Picture Day 13

Canada Day fireworks 2010 Assiniboinne park


Happy day

What a busy but great week this is turning into.  My girls are heading to the last day of school this morning, the last day of elementary for E.  It seems quite odd to think of her heading into junior high.
I will not be posting on Friday as it is Canada day and the day is always quite busy as I continue to set up for our annual BBQ and get ready to have some fun.  Canada Day has always been a very much loved day for me and even more so in the past 7 years.  
I’ve always enjoyed the fireworks and the general air of celebration, the music, friends and family.  Gifts had never been a part of our celebration but I received an absolutely wonderful one on Canada day in 2004.
A just a few hours old
Right on her due date A arrived in the early morning hours of July 1st. The memory of nursing my newborn daughter while watching fireworks out the hospital window will be forever etched in my mind. The day has been made that much more special thanks to the arrival of my Canada day baby.
So on Friday I will once again say happy birthday not only to my country but to my darling girl. Gifts are definitely involved with the party these days.  

Bye Bye Choo Choo Wagon.

Bye Bye Choo Choo Wagon.

In addition to short walks up and down our street, you came with us to the zoo.

You even traveled to Falmouth with mommy and us to watch daddy run the Falmouth Road Race.

But now mommy & daddy tell us that we are too big so they are going to find a new home for you. We are not sure if your new riders will attract as much attention as we did, but hopefully your new owners will love you as much as we did.

Bye Bye Choo Choo Wagon.
Love, Allie, Anna and Emily.

Note: Shortly after we purchased our wagon, Step2 stopped selling them. As a result the wagons were in high demand. Step2 has since started selling a slightly different version of the wagon again.

Writing Challenge 7

In exactly 50 words use all 5 of the required words:
I was going to visit my cousin in China.  I own a tea room and she tells me there is a unique new tea grown locally called Orange Bee. She hopes I can make a deal with the producers.  It apparently tastes amazing and has the most interesting colour froth.
I really enjoyed my first one of these so thought I would try another.  It still surprised me how just a few unconnected words can be come together so simply.

Helping Hands

I am the type of person who when sitting in a busy restaurant with an empty cup in front of me and unable to get the wait staffs attention will simply get up grab the coffee carafe and fill my own cup and several others along the way.    
I don’t do it because I’m irritated or impatient it’s simply that I can and so I do. I am physically unable to restrain myself from doing something that in my mind I feel helps someone out. I’ve been told that perhaps I shouldn’t do that in restaurants and it has occurred to me they may be right.
I was thinking about this last night after my nephew’s grad party as I had at one point ended up wondering if I was overstepping my bounds and was doing more than I should have. 
It did turn out that my help was greatly appreciated and I hadn’t actually stepped on any ones toes nor do I think I’ve ever actually caused anyone grief by helping out but it made me think about the coffee thing.
My sister-in-law did an absolutely amazing job of bringing everything together last night and had obviously worked very hard to make it a special night for her son. 
I figured she deserved to have the time to enjoy what I imagine was hours upon hours of work so I started doing little things so she could be a good hostess, greet guests and enjoy the night she had planned so well. 
At some point I realized that I seemed to have taken over and had become the designated head of the kitchen.  I had others asking me what should be done or how to set things up and how they could help and I started to worry that I’d taken over a little too much.
I am an organizer by nature and many a friend or family member can attest that I always seem to be doing something and never hesitate to lend a helping hand.   While hosting an event it often happens that they will realize there is something they needed to get done turn around to do it and discover I’ve already done it.
I did finally stop and mention to her that I seemed to have taken over and she seemed grateful for the help so I just went with it.  By the end of the night I had barely sat down and my new “comfy” heels were no longer quite so comfy. I honestly had a better time having helped out than if I had stayed on the dance floor or chatted all night, although I did also do my fair share of those things.
I know the amount of work that goes into making these kind of nights special and I am always grateful for those who have become my helping hands.  Whether receiving or giving help it is that contribution in and of itself that makes a night memorable for me.  
So next time my cups empty at a restaurant I’ll still be more than happy to get my own re-fill.

