Author Archives: Vicky B.

A visit to the Byward Market

by Vicky

I love the Byward Market this time of year. The pumpkins, squash and sunflowers are out, and the fall colours are just stunning. On Sunday, we were looking for something to do outside with the kids, and decided to take a drive downtown. There is so much to see, do and eat in the Market, and we definitely covered all three of these categories!

Street parking is free on Sundays, if you can find a spot. We cruised for a while before heading right to the parking garage on Clarence. We walked through the courtyard and threw some pennies in a fountain. Then we walked right up to Sussex to check out the giant spider in front of the National Gallery. This was very amusing for Joel, he spun around and around the spider’s legs and giggled when I pointed up to the net of spider eggs hanging from the middle. This led to some interesting questions about how the spider had babies in her tummy and if it was  just like the way he was once in my tummy.

Next we walked down Sussex and stopped to look at models of downtown Ottawa. We talked about the buildings and the different streets, pointing out the peace tower and Major’s Hill Park. We collected acorns and maple leaves and then took the elevator next to 700 Sussex back down to the market.We walked back down George and checked out the totem pole, and looked at some beautiful bunches of flowers. (I wish I had bought some).

 

There were buskers and musicians to watch, but little people were hungry! I suggested we get a Beavertail, you can’t really visit the market without eating one. But guess what? Little people didn’t like Beavertails! Shocking I know! (Daddy ate it).  So we wandered through the streets window shopping, and made our way to the Moulin de Provence bakery, (where you can buy the famous Obama cookies) for another snack – a pumpkin cookie fit the bill.

All in all, the Byward Market provided nearly 2 hours of entertainment on a beautiful sunny almost-autumn day.  Add in a couple of history lessons (and an Entomology lesson on spiders!) and our afternoon was also educational.

I encourage you to take in what our city has to offer! I know I often take for granted all the beautiful and historical landmarks we have right in our own backyard. Why not play tourist for a day with your kids, I’m sure you’ll enjoy it just as much as we did.

Vicky is the mom to 3.5 year old son named Joel and 1 year old daughter named Mieka. You can read her blog at blog Some Kind of Wondermom.

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Filed under Activities for kids, Attractions, Free

Out of town activities: Granby Zoo

by Vicky

Recently we took a trip to the Granby Zoo, and LOVED it. I’m pretty sure I can speak for my whole family and say we can’t wait to go back again. On a scale of 1-10, this place is an ELEVEN.

Granby is about a 3 hour drive from Ottawa, just past Montreal. We thought about doing the trip in one day, to avoid a potentially sleepless night, trying to get the kids to sleep in a hotel room without waking each other up. In the end we decided to just go for it and spend the night. I’m glad we did.

The drive down went well, except for the major grid lock we got stuck in waiting to cross the Champlain bridge off the island. We were stuck for about 45 mins, and the kids were just starting to get fed up by the time we made it through. Luckily we were traveling with friends who were a bit ahead of us and warned us of the upcoming traffic.

We stayed at the Hotel Granbyen, which had a zoo package deal. We paid $210 for a one night stay, 3 zoo passes (kids 2 and under are free) and breakfast the next morning. I don’t think I’d stay at the Granbyen again, but there are several hotels in Granby and most of them have zoo packages, so shop around. We got to the zoo around 11:30, and ate a quick lunch in the parking lot. I packed sandwiches, drinks, fruit, hummus & pita and some cookies.

Zoo Tip #1 – Bring a picnic lunch, or even a cooler! The zoo encourages you to bring your own food, and you can even rent a wagon, double stroller or single stroller while you are there. We saw a lot of people towing wagons with coolers on top. We rented a double stroller for $10 for the whole day and it was well worth the money! The kids all took turns having a ride when they got tired from all the walking.

Zoo Tip #2 – Pick up a map and a passport at the front gates. There are stamps throughout the zoo that you can collect, similar to the Children’s Museum at the Museum of Civilization. Sadly we missed the passports on our way in.

Our first stop was Africa where we saw giraffes, zebras, flamingos and hippos. I really enjoyed the hippo river, which you can go behind to get a close-up view of the hippos under water. Along our way there were many installations like the Madagascar style plane, or a desert jeep, for the kids to climb on.

