Birthday Parties at the Ottawa Humane Society

Walk into the front doors of the Ottawa Humane Society (OHS) and you’ll be serenaded with the sounds of birds chirping, bunnies rustling in their beds, and barking dogs. The relatively new (since 2011) facility located in the south end of Ottawa can house around 600 animals at one time.

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All that space is a good thing, because the Humane Society is required to take ANY pet that gets dropped off at their facility. This could include reptiles, snakes or even wild animals who have been injured.

This was one of the fun facts my daughter learned at her ninth birthday party, which we recently celebrated at the OHS. This was my first time “hiring out” for a birthday party, and I wanted to share our experience!

The registration process was very simple, and OHS staff answered all my questions. There are two party packages - the original or deluxe. With the deluxe package you’ll get all the food included (pizza, juice, cake) as well as OHS branded loot bags. We opted for the original, since I usually prefer to make my own food.

 The “spread”

The “spread”

We opted for a Friday evening birthday party, from 5 - 7 p.m. Since I figured the kids would be starving, we started the party by eating dinner. The staff member assigned to us was super flexible, and she was happy to hang out while the kids took their time.

After that, the kids gathered in a circle while a bunny was brought into the room. We got a chance to pet the bunny, and the staff member chatted about the history and mandate of the OHS.

 Making bunny boxes

Making bunny boxes

After the bunny there was a short craft - the kids got to decorate “bunny boxes” where rabbits and other small animals love to hide and burrow.

We then made our way through the entire facility, and the kids got a “behind the scenes” look at the grooming room (where strays are cared for and cleaned up,) the sick bay (where animals are cared for if they’re sick) and the cat rooms.

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There was hands-on interaction with the cats and the bunny, but not with the dogs. It really depends on which animals are available at the centre at the time of the party, and what their behaviour/temperament is like. My daughter’s only complaint was that she wanted to snuggle the cats MORE!

We made our way back to our party room to do cake (actually, rice krispie squares for my daughter) and presents. Given the nice weather, the kids got a chance to run around outside in an enclosed area - was great for burning off steam.

All in all, my daughter gave her birthday party a big thumbs up. She even organized a fundraiser (an online link to set up an account is provided by OHS) and raised almost $125!

The worst part of it? Not getting to take home all those sweet kitties and pups!!!

Halloween Activities for families


We’re so lucky to have museums, farms and malls in the Ottawa region who love to celebrate Halloween as much as our kids do! Here’s this year’s list of Halloween activities for families in Ottawa.

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Trick or Treat with the Mayor
When: End of October (Date TBD)
Where: Ottawa City Hall, 110 Laurier Avenue West

Costumed characters, dancing and trick or treating with the mayor! is a fun event for kids of all ages. Details of this year’s event have yet to be released (probably due to the upcoming municipal election)

A Barnyard Halloween
When: October 27 and 28, 2018
Where: Canadian Agriculture and Food Museum
Fees: Included with Museum admission

Families are encouraged to come in costume and take part in a costume parade, pumpkin decorating, a candy making demonstration, a science ‘spooktacular,’ tour the spooky barn, and much more!

The Original Haunted Walk – Halloween Season
When: Nightly until November 3rd
Where: Various locations in Ottawa

Great for older children and adults, The Haunted Walks are best known for their tours and stories of ghosts and haunted places and Halloween is the perfect time to experience one of these walks! For more information: http://hauntedwalk.com/ottawa-tours/ 

Saunders Farm – Haunting Season
When: Saturdays and Sundays between September 22nd and October 31st
Where: Saunders Farm, Munster, ON
Admission: General Day Admission is $20.25 + HST (kids 2 and under are free); General night (Fright Fest) admission from $20 +HST

Scarier at night and as a not-as-scary experience during the day, Saunders Farm offers families the ultimate in Halloween thrills and chills!  The Day Haunting Season is fine for kids as the more scarier attractions are closed and the jumping pillows and main play area is open. There is also a pumpkin patch hay ride available for young visitors.

