Worth a Visit: City of Ottawa Pools

It's our weekly "Worth a Visit" series! Have an idea you'd like to submit? The only requirements are that it must be in the Ottawa region and kid-friendly! Email Misty at kidsinthecapital@gmail.com. This week we welcome Brittany from My Mama Journey.

Canadian winters can be long, and can leave parents and kids a little stir crazy!

Thankfully, our city has many amazing indoor pool facilities. As a family with a busy toddler (who seems to have been a fish in her past life), we like to take advantage of these indoor pools.

For the close-to-ocean "experience" check out one of our local wave pools. Splash Wave Pool will entertain the entire family - not only does it include a decent sized wave pool and a small heated toddler pool, but there is also a small water slide!

Or, make a simple family outing to the Taggart Family YMCA. The bright open-window concept allows for the warmth of the sunshine to come through, even on those cold winter days. You won’t be  disappointed! Enjoy family swimming, playing with the pool toys and the comforts of a heated pool.

City of Ottawa Swimming Pools

Cool Part? Kids are able to start swimming lessons as early as three months old at the YMCA!

Even “Cooler” BONUS Part? After swimming, don't forget to check out the indoor play structure (all covered by the costs of the pool pass). It's on the second floor of the centre, clean, safe and bright (again, surrounded by windows!).

Date Night at Tay River Reflections

Like many couples in Ottawa, my husband and I are without family living nearby. Date nights are few and far between, mainly because babysitters are few and far between! We have some awesome cousins, but university life is demanding for them and we try not to ask very often. We also have a younger babysitter down the street, but again, school and extracurricular activities means she's often busy. 

I don't begrudge our lack of dates, mainly because we manage to get away just enough times in a year to really enjoy ourselves (and plus, we save money!) This past weekend we were lucky to score a babysitter so that we could go and check out a new Northern spa experience in Perth, Ontario.

For those who aren't familiar with the area, Perth is a small town just southwest of Ottawa (we were surprised that it only took one hour to drive there - on a Friday at 5pm!!). Driving in off Hwy 7, I marveled at all the beautiful stone buildings. I later learned that many Scottish immigrants to Perth were stonemasons.

When we pulled up to the property that is Tay River Reflections, my husband said, "it's a horse stable!" Well, it used to be! As we learned on the tour, the beautiful building that once housed horses has been transformed into a state-of-the-art gym, medical clinic and spa.

Going on a tour in our bathrobes!

Going on a tour in our bathrobes!

As much as I wanted to hop on an elliptical machine, we were there to check out Tay River AQUA, their new outdoor Northern spa experience. And Northern it was! It was predicted to be a chilly low of -14 that night, and large snowflakes were blowing across the tubs. I kind of wanted my hair to do one of these.

But no matter. We were there to relax! Upon arrival we got a locker, and the change rooms led out onto the patio. There are two hot pools with jets, and two gazebos where guests can warm up next to a cozy fire. Off to the right is a dry sauna.

The staff were welcoming and courteous, and walked around with lemon-scented cool towels and cucumber slices for our eyes. There was an array of snacks upstairs in the lounge, and I learned that they have a wonderful chef on site (they are also fully licensed).

It was great chatting with the owner, Dr. Manuela Joannou. In addition to practicing as a medical doctor in the emergency room, she's somehow managed to find the time to open the medical spa, gym and AQUA facility! Her spa services are science-based, and she offers a wide range of anti-ageing technologies (not that I need those....yet....ahem).

It was a lovely evening, and my husband and I are hoping to plan a getaway to Perth over the summer. Dr. Joannou's plans are to eventually build cabins in the woods surrounding the facility, but right now you can score a beautiful room at the Perth Manor. If you don't want to spend the night, a day trip to Tay River Reflections would be totally doable!

A beautiful sunset to finish off a romantic evening

A beautiful sunset to finish off a romantic evening

Disclosure: I was invited to attend a free media event at Tay River AQUA. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

In Between: Mud Season in Ottawa

I had a funny encounter with a New Zealander the other week - it was one of the two warmer days we've had this Spring, and I commented on how lovely it was to feel the sun. She looked at me in surprise and said, "I hate this weather!" 

