Family Friendly Hockey with the Ottawa 67's!

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.  


The playoffs are always my favourite time to watch hockey. The Ottawa 67’s have had a record breaking year and it looks like they could go deep into the playoffs.  Sandy, David and I decided to check out a game between the Ottawa 67’s and Hamilton Bulldogs.  

Family Friendly Hockey with the Ottawa 67s!

One aspect I like about attending a 67’s game are all the activities taking place inside and outside the arena. We arrived early and had time to check out the Ottawa Farmers Market. We also wandered around the restaurants and shops enjoying the colour and passion of the Ottawa 67’s fans.   

Once inside the arena,  we still had a few minutes before game time started.  The 67’s have done a great job at creating a family-friendly atmosphere.  There was a bouncy castle, face-painting and Jenga blocks to keep the young ones entertained.  At ten years old, David felt he was too old to partake in those activities but was excited to watch the hockey game.

The first period started and the 67’s quickly jumped out to an early lead with a short-handed goal.  The Bulldogs responded by playing aggressively but the 67’s answered with another goal. By the end of the first period, it was 2-0 for the good guys.

Family Friendly Hockey with the Ottawa 67's.jpg

In keeping with the family-friendly entertainment theme,  the first period intermission featured a contest between uncle and nephew to see who could get the most pucks in the net.  I am not sure if the uncle was just being nice but the nephew won by a wide margin.

The second period started with physical play on both sides. Hamilton started with a power play goal but the 67’s came storming back with two quick goals before the second period ended.

The second period intermission featured a game of musical chairs on the ice.  The highlight was seeing a young participant out-jumping the 67’s mascot to grab one of the remaining chairs.  I think that kid might have a future in sports!

For the third period,  the 67’s held on to their lead earning a 5-2 win.  The atmosphere for the entire game was great with most of the crowd only looking at their phones to take photos of the 67’s goals.

If all goes according to plan, there will be many playoff games in the 67’s immediate future.  For all the details and schedule, www.ottawa67s.com

Disclaimer: Stephen and his family received free tickets for this Ottawa 67s game but all views and excitement are his own.

Maple Syrup Season in Ottawa - Temple's Sugar Bush

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.  


When I first moved to Ottawa from Saskatchewan nineteen years ago,  one of the things I loved about Ottawa was visiting a sugar bush every March and April to load up on pancakes and maple syrup.   Saskatchewan grows and produces many great things but maple syrup is not one of them.

Visiting a sugar bush has now become a tradition for our family.   This year, we decided to check out Temple’s Sugar Bush, located on Lanark County Road 15 - Ferguson Falls Road.

The first thing that had made me want to visit the sugar bush was the post and beam timber frame construction of the main building.  Built in 2007, the construction style does not use steel and girders with the giant pine beams held in place by hand whittled wood dowels.  Entering the main building, I was not disappointed. It felt like I had stepped into the Chateau Montebello or an elegant wood frame construction from a hundred years ago.   

Temples Sugar Bush.jpg

Our son,  David, also liked the architecture but was more interested in the buffet.   We were seated at communal tables that allowed for easy conversation. The buffet was expansive and delicious.   There were the items you would expect like pancakes, sausages, beans and eggs. Other less obvious items included salad, breakfast biscuits  and yogurt giving variety to the traditional buffet Of course, the most important feature was the maple syrup which is made on-site.

The best part of the buffet was the taste! Nothing was from a can and tasted homemade. You didn’t see shrivelled up sausages that had been under a heat lamp for hours.  The chef brought out fresh items regularly keeping everyone happy.

David at Temple's Sugar Bush.jpg

I also appreciated the friendly and prompt service.   Even though there was a large crowd, there were enough staff on hand to make sure everyone’s coffee cups were full.  

One other aspect I enjoyed was that there was not loud music being played or over the loudspeakers allowing for conversation without having to yell.  My dad was visiting us from Saskatchewan so having an animated conversation together with David and my wife, Sandy is a memory I will treasure.

After our hearty meal,  we had a chance to meet Charles Temple who shared with us his story.  “I had dropped out of the University of Toronto and wasn’t sure what to do with my life,” offered Temple.  “I remembered fond childhood memories of making maple syrup at my mother’s family farm. I decided I wanted to set up my own sugar camp.  I started off modestly and eventually had my own farm with a sugar bush. Things evolved and we eventually purchased our current property with a vow to open a restaurant.  That has brought us to today with our restaurant.”

Mr. Temple or as he preferred to be called, Charlie, was also kind enough to show us where the sap from the maple trees was boiled and the process to turn it into maple syrup.   

