Archive for the ‘Thursday Thirteen’ Category

13 Free things to do in Ottawa for Canada Day

Thursday, June 26th, 2008

Grandma Joyce and Aunt Karin are coming to visit this weekend and staying through Canada Day. I identified the following activities that we could do:

1. Changing of the Guard on Parliament Hill
2. Family Day at the Ottawa Jazz Festival
3. Children’s events at Jacques Cartier Park
4. Flag Raising Ceremony & Pipes and Drums on Parliament Hill featuring the Cameron Highlanders of Ottawa
5. Billings Estate National Historic Site
6. Cumberland Heritage Village
7. Pinhey’s Point
8. Bytown Museum
9.  Agriculture Museum
10. Aviation Museum
11. Canadian Children’s Museum
12. Sing O Canada on Parliament Hill at dusk with the thousands of others waiting for the fireworks. I cry every time
13. Fireworks over the Ottawa River 

And a bonus: from today through June 29, you can see the Sunset Ceremonies at 7:00. The news release promises “from the world-famous Musical Ride to the fast-paced Equestrian Abilities Show and the Mounted Arms Display, there is something for everyone. The RCMP Mare and Foal, the Police Services Dogs, the RCMP Emergency Response Team and many other local entertainers will also be on-site to entertain spectators of all ages”. We went last year and I think that they lived up to the promise.

View other participants in Thursday Thirteen or look at my previous Thursday Thirteen entries.

Things to pack for fun while camping – Thursday Thirteen

Thursday, June 19th, 2008

I went camping a lot as a kid. My parents had a trailer and we belonged to a trailer club (I don`t know if such things even exist anymore :+) and we went camping with the club, with friends and on our own. Andrea at a peek inside the fishbowl asked for ideas for what to pack when going camping and as my comment grew longer and longer, I decided I had a Thursday Thirteen in the making. Here is my list of what to take on a camping trip:

1. Multiple bathing suits: I spent as much time in the pool as possible and wearing the same wet bathing suit all day, let alone for days on end is just yucky.
2. Many beach towels: they really don’t get a chance to dry between sessions in the pool, if you’re doing it right. In a pinch, beach towels can double as blankets if it turns out to be colder than you expected.
3. Flipflops for in the shower and going to and from the pool.
4. Running shoes for going on walks in the woods or for bike rides.
5. Bikes for everyone or at least the kids. If you are far from a bathroom or from the bathroom with the shower, bikes are lifesavers.
6. Sand toys: I played with sand toys at camp long after I ceased playing with them at home.
7. Beach ball for playing soccer, kickball, throwing about in the pool or out. A beach ball is very versatile and, when deflated, doesn’t take up much room.
8. Sunscreen, hat and light-weight long sleeved shirts (and pants if you’re in an area where Lyme disease could be a problem).
9. Bug repellent with DEET, or not, according to age and personal opinion.
10. Baking soda (mixed with water) to treat the bites from the bugs that aren’t troubled by the bug repellent.
11. A first aid kit to treat the scrapes resulting from walks through the forest and whatever else might arise.
12. Collapsable “director’s chairs” for fireside seating. Hang the bag that each comes in across the back of the chair so that you can find it when you need it.
13. Marshmallows for toasting over the fire. I think that eating toasted marshmallows is the number one reason I liked camping.

There are, of course, other “grown up” things to consider like food (do as much preparation as you can at home and keep the menu as simple as possible), bedding (sleeping bags aren’t necessary in the summer but I wouldn’t sleep in a tent without an air mattress), clothing (t-shirts, shorts, jeans and a sweatshirt) and the tent/trailer/cabin itself (I’m a KOA cabin-lover myself) but I’ve used up my thirteen places for this week.

View other participants in Thursday Thirteen or look at my previous Thursday Thirteen entries.