Not having grown up in Canada's climate, my co-worker doesn't enjoy the "in between" season - when the snow turns brown, the puddles grow, and the mud sticks. You have to admit, our annual weather kind of looks like this:

The Four Seasons

The Four Seasons

But you can't truly enjoy the seasons unless you're properly "geared up." Heading outdoors in Spring wearing your nice leather shoes will certainly result in stress and much cursing.

And so, to prepare for Mud Season here in Ottawa, I've chosen a few key items that may (or may not!) be necessary for the kids AND for you:

1. A good pair of rain pants - anything by MEC will be good quality. Or a rain suit for the younger ones.

Waterproof shoes

2. Waterproof shoes (image courtesy of Mansfield's Shoes)

3. If you're looking for a big splurge, I looove these Hunter Boots. But given my budget, I'm more likely to put on a thick pair of wool socks and get a pair of these from Mark's.

4. Hatley has awesome rain jackets, which can be found at Kiddie Kobbler. I'm also loving this sweet coat and hat set from 3 Little Monkeys.

5. And as much as we wish it were 15 degrees, it's not. Which means hats and mitts are still necessary - but go for thin fleece instead of heavy duty at this time of year! 

6. And finally - an umbrella! They're annoying to carry around, but great for your commute. And of course, the kids love them!

What gear do you have for mud season?


Travelling with a Toddler: Surprise Backpacks!

By Brittany

I've written before about travelling with a toddler on my own blog. One of our friends prepared a box of surprises for our daughter to keep her entertained while flying out west. It helped us keep her entertained for a good portion of our five-hour flight across Canada. It included so many fun things - stickers, crayons, books, paper, dolls, and much more!

In the spirit of keeping this amazing "new tradition" alive, we decided to do the same for our friend's daughter, who will going on a trip of her own.

This little girl is one of my daughter's closest friends. She has many sweet passions and interests, but her favourite right now -- FROZEN! Who doesn't love Frozen? It seems as if my family is the only one who has not yet watched the movie. Our little one isn't into movies just yet.

So I was on a mission to find some cute, Frozen-themed items that would keep her happy and entertained for her long journey. 

After searching high and low, I came across the following items:

1. Small, clear Frozen themed backpack
2. Hair comb and mirror and hair accessories (Frozen of course)
3. Frozen lip balm (Gotta keep your lips hydrated. Even if you are only 2!)
4. Flash card games by Fisher Price
5. Dora the Explorer colouring book (another favourite of this sweetie pie)
6. Melissa and Doug Crayons
7. Treats

Tip: It doesn’t have to cost a lot, check out your nearest Dollarama for some creative ideas. The treasures to be discovered are endless. 
Here's the final product! Cute isn't it?

Brittany is a mother to a busy toddler, and writes about life on My Mama Journey 

Worth a Visit: Almonte

One of my family's favourite day trips when we have the time is a visit to Almonte. I started going there as a kid because my Great Uncle and his family lived there. Later, my grandparents moved there and we visited more often.

 Almonte is a lovely little town not too far from Ottawa, with a lot to offer. We usually start our trip with lunch at the Robin's Nest. They make simple sandwiches, great soup and I can guarantee your enjoyment of any of their desserts. 

While you're waiting for your lunch you can go right through to the shop next door, Keepsakes, home of little toys, gifts, jewelry and other knick knacks. Keepsakes is one of many great and unique shops on Mill Street.

The best place in Almonte (my must see), is Mill Street Books. Mill Street is one of only a handful of independent bookstores still open in the region, which is one great reason to support them. Another great reason is the selection, particularly of books for kids. I can't remember the last time I went in and didn't manage to find a great new read for the kid and me. 

We've discovered a lot of great new writers because of the friendly staff at Mill Street Books. And I've found a lot of great books for myself there too. (We really need more bookshelves). 

If you're visiting Almonte on a Friday or Saturday, you're probably going to want to drop by HFT for some doughnuts while you're there. And if you're picking up doughnuts you might as well grab some coffee at Equator Coffee Roasters too. 

I also highly recommend a visit to Mississippi Mills Musicworks if your kids love instruments. The staff is friendly, they have a wide array of instruments, lots of music books and a friendly dog. (They also offer music lessons). 

And if you're in the Almonte area, you might as well visit Pakenham, not too far away. Pakenham is home to the truly awesome Scoops Ice Cream and the best cinnamon buns any general store has to offer. 

Have you visited Almonte? Leave a comment and tell us about your favourite place to go!