Saturday, March 31, 2012

Baobab Tree Drumming Classes Start This Week

One of the hidden gems of our neighbourhood is Baobab Tree. If you don't exactly know who or what Baobab Tree Drumming is all about, you should know that:
  • they are located in "the Tree House" right her in our neighbourhood on Picadilly Avenue, near St. Francois D'Assis school
  • they provided west african drumming instruction to children and adults
  • they regularly travel to west africa where they find their inspiration
  • their students and instructors are incredibly talented
  • you can see performances at the Treehouse, at the NAC, at the Black Sheep Inn in Wakefield and other locales (just check their website at
  • they provide your children with both musical and international awareness
  • their music has GREAT rhythm!
Registration is now open for their spring classes which start the first week in April.  The classes are:

  • Roots Ages 7-10 years, Tuesdays 5:30 - 6:15 pm, April 3 - May 22
  • Roots Ages 11-13 years, Wednesdays 6:30 - 7:30 pm, April 4 - May 23
There is also a Family Workshops for all ages coming up on Saturday, April 28.  These are great if you just want to see what it's all about before registering for a class.

Friday, March 30, 2012

CFR Little League - Registration Ongoing

Batter up! Summer without baseball (or T-Ball for the younger crew) is almost unthinkable. The crack of the bat on the ball, the sand, the know what I mean.

Registration is taking place at Notre Dame High School, Saturday, March 31, between 2 and 5 pm. Another registration session will be held at the Frank Ryan Clubhouse on Monday, April 2 from 6-8 pm. For detailed information see

The Carlingwood-Frank Ryan Little League Baseball Association has been active since 1957.  It's catchment area includes all of the Kitchissippi neighbourhoods though most games are played at Frank Ryan Park.  It is a two-night per week sport so there is a certain amount of commitment required particularly if you plan to enroll more than one child. That being said, Frank Ryan Park, where most games are played, is lovely and has very nice play structures if you're bringing siblings along to the practices.  The league is both affordable and fun. Two big plusses in my book.

The Divisions

T-Ball (4-6)  - Frank Ryan Park on Tuesdays and Thursdays
Rookie (7-8) - Frank Ryan Park on Mondays and Wednesdays
Junior (9-10) - Frank Ryan Park on Tuesdays and Thursdays with possible Sunday games as well.
Major (11-12) - Ainsley Park, Mondays through Thursdays
Junior (13-14) - Hanlon Park, Sunday through Friday
Senior (15-16) - Britannia Park, Sunday through Friday

The Seasons
The CFR season is relatively short and has a different set-up then some of the other sports such as soccer and ball hockey. 
  • Spring - the house league - runs for approximately two months, from the beginning of May until the end of June, so once school's out, your child has also finished baseball.
  • Summer - the competitive division - runs throughout July and August with evaluations at the end of June.  Children must have played spring ball in order to sign up for summer ball. 
  • Winter - there is also an indoor winter baseball conditioning session that runs from January through April.
My 8 year old played with the League last year and it was HIS sport.  He liked the independence of it, the fact that he knew what he was supposed to do and where he was supposed to be at any given time during the game.  It was a team sport but more structured than some others. He's strong and he could show that with a good, solid hit. He's also a hockey goalie and, in a similar vein, took to being back catcher.  He also had a fantastic coach - Randy Baker (to name names!) who took the game seriously, really emphasized skills development and was totally enthusiastic about the game and the kids.

This year is an especially big year for the CFR little it will be hosting the Provincial Major Championships for 11-12 year olds from July 22-29 at the Britannia Diamond.  It's a particuarly good year for both you and your kids to be involved.

Little League Trivia:

Okay, so I like to know a little bit about what's what.  I'm making this something of an addendum to the main post in case you don't want to read it, but here, below, is the historical significance of Little League.
  • The first Little League was founded in 1939 by Carl Stotz in Williamsport, Pennsylvania
  • It grew into Little League Baseball Incorporated and all Little Leagues (including CFR) are members.
  • There is an annual Little League Baseball World Series
  • Girls have participated in the league since 1974 
  • Over 2.5 million children participate in Little League every year

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Full Day Kindergarten In Our Neighbourhood

In our neighbourhood the following OCDSB schools will have full-day kindergarten in 2012, as indicated by their webpage at
  • Churchill Alternative School
  • Connaught Public School
  • Hilson Avenue Public School
In 2013:
  • Broadview Public School
In 2014:
  • Bayview Public School
  • Devonshire Community Public School
  • Elmdale Public School
  • Woodroffe Public School

Monday, March 26, 2012

Bicycle Disposal

That title sounds dreadfully clinical.  What this is really about is recycling kids bicycles, because if you're like us, the garage tends to pile up "a little".