Fun Fair fun

Thursday, June 12th, 2008

Reid and I went to the fun fair at Melissa’s kids’ school last Thursday night and once again we had lots of fun. I came away we 13 ideas of activities to do with large groups of kids, eat a fun fair, community picnic or a birthday party:

1. Lollipop garden – you need a large piece of green styrofoam with many lollopop stick-sized holes and many lollipops, some of which will have colour on the bottom of their stems. The coloured stems entitle the holder to a prize. Everyone gets to keep the lollipop they choose.
2. Pocket lady/man – sew patch pockets onto a lab coat and place one or more little “prizes” in each pocket. The children get to empty whichever pocket they choose and if they choose any empty one, the get to choose again.
3. Basketball throw – turn a “meeting room” chair so that the back touches the ground and place a large, round waste can in the centre of the legs. The children try to toss a basketball into the waste can and have it stay there. Getting it to stay is a challenge in and of itself.
4. Beanbag toss – a large board with holes and some beanbags are the minimum requirments but someone with artistic skills could paint an amusing picture that incorporates the holes.
5. Hockey shot – hang signs in the top and bottom corners and also in the cente of a hockey net and award points according to what sign was hit. The number of points could determine the size of the prize.
6. Face painting – small stencils can be used with traditional face paint and sponges or, if volunteers with some artistic skills are available, face paint pencils are also available for freehand drawing of small designs. With unlimited time and talent, freehand painting could be offered but the kids in line will be restless. Recipes for making your own facepaint from cold cream and food colouring are available.
7. Fishing game – a long stick with string attached and a bulldog clip on the end will make a safe “fishing pole” to be cast over a board painted with an underwater scene. Volunteers hiding behind the board can clip an age-appropriate prize to the fishing pole.
8. Balloon pull – a room with helium-filled latex balloons in a variety of colours looks a bit like an undersea flower garden. There is no contest with this, the children can choose the balloon or their choice. If giving a prize is important, some balloons could be marked and prizes awarded for selecting the “lucky” balloons.
9. Cake walk – in our Strawberry Shortcake Sweet Treats Carnival book, the children simply chose a numbered circle to stand on and then a number was called but in the game Reid played, the participants walked around in a circle while music played and when it stopped, they moved to the closest number and waited while a number was drawn to determine the winner.
10. Sponge dunk tank – the logistics involved in building, filling and staffing a dunk tank are a little daunting but the fun of soaking a principal, teacher or other person need not be sacrificed. A painted board, like those at tourist attractions that depicts part of a scene with a place for a person’s face to peek through, and some large, utility sponges and a bucket of water will achieve nearly the same effect with much less effort. The “dunkees” can even wear rain gear if the weather is a bit chilly.
11. Hammering challenge – about 40% of the kids in the school will be attending a new school in the fall and to get them excited, there was a “help us build the new school game”. I think slightly older kids would like the opportunity to test their strength by hammering a nail into a board. Prizes can be awarded based on the number of hammer swings required to push the nail down a certain distance.
12. Mini putt – there was a fancy golf challenge at the school but I think that kids would have fun trying to put a golf ball into a glass, small sand pail or large bucket. Par for each could be determined in advance.
13. Ring toss – I remember doing a ring toss as a kid with rubber canning rings and a peg but I’m not sure how many people have access to the rubber rings anymore. At the Upper Canada Village fair last year, the ring toss game was played with rings made from twine and the pegs were nearly a metre tall. I think shorter pegs would work best but you would want to put up a barrier around them to be sure that people didn’t trip on them. As always, prizes would be determined based on how many rings were on the peg at the end.

All of the above games could be played on a per ticket basis. Keep the proceeds for a charitable endeavour. Charging a nominal fee will also help kids to prioritize where to go and (hopefully) spread them around the games.

I would consider spicing up the usual door prize draw by giving people the opportunity to “vote” for the basket they’d most like to win by placing their ticket(s) in separate buckets. The baskets on offer were well-planned: a large flower planter; “family fun” (playing cards, board game, snack food, etc.); and car cleaning supplies.

And if you’re standing in a long line to buy tickets like I was and you have ideas on how to improve the process, the games or whatever, don’t complain and say that you’re going to send an email to the organizers. Go to the next parent council meeting or join whatever group is responsible for the planning. Melissa said that there are about 1000 kids in the school and 12 people attend the parent council meetings. I’m guessing the complainers I heard weren’t among the 12. I was frustrated and offended on Melissa’s behalf.

I sure hope Reid’s new school will have a fun fair because I have all of the ideas to share.

View other participants in Thursday Thirteen or look at my previous Thursday Thirteen entries.

Mother’s Day Activities – Thursday Thirteen

Thursday, May 8th, 2008

With Mother’s Day this weekend, I thought I’d offer 13 things to do to celebrate.

