Boy, how time flies. Why, it seems like just yesterday that we were running around in T-shirts. Wait... that was just yesterday! At least, it was in Toronto anyway. I know that our friends in Calgary -- and other places where they experience normal weather patterns -- will mock us, and so they should. Nice as it is, though, it certainly took the fun out of getting our Christmas tree. Going for a haywagon ride with hot chocolate and a campfire just isn't the same when it's plus 15 out. Upside: No shovelling.

     

Our year started as all years should -- with a big party, in this case up north at our friends' farm in the wilds of northern Ontario. Then it was off on a mini ski-trip with Becky's brother Dave and his family at a hill in Calabogie (also in the wilds of northern Ontario). After a hair-raising, white-knuckle drive home, we rested up for a month or two -- during which time Caitlin had a formal dance with her "friend" Dan -- and then made our way down south to Becky's parents' place near Venice, Florida with her sister Barb and family for some swimming in the ocean, some playing catch on the beach and some fantastic sunset-watching. There was also a great trip to Busch Gardens for some rollercoasters and gondola rides and animal-watching, with much fun had by all three girls, then there was time left to feed the horses and we also celebrated Zoe's 8th birthday. I also wrote a feature for the Globe about teaching Caitlin to drive, and illustrated it with some humorous photos.

                   

After we got back from galivanting around down south, there was some Easter-egg fun at Becky's cottage up in Muskoka, along with an ad-hoc game of Survivor for all the grandchildren, and not long after that there was time for some croquet-type fun at Mathew's cottage in the Ottawa Vallley. After we got done with all that merriment, Mathew dove head-first into organizing a Web conference called "mesh" that was held at the MaRS Centre in downtown Toronto for two days in May, with about 450 people attending and a series of keynote interviews, as well as panels and workshops on blogs, wikis, podcasts and all sorts of other Webby goodness. Then pretty soon the time had rolled around for Meaghan's 13th birthday -- another teenager in the Ingram household. Hallelujah! And by then it was warm enough for a little bit of pool-type fun and some horseback-riding for Caitlin.

                           

June and July were not great, unfortunately. Becky's father Bob was diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer and went downhill fairly rapidly, and passed away in mid-July. But he was in no pain for the last few weeks, and was surrounded by his loving family. He lived a wonderful life, and we all miss him very much (there's a website tribute here). It was difficult to enjoy things much after that, but the kids had fun canoeing around and even kayaking, in Zoe's case. There was also a trip to camp for Meaghan and Zoe, where the youngest Ingram spent the week sleeping in tents at the outdoor camp and had a terrific time. And in between there was time to practice diving at the Ingram cottage at Golden Lake, to lie in the sun on the boat reading books, to catch a fish over by the swamp, and to play some cards at the kitchen table (and yes, Zoe beat all of those teenagers at whatever game they were playing).

                   

We also made time to go on a hike up a mountain or two, and to get up early and watch the fog roll out in the morning, and then hang around on the beach doing as little as possible. Soon, fall was starting to creep in and it was time for Thanksgiving, at which point we decided to deep-fry a turkey using a marvelous contraption that Mathew's mum gave him for his birthday. It worked great -- although it was a bit nerve-wracking boiling 15 litres of oil -- and the turkey was done in a little over half an hour. The fall also saw Zoe dive into playing hockey, the first Ingram ever to do so. She became a member of Team Bubblegum (a name sure to strike fear into the hearts of her tiny opponents) with a bright pink jersey to match, and has played her heart out, including a thrilling game as goalie. Then she dressed up as an angel for Halloween (the older girls were too cool for Halloween this year), and later Becky and Mathew followed her lead by dressing up too -- for a murder mystery at Becky's brother's place. Pretty soon it was time for making gingerbread houses and Christmas concerts of various kinds.

And that's about it for 2006 so far. A couple of big parties left and that will be all she wrote for another year. If you feel like checking out some more Ingram pictures, you can usually find them either at photos.mathewingram.com or at Mathew's Flickr photo gallery page, which is here. For e-mail purposes, Mathew is at mathew@mathewingram.com or mathew@theingrams.caand Becky is at becky@theingrams.ca. Mathew also writes several Web and media-related blogs, which you can find at www.mathewingram.com. We here at Ingram and Co. wish you and yours all the best of the season.