Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Dovercourt Cooperative Playgroup at McKellar Park

This popular volunteer-run playgroup is back at the NEW Mckellar Park fieldhouse this year (at Wavell near Byron).  It's for anyone with children who wants a little playtime, crafts, stories, songs and fun (as well as meeting with other parents, of course!). 

There are two sessions:
  • Monday and Friday mornings from 9:30-11:30 and
  • Tuesday and Thursday afternoons from 1:15-3:15
The cost is $45 per family per session or $80 per session.  The sessions run from September to January and February to June.  Registration begins on Friday September 10th at the Fieldhouse from 10:00-11:30.  The group is run by volunteers so please let them know if you can help out.  For more information please contact Amanda at amullen@rogers.com.

There is a really nice playground outside, with shade!, as well as tennis courts, a large field and a wading pool in the summer.

For a complete list of neighbourhood playgroups see http://kitchissippibabies.blogspot.com/2010/03/kitchissippibabies.html

Respite care

New moms (and dads) sometimes need a little help, particularly if they don't have family or close friends in town, if baby has health issues or if there are young siblings who also need attention.  Sources for paid respite care are:

  • Canadian Mothercraft, located at 475 Evered Avenue (2 blocks west of Churchill and just south of Byron) has a respite/part-time program for children between 6 weeks and 5 years of age.  Parents leave their children in the care of the centre for a set period of time.  Spaces are limited.  See their website at http://www.mothercraft.com/early_learning/Respite.php
  • Dovercourt Recreation Centre has a "Kindercorner" so that a mom or dad can take a fitness or other class at the centre (or just sit in the lobby having a coffee and having some....well, thoughts, that don't necessarily even relate to baby).  Parents are typically expected to remain on the premises so that if your child is having difficulty adapting to the situation they can find you.   The program is led by the ECE coordinator Karin and staff are friendly and very accomodating.  They will take infants of any age and do have exercausers and other infant toys available.   The program is available from 8:15 to 11:45 daily.  One visit (1.5 hours) costs $6.50 and passes for 5, 10 or 15 visits are also available as is an unlimited pass for 3 months.  You do not need to book ahead since if more staff is needed they will pull them from other areas in the Centre.  For more information see http://www.dovercourt.org/hf_kinderkorner.html
  • Susanne Carlon, an Ottawa mother and babysitter/caregiver has recently started offering her services.  Check out her website at  https://sites.google.com/site/ottawababyrespite.  She will come to your home and work with your family.  Rates range from $15/hr (or $40 for 3 hrs) for daytime to $20 for early morning and evening to $125 for overnight.  She can also be reached by phone at (613) 218-9543.
  • Part-time care givers often advertise their services on Kijiji Ottawa or Craigslist.


Chapel Cafe and Drop-in Playgroup - on Thursdays from 9:30 to 11:30, the All Saints Anglican Church, located at 347 Richmond Road (between Churchill and Roosevelt) hosts a weekly free playgroup for infants and toddlers aged 0 – 4 and their caregivers (of course!). Although the church website refers to registration, it's not required and you're better off just dropping by.  It's a friendly and welcoming group and everyone is welcome.  The morning starts off with coffee, tea and juice in the cosy Chapel (the door at the front left of the church) and with the arrival of older children makes it's way up to the spacious gym where there are ride-on toys, mats and lots of space to run around..  Jennifer is in charge and she'll answer any questions you might have.  She can also put you on an e-mail list of kids events in the neighbourhood that she circulates on a regular basis.  For more information see http://www.allsaintswestboro.com/Education.html

Childrens Village of Ottawa Carleton hosts a drop in playgroup for parents and caregivers from Monday through Friday from 9:00-11:15. Healthy snacks are provided and there is also a resource centre available and staff able to answer parenting questions. There is a snall fee for public participants (eg. who are not Childrens Village caregivers). They are located at 333 Churchill Avenue north (between Richmond Rd. and Scott St.). For more information contact 613-725-2040 Ext: 160 or visit http://www.childrensvillage.on.ca/.

