Ear piercing without a piercing gun

When I was a kid ear piercing seemed like a simple business - you visited a beauty boutique at the mall, hemmed and hawed over the earring choices, and then received a quick shot to the ears with the piercing gun. Easy peasy!

Unfortunately in my personal experience, the months and years that followed my first piercing weren’t an easy experience. My ears were forever getting infected. Even pure gold earrings seemed to cause problems, and I got so frustrated I decided to take them out. To this day (at the age of 38) my piercing holes regularly become infected, even without earrings in there!


So when my 6 and 9 year olds started asking about piercing their ears, I knew I wanted to do things differently. First, I waited almost one year to be sure they were really serious about the decision. We talked about it a lot - about how it might hurt a bit, and how you needed to properly clean and care for your ears.

During this waiting period I happened to come across this post from a local tattoo parlour here in Ottawa. I had NO idea the risks associated with piercing guns, and hadn’t really considered the issue of consent. Piercing guns cannot be properly sterilized, can sometimes cause blunt trauma to the ear lobe and the advice given for cleaning/care is not accurate or thorough enough to always avoid infection.

We made the decision to use a qualified piercing artist, and started the process. The following is a bit about our experience: what to expect, the aftercare process, cost and other issues.

The Consult

The entire process began with a very thorough consult with the piercing artist. She walked us through the procedure step-by-step, talked about consent, and spent a lot of time going over aftercare. She said she would refuse to do the piercing if my daughters could not demonstrate that they had learned the 4-step aftercare process by the time the actual piercing appointment was made (we booked about 4 weeks after the consult, but you could certainly do sooner!)

The Big Day

Piercing day arrived for my first daughter. Appointments can NOT be made together, as it’s possible one child’s experience will impact the other child (seeing your sister in pain may make you wary to go ahead!) We went over all the aftercare again, and then the piercing took place. A small dot is drawn onto the lobe to map out the spot where the needle will go. My daughter was asked if she was ready, and then asked to count to three. The needle went in, and she barely flinched. Her ears were quite red and sore that evening, and we gave her a dose of Advil. The following day the pain was gone!

The Jewelry

The quality of jewelry is excellent. The earrings are titanium studs, and for an extra few dollars my kids had the option to have them coloured (my oldest chose “blurple” which is a combination between blue and purple…so pretty in the sunlight!)

The Aftercare

My daughters have to clean their piercings morning and night, with a process that involves: a sterile saline solution, water to rinse, and proper drying using a hair dryer. Furthermore, the girls were instructed to NEVER touch their ears (except during cleaning and after a good hand washing) and not to allow any friends to touch either. They can’t go to bed with wet hair (the damp can cause infection) and they were instructed not to swim to 4-6 months. So far we’ve had no problems getting them to do their cleanings, and their piercings are healing very well - we recently did our follow-up appointment to have the posts shortened now that risk of swelling has passed.


Your investment of time is going to be really significant compared to a piercing done at the mall. The consult alone was over 1.5 hours, the piercings were about the same, and then we’ve got several follow-ups. There is also the time that you need to dedicate to aftercare. The parlour seemed to regularly be running late, so we were often waiting 20-30 minutes just to get into our appointments. I would suggest bringing water, snacks and activities for your kiddos.


This is where we ran into the most trouble, and caused a bit of stress throughout the whole process. When I asked for a quote from the tattoo parlour I received a “rough estimate” that was SO far from the total cost. If I had known the real costs I probably would have decided not to go ahead with both kids in the same year (it was really my youngest daughter who wanted the piercing done, so I would have told my oldest she had to wait another year!) To be clear, I think the service is worth what we paid; but I wish we’d known how much it was before we went ahead.

One of the variations in cost is dependant on the type of jewellery your child chooses. Of course mine wanted the pretty sparkly earrings rather than the round (and boring!) balls. In total we spent about $200 per child - that includes everything, including follow-up appointments.

In addition to the unexpected cost, the parlour also did not accept any type of debit or credit. So we had to trek down the street to an ATM.

I would strongly suggest that you get a very clear quote for the ENTIRE process, and find out if the tattoo parlour will take debit or credit.

In the end, I would say we are glad we went this route for ear piercings. I think that in the long-term this will pay off. The piercing will heal properly and unlike me, my daughter’s will be able to keep their earrings for life.

Have you taken your child to a piercing artist for their ear piercings? What was your experience like?

Game Time: Checking out the Ottawa Senators with Kids

KITC would like to welcome back, guest blogger, Stephen Johnson. Stephen Johnson is an Ottawa writer who loves to write about family travel.  During the summer, you will most likely find him and his family at a local fair or festival.  During the winter, a beach in Mexico is a likely bet.  

