Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Park Days of Summer: Nimiq Park

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A summer series

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Almost the entire park.

Nimiq Park is our closest park. It has two structures and swings and some smaller things. It's set back from the busy road and close to paths and a pond. At 3 and 4 my kids love this park but there isn't much for older kids. It's nice for us though since it's close and we see our friends and neighbours there.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Capital Park: My kids social network ~ Guest Post

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A summer series

I'd like to welcome Reese to the blog today! I met her through the Ottawa Mommy Club and she has a park she wanted to share. 

I am lucky enough to have a few parks in our area that are within walking distance from our home. With my hectic schedule, I try to get them to one of these parks at least once a day so they are not confined to our home all day long. Another reason why I like to get the “bosses” out is so that they can learn how to socialize with other “executives” in order to make friends within our community. The park that usually has a lot of kids at it seven days a week is Capital Park.

I love this park because it is quite literally a part of the neighbourhood. There is also a lot of space for kids to do just about anything they wanted at this park. There are different play areas for kids to play at, so they are not all forced to be into one area at the same time. There is a swing set for the swingers, the slide structure for younger kids to climb up, sit and chat, and run around the see-saw area that allows them to fly and soar; the climber for the older kids to explore and enjoy; the tire swing to spin (with me) to their heart’s content; and a field that they can play different sports in.

Why do I refer to this park as my kids’ “social network?” Well, because this is the park where most of the children in the neighbourhood tend to drop by and have fun for a while. My kids get the chance to learn from other children who attend the park. I also enjoy chatting with the parents and caregivers that frequent the park, too! Oh, and there are a lot of trees in the park, so it is very well shaded for those sunny days.

They learn how to share the communal toys that families generously donate to the park, and they learn how to play with other kids. My kids need to learn this vital skill before they start going to school, and they are getting better at sharing when they go to this park. Over the past few weeks, my kids have met some amazing children, and are happy to see them whenever we stop by for a visit.

Pros: It is a big park for being right in the middle of a neighbourhood. There is also a lot structures for kids to play on and there are usually always kids there to play with.

Cons: It is not gated in, so you do have to watch your children carefully since it is surrounded by the road on three sides.

This is how I view Capital Park. My kids love going to this park! It is a larger park with a lot of areas for kids to play. My kids also get to meet up with children they will eventually be attending school with, and they get to learn how to be around different people and to socialize. I am so glad my kids have a place where they can play and be become more social. I would recommend Capital Park to anyone who is looking for a park for their children to play and create their own “social network.”

Doesn't that sound like a great park? I'm going to have to take the kids this summer and check it out!

You can follow along on her blog, Reese Speaks, and all over social media:

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

Friday, July 25, 2014


Calypso is a waterpark East of Ottawa that I'd never been to. In fact, I haven't been to a waterpark ever, unless you count being soaked on the bridge at Wonderland. So themed waterparks are new to me and I wasn't sure what to expect even after pouring through the website the night before.

The drive to Limoges wasn't bad, especially on a Wednesday morning. There was construction at the main gate but the detour was well-signed. Parking was $7 or 8 and by the time we left the lot was pretty full. My first impression of Calypso was that it was huge!

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The entrance to the park.
We got into the park and while J was getting life jackets for the kids, which are free to rent for the day, I measured the kids. Little J was tall enough for some rides, but Little K was not.

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A little short.
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A little too short.
Calypso has something for everyone, including those too short for the big rides, so that's where we headed first. Zoo Lagoon was perfect for my little family. It was a gentle walk-in pool with small slides and not a lot of splashing or spraying.

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Off to explore Zoo Lagoon.

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Little J on the snake slide.

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Little K on the butterfly slide.
Right next to Zoo Lagoon was the Pirate's Aquaplay which was similar in that it had a sloped entry and a play structure, but it was quite a bit bigger and a huge bucket filled over and over and splashed everyone below. We only walked past it on our way to the only ride Little J was able to go on.

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The boys tried all three of these slides.

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The end of the ride.
After about an hour of exploring we headed to one of the cafeteria-style restaurants for lunch. My family ate while I went on a behind-the-scenes tour with fellow blogger Sherrie (of Good Karma Baby! and PR Mom Ottawa). This is the gift bag I was given - a towel, mug and keychain in a handy tote bag.

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All available at the gift shop.
Our tour started at the Kongo Expedition. This is the main attraction, comparable to Disney according to our guide. Everyone gets their own floaty (that's the technical term) but kids can go with their parents. There are twists and turns, water spraying and elephants and crocodiles on the side. Half of the ride is outside, while the other half is in a cave.

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At the beginning of Kongo Expedition.

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A relaxing trip down a river.
One of the coolest parts about the tour was getting to see how everything worked. People pull on these ropes and sometimes get water dumped on them and sometimes not. Why? Because some of the ropes are just knotted and some are rigged up to the water system.

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Inside the cave.
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In the rafters of the cave is the rope-water system.
You can't do this ride and not get soaked. Just look at this part, right near the end of the river, where water pours into a huge metal bowl and sprays everyone nearby.