The Fright Fest (Night) at Saunders Farm is good for children ages 12 and up. For more information visit: http://saundersfarm.com/

Acres of Terror
When: Now until October 31st
Where: Cannamore Orchards, 1480 County Road 32, Crysler

Family-friendly during the day, and a lot scarier at night, Cannamore Orchards Halloween fun includes their infamous Spooky Wagon Ride, The Spooky Village, Kid’s Spooky House, The Fog Maze, The House of Terror, and much more!

Toddler Halloween Haunt
When: Tuesday, October 31st from 10:00 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Where: Diefenbunker: Canada’s Cold War Museum, Carp
Admission: By donation for parents, grandparents, or caregivers with kids. Kids under 5 are free.

A perfect Halloween Day activity for young kids. Kids and adults can come dressed up in their favourite costume and discover spooky (and cute) ghosts and monsters throughout the museum to collect treats.

Incident at the Bunker: A Zombie Adventure

If you have children aged 12 years and older, this 60 to 75 minute Halloween-themed tour is sure to be memorable! After 20 years a terrifying secret has been revealed and guests will be led on an interactive adventure to see what it’s all about. This unique underground experience is in conjunction with Haunted Walks. For more information: http://diefenbunker.ca/incident-at-the-bunker-a-zombie-adventure/

Halloween Fun At Hugli's Blueberry Ranch
When: On now until October 28th
Where: Hugli's Blueberry Ranch, 2139 Greenwood Rd., Pembroke, ON
Admission: $13.28+HST for Kids and Adults

A corn maze (which is haunted at night), haunted house, wagon rides, magic shows, and more, this makes for a fun fall drive through the Ottawa Valley and is fun for all ages!

Fairy Tale Frightfest
When: Saturday, October 21 from 10 am to 4 pm
Where: Billings Estate National Historic Site
Admission: Cost: $6.50/adult, $10.75/pair, $17.25/family

Characters from well known stories will take over Billings Estate! Come dressed in your costume and explore Ottawa-inspired fairy tale realms. Complete fun Halloween activities, or tricks, to enjoy a delicious treat. *Please dress appropriately for weather conditions; activities will take place both indoors and outdoors.

Halloween Hijinks
When: Sunday, October 28th 10 am to 4 pm
Where: Cumberland Heritage Village
Admission: Cost: $19.25 families; $7.50 adults; $5.50 seniors and students. Children under 5 are free. Memberships are welcome.

Before trick-or-treating became the norm, Halloween was the night all the pranksters came out to play. Follow the clues to help Cumberland Museum identify who’s been causing mischief! Wear your costume and enjoy a few yummy treats along the way.

Haunted Horaceville
When: Sunday, October 21 from 7 pm to 9 pm
Where: Pinhey's Point Historic Site, Dunrobin, ON
Admission: Cost: $10.65 per person (Ages 15 and up)

Bring your friends and gather around the fire at Pinhey’s Point for a live storytelling program that will truly take history beyond the ordinary. These ghostly tales will leave you unsettled, a familiar feeling to early settlers during Hallow’een. A lantern-lit tour of the house and grounds will add to the atmosphere and hot apple cider will be served for a seasonal treat.

Watson’s Mill Children’s Halloween Party
When: Saturday, October 27th, 1 t 4 p.m.
Where: Watson’s Mill, Manotick
Admission: Free

A children’s Halloween Party with fun Halloween games and crafts. A great way to see this historic mill and celebrate Halloween!

Pumpkinferno
When: Various dates from now until October 28th
Where: Upper Canada Village
Admission: Adult (13-64) $16.00, Senior (65+)$16.00, Youth (5-12)$12.00, Child (4 or under) FREE

Visit Upper Canada Village and discover a selection of all-new pumpkin-carved displays as well as fan-favourites! This event is for all-ages and includes 7,000 handcrafted pumpkins all lit at night along a kilometer long path in a picturesque 19th-century backdrop.

