Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Support a Local Kids' Charity Through United Way

Tomorrow is the United Way "Blitz Day" at my office.  I always donate but it was only a year ago that I realized I could direct some or all of my donation to a local child-related charity.  I'm not suggesting that you only donate to local charities - clearly there is a broad need for donations across the board and in many ways the United Way is in the best position to choose the beneficiaries.  But if you want to donate something locally, perhaps even an extra amount that you wouldn't have donated otherwise, and if you want to do it on a regular, relatively pain-free basis, then the United Way is a great option.

The following local organizations are listed as registered charities and therefore possible candidates for your selection through the United Way.  I may have missed some.  Feel free to let me know.
  • Baobab Tree Drum Dance Community
  • Canadian Mothercraft of Ottawa-Carleton
  • Canadian Tire Jumpstart Charities
  • Dovercourt Recreation Association
  • Ottawa School of Speech and Drama
  • St. Vincent de Paul Stores (Ottawa) Incorporated
  • Westboro Nursery School
For a complete list of Canadian registered charities see http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/chrts-gvng/lstngs/menu-eng.html.  For more information about The United Way, see http://www.unitedwayottawa.ca/.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Your Children Can't Vote. Are You Voting for Them?


Children can't vote.  And yet they are the ones who in many ways stand to gain or lose as a result of elections.

For me and many other parents I know, the issues are not that critical.  We strive to ensure that our children have good food, exercise and a good education.  We work on changing things from good to better to best.

But for some it's not nearly as simple.  Some are working to give their children just the basics and on improving their situation from bad to a bit better.

For some children it's worse and everytime I read a story of child neglect or abuse, I cringe.  These children are working only at having a life that's tolerable.  And in some cases, no one, not even their parents, is helping them.

The Canadian Paediatric Society http://www.cps.ca/english/index.htm publishes a document called "Are We Doing Enough: A Status Report on Canadian Public Policy and Child and Youth Health http://www.cps.ca/English/Advocacy/StatusReport.htm.  It is a document that they refer voters to in any election as something to consider when voting.  They also ask for others to advocate on their behalf and on behalf of children.  I guess that's what I'm trying to do through this blog post.

The following are a series of statements made in the Report.  They focus readers on what Canadian and provincial governments are doing and where we are in terms of how we look after our children (and I use the term "our" collectively).
  • While parents and caregivers play a critical role in their children's healthy growth and development, governments must support their efforts with public policy that safeguards and enhances the health and safety of Canada's youngest residents.
  • It is estimated that 14%of children and youth under 20 years old - 1.1 million young Canadians - suffer from mental health conditions that affect their daily lives.  Children of low-income families are especially at risk...What's worse, three out of every four chuildren and youth who need specialized treatment services do not receive them.
  • Internationally, Canada ranks 12th out of 21 OECD countries on child well-being, well behind all the Scandinavian countries, where child poverty rates are less than 5%.
  • Health disparities among Canadian children and youth are primarily linked to differences in family socioeconomic status. 
  • Poor children are at greater risk of low birth weight...and poor physical and emotional health as they get older.  They tend to have more behavioural issues and achieve lower levels of education, further increasing their chances of lifelong poverty as adults.
  • Access to quality child care is not equally available to all families. A Montreal-based survey showed that children four to five years of age who were in low-quality centres were significantly more likely to come from lower socioeconomic status families.
  • The Canadian Paediatric Society believes that early learning and child care must be universal, affordable, accessible and of high-quality.
  • The CPS calls upon all levels of government to set targets and timetables, and to engage in widespread social and political collaboration to significantly reduce child and youth poverty.
I encourage you to read the entire document. 

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The Good Old Hockey Game.....

If you've joined the WEHL (http://www.wehl.on.ca/) then hockey clinics are probably starting for you this week and in fact the league posted a notice yesterday that it is full, though it does have a waiting list if you're still interested.

If you haven't registered your child for hockey yet (who's thinking of hockey this early in the year right?) then consider another great neighbourhood option:

Fisher Park Skating and Hockey

If you're testing the waters or just want slightly less of a time commitment, then Fisher Park Communtiy Centre offers some great options - learn to skate, power skate and indoor hockey (as well as outdoor hockey in the winter session).  Details of the specific programs are below (though always double check with them - I'd hate to steer you wrong).  Registration for fall programming starts on Tuesday, September 13th and registration for winter programming starts on November 14th.  Programs themselves start the week of October 10th. 

For more detail, stop by the Community Centre at 250 Holland Avenue (in the school) where you can pick up a pamphlet or call them at 798-8945. They do not have a web site.  Some of their programs fill up quickly so you should be there when registration opens to ensure a spot.


Learn to Skate for 3-12 year olds on Saturdays from 12-12:50 and 1-1:50 at Tom Brown Arena starting October 15th;

Power Skate for 8-14 year olds on Saturdays from 1:00-1:50 at Tom Brown Arena starting October 15th;


Indoor Hockey for 5-8 year olds from 6:6:50 and for 8-11 year olds from 7-7:50 on Tuesdays starting October 11th at McNab Arena, 180 Percy at Gladstone;

Outdoor Hockey will be offered in the winter session (when there's ice!)

Friday, August 19, 2011

Do you know Claude Regnier?

The name may not ring any bells.  But if you live in this neighbourhood, if you go to Dovercourt, or if you or your kids like skateboarding, maybe it should.

Earlier this summer I became curious about why Dovercourt always hosts the Canadian Slalom Skateboarding Championships.  I was also investigating Dovercourt's skateboard camps.  When I asked about scheduling, I was told that it all depended on when "Claude" was available because all camps "were taught by Claude Regnier".  So, who's Claude?

Claude at one time had an indoor skateboard park near the corner of Roosevelt and Richmond Road.  At that time he met John Rapp, the Executive Director of Dovercourt and the two have been in partnership ever since.  But Claude is more than just a camp organizer, he was the Canadian National Slalom Skateboard Champion and a champion of the sport of downhill skateboarding for years.  Now in his 50's he still rides and rides well.  He has more skateboarding titles and high level finishes then you would ever imagine.

Together with Mary-Beth Lavoie Claude's Executive Co-Chair of the World Slalom Skateboard Championships coming to Ottawa this weekend, August 19-21.  He's a Master course setter and a past president of the International Slalom Skateboard Association.  Not too shabby.  And to top it all off, he is also one of three key figures in the documentary film "Highway Gospel" that premiered in Toronto this spring and that is showing this Friday night at the Ottawa International Film Festival http://www.oiff.ca/.

Claude is also a down to earth guy who's a pleasure to speak with.  When I met him he was building stairs for the ramps outside Dovercourt for the next day's competition.  He took time out to talk even though he was clearly busy.  His passion for what he does and his belief in the sport - and the people who do it - was obvious.

Maybe it's time you met Claude......

The hill on Dovercourt Ave. at Denbury will be used for the tight slalom event on Friday, August 19th, 2011.  Practice runs are scheduled to start at 9:30 and races at 11:00 am.

