Category Archives: Services

Taking your monkey to Two Monkeys Coffee and Tea House

by Amy

Joe and I are big fans of hanging out in coffee shops talking and getting work done, so when we first heard about Two Monkeys Coffee and Tea House while I was still pregnant it seemed like a great idea.
 
Two Monkeys is in Barrhaven in Cedarview Square. It was opened last year by two local parents who wanted to give other parents a place to relax while their children could be entertained. The front of Two Monkeys is just like any other coffee shop, a few tables, a cozier seating area and the counter where you can order countless drinks and tasty treats. Walk down the hallway past the bathrooms, however, and you find a small play area with toys scattered, a blackboard on the wall and soft mats on the floor, as well as couches and chairs where moms and dads can while the kids play.
 
We go to Two Monkeys a couple of times a month, and we have since the baby girl was born. I found it to be a great place to sit and talk with other moms, especially when mine was the youngest of the group. They have good coffee, great pastries and soups and sandwiches that are healthy and tasty. The staff is very helpful and they do have free wireless for those who like to take along the laptop and get some work done while the kids play.
 
I do find that Two Monkeys is not great for older kids who may notice the lack of variety in the available toys sooner than little ones. The play space is small and fills up quickly, so it’s not a place to plan a play date, but if mom and dad just want to sit and read the paper while the kid expends a little energy, I would recommend giving Two Monkeys a try.

Amy is mom to 8-month-old Maggie and a 4 year old schnauzer named Henry. You can read her blog at amyboughner.ca where she writes about motherhood and anything else that’s on her mind. She loves getting active with her family, including husband Joe who blogs about his dad experiences at Grover’s Cape.

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Hockey Girls

by Laura

I never thought having daughters, I would be hanging out in hockey arenas lacing skates and breathing in change room aromas.  Growing up in Toronto (back in the day), girls did not play hockey…that was a “boy” sport. Moving to Ottawa I discovered times have changed and this city offers wonderful hockey programs for girls.

The number of females playing hockey is rapidly growing according to the Hockey Canada  website.  In 1999 there were 43,421 females registered compared to 2009 when the number almost doubled at 85,624.

I remember the day our 5 year old daughter asked if she could play hockey.  Hockey??? She informed us that girls could play hockey, you know, and her friends were registered in Fundamentals learn to play program.

I did some research and spoke to parents. Different associations offer programs for girls depending where you live in the city.  People shared with me the pros and cons, so I will mention both.  Let’s start with some negatives because they might discourage parents from considering the sport.

It is an expensive sport. Compared to others it can be, but keep in mind the season is long and runs from September to the end of March.  Being a frugal Mama, there are ways to offset the costs. We swap or borrow used equipment with friends and neighbours.  You can also buy and sell used equipment at stores likeTim’s or Play it Again Sports. Individual teams also fundraise and secure sponsorship to help with other costs like tournaments.

It is a big commitment.  Our experience in house league is a game or practice Saturday and Sundays.  I have heard, as the kids get older the times shift from games on the weekend to mid-week but we haven’t seen much of that.  Yes, our weekends are busier, but only during the day.

Now for the good points. Great exercise benefits and skills learned like co-ordination, teamwork, patience and perseverance – all acquired with big emphasis on fun. Every Coach must complete courses on how to coach in a positive, fun way.  The local league measures success not by wins/losses or championship trophies, but by girls wanting to participate again next season.  I believe the other hockey leagues have similar philosophies.  This strategy seems to be working because six years later our girls and their friends continue to play.

For our girls, hockey is social, chatting on the bench, helping each other, making new friends. We like that they have friends outside of school. We notice our youngest daughter grew more confident after her first year. As long as they continue to enjoy the sport, we will be schlepping hockey bags to arenas.

You are never too old to learn hockey. Our daughter’s 11-year-old friend M tried a week of hockey camp to figure out if she would like to play this winter.  Tomorrow M is starting her first hockey season.  Every year there are girls that never played before and are encouraged to participate.  I have 40-year-old girlfriends that are learning to play. Seriously!

