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What to do in Ottawa for Father’s Day

On Sunday, June 17th celebrate fatherhood, paternal bonds, and all the father figures in your life with quality dad time. To help you plan ahead here is a list of things to do and see in Ottawa on Father's Day.

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Billings Estate National Historic Site - Vintage Car Show

Check out the antique cars on display from local exhibitors and don’t miss out on viewing the Billings’ 1959 Cadillac Sedan de Ville! Enjoy a guided tour of the museum and explore our latest exhibition — City in Motion. Kids can take up our scavenger hunt challenge and our compass building activity is sure to be fun for the whole family! Cash BBQ and snacks will be available for purchase. Cost: $6.50 single; $10.75 pair; $17.25 family

Fairfields Heritage House - Father's Day BBQ: From Grain to Grass

Bring the family to the Fairfields heritage House for therr Father’s Day community BBQ! Explore the history of beer and how it is made. Taste wort (unfermented beer), learn about the various kiln levels of barley, and smell different strains of hops. Brian Gunther, a silver and bronze medal winner in Beau’s 2017 brewing competition, will share his knowledge on beer production. Cost: $6.50 single; $10.75 pair; $17.25 family.

Cumberland Heritage Museum: 'Pop' Culture

Explore all things ‘pop’ culture at the museum this Father’s Day! Learn to dance the Charleston and the Foxtrot, print your own newspaper advertisement, and more! Cost: $7.50 adults, $5.50 seniors and students, $19.25 families (2 adults + children), children 5 and under are free. 

Pinhey's Point Historic Site: Settler Survival

Head to Ottawa's far west end this Father's Day and find out if you have what it takes to survive the ‘Ottawa Trail’?. Take up the challenge, gather your provisions, and navigate scenarios that will recreate some of the historical challenges and turns of fortune faced by early settlers like Hamnett Pinhey as they made their new homes in the Ottawa region. Cost: Cost: $6.50 single; $10.75 pair; $17.25 family

Canadian Museum of Nature Father's Day Brunch

For the price of Museum admission plus the cost of brunch for each guest, you can treat the dads in your life to delectable breakfast fare, followed by a tour around the museum’s galleries. Don't forget - the Museum's new special exhibition Brain: The Inside Story will also be open! For more information and to book your spot, click here!

Ottawa Fringe Festival

On from June 14th to the 24th is Ottawa's Fringe Festival - a unique festival that brings artists and the audiences together. Find out if this is something your dad might enjoy here: http://ottawafringe.com

2018 FCA Ottawa Ferrari Festival

This annual festival takes place over Father's Day weekend and is a must for any Ferrari fan! Take a look at 75 Ferraris and keep your eyes out for the HRH Prince Emanuele Filiberto di Savoia of the Italian Royal Family during the festival. 

Italian Week Festival

Father's Day lands on one of the last days of Ottawa's Italian Week. Head down to Preston Street and Little Italy for celebrations, great food and more!

Carivibe

Ottawa’s biggest Caribbean beach festival is back on Petrie Island from June 15th to the 17th. Join thousands of people of all ages enjoying non-stop entertainment and plenty of Caribbean cuisine.

Ottawa Beer Festival

Celebrate Father's Day on Friday, June 15th or Saturday, June 16th at Aberdeen Pavilion, Lansdowne. Share a craft beer with your dad or learn about beer at Beer School. There is also the National Capital Home Brew Competition, fantastic food and music.

Super cool arts camps in Ottawa

I don't know about you, but I am NOT prepared for summer! I have four weeks where my girls will be without childcare, and I've been procrastinating big time when it comes to camp registration.

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Luckily, there are still spaces in many incredible local camps, including arts-based ones from Nepean Creative Arts Centre and the Nepean Visual Arts Centre - one of our fave blog sponsors. For a complete listing of all their camps, head over to their website.

Artistic Flight

Not sure what to choose for your child this summer? Sample much of what the Arts Centre has to offer – dance, act, improvise, tell stories, make music and create works of art. Every activity is a new adventure!