Dovercourt Co-operative Playgroup - this used to be held in the McKellar Park fieldhouse but the fieldhouse is being reconstructed and the playgroup has relocated to the Dulude Arena at 941 Clyde Avenue (just south of the Queensway) for 2009-10. The playgroup meets on Monday & Friday mornings from 9:15 - 11:15am, from September to June and costs $35 per family for the season. To register drop by the playgroup or for more information contact Amanda Mullen (amullen@rogers.com).

Fisher Park Playgroup in Room 16 of Fisher Park High School at 250 Holland Avenue is open on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9:00-11:30. Call the Fisher Park Community Centre at (613) 798-8945 for fee information or to register for a session. Drop in for $7.50 / day.

Hilson Avenue Java Jumpers - meet at the Hilson Avenue Public School at 407 Hilson Avenue between 10 am and 1 pm on Saturday mornings from October through March.  Registration is through Dovercourt Recreation Association at http://www.dovercourt.org/ and the fee is $50 per family for the season.

Hintonburg Tots N' Friends Playgroup - meets at the Hintonburg Community Centre at 1064 Wellington on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9:15 to 11:15. There is a fee and the sessions do fill up.  For more information call 613-798-8874.

Laroche Park Playgroup is open on Tuesday and Thursday mornings from 9:00 – 11:00 in the Laroche Park Fieldhouse at 7 Stonehurst Avenue (near Parkdale and Bayview). Drop in free of charge.

The Ontario Early Years Centre for Central Ottawa is located at Canadian Mothercraft at 475 Evered Avenue (two streets east of Churchill and between Byron and Carling). It hosts a playgroup for french speaking families (or those simply wishing to speak french!) on Tuesday mornings an english playgroup on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday mornings (9:15-11:15 except for Saturday which runs from 9:00 to 11:00). There are also english playgroups on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons from 1:30 to 3:30. The Toy Lending Library is open following each playgroup. The schedule occasionally changes so check the calendar online to be sure: http://www.mothercraft.com/prenatal_parent/OEYCContacts.php.  The last time I visited this playgroup was 6 years ago (clearly baby and I need to do some research!) and at times it was very busy - if you go, go early.  Mothercraft also hosts a daycare centre, many parenting courses and other resources.

The Salvation Army Bethany Hope Centre hosts a playgroup for young parents (under 25) in its playroom at 1140 Wellington St. West every weekday morning from 10:00-12:00 and afternoons from 1:30-3:30. Contact the Centre at (613) 725-1733 for details.   The Centre also accepts donations

Science & Technology - The best deal in town

I started going to the Canada Science & Technology Museum even before my eldest was 1.  It was a hot summer, we didn't have air conditioning and museums were the best place I could find to beat the heat.  We've had a membership ever since and after our visit today I wanted to express why Science & Tech must be the best deal in town!

A 1-year family membership to 3 museums: Science & Tech, the Agriculture Museum (Experiemental Farm) and the Aviation Museum costs $90.  If you live in Ottawa that means your family only has to visit the museums 4 times to make it worth the cost and you'll likely end up going a lot more than that.  Travel to Toronto or Montreal and you'll get free access to the Ontario Science Centre (a $58 value) or the Montreal Science Museum (a $38 value).  It is equally good for many museums (over 290, in fact) across Canada (our other favorite being the Discovery Centre in Halifax, a $29 value) and the United States. 

The Museum has had a bit of a facelift - there is a new exhibit about the Canadian Car with vehicles dating back to the beginning of automobile days.  The new preschool area is packed with lego, trains and other creative toys. 

Not only that, but there were plenty of outdoor activities.  The steam train - a pre-1950's Shay locomotive and the hi-light of our visit -was operating.  There was a water rocket demonstration along with plenty of room to simply run around and a couple of hills to roll down.  Take your lunch and picnic at the sheltered outdoor picnic area while the weather's still good or pop by the indoor cafeteria.

Please note that the museum will be closed from September 13-17 for annual maintenance

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Lots of Life at Pink Lake

Pink Lake is one of the best trails for early hikers - those walking on their own who have a good bit of energy to burn - try them out around 3 or 4 years of age and up.  It's also good for babies in backpacks though there is a reasonable amount of climbing so be prepared for the extra workout (yours, not the baby's!). 

The hike takes about an hour to complete.  It has one path that is easy to navigate with wooden stairs up and down many of the hills (they also protected the sensitive shores from erosion), lots of lookouts, interpretative panels and benches along the way for a quick picnic.  