For information about the Championships see http://worldslalomskateboarding.com/
For Claude's official bio see http://worldslalomskateboarding.com/about/claude-regnier/
For his partner Mary-Beth Lavoie's bio see http://worldslalomskateboarding.com/about/mary-beth-lavoie/
Reviews of the film, as well as YouTube trailer from the Toronto HotDocs Festival can be found on the internet at, for example, http://torontoist.com/2011/04/hot_docs_highway_gospel.php

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Lac Philippe (Gatineau Park) - "And The Livin' Is Easy..."

I'm updating this post from last year because, with City beaches closed periodically, this is the perfect nearby beach to get you out and feeling Summer!  It's in Gatineau Park, is about a 45 minute drive, and is a lovely alternative when the e-coli levels are high in town!
_____________

We beat the crowds, had the best parking spot and were home before the heat of the day got us down.  I really enjoy Lac Philippe with the kids....though I do avoid the crowds - here's how....along with directions, service details and other practical tips to make your day a real treat.

For me, Lac Philippe is best in the morning (eg. arrival by 9:00 am), in the evening (arrival around 5:30) or during the week.  At those times it's neither super hot nor super busy.  Days that are partly cloudy or have lower temperatures are also great.  And, particularly if you time it right, this is a beautiful beach (or beaches).   There is always someone for the kids to play with, they never find the water too cold (even if I do) and staff / lifeguards are friendly and helpful.

SERVICES AND COSTS

A car day pass is $10 and a season pass is $70. Somewhat inconveniently (and new this year) the season pass can not be purchased at the entrance to Lac Phillippe, but only at the Gatineau Park Visitor Centre at 33 Scott Road in Chelsea.  It is worth getting an all season pass if you think you will visit several times.The season pass covers access to all beaches (there are 5) as well as Mackenzie King Estate. The Estate requires a pass from mid-May till mid-October whereas passes are only needed for the beaches between mid-June and mid-September. 

If you want to stay overnight the cost is $37 plus an $8.50 reservation fee. If you call for reservations and they're all full don't worry too much. Especially if you live in Ottawa (close enough to go home if you have no luck) try driving up around 2:00 when campground staff know of no-shows.  There are also group camping sites at Gatineau Park for $250 a night or $125 for non-profit groups.
Beaches are lifeguarded from 10 to 6 pm, mid-June through Labour Day.  Breton beach, the one that we usually stop at, is large with a sandy beach and plenty of nearby shade, picnic tables and barbeques.  There are (what a treat!) brand new bathrooms and change areas as of last year.

A short walk past Breton beach (take the path) is a canoe, kayak and paddle boat rental spot.  They have a reasonable number of boats, are open from 9: am to 8:00 pm daily and line-ups are usually manageable.  Rates begin at $16 for 1.5 hrs, $20 for 2 hrs, $28 for 3 hrs and so on up to $60 for a 24 hour period.  Life jackets are included in the rental price.  (Note: these rates are actually from last year.  If they've changed please let me know!)

WASHROOMS

Best of all, last year the NCC installed brand new bathrooms and change rooms! They are much nicer than the previous ones and include family washrooms, separate change rooms, baby change tables, flushable toilets and plumbed sinks as well as electric hand dryers. Taking a picture seemed strange and possibly something that could get me in trouble with Park security (!) - you will have to go and see them for yourself!

CLEANLINESS

The NCC tests water quality every two weeks and any beach closures can be found at: http://www.canadascapital.gc.ca/bins/ncc_web_content_page.asp?cid=16297-16299-90645&lang=1.  Parent beach is currently closed for the season because of the huge rains near the end of June that led to high water levels.  Otherwise the beaches at Lac Phillippe are very infrequently closed in my experience.

The beach is cleaned once a week, usually on Thursday I'm told.  And poop is scooped daily (thank you!)  There is a "clapper" for want of a better word, to keep away the seagulls but do clean up food waste quickly and place it in the bear proof bins.

DIRECTIONS

To get there from west Ottawa cross the river using the Portage bridge and continue on to the ramp for highway 5.  Take highway 5 to the very end and turn left on the 105 north.  You'll pass an IGA, a SAQ, the Great Canadian Bungee site and Jean Burger (keep it in mind if you need a bite to eat later - it includes play structures in the back).  Just past the highway to Wakefield (where you'll also find a Subway and a Giant Tiger) the two lane 105 will temporarily turn into a divided highway.  That's where you turn left following the Gatineau Park signs.  . 

Turn left into Gatineau Park just after you pass La Patate et le Pizza a Carlo on your right.  You'll see the sign and the road with the 1958 covered bridge but it can still be easy to miss.  If you pass the Desjardins bank on your left, you've passed it (but see tip below!)

PRACTICAL TIPS

A big reminder - you need CASH to pay for your park pass.  No credit, no debit.  Fortunately there is a bank machine at the Desjardins Bank just past the entrance to the park.

The other big reminder - you do have to bring your own food.  There are no food outlets at the park (though there is an epicerie near the entrance as well as the various food outlets mentioned above that you passed on the drive).  This is, after all, a camping experience. And I love watching the families who have the wonderful food rather than my usual repertoire of peanut butter sandwiches!
You will find water fountains and several Pepsi machines that sell soft drinks, water, aquafina and gatorade but that is it.  (If you really need change for the machines check with the boat rental shop).) 

HAVE FUN AND BE WATER SAFE!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Shakespeare in the Park (Clare Gardens and Hintonburg)

a Company of Fools,Bringing Shakespeare to life in Canada since 1990!Have you considered exposing your children to Shakespeare? It’s often a bit daunting for parents to take their children to more "serious” theatre, but this summer there are a number of performances in our neighbourhood parks that can change that. I think it is a great opportunity for slightly older children to get a sense of live theatre, depending of course on levels of interest / maturity. And face it, parks are open areas, you can always leave if you need to, and the price is right – a recommended $10 per person when the hat is passed.  So take a stroll past and see if it catches your child"s (and your) fancy!

“A Company of Fools” will be presenting “Antony and Cleopatra” at Clare Gardens Park (off Clare Avenue, between Kirkwood and Churchill) on Tuesday, July 19th, and at Hintonburg Park, just south of Wellington Avenue off Fairmont (by St. Fran├žois d’Assise Church) on July 29th and 30th. They do plenty of elementary school workshops so they do know children though the shows are not specifically designed for children.

The Company describes themselves as “Ottawa’s longest running independent professional Shakespeare company: our mandate is to produce innovative, entertaining and accessible shows based on the works of William Shakespeare.”  Sounds good to me.

More information about A Company of Fools can be found at http://fools.ca/wordpress1/.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Summer Calendar of Fun Family Stuff!

Tuesday, July 12 - Fairytale Splash at the Westboro (Dovercourt) wading pool; 11-2;  Favorite storybooks will apparently come to life.....can't wait to see what that means.

Hintonburg Summer Movie Nights   Saturday, July 16th; Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules at 7 pm and Gulliver's Travels at 9 pm.  Movies are shown courtesy of the Hintonburg Community Association in partnership with the Hintonburg Community Centre.  Films are shown at the Community Centre with the 7 o'clock showing inside and the 9 o'clock showing outside.  Admission is free with refreshments at reasonable rates.  See http://www.hintonburg.com/ for more details.