We wrapped our time at Temple’s by walking the nature trail to try and burn off some of the calories we had gained at the buffet.  We walked long enough to probably justify two pancakes and one sausage. Oh well, that will mean just one more bike ride in the spring.

If you go - Temple’s Sugar Bush restaurant is typically open from March 1 -  end of April. The rest of the year, the facility serves as a popular wedding venue. The buffet is served weekends and holidays with the menu being offered Wednesday - Friday.  Expect larger crowds on the weekend but when we went, there wasn’t a lineup and people were served promptly. There is also a small store on-site selling maple products.

If you want to extend your trip, there is a cheese store and Amish furniture store in nearby Balderson.  The historic town of Perth is about a twenty minute drive from Temple’s.


Disclaimer: Stephen and his family were comped for their meal at Temple’s Sugar Bush, but all opinions are his own.

Mix it up this March Break at the Ottawa Public Library!

The Ottawa Public Library is back to share some of their favourite books for children with us. This month's post is by Kristina Roudiy, Children's Program Assistant at the Alta Vista Branch.

Illustration by Slavka Kolesar

Illustration by Slavka Kolesar

Picture book: Mixed: a Colorful Story by Aree Chung
https://ottawa.bibliocommons.com/item/show/1103586026

For ages 4-6. Once upon a time, there were three primary colors all living in the same town: Red, Yellow and Blue. One day, a Red announced that they were the best, thus starting a colour war. Soon, each colour was living separately from the others. Until the day that a Yellow and a Blue met, fell in love and decided to mix. How will the rest of the inhabitants react...? This book is fun visually, but most importantly, it will enable families (and classrooms!) to talk about topics such as segregation, community, inclusion, diversity and embracing each other's differences.

Picture book: The Wall in the Middle of the Book by Jon Agee

https://ottawa.bibliocommons.com/item/show/1126730026

For ages 4-8. This is the story of a young knight who strongly believes that where he lives is the best and the safest, thanks to a wall built to protect from “the other side”. While the knight tells us all about the dangers lurking on the other side (tigers? a mean ogre!), we spot dangers right behind him (crocodiles? a flood!) on the supposedly “safe side.” Meanwhile, the so-called ogre turns out to be really kind and helpful... A good reminder that, instead of building walls, we should be tearing them down, so that we can better understand and value what is “on the other side.”

Picture book: The Little Red Fort by Brenda Maier

https://ottawa.bibliocommons.com/item/show/1079068026

For ages 4-8. This picture book mixes old & new in a fun, smart way. It takes a classic story (The little red hen) and changes elements in that story, so that it has a modern twist. The protagonist is a girl called Ruby, and the other characters are her three younger brothers. One day, Ruby decides to build a fort - something she's never done before. Her brothers aren't very keen on helping her and keep saying she won't know what to do. But when the fort is completed and Ruby can now play in it, they are suddenly much more interested! A story with STEAM elements that remind children  they can do whatever they set their minds to..

Non-fiction book: Masterpiece mix by Roxie Munro

https://ottawa.bibliocommons.com/item/show/1049833026

For ages 4-7. This is the story of an artist (possibly representing the author herself) who is gathering her painting supplies and wondering what to paint next. She visits the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C. and admires the works of famous painters such as Van Gogh, Leyster, Vermeer, Cézanne, etc.,then she starts painting. When children reach the end of the book, they get to see the artist's final result: a cityscape which incorporates all 37 masterpieces previously looked at. Sport scenes, landscapes, portraits and more...mix it up! Younger children will enjoy learning about painting & drawing, while older children will enjoy learning some cool new fun facts (ex: did you know that Monet painted the same pond more than 250 times?)

Non-fiction book?: P is for Pterodactyl: The WORST Alphabet Book Ever. All the letters that misbehave and make words nearly impossible to pronounce by Raj Haldar

https://ottawa.bibliocommons.com/item/show/1145582026

For ages 7-10. During March Break week, families will also be able to mix-up (and remix!) alphabet letters, words, song lyrics, and more! In this fun book about the English language, we learn all about those words which are pronounced differently than they are spelled. Words with silent letters (ex: knight), homophones and tongue twisters...accompanied by lively illustrations.

Non-fiction book: Wet cement: a mix of concrete poems by Bob Raczka

https://ottawa.bibliocommons.com/item/show/961992026

For ages 8-12. Concrete poetry is fun in the way that it uses the arrangement of the words on the page to convey the meaning of the poem, thus mixing the words within the illustrations. In this collection of 21 concrete poems, children will be alternately amused or perplexed by the visuals and will be challenged in decoding them! It will inspire them to create their own poems.

