at home in the attic.  We stayed up there for most of the first month in this little nest on the pull-out couch.

The nest.  The baby was born at home, right here in the attic. We stayed up there for most of the first month in this little nest on the pull-out couch. Everything I need for late night feedings is nearby.

He was born at home, so the Midwife came back for the first few days to check on us.  Buddy is getting weighed in this photo.

Getting weighed on day three.

Little outfits are so cute. He's already almost grown out of these, which are a couple favourites from when the first boy was born. They'll be passed on to someone else now.

Little outfits are so cute. He’s already almost grown out of these, which are a couple favourites from when the first boy was born. They’ll be passed on to someone else now.

Back to changing diapers for another few years. Big brother was only toilet trained for about a week before little brother came along... so not much of a break for us.

Back to changing diapers for another few years. Big brother was only toilet trained for about a week before little brother came along… so not much of a break for us.

New babies mean receiving greetings from family and friends from near and far.  Most of the greetings are electronic, but we still get a few the "old fashioned" way.

New babies mean receiving greetings from family and friends from near and far. Most of the greetings are electronic, but we still get a few the “old fashioned” way.

Life goes on.  A baby is a big event, but at the beginning they are pretty portable.  Here he is, out with dad, clearing the ice from the driveway.

Life goes on.  In the first month you can put the baby in a carrier and get on with other chores like chipping the ice from the driveway on a rare warm day.

“Out of Place” photo challenge

I had fun keeping my eye out for illustrations of this month’s challenge.  I also enjoyed using my fixed lens a bit and attempting to improve my shooting using that lens.

We generally have a "no toys at the table" rule in our house... but sometimes a few of the boy's "guys" seem to wiggle their way into the meals!

We generally have a “no toys at the table” rule in our house… but sometimes a few of the boy’s “guys” seem to gain “observer” status at meals.

We generally have a "no toys at the table" rule in our house... but sometimes a few of the boy's "guys" seem to wiggle their way into the meals!

We generally have a “no toys at the table” rule in our house… but sometimes a few of the boy’s “guys” seem to gain “observer” status at meals.

This was at Christmas dinner, so not technically a January photo, but I love the contrast between the boy's place setting and the rest of the  place settings.

This was at Christmas dinner, so not technically a January photo, but I love the contrast between the boy’s place setting and the rest of the place settings.

 

Saw this poor guy in the drain one day.  Talk about being out of place!

Saw this poor guy in the drain one day. Talk about being out of place!

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These last three photos were set-ups while playing with Adrian. While they didn’t happen completely spontaneously, (they each had a nudge from me)… They weren’t far off of the games that we were playing at the time.

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Hoisting a bike up using a crane while a dinosaur watches from his room at the “Dino-hotel”.

These last three photos were set-ups while playing with Adrian.  It's not hard to find something out of place when you've got a construction centipede directing a building site, or a bike getting lifted up at the construction of a dinosaur hotel.  Imagination is great.

 A “construction centipede” directing at a building site; Imagination is great.

I tried to have the camera at the ready, and didn’t want to resort to iPod photos… but I did miss the best “out of place” incident of the month.  The boy was helping me make granola.  We had a big roasting tin full of oats, coconut, sesame seeds, etc.  While I was busy getting the rest of the ingredients together…  his fork-lift driver was drowning in the oats and being buried under it all.  I had to sift through that very carefully before putting it into the oven to make sure there were no little play-mobil gloves, hats, etc. in the granola.  I probably should have run up for the camera for that one… but you’ll just have to imagine it.

Thanks again for a great topic and a fun challenge.

Knitting, the retrospective – (Part VI)

Part VI…  I’m going to get beyond my ability to write Roman Numerals before too long! (I’ll just have to switch to Arabic at that point, since I haven’t been big on consistency in these titles anyhow, it shouldn’t matter)

My next sweater project was a bit of a re-do of a previous one.  I had enough yarn from the first project to make another sweater of the same type, and by this time I had a little baby of my own (who sadly doesn’t have a custom knit sweater from his momma! – I made the bike train while I was pregnant with him, and finished it off when my parents came to visit just after the Boy was born – then I didn’t knit again for months).   Because I didn’t have a lot of time for knitting or creativity in the early momma days, I took the sweater from part III (https://simoneinottawa.wordpress.com/2013/03/25/knitting-the-retrospective-part-iii/) and changed it a bit to customize it for these friends.  I liked designing and making sweater III as well as the finished product and I was not sad to do a version of it again.