Best of all.....there is an abundance of life.  The water is typically teaming with tadpoles and tiny fish schools, there are plenty of frogs along the shoreline and if you're lucky you'll see families of garter snakes (there were lots today) and the odd turtle or two.

Garter snakes - totaly harmless, lovely to watch.    
A few facts (to impress your children):
  • they are common throughout North America and can be found as far north as Alaska
  • they were long thought to be non-venemous but do in fact produce a mild venom
  • they have "large" teeth in the back of their mouths that help spread the venom
  • they are meat eaters like all snakes.  They aren't fussy and will dine on anything they can overpower. 

The garter snakes can be found near the water and on the banks on the inland side of the path. Be gentle if you touch them and don't put them in your pockets! They should remain at the lake. According to Wikipedia (I'm no expert on garters) a bite can result in mild itchiness and swelling.

Frogs....many, many, many frogs.  Sitting on rocks, on logs, deep in the grass and swimming in the water.  Listen for the jumps and watch them carefuly - they're fast.

Turtles - sorry, no photos, though someone with a much better zoom than mine got a great shot of one sitting on a long about 15 feet from shore.

Practical Tips
  • the best things are free (like this!)
  • the Parkway is closed on Sunday mornings through the summer for bike days
  • this is a sensitive environment and the Park works hard to deal with the erosion of its banks - please stay on the trail
  • it is a very unique Lake and there are lots of interpretive signs with information
  • there is also an abandoned mine!
  • as anywhere, leave any critters you see in their wild home - they'll be happier
  • you can access it from Gatineau Parkway off Tache Boulevard in Gatineau (about 1/2 hour drive to the hike from Kitchissippi)
  • it is the turn just past the one for Pink Lake lookout
  • it's about 2.5 km long and takes about an hour (more if you see a lot of critters!)
  • there is a parking lot (that sometimes fills up)
  • there are outhouses at the trailhead
  • It is always very busy on Thanksgiving weekend - go very early or head just a little farther into the park to either King Mountain or Lariault Trail (equally good for a short hike with young climbers)
  • for lots more information about Gatineau Park see http://www.guidegatineau.com/.

Things to bring when hiking (and particulary with kids)
  • plenty of water and some snacks
  • bug spray
  • suntan lotion
  • a couple of band-aids (it's easy to scrape a knee)
  • binoculars (my most frequent forgotten item and the one the kids like the most)
  • camera (try letting the kids take some shots if they're not too young)
Young kids are fast and with their light weights they climb easily.  They may leave you behind sooner than you think!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Kids Save Lives - Make Sure Yours Know How to Use the Phone

We received a frightened call this summer from my seven year old nephew - "Dad's hurt" he said.  My brother-in-law is a very healthy, fit guy but has an inherited heart condition for which he has an internally installed defribillator.  That defribrillator went off between 6 and 7 seven times (a very severe episode and the only time he has ever experienced anything like that).   He did manage to tell his son "call Gram" which his son did.  We were there and iimmediately went to help.  Which brings me to the point of this post.  Make sure your children can use the phone from as early an age as possible and that they know the "911" number.  Some tips:
  • Keep a phone in a set place in the house (portables can be hard to find)
  • Have at least one land line or easy to find cell phone that works when the power is out
  • Make sure your child knows how to operate all phones - it can be tricky if some have "talk" buttons and others don't
  • Teach your children the "9-1-1" number and post it by the phone
  • Make sure your child knows they should be safe before they call 911 - e.g. they should not call 911 from the house if there is a fire.  They should go to a neighbour.
  • While most 911 calls can be traced, it's also a good idea that your child know your address and phone number.  Post it by the phone just in case and show them where it is.
  • Stress that 911 is for emergencies only and talk about what constitues an emergency
  • Do some role playing so that your child knows what questions the operator may ask them
    • do you need the fire department, ambulance or police?
    • what is the location of the emergency?
    • what is your location/phone number?
    • Is someone hurt? are they breathing? can you describe the situation
  • Explain the importance of remaining calm even though the child may be worried or scared
  • Talk about the different roles of emergency workers
  • Post 1 other emergency number by the phone (eg. an easy to reach friend or neighbour)
For more information visit http://www.getprepared.gc.ca/.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Baobab Tree - 2010-11 Classes

In Ghana the Baobab Tree dots the landscape....On Piccadilly Avenue in Kitchissippi, Baobab Tree brings a touch of Ghana to our neighbourhood through its fascinating journey into rhythm, drumming and dance. Baobab Tree performs around town at venues including Westfest, Centrepointe Theatre, the NAC and the Black Sheep Inn in Wakefield.