Family Travel: Explore Winnipeg, Manitoba

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.  
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We took a family trip to Saskatchewan this past summer and decided to return to Ottawa by car.  One of our unexpected surprises were all the great family-friendly attractions we found in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Here is a list of our favourite attractions we checked out while in Winnipeg.

Assiniboine Park Zoo  -  The zoo has been on my list of must-visit places since they opened their Journey to Churchill exhibit in 2014.  The stars of the show are the polar bears.  It is possible to view the bears through a glass-enclosed tunnel similar to what you find in an aquarium.  The day we visited the bears were in full-performance swimming and generally frolicking about.

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There are plenty of things to keep you busy at the zoo.  A few other animals we saw were muskox, timber wolves and harbour seals (thankfully kept away from the polar bears!)  One other feature of the zoo I liked was the indoor polar-themed playground. Our son, David, who is ten was not quite the target audience but we were visiting with friends who had an eight year old and six year old.  They took full advantage of the playground and it brought back memories for me of Cosmic Adventures in Ottawa.

The Forks -  Perhaps the most important and popular destination in Winnipeg is The Forks.  Located in downtown Winnipeg, The Forks are found where the Assiniboine and Red River meet up.   The site has also been a meeting place for the past 6000 years as archaeological digs show it was used by Aboriginal peoples.  More recently, it was a centralized site for fur traders, Metis buffalo hunters, Scottish settlers and everyone else in between!

The Forks - Winnipeg

Today, The Forks mixes in the contemporary with the historic.  You can find the Manitoba Children’s Museum along with numerous displays detailing the history of the area.  For our family, we gravitated towards the Forks Market where you can find numerous restaurant kiosks and vendors selling a variety of products.  Our favourite food stall was Fergie’s Fish ‘n Chips where we appropriately had delicious Fish ‘n Chips wrapped up in newspaper.

We also enjoyed climbing up to the top of a small tower found in the Market.  We were treated to a panoramic view of The Forks and the two rivers.

Canadian Museum for Human Rights -  Opened, in 2014,  the Human Rights museum has helped to put Winnipeg on the map as a tourist destination.  The first thing a visitor will notice is the unique architecture. The curved form blends in seamlessly with the landscape.

Canadian Museum for Human Rights, Winnipeg, Manitoba

The museum might not seem to be the most obvious choice for those with younger children.  The exhibits deal with hard subjects including the Canada’s mistreatment of Aboriginal peoples and the Holocaust.   Our son, David, loves history so really enjoyed the museum. While difficult issues are addressed, the exhibits tell the story from the perspective we can all make a difference in improving human rights.  

A visit to the Canadian Museum for Human Rights

Accommodation -  For our time in Winnipeg, we stayed at Delta Hotels by Marriott Winnipeg.  Located right in downtown Winnipeg, it was only about a fifteen minute walk to The Forks and the Human Rights Museum.  Aside from the location, David loved the indoor and rooftop swimming pool. His parents more enjoyed the hot tub after touring around all day!  

The perfect place to start all tour planning to Winnipeg is at www.tourismwinnipeg.com.

Disclaimer: Tourism Winnipeg assisted Stephen with hotel and attractions but all views are his own.

Emergency Preparedness

None of us want to imagine the worst - but as many Ottawa residents have experienced in the past few days, sometimes the worst happens. The tornado that touched down in parts of the city is the latest in unusual weather events (like the flood of 2017) that we can expect to be coping with as climate change intensifies.

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Despite a healthy perspective on risk, as a mother, I still worry. And as a former Girl Guide, the motto "be prepared" is ingrained in me. Although I don't see a tornado, or freezing rain (or even a pandemic) carrying me away any time soon, I am conscious of the need to prepare for any disaster.

 Trees bent under the ice

Trees bent under the ice

The City of Ottawa has a great page dedicated to emergency preparedness. After years of a niggling voice telling me to get my butt in gear, I've finally decided to put together our family's Emergency Preparedness Kit.

