Monthly Archives: June 2010

Canada Day Fireworks

by Vicky

Are you thinking about taking the kids to see the Canada Day fireworks on Parliament Hill this year? If you are hesitating because the thought of pushing a stroller or keeping a small child close by among thousands and thousands of people all rushing to catch the free OC Transpo bus freaks you out just a little bit?

Here’s a tip, there is this little place with a pretty much unobstructed view of the fireworks, without the throngs of people pushing you from side to side at the end (and no, I don’t mean watching them on TV at home in your living room).

The Minto Bridge near the New Edinburgh Park is a great place little place to watch the fireworks. There are lots of wide open spaces to set up blankets or chairs, or you can find yourself a spot on the bridge like most people do. Street parking in New Edinburgh is free, but it may be hard to find a spot close by so you may have to walk a bit. But the best part is not having to deal with the crowds on Parliament Hill, and making a quick exit down the Vanier Parkway back to the 417!

We haven’t been back to watch the fireworks since having kids.  But at the time, we lived in New Edinburgh, and this was always a great place to spend the evening on Canada Day! Keep in mind that there are no bathrooms close by (but lots of shrubs in New Edinburgh park for a pee pee emergency!)

The Minto Bridge is on Maple Island, behind the old Ottawa City Hall.

Will you be watching the fireworks? What is your favorite spot?

Vicky is the mom to 3.5 year old son named Joel and 9 month old daughter named Mieka. You can read her blog at blog Some Kind of Wondermom.

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Celebrating Canada Day

Canada Day is almost here and there is no better place to celebrate it then here in Ottawa. But with all the activities going on around the city, how do you choose?

Tell us how you celebrate Canada Day in the capital. Do you visit the Hill? Take in the fireworks? Host a backyard party for friends? Take part in a neighbourhood celebration.

We want to hear how you celebrate!

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Noongam Aboriginal Powwow

by Sara

I’m not sure how I stumbled onto the Noongam Traditional Powwow but am I ever glad I did.  The cultural celebration took place this weekend at Queen Juliana Park, which is across from Dow’s Lake (intersection of Carling Avenue and Preston street).  Admission is free although donations are encouraged.

We arrived at noon on Sunday to watch the preparations for the Grand Entry and the start of the powwow.  Because this is a cultural celebration and not intended as entertainment, there are limited concessions and scheduled activities.  There is plenty of seating available but make sure to bring lawn chairs or a blanket (and an umbrella).  Before the powwow got underway my boys were happy to run around the back field with a group of other children who were hiding from the hot sun and playing with pine cones underneath the trees.

Because a powwow is a cultural event, there are rules and etiquette, which vary depending on the region.  The National Aboriginal Veteran’s Association has written a helpful guide, “What’s What” and “Who’s Who” – Pow Wow Etiquette about what to expect when you attend a powwow.

We had not expected to be invited to join the Grand Entry today but were very excited when the MC invited the audience to participate.  One of the dancers explained the rules to us before we entered the dance circle (no photographs, children walk beside their parents), showed us the basic step, and then provided adults with tobacco to make an offering upon entrance to the dance circle.

Not 2 minutes into the circle, it started to rain.  The drizzle was a welcome relief to the heat of the day!  My youngest didn’t understand stepping in time to the drum beat and was quite happy to march alongside my husband but I spent almost the entire entry watching our four year try to keep his step in time with the drum beat.  He was mesmerized by the dancers and elders that we followed.  Despite the rain we were honoured to participate: you could feel the rhythmic drums and singing in your chest and it was amazing to watch the dancers in their beautiful regalia.

Our powwow experience was interrupted by the unrelenting downpour but I’m glad we had the chance to participate in our first powwow today.  We hope it won’t be our last.

