Tubing at Mount Pakenham

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.  

One of my favourite activities as a kid was to go sliding down our local hill. Growing up in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, the hill was more like a bump compared to Ottawa standards but I still a great time. When I saw Mount Pakenham had tubing along with downhill skiing, I thought it would be a perfect opportunity to introduce our son, David and my wife, Sandy to the activity.  

We set out to Pakenham on the Sunday of Family Day weekend. The weather (for once) was perfect for outdoor sports. Arriving at the mountain, the first thing that struck us was the beauty of the place. Set in the Ottawa Valley, Pakenham has a family feel that might be lost at larger, more expensive ski resorts. As previously mentioned, being from Saskatchewan, downhill skiing is not my go-to winter sport so we opted for the tubing and snowshoeing option.  

We headed over to the tubing hill and picked up our inner tubes. There was not a lift taking us to the top of the hill but it was not an overly long walk and the pathway was well-maintained. Once we reached the top of the hill there were two possible runs open. David enthusiastically hopped in his inner tube and asked the staff attendant to give him the full spin option. We watched David speed down the hill with a smile on his face for the entire ride. Sandy and I romantically rode together holding each other’s inner tubes. We opted for the gentler push which still provided an exciting ride.

Tubing at Mount Pakenham

For the next go-around, David wanted to take a ride with me. On our climb to the top, he proposed doing the maximum spin-o-rama. By the time we reached the top of the hill, I was able to negotiate him down to the mild spin. Whatever way, we had a lot of fun. We took another three or four trips down the hill and had a blast.

Once done with tubing, we were able to borrow snowshoes and check out the trails. We took a scenic walk through the forest and were able to take short diversions off-trail because of our snowshoes.  

Snowshoeing at Mount Pakenham

After about a half hour exploring, we had worked up an appetite and headed back to the main lodge area. We opted for the cafeteria inside the lodge which offered comfort food like soup and sandwich, poutine and hamburgers. They also had lighter fare including salads. We enjoyed our meal in the convivial company of fellow tubers and skiers. The resort also has a lounge and bar that is open to families before a certain time. There was also an outdoor canteen that offered food as well.

We ended our time at the ski resort soaking in the sunshine and admiring the skiers racing down the mountain.

Skiing at Mount Pakenham

If you have time, the village of Pakenham is worth a stop. The Pakenham General Store was originally built in 1840 and has some of the tastiest cinnamon buns I have ever tasted. It is also worth to check out the five span bridge which was originally constructed in 1903 and is built completely out of stone.

Special thanks to Mount Pakenham for providing David and his family with tubing and snowshoe passes for the purpose of this article; all views are his own.


For Next Winter

Alright Old Man Winter, we are done and done. I've been patient. I was patient all through January, when post-Christmas blahs were at their worst. I was patient in February, apparently the most depressing month of the year. And I was patient at the beginning of March, as I eagerly anticipated warmer temperatures. But now? My patience has been swept away by the icy winds and blowing snow. My kids no longer fight their snowsuits - they just play dead when it's time to get dressed. It's like they've lost the will to live.

But alas, I know you can not haunt us forever, and slowly but surely, the sun is gaining strength. Yesterday I was actually sweating on my walk to work!

So this is the time of year that I begin assessing how to make winter better for the whole family. We're finally past the newborn stage, and both my kids will be ready for fun activities next year. And what's more fun than skiing? So I put the word out to some friends, asking for advice on the best age to begin skiing.

Apparently there IS no best age! My friends reported cross-country skiing with their 18-month olds (they must be athletically endowed - our family does not carry those genes). As for downhill, it seems that 3-5 years old is the best time to begin lessons. Parents suggest trying one lesson first before signing up for a package - let your kids decide whether they want to continue!

This gives me hope for next winter - that my family may embrace the snow pants and get out on our skis. I just hope my kids are slightly more athletic than I am, as pictured here several winters ago ;)

Me skiing

Me crashed

Do you ski with your children?