1. Go to a farm and see the mama animals and their babies. The Canada Agricultural Museum offers free admission to mothers. I bet a lot of places do as well.
2. Go to a tea room for fancy sandwiches and a nice cuppa. I went for tea to Zoe’s at the Chateau Laurier with a nephew who was  about 13 – at his suggestion since I’d taken his sister – and we had such a lovely visit.
3. Visit a park or conservation area and look for spring flowers.
4. Check out your local museum for special Mother’s Day activities. Ottawa City museums have quite a few. I’m sure other cities do as well.
5. Make an appointment at  a “paint your own ceramic” studio, like the Mud Oven, and take mom along. If they’re booked or you can’t arrange it in time, make a gift certificate and give it instead.
6. Play hopscotch. I just love it. 
7. Think about gifts that you gave to your own mother when you were small. Would they be suitable for you/your wife? I gave my mom pansies and the like. They always died.
8. Try a new restaurant. Wear a dress and even a hat. It changes the experience.
9. Fingerpaint with your kids. You can all make something for your respective moms.
10. See if there is a soup kitchen that needs help on Sunday or do something else that will help the moms in your city who need help just getting by.
11. Get family pictures taken – the more generations in the shots, the better.
12. Make a video and send it to your mom – webcams are fabulous – or maybe just keep it for yourself. We keep our video cameras on the shelf too often, waiting for a “special event”. Is there an event more special than Mother’s Day?
13. Hug your kids and your mom. Heck, hug your mother-in-law.

Happy Mother’s Day!

View other participants in Thursday Thirteen or look at my previous Thursday Thirteen entries.

Museums in Ottawa/Gatineau

Thursday, March 13th, 2008

I’m writing this list to help remember that there are more museums in Ottawa than the 2 or 3 we go to most often. And, of course, to help anyone who is looking for a museum to visit in Ottawa and since it’s day 4 of spring break, there may be more people than usual looking for a diversion. I have written about many of these museums previously.

1. Canadian Children’s Museum – this museum is part of the Museum of Civilization but it is specifically designed for children and their families, as the name indicates
2. Canada Aviation Museum – Ken and Reid like this museum, I am not so keen on it but they look at me like I’m crazy when I say I’d rather stay home
3. Science and Technology Museum – Reid calls this the “train museum” for the locomotive room but there is so much more to see and do
4. Canada Agricultural Museum – spring is a great time to visit “the Farm”, as Reid calls it, to see the baby animals
5. National Gallery of Canada – this is another museum that we haven’t been to since Reid was tiny but it deserves a visit
6. Canadian Museum of Nature – Reid likes the dinosaur room and the area where the kids pretend to be in the bird sanctuary
7. Canadian Museum of Civilization – I’d thought Reid was too young at 3.5 to go into the main part of the Museum of Civilization but we went in January with an older cousin and she hadenjoyed a number of the displays
8. Canadian War Museum – Kids seem to be interested in the military vehicles and uniforms and the museum has activities especially for kids
9. Canada Postal Museum – this museum is also lodged at the Museum of Civilization. I’m always pleasantly surprised by the special activities they have, like the dog sled during Winterlude
10. Bytown Museum – season starts April 5th – we haven’t been to the Bytown since Reid was born. It is on my list for this summer.
11. Cumberland Heritage Village – season starts May 20th – there is usually a special theme for each Sunday during the summer. Our favourite last year was the Firefighter and Protective Services Day in July.
12. Pinhey’s Point Historic Site – season starts May 20th – we’ve never been to Pinhey’s Point but I noticed it had interesting special events last summer and will try to get there this summer
13. Billingsbridge National Historic Site – season starts May 11th – it’s been far too long since I was last at the Billingsbridge Estate. I hope that they’ll still be offering the “tea and tours” this summer. I think Reid will be able to handle both this year.

There are others with lists of 13 things you might find interesting as part of Thursday Thirteen.

Happy birthday, Karin – Thursday Thirteen

Thursday, February 7th, 2008

Do you remember seeing a birthday card with a hippopotamus and a bird on it? I saw it once and if I’d seen it last week, I’d have picked it up for Reid to send to Karin because those two have seen quite a few hippopotamuses together and Reid would laugh at the “Hippo Birdie to you” message on the inside of the card. But then, I’m a digital girl and I didn’t get a card. Instead I’m writing this note about her.