Next stop was the rides park. Can you imagine how exciting it was to find out that most of the rides were FREE? The kids hopped on the airplanes, then ran to the bumper cars, then on the bus ride, and we finished off with a train ride. We had a quick snack and then headed over to South America.

Zoo tip #3 The ice cream in the amusement park is REALLY good and not very expensive!

The kids were excited about taking the Orient Express elevated train, so we all hoped on for an aerial view of Asia. There was an extra charge for this ride, but it was fun. You can park your stroller at the train gate.

After this train ride, we popped into the petting zoo! This was lots of fun for the kids, since they were allowed to climb right in this large gated pen to get right up close with the pigs and goats! The animals ate hay right out of our hands.

Next it was time for dinner. We decided to eat in Le Marche, which I thought was a restaurant. It turned out to be a food court, and the selection was not great, and not very healthy. Next time I think I’ll pack extra food so we can have a picnic for dinner as well.

It was getting close to 6:00pm and the kids started to get cranky, but I really wanted to check out the water park. So we sent the husbands back to the car to get our swimsuits, and started walking toward the water park. I am SO happy we decided to go, that was the best part of our visit!

Zoo tip #4 You can go back and forth between the zoo and the water park as often as you want!

We could have spent the entire day at the water park, it was like being at a resort! With older kids, I would even recommend buying a 2 day pass to the zoo and going back the next day to spend the whole day playing in the water. Joel loved the wave pool, and had a blast jumping in the waves. We didn’t even have a chance to check out the splash pad, or the lazy river.

All in all I can’t say enough good things about this place. The price, the cleanliness, the quality of care for the animals, the installations. It was definitely the highlight of our summer!

The zoo is open all winter, and they also have a special Halloween themed events on the last three weekends of October. For information about hotels and camp sites, you can call the Tourist Information Center at 1-866-472-6292 or visit the Granby Bromont Tourist website. I would recommend checking out the map on the he Granby Zoo’s website before you go!

Vicky is the mom to 3.5 year old son named Joel and 1 year old daughter named Mieka. You can read her blog at blog Some Kind of Wondermom.

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Filed under Attractions, Out of town ideas

Ottawa’s Cake Boss

by Vicky

Let me introduce you to Julie. She is the master baker behind Sugar and Spice Bakery. I first discovered her cakes when I was at a birthday party for a friend’s son. Julie recreated an In the Night Garden cake perfectly. Iggle Piggle stood with his blanket next to Upsy Daisy in the center of the cake, which was surrounded by individual blades of grass made from fondant. I could not believe the detail in this cake, it was almost too pretty to eat!

I waited for an opportunity to order a cake for one of my own parties. I hosted a baby shower for Lara and ordered this cake from Julie.

Can I also rave about her cupcakes? I splurged and ordered myself a dozen for my birthday. And then I did it again for Valentine’s Day! Just recently Julie donated 2 dozen cupcakes for the Post-Blogher Meet up. Aren’t they amazing? Red velvet!


(photo source: Angela Auclair)

If you’re thinking of booking a cake for your child’s next birthday, you need to book fast! Julie is in demand and there’s no question why!

Just for kicks, here are a few of my favourite cakes that she’s made:


(Photo source: http://www.sugarandspicebakery)


(Photo source: http://www.sugarandspicebakery)


(Photo source: http://www.sugarandspicebakery)


(Photo source: www.sugarandspicebakery)

Vicky is the mom to 3.5 year old son named Joel and 1 year old daughter named Mieka. You can read her blog at blog Some Kind of Wondermom.

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Paper boats

by Vicky

Bored with the same old backyard kiddie pool, today we decided to change things up a bit with a paper boat race! I remember my nanny making these for us as birthday party hats when I was younger. Unfortunately I could not remember how to make a paper boat/hat, myself, but thankfully the Internet had many step by step instructions.

Here’s a link to some instructions with photos, but you can also find how-to videos by googling ‘paper boats’.

We made 5 paper boats out of construction paper, which seemed like a good idea at the time, but I quickly realized that construction paper disintegrates faster than most paper! I grabbed my tape gun and re-enforced one of the boats, then we headed out to the pool.

