Tag Archives: ontario

Enjoying Nature Safely

by Amanda

When we are out enjoying nature with our little ones, it’s really important to be safe in our environment.  We must encourage our kids never to eat something such as a plant or a berry found outside unless we are absolutely certain it is in fact safe and edible. Many species of plants look very similar to each other, so if you are not sure, err on the side of caution and bring a snack with you!

If you suspect your child or another adult has ingested something or is feeling ill do not wait to call the Ontario Poison Centre.  They operate 24 hrs a day and in cases of suspected poisoning, time is critical.

Ontario Poison Centre (24 hrs) 1-800-268-9017 ontariopoisoncentre.com

Water Hemlock is the most poisonous plant in North America.  One mouthful of this species will kill an adult.  This plant should not even be touched.  Small amounts even through skin absorption can make you ill.  This plant can be found in wet, open areas, along shore lines and in marshes. Ingestion of this plant would require immediate medical attention.  It has small white flowers, jagged edged leaves and a long, hollow, purple stems.  People mistakenly use the stem as a natural straw and end up extremely ill.

Water Hemlock

Water Hemlock Flowers

Poison Ivy is a very common and irritating plant.  It coined the phrase “Leaves of three, leave them be.” It can be found close to the ground, climbing trees, or poking through rocks.  It also develops white berries at the base of the plant.  These are not edible.  Their leaves can have a glossy, purplish sheen, or be quite dull.  Most people will develop a skin rash as an allergic reaction to the oils in the plant.  You can pass it on to someone else, so no touching if you have it!  If you need to treat someone, please wear latex gloves.  Oatmeal baths and other topical ointments can be helpful in easing the itchiness and pain.  Calomine is messy, but effective.


Poison Ivy

Poison Ivy Berries

Poison Sumac is just as common, but more aggressive than poison ivy.  There are many leaves to a branch and is a much larger tree, can be 6-7 feet tall.  It’s berries look very much like those of poison ivy, white, small and hard.  It grows in wet areas or damp ground near water.  A person’s reaction to poison sumac is very similar to ivy, only more intense.  The same treatment is recommended.

Poison Sumac

White Baneberry or “dolls eyes” and Red Baneberry are very poisonous if eaten.  Children are most often poisoned by these since they are easily grabbed and the red ones are quite attractive and glossy.  As few as 5 berries can make an adult seriously ill and just a few more than that are fatal.  Few people would ever eat that many since they are quite acrid tasting, but medical attention should be sought if ingested.

White Baneberry

Canada Moonseed is often confused with grape vines. The leave have a heart shaped base and lack the tendrils of grape vines.  They do bear a grape-like fruit but these berries and the roots of the plant are very poisonous.  They contain high levels of alkaloids and ingesting them can cause seizures.

Please be careful when out there exploring with your little ones and animals too!  Nature is so much fun to enjoy, but has it’s own natural defenses built into it.  What looks like a pretty berry could turn your day in the forest into a trip to the emergency room.

Photos from wildwoodsurvival.com

Amanda was born and raised in Ottawa where she continues to live with her husband and son “J”. Amanda is bilingual and interests include reading, blogging, socializing, and advocacy on children and teen issues.

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Flash Back: It’s Maple Syrup Time

by Natasha

Spring is just around the corner, I can almost see the sunshine at the end of this long and icy winter.

One of my favourite things to do when the snow begins to melt is visit a sugar bush.  Maple syrup season “officially” started on February 26, and I’m just going to wait a little bit before heading out with my family.

We love visiting Stanley’s Olde Maple Lane Farm.  It is a wonderful way to spend a beautiful, day within a short distance from Ottawa, and the parking is free too.

If you head down early, you can enjoy a delicious all-you-can-eat-pancake brunch before you start exploring the farm.  The brunch is nothing short of a feast that includes pancakes, french toast, beans and sausages served. They have a few other items on their menu as well for those looking for some variety.

My favourite part about Stanley’s Olde Farm – besides brunch- is the number of activities available to help pass the day and enjoy the outing.