Notable changes include the addition of a row of bikes (now that I finally had a little bike chart – I was going to add it to as many projects as I could!) as well as the addition of a row of “antique saws” – to fit in with a particular hobby of the dad.  The fish stayed, (this friend is a Fisheries scientist), as do the skiers, (this friend also LOVES to ski).  The house is also significant for this couple as well.  The first time we met my friend’s boyfriend (who became her husband and father of her child) he was offering to sweep out the chimneys of the house that she had bought and was living in and trying to maintain on her own.  I don’t know if she knew it then, but at that moment I knew that he was a keeper.

the Front of the sweater

the Front of the sweater

the Back of the sweater

the Back of the sweater

These friends also got a bonus, experimental hat.

These friends also got a bonus, experimental hat.

I had a little bit of yarn left, so I knit a hat.  It was supposed to be for my Boy, but it was too small, so it was sent out west with the sweater.  It is not a wonderful hat at all. It’s a bit tall, and a bit bunchy, especially where the bikes were. In order to better maintain the tension, it should have been either all fair isle, or all stripes with no fair isle.  But as I’ve said before, I learn something new every time I make a sweater.  I think that their boy wore it a few times before he grew out of it!

I have no photos of the sweater being worn by its owner – but I’m sure he looked very cute.

Biking with the Boy.

The best thing (Ok, one of many, many great things) about the improved weather we’ve been having has been getting out on my bike with The Boy. I didn’t bike much with him last year for various technical reasons (insert boring story about bike frame and incompatible trailer hitch here).  This summer, I want to use my bike for far more trips, like I did in Vancouver – before I had a car.  So far – so – good!  the Boy and I have been having a great time.  Going on out with the bike significantly increases the places that we can visit within a close radius to home.  We try to walk a lot and we drive too – but there are some places that are difficult to drive to (they aren’t actually accessible by car – or they are too close to justify the drive) but too far to walk (without the walk taking up all the time and leaving no time to “be” at the destination ); this is where biking can be perfect.

Where the canal meets the Ottawa River

Where the canal meets the Ottawa River

For example:  on exercise mornings we can bike to the Y and then after we were done we can bike to Dow’s Lake to look for ducks or to throw pine cones in the water, and to look at the tulips and flowering trees.

Throwing sticks into Dows Lake

Giving Dows Lake a little stir with a stir stick.

I can honestly say that these little trips have been some of my favourite times as a parent.  The Boy is very interested in what’s around him, enjoys riding in the trailer, and is thrilled about seeing the river and ducks, all of which are still very new to him.

One morning we sat on the edge on the shore where the canal meets the Ottawa River and talked about what we were seeing for almost an hour, the ducks, the crane at the Art Gallery, the high water, the sound of the cars going over the Alexandria Bridge (Mommy, what is that noise?”) and the Aquabus that came along full of tourists – (if you want to capture the imagination of a two year old – tell him that the boat he’s seeing is actually a “bus-boat” that can drive on land and in the water!)

It's not that easy to explain what a "flood" is to a two year old.

It’s not that easy to explain what a “flood” is to a two year old.  We had to learn lots of new concepts like “shore” and “edge”

Another time we went up to the arboretum and spent a long time watching ducks swimming, listening to the frogs,  just observing.

"A Duckie!"

“A Duckie!”

"Look, look, Mommy, a Duckie!"

“Look, look, Mommy, two Duckies!”

And all of this is possible on a bike.  I feel like we have an infinite number of places we can explore on the bike that were just a little bit out of reach on foot – and that my eco-guilt doesn’t always let me visit in the car – or that are tough to get to by car as well.  When you think about it, Ottawa has a lot of waterfront and almost all of it (at least in the centre of town) is accessible by bike paths.  We could choose a different direction to explore every day for weeks and still find new places to go.

At the Arboretum

At the Arboretum

The open road!

The open road!

And tulips - Ottawa shines in the spring!

Tulips…

More Flowery Trees

…Flowery Trees…

Flowery Trees

… and more Flowery Trees: Ottawa shines in the spring.

All photos are taken on the iPod – which is easier to carry while cycling – but sometimes leaves a bit to desire in the quality department.