Hockey is not for every child, but having two completely different spirited children I can tell you it is a sport that accommodates even the girliest girls.  Unbelievably, we have found pink hockey tape, pink sticks, pink skate laces and pink hockey bags.  Wayne Gretzky may not know it, but hockey is girlified.  Our daughters taught us to open our minds to the sport.  Their group of hockey pals demonstrate that girls can get out there and own the good ‘ol hockey game.

Hope to see you in the stands. 🙂

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.

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Yoga for youngins at Rama Lotus

by Brie

My four-year old daughter loves to do yoga. Probably because it is so easy for her. She has a flexibility that I will never have again. Ever. The girl will happily drop to the living room floor and get into cobra and then stretch up into downward facing dog. In fact, even my two old son can do a better downward facing dog than I can!

I figured if it was this easy for them they would love an actual yoga class. And they did. For the most part.

The girl and I have been four times now to the preschool yoga class at Rama Lotus on Monday mornings at 10am. I have taken the boy twice.

They liked a lot of things about it. She liked learning some new poses. She is quite happy to make up her own poses, and my favorite is always astronaut pose, but she liked having the teacher show her. They both liked the singing and chanting. And to my surprise the girl really liked the affirmations we learnt. At the time I didn’t think she was listening, but the day after our first class she jumped up in front of me yelling “I am strong!”.

The only drawback I found with this class is that there is a fair bit of sitting on the mat involved. My kids are not sitters. Nor have they ever been. I don’t know if this is a function of the fact that it is a Kundalini yoga class or not, but if some more movement or actions were added the attention spans would be longer.

Thankfully the yoga teacher is excellent. I found her to be very patient and understanding. She kept right on teaching while my boy stacked high and long the yoga blocks into train tracks and towers. Meanwhile I took deep, prana restoring breaths while all the other kids, except mine sat quietly on their mats. Look at that! I managed to get some practice in too.

Brie is the mom of a 4 year old daughter “the girl” and 2 old son “the boy”. You can read her blog at Capital Mom.

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Babynastics

by Amy

My eight-month-old baby girl started kicking in the womb and she’s never really stopped moving. When she was really little we could keep her entertained on her playmat, and then with her Exersaucer and Jolly Jumper, but it didn’t take long for me to start looking for activities for her. She needs to burn a little energy.
 
She enjoyed her swimming lessons over the summer but since the only class I could have enrolled her this term would have been the same, I decided to look elsewhere. I started asking my Twitter friends about gymnastics classes. I took gymnastics when I was a kid and I enjoyed it and I thought she would like it too.
 
It was a Twitter mom that told me about the Ottawa Gymnastics Centre in Westboro. I had never heard of it before but a peek at their website gave me the information I needed. They had a program called Babynastics, specifically for the 8-15 month age group. The program promises rolling, swinging, bouncing and balancing – all things my daughter loves to do – in a completely padded environment.
 
The gymnastics centre is large, colourful and full of things to climb, roll around in, swing and bounce on. My daughter isn’t walking yet but she more than likely will be by the time the class ends in December and I’m happy that she will be able to take something different away from the class every week as her skills develop.
 
After one class I am already amazed by what she can do and I loved watching her face light up as we went around the gym. The other parents even commented on how much she seemed to be enjoying herself as the teacher swung her on the rings and when I bounced with her on the trampoline.
 
I would highly recommend the Ottawa Gymnastic Centre for other parents looking to burn a little energy in their kids. They’ve got programs for infants from 8 months to adults who want a little exercise. I do have to say that by the end of the baby girl’s half-hour class, I was sweating myself.

Amy is mom to 8-month-old Maggie and a 4 year old schnauzer named Henry. You can read her blog at amyboughner.ca where she writes about motherhood and anything else that’s on her mind. She loves getting active with her family, including husband Joe who blogs about his dad experiences at Grover’s Cape.

