Author Archives: Kids in the Capital guest posts

McLaurin Bay

by Annie

Last summer, the kids and I stopped briefly at the the playground at Parc Martin Larouche in Gatineau (rue Notre Dame at rue Joseph Roy). Julian was 5 and Emma was 2. We didn’t stay for very long because it really was a “big kids” park and Emma wasn’t able to climb up to go down the slides. We noticed that there was a nature trail starting at the playground, but there were too many mosquitoes to venture into the marshy woods at that time of year.

With all of the rain we’ve been getting lately, we were anxious to get out and enjoy the outdoors this weekend. Since Emma is a year older and the mosquito season is over, we thought it would be fun to check out this park and trail again. So we packed a picnic lunch and headed out.

When we arrived, the kids checked out the playground. There are large rock climbing walls that you have to scale to get to the top to access the big windy slides. There are also lots of things to hang from (like monkey bars) and balance on, making it a great park for kids to test their abilities. There are a few swings too (two baby swings, two regular swings), but the highlight really is the play structure.

Once the kids had played for a while, we decided to check out the trail. The trail is 1.6km one-way or 3.2km round trip. It starts from the playground and goes through the woods and across wetlands of McLaurin Bay (Baie McLaurin) before coming out at the Ottawa River. At the start of the trail, there is a sign indicating the number of different species of flora and fauna that can be found along the trail. There are hundreds of different species of birds, fish, amphibians, reptiles, mammals, insects and plants. As I read off the statistics to the kids, they became a little bit anxious that we might run into lots of scary animals along the trail.

The first part of the trail winds through the woods and the colours were brilliant. The next segment is a bridge across the marsh at the edge of McLaurin Bay. The bridge is a series of floating docks with railings held together by a cable, so the bridge moves up and down in the water as you step from one piece of the bridge onto the next. The next part of the trail goes by several lookouts. One of them is a deck overlooking an area populated by beavers (no lodges/dams to be seen today) and the other is a tower with a view of the whole bay. The final segment goes through the woods again and comes out between a few homes in a residential area by the Ottawa River.

I had briefly considered taking our picnic lunch with us on the trail and eating it when we got to the Ottawa River. I’m glad we didn’t though, because the end of the trail at the Ottawa River is all private property except for the very narrow exit of the trail onto the river-side road (Boul. Hurtubise), so there isn’t really anywhere to sit and have a picnic.

All along the trail there is signage indicating the types of birds, fish, trees, and other things that you can find in the nature reserve. The kids enjoyed looking at the pictures and also pointing out the things they spotted along the trail, including different types of squirrels, a dead mouse, a fuzzy caterpillar, interesting mushrooms growing in a tree and plenty of red “Canada” leaves.

Once we got back to the playground, we took out our picnic lunch and ate at one of the picnic tables right next to the play structure. The kids came and went from the table, taking a few bites and then heading off to go down the slide again, and then coming back for more.

The one downside, and perhaps the reason we didn’t stay any longer, is that there are no washrooms at the park. So when nature called, we went on our way…

Annie is an Ottawa-area mom of 2 kids. She blogs about the art and science of parenting at the PhD in Parenting blog.

My Kids Funky Closet
Sunday October 17th 10am- 3pm
The Glebe Community Center
175 Third Ave @ Lyon St in The Glebe

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Filed under Activities for kids, Free, Out of town ideas, Outings, Parks

Costume Swapping for Halloween

by Laura

October 9th is National Costume Swap Day in the United States.  This green event is promoted by Kiwi Magazine, Green Halloween, and Swap.com.  It is a simple idea to save money and the environment too.  Children are encouraged to swap costumes and keep old ones out of the landfill. 

Some children lose interest in dressing like Luke Skywalker or Cinderella.   My kids are happy to reuse costumes but this year they have both outgrown their outfits.  I am not handy with a sewing machine or a glue gun and have purchased costumes in the past.  Instead of spending money or trying to create something in the wee hours of October 30th, simply trade/borrow costumes with fellow trick-or-treaters.  
 
According to the National Costume Swap website, “swapping half the costumes kids wear on Halloween would reduce the annual landfill waste by 6,250 tons, equal to the weight of 2500 mid-sized cars”.   In addition, swapping reduces packaging, transportation, and manufacturing impacts too.  
 
