Author Archives: smothermother

Flashback: The GG’s

by Julie

No, not the University of Ottawa sports teams. The Governor General’s Residence. Many of you may have been there for the annual CHEO’s Teddy Bear Picnic. No? Well bookmark that one for next year. It’s a must do kids in the capital thing. But have you ever ventured to the GG’s on a regular day during the summer?

Surprisingly we don’t go very often, even though we are only a 15 minute walk away. But every time we do go, I always say “We should really come here more often.” First, there is TONNES of room to just run and play. Bring a soccer ball to kick around. Or some bubbles to blow. Or anything else you can think of to do on vast expanses of grass. Picnic anyone?

Then there is the play structure. Simple but fun. And it’s on what looks like asphalt but is actually spongy. Although it is a little small, there is lots to do for both little and big kids. The visitor’s information center is right near by which has toilets, a little gift shop and water fountains to fill up your bottles.

As we were playing we suddenly heard the sound of bagpipes approaching. What could that be? We gathered our stuff and ran off towards the sound (I’m a sucker for bagpipes). What did we stumble upon? The Changing of the Guard!

It would seem that the Guard post changes every hour on the hour. And the ceremony lasts all but 5 minutes. So if the elaborate pomp and circumstance of the Changing of the Guards on Parliament Hill seems to be a little overwhelming, this is the perfect option. And you can get up close.

The jellybean thought this was the best thing and marched on behind them.

After the 5 minute ceremony there is lots of opportunity for photo opps with the guards, but we were off marching behind the returning guards, no time for photos. This was definitely a wonderful surprise.

In the early summer the rose gardens are beautiful with many different varieties. It’s now the end of the season, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t wonder around the gardens. There is a great fountain that just begs for pennies to be thrown in and lots of walls and benches to stop and have a snack or just a little rest.

The GG’s Residence is also home to the Ottawa Cricket Club. They were just setting up for a match when we were leaving, so we didn’t get a chance to watch.

We were there for a couple of hours and barely touched on all there is to do. There are also tours of Rideau Hall and the art collection, which run all year round. And a tour of the grounds offered during the summer months. And a treasure hunt called Tell-a-Tale Trail that is good for people of all ages.

So let’s get down to the nitty gritty. How much does all of this cost? Nothing! Zilch! Nada! Zero! And parking? FREE! When there isn’t a special event like a concert, parking is really easy on residential streets. When there is a special event, parking can be a bit of a bear.

So make your way down to the Governor General’s Residences. It is your’s to discover.  (yes, cheesy, but essentially true!)

Julie (a.k.a. smothermother) is mom to 3 yr old Jellybean and married to the hubby.  You can read her blog at

Going to the dogs

by Julie

Our family’s weekend morning routine is to go to our local dog park.  Any time of year, and in almost any type of weather.  It’s a great way to meet some people in your neighborhood, get some exercise (if you walk there), and a real fun way to get some fresh air and let the kid(s) run around.  And yes, everyone knows the dogs names more than their people’s names.

There are tonnes of great dog parks all through the city of Ottawa.  And the Ottawa Dog Blog has created an awesome dog park finder, which makes it all the easier.  While we love our local dog park, and have met some really great people (we even know their names!) we sometimes venture out to some of the larger dog parks for some adventure.  Two of our favorites are: Bruce Pit – Ottawa’s most popular and largest dog park; and Conroy Pit.  Both are very large wooden areas which have dozens paths that weave through them.

While Chili (the dog) can roam freely, sniffing from tree to tree, the jellybean can also roam freely (sometimes sniffing trees – hey, he’s three!).  The paths range from dense forest, to thick shrub, to large fields.  Everyone is very friendly and the dogs are well behaved.  We have yet to come upon a dog that is aggressive or misbehaved.  And considering the amount of dogs you see there on any given day, that’s pretty impressive.  While the dogs are well behaved, there is the occasional knocking over of small children, or adult, by rambunctious dogs at play.

The parks are clean and most of the dog poop is picked up.  I say most for those that might not venture into the woods to find where Rover might have squatted, and the few people who don’t stoop and scoop.  I say there are few of those people because more often than not people let the owner know, offer a bag if they happen to be out, and basically stare them down until they clean up after their dog.  Yes, that would be me.

Do you have to have a dog to visit dog parks?  Of course not.  It’s actually a great place to visit if you have been toying with the idea of adding a new member to your family.  Especially if you have a little one who hasn’t been around a lot of dogs.  While I wouldn’t bring a child who is nervous to a large place like Bruce Pit on their first outing, your local dog park is a great place for first introductions.  And if you are seriously considering adding that extra member, dog parks are actually a great way to “shop” for a dog.  You will see every type of breed and mutt there is, and everyone is friendly and often very willing to discuss the pros and cons of their dogs.

So instead of quickly walking the pooch around the block before you head out to the hills to go for a great outdoor adventure with the kids, take the pooch with you and have an adventure together.

Julie (a.k.a. smothermother) is mom to 3 yr old Jellybean and married to the hubby.  You can read her blog at