Our son, David has been a big Sens fan since they almost defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Conference finals in 2017. We had never been to a game as a family and thought the end of Christmas holidays was the perfect opportunity.


The Sens were playing the Carolina Hurricanes in a matinee match-up; meaning the game started at 1:00 pm and we could be home before anyone was too bleary-eyed. Upon arriving at the stadium, the first thing I noticed was the improved pricing for parking making it affordable before we even set foot inside the Canadian Tire Centre.

For the first time ever, I got a mobile ticket and wanted to hide my technological ineptness. The ticket person was kind enough to assist me into the 21st century. Once inside the arena, I was struck by the historical photos of the team dating back to the 1920’s.I work in a library so I respect any organization that honors its past.

David thought the photos were cool but was excited to see some present day action. Before we took our seats, we checked out where TSN radio and television produce some of their segments. David took multiple photos of the TSN reporter before he started his live broadcast.

It was now time to make our way to our seats. We decided to get 100 level seats near ice level since it was David’s and my wife, Sandy’s, first game ever.

Photo Credit: David Johnson

Photo Credit: David Johnson

David loved being close to the action and was on a mission to appear on national television. He perfectly positioned himself behind the anthem singer so he appeared on the jumbotron several times. The game was also on Fox Sports so it is possible David’s mug reached a worldwide audience.

Once the game started,we were only about five rows up so every crunching bodycheck and shot that hit the glass almost seemed like it was going to hit us. It was cool to see every smile and grimace of the players.

Carolina jumped out to an early lead and by the end of the first period, it was 2-0 for Carolina. First place intermission meant it was time to go for a walk and load up on snacks. We passed by the media broadcast area again and David got to see a live TSN broadcast. It was fun watching the television screen and the reporter at the same time.

We did not forget our second mission and made a pit stop at Tim Horton’s. Feeling rejuvenated with a diet of Boston cremes and French vanillas, we were ready for second period action.

The teams traded numerous goals and by the end of the second period the score was tied up at 4. David did his best sports photographer imitation and got a few great photos.


For the intermission, we stayed in our seats and enjoyed seeing fans sitting on snow tubes sent down the ice by a catapult. Their goal was to knock over as many bowling pins as they could at the other end of the rink. I thought this was a uniquely Canadian take on bowling. Next was DJ Prosper who got fans up and dancing with classics like Stayin’ Alive.

The third period started and unfortunately, the Sens went down a goal and were unable to come back. The final score did not really matter for our family. The Sens are a young team and play exciting hockey. There was also plenty of in-game and intermission entertainment to keep even the youngest fan entertained. Sandy mentioned she enjoyed that there was not one fight in the game and relatively few penalties.

We will certainly be back to another Senators game before next Christmas. For more info about the Sens and tickets visit www.ottawasenators.com

Disclaimer: The Sens provided assistance with tickets, but all opinions are our own

Tastiest (and easiest!) applesauce recipe for kids

I’ve been making applesauce for years, but it took me a while to figure out the easiest way to process the apples (less work for me!) and get the right taste.


Does everyone agree that store bought applesauce tastes so gross?? It has no flavour!! And if it does have flavour and colour, it’s because all that stuff has been added after the processing. I still buy them for convenience sometimes, but I try to make my own whenever I get a chance.

I either purchase discount apples (all those bruised ones work well) or a big bag of No Name Naturally Imperfect.


  • 10 lbs (or more, or less) of apples

Optional: Cinnamon, brown sugar, other fresh or frozen fruit (strawberries, raspberries, peaches, pears, whatever you want!)


  • Wash the apples

  • Cut and quarter apples, removing the seeds and stem. DO NOT PEEL!! The peel is what’s going to help your applesauce thicken

  • Throw everything into a giant pot with a couple tbsps of water (so it doesn’t scald on the bottom)

  • Add your other fresh or frozen fruit to the pot (if using)

  • Cover and cook on low heat

  • Let the apples soften until you can stir and start smashing them down (more liquid will be released here, so it’s important not to add too much liquid at the beginning)

  • Once you have enough liquid in the pot, remove the lid and let simmer until all the apples are completely disintegrated and most of the liquid is gone, about 30 minutes

  • Transfer the contents (I do batches of this) to a blender and let ‘er rip until all the peel has been blended

  • Transfer back to your pot and add anything you’d like: a bit of brown sugar if the apples were a more sour variety, or maybe some cinnamon!