Board and Tabletop Game

Invent, design, and build your own board or tabletop game. 'Game-storm' your idea, draw-it-out, create the game mechanics, and test the rules. Build a prototype for a board, card, or narrative game, and play! (Note: this does not include computer gaming.)

For teens: Camp Music! Lights! Action!

Have a teen and not sure you want them roaming aimlessly all summer? This camp is SURE to keep them busy and engaged in something super creative. 

Musical theatre production includes vocal technique, singing, choreography, acting, and a technical component. Broadway-style song and dance. Instruction, rehearsals, and performance for family and friends in a real theatre. Program takes place the first week at NCAC; second week at Centrepointe Studio Theatre.

Musical Theatre

OK, can I just be a kid again? Or is there a musical theatre camp for adults? I would have LOVED this as a kid who was obsessed with all the big broadway shows.

This camp will introduce participants to the song-and-dance theatrical form. Covering good vocal technique, basic choreography, and staging in the context of the musical and dramatic creative process. Open house on the last day!

Leonardo Camp

Science and nature meet the visual arts, DaVinci style! Explore combinations of natural elements, science and arts activities. Creative inventions led by experienced fine arts professionals!

What unique and fun camps have you got on the schedule this summer?

Great graphic novel recommendations from the Ottawa Public Library

The Ottawa Public Library is back to share some of their favourite books for children with us. This month’s post is by Lise Dumas, Ottawa Public Library.

May is the month of Free Comic Book Day, the Ottawa Comiccon and best of all the Main Branch of the Library’s first (mini) BiblioCon. Here are some of the recently published graphic novels available at the Ottawa Public Library recommended for 9-12 year olds (Clicking on the title will hyperlink you to the OPL Catalogue page where you can see if the book is available at your local branch, or you can put it on hold and then pick it up at your home branch when it is ready for you!):

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The Stone Heart by Faith Erin Hicks.

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This second book in a planned trilogy, takes place in the Nameless City currently ruled by the Dao clan. The main characters are Kaidu, a young Dao soldier, more interested in books than battles, and Rat, a young orphan and native of the city. The city natives are considered less than human by the Dao conquerors. After Kaidu and Rat foil an assassination attempt on the Dao general at the end of the first book, the Dao general agrees to create a council of representatives from each of the diverse groups living in the city. In The Stone Heart, the reader learns more about the histories of the main characters, there is betrayal, and a war is imminent. This second book of the Stone Heart series sets up the groundwork for an exciting conclusion.

Star Scouts by Mike Lawrence

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Avani Patel is the new kid in school and all is not well. She does not fit in and to make matters worse, her father has signed her up for the local Flower Scout Troupe at which instead of adventure and excitement, all the  girls want to do is put on makeup, gossip and drool over boys. Fortunately for Avani, she is abducted by an enthusiastic blue alien named Mabel, who is working on her Star Scouts "collection badge”. Avani happily spends time in space with Mabel and her troupe. Avani faces many challenges during a week at Camp Andromeda and learns skills such as jet pack racing, teleporting and herding monsters, all while keeping her dad from discovering that she has left planet earth.

All’s Faire in Middle School by Victoria Jamieson

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11-year-old homeschooler Imogene (Impy) Vega is now set to embark on the great adventure of going to a middle school. She is excited to go but is unprepared for the trials and tribulations of cranky teachers, boys and frenemies, while still trying to understand her own identity. Imogene aspires to become a knight at the Renaissance Faire, where both her parents work. Fans of Raina Telgemeier will also enjoy this book.

If your family enjoys graphic novels and a celebration of all things comic and geek culture, come and join us May 5 and May 6 for free activities at BiblioCon located at the Main Branch of the Ottawa Public Library. No registration is required; come in a costume and join the fun!

Worm composting made easy

About a year ago a friend of mine asked if I would like to start a worm compost (vermicompost) in my basement. At first I was reluctant because… worms in my basement. But since I am an avid vegetable gardener who uses compost, the idea of making it myself was appealing. Worm composting is not nearly as difficult or time consuming as one may think – and the result… well, just wait until you see this year’s seedlings!

