"Help Me" at the Park

I feel so lucky that I will be spending the summer playing in the park. This gives me the chance to enjoy so many of the simply wonderful aspects of life so I thought that I would write about my experiences and observations.

This year I have a 1 year old, one that is 2 and three quarters, and two eight year olds in tow. My 11 and 14 year olds and their friends will be hanging around as well. This should bring me some challenges, a chance to practice living in the present and lots of fun.

Help me at the park

Because I am a bit of a parenting nerd, being in the parks also gives me the chance to witness parents and notice all of the different parenting that goes on. Sometimes I get some new tricks to use and sometimes I see techniques that don’t fit with me at all; but whatever the case I always enjoy seeing the different ways that parents and their children relate. It gives me the opportunity to connect and fine tune the way I choose to parent.

I do this by observing other parents, checking out the way kids play together and getting into many conversations with other caregivers about the issues that are being presented every day.

This week I was a bit surprised when another caregiver lifted the 2 year-old that was with me down from a climber. I don’t know exactly what she was thinking but I sure was curious and will guess at a few of the reasons here.

Marley, who is 2 and three quarters, was up on a pirate ship climber and to get down she would have to climb the rope net ladder. This is a new challenge for her. She did get up but never down before and was asking for help. I was sitting about 15 feet away, so not right there. My 8 year-old daughter was right beside her but not strong enough to help her down. She was however able to start to instruct her about what to do to get down… “Turn around and go backwards… you can do it… I’m right here.”

park play

As Marley started to do this the other caregiver said “I’ll help you down”, picked her off the climber and put her on the ground.

Here’s what I think about this…

1.     I think so many people find it hard to watch children in any amount of struggle. The impulse to relieve them of this struggle can be very strong. But the struggle is the motivation to try new things, learn and grow. On the other side there is a reward of increased confidence and more possibilities.

2.     I think that the caregiver worried about the child’s safety and was concerned that she might fall. I can understand this worry but in this situation I was very confident in Marley’s ability.

3.     I think that the caregiver was not paying attention to the interactions that were going on between the children and what they were working out together. In an effort to fix the situation the children were cut off from the learning experience that they were sharing. And,

4.     I think that it is surprising when someone feels comfortable picking up a child without having a relationship. It is interesting to me where people draw this line. When they feel it is their right or even responsibility to physically move a child in a situation instead of having a conversation with them.

I am only assuming here that the caregiver wondered why I had not gone over myself to help Marley down. She may have thought I was lazy or didn’t notice. I’m pretty sure she didn’t realize that I was consciously making the decision to allow Marley to try something new, challenge her self and work out a situation with her friend all while in the careful watch of someone who cares.

I’m sure there was no harm done here but I must say that I am a bit disappointed that Marley didn’t get to realize the full benefits of her experience learning to climb the ladder. I am consoled knowing that she will have many more chances to try something new and feel success this summer and in the rest of her life.

Kaeli Van Regan is the founder of Living Inside Out. She combines her love of life and nature with education in Child and Youth Work, Life Coaching and Energy Healing to provide coaching to expand and uplift the family unit. Check her out onTwitterFacebook and YouTube.

How to Host a Teddy Bears' Picnic

Summer is finally here and what better use of a warm day than to hold a Teddy Bear’s picnic!

Not too long ago I had an extra little friend in my daycare class and decided as it was a full house, that something special was in order. I sent home invitations asking the children to bring their favourite teddy bears the next day for an al fresco lunch.

host a teddy bear picnic

We played games, sang songs, ate a yummy lunch and shared it all with our “bear-y” good friends! The children had a lovely time. 

If you would like to host your own Teddy bears picnic here are some tips:

Venue

We held the party in our backyard, but any spot outside with some grass to play on is ideal. Make sure you have somewhere shady to retreat from the sun's hot rays, and ensure all the children wear wide-brimmed hats and sunscreen.

Teddy Bear Picnic1

Decoration

The natural environment, a park or a summer garden, all make the perfect natural décor, but don’t forget to make it extra special by laying out a tablecloth, a picnic blanket and have brightly coloured plates and cups on hand.

Teddy Bear Picnic3

Food and drink

Any food eaten outside is fun, but a traditional picnic should include sandwiches, fruit, cheese and a little treat. We made sure to drink plenty of water too, as it was a hot day.

