5 Things To Do Before Summer Ends

Summer is just flying by. Given that my daughter is in the French-Catholic Board, she’ll be back to school on August 26th! Which means I’m starting to think about what we still need to do before summer ends, so that I don’t wake up in October kicking myself for letting the sun and sand pass me by:

1) BEACH DAY. I just can’t bring myself to go to a city beach for “beach day.” I love Petrie Island (given that I live in Orleans), and support my city as much as I can, but until the Province and City of Ottawa clean up our water, I’m totally grossed out. Instead, we will be enjoying the clean and sandy waters out in Bon Echo provincial park!

2) FAIR. There are so many great Ottawa-area fairs, and we are definitely going to check out the Navan Fair on August 9/10th! Although my girls don’t really enjoy crowds, I love that there are many different activities that don’t involve the noisy midway :)

3) FARM. Although our vegetable garden is huge, it certainly doesn’t compare to the greenery at Eco Honey Bee Spa and Gardens. It’s my favourite eco-spa in the Ottawa area, and Deborah welcomes families to come check out her beautiful gardens, doves, chickens and rabbits. And as a bonus, we can take a walk through Kemptville and stop at The Branch for lunch!

4) MOSAIKA. We still need to get my oldest out for the evening sound and light show on Parliament Hill. I think she’ll love it!!

5) POOL. I grew up with a pool, so it’s slightly sad that my kids don’t get to experience daily swimming in the backyard (although I’m not regretting the incredible costs and work associated with a pool!!). So before the summer is over, we plan to crash my friend’s backyard and use their pool to cool off :)

What do you hope to do before summer ends?

Eye Exams for Children

Did you know that eye exams are recommended for children as young as 6 months old? The Canadian Ophthalmological Society urges parents to seek an initial eye exam at this age to help with early detection of vision problems that can contribute to developmental delays, educational setbacks, and behavioural problems in children with difficulty seeing properly.

Well, we didn’t exactly make the 6 month appointment, but I finally got both girls in at 20 months and 4.5 years :) Although many schools and doctors will provide simple eye screening tests, a true eye exam should be performed by a Doctor of Optometry (Ophthalmologists are MDs who specialize in disorders of the eye, and you do not need to see one for an eye exam. However, you may be referred to an ophthalmologist in the event of eye disease or surgery).

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A simple Google search will pull up a number of different optometrists. I screened through several of the websites, and found one that I liked just down the road. Dr. Bender was really welcoming and professional, and made my girls feel right at home.

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The Dr. performed a number of tests, and they related to my daughter’s level of comprehension and verbal abilities. My 4.5 was able to read letters of the alphabet, whereas my youngest is barely talking. I was amazed what the doctor could learn just by using various instruments!

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So far, their eye health is great, with just a couple things to look out for down the road. It gives me comfort knowing that we’ve had them checked out. Most eye disease is preventable, and there are clear signs that doctors can spot during exams that you may not even notice. Just because you can see doesn’t mean nothing is wrong :)

And bonus? Eye exams under 20 years of age are covered by OHIP!

Weekend Recipe: Hawaiian Meatball Kebabs

We love Hawaiian meatballs – the sweet/sour flavour of the sauce, and fresh pineapple is really popular with my kiddos!

I tried making these into kebabs the other day when it was hot enough that I wanted to turn off my oven and turn on the bbq! I made the meatballs ahead of time in the morning when it was cooler, and put the kebabs together later. You could probably cook the meatballs on the bbq too if you had a good pan!

hawaiin meatball kabobs

Hawaiian Meatball Kebabs

Meatballs:

1lb ground meat (we used lamb)
1 egg
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1/2 tsp minced fresh garlic (more if you like your meatballs garlicky!)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

Mix all ingredients together in a big bowl (squishing with a fork works well). Form into 1-inch balls and place on a cookie sheet. Bake at 375 degrees F for 15-20 minutes, turning them over halfway through baking.

Kebabs:

1 pepper cut into large chunks (we used red and yellow)
1 fresh pineapple, cut into large chunks
Batch of cooked meatballs (see above)

Grab your kebab skewers and alternate a cooked meatball, piece of pepper and piece of pineapple until the skewer is full. Place on a pre-heated grill, and grill just until peppers are soft (I left them on for about 10 minutes – you want to make sure the meatballs don’t get dried out!)

Hawaiian Sauce:

Most Hawaiian sauces are really high in sugar. This is because canned pineapple and the juice is used. I’ve used stock here instead to cut back on the sugar a bit. It’s slightly more sour than sweet, but I liked it a lot better!

1.5 cups veggie or beef stock
2 tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
3 tbsp vinegar
1/4 cup brown sugar or honey
1/2 ground ginger
2 tbsp cornstarch

Whisk all ingredients in a saucepan. Heat until the sauce thickens, usually about 20 minutes.

Take the kebabs off the bbq, and serve with rice. Pour a spoonful of the sauce over the whole place! Bon Appetit!