1. Karin can blow big bubbles with her gum. Given all of the other times I’ve written about her bubbles, I had to start there.
2. Karin and I have spent lots of time travelling together and have had lots of time to talk. She has never told me that she resented me displacing her from her postion as a “little girl” in the sense that people referred to her and Lisa as the “little girls”. So that is a good thing, unless she is secretly harbouring resentment.
3. When I was a little girl and microwaves were new in homes (and the earth was still cooling), Karin made me a sort of “grilled” cheese sandwich in her boyfriend’s mother’s microwave. It was amazing then. Just thinking of it makes me shudder now – warm white bread and processed cheese.
4. Karin was the one who took me to the hair dresser to get my first perm. Everyone needed an afro back then. It might not have been an actual afro but I’ve never claimed to have a good memory.
5. Karin was also the one who badgered, I mean, inspired me to dye my hair once the grey hairs were getting out of control. It’s important to have someone looking out for your image.
6. When I was a young maid of 10, Karin invited me to be in her wedding and caused me to wear a beautiful yellow dress. The little bridesmaid pendant that she gave to me was equally lovely.
7. Karin invited me to spend a couple of summers with her when she was living in Halifax. Well, that is how I remember it. Mom and Dad may have asked her to toake me off of their hands. I like to think that she wanted me.
8. Karin took me out driving when I was preparing for my driver’s licence test. I don’t remember her ever yelling at me but I bet I deserved it. Unfortunately for me, I passed the test without having mastered parallel parking and this, despite Karin’s best efforts and I still have difficulty parallel parking today. Karin can put the largest vehicle with the most blind spots into a parking spot that is barely bigger than the vehicle and I admire her for this skill.
9. Karin is looking after Reid’s girly-girl side – she makes sure that Reid gets her fingernails and toenails painted every once in a while and that Reid always has good shoes. Other people looked at Reid’s face when she was a newborn to decide who she looked like. Karin looked at Reid’s finger nailbeds (they’re good and resemble Karin’s) and toenails (they’re okay and not as bad as mine and Karin’s).
10. Karin is a pie-maker extraordinaire. AND she has shared her secret recipe with me. She regularly makes sure that there is a cherry pie for Ken. She invites Reid to help her roll out the dough and doesn’t flinch at the mess.
11. Karin has talked to Reid on the telephone for years, even though Reid hasn’t always spoke to her. When Reid was very small, Karin started every conversation with an excited (and loud) “Reid Elizabeth”, both in person and on the phone. Reid would grin when she heard it, whether or not she responded verbally.
12. Karin has accompanied me on a variety of business trips and has taken care of Reid in a range of North American cities. She shows Reid a good time, even when they spend the whole day in the hotel room because that is what Reid wants. I never feel that I need to rush back from a conference session lest she judge me.
13. Karin stopped at our house on her way back from the East Coast just after Reid was born to help me get Reid started nursing and to generally just help. I don’t think that it was necessarily the most restful Civic Holiday weekend for her but it was hugely important for Reid, Ken and me.

Happy birthday, sister.

Happy Canadian Children’s Book Week – Thursday Thirteen

Thursday, November 22nd, 2007

Now maybe you don’t buy a present to mark every national day or week in honour of this or that and maybe you’re not even Canadian but I really hope that you will go out and pick up a Canadian book for a child in your life in honour of Canadian Children’s Book Week. There are so many great books out there and, being the helpful (and bossy) sort, I thought I’d provide a few recommendations:

1. Stella, Princess of the Sky by Marie-Louise Guay, or any other of the Stella and Sam series that tells the stories of an confident, all-knowing or at least always-answering, big sister, and her somewhat cautious younger brother. They’re spunky, these two and the illustrations are lovely and perfect for times when your eyes need beauty and tranquility.

2. Stephanie’s Ponytail by Robert Munsch and illustrated by Michael Martchenko is a popular story in our house right now since Reid has to choose how her hair will be done each day. I’d recommend most Robert Munsch books though sometimes they feature “strong” language, like “stupid”. I even like Love You Forever though I cry every time I read it. Ken would disagree. He calls it “Stalk You Forever” and refuses outright to read it to Reid.

