Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Senator Eugene Forsey Park: My Kids' Private Playground ~ Guest Post

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A summer series

I'm so pleased to bring you another guest post in the Park days of summer series. Reese is back talking about another one of her favourite parks.

It is great to go to a park where everybody knows your name because so many kids go to play there all the time. It is also good to be able to go to a park where your child is able to roam free without having to share any of the structures all the time, too. Luckily for me, this park is very close to my home. For me, this park is Senator Eugene Forsey Park.

Close to Dow’s Lake in central Ottawa, Senator Eugene Forsey Park is a park that I like to take my kids to if:
  1. I do not want travel very far (due to work, illness, etc); or
  2. I want them to become more experienced at climbing on play structures without having to think about other a lot of other children trying to do the same thing at the same time.

Since I have lived in my home, I can literally count on one hand the amount of times I have seen this park bustling with children. My kids like coming to this park because they do not have to share very often, and they can explore everything easier.

Here are some of the amenities Senator Eugene Forsey Park has to offer its visitors:
  • A play structure (so children can climb, slide, and play music);
  • A tire swing (for those times that spinning is a must-do activity);
  • A field on each side of the play structure so children can run around; and
  • A basketball court (for those wishing to play a game of pick-up or to hone their skills).

These would be my Pros and Cons about Senator Eugene Forsey Park:
  • it is very shaded, so kids can have fun in the sun without worrying too much about getting burned too quickly.
  • It is not crowed, so children can play with whatever they want whenever they want.
  • It is gated or fenced on all four sides, so it is easier to keep an eye on a child at this park.
  • It is by Bronson Avenue, one of Ottawa’s busiest streets, so getting to this park travelling west (having to cross Bronson Avenue and wait for the light to change) may take a bit longer.
  • The play structure, I think, is meant for younger users (ages 1-5), so older kids may grow tired of playing on it sooner than younger kids.

Overall, I do enjoy taking my kids to Senator Eugene Forsey Park. It is quiet, yet large enough to get my kids a little more tuckered out by the end of the day. It is also close to home, so I can rearrange my day so I can get my kids outside to play more than the once a day. Finally, my kids are able to get the practice that they need at this park so they can climb better at a busier park. If you ever have the chance, you should visit Senator Eugene Forsey Park and see for yourself why it is my kids’ private playground!

Sounds fun! Thanks again to Reese for her post :) Do you have a park you want everyone to know about? Want to guest post on my blog? Send me a message.

Reese is a mom of three kids (12, 3, and 1). She was born in Toronto, ON, but now resides in Ottawa, ON. She attended Carleton University, and received an Honours B. A. in Political Science.
Reese loves reading, sports (both playing and watching), fashion, music, movies and writing.
You can follow along on her blog, Reese Speaks, and all over social media:

Facebook: reesespeaksblog
Twitter: @reesespeaksblog
Instagram: reesespeaksblog
Pinterest: reesespeaks

Monday, August 18, 2014

Puppet's Up!

I have to admit, I had never been to Puppet's Up!, the international puppet festival in Almonte, and I wasn't convinced I'd enjoy myself. I mean, how fun can puppets possibly be? Well, let me tell you that it was GREAT!

The festival is in its tenth year and runs on a weekend in August in Almonte, which is west of Ottawa. Puppeteers from all over the world come to celebrate. The main street was shut down and the businesses along it displayed puppets in their windows. The parade, which was on both Saturday and Sunday afternoons, went right through downtown, and had a lot of locals, the mayor, and all of the puppets from the shows. We also saw Spiderman, a brass band, a big, 5-person dragon, and belly dancers.

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Waiting for the parade.
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The Puppets Up! mascot.
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There were vendor tents set up, lots of face painting and balloons animals, and a huge craft tent.

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Crafty fun.
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Little K's caterpillar and Little J's puppet.
My kids could have stayed at the craft tent the entire day but we had day passes that allowed us to see the shows. I had checked out the schedule ahead of time and watched the sneak peek videos on the website. Along with some tips from fellow blogger (thanks Joe!) we decided on The Puppet Tamer, Everybody Loves Pirates, and Squirrel Stole My Underpants. The Puppet Tamer was hilarious. He is a skilled ventriloquist who works with puppets in his show. The puppets are silly and not great at listening to instructions. There were jokes for all ages but the show was completely appropriate for kids.

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Pesky parrot.
After that we saw the Everybody Loves Pirates show. It was the story of two kids who go on a treasure hunt but meet up with pirates along the way. It's been a week and the kids still talk about the characters from this show, namely Captain No Eye. Again, there were jokes that went over their heads but they were mesmerized and spent most of the show laughing.