The Hintonburg Centennial 5k with a 1k for kids will be held again this year on July 17th. For more information see http://hintonburg.com/run11.html. Children under 3 can race for free in either the 5 or the 1K though donations to youth programming offered in the community by the Hintonburg Economic Development Committee are encouraged. And yes, parents can run the course with their children. Just don’t get left behind......

Monday, July 18th - ok, I missed posting the first two but....the third in a series of Mom and Tot groups will be hosted by All Saints United Church and Carlington Community Health Centre on July 18th from 9:30-11:00 http://www.westborobeach.org/home/specialmomsandtotsprogram

Tuesday July 19th - "Girls on the Move" at Roy Duncan Park, 295 Churchill Avenue from 5-6:30 , a free program for girls aged 9-13 to get out and get active.  Runs for 6 weeks (started July 11) and hosted by Carlington Community Health Centre.  Snacks provided.

The Wiggles "Big Birthday"- July 26th, 6:30 pm - at Scotiabank Place; http://www.scotiabankplace.com/.  They put on a good show - if you have little kids you should go!

Thursday, July 28th - the famous Bubble Bath Brunch at McKellar Park wading pool.  Bring a tub toy, bring a blanket and picnic lunch and enjoy the bubbles in the pool.  Perfect for preschoolers.

Ice Cream Festival - August 7th at the Canadian Agricultural Museum

Puppets Up! In Almonte, Ontario this is another total favorite of mine (oh, I mean the kids). August 6-7, 2011 http://www.puppetsup.ca/.  They’re still in the planning phase but keep checking out their website. Their photo gallery should get you inspired!

Friday, August 12th - I think this one is new but I could be wrong.  "Christmas in the Summer" will be an evening of games, carols and Christmas (!?) activities from 6:30-8:00 pm.

Saturday, August 13th - Ottawa Kids Triathlon, Duathlon at Westboro Beach- http://www.ottawakidstri.ca/;

Saturday, August 13th - Hintonburg Summer Movie Night with Toy Story III at 7 pm and Ferris Bueller's Day off at 9 pm at the Community Centre.  I'd take the kids for the first but not the second!

Sunday, August 28th - the annual dog swim at Westboro (Dovercourt) wading pool; bring your kids AND the dog, or just the kids if you don't have a dog becuase it's just fun to watch. 5-6 pm

FALL (gulp!) Registrations

I hate to do this, but I do it every year...here is a list of fall registration dates for activities in the neighbourhood.  Some don"t matter that much, but others do, depending on how much you want to be in a specific activity at a specific time for a specific age etc.  So here goes...for all you planners out there....

Listings are roughly in order of registration date.  There will be more to come, this is just the beginning...

Ottawa School of Speech & Drama - Fall registration opened June 1; http://www.ossd.com/

4Cats Art Studio - Registration for fall programming is open; see http://www.4cats.com/hintonburg-fall for detail.

Ottawa Gymnastics Centre - Fall Kindergym and Recreational registration starts July 20th - http://www.ottawagymnasticscentre.ca/

Dovercourt Recreation Association - Fall registration begins Tuesday, August 9th http://www.dovercourt.org/

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Splash Pads!

There are 3 splash pads in our neighbourhood. Unlike wading pools, they are always open as there is no need for lifeguard staff.

  •  Hintonburg Park, 1064 Wellington Avenue West
  • Laroche Park, 52 Bayview Ave.
  • Roy Duncan Park, 295 Churchill Ave. North
I know the one at Laroche Park has been open for some time (just try those sensors till you get it right!), is shady and also has play structures and a big field for running. I believe it’s also a dog park. According to the City’s website, they will be offering a Splash ‘n’ Fun program with trained staff at Laroche Park every Tuesday from 1:30-2:30 for 4-10 year olds. Please see their website for weekly themes and other details. Children do need parental supervision.
http://www.ottawa.ca/residents/parks_recreation/seasonal/ss/wading_pools/splash_pads_en.html

Hintonburg was closed for renovation last year but I understand it is re-opening this weekend with a fun sundial design and more spray features than the previous pad.

I believe Roy Duncan is currently open but can’t confirm.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Notes

  • Just a note that I do not publish comments that identify people, whether by name or otherwise,  It's way too small a neighbourhood for that.  I do read the comments and do take them in consideration along with any other information I may have.
  • I LOVE feedback on this blog.  Although writing the blog is fun, keeps me exploring and keeps me organized, it's also a certan amount of work, so feedback, especially positive (!) is always good.  Constructive comments, positive or negative, are also absolutely welcome.
  • If you have specific things you'd like to see on this blog, if you'd like to advertise an event on this blog or if you'd like to write something for this blog, please let me know!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Looking for Childcare?

We share a nanny with a family down the street. It’s a lovely situation. However, it’s about to change as our sharing family is moving outside the country for at least 2 years. We will really miss their two little girls and the relationship they had with our family.

And it brings us to looking for a new little person (s) to share our home with. If you are looking for a spot for your child in the neighbourhood near Dovercourt, we are looking for a nanny share family with 1 or possibly 2 children. Our littlest guy is 2 years old and we also have two big boys - aged 8 and 10 who are in school during the day. We’ve had our caregiver since September 2010 and she is lovely with the little ones.

Currently our caregiver comes to our house as do our neighbour's children though, depending on location, we could consider using your home for some days as well.  We have a nice home with a big back yard and we are just a few blocks from the playground at Dovercourt.  Our caregiver works from 8:30 to 4:30 with some flexibility.  We are open to either a full or a part-time arrangement.

Please send me an e-mail at kitchissippikids@hotmail.com if you think you might be interested.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Ongoing Summer Activities

Spring Awakes in Gatineau Park - On May 1st Gatineau Park began its nature interpretation program for the whole family with sessions on spring flowers and the sights and sounds of birds. For more information and dates visit http://www.canadascapital.gc.ca/data/2/rec_docs/26186_spring-awakes-in-gatineau-park-2011.pdf. More information on Gatineau Park can also be found at http://www.guidegatineau.ca/

Alcatel-Lucent Sunday Bike Days - running right through our neighbourhood, 5.5 kilometres of the Ottawa River Parkway is closed for cyclists from Victoria Day through to Labour Day.  Make sure to stop off at Westboro beach.  http://www.canadascapital.gc.ca/bins/ncc_web_content_page.asp?cid=16297-16299-9970-9972&lang=1&bhcp=1


Watson's Mill in Manotick - Saturday, May 7 - opens for the season - hours are 10-5 - with milling demonstrations on Sunday at 1:00. For more details see last year's blog post at http://kitchissippikids.blogspot.com/2010/05/sunday-excursion-part-ii-watsons-mill.html or http://www.watsonsmill.com/.

Gatineau Park - the parkways re-open on Friday, May 6th at noon! Check out Pink Lake, Larriault Trail, King Mountain trail or Champlain Lookout - all do-able with relatively young children (though take a backpack or a strong set of shoulders just in case!). See last year's blog post on Pink Lake http://kitchissippikids.blogspot.com/2010/08/lots-of-life-at-pink-lake.html. Also don't forget about the Sugarbush trail http://kitchissippikids.blogspot.com/2010/04/sugarbush-trail-in-gatineau-park_02.html. And remember, La Cigale is open for ice cream!

