Week 45 – Toronto Zoo

toronto zoo
brothers at the toronto zoo
brothers looking at otters at the toronto zoo
brothers at the toronto zoo

After three busy weekends of holiday sessions, my first weekend ‘off’ was spent in Markham at a swim meet.  It was actually the perfect getaway after the busyness of the holiday season because being away from the house and my office means I didn’t spend my first free weekend catching up on everything I missed while I was photographing holiday sessions.

We left Ottawa on Friday morning and arrived in time for the afternoon races.  My two younger sons loved the pool in the hotel and swam at least twice a day for the entire trip, while their older brother took advantage of the peace and quiet in the hotel room to rest.  The weather (and swim meet schedule) were kind to us and we ended up with two half days to enjoy adventures in the Toronto area. After his races on Saturday, we headed to the Toronto Zoo for our first visit in several years.  On Sunday we spent the morning at the Ontario Science Centre before he raced in the afternoon. It was the perfect chance to reconnect after a busy month of sessions and extracurricular activities.

One of my favourite things to do is recreate photos (for clients and myself) because I love that you can see how much children have grown and changed when the setting (or outfits) are the same.  One of the highlights of the trip was recreating the photo of the boys that we have from our first trip as a family of five to the zoo when my youngest was just a few months old. It’s easy to take your own ‘then / now’ photos even if you only have a phone camera.  The backdrop can be as simple as the same door or piece of furniture or more elaborate like a location at a favourite family destination.

Week 46 – Back to the pool

big brother helping little brother swim
young boy swimming
young child at a swim meet

Guess where we were the weekend after the Markham swim meet?  Back at the pool!

This time it was Ottawa U and it was for my youngest son’s first swim meet in the Go Kingfish pre-competitive program.  What made it extra special was that his big brother was on the pool deck helping make sure everything ran smoothly and that the swimmers had a great meet.  Watching the competitive swimmers encourage and support the younger kids and ensure that the meet stayed on schedule was definitely one of the best parts of the day.  It came a very close second to seeing my youngest son’s eager and excited face as he waited to race and when he got out of the pool and looked for me for his smile and thumbs up.


If you can arrive early at your child’s competitions, it will help you pick the best spot for photos.  Test out several locations to see where the best angles are so that you are as close as possible but also so you can see their face or them ‘in action’. 

Week 47 – It’s Up (and it stayed up)

boys decorating a christmas tree

One of the first years we cut down a real tree we were a bit too ambitious and our giant tree ended up falling over.  We were in the room and so we caught it on the way down but our stand was struggling to hold the 14 foot beast upright. We resorted to using 2×3’s to screw it into the studs of the wall so it didn’t topple over with all the ornaments and lights.  Tales are still told about the ‘year of the giant tree’.

There’s now a height limit and we’ve had no further tree toppling incidents.  This year was remarkable for different reasons because for the first time the boys decorated the entire tree without our help.  While their dad was putting up the Christmas village in the kitchen, I handed out ornaments from the box and they hung every single one on the tree by themselves!

When your kids are engrossed in a task, it’s challenging to get them to turn and look at the camera.  Position yourself slightly to their side so you can take photos of what they’re doing without having to constantly ask them to turn around.  

Week 48 – Fairy Mary

elf on the shelf

Our elf Fairy Mary joined our family when we were living in our old house (over 7 years ago).  She was named during a time when my boys were watching a lot of Tinker Bell movies and decided to choose a name from one of the movies.

She is the bringer of fun crafts and activities, the cause of silly antics and a lot of frantic scurrying as they try to find her every morning.  When my eldest son turned 12 he started helping us find new and fun ways to incorporate the elf into our daily activities around the holidays (thank you Pinterest!).

I’m always amazed what they remember about the month of December because it seems like such a busy time that is jam-packed with so many activities and events.  Some of their favourite memories of the holidays are of things the elf did around the house or activities she brought for us to do as a family. I will admit that every year I think “why did we start this!?” until I see their faces as they start searching for her and wondering what she got up to overnight.  

Remember to take photos of your family traditions, even the small and simple ones.  It may surprise you when your kids remember specific things that seemed so small or inconsequential but it’s hard to know what their favourite memories will be.