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What is vermicomposting?

In it’s simplest form, vermicomposting or worm composting, transforms food waste into nutrient-rich compost using worms (in particular, red wigglers).

How to get started with worm composting

First things first:

1)   No. Worm composting does not smell.
2)   No. You do not have to touch the worms if you do not want to.

Thanks to my friend, Doreen, who owns Smart As Poop, a business that focuses on bringing vermicomposting to classrooms, I started composting inside last winter. Here is what we used to kick start my indoor worm compost:

1. Container: Doreen started me off with a plastic container that was about eight inches high. She had drilled holes in the bottom for ventilation and raised the bin on bricks to let excess liquid run out. She then put a tray underneath to capture the liquid, which you can use for fertilizer (think of it as high octane fertilizer!). The container also had a tight lid to not only keep light out, but also keep the worms in.

 top half of compost bin with screened breathing wholes

top half of compost bin with screened breathing wholes

2. Bedding: We then filled the bin three-quarters full with finely shredded newspaper, broken up eggshells and a bit of soil. We then moistened this with a bit of water and mixed it all up loosely to allow for good air flow.

3. Worms: Doreen then dumped in about a pound of red wriggler worms. Red wrigglers are low maintenance forgiving and like to eat! So, no, you do not use earthworms for composting purposes.

4. Where to keep your worm bin: I keep my bin in my unfinished basement, where it is cool, not cold and not too warm either. It is also not in direct sunlight (worms hate direct light).

 My counter compost container (it has an air tight lid)

My counter compost container (it has an air tight lid)

5. Feeding and caring for your worms: I keep a compost container on my kitchen counter (as well as a larger one under my sink). When it is full, I “feed it to the worms,” which is about once a week. I simply go down, open the lid, pick a corner, dig a little hole, dump the food waste, cover it up and go. Admittedly, I also love looking around to see how the worms are doing. I look for eggs (they’re usually in avocado shells) and worm clusters (this way I can tell what they really like to eat). Note: I leave a little marker of some kind (a lid or something small) that I place on top of the corner that is next for me to put food in. This way the food is evenly distributed.

If the bin starts to give off an unpleasant odour or if your worms are trying to escape (you will see lots on the lid), the bedding may be too wet. Stop feeding them until the worms catch up and gently stir the contents to increase airflow.

 Worms working hard to break down waste; you can still see some of the original paper in here

Worms working hard to break down waste; you can still see some of the original paper in here

 Weeks later the compost is looking good!

Weeks later the compost is looking good!

6. When and how to use your compost: In a couple of months you will start to see all the paper and dirt turn into compost. It’s quite miraculous, really. You can then mix your worm compost with potting soil for potted plants, add it to your garden soil, and use it when transplanting seedling from indoors to outdoors for a little extra nutrients to ease the stress of the climate change.

I now have both an indoor and outdoor worm compost. I upgraded my indoor worm compost to a Worm Factory because my worms outgrew my starter bin, and my husband built our outside worm compost. I dump food in our outdoor worm compost all year long (of course, it doesn’t break down in the winter, but come spring – it breaks down really fast!). And no, our outdoor compost bin does not smell! The worms do a great job of breaking down the enzymes responsible for odours and if it does start to smell, I just go in with a pitch fork and mix up the compost to allow for more air to get in.

 worm factory

worm factory

Can I move my outdoor worms inside and vice versa?

Yes, when it is time to bring your worms inside, you can spread out the compost on a tarp on a sunny day and move it around until you see the worms scramble to find darkness. Take those worms and put them in an inside worm compost (you can start your indoor compost again, starting with step one). We did this last fall when it was time for our indoor worms that we put outside for the summer to come back inside. This year I think we will continue to have an outdoor and indoor compost.