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The Royal Ball - Ottawa Children's Gala

by Alanna Last Saturday my Lily and I were lucky enough to attend the Ottawa Children's Gala.  I had been wanting to take her since I heard about last years fun.  I had looked at the price of the tickets and thought "Maybe next year".  This year ended up being different.  I was commissioned to do a banner and tags for the candy buffet at the event which in turn earned me an adult ticket!!  I really had no idea what to expect.  We got all dolled up in our best (well I had to go shopping) and headed off to the Hampton Garden Inn.

WOW!! What an event it was.  There was face painting, Princess', the most wonderful meal and entertainment from Orpheus and Pulse N' limited (amazing).  The rules for the night were 1. let the children do what they want and 2. remember rule one!!  My Lily had a blast.  Dancing, running around after Snow White and the list goes on.

This post, however, is not about the fun we had, it's about the cause.  Behind all of this fun is a very serious and important message.  Think First is the brain child (excuse the pun) of Dr. Charles Tator. It was developed out of a concern for the increasing number of brain injuries in children.  The group is Canada wide and growing.  They educate children from kindergarten up in the importance of helmet safety.  They even go so far as to replace ill-fitting helmets and provide helmets to children who are not able to afford one.

What I learned at the Gala was how VERY important it is to not take a chance.  There were three very well spoken teens who are the spokespersons for the group.  All three had serious head injuries which could have been prevented just by wearing a helmet!!  Their message to children/teens and parents - It takes two seconds to put on a helmet - Just do it!!  This applies to ANY winter sport - including tobogganing and almost all summer sports.  I know that hearing their message certainly reinforced my strict policy on helmets with my children and any children in my care!!

Another wonderful thing about this group is that they will go anywhere to share their message.  If you are part of an event or planning one, think about inviting them to set up a table with their Jello brain demo and educational materials.  We are planning to invite them to our endo of the year school social. The children will be asked to ride their bikes to the event where they can have their helmets checked.  It is a great time just before the end of school when the adventure begins.

Have a look at the site.  Check helmets.  Better fun than sorry.

*****

Alanna is a mother of two beauties, Nora age 3 (aka coconut) and Avery 5 (aka polka dot). Former ECE turned mother, party planner and blogger.  Never a dull moment around this house.

Baby H – Tobogganing Adventures

by Natasha This is the first winter season that I was able to enjoy with my son. He was too little and immobile in the previous winters to really enjoy anything but the sight of snow. But now that he’s up on his feet walking and is able to express himself in little words here and there, I decided the time for him to enjoy the season has finally arrived.

That was also greatly helped by his exceeded enthusiasm every time we stepped out of the house to get in the car and drive to the day car. He would see the snow on the ground and start saying, “snow! snow!”. When it got a little warmer outside, I decided it was time the Baby gets his fill of the white fluff.

I dressed Baby H in his winter attire, layers upon layers of clothes and we went out to our front yard. I had thought about the big-kid hill around as a start, but Baby H is too little for it still. He sat on the red Micky Mouse round sled and I began pulling it forward. At first he was a little confused about my part in this activity, but once he clued in, all I could hear from behind is “Again, Mommy! Again!”.

Back and forthing on the front yard eventually created a nice smooth path, but I think the bumps along the road were Baby H’s favourite part. Every time we’d hit one, he’d giggle to the point of falling out of the sled.

We played and played for an hour, and I couldn’t stop watching my child smiling and laughing this whole time while sledding about in his red Mickey and rolling in the snow uncontrollably.

It was a great and season-appropriate activity to do in our own yard, and a good workout to boot.  If we get more of the good weather and fresh snow, you’ll be sure to find me out front pulling my little dude around. I suggest you take some time and enjoy the season too.

Natasha is a new mommy to her first born, Baby H. She runs ShopHaven, a blog that reviews products and profiles local businesses and individuals from the Ottawa area. Natasha is also the creative force behind ShopHaven Baskets; a highly customized gift baskets service.  Follow Natasha on Twitter (@shophaven) to keep up with her daily adventures and Baby H’s mischiefs.

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