A costume swap can be as simple as sending an email to friends/classmates, or organizing something larger at a brownie/cubs meeting, local library or recreation facility.  I imagine that even folks with little interest in eco-friendly ideas might be keen to save a few dollars.  It is a win/win idea. 
 
Why limit it to children’s costumes?  Adults attend Halloween parties and dress up to hand out treats at the door.  I wonder if my pal Kelly is growing tired of her pink pig costume and would like to dress this year as a defeated Leafs fan?  Perhaps our neighbour Steve wants to swap his vampire cape with my husband and dress as scary mask guy.   Oh, the possibilities are endless.

Although it is not a national event in Canada, a costume swap puts a fresh spin on an old tradition.   It is an opportunity to make a difference, save money and enjoy some holiday fun.   Happy Halloween!

Laura is a wife and Mother to beautiful 8 and 10 year old girls.  She describes herself as an eco-advocate and moderate neat freak with a recessive frugal gene.  Laura provides light-hearted commentary for every day, practical green living on her blog the Mindful Merchant.

My Kids Funky Closet
Sunday October 17th 10am- 3pm
The Glebe Community Center
175 Third Ave @ Lyon St in The Glebe

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Filed under Activities for kids, Events, Free, Parenting tips

Stuffed Paper Bag Turkey Craft

by Alyssa

Thanksgiving is just around the corner and we are starting to get ready by decorating our house with fun (and easy) crafts found across the internet. My daughter has made hand-turkeys, a horn-of-plenty, and painted pictures this year we are going to try something a little different.

I came across this cute idea for a Thanksgiving themed craft, you can make them before the actual event or use them as a Thanksgiving craft to keep little ones busy after dinner! What’s fun about crafts like these is you don’t have to use exactly what’s needed for supplies. We substituted a few ideas of our own to the original idea from Kaboose. They have crafts for just about every occasion!

Stuffed Paper Bag Turkey:
Supplies –

  • Brown paper lunch bags
  • Paint, Markers or crayons (for decorating)
  • Felt pieces (orange, brown, green, and red) or coloured paper (we used paper for this one)
  • 2 medium wiggle eyes (we didn’t have access to eyes so we just drew them on!)
  • White or stick glue
  • Scissors (parents, this is where we come in!)
  • 1 Spoon and brown cardboard

How to make one:

  1. Lay out brown paper bag on a flat surface. Using the paint, markers or crayons to add colour at the opening of the bag. About 5 to 6″ long (this will be the turkey’s tail feathers)
  2. Open up the bag; make sure to make stripes all the way around including the sides!
  3. Carefully cut the stripes with scissors. You can colour the other sides of the strips but this is optional. We left ours brown and gave it a little colour 🙂
  4. Fill the bag up half way with crumpled up newspaper.
  5. Gather the bag together just under the strips and fasten with elastic band. Make sure to fix the strips the way you like them, pinching just under the elastic you can bring them forward and arrange them, these are the turkeys feathers.
  6. If you decide to use paper instead of draw the features on you’ll need to cut the following from felt or paper – orange triangle (beak), red heart (gobbler),brown triangles (feet) and green bowtie.
  7. For the head: Place the spoon face down on the cardboard, trace it and cut it out. Make sure to make the neck long enough to insert into the body. This will be your turkeys head. Glue or draw on eyes, beak and gobbler.
  8. Placing the stuffed bag on its side ruffles up, cut a small hole at the end of the bag where the neck and head should be.
  9. Push the neck of the cardboard head into the hole and add some glue to seal it.
  10. Cut some toes out from the two brown triangles, dab some glue and set the turkey on them so the feet will stick to the bottom. (our turkey stood on his own so we just drew the feet on)
  11. (Optional) Cut out your bowtie and glue it on the front as well.

For extra fun you can try adding a “happy thanksgiving” sign and gluing it on the front of the turkey under the bowtie. You can really use your imagination when it comes to craft and this one is great for it too, we substituted some of the original supplies with what we had around the house and you can do the same too!

These are fairly simple and make a cute center-piece your child can be proud he or she made this thanksgiving! Happy crafting!