Upper Canada Village - opens for the season on Saturday, May 21, the 50th anniversary season launch, opening of the new Village store, and celebrations of Queen Victoria's birthday will be held. This is a great place for a day trip when you want to get out Ottawa. Interesting for adults, entertaining for kids, wagon rides, canal boat rides, train, history lessons, and a small farm! It's also where my 7 year old baker son loves to buy a big bag of stone milled flour! And you can feed bread to the BIG fish under the bridge. Have fun.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

A blog about a blog about biking

I don’t usually blog about other peoples blogs but here’s the thing: if you like to bike and you have a family that likes to bike you should read this blog: http://momentumplanet.com/blog

A majority of it is written by neighbourhood parent and avid cyclist Kathleen Wilker. Her blog focuses on family cycling and at this particular time includes the following topics:
  • Bicycle Adventures in the City
  • After School Bike Club (yes our local schools are becoming more bicycle conscious.  Broadview had a bike rodeo last week and at least two local schools have bicycle champions and bicycle clubs.  Fantastic ideas that are catching on fast)
  • Bike Decorating Part II (in preparation for the Hintonburg Bike Parade to ArtsPark on May 28th and in conjunction with Hintonburg's knitting and fibre haven Wabi Sabi http://www.wabi-sabi.ca/)
  • Bike + Fibre = Parade Ready Bike Art (again, Wabi Sabi)
  • Cycle the Social History of West Ottawa (a Jane's Walk on wheels)
  • The ABC's of Bike Repair
  • Go Take a (Bike) Hike

It also includes some equally interesting topics by other authors, including coach and gear expert Michael Stenning such as:
  • Children and Competitive Riding: How, when and why should kids be introduced to racing?
  • How to Successfully Resolve Cycling Disputes
  • Bike Trailer 101
And:
  • Family of 5 Rides the MS Bike Tour for the 5th Time, by Grant Lawson 
Momentum Planet (http://www.momentumplanet.com/) also has a full fledged cycling magazine available in both a digital and print version if you're looking for broader coverage of cycling issues.  But start with Kathleen's blog.  I think you'll find it's worth it.

Monday, May 16, 2011

UPDATED Go Local - Summer Camps (and a few others....)

It's time to PLAN!  Consider the convenience as well as the great selection of summer camps located in our direct neighbourhood.  Consider NOT having to drive all over town to deliver your children to summer camp.  From sports, to pottery, cooking, theatre and dance, there are lots of camps right here in this neighbourhood:

Baobab Tree's Rhythm Trek camp (ages 7-12) runs August 15-19; as they put it "Drum, sing, dance; make art and food!"  Sounds good to me.  They are a fantastic local organization that teaches African drumming / dance and song.  They are located in "the treehouse" (no, not a real treehouse) at St. George's Church, 415C Piccadilly Avenue (just east of Island Park off Richmond).  Cost is $225.

Camp Awesome - run by Parkdale United Church, this bible camp for 4-12 year olds will run the week of July 25-29 from 10-3 pm with games, crafts and singing all in an environment where they will also learn about faith.  The cost is $75 but all children are welcome regardless of ability to pay.  For more information see http://www.parkdaleunitedchurch.ca/campawesome11.pdf

Canadian Mothercraft - best known for their daycare program and the Ontario Early Years Centre, Mothercraft on Evered (2 streets east of Churchill and just south of Byron) also offers the Fun Ventures summer camp for children aged 3.8 - 6.  For more information see http://www.mothercraft.com/early_learning/funventure.php

Capital City Dance - located in the Westgate Mall this dance studio offers summer dance camps during the weeks of July 11th, 18th and 25th.  See http://www.capitalcitydance.ca/ for more information.

Fisher Park Community Centre - Just realized I did not get around to including the details - and I have them somewhere.  Coming soon.....

Gotta Paint - Gotta Paint http://www.gottapaint.com/ holds typically holds weekly camps throughout the summer  for 5-7 and 8-13 year olds at 352 Kirkwood Avenue.  For more information please contact them directly as information for this year is not yet on their website.

Hintonburg Community Centre - Just realized I did not get around to including the details - and I have them somewhere. Coming soon.....

Jewish Community Centre - JCC programming is open to all faiths and they have a fantastic facility including a great outdoor pool.  I don't know if they're technically in the Kitchissippi boundaries, but if they're not they should definately receive an honorary mention for being so close!

New Star Childrens Theatre - New Star is located in what used to be the United Church at the corner of Churchill Avenue and Ravenhill (across from Churchill Alternative School).  They offer a no-experience necessary summer Broadway Musical Theatre Program for ages 7 and up that culminates in a show at weeks end with everyone assured a part!  It's available for 3 weeks this year - July 25 through July 29, August 8 through August 12 and August 22 through August 26.  Hours are from 9-4 with free before and after care available.  Weekly cost is $230..  For more information see http://newstarchildrenstheatre.ca/summer-performing-arts-program/

Ottawa Gymnastics Centre http://www.ottawagymnasticscentre.ca/   One of the best gymnastics clubs in the city, they have an awesome facility with equipment geared to all age groups.  Camps also take advantage of the outdoor City playground and wading pool.  There are half day camps for 3-5 year olds and full day camps for 6-13 year olds.  Registration is not open yet but will be available via their website, by phone or walk-in.

Ottawa Conservatory Vocal and Dance Academy at 175 Richmond Road,  http://www.ottawaconservatory.com/ - Rock Camp 2011!! 1/2 days 9:00-12:30 for ages 8-17 for a fee of $195 a week.  Registration is ongoing.  Check their website for more details.

The Social Learning Centre - Located at 725 Churchill Avenue, the centre will be running a Summer Bridges Academic and Creative Arts Camp with local author Selena Robins for 4-12 year olds.  The camp runs from 9-4 with free pre and post care.  The cost is $35 a day.   www.sociallearningcentre.ca

YMCA Carlingwood - The Y typically offers summer camps at their 200 Lockhart Avenue location (behind Carlingwood Mall).  Keep in mind that this location is set to close in 2012 so it may be one of your last chances to take advantage of the facility.  Information about Y summer camps will come soon at http://www.ymcaywca.ca/Children/neighbourhooddaycamps/

Suzart - Suzart Productions http://www.suzart.ca/ runs theatre camps out of the Woodroffe United Church at 207 Woodroffe Avenue (south of Byron and north of Carlingwood Mall).  Camps include music dance and performance instruction ending with a show on the final day.