Prop Design - 3D Studies

These are all 3D props that I modeled. Hope you guys like them. AG

Environment - 3D Studies

Let's Party

Of all things I have “Bonne Fete a toi” AKA Happy birthday stuck in my head.   Well at least my activities match what is in my head. We have 3 separate birthday parties including one here, the soccer windup and my nephews grad party all happening this weekend.  
I may go completely mad before Monday rolls back around, scratch that lets say before June is over as this weekend is really just the continuation of the sustained insanity that is the entire month of June.  Pretty much every year from June 1st until our annual Canada Day party is over and done. 
This weekend amongst all the other things I need to prepare for my house to be taken over by a pack of squealing little 6 and 7 year old girls hyped up on candy and cake. Won’t that just be fun?
My darling girly girl has chosen to do a princesses theme and the levels of pink and pretty things just may overload my senses.  Trust me it’s a lot of pink.  Feather boas, crowns and dress up clothes will be everywhere.
Were also planning on making jewelry which will result in beads and sparkles being scattered everywhere so that I continuously discover them all around the house for the next 6 months or so.
I swear sparkles multiply. I still find sparkles in the vacuum canister even though the last time I recall using them was around Valentine’s Day
Busy as I'll be it should still be an easier weekend then last as we had E’s sleepover birthday party last weekend.  A bunch of 12 year old girls out squeal their 7 year old counterparts by quite a large margin. Particularly when it’s 2 a.m. in the morning. 7 year olds just don’t have the endurance.  
Oh well, time to dust off my clown skills and dress them up like a princess, and yes I actually do have “clown skills”, I'm not sure why but I do. 

Southie Reacts to Whitey's Capture.

The capture of Whitey Bulger on Wednesday is BIG news around here. With that, there are a ton of stories, interviews etc. on the news and websites. I watched a clip on boston.com, however which takes the cake. In the clip, staff from The Boston Globe (boston.com) ask South Boston (Southie) residents their opinion about Whitey being caught. I especially love one woman's comment that "...so what, he was a mobster...everyone has to have a job." Classic! Check out the

Picture Day 12

 M.S. Kenora Evening Cruise, Kenora, Ontario

3D Environment - Video Games & Animation

Disposable Camera

I’m dropping what is happening Wednesdays.  It just doesn’t work for me so until I figure out something else I might like to put here a regular rambling it is.
The last couple of days have been a flurry of activities as our oldest prepared for her school camp trip. She is now off duffle bag and sleeping bag in tow looking forward to a new experience.
One of the last orders of business last night was to buy her a disposable camera as they have requested no digital (read expensive) cameras be brought.  When I sat down to label it I realized that she has never used a film camera in her life. 
She was about 3 years old when I switched over to a digital camera so she probably doesn’t remember me using a film camera either, in fact I barely remember it seems. When I showed her how to use it I had to think about it for a few moments.
She does own a camera of her own but it is a simple point and shoot and doesn’t even have a viewfinder on it. She did seem to understand the differences when I explained it to her and will probably get some nice pictures but it won’t surprise me in the least if she comes home with a few double exposed shots or cut off heads as well.
The fact that she couldn’t see her photos as she took them or delete unwanted ones surprised her. When I told her how many shots she had she couldn’t help but complain “that’s it?”,  She’s never had to limit the number of shots she’s taken and it’s a completely new concept.
The changes in photography between now and even a decade ago are absolutely remarkable. It’s true of a lot of other things as well but it seems we adjust and forget quickly until forced to use an older method of doing something.
I know the idea that I’m going to have to take this film in to get developed and not know what I’m going to get back until they’re done seems completely foreign to me.  Was it really almost a decade ago since I last had to do that?  It seems like just yesterday.

Memorial Day Weekend in Virginia

I come from a BIG family. I have twelve siblings and twenty-something nephews and nieces. But, even with most of my immediate family residing in Massachusetts, Allie, Anna and Emily do not have cousins from my side of the family to play with since most of their cousins are much older than them (in their 20's and 30's).