Alyssa is an almost-30, stay-at-home mom of two wonderful kids aged 2 (boy) and 6 (girl), together with her husband Patrick. She spends her days taking care of her family, home and everything in between while posting on her blog A Motherhood Experience by night.

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Miller’s Farm

by Deborah

A couple of weekends ago we spent the afternoon with our three grandsons at Miller’s Farm in Manotick (6158 Rideau Valley Drive north). This is a family friendly venue where kids are encouraged to be kids.

There is a lot to see and do. For a small fee we took a wagon ride to the pumpkin field where the kids picked out their own pumpkins. 

We then headed off for a walk through the corn maze. 

The farm includes a market where there are fall mums, decorative gourds and corn, and a beautiful gift shop with seasonal products for Thanksgiving and Halloween. We stocked up on fresh produce; apples for lunches and squash for soup.

Our youngest grandson enjoyed jumping among the haystacks and poking his head through the cut outs to have his picture taken.

We closed out the day with candy apple treats for all. Bring your camera as there are many great photo ops.
 
Deborah is the grandmother to three boys ages 13, 10 and 4.

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Photo tips for a family weekend

by Anna

Another fabulous Fall weekend is upon us and if you are anything like me you take advantage of all the wonderful things that Fall has in store for us. Are you going to a Fair this weekend, Pumpkin picking or just a walk in the forest? All of these things give us wonderful opportunities for photos.

Carp Fair

If you are close to Ottawa then you know that the leaves are starting to change and the colours that are out there are amazing. This is a fabulous time to bring your camera with you and capture some of what you see.

Carp Fair

Here are a few tips to help you capture your weekend.

  1. Not every picture has to include people. Sometimes we tend to bring the camera out and only take photos of the children or the family. But, after you take one of those shots turn around and take a picture of what they are looking at. Capture the surroundings as well as the family. This not only allows you to remember what a fabulous place you were visiting, but gives you options for creating a photo collage or album later.
  2. Capture the colours. Fall is like the last hurrah before the trees are bare and the snow arrives (at least up here in the North). Ensure that you get all of the wonderful colours that are out there for us to see. Make a point of getting the reds, yellows and greens.
  3. Fallen leaves. We have had our share of rain up here, but this weekend is calling for some drier weather. Don’t be shy to gather up the leaves into a pile and jump in. Have the family throw and gather leaves together and capture all the fun.
  4. And this may be the most important tip I have to offer, hand off that camera! Make sure you there are pictures of you as well as everyone else. Far to often those of us behind the camera get left behind.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Anna is a photographer and is offering a “Rock Your Camera” class this November. Love your DSLR but are having trouble getting just the right pictures from it? You are not alone. Join us and learn how to get the best out of your camera. Anna also blogs about her life and family at Life is Good…At the Beach.

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Adventures at Mud Lake

by Krista

I am a city girl that was raised with a cottage, so I appreciate the beauty of leaving the city and heading to the lake/woods. I have not been able to go to my family cottage that much this year, and have been really missing the peace and quiet that comes with being away from it all. It was only when I found myself at loose ends with my almost two-year-old this weekend that I remembered that there is a wonderful spot close by that brings me to the lake, without having to leave the city – MUD LAKE. Located in the Britannia Conservation Area, it is a small wooded lake surrounded by a hiking trail.


We parked on Cassels Street, where the opening to the path is pretty obvious when you are looking for it. Goose was pretty excited by the nature show that she was given, stepping out of the car to see some neat looking caterpillars, fuzzy and multicoloured, nothing like the boring brown and green ones we have at home. We headed down the path and checked out the first little lookout on the water’s edge. We had been there all of three seconds when a duck swam up and walked right up to where we were crouched.


Goose was beyond excited. After many squeals (which somehow did not scare the duck away) I managed to get her back on the path, where we wandered to the next little lookout and saw a couple more ducks and a chipmunk, also a hit. As we continued deeper into the woods, the path wound away from the water. I feared that this might be our undoing, as the lake was the big attraction, but nature won out. There were plenty of bugs, plants, neat looking trees, and birds to keep us both in awe.

After about ten more minutes of walking, we hit a fork in the path. After a little bit of indecision


we headed left and found ourselves on one of several wooden viewing platforms. We were lucky, as there was a Great Blue Heron in the water in front of us. We watched for about ten minutes. We got to see him catch a fish, which delighted Goose, who squealed and startled him.