Other Favorite, but further afield, summer camps:

Registration for camps at these great three museums (that operate under one umbrella) started in February but that doesn't mean they don't still have some spots available:

Canada Agriculture Museum http://www.agriculture.technomuses.ca/english/activities_events/summer_day_camps_2011.cfm ,

Canada Science and Technology Museum http://www.sciencetech.technomuses.ca/english/whatson/detailed_summer_daycamps.cfm,

Canada Aviation and Space Museum http://www.aviation.technomuses.ca/visit_us/at_the_museum/summercamps/

The Canadian Childrens Museum has a brand new bilingual summer camp this year called "In the Land of Giants"; there are 3 camps for ages 6-9 and 3 other weeks for ages 10-12. While they have not had this particular camp before, we have attended a lego camp at their facility and had a very positive experience (and my kids ended up knowing their way around all the hidden hallways of the museum!). Registration is by phone at 819-776-7014 and in my experience camps at this museum (for some strange reason - likely lack of awareness) fill up less quickly than at the other museums. For more information see http://www.civilization.ca/cmc/canadian-childrens-museum/programs/day-camps

The camp that I would most like to try myself (though registration is sadly limited to those aged 8-14!) is the "Sail and serve" at the Britannia Yacht Club. Half a day of tennis by the National Tennis School and half a day of sailing - what more can one ask for? It's great! The only possible drawback is weather since the tennis is outside - the flipside of that is the tennis is outside! And so is the swimming....What could be better?  Registration is online at http://nationaltennisschool.com/lessons.php?sid=47e7a12a78b6b1af17ee2304eef81be6&action=d&location=7&id=5 
One can also register for 1/2 days of tennis for 6-9 year olds and 10-14 year olds at the Tennis Centre West Ottawa at Pinecrest and Carling (Britannia Beach)

Two terrific camps where we have almost always been able to find a last minute spot: the Ottawa Athletic Club http://www.ottawaathleticclub.com/ - sports, golf or tennis (worth the price) and Rays Reptiles (worth the drive and worth arriving early for pick-up so you can watch the end-of-day animal show). For more information see http://www.raysreptiles.com/ . Little Ray will also be offering a Little Ray's Radical Science camp.
 
One of the only places I know of in the city that offers the choice to go to camp just for a day is Cosmic Adventures (http://www.cosmicadventures.ca/) and they generally have spots available if you're in a last minute pinch.  Tubes 'N' Jujubes in Gatineau has also started offering a similar daily program http://www.tubesjujubes.com/.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Lego - Fun Facts

In honour of the Lego Garden at the Tulip Festival this year I'm writing a post about Lego, something I've thought of doing for a while, initially on the organizational aspect.  I'm going to keep it short and sweet though.  Here goes:

Ottawa
World

History
  • The Lego founder Ole Kirk Christiansen was born in 1872 in Billund, Denmark, where the first lego factory was created, producing all wood products.
  • Lego first came to Canada via a Lego licensing agreement with Samsonite that lasted from 1962 to about 1972.
  • When I was about 3 my parents bought the electric lego train set that was initially marketed in 1968.  It was awesome and I wish they'd kept it!
Shopping
  • The best Ottawa store for lego is Playvalue on Carling just past the split; also to be found at http://www.playvalue.com/ (yes, they ship and have previous year's merchandise at sale prices).
  • Toys R Us has a good selection as well that has improved vastly in the last couple of years; see  http://www.toysrus.ca/ and they ship as well.
  • You can shop for Lego online at http://www.lego.ca/ and they sometimes have items after local stores have sold out; they also have sale items and specialty items that are not often retailed (eg the $500 Starwars ship that my son wanted - but did not get - for his 9th birthday).
  • There are lots of kids' computer games on the Lego website; they also market a multiplayer online game known as Lego Universe that we did just purchase but have yet to play.
  • Chicago has a Legoland discovery center and there are full Legoland theme parks in California and Florida; http://www.legolanddiscoverycenter.com/chicago/en/index.htm.

Instructions and Organization (aka Project Critical)
  • Lego instructions for sets dating back to the 1950's (yes, the 1950's) are available on what I consider one of the best lego websites ever, at http://www.worldbricks.com/; They also have great vintage Lego images.
  • Lego addictions (they're a good addiction to have) can lead to Lego storage issues.  For a great article on solutions see http://jdorganizer.blogspot.com/2007/09/15-lego-storage-options.html.
  • If you have multiple children, label the instructions for each set with the owners name and then keep all instructions in a plastic bin.  It lessens arguments!  Source: personal experience.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Wild West Garage Sale and Devonshire School Book Bash

In the rush of spring sales, there are still 2 left. 
Wild. Wild Westboro Garage Sale - Saturday, June 4

Outside at the Dovercourt Recreation Centre near the wading pool from 8-1 pm.  There's no rain date so hope for good weather in which case you'll have a chance to see all your neighbours as a bonus.  Tables can be rented for $10 each through Dovercourt (online, in person or by phone).  Each table will have a separate registration number; book early to get your favorite spot.  If you don't want to sell you can also donate your items to the Westboro Community Association's Table (just contact them in advance by e-mail to hellowestboro@yahoo.ca to let them know in advance

Denonshire School Book Bash and Barbeque - June 10th

 Includes book sale, bake sale, barbeque and silent auction!  More details to follow.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

More on Mud lake and the Britannia Conservation Area

On Thursday I went to Mud Lake and the Britannia Conservation Area, just west of the Kitchissippi neighbourhood in old Britannia Village.  I posted http://kitchissippikids.blogspot.com/2011/03/mud-lake-area-in-spring.html

It was beautiful but I forgot my camera and also received some questions afterward that I wanted to answer.  This morning I had an hour and a half free time and I just wanted to get outside!  So, I took my camera, and off I went, to Mud Lake, again.



The Lake itself is still frozen though I wouldn't try to walk out on it from the shore.  I think the warm weather has brought an end to what was clearly a well-maintained ice rink complete with hockey nets nearby, not that long ago. 

I didn't walk around the entire Lake but starting from the westerly end of the trail I went a good distance.  The trail was still snow covered, crunchy and wet in only a few places.  It will definately be soggy when temperatures go above zero again so if in doubt, take rubber boots, though preferably ones with treads for the icey patches.

Dogs are not permitted on the Mud Lake trail (though they are permitted on the river trail across the street so read on...)



There were geese on the Lake (though for "better" geese, ducks etc. go to the river) and lots of squirrels and birds in the woods.  I'm no birder but if something were to turn me into one it would be Mud Lake.  Go there and you know it's spring.  

People were even feeding the birds directly from their outstretched palms - a great experience for kids and grown-ups a like.  (You are, of course, not really supposed to feed the birds, ducks etc. but that's another story). 

My bird photos make it clear I need a better zoom....

 After the Lake, cross the street and from the small parking lot on the north side of the road you'll find what I'll call the Ridge trail and the River trail.  On both of these dogs are permitted though they should be on a leash and you should of couse clean up the waste (and watch your step for those who didn't!)

The Ridge trail takes you up a small hill (see left) and along a ridge overlooking the Ottawa River and running parallel to Cassels Road.  There are nice views and more adventurous people than I clearly did some scrambling around for photographs. 

You can get down to the river in various spots - probably every 30 feet or so.  It's a short trail but pleasant and of course bring your birding binoculars and camera.



If you don't go up the hill to the ridge, simply follow the trail down to the river and that is my favorite spot.  Again today there were lots of geese, ducks, squirrels, seagulls etc.  The mix of ice, water, snow and wildlife is beautiful.

Do not go too close to the edge.  It is the river.  The water is cold.  Nobody wants an accident and people are NOT ducks!




These trails are a poignant reminder of the importance of green space in our city.  The ability to visit this type of environment so close to home is priceless. 

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Mud Lake / Britannia Conservation Area - In Spring!