Joel had a great time launching his boats into the water and watching them float. He asked me to invite a friend over so he could have a paper boat race, but we couldn’t reach anyone. I think we’ll definitely have to repeat this activity with some friends. Can you just imagine the possibilities – boat making and decorating, adding a paper sail or two with straws, launching on the count of three, and seeing who’s boat will reach the finish line first!

When I was a child I remember making a small boat with my cousin out of Kinderegg capsuls and popsicle sticks. We floated them down a creek near his house. I ran along the edge of the creek with so much excitement, urging my little boat along.

It’s amazing how something so little can keep a child entertained for so long!

Vicky is the mom to 3.5 year old son named Joel and 1 year old daughter named Mieka. You can read her blog at blog Some Kind of Wondermom.

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Filed under Activities for kids, Crafting

Kinderville products – so good you’ll want to eat them. + GIVEAWAY!

*contest is now closed*

by Vicky

I’ll admit it, when I first laid my hands on these Little Bites Bowls from Kinderville, I had a sudden urge to bite them. Maybe I’ve been reading too much Twilight?  But the colours, the texture, the smell… all beckoning me to bite down and gnom-gnom-gnom! If I were a teething child, they would be my chew toy.

This could very well be the best compliment ever – so good you’ll want to eat them?

The texture of Kinderville products is just one of the many things you will love. Made from silicone, they are not only BPA, phthalate and lead free, they are also bacteria resistant and dishwasher, refrigerator, freezer and microwave safe. Bonus! I don’t think I own any other dish that is so versatile.

Let me tell you just how excited I was to have been given the opportunity to review this product. When Gwen from Nayla Natural Care dropped off the box, it’s no wonder I had an urge to eat them – the packaging alone was only one indication of just how scrumptious they were. I was just about to open the box when my 3 and a 1/2 year old ran by and snatched it from my hands. Apparently he was hungry too. Together we took them out of the box, and decided it was time for a snack. I dropped a few pretzels into the bowl and off he went.

The bowls are nice and wide which helps avoid spills, and are also the perfect depth for little hands; not too deep to get lost in, and just the right size for a snack. They also work well on the highchair tray, since the silicone prevents them from sliding around too much. Mind you, they aren’t too helpful in actually preventing my 13 month old from pitching her food onto the floor at lunch time! We’ve used them outside, and in the living room too (gasp!) Is it bad that I’ve also been using them for my own snacks? Why should the kids get all the fun!

You know that cupboard in your kitchen with all the sippy cups, bottles, and kid friendly bowls? The one that things fall out of every single time you open it? Well these bowls are stackable, so you don’t have to worry about the real estate you’ll have to uncover to store them. And besides, you’ll really want to pitch those other bowls when you get these.

Kinderville also has storage jars, cups, freezer trays and popsicle molds which are all available for purchase at Nayla Natural Care, owned and managed by Gwen.  This busy mom of two has put together an excellent selection of safe, non-toxic, high quality and unique products for your family  in one convenient spot! She also tests and approves all the products before they make it into the store, so you know you’re buying only the best, mom-approved products available!

If you haven’t yet discovered Nayla or the Kinderville line, you’ll want to check it out.

Happy gnoming, er I mean shopping! 😉

Vicky is the mom to 3.5 year old son named Joel and 1 year old daughter named Mieka. You can read her blog at blog Some Kind of Wondermom.

WIN SOME!!

Gwen has generously given us a set of Kinderville Little Bites Bowls to give away to one of our readers.  To enter visit the Nayla Natural Care site and come back and tell us what product you would most like from the shop.

Once you’ve done that, you can get extra entries by:

– signing up for Nayla’s email newsletter

– “liking” Nayla Natural Care on Facebook

– “liking” Kids in the Capital on Facebook

Please leave an extra comment for every extra thing you do.  Good luck!

Contest closes on Sunday August 8 at midnight.

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Surviving the cottage with kids

by Vicky

On a bit of a whim, I booked a week’s holiday at a cottage with a friend and her family. I found it on www.cottagelink.com, and it looked beautiful. One of the features that sold me instantly was that it was owned by a family with young children, so everything we needed was already provided: highchair, crib, change table, toys, toys and more toys, picnic table, wagon, playstructure etc. Also the water was only a foot deep off the dock, so despite not having a beach, it was shallow enough to enjoy with my 1 year old.

