Exploring the Capital With Your Pre-Teen

by Ali As the mom of two pre-teen girls, my mom-status borders on the verge of semi-ok to lame. While I try and stay cool, my girls will tell you I’m fighting a losing battle.  That being said, I still love to spend time with them so I’m always on the lookout for things to do with them that will promote me to a semi-cool rank. This year, I’m happy to say that I actually came up with a few things to do that weren’t as boring and babyish as usual, and my girls were actually less embarrassed than usual to be seen with me.

The Byward Market

I love the market, especially in the fall. I love the smells and the colours and especially the maple sugar candies.  My girls do love to window shop and people watch so this fall we headed down to the Byward Market to do just that. One of our first stops was the Moulin de Provence bakery. The delicious smells will knock you over and the Obama cookies are always a hit.  On weekends at the market, there are buskers and musicians to watch and in the summer and fall, the fresh fruits and vegetables are incredible. And once there, you should definitely take a look at the street vendors for a pair of earrings or a new scarf.

Starbucks in Westboro

When my eldest turned twelve, she decided that it was much cooler to hang out, rather than spend time with me.  Since I wasn’t ready to just let her go off with her friends ALL of the time, I started taking her for coffee (read hot chocolate) at the Starbucks in Westboro.  While we sip our drinks and people watch, she really opens up and starts to talk about everything that’s going on for her – her life, her friends and pretty much anything else she can talk about while the hot chocolate lasts. She feels very grown up and I feel lucky that she’s still willing to sit and talk to me. Of course, window shopping through Westboro after our coffee is an added bonus.

The National Art Gallery

The National Gallery of Canada was definitely a plus. Both of my girls are budding artists and they do appreciate taking the time to explore the different exhibits.  There is plenty of Canadian art with exhibits by Emily Carr, Tom Thomson and the Group Of Seven, but it also has a really cool Modern Art Collection. We spent a fun afternoon doing a “Ferris Bueller” and just stared at the amazing paintings.

National Arts Center

With daughters who dance competitively and who love being on stage, one of the coolest things we did was the backstage tour at the National Arts Centre.  On October 2nd, (one of the Culture Days at the NAC), my girls got to experience many areas of the NAC that they had never seen before.  We got to saw the NAC stages, the dressing rooms, the backstage corridors and set-building shops on this self-guided tour. They also have tours on performance days for the first 12 visitors (first come, first serve).

The HI-Ottawa Jail

In this haunting season, the next adventure I have planned for us is a haunted tour of the Ottawa Jail Hostel. The jail served as Carleton County Goal from 1862 to 1972. After it closed, it was turned into a youth hostel.  Guests sleep in renovated prison cells or in the former offices of the prison staff.  Rumor has it that many a guest has told stories of ghostly apparitions appearing at the bottom of their beds, mysterious footsteps, and banging in the walls. It was even named one of the seven spookiest buildings in the world by Lonely Planet. Hopefully, this will be a hit.

So there are a few of the things I have found to do around Ottawa that allowed my girls to maintain their oh-so-cool and hip pre-teen status. I’m still on the look-out for more things to do that, when mentioned, won’t make them roll their eyes and groan “Aw, Mom!”  So please, help me keep my not-quite-cool-but-not-totally-lame mom status and share your favorite pre-teen haunts.

Ali is a psychotherapist, blogger, social media enthusiast and chocoholic. She is also a Dance Mom to two awesome girls. She is the owner of Second Act Consignment Dancewear and creator  of Therapy Stew. She blogs at AliGoldfield.

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Visit the Mint – Twelve days of giveaways! {Updated}

In case you haven't noticed yet, we'd like to draw your attention to the right of this post to our wonderful new sponsor the Canadian Mint! We're thrilled to have them on board and even more excited to announce that they are giving away twelve family passes (that's for two adults and up to four kids) to take a tour of the mint!

A bit of info on the tours:

Open every day, the Royal Canadian Mint is an interesting and educational destination for kids and families:

  • Learn how coins are made with interactive guided tours (English or French)
  • See the famous Vancouver 2010 athlete medals!!
  • Learn more about the record-breaking Million Dollar Coin
  • See and learn how the mint makes coins for over 75 countries around the world!
  • Enjoy many videos along the tour walk, including how coins are designed.

Convenient: The Mint is within walking distance to many popular Ottawa attractions including the National Gallery of Canada and the Byward Market.

Affordable: Access to the boutique is FREE  and 45-minute tours are just $5 per person.

Reservations Recommended: To book your tour, call (613) 993-8990 or 1-800-276-7714 (toll-free)


(Some changes were made to the process for entering. Details are located here.) As mentioned in yesterday's post, we're picking our first Canadian Mint Family Pass winner from the comments in yesterdays post and our random winner was commenter #23, Amy!  Congratulations! We'll be in touch to tell you how to get your pass!