My younger brother D and his wife A, however, have two boys closer in age to our girls(Clive will be two in September and Charlie is about six months) – this makes me happy! The fact that they don’t live in the area is not so great, though. They, like a few others in my immediate family, have found their way to northern Virginia. D made the move to Virginia over ten years ago and still resides there today. So…given we had yet to meet the newest member of D & A’s family, we decided to take a road trip down to see them over Memorial Day weekend.

Long story short is that we had a nice trip and it actually felt like a vacation, not just a trip. The weekend, among other things, included:

- A visit with a friend of Sarah’s (and their identical twin girls)!
- Some spray park and kiddy pool fun!
- A cookout!
- Playtime with Charlie and Clive!
- The National Zoo!

Here are some highlights:

Writing Challenge #6

Describe doing a simple physical activity.

I lace up my skates tighten the straps and push up from the ground standing just a little taller than usual ready to move.

I start off slowly walking over the rough patch of gravel between the driveway and street then slowly adjust to the feeling of the bumps in the pavement as they roll under my feet.

Slowly I speed up developing a rhythm of push and glide, push and glide.

I stumble on a rock and pick up again watching ahead for the rough patches and the loose rocks scattered here and there.

I reach the smoothness of the bike path winding around Assiniboine forest and can finally push into the long glides that propel me to amazing speeds.

Suddenly I find my groove, the perfect rhythm that seems to move me forward of its own accord without conscious effort sending me forward slowly gaining more and more speed.   

I feel vitally alive my body working in perfect harmony my senses completely aware and awakened. Push, push, glide, and again and again.

The sound of my wheels hitting the pavement and the sound of cars along the road come together into a quiet whisper the sound of the wind all I hear.

My wheels now barely seem to touch the ground as the cool wind pours over my face encouraging me to go faster and faster.

Every worry every problem is left behind as my focus turns in towards keeping my movements even and the physical demand to push forward.

I lift my face up to the setting sun stretch my arms out to either side and suddenly I find I can fly.

I begin to slow my pace as I come back around the forest back to the rougher pavement of our street, refreshed and warm my body and mind at peace.

As I step back over the gravel section of our driveway I sigh days of tension escaping along with it. I take off my skates and put them away. Walking back into the house I feel as if my feet are still gliding along.   

I love to skate whether on ice skates or rollerblades and it’s a unique sensation which I love. I went for a very nice skate last night with this challenge floating around in my head and it made for a perfect fit today.


I’m off today, I feel foggy as if I’m not all there, my consciousness floating off in space. 
It’s an odd sensation I’m in neither a good or bad mood but I feel as if I’m simply going through the motions, disjointed and disconnected from my day. It’s as if a part of me didn’t bother to get out of bed with me this morning.
I suppose I’m simply tired we had a very busy weekend with very little sleep and although completely done in when I went to bed last night I had a very hard time falling asleep. 
It worries me, usually one night like last night results in a battle with insomnia that lasts anywhere from just a couple of days to over a week of sleeplessness.
It’s nothing new I’ve had issues since I was a teen with bouts of insomnia, I will go through periods where I haven’t had issues for months at a time then suddenly it’s every other week. I’ve never quite pinpointed what sets it off.
I’ve tried many things to combat it, illogically the more I fight against it the worse it gets.  If I accept it will happen and that I can’t force myself to sleep it resolves faster.
It’s that very thing though, the attempt to just accept the lack of sleep that is making me feel so disjointed today.  I’m trying not to care that I slept poorly and somehow its making me simply not care about anything.
Perhaps that in itself is the problem, I’m not actually accepting the insomnia right now in actuality I’m just blatantly ignoring it.  I’m going to attempt to get in a bit of “me time” before heading to bed tonight.  I think perhaps a solo skate around the forest.  It can’t hurt anyways.  

Josh in Action!

Friday luck.