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Summer of Awesome – Karters’ Korner

by Lynn

A lot of the places we’ve been this summer have been geared towards younger kids. Karters’ Korner is more for your older preteen or teenager. My kids had a good time, but there are so many things for them to see and do; if you’re sitting around at home with a 10 and 12 year old, wondering what the heck to do as a family, Karters’ Korner is the place for you.

The real appeal of the place is the goKarts. They have full sized carts on a fairly big track. You can drive alone if you are 54 inches or taller; otherwise, you can ride as a passenger if an adult (over 16) is driving beside you. My older two kids really, really wanted to go on the big karts, but since I was alone with them that day, I couldn’t swing it. We’ll have to go back with my husband so they can have a turn.

The Karts

For the younger set, there are these little 4x4s on a smaller but still pretty big track that you can drive. You have to be 53 inches or shorter to ride. There’s no minimum height, age, or weight, but you do have to be big enough to sit on them and press the accelerator. My youngest, at age 3, was just a smidge too short to push the gas, much to her disappointment. My five year old is very tiny for her age, and although she was tall enough to reach the pedal, she was a little too light (at 34 pounds) to get it going really fast, and she got tired of pushing down after 10 minutes or so (a ride is 15 minutes long).

4x4
4x4s in Action

So I’d recommend maybe, 3 feet tall and 35 pounds as a minimum? That should do most 4-5 year olds, I figure.

The 4x4s are the real appeal for my older two kids – they are the reason they ask to go here. But they also really like the mini-golf.

MiniGolf
Golfing Girl

My oldest son, at age 7, is really into mini golf. He actually took his ball and club and went around the holes twice, while the girls and I sat on a bench (for the second round) and had a little snack. I saw parents with kids of all ages — from toddlers up to older teens — enjoying a round. So that’s super nice.

If your kids are older, there’s also a small driving range here. You can bring a basketball or volleyball and have full, free use of their courts. There’s a snack bar too, but as usual, we brought all our own food.

For me and my youngsters, we do a 4×4 ride, a round of mini-golf, picnic lunch, and then we’re ready to head home. It’s more of a half-day place, but the kids like it and it’s very close to our house so it’s a fun mini-outing for a week when we’re worn out from other activities. For older kids, you could spend more time here, hitting the range and the big karts. Still, considering it is way out in the west end – about 10 minutes west of Kanata – it’s probably best for families who are already in the Kanata/Stittsville/Barrhaven area.

And now for the most important part – price. My absolute top advice for this place is: GO ON TUESDAY. Tuesdays are half price – or even less, for some things – and that is WELL worth it. On Tuesdays, the 4×4 rides are $4.50 for 15 minutes, and mini-golf is $2.25 per person. Go on the weekend and you’re paying $9 for the 4×4, and anywhere from $6 to $8 per round of golf, depending on how old your kids are. YIKES.

The Rules

The big karts will cost you anywhere from $3.50 to $4.50 per lap, depending on how many laps you buy – but on Tuesdays, you can get laps for just $1.25 each. Much better, no? Needless to say, we always make a point of going on Tuesdays.

If you’d like to check the place out and absolutely can’t make a Tuesday, I still have a couple of money-saving tips for you. One, the laps are sold in bulk but not by person, so you can buy say, a 12-pack of goKart laps and then split that among three or four people. Second, don’t bother trying to mini-putt if you are there with kids under 5 – you’ll spend so much time helping them chase after their ball, it’ll just be frustrating to try to golf yourself. Thirdly, they do have package deals for kids if you can drum up a group of 10 or more.

The park does close if there is thunder and lightening, or very heavy rain that will soak the fields. So be sure to check their website before heading out. They sometimes have specials on the weekends, too, and you can find out about any special deals by checking their home page.

Since my kids are small, Karters’ Korner is more of a Summer of Awesome Could Do for us. But we do head out there at least once a summer, and the kids have fun. If you’re in the west end, check it out.