We are going to be giving out one pass a day for the next eleven days.  To enter leave a comment on the post from that day or tweet the following:

I'd love to win a family pass to the @canadianmint from #kidsinthecapital this holiday season!  http://www.kidsinthecapital.ca/?p=6655

You can enter every day, but you can only win once. One entry per day per family. Winners will be picked each day from all comments and tweets received by 8:00pm of the same day. Kids in the Capital will be running weekend posts for the duration of this giveaway.

Good luck!

royal canadian mint

Winter Wandering Adventures

by Ezmy It’s crazy difficult to find things to do with a baby in the winter months. Most activities are geared towards toddlers and big kids, and for good reason. Still, I thought, there must be something that my eight month old, Budsie, and I can enjoy doing together at this time of year. So one day last week, I packed up Budsie in his carrier, tossed some gear into a purse and hit the road. I wasn’t sure what adventures we would get up to, but I figured anything would be better than another day spent sitting on the floor with blocks and stacking cups.

First, we hit up Winterlude. My husband and I had taken Budsie to Winterlude on the previous weekend, but he had slept the whole way through. Since he was up and cheerful on this day, I figured why not try again. We wandered around looking at the ice sculptures, me explaining to him what each one was, and Budsie pointing and laughing at the sculptures and passers-by. Good fun!

For lunch, we had sandwiches and soup at Bridgehead. I used to love coming here for lunch before I had kids but wasn’t sure if Budsie would find it as fun. Boy was I wrong! I had packed a few toys in my purse, but I needn’t have bothered; between shoveling tasty sandwich into his mouth and smiling at all the people, my boy was pretty happy.

Next, we strolled up Sussex Drive to do some window shopping. Budsie was particularly fond of Zone, a housewares store full of sparkling chandeliers, silvery knickknacks, and of course the ever-popular mirror! Hundreds of Budsies smiled back at my boy as we walked around the shop. He was most pleased. Afterwards, we took a gander around the Byward Market. Heaps of people for the boy to smile at! We went to Tea Store, where Budsie chuckled every time I sniffed a tea (he simply loves the sound of someone sniffing). We also checked out Frou Frou, where the shiny beads were a super huge hit.

We ended our fun-filled day with a stop off at Chapters. Here, Budsie was able to mess around in the kid’s section, making friends with other babies and staring in awe at walking toddlers. We read a few books, picked out one to take home, and enjoyed a snack. Then we hopped on the bus home, where my boy passed out on the front of me, completely tuckered out by a day of people watching.

I am really looking forward to future winters, when Budsie and I will be able to go sledding or skate on the canal. But this winter has been a great opportunity for us to get to know each other. For instance, on this day I discovered what Budsie and I have in common while he’s in this stage of life: a love of shiny things and people watching! So as long as it’s sunny out, you’ll find my boy and I going on people-watching adventures all around Ottawa this winter.

Ezmy is a new mum to son Ewan (aka Budsie). When she isn't working on her master's thesis, or playing games with her boy, she's blogging furiously about life as a stay-at-home mum in our nation's capital. Follow Ezmy on Twitter (@ezmytweets) where she posts daily resolutions and updates on life with an active and very vocal baby.

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A visit to the Byward Market

by Vicky I love the Byward Market this time of year. The pumpkins, squash and sunflowers are out, and the fall colours are just stunning. On Sunday, we were looking for something to do outside with the kids, and decided to take a drive downtown. There is so much to see, do and eat in the Market, and we definitely covered all three of these categories!

Street parking is free on Sundays, if you can find a spot. We cruised for a while before heading right to the parking garage on Clarence. We walked through the courtyard and threw some pennies in a fountain. Then we walked right up to Sussex to check out the giant spider in front of the National Gallery. This was very amusing for Joel, he spun around and around the spider's legs and giggled when I pointed up to the net of spider eggs hanging from the middle. This led to some interesting questions about how the spider had babies in her tummy and if it was  just like the way he was once in my tummy.

Next we walked down Sussex and stopped to look at models of downtown Ottawa. We talked about the buildings and the different streets, pointing out the peace tower and Major's Hill Park. We collected acorns and maple leaves and then took the elevator next to 700 Sussex back down to the market.We walked back down George and checked out the totem pole, and looked at some beautiful bunches of flowers. (I wish I had bought some).


There were buskers and musicians to watch, but little people were hungry! I suggested we get a Beavertail, you can't really visit the market without eating one. But guess what? Little people didn't like Beavertails! Shocking I know! (Daddy ate it).  So we wandered through the streets window shopping, and made our way to the Moulin de Provence bakery, (where you can buy the famous Obama cookies) for another snack - a pumpkin cookie fit the bill.

All in all, the Byward Market provided nearly 2 hours of entertainment on a beautiful sunny almost-autumn day.  Add in a couple of history lessons (and an Entomology lesson on spiders!) and our afternoon was also educational.

I encourage you to take in what our city has to offer! I know I often take for granted all the beautiful and historical landmarks we have right in our own backyard. Why not play tourist for a day with your kids, I'm sure you'll enjoy it just as much as we did.

Vicky is the mom to 3.5 year old son named Joel and 1 year old daughter named Mieka. You can read her blog at blog Some Kind of Wondermom.