After he flew away, we turned around and headed home, happy with all we had seen.

Throughout our walk we bumped into a fair number of people, mostly runners, birders or photographers, but it was not at all crowded, even though it was a weekend. A few of the more serious nature lovers were dislodged by the noisy toddler, but they were all good-natured about it. Before we set out I couldn’t recall if the trail was safe for toddlers or suitable for strollers. I decided to chance it and leave the stroller at home and am glad we walked. The trail is certainly suitable for strollers. It is crushed gravel, fairly well packed, and about three feet wide in most sections.


We were there for about one hour, but did not walk the entire trail. It is over 3KM long, too long for the little legs. A cautionary note – there are no fences on the trail, nor at any of the lookouts. I did not feel that it was dangerous, but you do have to keep a close eye on your little ones if they tend to be “adventurous” like mine.


Krista is married to Willy and mom to a 3 year old son, Woo, and 1.5 year old daughter Goose. You can find her at Life in the Hutch or on Twitter @kgraydonald

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Filed under Activities for kids, Free, Outings, Parks

Pampered like a princess

by Deanna

My daughter’s birthday was around the corner and each year, I look for something out of the norm.  We were having a pretend sleep-over, (the girls came dressed in their PJ’s, but sleep at home), and I was looking for something to entertain the eight girls we had invited the month before and one that could keep the attention span of 6 year olds for hours.  That’s when I stumbled upon Official Princesses.   After all, I thought, “What little girl wouldn’t like to be pampered like a princess on her birthday?”

I couldn’t have asked for a better team to entertain a group of girls, who weren’t quite ready to go it alone, but still wanted all the fun of a real sleepover.  The Official Princesses were in character from the moment their toe stepped into my doorway and they didn’t miss a beat all night.  I was first greeted by Sleeping Beauty, who – in her angelic voice said, “Hi there, I’m Aurora, Cinderella is just finishing tidying-up at the castle – but will be on her way shortly. Do you mind if I come in?”  A few minutes later, Cinderella arrived.  Needless to say, the girls were shrieking with excitement.

While Sleeping Beauty read a story, Cinderella whipped up a spa in a matter of minutes, converting my dining room table into a fabulous mini-getaway.  The princesses split the girls in groups of two.  One half made a sparkly wand craft with Sleeping Beauty while the other half were whisked away by Cinderella to this enchanted corner I wouldn’t have recognized as my own dining room if I hadn’t seen it transform myself. They thought of everything.  From scented candles and princess music playing softly in the background, to polka-dot plastic wine glasses spilling over with jelly beans and gum drops.  The girls were doted on for over an hour.  While their sparkly make-up was being applied and their toes and finger nails were drying, I heard Cinderella ask, “Would you like something to read?” as she fanned out an assortment of magazines for their viewing pleasure.

After the crafts and the makeup were done, my living room was turned into a ball room, each of them grabbing a friend and dancing as if they were in a dream.  They played pass the poison apple, pretending to take a bite when they were caught holding it after the music stopped – and then falling into a sweet slumber trance before taking their turn out.  They played princess trivia – guessing the answers to princess questions and after getting it right, the princesses were kind enough to weave in magical stories about the answers.

Before the onslaught of pictures, they had time to answer the slew of questions of inquisitive little minds like… “Where is your prince?” “Is your castle near Ariel’s?” Are you all friends?”, “Does Cinderella really work all the time?”, “What did you wear to the ball?”  When it came time to leave- I went to shake Sleeping Beauty’s hand, but instinctively gave her a huge hug instead. The team at Official Princesses made my little girls dreams come true and my party organization a breeze.

I was planning to take my little one to Disney next year, but after this – I’m not sure that I have to.   If you want to get a glimpse of the princesses in action, they are having a “CHEO Royal Ball” on Nov 28, from 11am-2pm – looks like a magical afternoon with proceeds going to a good cause.   Phone: (613) 435-0802

Deanna is Chief Storyteller for StorylinePR and inspired by the creativity of her 6 year old, Madeline.  She blogs about PR tips and media trends at http://storylinepr.wordpress.com/

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