Listings for Ontario powwows can be found at:

500 Nations

Aboriginal Experiences

Sara is mom to a 4-year-old firefighter and 2-year-old monkey.  You can find her at her blog, My Points of View

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Staying cool with kids

by Colleen

Summer time, and the living is . . . not always easy, especially when there’s a heat wave! Once school or preschool ends and the days heat up, it can be a challenge to keep yourself and the kids cool all day, especially without using an air conditioner. Sure a little a/c can’t hurt on those REALLY hot days, but by reducing your usage on moderate days, you can save a lot of money–and reduce the environmental impact of summer cooling.

So here are some kid-friendly ideas for staying cool–without switching on the a/c.

At Home
– Instead of keeping the whole house cool, try to make one or two rooms “cool zones”. Get black-out curtains for mid-day, and good window fans to grab the cooler evening air. Use your imagination and make this space into the North Pole or Antarctica by draping cushions with towels and calling them icebergs. When you want to cool off, head to the North Pole and draw some penguins to keep you company!
– Put all your fans to use. Even your bathroom or kitchen vents can be used in the daytime to churn out some of your hot air and suck some cooler air up from the basement if you have one.
– Put some cold water in the bathtub, and head in for some wading when you need a break. This can cool down your whole body. (Be safe and make sure the kids don’t slip and fall! Never leave a bathtub full of water if kids can access it–this is a potential drowning hazard.)
– Wash laundry on cold. If you have to wash on hot, i.e. for diapers, do it at night when you won’t be adding to the heat of the day.

Out and About
– Choose destinations with a/c: the library, city hall, museums, etc. Bring your snacks and go wild in air-conditioned comfort. The only down side is that the heat always feels worse when you go back outside! One caveat: stay out of the mall or your temptation to buy could outweigh all your smart frugal avoidance of the air conditioner at home!
– Head to outdoor splash pads or pools. For a list of Ottawa’s outdoor water attractions, check out Ottawa Parks and Recreation.
– Stay home and put on the sprinkler, or fill up a kiddie pool. Wading in cold water can cool down your whole body.
– Use a damp cloth or bandanna on your neck or forehead to cool your head.
– Use a parasol to bring the shade with you.

Cool ways with food
– As counterintuitive as it seems, drinking hot tea can cool you down. Look at all the hot places in the world and you will notice that they are tea-drinking cultures. I think it works by making you sweat and thus cooling your body.
– Drinking lots of cool water will help you sweat and keep cool.
– Cook outside. Use a barbecue, or build a solar oven. I’ve even heard of plugging in small appliances outside, though that is not recommended by the manufacturers. Just make sure kids stay away from hot surfaces!
– Use a slow cooker. Its super-efficient design means very little heat escapes, so it won’t heat up your house like a stove top or an oven.
– Eat raw. Gaspatcho, hummus or steak tartare: none will add heat to your house through cooking. Kids love “snack”-type meals, so keep it simple–and cool–with cut up veggies and tofu, and some healthy dips.
– Eat “cooling foods”. Do a search to find lists of these “yin” foods, including cucumber, pineapple and turmeric, which may lower your body temperature.
– Want a super science project? Build a solar oven and take advantage of the sun’s energy and high outdoor temperatures–with the bonus of teaching your kids about the greenhouse effect!

What are your favourite ways of keeping cool with your kids?

Colleen is the mother of a 3-year-old monkey and a 9-month-old bear cub. She blogs about frugality, food and green living at frugal + urban.

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Painting with milk

by Brie

We visited the Main Farmer’s Market one weekend and were lucky enough to be there for a science experiment themed kids activity. The wonderful volunteer preformed a number of neat tricks, all of which we have been recreating at home. This one was the girl’s favorite.

Before you begin assemble all the supplies necessary: a pie plate or small baking dish, a cup of homogenized milk, food colouring in the three primary colours and a bottle of dish soap.

The kids and I all sat on the floor for this activity. I figured it would be easier to just sit on the floor and clean it up instead of sitting at the  table and then having to clean off the table and the floor. Because with my kids, messes always creep off the table and onto the floor.