  • Store in large mason jars in the fridge. My applesauce never lasts long enough for me to figure out how much time it has before going bad, but I’m guessing around two weeks. Discard if you ever see mold growing on the top! You can also freeze your sauce for another day!

Real applesauce will be a rich brown colour, or sometimes pink/red depending on what fruits you add to it. It will be so flavourful, and I dare you to go back to store bought!

Simple Christmas

Kids in the Capital is pleased to welcome back Antonia Cetin to the blog. Antonia is an educator and the author of You’ve Got This, Mom! A Mother’s Guide to Surviving and Thriving in Today’s Modern World.

Sometimes, I feel like my parents had an easier life than parents do today. There were less expectations on parents and less things to do and to purchase. At Christmas time, these expectations just get amplified as we seek to create the perfect Christmas experience for our kids. This idea of a perfect Christmas makes me look back and ask myself - what were the best Christmas memories for me growing up?


We didn’t have big plans to go on faraway trips; we didn’t have lots of presents; and we certainly didn’t have a schedule of events to attend and to follow. Yet, I have such fond memories of Christmas. For me, it’s not the presents and things that I remember about Christmas. It’s the people and feelings.

I remember trudging outside in the snow with my dad on Christmas Eve searching the sky in anticipation of spotting Santa’s sleigh and reindeer, invariably coming back disappointed to find out he had already been and gone and we’d missed him yet again. What are the chances, right? I remember the smell of coffee in the kitchen while making cake with my mom. We dunked arrow cookies in coffee to soften them and layered them on a plate with nutella spread between the layers. I know it’s hard to believe but some of those cookies didn’t make it into the pan. The memory is delicious and there wasn’t even any baking involved! I remember going to Christmas mass and singing my heart out with other happy and excited children, and admiring the decorations and nativity. And, I remember playing Aggravation with my parents and mostly losing to my dad, being aggravated sometimes to the point of crying when my little man got sent back to start again and again…but always wanting to play more because I loved that we played together.

All of the things I remember are simple things. And, sometimes I feel like today, we get so caught up in trying to make Christmas perfect for our kids: getting them the best presents, and organising the perfect activities. So, I invite you this Christmas holiday to accept a challenge. It’s simple but it’s not easy: resist scheduling every minute, and go easy on yourself with the presents. Instead, create simple memories with your kids and enjoy slowing down.

If you’re looking for me this Christmas, I may be playing mini-sticks in the basement. I currently hold the title of undefeated mini-sticks champion in our household. The first and only time I played with my spouse I won and I will not give him a rematch. Ever! Alas, I think my days as champ are numbered though because my 13 year old son is taking up more space in his net! The nerve! Serves me right for feeding him!

You may also find me on the playstation creating a city on Minecraft because that’s what my son likes to do. You may find me sipping hot chocolate by the fire with a lively and less stressful game of Aggravation or Crib or Uno or Risk. Or, you may find me coaching the snowman making from the warmth of my porch. But, one thing is for sure, I will be slowing down and making time for my people and enjoying the memories we are creating of our not so perfect Christmas. Wanna come over and play?

OPL Staff Picks - Favourite Children's Picture Books 2018

The Ottawa Public Library is back to share some of their new books for children with us. This month’s post is by Xiao Feng Xing, Librarian, Youth Collections at the Ottawa Public Library.

This selection is from her reading and reviews of new picture books published in 2018. We hope you will enjoy reading them!

They Say Blue, by Jillian Tamaki

They Say Blue was written and illustrated by Jillian Tamaki who is best known for her graphic novel This One Summer. This is her first picture book, but she’s already received two important awards – the Boston Globe Horn Book Award and a Governor General’s Award, as well as numerous starred reviews. The two illustrations below are examples of her powerful and creative style. This book about a young girl who contemplates colours in the world is a true gem.

They say blue_1.jpg
They say blue_2.jpg

Hello Lighthouse, by Sophie Blackall

Ms. Blackall is the winner of the 2016 Caldecott Medal for illustrating Finding Winnie. The illustrations in this book are outstanding. One of them shows a realistic cutaway interior of a lighthouse, letting us see what it would be like to live inside a lighthouse.

In just 32 pages, the book highlights important moments of the life of a lighthouse keeper in a remote location. “On the highest rock of a tiny island at the edge of the world stands a lighthouse. It is built to last forever. Sending its light out to sea, guiding the ships on their way. From dusk to dawn, the lighthouse beams.”

This is a saga to celebrate the lighthouse keeper’s selfless devotion to saving lives and protecting ships at sea. It’s a sad story too since we learn that his job is eventually replaced by a machine.