Baobab Tree provides a fantastic opportunity to kids in the Ottawa area to experience something musical, international and fun.  To savour Baobab Tree directly sign up for one of their 2010-11 classes.  Classes are grouped into ages 7-10 and 11-13 (as well as adult classes).  Fall classes are on Tuesdays for 7-10 year olds from 5:30-6:15 and Thursday nights for 11-13 year olds from 5:30-6:30.  Fall classes run from late September till mid-November and the cost is $96 per session.  For details of all Baobab Tree's 2010-11 classes see their website at http://www.baobabtree.org/ and for additional information view their blog at http://www.baobabtree.blogspot.com/.

For more information about the Baobab Tree and its role in Ghana's landscape and culture have a look at this article, submitted in 2002 as a candidate for the Biodiversity Reporting Award. "Knowledge is like the Baobob Tree" (African Proverb). http://www.biodiversityreporting.org/article.sub?docId=493&c=Ghana&cRef=Ghana&year=2002&date=May%202002

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

What did you do this summer?

Summer is a passing whirlwind.  Help your children remember what they did by making a few simple lists.  What did they do for the first time?  What places did they visit?  Which relatives did they see?  Who did they meet?  They'll exercise their memories, be prepared for the perennial question "what did you do this summer" and might even reflect on how lucky they are!

My kids rode for the first time:
  • a horse (at their cousins, Pam and Pat)
  • a camel (at Granby Zoo)
  • a sailboat (in Chester, thanks to friends)
  • an ATV (thanks to my Mom's neighbours in Halifax - yes they said it was the best day of their life)
  • a steam train (at the Science and Technology Museum)
  • a gondola (at Mont Tremblant)
  • a luge run (also at Tremblant)
They visited Mont Tremblant, Halifax and Quebec City.

One did a tennis/sailing camp and one did a hockey camp.  They spent 2 days at a Cosmic Adventures camp and went to Karters Korners.

They saw their cousins Cameron, Nathan, Megan, Karyn, Katie and Curtis, Nana Mary, Grampy Eldon and Nanny, Aunt Diny, Uncle Larry, Aunt Nancy, Uncle Ron, Aunt Denise and Uncle Erik.

They went to Mont Cascades water park, the Botanical Gardens in Montreal, the Quebec Aquarium, the New Brunswick Botanical Gardens, the Halifax International Buskers Festival and Granby Zoo.

And the summer's not over yet!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

City of Ottawa Registration

I often forget about City programming (especially skating) until it's too late.  It just doesn't seem to be on my radar, but this year (thanks to Ottawa Start) it is!  The 2010-11 calendar is available online at http://www.ottawa.ca/residents/parks_recreation/programs/index_en.html.  Online / touchtone registration for aquafitness and swimming started on August 9th at 10pm and for all other programs started on August 10th at 10 pm. In-person registration starts a day later.  Be sure to have your family identifier and pin ready (they are free and you can obtain them by calling the city).

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Sundaes for Sunday - Today - Don't Miss It!

Today is Sundaes for Sunday at Dovercourt (411 Dovercourt Avenue, Ottawa) from 1-4 pm. The event will benefit the Sunday-Sayer family who typically reside in the Hintonburg neighbourhood. If you haven't yet heard their story, they were in a terrible car accident early this year and the parents are still in recovery mode. Their 3 young children are being cared for by extended family and

As you can imagine, this time has been incredibly hard for them. As you can imagine, they need all the support they can get!

And for the fun part....let your children make their own Sundaes, enjoy the bouncy castle, wading pool, play structures, face painting and barbeque!! If that's not perfect for a Sunday afternoon in August I don't know what is.

For more information visit http://www.dovercourt.org/ or the Sunday-Sayer facebook page.