Author Archives: eisangel3

Noodle Box

by Sara

On February 14, 2008 I bought a Rubbermaid container and 4 bags of alphabet pasta.  It was our Valentine’s day present for the, then almost-two-year-old, firefighter.  We filled the container with the noodles and several of his favourite construction vehicles and voila, our very own construction site!  Two years ago the total cost for everything was less than $20.

The firefighter, on Valentine’s day, loving the  noodle box.

Two years later we still have the same box and the same noodles.  Although many have been sacrificed to the dog and vacuum. 

The noodle box is a toy that is kept behind closed doors.  I bring it out for the firefighter when I am working.  He will put the lid beside him and take out all the toys he doesn’t want to use.  He will play happily for 30-45 minutes.

The monkey also loves the noodle box but he needs be supervised as noodles usually end up spread far and wide.  I find the fewer toys I leave in the box, the more creative (and less disastrously messy) the play is.

It makes for a great rainy day or “I need 15 minutes to get dinner ready” activity).  We also have a rubbermaid container filled with Moon sand and assorted scooping and digging toys.

Do you have any sensory box activities at your house?

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

Trick or Treat to a Wicked Beat

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Filed under Activities for kids, Parenting tips

Apple Crisp

by Sara 

We went apple picking with Kids in the Capital on Sunday at Cannemore Orchard.  We had a great time with all our friends and came home with two huge bags of apples. 

What was the first thing we did?  We baked an apple crisp! 

It’s a recipe that I copied from my parents onto a tattered recipe card.  Its one of the first things I learned to bake.  It’s not the fanciest recipe but its the one I grew up with and the one my boys have always baked with me.  

The firefighter's favourite part

Wash and peel 4-6 medium apples.  Core and slice (thin) 

 

Melt 1/2 cup of butter and mix with:
3/4 cup rolled oats
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup flour
1 tsp cinnamon 

Second favourite part: mixing 

Grease a 9×9 pan, spread the apples slices in the bottom, and crumble the topping mixture on top.
Bake for 35 to 40 minutes at 350 degrees 

Now we wait... 

And don’t forget the vanilla ice cream.  Or frozen yogurt if you’re Losing It, like me! 

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

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Filed under Cooking

Versatile Muffin Mix

by Sara

With the start of the Losing It In Ottawa website, we’ve been looking for healthy snack options.  What I like most about this recipe is its versatility.  You can add chocolate chips, raspberries, blueberries, raisins, dried apricots, dried mango: whatever it is that tickles your tastebuds.  Another combination that has worked well for us is grated apple (1 cup) and grated carrot (already included in the recipe). 

If you decide to leave out the cup of grated vegetables, make sure to include another 1/4 to 1/2 cup of applesauce to make up for the lost moisture.

1/4 cup canola oil

1 egg

1 cup grated carrots or zucchini (or 1/4 to 1/2 cup of applesauce)

1 3/4 cups whole wheat flour

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 cup brown sugar

3/4 cup applesauce

Whisk egg, canola oil, and then applesauce.  Add in sugar and mix.  Add shredded vegetables to the ‘wet’ mixture.

In another bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and any fruit or sweets you decide to add (e.g., blueberries, raisins, chocolate chips)

Stir the two mixtures together.  Makes 12 muffins.

Bake for 18 minutes at 400 degrees.

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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Brewer Park

by Sara

Despite several nearby parks, we regularly make the trek from Orleans to Old Ottawa South to take the boys to Brewer Park.  Its located across the street from Carleton University, tucked away behind the City of Ottawa Brewer Complex.  There is a large parking lot off Bronson Avenue but you can also park on the many shaded side streets off Sunnyside Avenue, which are right beside the park.  If you use the parking lot, you need to walk across two soccer fields to access the park.

Brewer Park is divided into five areas:

1) A  fenced-in (but not impervious to adventurous toddlers) area with two play structures suitable for the littlest members of the family.  The fire truck play structure is a big hit with my two boys.

2) A play structure on rubber mats for preschool children

3) A multi-level splash pad (there is a large ramp and bridge to access the upper level and water slide)

4) A larger play structure for elementary aged children

5) A sandy area with wheel-chair accessible sand tables, activity walls, and swings.

There are also several shady spots to set-up blankets for snack time and picnics as well as one large covered picnic area in the middle of the park.  The only disadvantage is that the play structure for older children is separated from the rest of the park (by the splash pad), which makes it hard to supervisor children of different ages.  One last important detail: there are (clean) washroom’s located next to the toddler area.

What I love most about Brewer Park is the variety.  Both my boys have very different interests and Brewer is one of the few parks where they are easily occupied, entertained, and safe.  Their play structures have fewer death-defying drops and are generally safer for small kids, which is one of the drawbacks of our neighbourhood parks.  My 2-year-old can explore and climb without me hovering right behind him.  While my four-year old love splash pads, my 2-year old hates spraying water; however, at Brewer there is a splash pad and water slide, which means they’re both happy to play in the water.

Unlike a lot of parks in new suburban areas, the play structures at Brewer are protected by shade (depending on the time of day), which makes it a great place to visit on really hot and humid days.  It’s often busy because camps and daycare’s frequent the park so be prepared to keep a close eye on your kids, as its easy to lose them in the melee of swim-suited bodies running around.

