Early Years

by Amy We just moved to an entirely new neighbourhood and I have switched to being at home all day with the kid, so we've been looking for some activities to keep her busy and tire her out a bit. The last time I was at the doctor, she mentioned the community resource centre not too far from our new house, so I went in to pick up some information and found that it's also the location of an Early Years Centre.

Every Early Years Centre has scheduled drop-ins and special programs. I had previously been to one of the centres to see a lactation consultant and they actually loaned me a breast pump. My husband also took our daughter to a drop-in for Dads when she was younger. This week I decided to try the toddler drop-in, partly because I want her to play with other kids, which she hasn't done much of since she left daycare, and I wanted to meet people from our new neighbourhood.

When we arrived I was worried we would be the only ones there, but it was packed. The Early Years Centre was a big room with a place to hang you coats and leave your bags, a few shelves of books, and then a play area and a craft area with tables. There was also a play area outside. My kid spent most of her time in the play kitchen, but I don't think she noticed the dress-up area.

After a good long play and snack time, there was circle time with songs and movement. My kid was shy at first but got right into it by the end.

I think my daughter was the oldest kid there, so next week we'll attend the open drop in instead, that one is for kids up to age six. She got some play time, so fun and interaction, and I had a couple of nice conversations too. I'm looking forward to next week.

Amy is mom to two year old Maggie and a 6 year old schnauzer named Henry. You can read her blog at amyboughner.ca where she writes about motherhood and anything else that’s on her mind. She also shares a blog with her husband at boughner.ca where they talk together about parenting a daughter.

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Flashback: My Park: St. Luke's Park

Over the last two years we've had some great park reviews.  If you would like to submit a post about your park we'd love to share it with our readers!  Email us at kidsinthecapital(at)gmail(dot)com

by Zach

St. Luke's Park might not look like much if you're walking by on Elgin Street, but it certainly is worth checking out.

For kids and parents, the layout of the main area is nearly perfect. The park has a wading pool in the centre, which can be its own play area for hockey / soccer / random ball games for ten months of the year (though a concrete, uneven one, so toddlers might need some watching), and a well-supervised swimming area while the public schools are out. For some reason, swimming season ends near the middle of August, so try to get the most out of July that you can. As of summer 2009 many of the lifeguards there have been working for several seasons, are well-known among the parents, and are excellent with the kids.

There are some trees providing shade, but sight lines are still great within the main area. There are two play structures on the south side, a smaller one for kids aged 2 to 5, and a larger one for 5 to 12-year olds. On a busy day, try to count the two- and three-year olds flinging themselves down the twisty slide on the larger structure.

Both play structures are exceptionally well-designed, with plenty of climbing surfaces and slides. They're easily my favourite play structures of all the parks we visit.

The surface on the south side of the park is sand, which allows for castles, soft falls, and moats made with swimming pool water, for the really motivated.

The west side has three swing sets, for babies, mediums, and big kids. The small and medium swings are old school, facing in just one direction, and set low to the ground to maximize the swinging arc and parental back pain. The swings have great shade from nearby trees, and the St. Louis Bar and Grill right behind will torture you with smells of fried food. The Second Cup is right next door for quick caffeine hits.

The north side of the park is a large grassy area, with a picnic table. The city quietly and quickly hacked down a beautiful old growth tree in the summer of 2009, so the area isn't nearly as shaded as it once was. We'll give the city the benefit of the doubt as to why it had to go, but that tree is sorely missed, and its scrawny replacement is probably something your great-grandkids will enjoy. The grass tends to be under-used, except when the pool is open, when finding a free patch of grass for your beach towel becomes challenging.

The east half of the park is taken up with a basketball court, field house, and then another grassy space between the field house and some tennis courts. Kids who aren't paying attention, or who want to use the field house bathroom (open when the swimming pool is open), might dart into the middle of a game, so keep an eye out.

The grassy area in the east half of the park is a blessing and a curse. It's an old bowling green, and it's nice to have a dog-free, relatively level play area. You can see Frisbee, soccer, football, yoga, and boot camp fitness classes being held there, but bigger kids can also dart behind the field house and out of a parent's view with remarkable speed.

Overall, St. Luke's is an excellent park, and the number of parents and kids there on a nice day (and even less nice days) speaks to its well-deserved popularity.

Zach is the dad of a 3.5 year daughter "the girl" and eighteen month old son "the boy". Zach doesn't have his own blog but he is blogged about at Capital Mom.

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Sipping away the morning

by Alison
I had the opportunity to visit the Sippy Cup Cafe in Kanata before we moved. I was planning on meeting a friend, but child illness prevented it. As I had a coupon and needed to be out in that area of town, I went anyway. And I'm really glad I did.
This is one of the nicest child-friendly cafes I've been to. The play area is enclosed, and there's a boot rack outside the entrance. This way there's no snowy mess where the kids are running around. Also, they permit food and drink in the play area. In fact, there's a little window to pick up your order without leaving your child. Even with the food, I found the area very clean and tidy.
I enjoyed a latte and a brownie. The offerings for kids were also great. The all real fruit smoothie was a nice treat, as H hadn't eaten a big breakfast. The sandwiches also looked delicious, but I didn't get a chance to try them. Maybe on my next visit.
The play area is geared towards younger kids. I'd recommend it for the under 5 crowd. There was a nice play structure, a train table, play kitchen and various other toys. It started to fill up after 10am, but we didn't feel crowded.
It was a really nice morning, I got to enjoy a delicious coffee in a warm and dry place and H had fun playing with other kids.
For adults (without kids) the coffee seating area looked very cosy. A perfect place to sit with a book or your laptop. The Sippy Cup Cafe also hosts birthday parties. This would be a very nice place to have a winter party, as you have exclusive access to the play area and can get various packages that include snacks or just run a tab for guests.
If you're in that part of town I recommend stopping in.
The Sippy Cup Cafe is located at 1104 Klondike Road in Kanata.
Alison is the mom of two wonderful kids, 6 and 2. She’s recently relocated to the Pacific Northwest but considers Ottawa home. She blogs at Ali’s Adventures 
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Carp Splash Pad

by Anne

On a record breaking June day,(and yes even though june is not over it had to be record breaking 30+degrees!) I packed up the children in the car complete with an assortment of pails,diggers and dumptrucks. My children were excited to go to the rainbow park as they have named it. The drive there includes a game of what can you see-a mooing cow, smiling cat on sign, sheds, train tracks and more. Carp splash pad is located 14km from Stittsville, just behind Carp's farmers market(carp road- then turn onto Juanita rd). I usually park behind the baseball diamond as it is the middle of both parks.

The sand playground is comprised of swings, a seated digger, small structure of younger ones with a table for snacks, as well as a larger structure for older children with curvy slide, and straight slides. The entire area is fenced in which is a huge bonus for those parents who have runners. There is also mature trees that line the playground giving lots of shade and plenty of benches and picnic tables for nursing and providing snacks.

When the children are hot and have tired of the playground it is onto the short walk to the amazing splash pad. Equipped with pouring buckets,rainbow sprinklers, squirt guns, and a flower that sprays you it has variety for everyone. Did I also mention the other reasons I love this park? Again fenced in, shaded picnic area, and a CLEAN jonny on the spot.

Anne is the proud mom of two children, 2.5 and 4.

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