I first went to Mud Lake in October after viewing a post by Andrea at Quietfish http://www.quietfish.com/notebook/?p=9449.  It's a short drive from here in quaint Britannia Village (which I had equally failed to discover unhtil last summer) and today we decided to go there again in the hopes of seeing some ducks.  I had three young ones with me and we didn't actually pursue the trail around the lake as it looked a bit snowed-in at least at one end, and the littlest man probably would not have made it around.

We did however take a walk down a short trail on the other side of the road to the Ottawa River (or at least a small arm of the Ottawa River.  And it was beautiful.  Really beautiful.  It didn't hurt that the sun was just coming through the clouds, or that there were large melting ice formations along the trees standing in the water a few feet from sure.  It was spring weather, slushy but not yet muddy and there were ducks, and geese and seagulls and squirrels and the sounds of lots of birds.  In fact we did even see a cardinal.  Next time, and I wish it could be tomorrow, we will take the camera and the binoculars.  We will also be sure to make our way around the lake.  There's a painted rock there (apparently with a scarey face!) that I want to see. 

In the meantime, I need my camera surgically attached to my right hand.

When near the Ottawa River at this time of year, never get too close.  The water is COLD and little people in particular can easily lose their footing.  Never take a risk.

To reach Mud Lake from Kitchissippi, take Carling Avenuewestward.  Just after you pass the Carling / Richmond Road intersection turn right at Britannia Road (this is before you reach Britannia Park).  Follow Britannia Road as far as you can and then turn right on Cassels Road.  You can't miss Mud Lake which will be on your right.  You can also reach it via the NCC trail but I'd wait till the snow clears a bit more for that.  Great bike destination for the summer though!

The NCC describes Mud Lake and the  Britannia Conservation Area as follows

 "A patch of wilderness in the middle of an urban setting,  Mud Lake is an amazing area of forest and wetlands. Located in Ottawa’s west end, Mud Lake is home to hundreds of species of wildlife, with raccoons, frogs, turtles and foxes, to name but a few. This ecologically significant urban natural landscape is also prime birding territory, with thousands of birdwatchers coming each year to observe hundreds of different species. A walk through this easy-to-access urban jungle provides an exciting escape from city life."

For more detailed information about birds in the area visit the Ottawa Field Naturalists Club at http://www.ofnc.ca/birding/wheretogo/britanniabirding.php. This "5-kilometre stretch of shoreline and conservation area bordering Lac Des Chenes and the Ottawa River represents, without question, the best year-round birding hotspot in Ottawa", they say.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Spring Smells & Boot Liners

As I walked into my sons school today I smelt the smell of, shall we say, "spring", to put it kindly.  This certain scent that arrives in elementary schools annually at this time of year is the product of many, many pairs of boots that have been worn by many, many pairs of feet, walked through many, many puddles and basically haven't been cleaned properly in about 4 months. 

My apologies for generalizing as I'm sure there are those of you who clean them regularly!

In portable classrooms where the shoes are kept inside the same room as the students, it is particularly bad.  Frankly, I'm sure it would give me a headache.  How do teachers deal with this?  Do they have any suggestions?  This will only get worse and I need to try something!

I have briefly scoured the internet (if one can actually scour something briefly) and come up with baking soda, kitty litter and tea tree oil.  Does anybody have tips or solutions to counter this phenomenon?  Are there commercial products that really work??  While of course one can wash the liners they do take a long time to dry.....they certainly would not be ready for the next days wear.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

SUMMER BRIDGES ACADEMIC and CREATIVE ARTS CAMP

Have you ever visited The Social Learning Centre located at 725 Churchill Avenue near Carling?  It has some great looking programs with a real focus on creativity and aims to provide academic stepping stones for children who benefit from bridging activities between June and September. 

This summer, The Social Learning Centre’s Summer Bridges Academic Camp introduces writing workshops for kids with local author Selena Robins! Come and enjoy a new blend of creative arts, reading wizards and fancy free afternoon activities for children 4-12 years old.

 
READING THEMES and CREATIVE ARTS
  • Let’s read Canadian Authors.
  • Chocolate making – bugs and slugs.
  • Gardening, flowers, and planting week.
  • Clay, paint, and sketch weeks.
  • Let’s read dungeons, dragons, and fairytales.
  • Comics and cartoon week.
  • Back to basics for school

The camp will run weekly from Monday to Friday from 9am-4pm with extended hours as an option.  The camp is open to children between ages 4 and 12 years and costs $35/day.

 
For more information contact Tricia Kassotis – Director at 729-1333 or check out the Centre's website at http://www.sociallearningcentre.ca/.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Westboro Village Co-operative Preschool - Open House - March 2nd

This lovely neighbourhood preschool is having an open house at 470 Roosevelt Avenue (on the second floor of the Westminster Presbyterian Church, two streets west of Churchill and just south of Byron) on March 2nd from 6:30-8:00 pm.

If you are thinking of putting a child in preschool I can assure you that this one is worth checking out.  My oldest son attended for 2 years and loved every minute, made good friends and got lots of energy out in the big gym.  (My middle son refused to attend, but that's another story, and the reason why I can do another post about the Westboro Nursery School in the Dovercourt building!)

I'm aware of  4 non-profit preschools in the neighbourhood and each one has its own features.  Location of course is key for most people.  If you can walk to preschool so much the better.  Who's attending?  If your child knows other children in the class it can ease the initial separation anxiety and also make it a chance for you to connect with parents you know.  Is the school "a fit" for your child and you?  That's a bit more difficult to describe but you'll know it when it's there.  The setting, the teachers, the other students, the routine, even the other parents all play into this.

Some key features of the WVCP program that are worth noting and that distinguish it from others:

The Programs:
  • students can start as early as 2 years old (most preschools are for 2 1/2 and up);
  • 2 spaces are kept available for childrren who are 2 by December 31st.;
  • classes run from 9:15-11:30 with an optional lunch program available;
  • classes for the 2s are on Tuesdays and Thursdays and for the 3s are on Monday, Wednesday and Friday;
  • there is an afternoon program for 3s and 4s (after morning JK) that runs on Monday, Tuesday and Friday from 12:30-3:30;
  • it has a weekly optional french program from 11:30 - 2:00 for the 3s program.
Other Attributes:
  • it's diaper friendly (disposable or cloth);
  • it has a full size gym with lots of toys (including lots of ride-ons!) so the children get their energy out for the last 1/2 hour of the program!
  • the Director, Sue Ellen Nevala, has been with the school since 2004.  She is ECE qualified, has a qentle approach with the children and lots of experience;
  • It has a lovely music teacher - Nancy Lockwood - who engages incredibly well, up-close and hands-on-instruments with the little crowd;
  • it requires parents to assist with duty days and other co-operative responsibilities; it may be more intense than other co-ops in this regard but it may also be worth it!
  • the motto is "Learning through Play" - lovely! and it's practised.
Who knows.  They might even do a really cute Christmas show! 

If you are interested in registering your child for one of the fall sessions or want to check out the preschool's facilities, please stop by the open house - admission is free.  For more information visit http://www.wvcp.ca/ or e-mail wvcp.registrar@gmail.com.


Friday, February 11, 2011

Neighbourhood Churches Reach Out to the Young Crowd

I've recently noticed a few Church events that are clearly designed to appeal to the young crowd. 