Experts urge us to prepare for 72 hours. If a pandemic were sweeping the country, I'm not sure what 72 hours would do for us, but it makes sense when it comes to something like a natural disaster. Here's what the government includes as part of a basic emergency kit:

  • Easy to carry: think of ways that you can pack your emergency kit so that you and those on your emergency plan can easily take the items with you, if necessary

  • Water: two litres of water per person per day (include small bottles that can be carried easily in case of an evacuation order)

  • Food: that won't spoil, such as canned food, energy bars and dried foods (remember to replace the food and water once a year)

  • Manual can opener

  • Flashlight and batteries

  • Battery-powered or wind-up radio

  • Extra batteries

  • First aid kit

  • Special needs items: prescription medications, infant formula or equipment for people with disabilities

  • Extra keys for your car and house

  • Cash: include smaller bills, such as $10 bills (travellers cheques are also useful) and change for payphones

This is a great list, and they also include "extras" that you can add. Given that we're a family who loves camping, we already have a lot of these supplies. It's just a matter of compiling all of this into a couple of bins, which could be transferred to backpacks if necessary.

Here's some of the extras I'll be adding to our family's emergency kit:

  • extra water for washing/cooking

  • basic tools (hammer, knife etc.)

  • our camping stove, fueled by white gas (we can fill several bottles full and keep them stored)

  • water purification tablets - safe, effective little tablets that will kill bacteria and viruses

  • carbon water filter (my husband owns one, and it's essential for backcountry camping!)

  • Flint fire starter and matches

  • Camping pots, dishes and cutlery

  • Waterproof food storage bags

  • Some personal toiletries

This might seem excessive to some (just check out this website, and you'll think my list is tame in comparison!), but it makes me feel better knowing I have this stuff available to me. Living in the modern world, we all too easily rely on convenience - we know we can buy what we need any time of the day. When preparing for an emergency, imagine what you would do if you couldn't access a store; if your cell phone was no longer working; if you were driven from your home; and if you had no access to electricity. Makes you think, right?

Do you have an emergency preparedness kit? What's in it?

 

Back to School: French immersion reading recommendations

The Ottawa Public Library is back to share some of their favourite French immersion books for children with us. This month’s post is by Catherine Malboeuf Children Librarian, at the Ottawa Public Library.

Back to School: French immersion reading recommendations

September is back to school month, and for many kids across Ottawa this means the start or continuation of French immersion classes. To help ease everyone ease in, here are some great French books that would make a good read for immersion students of all ages. 

Histoires de lire, Éditions FonFon

This attractive collection is geared toward kids just learning to read and will also be perfect for early immersion students. Written by veterans’ children authors from Quebec, each book contains about 140 words, short sentences and a repetitive narrative. The stories are funny and well written, and complemented by Jimmy Beaulieu’s mischievous illustrations.  

J’aime lire (periodical)
Mes premiers j’aime lire (periodical)

The magazine « J’aime lire », geared toward children 7-10 years old has been around since 1977. Each issue of the magazine contains a short novel divided in chapters, with  comics,, games, and more. For younger kids, “Mes premiers j’aime lire” offers “a novel to read like a big kid”, plus  games, comics and a code to download an audio version of the story as a read-along.

Mini-Syros Soon

This collection from French editor Syros offers an introduction to science fiction for kids ages 8 and up. Although they are not necessarily geared toward immersion students, these short novels (around 100 pages, in a small format) offer interesting stories from some well-liked French science fiction and fantasy writers and  can be used well into into high school. 

Oser lire : Scène de crime/cœur de perdrix/5 cadavres

A new collection from publisher Bayard Canada, « Oser lire » offers two versions of the same story in one book. The first is short, light on description, and goes straight  to the heart of the plot, but leaves much unsaid. The second is longer, offering more detail to understand the intricacies of the story. This collection is geared toward reluctant teen readers, with the intent that the shorter version of the story will make them curious enough to read the longer one. They can also be quite useful for older immersion students, including teens and adults.