Picnic food

Songs and games

My group is used to circle time, but today instead of just saying their own name, when we said hello, the children also had to introduce their teddy bear and try to tell us all a little about their special friend. We had a black bear, a lamb, a teddy with a bow, a dinosaur and a blue bear in attendance.

No teddy bears picnic would be complete without singing the famous song:

If you go down to the woods today
You're sure of a big surprise.
If you go down to the woods today
You'd better go in disguise.
For every bear that ever there was
Will gather there for certain, because
Today's the day the teddy bears have their picnic.

We also sang “Teddy Bear, Teddy bear” and some other toddler favourites such as “The Wheels on the Bus,” “Itsy Bitsy Spider” and “Baby Bumblebee”.

Teddy Bear Picnic for toddlers

Instead of “Duck, Duck, Goose” we played “Bear, Bear, Honey” and also enjoyed all the outdoor toys, including cooling off by playing at the water table.

Music

Although it’s nice to sing your own songs, it's not a party without music, so after we finished singing- we put the radio on and danced with our bears!

Sunday, July 10th is the official international “Teddy Bears Picnic Day”, so you still have time to arrange a party of your own - just grab a bear or two, pre-bear carefully and have fun! 

Fiona Tapp a Freelance Writer, Educator and Mum to one, can be reached at www.fionatapp.com

It's Strawberry Season! Let's go picking!

Every year my mother-in-law takes my daughter strawberry picking. It's a yearly tradition for them. My mother-in-law loves to pick multiple baskets of fresh, local strawberries and make jam, muffins and strawberry shortcakes with them. She even freezes them by the pound and uses them throughout the winter months for smoothies. Ottawa is lucky to have many nearby strawberry farms to both purchase and pick delicious local strawberries from.

local strawberries

Apparently this year the crop was delayed due to the brief cold snap and lack of rain, but according to my mother-in-law this coming week should be the peak time to grab local strawberries at their best! If you’re unsure how good the crop is, feel free to contact the farm in question – they know best!

Here is a list of some tried and true Ottawa strawberry farms with details as to whether or not they allow "pick your own" (of course this could change as the crop diminishes, so again, always best to check with the farm: 

Strawberry Picking1

Ottawa Strawberry Farms: 

Dekok Family Berry Farm
1070 March Rd, 
Kanata, Ontario
(613) 59-BERRY (613-592-3779)
http://www.dekokberryfarm.com/
Can you pick your own? Yes

Miller’s Berry Farm
6158 Rideau Valley Drive
Ottawa, Ontario
613-692-2380

http://www.millersfarmandmarket.ca/
Can you pick your own? Yes

Proulx Berry Farm
1865 O'Toole Rd. 
Cumberland (Ottawa), ON K4C 1N2
613-833-2417
http://proulxberryfarm.com/
Can you pick your own: Yes

Purple Cow Strawberry Farm
1439 Sale Barn Road
Greely, Ontario
613-821-1345
Can you pick your own? Yes

Richmond Nursery Strawberry Farm
5740 Old Richmond Road
Richmond, ON
613-838-2282
http://www.richmondnursery.com/
Can you pick your own? Yes!

Rideau Pines Farm
5714 Fourth Line Rd
North Gower ON
(613) 489-3601
http://www.rideaupinesfarm.com/about.html
Can you pick your own? Yes

Shouldice Berry Farm
Three locations in Bells Corners, Barrhaven and Nepean
http://www.shouldicefarm.com/pick-your-own-strawberries.html
Can you pick your own? Yes!

What you need to know about strawberry picking

child picking strawberries

·      If you have a basket from previous years bring it with you, otherwise a new one will cost you a few cents (it can even be from another strawberry farm).

·      Most farms discourage eating too many berries while picking (especially when that year’s harvest isn’t at its best), so when going with small children make sure they have eaten well and understand the rules before heading to the strawberry patch.

·      Dress for the weather! There isn’t a lot of shade at most strawberry patches so don’t forget your hat, sunscreen and a bottle of water.