Lynn is mom to three tombliboos aged 7, 5, and 3, and blogs over at Turtlehead.

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Shopping at T&T Supermarket

I had been wanting to visit the T & T Supermarket ever since I had heard it opened.  I had read a few other blog articles from moms in the area who thought it was a cool adventure to take their kids on.  I had to go to that end of town to pick up the cheque for my Taurus stationwagon that was written off, so it seemed like an opportune time.
According to their website: T & T Supermarket’s goal is to enrich the lifestyle of Asian families in Canada by offering them choice food and household items in a comfortable shopping environment. We also hope to introduce the colourful Asian food culture to the Canadian multicultural society. I figured that since they are hoping to introduce families who are unfamiliar with their products that they would not mind me pointing out all sorts of interesting things to my kids and taking pictures to show you, too!
Upon entering the supermarket the below picture is what we saw.  Not so different from your ordinary grocery store, except that most of the packages are written on in Asian (Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese…), sometimes with NO English translation.  It must be very frustrating for them to shop here when they arrive, as we don’t have Asian translations on any of our products.  The kids and I roamed around the aisles, each kid with a little red basket on wheels. (You had to pay a loonie to get a real cart and of course, I had no change).
Next, you will see many pictures of foods that we found interesting.  We talked about what kind of words to use to describe things we saw or tasted, because saying it was weird, gross or yechy, wasn’t very polite.  We tried to say, “that is different” or “I’ve never seen anything like that before, cool!”, etc.  They had many different types of chicken feet: marinated and ready to cook, raw, frozen and they had duck feet as well.  I just can’t get over in the picture below that they have little toenails – that does make me shutter a bit.  We also saw for the first time, Gooey ducks.  Deanna, is this what is underneath those green circular things at the beach?  Jasmine seemed to think she had seen these, at least the very tops of them.  They were quite the site to see.  They also had Silkie chickens that had blue flesh. Then there were pigs feet, again something you saw in a few spots, marinated, raw or frozen. Then there was the cow tongue and we couldn’t get over just how big it was – huge, really!  Unfortunately, I could not bring myself to buy any of these items.  After looking some of them up online (check out the link to the gooey ducks, very interesting video), I might be tempted to try a chicken foot at an Asian restaurant, just to try it, but I couldn’t see preparing them at home quite yet.
Although we didn’t buy any of the above items, we did manage to spend $78.00 on: pork and lamb for a hot pot (we’ll use them in fondue, they are sliced really thin and rolled up), vegetable dumplings, steamed pork dumplings, chocolate steamed buns, passion fruit, mango roll with bean curd, mung bean bread with custard, Jasmine honey tea (like iced tea), mini-sponge cake, Asian popsicles, mini jellies and more.  Tonight we taste tested all the drinks and dessert items.  Jasmine loved the sponge cake, Pam and I loved the Mung bean bread (I thought Devin picked the coconut bread, but this was still good).  Most of the desserts were cool to try, but necessarily to eat again… if you know what I mean.
Below you will see us on our way out of the store, we stopped for some bubble juice.  If you haven’t heard of this before, it is a Taiwanese drink that is becoming more popular in America.  The bubbles are actually tapioca balls and taste sort of like gummy candies.  I think all of these drinks have a bit of a tea base, so they sort of had an after taste we did not love, but the cherry slush one was very good and the mint chocolate one was not too bad, we did not really drink the pudding one though.  It was a fun way to end the shopping trip and ensure we were hydrated and full before the 30 minute drive back home.
All in all this was a fun way to spend the afternoon.  The kids said they would like to go again and I would go a few times a year to buy items for a sushi meal or a night when you wanted to experiment with something new.
Check out the Tapioca ball in the straw.  You drink and chew at the same time.
Quirkymom is mom to Jasmine 7 and Devin 4 1/2 and this is the first blog post she has ever had published anywhere other than her own little family blog.  You can read her blog at http://quirkyfamily.blogspot.com/ .


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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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