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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Filed under Free, Parks

Suburban garden

When we bought our new house this winter I was worried about what state we might find the garden in when the snow melted.  Based on the evidence in the backyard and the owner’s comments, it looked like we would be sharing our yard with a very large family of rabbits.

But lo and behold not a hint of rabbit presence when we moved in.  After we finished building the sandbox, we decided to add a small vegetable garden next to it.  My 4-year-old is an outdoorsy sort who loves to garden and eat vegetables.  Last summer the first thing he did upon arrival at my parents was rush out into the backyard to pick and eat cherry tomatoes.

Our first step was clearing a small, flat area in the backyard.  We chose a spot near the back corner where it would be out-of-the-way of flying balls and scorching sun.

Levelling the spot was half the fun and necessitated many shovels and even work gloves.

We chose to use 2×10 untreated wood to build a frame for our garden.  The wood cost less than $15 at Home Depot and we had them cut it there into 2 three-foot and 2 six-foot lengths.  We decided to use a frame so that, if we need to, we can add a wire fence around the perimeter if local critters decide to use the kids garden as a salad bar.

The assembly was a simple process: all I needed was a drill and 12 deck screws.  It took approximately 10 bags of soil to fill the box: we thought we’d only need 6 but it packs down quite a bit after you water it.

Because we started in mid-June, we used plants instead of seeds to start our garden.  The boys chose strawberries, cucumbers, tomatoes, and broccoli to start us off this year.

We now have little green tomatoes growing in the garden and my 4-year old checks on them every day.  His favourite part is filling up his watering can at the rain barrel and watering all the plants.  A quick tip: rain barrels sell for at least 50% retail cost if you buy them on www.usedottawa.com or www.kijiji.ca.

And so far, not a single rabbit has nibbled on any of our greenery!

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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Filed under Gardening

Dragonboat Festival: Mooney’s Bay Beach

by Sara

Neither my husband or I had ever attended the Tim Horton’s Ottawa Dragon Boat festival (despite our best intentions) but we decided this was going to be the year.   The event starts on Friday evening and runs right through until Sunday night.  Over the course of 2 and a half days there are multi-cultural activities and events, live music, roving entertainment, and of course, dozens of teams competing in the races.  There’s even a children’s area, which this year included performances by an illusionist, Little Ray’s Reptiles, Radical Science, and a visit from Spartacat. 

This year the festival raised over $320,000 for several local charities, including the Sens Foundation, CHEO foundation, Bruyere Foundation, ArtsSmarts, The Ottawa Humane Society, University of Ottawa Institute of Mental Health Research, and Debra Dynes Family House. 

We parked at Canada Post (for free) and then walked over to Mooney’s Bay (about 15 minutes).  There are several off-site parking locations that are connected to the festival by OC Transpo Shuttle bus.  

Clearly we missed out on a lot of the fun of the festival since we were there before noon and didn’t stick around for the beer tent or live music but we did partake in the family-friendly activities, which is what this blog is all about. 

We started our day at Mooney’s Bay beach, which is right beside a giant shaded play ground.  The highlight for the boys was throwing sticks into the water and wading into the waves as they watched the boats race by.  It was a great place to watch the races from: we could see the boats heading out to the starting line and then watch them race to the finish line.  And because there are so many heats you don’t have to wait long for the action to start.

We strolled through the staging area where all the teams wait and line up for their turn in one of the massive boats.  We wanted a closer look at the dragons!  It was impressive to watch all the teams waiting in a huge line that snakes all through the staging area.  Even the boys were silenced by all the cheering and singing as people prepared for their races.

The Kid’s Zone featured bouncy castles, soccer equipment, a stage for music and shows, face painting, and balloons.  Because the park turns into a veritable tent city for the weekend, it was nice to have a kid-friendly area that was fenced off and easily accessible to families. 

Although the 2010 Dragon Boat Festival is over, there are other events in the Ottawa region this summer.  The Rideau Canoe Club hosts a Dragon Boat Festival on Saturday August 21st and there is another festival on September 11th in Carleton Place

And don’t forget, the next big event at Mooney’s beach is coming up on July 11, 2010: The Hope Volleyball Summerfest!

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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Filed under Events, Free

Canada Day Craft

by Sara

Now that my four-year old is done preschool for the year I am in craft-planning mode.  I work from home, which means there is a 2 hour window every afternoon that I need to fill when I work and he needs to be kept busy.

We like to decorate our house for all of the holidays and celebrations so our craft yesterday was a Canada flag.  I chose it because aside from sketching out the side bars and his hand (as the maple leaf) it required minimal mom intervention.  We used red paint but it can also be done with crayons, markers, or finger paint, for the younger kids. 

1.  Outline the Canada flag on a large piece of white paper.  The outline of a hand makes a great maple leaf!

2.  Cover your table or art space, especially if its new (like our table) and you don’t want red paint everywhere (which I don’t).  Our dining room table is still wearing its badge of green honour from our St. Patrick’s day craft.

3.  Fill in the red spaces with paint, glitter glue, tissue paper, markers, crayons, red stickers, red feathers, or construction paper. 

4.  Hang in a place of prominence for all to admire.

Happy Canada Day!

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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Filed under Crafting