·       Local strawberries need to be cooled as soon as possible (so try not to leave them in a hot car all day or they may turn to mush) and plan on washing and consuming them within three to four days – maybe less if the weather is hot!

eating a strawberry

My favourite strawberry recipe

When I think of local strawberries I also think of rhubarb! Every June and July I bake this tried and true Strawberry-Rhubarb Cobbler Cake recipe from Dinner with Julie. It makes a large pan so it’s great for summer BBQs! I guarantee it will become a family favourite! Click here to get the recipe!

Did we miss a great Ottawa strawberry farm? Let us know in the comments below and we'll add it to the list!

Staying fit while pregnant with FITMOM2B

As an expectant mom with a two-year old at home, there are a few things that I could use more of in my life: exercise, a chance to unwind, time outdoors, hanging out with other moms, and sleep (in no particular order). I was thrilled to find Ottawa FITMOM2B classes where I can accomplish all of these things (yes, these classes even help me to sleep better!).

A girlfriend encouraged me to join her for these weekly fitness classes while I was in my second trimester, and I thoroughly enjoyed the experience from my very first visit. I was greeted enthusiastically by the owner and pre/post-natal fitness guru, Sue, and after the arrival of another eight ladies or so, we got to work. The class strikes a fine balance of getting a good full-body workout, not a walk in the park, while doing so in a safe, controlled manner appropriate for most moms-to-be. The classes generally follow an interval structure, where strength exercises are carried out for a minute or so, followed by short periods of rest. Sue also ensures that all participants are mindful of the guidelines for exercise during pregnancy (as recommended by the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada), which include being aware of changes in balance, range of motion, caloric needs and hydration.

The classes have now moved outdoors to Windsor Park (Hunt Club near the airport) for the summer and it feels so good to be out enjoying longer summer evenings in the park and getting fresh air. The outdoor class also uses the park’s features to maximum advantage, incorporating benches and hills into the workout.

The class is rounded out with stretching and breathing exercises at the end of class, usually accompanied with some discussion about the importance of maintaining core strength and pelvic floor health before, during and after labour and delivery.

At 33 weeks pregnant I am so grateful to still be feeling strong and full of energy, and I know this is partly thanks to the FITMOM2B classes. I’m already looking forward to taking part in the FITMOM & Baby classes with my new peanut this fall. I highly recommend doing something great for yourself by checking out FITMOM; you can even try out your first class for free.

FitMOM Ottawa

About the author: I am a Calgary girl transplanted to Ottawa (via Australia, Tunisia, Mexico, et al), working for the public service. I’ve been married for three years, I’m mom to two year old Charlotte, a three year old feline, and we’ll be welcoming a little man to the family this summer. I’m also an avid cyclist, hiker, yogi, reader, coffee-lover and all around busy-body.

I blog about everything that is going on in and around town: festivals, special events, favourite yoga studios and great restaurants because I think that the ‘Hottawa’ is a fun and fabulous place to live.  Find me at @thehottawa.

Exploring the Outaouais with kids: Eco Odysee

We love to explore the greater Ottawa area in the summer and sometimes we come across places that are so fun and different we can't believe it. Eco-Odysée is one of those places. Beautiful scenery, boats, maps, clues, and puzzle solving! Not much could be better in my kids' minds!

My oldest son actually made a video about our trip there last summer - take a quick watch before I tell you more about it.

 

Water maze adventures

Hop in a paddle boat or canoe and spend a couple of hours going through the swamp maze hunting for animals!

All throughout the maze they have plastic statues of animals and depending on which adventure you take you can be taken through the maze in a different direction (I love this because there are adventures for different skill levels, but you can also keep going back time after time and not feel like you've already done it).

If you'd rather not paddle or you're just a couple of people, you can get a canoe (it's also a bit cheaper). We managed to get all five of us into one paddle boat, so even though it said that the max was two adults and two kids per paddle boat, if your kids aren't too big they're happy to let all five of you in the same boat.

Beyond the maze

Once you're done in the water maze you get to solve puzzles and search for a final answer, which you can bring to reception at the end for a (very) small prize. The kids were really proud of themselves for having solved the entire adventure!

There is also a walking maze and a nice area to picnic.

If you're looking for something fun and a bit different to do this summer, make sure to check out Eco-Odysée!

Small word of warning: We were there on a day that wasn't too hot. I have heard that it can get really hot out on the water so make sure to bring lots of water and good sun protection.