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Pirate puppets.

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See: mesmerized.

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Such big giggles from my little man.
The third show we saw was Squirrel Stole My Underpants. It was my least favourite because it was just so weird, but the kids really liked it. There was no dialogue, just one woman battling with a squirrel over her underwear.

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Squirrels and underpants.
In between shows we explored a little, walking along the main street or along the water. We shared popsicles and food. The festival was really well organized and I like that there were benches in the front for the kids. I was impressed that they had a water truck set up to fill our water bottles and that there were portapotties everywhere. The volunteers were all helpful and nice.

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My babies and I in front of the water.

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Break time!

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View of the main street.

Because of the timing of the last show, we had dinner at a pub on the water before heading home.

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The kids obviously had a good time and got worn out. Even Little J fell asleep on the way home!

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Two sleeping trucks. (Cars reference.)

We will definitely be going back next year because we had a great time.

Disclaimer: I was provided two day passes to check out the festival. All thoughts and opinions are my own. As always.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

The Shrine Circus

Lions and tigers and bears, oh my! The Shrine Circus was in town last weekend and we got to go. The circus is an incredible thing - the big top, the lights and sounds and smells, the clowns and performers and animals. As a kid I remember being dazzled, and it's no different now. I watch in awe, amazed at everything I see. And this year one of my favourite things was watching my kids as they took it all in.

We arrived at the show a little bit before it started to go on a VIP tour with some fellow bloggers. You can read their accounts here: 20ys, Canadian Blog House, A Motherhood Experience. We were introduced to the ring master, some of the circus performers, and the horses and elephants. Among other things, we learned that the circus travels about 7 months of the year and the elephants eat 400kg of hay a day!

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The charismatic ring master.

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The elephants.
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A man with his horse.
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Getting shot out of a cannon.
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Concession stand.
We were treated to dinner and settled into our seats, ready for the show. The very first act was a surprise proposal. Thankfully she said yes because it would have been awkward otherwise. After that a bunch of clowns came out and shot balloons into the audience. Little K would have been so happy with a balloon, she was constantly asking for one, but no dice.

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Happy clowns.

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Circus performers.
The acrobatics on the horses was pretty incredible. It was two guys taking turns doing flips and jumps on the horses while they ran around the circle. One of them fell off but jumped right back on. A good reminder that they are human and it's a live show. Thankfully he wasn't hurt.

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Next up were the elephants. Two elephants, each led by a trainer, walked around the circle and then stood on stools. At first it was just one foot but they got all 4 on the stools. Seeing these huge animals and their slow, determined movements, was just incredible. Apparently they are similar in understanding to a 4 year old so the trainers were constantly talking to them, giving them instructions. They reward good behaviours with food treats, which we saw first hand when one of the elephants didn't want to lie down. He eventually did and got a candy apple for his troubles.

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Beautiful elephants.
Next up was a trapeze pair who dazzled from above, hanging from a big white star. The spun and twirled, and twisted. Little J kept asking if I could do what they were doing. No way, kid!

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Trapeze artists.
We saw some intricate cycling and unicycling, including a really tall unicycle. The last act before intermission was a big white wheel that a guy went around inside and then outside AND THEN BLINDFOLDED! I was sure he was going to fall off or lose an arm.

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My happy family.
We actually left at intermission. I wish we could have stayed, but it was already late for the kids and I don't think they would have lasted much longer. We did the same thing last year and it sucks but a small sacrifice in the grand scheme of things. At least they had switched up the order of things so we saw different acts than last year (last year's post is here.) Overall I was impressed with the kids. Last year they were overwhelmed by the entire circus but this year they were enthusiastically clapping and oohing and aahing.

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VIP seating.
We always talk about our favourite part of events and this year both kids agreed it was seeing the elephants. I loved seeing how excited Little J was. Did you go to the circus? What was your favourite part? And remember, if you're in Montreal you can use the code TRAPEZE for 2 for 1 tickets.

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Our VIP tickets.

Disclaimer: I was provided tickets for me and my family, plus the tour and dinner. All opinions are my own.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Reptiles and birthday cake

Our days have been either jam packed with summer fun or lazy while we recover from all that fun. That's the kind of balance you need to stay sane. Summer months are full of activities and birthdays and you know a birthday party is going to rock your socks off when there are reptiles involved. Little R was a lucky birthday boy and we were lucky to be invited!

Little Ray's Reptiles does shows where they come to your house and bring reptiles with them. The guy who came was really good with the kids and it's always interesting to see who's brave that day. On this day, Little J was pretty brave, but Little K wasn't. When the tarantula came out, I wasn't brave. Not at all!