3. Read Me a Book by Barbara Reid is a lovely book for new parents and small children. Most any book by Barbara Reid features bright plasticine images and a strong story but I have to warn you against Two by Two. I found it to be a dark retelling of the Noah’s Ark story that disturbed my 3 year old. I know the Bible story is about a world full of wickedness but I expected a lighter telling of the story from Barbara Reid.

4. Franklin’s Christmas Gift by Paulette Bougeois and illustrated by Brenda Clark is the Franklin story that I was able to choose among the many that we enjoy reading at our house. I picked it because it tells the story of Franklin trying to choose what gift to give to a toy drive and it seems appropriate at this time of year. Any Franklin story by Paulette Bourgeois is worth reading although I must warn you that Franklin can be a bit whiny or troublesome in some of the stories, like all kids can be. The stories based on television episodes, and written by other authors, are sometimes weaker due to their origins.

5. Jacob Two-Two Meets the Hooded Fang by Mordecai Richler, a book for kids a bit older than 3 but I’m looking forward to re-reading it with Reid in a few months. I might try it right away but we’re still getting past the Hallowe’en inspired fears that Reid developed.

6. Alligator Pie by Dennis Lee and illustrated by Frank Newfeld is probably the only book of Canadian poetry poetry that I could name but it is a good one for all of my unfamiliarity with poetry.

7. In Flander’s Fields: The story of the poem by John McCrae by Linda Granfield, a book that tells the story of the Dr John McCrae and the First World War as well as providing an illustrated version of the famous poem. The oil paintings that accompany the poem can be dark. Be ready to have an important discussion of the unglamorous side of war. It’s a good antidote to the fast-paced, shiny equipment in video games.

8. Red is Best by Kathy Stinson and illustrated by Robin Baird Lewis is a book that we have in it’s miniature size for travelling and we have read it many, many, many times and I still love it. Reid prefers yellow with the same passion that Kelly has for red. I’m sure that they would agree that a particular colour of barrette can really make your hair happy.

9. Something from Nothing by Phoebe Gilman. This book tells two wonderful stories, first the story of the boy’s relationship with his grandfather and the grandfather’s ability to see the usefulness of increasingly smaller amounts of fabric and then in the further ingenuity of the mice whose under-the-floorboards story is told at the bottom of the page. It has an environmental theme of reusing materials which may make it trendy this year but the beautiful illustrations and the wonderful story will keep it on the top of the “read to me” pile. We have also enjoyed Jillian Jiggs by Phoebe Gilman, a book with an entirely different tone and tempo.

10. Waiting for the Whales by Sheryl McFarlane and illustrated by Ron Lightburn. I chose this book for its beautiful illustrations but was immediately drawn into the story as well. The cycle of life, the love of and for grandparents and nature are all described.

11. The Incredible Journey by Sheila Burnford, a book I haven’t read since grade 4 or 5 but I figure if I read it aloud, Reid would be ready for it in grade 2. That’s 4 years from now but as fast as the first 3 years have passed, it won’t be long before I’m opening the cover.

12. The Cremation of Sam McGee by Robert W. Service and illustrate by Ted Harrison, another book we’ll have to wait a bit to read but it will be a fun one and provide an opportunity to discuss Canada’s north and the role it plays in our national identity, though not in those words, of course.

13. The Hockey Sweater by Rock Carrier and illustrated by Sheldon Cohen, a quintessentially Canadian story if ever there was one. It explores our passion – hockey, of course – the challenges of living in a bilingual country and the way that we celebrate winter.

And visit other Thursday Thirteen participants for a smorgasboard of ideas.

What books would you add to this list?

My biggest sister’s big birthday – Thursday Thirteen

Thursday, November 15th, 2007

I really can’t believe that I’m old enough to have a sister who is 50. Somehow it’s more shocking than when Chris turned 50 last year. Mom is good at remembering such things, though, and she says that Pam did, in fact, turn 50 yesterday and so it must be so. If I were a more organized person, I would have collected favourite memories from my sisters and brothers for a total of 50, that would have been a good idea. Being a more organized person would generally be good. Alas, I am not and so you’ll have to rely on my thoughts to celebrate  Pam.