Worm composting is educational and fun

As I mentioned my friend, Doreen, owns Smart As Poop, a vermicomposting business that introduces the process to classrooms. She introduces the magical world of worms (red wigglers) in a creative, fun and educational way that not only teaches children how composting works, but also what happens to their food – from seed to soil!

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Worm composting at home is just as fun and educational. A part of my daughter’s chores involves feeding the worms and giving me a status check, which is usually a “they’re fine” or “one was on the lid, but I just put it back in.”  She has also learned the ins and outs of composting – a skill I hope she will come to appreciate as an adult.

If you’re not convinced that vermiculture is for you, just remember that worm composting reduces your garbage and your reliance on city composting. There is also something gratifying about managing your own organic waste, making your own compost and watching your worms grow and multiply. Honestly though – it’s fun!

If you would like more information on vermicomposting, check out Smart As Poop. You will find valuable information as well as all the equipment you need to get started with your very own vermicompost - for yourself or a school classroom!

Let's get N.U.T.S!!

We all know that kids need more physical activity. The 2016 ParticipACTION Report Card on Physical Activity for Children and Youth shows that only 9% of Canadian kids ages 5 - 17 are getting 60 minutes of heart-pumping activity they need each day (did that statistic shock you? It shocked me!!)

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When recess and phys ed are so restricted in public schools these days, how can parents take initiative to get their kids moving? I know for me, it's hard to find the motivation to get the kiddos out after a long day at school, especially when we have to get dinner made and bedtime routine started early (we prioritize an early bedtime in our house!) In the warmer months we always get out for a post-dinner walk or bike ride....but the winter months are HARD!!

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Just when I was despairing that winter would never end, I got a cool invitation from a new activity in Ottawa called N.U.T.S. The name stands for "Neuron Upgrade and Training Station." The facility is located near St. Laurent and Industrial Rd, and last week the Kids in the Capital team and friends got to check out this obstacle course where both your mind and body are challenged.

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When we arrived we walked into a huge dark room with glowing black lights and upbeat music. Friday and Saturday nights at N.U.T.S are glow-in-the-dark, courtesy of Glow Sport.

The first order of business is the waiver form. You then get to choose which type of trivia you would like, and I mistakenly chose Rock 'n Roll (mental note: I do not know ANYTHING about rock 'n roll.) When you give the staff your email address, all of your scores on the trivia portion of the obstacle are averaged out and you're emailed a score  - so you can go back and try to beat your last score!

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The premise of N.U.T.S is to run through an obstacle course, while stopping along the way to challenge your brain with trivia. The instructors showed us the entire course once, and explained how to move through it. The trivia is on small screens, and the passcode you have on your bracelet is entered into the computer so that your specific trivia questions pop up (my daughter chose Canadian History, which was a fun one to do together!)

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The obstacle course is not a race, but of course, some kids loved to see how fast they could do it! There is a lot of jumping, crawling and climbing. Most of the challenges along the way can be modified, so that older/stronger kids can choose the harder options on the obstacle, while younger kids can do something a bit easier. Anytime an obstacle is too much, we were instructed to do 10 jumping jacks instead!

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Have you ever gone for a walk and then had some brilliant breakthrough in your work or at school? Well, that's because physical activity is good for our brains! It gets all those fancy synapses firing in there, and answering the trivia questions was super fun.

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N.U.T.S is not just for kids. The idea is to run through the obstacle course three times, and I made it through it once. It was TOUGH (but of course, you can make it easier on yourself!!) I joked that this was clearly a mommy boot camp activity (and funny enough, N.U.T.S just introduced a mom and child fitness class!!)

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All the kids in our group declared it an amazing success, and were sad to have finished after three rounds. My daughter has already planned to hold her ninth birthday party there (and I got word that they supply a completely vegan cake, which is apparently out of this world!)

N.U.T.S is available for specific drop-in times, and they also tour all around the city visiting schools and having children take part in the obstacle course. They regularly host groups in their space, ranging from school-aged kids to workplace team building activities with adults.

This place is on our "must-return" list, and I can't wait to challenge myself again.