The Rabbit Listened, by Cori Doerrfeld

When the amazing blocks that Taylor had just built up were smashed down by a flock of birds, he was very sad. The animals came over to him one by one, each thinking that they knew how to help, but none of their suggestions impressed Taylor. And so they all left. Then a rabbit came by and sat quietly beside Taylor; he didn’t try to fix the problem or offer solutions – just listened. After sharing his feelings with the rabbit, Taylor was happy again. It’s such a simple and cute story but it teaches kids, and maybe even some adults, a big life lesson. 

Night Job, by Karen Hesse

This story about a father and son bonding is very touching. A boy helps his dad who has a job on the night shift as a school custodian. Even though life can be difficult, as long as he can be with his dad, the boy feels happy.

They eat dinner together while at work, and after they come home, “I climb up beside dad and soon we are drifting away together…” Life is hard but it is sweet to stay together with dad.

The powerful illustrations will help kids build up empathy and understanding for a life situation that shows that not every family has a worry-free life.

The Rough Patch, by Brian Lies

Evan, the farmer’s fox and his pet dog loved to do things together. What they loved the most was working in Evan’s magnificent garden. But one day Evan’s dog died. Evan was heartbroken and stopped caring about the garden because he no longer had any desire to look after anything.

In time his garden turned wild. One morning, Evan spotted a pumpkin vine sneaking under the fence. So he let it be. Eventually, he brought his giant pumpkin to the fair. It felt good to be out again, even if it wasn’t quite the same as before. He won third prize in the pumpkin competition and claimed his prize. From inside the box, he heard a scrabbling sound…. The last illustration in the book shows Evan driving home with a small dog.

The lovely illustrations and the touching story will show kids how to overcome a rough patch, that very sad feeling that comes when they lose a pet or a loved one, and that life continues.

The Day War Came, by Nicola Davies

This is one of the most powerful books that I have read dealing with children refugees.

A young girl’s peaceful, normal life is turned upside down when war comes to her town. She becomes a refugee and is forced to roam all by herself. She finds a school and attempts to enter the classroom but a teacher won’t let her in. “There’s no room for you, you see. There is no chair for you to sit on”. Then comes a happy and touching moment when a young boy and his classmates all bring their chairs for the young girl. The last illustration shows the kids hand-in-hand walking together on a road lined with chairs.

This book will open a window for kids learning about the plight of children refugees and teach them empathy and kindness.

THANK YOU, OMU! by Oge Mora

This is a heart-warming story about kindness and sharing. It’s a perfect match for the holiday season.

“Omu” is the lgbo term for “queen”. Omu has cooked a delicious stew. The smell brings all the people one-by-one to knock on her door. Omu offers each of them a portion of her meal and pretty soon the pot is empty. As she’s sitting at the table with her empty pot, she hears someone knock at the door. All the people who received food from her are now coming back, one by one, bringing food to her. Omu’s heart is full of happiness and love.

Africville, by Shauntay Grant

I’m so glad to see this wonderful book about Africville as there aren’t enough books about the Canadian black community.

This book uses a girl’s imagination to replay the happy life the black community enjoyed in their old home of Africville.

The author provides a note at the end of the book that details the sad and dark history of Africville and the tragic injustice and racial discrimination that took place.

That’s Not Hockey, by Andrée Poulin

It’s only common sense to wear a helmet and a face mask when playing hockey. But did you know that not that many years ago, hockey players and even goalies, didn’t wear any facial protection when they played?  This book is a true story about the goalie Jacques Plante and how he grew up as a kid from a poor family to become one of the greatest goalies of all time and play for the Montreal Canadians. He changed the history of hockey with his courage and determination to be the first to wear a mask while playing the game.

Henry and the Yeti, by Russell Ayto

A little boy makes up his mind to find Yeti. Everyone laughs at him and his school principal tells him to remember to bring evidence if he does find Yeti.

The little boy overcomes a lot of difficulties to find Yeti, and he takes pictures too. But when he comes back to school to let everyone know what he found, he can’t show them his evidence because he lost his camera. Everyone laughs at him again, and nobody except his own father believes him. You can imagine the surprise then when Yeti comes to visit the little boy’s school. This is a heartwarming and witty story about believing in yourself.

Grace for Gus, by Harry Bliss

This is a near wordless graphic novel-style picture book.

It’s a hero story about a little girl named Grace who sneaks from her bedroom to go to the subway station to play the violin, draw caricatures in the park, and finally to perform acrobatics in the subway car. She raises a lot of money and the next day secretly puts it all in the jar for the classroom pet hamster fund.

If you want to read more wonderful picture books, please click here.