I don't believe in luck.  Life is what you make of it, if you feel lucky or unlucky it is nothing more than your perception. 

Every life has ups and downs, joy and sadness, love and heartache. Depending on how you look at life you see either the lows or the highs with more clarity.  It is that perception of your highs and lows which plays the biggest role in whether you feel lucky or unlucky. 

Then something like this comes along and makes me hope just a little bit that maybe luck isn’t so far-fetched an idea. I may not look at life in general as lucky or unlucky but maybe there can be moments. Hey I’m flexible.

Everyone knows 4 leaf clovers are supposed to bring you luck, even though I don’t really believe in luck finding 3 on a short fifteen minute walk this morning makes me thinks that perhaps I should go buy a lottery ticket, you know just in case. 

I can’t possibly be right about everything although I may claim differently to my husband.


Picture Day #11

Lockport, Selkirk Manitoba

Canadian Wheat Board

It’s recently come to my attention that the Canadian Wheat Board may very well become a thing of the past in the not so distant future. 
In the prairies farming plays a major role in people’s lives, the small communities scattered across these provinces have come to be in no small part because of farming. These communities are sustained by it and live off it.
Having grown up in a farming community I’m well aware of the roll the CWB plays in the livelihoods and lives of prairie farmers yet I am completely unsure whether I should support the dismantling of the CWB or not.
In all the reports I have so far read or seen about the demise of the CWB no one is saying what the farmers themselves want. I for one would like to know.  I could care less what the provincial vs. the federal governments want it should be up to those it will directly effect.
I was somewhat surprised by these reports to see that the success of Canadian producers who are independent of the influence of the CWB are being used as the prime example as to why the CWB should end.
95% of wheat and barley is produced in the Prairie Provinces under control of the CWB another 4% is controlled by the Ontario Wheat Producers’ Marketing Board. That means only 1% of food grade wheat and barley is sold to international markets through individual producers. 
I hardly think a 1% market share is the best representation for all of Canada.
Another point not mentioned is the CWB by being the single seller of about 20% of the worlds exported grain, grain which is considered to be the gold standard, has a significant impact on grain pricing worldwide.  
Canadian grain producers are also significantly less dependent on tax dollars than many countries without a single seller desk.  In the US 49% of a farmers income is from government subsidy, The European Union states its farmer incomes are subsidized approximately 43%.  Canadian farmers are subsidized a mere 17% in comparison.
After being a part of Canadian farming history for nearly 100 years and continuously in place in one form or another since 1935 I don’t believe anyone can with 100% accuracy predict what outcome changes to or the elimination of the CWB will do to wheat pricing and the success of Canadian farmers. 
The point is that this is a risk that only those who will be directly affected by it should decide whether or not to take.  The government needs to put the choice of removing or revamping the CWB back in the hands of the farmers.   Allow them to vote on this issue and decide what should or should not be done.

VD and Storyboard in Progress

A Gymnastics Show To Melt My Heart.

If you follow Sarah's blog (who doesn't, right?), you know our girls had their first "show" last weekend at a local gymnastics academy. Sarah did a great job as usual giving the low-down on that day - check out her post(s) here.

I will have to say that watching the girls perform in the show may have been one of the most emotional times for me since their birth. I have watched this video several times since the show and every time I put the video in motion, my eyes water.

They are all wearing pink leotards so...to spot Allie, look for a side ponytail. Emily has ponytails. And Anna, like Allie, had a side pony. Allie is lined up in the 1st row - far side, Emily is 2nd row - middle, and Anna is in the back row doing her thing!

One reason I get so emotional seeing the girls develop before my eyes is Anna's innocence. Anna gave 100% in the show, just like she does with everything else. Anna's HUGE heart is what makes me proud the most, though. Having a kind heart like Anna's (and Allie's and Emily's) is what is important to me, not so much how they "perform".

