Emergency Preparedness

None of us want to imagine the worst - but as many Ottawa residents have experienced in the past couple of years, sometimes the worst happens. The tornado that touched down in Orleans last night is the latest in unusual weather events (like 2018’s tornado and the 2017-2019 floods) that we can expect to be coping with as climate change intensifies.

Ottawa tornado

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?


Things to See and Do in Peterborough

When my parents announced that they were moving out of my childhood home in Scarborough to a town just outside of Peterborough, Ontario, my brother and I were a little perturbed. Would they enjoy living in such a small town? What is there TO DO in Peterborough?

Fast forward ten years, and my parents are now happily situated in the north end of Peterborough. We visit regularly with our children, and we've had time to explore and discover this amazing city. Did you know that Peterborough is recognized as one of Canada's most eco-conscious communities? There are extensive walking and cycling trails, community gardens, and even a zoo! Peterborough's attractions make it an ideal destination for traveling with kids. 

Visiting Peterborough with Kids

Saturday farmer's market

I thought Ottawa had an awesome farmer's market, but this one takes the cake! So much great food, and everything moves indoors for the winter. I also find the prices to be much better compared to Ottawa!

Riverview Park and Zoo

Within walking distance from my parent's house, this has been our primary destination when visiting. There are many small and large animals to check out, as well as a giant slide, a huge playground, and an old train ride.

Canadian Canoe Museum

A fantastic museum full of unique watercraft. Your kids will love the hands-on galleries, scavenger hunt and puppet theatre!

Beavermead Park

A public beach, playground and great picnic spots! This is just one of all the great parks in Peterborough, and I encourage you to check out more at the City of Peterborough's website.

Play Street

We were visiting one rainy weekend and were desperate for something to do with the kids. I did a quick Google search and came up with this place - an indoor play place along the lines of Cosmic Adventures (but MUCH smaller and a lot quieter!) The girls loved the slides, but their favourite part was playing make-believe in the small houses at the back. The place was very clean, and there was a section at the front where you could sit and have a drink and snack.

I know I've probably missed a TON of great kid-friendly places in Peterborough, so let me in on the secret - where do you go with your kids in Peterborough?


25 Days of Christmas: Activity Calendar

The countdown begins...although many of us have been thinking about the holidays since November 1st, December 1st marks the official start of all things Christmas (and if you are Christian, the preparation for the celebration of the Nativity of Jesus at Christmas). We're doing a family-oriented lead-up to Christmas by borrowing the 25 Days of Christmas idea from Andrea over at A Peek Inside the Fishbowl. I think this will be the first year both my girls will be able to take an active part in Christmas activities, and I'm really excited!

So, in no official order (I'll come and cross these off the list as we do them!):

1. Make REAL hot chocolate

2. Do a random act of kindness

3. Put together our Christmas Hamper

4. Go to the Ottawa Tea Festival for a Children's Tea Party!

5. Write and mail our Christmas cards

6. Make Christmas chocolates

7. Go get our real Christmas tree!

8. Decorate the Christmas tree

9. Visit the Cumberland Museum Village of Lights

10. Go see the Nutcracker

11. Purchase a special gift from Plan Canada

12. Bake some Christmas cookies

13. Spend all day in our PJs doing whatever the kids want - nowhere to go, and nothing to do but play!

14. Head to the library for some Christmas books to read

15. Have a family game night - pull out all the games we have and choose a few to play after dinner

16. If there's snow, take some food colouring outside and decorate the snow! (if no snow, drop food colouring into ice cube trays and play with coloured ice in the bath tub)

17. Make popcorn and watch Christmas movies

18. Go for a nighttime walk to see the Christmas lights

19. Santa and snowman crafts

20. Make a gingerbread house

21. School Christmas "spectacle"

22. Put together a Christmas stocking for the dog :)

23. Go sledding (c'mon snow!)

24. Go to work with Mommy for the morning

25. Christmas day! Cook, eat, open presents, and most of all....feel grateful for our wonderful family and loved ones who are far away.

My Letter to the Big Guy

Santa is for everyone, right? The young, and the young at heart! Do you write a letter to Santa? Even just a quick one in your head? I dug up this gem from my blog several years ago, and it makes me laugh. With two young children to dress in snowsuits, I don't think I'll be making the same wish this year :)

Dearest Santa Claus,

When I was 12, I asked you to bring me an Ouija Board....and you did. Thank you for all of those terrifying nights spent with my girlfriends, contacting the dearly departed and causing the heads to break off of our parent's cherub angel figurine.

When I was 14, I asked you to bring me Blue Rodeo's Five Days in July CD....and you did. Thank you for allowing me to hear the most beautiful song in the world - Dark Angel. To this day, whenever I am sad, I only need to listen to this song to be lifted up (listen here).

When I was 24, I asked you to help me through a difficult time...and you did. 25 came, and I conquered my fears and moved on with my life.

When I was 28, I asked you to give me strength, and help me know how to raise a child we hadn't planned for. And you did...our little girl seems so grown up this Christmas, and we're feeling like proud parents who finally know what they're doing (sort of).

This year I'm 31. Life seems somehow more hectic and more stable, all at once. So what do I want for Christmas this year?

I've realized that wishing for world peace won't make it happen. I've realized that wishing for the Canadian Government to honour our Kyoto commitments won't happen. I've realized that wishing for our healthcare system to catch up to the research is going to take some time. And I've realized that I can't save everybody - that there will always be suffering in the world.

So I'm asking for something really simple this year. It's not too hard...a little moisture in the air. A temperature below 0 degrees Celsius....and a BIG, HUGE DUMP OF SNOW. I'm talking like 50cm. Preferably before Christmas Eve day; before my family travels all this way to visit us.

That's all I want for Christmas this year Santa Claus....can you help me?



What a Week (but Standing Strong)

It's Friday - does anyone else feel totally exhausted today? Not your normal Friday afternoon exhausted, but emotionally exhausted. This week has been a tough one for our beautiful city, and for the family and friends of those affected by the shooting. I cried for Cpl. Nathan Cirillo, as I also cried for the outpouring of love and strength that resulted from this tragic event.

Today our city honoured Cpl. Cirillo in a moving ceremony, as the Ceremonial Guard is reinstated at the National War Memorial. Although I wasn't there, the support I witnessed through video and photos makes me exceedingly proud of our city and our country.

My children are too young to know what happened here this week. When they are old enough to understand, I hope they will listen to the stories about October 22nd.  And I hope they will feel a deep sense of respect for the people who have lost their lives in the battle against senseless violence.

Canada Strong and Free

I hope Ottawans continue to tell their stories - continue to post pictures and words - for many years to come. As with all the wars in which we have fought, the honouring of lives lost may one day help to foster peace for the future.

Lest we forget