The boy poured the milk from a measuring up into the square baking dish we used. Once that was done, I had to moderate a heated discussion about who would get which colour of food colouring and who would get two colours and who would get one. Sigh. Needless to say the girl managed to out talk her brother and convince him he only wanted one colour. Ah, the life as the older sibling.

Ideally, you would like to put three drops of each colour (blue, yellow and red) into the milk. The drops should be spaced out evenly from each other, almost forming a triangle. My kids dropped copious amount of each colour into the milk in a Jackson Pollack like pattern. But that’s okay. It just makes for more interesting milk art!

When the drops are all in, it is time to bring on the dish soap! This is the best part. I let the boy squirt the soap into the middle of the dish and then we all watched as whoosh went the colours. The soap pushed away the food colouring closest to it, causing the colouring to then blend with the milk and other colours. We spent a good long time watching the red, yellow and blue mix and mingle with each other. We pointed out new colours as they emerged and looked for different shapes.

Then the girl put her hand into the milk and swirled it all around until the only identifiable colour was a light purple. I finally took the pan away once they tried to dip their feet into it.

From what I understood when the market volunteer preformed this experiment for us, the soap causes the coloured milk to move around because it is chasing the fat in the homogenized milk. Or something like that. Whatever the science behind it, we all enjoyed the art of painting with milk.

Brie is the mom of a 3.5 year old daughter “the girl” and twenty-one month old son “the boy”. You can read her blog at Capital Mom.

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Filed under Activities for kids, Crafting

Muddy Boots Photography Winner!

Our fabulous Father’s Day giveaway has ended. And what a fabulous giveaway it was! Amy from Muddy Boots Photography offered up a gift certificate for $250 off one of the following sessions: a basic session, maternity and newborn or wedding.

The lucky winner of the giveaway was Suzanne. Congratulations Suzanne! We can’t wait to hear about your photo shoot.

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A Trip to Valleyview Little Animal Farm

by Isabelle

Last week, I had the opportunity to accompany my son’s daycare on a field trip to Valleyview Little Animal Farm, located on Fallowfield Road, just off Highway 416. Our visit started with a short slide presentation meant to introduce the kids to the different animals they were about to see. The 2- to 4-year olds seemed to enjoy the presentation, although I think they were raring to go and were a little disappointed to have to sit indoors for a few minutes when they first got there (practically speaking, however, it enabled everyone to use the washroom, which was a really good thing). After the slide presentation, everyone got on a tractor-pulled “train” to tour some of the crops. Because of the time of year, we didn’t see much growing yet (corn, soya beans, to name but a few), but the under-4 crowd really enjoyed the ride.

Next, we visited the goats, sheep, and chickens, all in an indoor barn. The kids especially enjoyed feeding the goats themselves:

Then, we toured the outdoor animal enclosures, which included cows, pigs, peacocks, ducks, llamas, and deer. The kids ran relatively quickly through those, because they were anxious to get to the play structures, which I think were the best part of the whole farm. I lost count of all of the different wooden vehicles they had there, but my little guy particularly loved the truck, helicopter, and locomotive.

There was also a large pirate ship playstructure as well as one made up of different indoor and outdoor tunnels – the kids played in those two for a long time.

We ate a picnic lunch while we were there – there is a nice set-up of covered picnic tables for groups, and even some coolers out front for lunch boxes. Including lunch, our visit lasted about 3.5 hours – I thought that was a bit long for the little ones, who were tired of playing (!) before the bus came to pick us up. I would recommend planning a two-hour visit, perhaps with a short snack break halfway through. There is a snackbar on location if you’re in a hurry and don’t have time to pack a lunch or snack before heading out.

Isabelle is the mom of 3.5 year old Jay and two-month old Rosie. You can also find her at Dr. Peach’s Blog.

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Filed under Activities for kids, Attractions, Outings