We have 3 boys. The older two are too close in size and age to allow for hand-me-downs. The youngest is 6 years younger. Storing 12 bike years (6 years x 2 boys = 12) worth of bicycles seems unfathonomable.  And at least a couple of the bikes are a little, well, worn....the boys have not always been easy on their bicycles and some have been handy-me downs themselves.

So what are the options:

(1) there is almost always a younger child down the street or around the corner who would love a new-to-him-or-her bicycle. What goes around comes around.  Pass it on and someone, somewhere, will give you something, however remotely, in return. And you'll make someone happy while saving a bike from landfill. It's all good.

(2) if your children are riding adult bicycles there are two other main options for donating:
(3) Neither B4H or Recycle take children's bikes, so....consider either of these three options:
This is a very quick post, but hey, maybe if you're cleaning out your garage this weekend it will help!


Monday, March 12, 2012

Go Wild - An Animal Inspired Spring Break

If you're not going south or going skiing for March break, and if you happen to have little ones who LOVE animals, below are some suggestions for animal-inspired activities either within the City, within day or 2-day trip distance.  For Quebec City you might well want to add a second night and visit the fabulous ice hotel just west of the City on your way home.

Canada Agriculture Museum - you've probably been there lots of times but remember this is the season when new babies start to be born; it's also the beginning of the Museum's new season and they have lots going on for their March Barnyard Break.  There are calves to be named, rabbits to be cared for and much more.  If you like to cook they are also teaching about cooking with maple syrup (yum!) and making butter.Check out all the details of their Barnyard Break activities here:

Wild Bird Care Centre - We first heard about the wild bird care centre after my son found a bird in the middle of the road with a broken wing.  Searching the internet we realized this was the place to go. And it's quite an amazing little place just outside Ottawa. It's open to visitors daily from noon until 3:00.  It's located next to the Stoney Swamp Conservation Area parking lots and there are lots of hiking/skiing trails that surround the centre though I would definately take your rubber boots (a good suggestion for almost anything at this time of year!) For more information about the centre and to see some pictures of what to expect, visit their website at

Mud Lake - OK, I love Mud Lake and you are sure to see lots of birds at this time of year. It is a place that makes you fully appreciate how full of life the land around us is. It is truly lovely and the trail down to the river can be particularly beautiful at this time of year because of the melting ice and snow (just HOLD ON to your kids!). Check out this past post for more details (and it also links you to another post by Andrea of Quietfish) .

Bearbrook Farms - At this farm just east of Ottawa (5396 Dunning Road, 1 km. south of Russell Road)
you can walk or drive around the property to see elk, deer, buffalo, llama, peacocks and chickens.  The farm is open to visitors on Tuesdays through Sundays from 2-5 pm.  The farm does produce and sell a variety of wild game food products.
Parc Omega - I did a separate blog post about Parc Omega last year and have to say, again, that this is one of the best times of year to go. Fewer cars, excellent visibility because the leaves aren't out yet, and animals that actually WANT your carrots because they've been on a sparser diet throughout the winter.  See this post for details and pictures:

Montreal Biodome - The Biodome is an old favorite and shouldn't be too busy given that Quebec's March Break already took place last week. You'll experience 4 diverse climates: the tropical rainforest, the Laurentian Maple Forest, the Gulf of St. Lawrence and the Labrador Coast / sub-Antarctic Islands.  The penguins are actually my favorites so try not to get too tired out before you get to the end.  Or walk all the way through and work your way backwards!

There is also an excellent "Insider Guide", published earlier this month by Where Canada, at

Montreal Insectarium - You may more likely frequent the insectarium in the summer months when the botanical gardens are also open, but if you are in Montreal over March Break, consider dropping by.. It's open Tuesdays through Thursdays from 9 to 5. It is very close to the Biodome (see above).