Whether you're a regular churchgoer or not, whether you're a believer or not, church can provide historical, religious, moral and musical education, a chance to reflect, a sense of community and an opportunity for outreach.

We have always intended to take our children to church though frankly we've failed miserably on that count.  I'd describe myself, if I had to, as a "dubious Christian", though if you asked me whether church had a postive impact on me growing up, I'd have to say it did.  Frankly I grew up in a town of 2000 where church basically gave kids and families something to do!  And along the way I learned a few things.

Here's what I've found in our neighbourhood

MESSY CHURCH
 
St. Martin's Anglican Church at 2120 Prince Charles Road near Carlingwood is embracing this new effort by the Anglican community to connect with families and children.  I think the name says it all.  This isn't about stiff clothes and formality, this is about learning, fun and community.
 
The brochure, available at http://www.stmartinsottawa.ca/downloads/MessyFamily.pdf describes this as "a once-a-month "happening" on Tuesday from 5:00 to 7:00 pm for toddlers to early teens along with their Mom, their Dad – who knows maybe even an Aunt, an Uncle, Guardian or Grandparent. It’s a time to hang out together doing crafts, hearing stories, singing songs, exploring the Church and – best of all - enjoying a meal together that neither Mom nor Dad had to prepare after a hectic, messy day."

The next dates for this event are March 8th, April 12th, May 3rd and June 7th.  St. Martin’s Anglican Church  To register simply telephone 613 722-6077 or e-mail administration@stmartinsottawa.ca.  Registration is recommended so that the kitchen may plan for sufficient food.

St. Martin's of course also runs the well known neighbourhood preschool!

INFORMATION - WHY BRING YOUR CHILD TO CHURCH?

If you're a family which debates the benefits of church going and religious education, the Presbyterian Church on Roosevelt last year distributed the pamphlet found at the following link which discusses some of the benefits of church attendance. http://www.presbyterian.ca/resources/online/3579

DOORS OPEN OTTAWA

Various churches, mosques, synagogues etc. open their doors for this event.  Last year we visited the Ottawa Mosque on Northwestern, just of Scott Street.  They were welcoming, informal and informative.  I came out of the tour feeling that I had just a bit more understanding of another religion.  They also have an informative website.

The Ukrainian Orthodix Church on Byron also routinely opens its doors for this event as does the All Saints Anglican Church (the Chapel of which, incidentally, was designed by the same architect as did the Parliament Buildings!) on Richmond Road and the beautiful St. Francoise d'Assise Church with the beautiful spires and pipe organ, on Fairmont Avenue at the corner of Wellington.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

What to do on a Saturday Morning?

Oh, of course, you could sleep in but is that really going to happen? 

If not, the best antidote to the Saturday-morning-wanna-sleep-in blues is a great plan to keep yourselves and the little ones busy.  Below are some ideas, some have been mentioned in other posts, others are new to this post.  Try one, try them all....enjoy.

Playgroups:

There aren't that many Saturday morning playgroups but these are worth checking out:

The Hilson Avenue Java Jumpers - what a fitting name, I love it.  Led by the ever energetic Jenn Whiten this group meets every Saturday morning from 10 till 1 at Hilson Avenue Public School.  You guessed it, coffee is served, and this weekend they have the added bonus of hosting a performance of Hey Buster!, the local Dads turned cool kids band!  Registration is through Dovercourt at http://www.dovercourt.org/.

Mothercraft playgroup - a quieter version of what is often a very busy weekday playgroup, it also features more Dads than usual, providing a sometimes welcome change to the "mom" buzz and a chance for the neighbourhood Dads (and moms too of course) to get together.  It runs from 9 to 11 every Saturday except on long weekends and except on the last Saturday of every month.  It's located on the second floor of the Mothercraft building at 475 Evered Avenue.(2 streets east of Churchill and just south of Byron).  For more information and to check dates, visit http://www.mothercraft.com/

The Library

Family storytime at Carlingwood Library - Saturday mornings from 10:30 - 11:10 am - we went to this regularly for years; it's pleasant, it's low-key, it's free and who knows you might get to sign out some books for yourself while you're there.  Regardless you're guaranteed to find new kids titles, meet some other parents and perhaps start a post-library coffee tradition at Carlingwood Mall.  Check http://www.biblioottawalibrary.ca/ for more details and to confirm dates.  No registration required.

Swimming

Another typical Saturday morning "dad" activity - parent and tot swim lessons at Dovercourt http://www.dovercourt.org/

Drumming

Drumming?  Yes, drumming.  And not just any drumming, it's drumming with "Baobab Buds" at Baobab Tree on Piccadilly.  This is a new group for parents and tots that is running for 4 weeks starting on January 29th (that's this Saturday).  The cost is $60 for the 4 sessions.

The class is described as "A hands-on class for parents and children aged 12-24 months, exploring sounds, rhythms and movement through the lens of Ghanaian drumming dancing and singing.  It's  Taught by Baobab instructor Julia Walmsley."  If you're not familiar with Baobab Tree check them out at http://www.baobabtree.org/ - they're a terrific organization that successfully blends music and international awareness for all ages.

Theatre

The Ottawa School of Speech & Drama has classes ranging from pre-school drama through to musical theatre for 8-10 yr olds, all on Saturday mornings.  While parents are welcome to stay for the preschool class it is not required.  Check out the OSSD offerings at http://www.ossd.com/

Infant Massage

Mothercraft is offering a 3 week infant massage course starting on Saturday, February 5th.  Registration is required so please contact Mothercraft at 613 728-1839 to inquire as to space. 

Cherish the Child also offers infant massage as well as Sing, Rhyme and Sign classes at the Milkface location on Churchill Avenue.  Their offerings include a Dad Zone-ly version of the class to give Dads equal time with baby.  Check their website for more info at http://www.cherishthechild.ca/CherishTheChild/Infant_Massage_Class.html

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Pre-school, Kindergarten and "Regular" School Registrations

Preschools: Registration for various neighbourhood preschools begins in February and continues throughout the year. Check out these great options:
Monday, Jan 24 - Friday, Jan 28th - kindergarten registration week for the Ottawa Catholic School Board.  For more information see http://www.occdsb.ca/

Monday, Jan 31st - Friday, Feb. 4th - This is the OCDSB special Kindergarten registration week. See http://www.ocdsb.ca/ or your neighbourhood school's website. Registration can of course also be done at any later time but the earlier the better - it helps with school planning and hopefully helps you secure the program you are hoping for.  The sooner you register the more likely you might be to get your choice of morning or afternoon. 

Tuesday, Feb. 22nd - Monday, Feb. 28th - OCDSB registration period for middle french immersion programs.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Winter, Hockey, Skating....Indoors

Note: for information on outdoor rinks see this earlier post: http://kitchissippikids.blogspot.com/2010/11/winter-hockey-skating-outdoors.html

When I go to J.A. Dulude Arena, just on the other side of Carling, I go back in time to what seems to have been pretty much the same arena experience when I was 10 or so.  The same look, the same feel, the same smell!   I remember running around the bleachers, chanting cheers at the players, skating to '70's music and the smell of french fries drowned in vinegar.  I grew up in a really small town and frankly there wasn't that much to do so we made the most of what we had....often....and it was good.