Here are some reasons, in no particular order, I’m grateful that Pam is my sister:
1. Pam trusted me to babysit Brianna when she was just a baby and I was just a kid.
2. When I babysat Brianna, with Grandma Joyce always nearby, Pam never let on that I wasn’t trusted fully.
3. Pam never sought vengeance for that time when I used her chin for teething and she ended up with a rather unusual bruise. Okay, it was a hickey.
4. Pam let me into her bed when I was young and she was big and safe. Surprisingly, she has gotten smaller as I’ve grown up and now I would say she is small and safe.
5. Pam shared with me her love of reading when I was young and, more recently, her love of listening to books on tape/compact disk. I can’t say enough about the latter.
6. At some point, Pam told me about the Sidetracked Home Executive’s approach to keeping a house. I have tried at various points over the years to adopt this approach. It hasn’t stuck yet but it certainly seems to be the one mostly to work for me if I ever worked at it.
7. Pam provided me with my first-ever nephew. I wouldn’t want to take away from my fabulous nieces but Donald was certainly novel.
8. Pam made Hello Dollies fairly often when I was young and I *love* Hello Dollies. What can be better than chocolate, coconut, graham cracker crumbs and sweetened condensed milk?
9. Pam let me call her “Mama” when I was wee little, though I don’t expect that she had much of a choice, kids being kids. Still, I’m sure it took some patience and poise for my then-teenage sister.
10. Pam is the first person I remember nursing a baby. I love nursing Reid and can’t say thanks enough to people who provided role models.
11. Pam instilled in me the rhyming names that I hear myself using with Reid. Somehow Chanty-Bonty has led to Reidle-Beedle over 20 years.
12. Pam had me as her flower girl and I was so proud of it.
13. Pam gave me my first taste of Sarah Lee banana spice cake. Yummy! I remember admiring the even layers that were revealed as you cut the cake. They’re not made anymore, I don’t know why but some have attempted to replicate the taste. Just thinking of the spicy-bananaee goodness makes me wish I lived close enough to stop by with a cake and a candle.

Happy birthday from Ottawa, big sister!

Happy Birthday to Chris – Thursday Thirteen

Friday, October 12th, 2007

I came across QTPies7′s blog today whose author was participating in a Thursday Thirteen meme (like a theme with links to other people who are writing on the same topic). I had in the back of my mind that I should write about Chris since it is his birthday and all. Being a time-challenged person, I’m going to post this as a two-for-one.

Here are thirteen reasons that I’m glad Chris is my brother:
1. When I was wee little, he bought me a yellow dress that I’m told I looked quite fetching when wearing it.
2. When I got a ladybug radio for Christmas and was looking for batteries for it, he told me that he knew where to find them. They were in the last place I’d look, he said. When I asked exactly where that place was, he admitted he wasn’t sure but there wouldn’t be any point in me continuing to look once I found them.
3. He always has a brain teaser to share and even has a solution.
4. He was born so much sooner than me that he gave me a niece to play with when I was only 6 years old.
5. He let me stay at his house even though I walked in my sleep when I was a kid. It’s a big responsibility to have a house guest that might wander away and how would he have explained that to our mom.
6. When Reid was just days old, he came to visit and told me that he thought Reid looked like me in the eyes and across the bridge of my nose. No one else had suggested she looked like me at all. She barely did and so it was especially nice to hear.
7. He installed a ceiling fan in Reid’s bedroom when Ken was at work and I was whining about it being hot in Reid’s room. Chris takes action on things because he can and they need doing.
8. He takes great pictures of Reid.
9. He gives me tips for when I take pictures.
10. He always blinks when you first take a picture of him. The second picture is good. In this world of constant change, it’s good to have things you can count on.
11. You can count on Chris for the definition of “want” versus “need”. As in: a parent must provide what his or her children need but not what they want. Therefore, if a parent provides food that the kids don’t like, well, tough. Good parenting advice, really.
12. He never complained when he got me, another girl, instead of a brother who would have evened up the family at 3 boys and 3 girls. Or he got over it before I was old enough to remember ;+)
13. He won’t be offended that I’m a day late writing this because I fell asleep with Reid last night.

Happy (belated) birthday, Chris!

Edited to add: I wrote part of this on Thursday. I hope that counts for the Thursday Thirteen rules.