We saw all sorts of animals like the tarantula, a gecko, a cayman, a toad, a tortoise, and a couple of snakes. Everyone was invited to touch the animals, but the birthday boy always got a turn first, and then the kids, and finally the adults. We were told facts about each and we learned the difference between frogs and toads and turtles and tortoises (hint: it has to do with water!)

After the show, it was typical birthday party fun: pizza and koolaid, cake, and presents. The kids are getting to the age where parents don't have to stay at parties so it was interesting watching a little girl from Little R's class who was dropped off. I guess we'll be doing to with Little J this year. And that reminds me that 5 is SO old!

Little R had a great time and it was nice to see his and LP's new place, a house that seems perfect for them.

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Little J with a gecko.

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Some sort of snake.

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An iguana.

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This tortoise was just a few years old.

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A young cayman.

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Little K being brave.

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The huge albino snake was the last one out.

Happy birthday, Little R!

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A yummy turtle cake for the birthday boy!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

City of Ottawa Weston Park Celebration!

Do you know that the City of Ottawa has 56 wading pools? I had no idea! I grew up with an outdoor pool just down the street and had never been to a wading pool... until last week. This summer, each wading pool is hosting a party with crafts and activities, but 6 of them get super parties. After the city shared a link on Twitter to more information about the big celebrations, I decided to take the kids to check it out.

We arrived at Weston Park around 11 and started exploring. There were two play structures, swings, and the wading pool. Also set up was a craft area, a Tim Horton's tent with coffee and timbits, and balloons decorated the wading pool. I let the kids do it all - play, do a craft, and get in the water.

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An older, wooden structure.
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Little J had no trouble climbing to the top.
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The metal slide was HOT!

But that wasn't all. There was a free pizza lunch, bubbles, balloon animals, face painting, and a one-woman circus show! It was an incredible day.

The craft tent was staffed with city staff from Community Arts and Social Engagement. These two ladies helped so many kids make party hats. Little K wore hers all day. Little J didn't want to make one at first because he was so excited about the pool, but we went back and he made one too.

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Craft tent.

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The kids with their party hats.
The wading pool is a rectangular, shallow pool with a really shallow area fenced off. The water was freezing but the kids didn't seem to care. I spoke with a lifeguard and found out that the wading pools are emptied every night and filled again in the morning. I was wondering how they handled that.

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Hardly any splashing in the super shallow end.
The Tim Hortons tent supplied the coffee for the parents and the timbits were popular with the kids. I saw a woman from Rogers TV going around interviewing families throughout the day too.

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Caffeine and sugar.
The kids tried the sports game and had fun throwing the different balls (football, soccer and basketball) to the targets. I think they would have preferred a bouncy castle though!

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Sports game.
There were a number of day camps at the parks so there were kids everywhere and line ups for everything. The swings were right near the lineups so I'd stand in line and the kids would run to the swings. You know what makes for sad kids? When they don't know yet how to pump their legs and mom can't leave the line to push them.

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Even a party hat couldn't help her swing.
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Sad boy.
The sad faces might have been partially due to empty stomachs. Thankfully there was food! Free pizza lunch really hit the spot.

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Pizza in the shade.
Not long after lunch we were all herded over to a shady spot where the show was about to start. It was a one-woman circus show. She was incredible - hula hopping like a machine, juggling, and doing all sorts of tricks. She was good with the audience too and got the kids really excited. I learned that my kids get scared when knives get brought out, but they loved clapping along and bopping to the music. I was just amazed at everything I saw.

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Fun selfie.
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Two hula hoops at a time.
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Hula hooping with her foot while standing on her head.

After the show we tackled two lines - the kids waited for balloon animals together while I waited for face painting. Little J asked for a bunny and Little K asked for an orange cat. Then Little J wanted Batman face paint and Little K chose an orange cat.

They were both SO happy... until Little J's balloon popped. He insisted we get him another so we waited in line again and he got a yellow cat. This was after almost 5 hours in the sun and we were all getting tired.. well, Little K lost it, but her brother saved the day by offering to trade balloons with her. Crisis averted. I quickly got us packed up and in the car.

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Face paint and balloon animals.
The entire day was so fun. The city did a great job - all the crafts and activities, the staff, the food, the circus show! Like I said, it's a summer long celebration, but the last one is this Thursday. Check out this link for more details:
http://ottawa.ca/en/news/citys-wading-pools-celebrate-summer-special-events. We had so much fun.. definitely go check it out if you can!