The 'Boro House (Art Table): Creativity for Kids

by Alanna I came across a gem. You know how friends like pages on FB and you sometimes check them out? Well I did just that. "The ‘Boro House – what could that be," I wondered. Low and behold it is a creative program for children and adults.

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DING! DING! JUST what I was looking for. My incredibly creative 7 year-old had been looking for a summer camp to go to. I wasn’t looking for a cookie cutter program that would actually stifle her creativity with their rules. I wanted a place where I knew she could experiment, play and create. I signed her up immediately.

I knew I was in for a “Mama, please stay” when we got there. We were greeted by the owner Kelly who instantly won over my daughter. My little girl quickly shooed me off on my way. (Insert stunned look here) When I returned to pick her up 7 hours later, there she was – as happy as a clam. She pulled me over to see all that she had created, in the same breath asking if she could come back. I needed to know more about this program!

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The ‘Boro House AKA The Art table has been in existence for 10years. Nestled at 560 Churchill Ave. in the heart of Westboro, the program is run by Kelly Hotte - professional photographer with a background in ECE. According to Kelly, “we believe that creativity is brought to life through the expression of our unique and hidden talents.”

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My daughter and I would agree. Each child is given a high quality drawing book to use as they wish. Kelly provides the materials and the encouragement. Experts are brought in from the community. Everything from cooking with a real chef to doing yoga with a yoga teacher.

Kelly explains that “our program draws on the creativity of local artists as leaders who add knowledge and excitement to our workshops and regular programming. This practice creates a wonderful sense of meaningful community with the children and staff.”

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As an Early childhood Specialist I could not agree more. This type of education will inspire children and support their learning. The positive self-esteem that grows from being provided with real life experiences and opportunities is priceless. This is more than your average everyday creative experience. This is a lifelong learning opportunity. Oh, and did I mention she does Adult classes as well?

Alanna lives in Richmond with her husband, two children and four cats. She is an Early Childhood Educator and Algonquin College Professor.

Kid-Friendly Restaurant Review: John's Quick Lunch

by Liisa I have been going to John's Quick Lunch with family for 7 years now. We used to go as a couple with my parents before the kids were born, and now we as a family of 4 or with grandparents in tow (free meal that way!).  We keep going back because the owners and staff make everyone feel welcome, and the food is consistent, good, fresh, and reasonably-priced.

John's is a small family owned restaurant, mainly for breakfast and lunch, though they are open for Friday night dinner (which we usually hit once a month or so). Except on Friday's, they close around 2 or 3pm and are closed all day Sunday.

You will recognize John's as you go east on Wellington, by the huge mural of John painted on the west side of the building.  Inside you will usually find either John or his son Tony behind the counter.

The breakfast food is classic, think pancakes, french toast, eggs, bacon, sausage. The lunch menu holds no surprises either with salads, sandwiches and a few Lebanese dishes, but you must try the Club Sandwich as it is almost annually voted the best in Ottawa.

On a recent Saturday brunch visit, 5 of us piled into a booth for 4, the 2 boys wanting to sit on either side of their grandmother.

The place was busy but we were quickly visited by our smiling server and drink and kids orders were taken right away.  A minute later, drinks in hand, the server returned to take the rest of our orders. John's has kids' options for breakfast with slightly smaller orders, but they are still big enough that we usually split one of these between our boys.

On this day, they enjoyed a kid's order of pancakes with a side of bacon (no need to ask for the extra plate as it arrived with the meal), and a bottle of apple juice split between two glasses.

With several refills of nice hot coffee, I ordered an egg white spinach and mushroom omelette (egg whites, "no problem"). It comes with toast, home fries and beans. While those sides aren't really my thing, and substitutions are welcome, I didn't change them as I knew my boys would like the toast and some of the potatoes.

My MIL ordered a fried egg sandwich with her coffee, and my tea-drinking husband ordered the famous Club with salad instead of fries.

Though most of our plates still had food on them as they were cleared, it was due to portion size rather than enjoyment.

John's takes cash only. Even regulars forget this, and luckily there is an ATM downstairs. You pay your bill at the counter, where on Saturdays, John himself finds your check and rings you up. After a quiet request for permission from the parents, John offers your little people lollipops.

Once again on this visit, John's didn't disappoint; it's not gourmet but hey, it is a family restaurant. It definitely succeeds in making you feel at home while getting a good hot meal on a lazy weekend morning. 

Reviews from the kids:

Lil D: "I like John's because I get to give John the money and he gives me a lollipop. They have good restaurant toast and bacon."

Lil C: "It's yummy. I like pancakes with syrup for dipping".

The Stats: (out of 5)

Food (Quality, taste, freshness): Grown-ups - 4 thumbs up; Kids - 5 thumbs up

Service (Attentiveness and kid-friendliness): 5 thumbs up from grown-ups and kids

Ambience (General appeal and energy, any interesting kid-friendly features): 5 thumbs up from grown-ups and kids

Cost (family of 4 with 2 children under 5) $42 including tax (CASH ONLY)

Speed (Every parents-of-small-children's concern!) Time from seating to order - 3 minutes; time from order to delivery of food 9 minutes; total time in restaurant 45 minutes (with lots of chatting and coffee refills).

John's Quick Lunch (613) 761-1010 1365 Wellington St West Ottawa, ON K1Y3C2

Liisa is mom to two boys, 4.5 year old Lil D and 2.5 year old Lil C.  You can also find her at Fit for a Kid.