This was my first experience renting a cottage with kids. I’ve been lucky to have friends with cottages and have enjoyed many summer holidays by the lake since I was a teenager. But this time was different. It was great to see the kids enjoying the water and playing outside, but it wasn’t what I would call a relaxation vacation. Someone still has to cook, clean and get the kids in bed so it’s not exactly a break for the parents.

That being said, I definitely think I’ll try it again next summer, and I’ll be better prepared for it with this list of tips on how to survive a week at the cottage with kids.

  1. Portable DVD player – your best friend. If you don’t have a built in DVD player in your car, this is the next best thing. Throw a movie on, with headphones, and you’re guaranteed a quiet trip. Also this is great for a bit of quiet time in the afternoon if the cottage has no TV or cable.
  2. Plan your meals ahead of time. Make a quick menu for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and pack food items you already have at home. Make a grocery list and pick up what you need before you go or in the closest town if that’s possible (or if space in your car is limited). You don’t need to stick to the menu per say, but when kids are hungry you won’t be running around trying to figure out what to cook for lunch.
  3. Do not over pack clothes. I brought WAY too much for the kids – a different outfit for every day, plus extras. What happened was that my son stayed in his bathing suit all day long with a pair of crocs. Shirts can be rung out and hung to dry, and most cottage towns have a Laundromat for emergencies (like being thrown up on, twice!)
  4. Bring long-legged PJs for evenings. Cottages can be sweltering during the day, but get cool at night.
  5. Swimming tires kids out! If you are trying to get a nap out of your kids, get them into the lake just before nap or bed time. If you can also give them a bath in the lake, you’ll speed up the bedtime process (speaking of which can anyone recommend a good biodegradable baby shampoo or soap?)
  6. Bring a box of activities to keep them busy. I brought colouring books, activity books and paints which were all used. Why not try making a nature scavenger hunt that you can work on during the week?
  7. If you are cottaging with friends, it helps to have similar aged kids so they can play together. My 3 year old got bored quickly with the 3 babies he had as playmates.
  8. Explore the nature! There are so many learning opportunities around that will keep kids busy – go for nature walks, look for frogs, or feed the fish bread off the dock.
  9. Expect that normal routines may not be easy to follow when you’re away. Bed times may be later in a new environment, middle of the night wake ups will happen, and all this can make for cranky kids during the day. I would say try to go with the flow, and once the kids are in bed crack open a beer or a cooler and relax.
  10. One more thing, if you are going to a cottage this summer with your kids, or thinking about it, please be water wise!

What are your tips for an enjoyable cottage vacation?

Vicky is the mom to 3.5 year old son named Joel and 1 year old daughter named Mieka. You can read her blog at blog Some Kind of Wondermom.

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Filed under Camping, Parenting tips

Review – Peg Perego Pliko3 stroller

Since having kids, I find myself checking out other strollers whenever I am at the mall or the park. I liken it to some men scoping out other cars, sizing them up, you know.

And the funny thing is, I notice other moms checking out my stroller too! There are so many strollers on the market, I often can’t help but stare when I see one with a neat feature, or one that I have never seen before. Regardless of all the bells and whistles I happen to notice on other people’s strollers, I am quite content with my Peg Perego Pliko3.

It’s a higher end stroller, retailing for around $300, but in my opinion worth every penny. It has all the features of a great stroller with the ease of transportation of an umbrella stroller.

What I love most about this stroller, which we bought in 2006, is the way it folds up to the size of a golf bag.

When the front wheels are locked in place, it stands up on it’s own, which makes storing it in the garage very easy. It’s lightweight, weighing only 17lbs. The seat reclines completely, another feature I appreciate whenever my child falls asleep. The snack tray is completely detachable (great for taking it off to wash out sticky snack residue!) It has a cup holder for mom, and a generous sized basket underneath. It is compatible with most infant buckets, as they can rest on top of the snack tray.

When my daughter is sitting upright, my 3 year old son can stand on the back ledge and hold on to the handle bars. (Unfortunately this only works if the back of stroller is up, so I couldn’t have him ride on the back when my daughter was in her infant carrier).

The downside? The smaller wheels cannot handle an Ottawa winter, and the sun shade doesn’t close entirely. But that’s it. I would definitely give this stroller a 9/10!

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