So take your kids out for a skate,  lace up your own , circle around the oval and see what you and the ice still have in common.  I'm still working on my stops...

The neighbourhood's two main ice rinks are J.A. Dulude Arena and Tom Brown Arena.  Take advantage of the public skates, sign your kids up for skating lessons (through the City) or the West End Hockey League (WEHL) or rent the ice to host a birthday party or just to become the neighbourhoods favorite parent!  Registration for next year's hockey season starts in the spring.

The City does have 1, 3, 6 month and 1 year skating passes (child, adult or family) available at reduced rates for those who are frequent skaters.

JA Dulude Arena

J.A. Dulude, technically outside Kitchissippi, is located at 941 Clyde Avenue.  Basically just turn south off Carling right beside the big Canadian Tire Store (Cole Avenue), continue for a couple of minutes and you'll see Dulude on the left.  It's open year round and does have a canteen and skate sharpening.

There is also a big sledding hill - Carlington Hill - which is officially sanctioned by the City and which (if you want some trivia) was a downhill ski operation with tow lift for many years.  It's also a great hill if you want a climb (any season!).

Tom Brown Arena

My experience with Tom Brown is limited to the line-ups of the H1N1 clinics so I won't comment much, though like Dulude it had that same old-style arena feel...a good thing.  It's located at 141 Bayview Road, just off Scott Street and is open year round.  It offers skating lessons, public skates and hockey, hockey clinics and pick-up hockey.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Awesome Ideas from Your Neighbourhood Schools

Back to school and with that comes a new round of student council meetings at many Ontario schools. 

The current role of school councils was established by the Ontario government in 2000-1 when it took steps to ensure that parents, through their school councils, would have greater influence in their children’s education. Regulations confirmed the advisory role of school councils and stated that their purpose is to "improve student achievement and enhance the accountability of the education system to parents." (see Ontario, Ministry of Education, School Councils: A Guide for Members, at http://www.edu.gov.on.ca/eng/general/elemsec/council/council02.pdf)

The exact role of Councils is open to debate and ranges from fundraising to school-parent communication.  What is clear is that they have a role and, depending on the school,  may be quite active, vocal or both.  On this topic see the recent article by Ottawa Citizen reporter Mike Pearson at http://www.ottawacitizen.com/news/School+councils+communication+with+parents+should+trump+fundraising+report/3760680/story.html

I read other school's newsletters and websites - they keep me up-to-date on what's happening in the neighbourhood - they're typically posted on school websites.  While I know there is a large umbrella organization - the Ottawa Carleton Association of School Councils - I prefer to take an approach that is direct and closer to home. 

What are school councils in our neighbourhood doing?  What is your school Council doing that you really like?  There are some great ideas out there and many parents who work really hard to make our schools a better place. 

I'd like to initiate a bit of a dialogue about what Councils can do.  To kick-off, I'm going to share a few of the ideas I've found.  I'd love to receive from feedback from parents of children at the other schools in the neighbourhood.

Have a Snowball Target

I love this idea though the photo doesn't appear on the current school web site so I'll have to check if the target's still there!

The rationale for the targets is simple, but to the point "Hilson school has two new snowball targets. Students take turns throwing snowballs at them. Why did they put them there? For the students to throw snowballs at. The two snowball targets are on the south fence. Students are only allowed to throw snowballs at the targets for safety reasons."


Schlockey

Parents at Broadview donated a Schockey game several years ago.  Never heard of Schlockey?  Check out this website from Canadian Intramural Recreation of Ontario:  http://www.ciraontario.com/content/schlockey2.pdf.  Not only does it provide the background and rules of the games but it also provides directions on how to build both a regular and a mini Schlockey set.
.

 
Aim for a Representative Council and High Parent Attendance

Sounds obvious but....in many schools less that 1/10 of families have even 1 parent in attendance.  

To address the challenge Devonshire's council decided to host a pizza and movie night for kids on the same night as school council meetings.  Older children help babsit and far more parents are available to attend.  Brilliant!

Make sure Children Have Food

Again, sounds basic but....Devonshire keeps cereal, milk, toast etc. on hand in case any children come to school in need of breakfast - this can happen for a wide variety of reasons and parents can let the school knows if their child might require the extra nutrition.  This is particularly important for schools with very early starts.

Make sure Children eat their Food!

Have children from the older grades act as lunch moniters. 

Both my school aged boys have gone through periods when they haven't eaten anything for lunch during the day (and a variety of parents, particularly of boys, commented on similar experieinces).  When asked, the boys told me they "didn't have time" - not true of course, but.....When I went into my son's grade 1 class at lunchtime I realized why he wasn't eating.  It was loud, everyone was talking, no one was sitting in their seats and it just wasn't a "mealtime" environment at all.  While a teacher was floating from class to class, it wasn't enough supervision. 

I've talked with a few parents at a variety of other schools (Devonshire (again!) and Hopewell) and they say the lunch moniter program works well.  The older student calms things down, the younger ones tend to look up to the lunch moniter and enjoy the company of an older student.  If something really critical (I have heard allergic reactions mentioned) or outrageous happens there's someone who can call the teacher.

Host Fabulous Fundraisers

Some examples (a few of which are very new) include:
  • the Gingerbread house fundraiser at Devonshire,
  • the Hilson Fall Foodie Fest,
  • the Chuchill School "Kidzone" shopping experience,
  • the Much Music Dance-a-thon at Broadview 
It's easy to stick with tried-and-true but branching out can bring more dramatic success!

Find other ways to raise money:

Partner with a local business for mutual benefit.  If you mention Devonshire Public School at the Collected Works bookstore on Wellington, they will give 10% of your purchase to the school in support of the school's refurbishment of the primary yard.  Collected Works hopefully gets more people buying locally at their store as a result.  Win-Win.

Apply for a Green Apple Grant worth $1000 from Metro Stores http://www.greenapplegrants.ca/.  A variety of other Ottawa schools have already participated and details of their projects can be found on the Green Apple website.

Reach Out

School's are not islands on to themselves but part of our very vibrant and family oriented communities.  They don't have to go it alone, nor should they.  If there are synergies to be gained from partnerships with external service providers, take advantage of them.  Before, after or lunch-time activities held directly at a school reduce traffic, maximize time and encourage both fitness and extra learning.  This isn't at the expense of the schools and doesn't take precedence over school activities but can be a welcome addition to broaden some otherwise great offerings by our teachers.
  • Dovercourt Recreation Centre runs a twice-weekly "Power Hour" of fun physical activities at Broadview for the primary students.  This supplements the variety of teacher-led extracurricular activities that are also available.  The classes are low-cost and are particularly popular through the coldest winter months when there are fewer yard activities.
  • Yoga classes and a chess club are offered at Devonshire by external service providers.  Fees are low and students sign up for 8-week sessions.
  • Several Ottawa organizations have programs specifically designed to be run in schools - either before, after or during the school day.  These include Radical Science (a branch of Ray's Reptiles), Mad Science and Starr Gymnastics.
  • Baobab Tree on Piccadilly is open to discussing group drum lessons with schools.  http://www.baobab.org/.
  • Photography (from providers such as Dovercourt which have cameras readily available from their own programming) and art classes for primary students are other options that seem particularly suited.