Graphic novel: The city on the other side by Mairgrhead Scott

https://ottawa.bibliocommons.com/item/show/1114919026

For ages 8-12. In this fantasy graphic novel, we meet Isabel, a young Latinx girl in early 20th Century San Francisco, who until now has lived in a sheltered, high-society environment. Her life completely changes on the day that she walks through an invisible barrier and somehow steps into a magical & dangerous city, right in the middle of a fairy civil war. Can she trust her two newly-met companions, a mushroom-headed fairy and a Filipino boy who can travel between the two worlds? Can they help her deliver a mysterious necklace passed on by a fatally injured messenger? A fast-paced adventure which kids will enjoy reading.

Chapter book: Blended by Sharon M. Draper

https://ottawa.bibliocommons.com/item/show/1126612026

For ages 10-13. This is the story of Isabella, who is 11 years old and biracial,her mother is white and her father is black. People around her sometimes describe her as “exotic,” but she doesn't think of herself that way. Isabella is also from a blended family; divorced parents, two extra stepparents, and an older stepbrother Darren. One day, Isabella is on her way to a piano recital when she and Darren are stopped by the police and a misunderstanding occurs... A book about the search for one's identity, and about the unique struggles still faced by young people of colour.

Illustration by Slavka Kolesar

Illustration by Slavka Kolesar

 

A Weekend in Montreal for Nuphilex and Nuit Blanche

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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Our son, David,  has always had eclectic interests.  He went through the dinosaur and reptile phase and has also included researching our family history and meeting seniors over a hundred as his passions.   As parents, Sandy and I have always tried to be supportive and nurture his hobbies. His latest interest, coin-collecting, took us on a road trip to Montreal to check out one of the largest coin shows in Canada, Nuphilex.

We arrived at Nuphilex early afternoon on Saturday.   David was concerned that perhaps all of the good coins had already been purchased.  Upon entering the hall, he found that was not the case. There were over forty dealers with an incredible selection of Canadian and world coins.   

Nuphilex

Having relatively little knowledge about coin-collecting, I am always concerned we may not be getting a fair price. Luckily, David has grown with his hobby researching what coins he needs to add to his collection and what is a reasonable price.   We found the dealers at Nuphilex were all very helpful and explained some of the finer points of coin-collecting. We were also offered a decent price on all the coins.

After a few hours of numismatic (fancy word for coin-collecting)  hunting, David, Sandy and I were ready to relax. Our past few trips to Montreal,  we have chosen to stay at the Residence Inn Downtown.  We love the hotel because it is only a two minute walk to the Peel Metro station and the rooms are always impeccably clean and spacious with in-suite kitchens.  

We took an hour catnap and were ready to go exploring again.  I had reserved tickets for the 7:00 pm performance of Aura at the Notre Dame Basilica.  It is hard to put Aura into words.  The first part of the experience allows you to explore the Basilica discovering a series of multimedia installations that highlight the artwork of the church.  

Notre Dame Basilica - Aura performance

The second part can best be described as rock concert meets religious experience.   The music tends to be classical with the light show being equal to any Pink Floyd concert or techno rave.   The overall effect is mind-blowing. The Basilica lit up with lasers and lights coming from all different directions.  I have been fortunate to travel to a number of different places and have seen many shows but have never seen anything like Aura.  My favourite was seeing the massive pipes of the organ illuminated by lasers.

After seeing Aura,  I would be very interested to take a tour of the Basilica to find out more of the history of the building.

Once we were done at the show, our party was just beginning.   The day we were in Montreal, Nuit Blanche (white night) was taking place as part of the Montreal en Lumiere festival.  Nuit Blanche features activities with an artistic bent.  It also takes place until the wee hours of the morning.

Montreal en Lumiere festival - Nuit Blanche

We stumbled upon the epicentre of Nuit Blanche in the Quartier des Spectacles near the Place-des-Arts metro.   The area was a cacophony of sound and lights.  There were activities for every age including a DJ stage,  illuminated toboggan run and ferris wheel. Our favourite were the outdoor fire pits where you could roast marshmallows and sausages.  It gave the feel of camping in the middle of the city surrounded by thousands of other revellers. The crowd was equally people under thirty and families.  Everyone mixed together just having a great time.

Illuminated toboggan un Montreal Nuit Blanche

David would have stayed up till the break of dawn.  Unfortunately for him, Sandy and my party days are well behind us so we turned in before 11 pm.  