My sister, her husband and daughter attended the show also. Having other family members there (Grammy & Papa too) meant a lot to us as a family. You have to understand that my niece "J" had practiced gymnastics in the very same gym. "J" passed away due to complications from cystic fibrosis several years ago. She was only 13. This was the first time my sister and her family had visited the gym since their daughter had passed away. My sister told me they were all crying when they arrived at the gym and she also said they "saw J out there" during the show.

I am a man who believes life is about the moments. This day was a moment with strong emotions attached.

Writing Challenge #5

Write an introduction to a story beginning with the first line of a favorite book:
Once, in a kingdom called Delain, there was a King with two sons.  They were a great rarity in the kingdom of Delain for they were twins.  In Delain twins had been thought for many years to be no more than simple legend. 
Although nearly unheard of the birth of twins was considered to be a wondrous blessing which would ensure the kingdom would be prosperous as long as both twins lived. 
Due to the spectacular nature of not only a royal birth but that of twins the kingdom celebrated for a full year plus one day.
It was when the celebrating stopped that people began to realize a very important question had never been answered.  Which twin had been first born, which was to be their future King.
What the people had not been told was that no one knew, their mother Queen May who was a very petite and slender woman had experienced great difficulty with their birth and was unable to recall which child had been born first. 
In those days only a single midwife was present when a woman gave birth and in a terrible turn of events she herself was no more able to say which child had been born first than was their mother. 
In her excitement to inform the king and her kingdom that twins had been born she ran from her mistresses chamber as soon as possible and regrettably slipped in a pan of water she herself had placed near the queens bed. 
She hit her head quite badly and never spoke another word; she became as helpless as the countless babies she had helped to deliver over the years.
So which child would one day become King and how would the kingdom decide?  
It is a tale best told around a warm fire to dispel the chill against the sometimes terrible and sometimes wonderful events which took place between the day of their birth and the day in which one was crowned.
Pull your chair in close and I will tell you the story. 
The first line is from a book called “The Eyes of The Dragon” by Stephen King it is a novel I have read and re-read to tatters.  It’s a simple story in some ways almost a child’s story but it has always captured my imagination and been a favorite for many years.
I had a very hard time only writing a beginning to this story as within a few words an entire story sprang to mind from beginning to end.  

Background Design\Compositing\Lighting

A Hairy Issue

I have come to the conclusion that I have too much hair.   Seems there would be an easy solution but the thing is I have not had short hair since I was about 13 or 14 years old and there is a certain level of trepidation when it comes to the thought of cutting it.

When I last had short hair I recall that my natural curls tended to be a little bit how shall we say Pomeranian-esk and it was completely untamable.

There is absolutely no chance I would ever cut it to the point where a ponytail wouldn't be an option however I have no idea what change would work.

I've had a lifelong love hate relationship with my hair, I hate it others love it. I always have people telling me how they would love to have hair just like mine with some volume and curl. However curl means frizz and on humid days I look like I've stuck my finger in a light socket.

I've never quite figured out how to keep it from frizzing like mad.  I've got hair that naturally takes on the look of an 80's hair band. 2 decades on I think the style may have gone out.

I try to straighten it now and then, usually it takes me about a 1/2 hour unfortunatly it still tends to remain a bit of a frizz ball. Quite often after spending so much time trying to fix my hair it still ends up pulled back or clipped up.  

Another unpleasant side effect of straightening my hair is the extra couple of inches in length I get when its straight.  Invariably every single time I go to bed with straight hair my husband will at some point roll over it. 

It is a rather rude awakening and it not only pulls out a good chunk of hair but pulls my head and neck into some horribly uncomfortable angles.  It has brought me to tears more than once and does not feel good.

Imitating Cousin It

Judging by the amount of hair that gets pulled out whenever he rolls over it I won't have any hair to worry about if I continue straightening it.  I'd rather not go with that option however.

Mostly the one big thing that is making me realize it’s time for a change is my remarkable resemblance to cousin It from The Adams Family.

I don't think anyone can pull off that look and its time to figure out something new.

Thesis Time!

Here's my character for my end of semester project. There's a story behind this character. I'll try to explain more about it later on.