Granby Zoo - This is my favorite summertime zoo (for families it's much more accessible than the Toronto Zoo).  It started opening in the winter last year and even though it's hours are limited (for Ontario March Break it's only open on March 17 and 18, the 2nd weekend), I suspect it's still worth a visit.  Ideally, I'd probably combine it with a days skiing at nearby Bromont (which yes, is currently open, but check the ski conditions before you go).
Riverview Park and Zoo. Peterborough -  I've had a hankering to go to Peterborough since last summer when I realized that it had a zoo. Although I have not yet ever been, I can tell you that the zoo is open from 8:30 am until dusk and there is an otter feeding demonstration daily at 1:00 pm.  The sledding hill would be open except that I suspect the snow is gone by now. For details about the zoo see the website

When you're finished with the zoo take a bit of time to explore historic Peterborough before heading back to Ottawa.  Include in this a visit to Hutchison House, a living history museum featuring life of the 1800's.  For details of it and its march break activities (which include paper making and native story telling) see  Keep in mind that the programs are for children aged 6-12, they take places on Tuesday through Friday mornings, and they may require pre-registration.

Quebec City Aquarium - We often drive to Halifax and sometimes we're doing it in the winter or spring. Regardless of weather we are always looking for a place where the boys can get out and run around. Many people don't know of the Quebec City Aquarium as one of it's key attractions (it's not necessarily part of everyone's romantic get-away!) but when you're travelling with kids it's great. In winter, it may be cold but the advantage is that you get to see many of the outdoor animals (because it's not all fish!) in any more natural climate. Outside there are polar bears, walruses, otters, seals and many others. Whereas in the summer you may be vying with crowds hoping to see the feedings and shows, in the winter, you may in fact be the only people at a particular feeding or show! The advantage? Great sight lines and lots of time to talk with the feeders and trainers who, at least our experience, have been more than willing to answer all of our many questions. You will not get that in the summer. When you need to warm up just head inside but don't forget to take in the amazing view of the St. Lawrence River first!

Friday, March 9, 2012

Viva Loca Coffee Time for Parents, Babies and Toddlers

So I received a super nice e-mail today from the owner and operator of Viva Loca cafe which is located inside the Great Canadian Theater Company (GCTC) building at the corner of Holland and Wellington, 1233 Wellington Street West.

She is extending an invitation to the many parents and babies in the area to meet and socialize at her cafe on Wednesdays from 2-4.  It's a pleasant setting with excellent wholesome food (and coffee!) available and what could be better than knowing that you're truly welcome with your little ones in tow and that you're likely to meet some other neighbourhood parents as well? 

Once inside the doors of the building there is plenty of space to park strollers and an area for toddlers to play. Viva Loca will offer parents a beverage discount and (in my view) you also might want to consider taking advantage of a late lunch - may I say yummy panini sandwiches : ).  And if you're lucky your toddler might even want to peak at the art work displayed throughout the theatre (so grown-up!).

For more information about the enterprise (they also sell a wide variety of locally produced yummy foods) as well as a photo of the space, see

Sounds lovely.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Flashback: Take Your Rubber Boots (Parc Omega)

Originally posted on March 31, 2011.

It's not everyday you get pulled over by a Wapiti. 
And it wasn't for speeding either - it was for carrots.

Want to see animals up close and personal?  Take a trek to Parc Omega.  It's a great time of year for a visit.

  • It's not crowded;
  • The weather's pleasant again and we all need to get outside (yes, there are walks), or at least outside the City;
  • There are deer roaming around freely in the woods surrounding the walking trail found at the half-way point of the drive;

  • There are BABIES.  Ever see a baby wild boar?  Adorable!  And yes they change to not-so-adorable later in life, so you do want to have a look in the springtime.
  • Black Bears are out of hibernation - we must have seen a total of about 20; clearly they wanted to be out of their caves and in the sunshine as much as we do!  And yes, the bears are behind a fence and you stay in your car;
  • The habitats are open and natural;

(This is the Mother!)

  • There's a Sugarbush (new this year) complete with maple syrup hardened to a toffee consistency and pans of waiting snow; Incredibly sweet.

Key Facts: 
  • It's about a 1 hour drive from Ottawa; see for directions; 80 km but smaller roads;
  • If you go on the Ontario side you can add in a ferry ride from Cumberland to Masson-Angers for added excitement;
  • Entrance fees at this time of year are $14 for adults, $10 for 6-15 year olds and $2 for 2-5 year olds;
  • You cannot take the family dog (or other pet);
  • You need to take lots of carrots!  We took 3 bags per child.  Two probably would have done it but one would have been completely inadequate.  You can also buy them there;
  • Although the route through the Park is only about 10 km you do need a few hours for the SLOW drive;  Lots of stopping and feeding.
  • Driving a standard that slow for a long time can be tedious
  • The roads aren't paved, and they are muddy and have ruts - if you have an "older" car, take it