The next day, we started off with a delicious buffet breakfast in the hotel.  I loaded up on the sausages and eggs while David and Sandy loved the waffles.

Once we had checked out the hotel, David wanted to make one more visit to Nuphilex.  As it was the last day, the crowds were smaller giving the vendors more time to talk with David.  Of course, we did not leave empty-handed. David added ten coins to add to his growing collection.   I am sure Nuphilex will become an annual tradition for our family.

If you go -  The best place to keep up-to-date about all activities in Montreal is www.mtl.org.  I would also recommend Nuphilex for non-coin collectors.  It is fascinating to see the currency from around the world and provides a good lesson about world history and geography.  


Disclaimer: Stephen and his family were comped for the hotel and Aura show as part of this review, but views are his own.



How I came to be a homeschooling mom

How I became a homeschooling mom

I was never happy in school. From the start (grade one, I think), I tried to miss as much school as I could. And, when I was in school, I was sad, withdrawn and almost a shadow of who I really was.

I was determined to have my kids have a better school experience than I did, to help them understand the ways that school could work well for them, but after years and years of seeing my oldest son repeat the same patterns I had – trying to stay home all the time, sad at school, frustrated and not thriving with learning even though he’s incredibly smart, I knew we had to do something different. 

There was one day in particular when my feelings about trying to make school better for him changed. I realized that I was trying to teach him how to get through school the way I got through school.

“Just don’t pay attention, it’s fine. Think about other things and you’ll learn it later when you’re not in class.”

So, my advice was to go and sit in a classroom all day, bored and distracted, and learn what needed to be learned out of class because it would be easier that way.

What kind of terrible advice is that?! Why should he sit around all day wasting space, just because we think going and spending all day at school every day is the thing we’re supposed to do? The ultimate goal is to actually learn, right?

But I don’t want to teach him to be a quitter!

We’ve all been taught school is a part of life. You go to school because you learn the things you need to learn to get a job – how to get things done on deadline, how to learn, how to be at a place all day, how to be evaluated, etc., etc., etc. We don’t question this, it’s just how it is.  

When your kid is miserable at school, letting them not go to school may feel like you’re teaching them that it’s okay to quit, but I want you to think about this – if you were in a job you hated for YEARS, wouldn’t you quit and find another job? Would that be a bad thing or something you should be proud of yourself for? (My vote is proud btw.)


Real life isn’t all fun and games

Another argument for school is that we need to learn what it’s like to live in the real world, and it may not be fun, but it’s life.

True. But also, there are ways that you can find success without working a regular 9-5 job and sitting at a desk all day. *I* created my own career and that’s a thing a LOT of people do now and it’s is going to be more and more common. Having a career doesn’t need to look like what work used to look like, so why should school have to look the same it’s always looked? The answer is, it doesn’t!

The points I’m making, they’re basically what I had to tell myself as my husband and I struggled through figuring out how to support our son. I caught myself, time and time again, thinking that the goal was to “fix things” so that he could love the school system. Finally, I just realized he didn’t have to love the school system, we just needed to find what worked for him.

 

Turns out, homeschooling isn’t even what I thought it was 

Whenever I tell people we’ve started homeschooling their eyes go as round as saucers as they say, “how do you have the time?!” and my answer is always “well, it turns out that homeschooling doesn’t have to look like me actually sitting down at the kitchen table and teaching my kid stuff.” Which is 100% what I thought it would look like. I thought I’d be trying to figure out the curriculum and how to teach it and when to teach it and we’d all be sitting at the kitchen table sobbing in frustration that we had to do it, that it sucked, and that none of us understood any of it!

Turns out that’s not how it has to be. We’ve embraced unschooling and self-directed learning and just learning that learning doesn’t have to hurt! (I will say, it helps that because I created my own career and I work from home, that it absolutely makes it easier for me to take this on compared to someone with a traditional job).

My kid takes classes on Outschool (that link will get you $20 off your first class btw, and we’ll get a $20 credit too) and takes all kinds of workshops and classes (like rock climbing) and goes to drama class and loves to learn about programming and creative writing. He spends time with other homeschooling kids and he’s seeming happier and happier.

I don’t know if we’ll homeschool forever, but for now, I love that this is something we can do, that I am applying all that I believe about how we can create our own lives to the lives of my children, and that we don’t need anything to look a certain way just because that’s what it’s always looked like. I’m a homeschooling mom trying to teach my kid that he can create a life that works for him and all of his amazing strengths, and it doesn’t have to suck all the time – and I’m pretty proud of that.

Do you homeschool or unschool? Leave a comment and share your experiences.