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Water feature.
Next we were shown the VIP zone. For $100 a day you can rent your own cabana. It would be perfect for a family or group of friends.

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VIP Zone.
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Your view from the cabanas.
We were told all about the safety and the lifeguard system and how (and how often) the water is checked.

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One of the bigger rides.
Then we were taken to the building behind the wave pool and shown how the waves are made. They can do different patterns of waves and everything is controlled by a computer system. It was all very impressive and very loud. Filtration tanks and systems were up next and then I found J and the kids. While I was gone, J finished lunch with the kids and took them to the smaller lazy river.

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It's like Where's Waldo for my family! Can you spot them?
We spent another couple of hours at the park and J got to do two slides by himself. One of them was the super tall white one in the picture below.

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You had to be 5' tall for these slides.

I know I didn't get into the details of the slides and the water systems, but I can try to answer any questions you have. I was impressed by all of the safety measures in place, including what to do during lightning storms and the number of staff on site.

We need to go back again, either with more people so we can both go on the bigger slides, or without the kids! Everything I saw and learned at Calypso leads me to believe that it's a safe and fun theme park. I will definitely be bringing my kids back, maybe not until next year when Little K will be tall enough - fingers crossed!

Disclaimer: Calypso invited me and my family to the park and gave me a behind-the-scenes tour. The opinions are, as always, all my own.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Usborne books are pretty awesome

We love reading with our kids. Not a day goes by that I don't sit down and read with them. Recently Little J has started reading on his own. It's mostly by memory, but I'm sure it won't take long for him to be able to start sounding out words and reading for real. I can't wait.

We use our library religiously and see all sorts of different books, but some of our favourites are from Usborne. The That's not my.. series is great and the flip book Animal Hide-and-Seek held their attention.

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During the school year, Little J would come home with phonics books every week and I was pleased to see they're from Usborne. These books, like Frog on a Log and Big Pig on a Dig, are cute and have simple, repetitive language, which is perfect for the 4- and 5-year olds.

Usborne has books for babies, toddlers, preschoolers, and older kids. If you want to order some Usborne books, please consider doing so through the virtual party I'm hosting this week. All you have to do is create a wishlist using this link and the Usborne consultant, Anne, will contact you to set up payment. Bonus: if you're in Ottawa I'll deliver your books to you!

Happy shopping!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Book 27/50: Life After Life

Instead of writing today about our trip to Calypso or our anniversary weekend in Montreal, here's a book review. A much quicker post than the other two!

From Goodreads: On a cold and snowy night in 1910, Ursula Todd is born, the third child of a wealthy English banker and his wife. Sadly, she dies before she can draw her first breath. On that same cold and snowy night, Ursula Todd is born, lets out a lusty wail, and embarks upon a life that will be, to say the least, unusual. For as she grows, she also dies, repeatedly, in any number of ways. Clearly history (and Kate Atkinson) have plans for her: In Ursula rests nothing less than the fate of civilization.

What I thought: This sounds like an interesting book, but I had the hardest time getting into it. I like the idea that our life takes a different path for every choice we make and seeing the different paths that Ursula's life takes as she is born again and again was interesting, but boring somehow. Some of the paths were pretty awful and some I wish hadn't ended, while some were just horrible and I couldn't wait for her to die so that she'd get a chance at something better.

All that to say I'm not sure what I thought about the book and whether I'd recommend it. Probably not.

Up next: Listen to the Squawking Chicken: When Mother Knows Best, What's a Daughter To Do? A Memoir (Sort Of)

Friday, July 18, 2014

A decade

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On July 10th J and I celebrated 10 years of marriage. And by celebrated I mean it was a regular day but we got to go out for dinner together.

Today we leave for Montreal just the two of us. January 2009 was our last trip together without the kids if you don't count the times we've gone snowboarding for a morning or afternoon.

We have no plans but I'm excited to explore, sleep as long as I want, eat wherever and whenever we want, and do some fun things.

Happy anniversary to us!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Leaning In ~ Book 26/50 for 2014

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Reading while the kids play is totally leaning in.

Sheryl Sandberg is an impressive woman. She's currently working at Facebook but has been at Google too. In her book she talks about why we need more women in leadership roles and how this will benefit everybody. She makes point after point about feminism and how women are not only in a battle with men but in battle with themselves and their subconscious. We hold ourselves back. We, women and men, treat women differently, and that has to change.

She talks about how women in past generations fought hard for us to have choices, and now many women choose to stay home with their children, but many more choose to work. This book made me really question why I stay home... did I do it for myself or for my kids? Was I subconsciously scared of leaning into my career?

I might have been, though I've used my time off to build a business doing something that I feel called to. I get to support women during a life changing event. I don't know what Sheryl thinks of the doula profession because she talks almost exclusively about corporate jobs, but I know I feel good about the direction things have gone and the choices I've made, even if I may not completely understand my motivations. Lean In was a good read.

Up next: Life After Life