For example, you can ride in a horse-drawn sleigh through the farm to see all of the maple trees. This is an especially enjoyable activity around the last few days of snow, as you get to see the trees and hills covered in white. The ride will set you back $4.25 per person.

Stanley’s farm is of course, still a farm. So it’s natural that they have animals around for little children to visit and see. The barns are filled with horses, pigs, cow and sheep and is of no cost to visitors.

And of course the point of visiting a sugar bush is to see how the sap turns into syrup and eventually ends up on your pancakes. Stanley’s not only let’s you see the the process, but also has some delicious taffy in snow for you to try at $2.25 per serving.

Don’t sit too long on the idea of visiting the sugar bush, as maple syrup season ends around April 24 so you have just over a month to get your fill of winter-fresh maple.

Stanley’s Olde Maple Lane Farm
2452 Yorks Corners Road
Edwards, Ontario
K0A 1V0

It’s open on weekends from 9am to 3pm and they are open March Break (March 15-18) from 10am to 2pm.

Natasha is a new mommy to her first born, Baby H. She runs ShopHaven, a blog that reviews products and profiles local businesses and individuals from the Ottawa area. Natasha is also the creative force behind ShopHaven Baskets; a highly customized gift baskets service.  Follow Natasha on Twitter (@shophaven) to keep up with her daily adventures and Baby H’s mischiefs.

Oh the Lessons They’ll Learn

by Frank
It’s that time of year again. As home-parents are falling back into their no-kids-during-the-day routines, the kids are back at school. Summer memories slowly being shoved out of the way to make room for science, math, geography and verbs. And that’s just what they’ll be tackling in school “A”. It’s the stuff they learn in school “B” that’ll make or break them.” What’s school “B”?” you ask. We’ve all been to school “B”. It’s where you learn the big subjects; Courage,betrayal,friendship,fear,despair…and the list goes on. School ”B” is known by many names, but for us today, we’ll call it the School Yard.
Think about that for a second. What lesson from your childhood do you still carry with you and use on a daily basis? Is it the long devision, what Zr is on the periodic table of elements, what the capital of Botswana is? Or, is how to deal with someone pushing you around, playing fair with others or dealing with a broken heart more inline with what we do daily? The lessons we learn in the school yard are huge and they’re the situations that we will continuously deal with for the rest of our lives. Wether you’re in the school yard or at the office, dealing with a bully or knowing how to console someone when they’re hurt are pretty handy skills to have.

The problem is it’s not being talked about enough. Kids will go out to recess and experience stuff that they will remember for the rest of their lives. I can remember vividly a dodgeball game in the second grade (over 30 years ago) when I was the last man standing on my team facing 8 opponents. I was sure to lose. A crowd had gathered to watch me be destroyed. So when I picked-off the last one, everyone cheered and my team rushed me to pat me on the back. Pure awesomeness. Of course I also remember being so ashamed at being picked last for a game that I started to quietly cry and slinked away un-noticed. Not so awesome. These emotions can be tricky to handle as adults much less as children. What I would like to see is an hour, every day, of in-class time dedicated to talking about social situations. You might say that’s a bit much, but I don’t think so. I know the guy who cut accross four lanes of traffic this morning just to get a coffee could have used some lessons on playing nice with others or a quick lesson on not being such a (fill in your own expletive here). If it isn’t being talked about at school, then it’s us parents who need to pick up the slack, because the lessons learned in the school yard are the ones that matter most. I don’t care how smart Billy is. If he gets to the school yard and kicks around kids smaller than him or if he spends the whole time sitting alone, wishing he were someone else…knowing what the chemical structure of water looks like isn’t worth too much.
Need some ideas or a place to start? Check out this handy site on bullying: www.bullyingcanada.ca
Kids need to learn how to deal with everyday situations and emotions. These lessons are the ones we build on and shape who we will be as adults. Play nice with others? That’s a good lesson. I use that one every day. It’s been 21 years since I’ve used a long devision. I’m just saying.
So, which life lessons did you learn in the school yard?
Frank Burelle is a Husband, Father, Cartoonist and Photographer from Cornwall Ontario. www.frankburelle.ca twitter@frankburelle
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