My Ottawa playground wish list

We visit a lot of parks. Even when we’re on vacation, we make a point of having a few good plays at some of the local playgrounds. This summer, we spent two weeks in British Columbia (Vancouver and Kelowna) and saw Read more

Our urban family photo shoot

I was recently cleaning out some drawers and came across a pile of family photos of the Sears portrait studio variety — the ones that ensured all my very awkward stages (most of my life) were well documented and looked extra awkward. The man and I Read more

Kid-Friendly Neighbourhood: Civic Hospital

Civic Hospital resident/dad Rob Thomas tells us what makes his Ottawa ‘hood great… Civic Hospital is the best neighbourhood in Ottawa for young families and I’m not the only one who thinks so. An example...I phone the city’s 3-1-1 service the other day. A sign in Read more

Spider-Man, Skipper and the Magnificent MAGFORMERS

My kid’s favourite toy changes often. Right now, she's full-on obsessed with a Spider-Man action figure and a Skipper Barbie doll. Her favourites are usually perfect for her, but I wouldn’t always recommend them. Not all of us want to spend the afternoon Read more

Big kid biking around the city

Posted on by Pub Patio Playdate Posted in biking, downtown living | Leave a comment

bike to school 300x276 Big kid biking around the cityThis summer, the little one bought a $7 bike from Value Village and promptly figured out how to ride it. She’s been unstoppable ever since, doing a 18 km round trip to Brewer Park, a 3 km ride to her first day of Junior Kindergarten, and endless laps around the rink at Jules Morin Park.

She’s becoming a great little “big kid” cyclist and it’s been so much fun having a new activity we can do/way to get around the city.

A while ago, I did a video post about our winterized bike trailer and now we have a new invention…

Little one takes the bus to school but we pick her up from the extended day program. The man uses this thing to transport her bike to school when he picks her up so that she can bike home.

He made it out of some wood and old stroller wheels. Pretty clever eh?!

kids bike trailer 300x163 Big kid biking around the city

With many urban families using bikes as a major, or even only, mode of transportation, cycling safety needs to start early and be engrained in kids so that they know nothing else.

Modal Mom recently wrote a great blog post about getting kids riding their own bike around the city, so I won’t reinvent the wheel (pun intended). Check it out!

My Ottawa playground wish list

Posted on by Pub Patio Playdate Posted in other cities, park profile, stuff I love, travel | 1 Comment

We visit a lot of parks. Even when we’re on vacation, we make a point of having a few good plays at some of the local playgrounds.

This summer, we spent two weeks in British Columbia (Vancouver and Kelowna) and saw some pretty kick-ass park stuff. Check out this planned Vancouver park where some really neat features are being considered.

Ottawa, take note! Consider the gallery below as my playground wish list…

(Roll your cursor over the image to see a description.)

I also suggest checking out this latest post from PlayGroundology about a park in Edmundston, New Brunswick. I like the idea of more tires!

(If you’re into this sort of thing, spend some time on the whole PlayGroundology blog. There’s loads of great playground stuff by Halifax dad Alex Smith.)

Our urban family photo shoot

Posted on by Pub Patio Playdate Posted in downtown living, experiences, neighbourhoods, stuff I love | 2 Comments

07302014 Dufour Family 28 300x200 Our urban family photo shoot I was recently cleaning out some drawers and came across a pile of family photos of the Sears portrait studio variety — the ones that ensured all my very awkward stages (most of my life) were well documented and looked extra awkward.

The man and I have had some good laughs over these photos (he even keeps one in his wallet so that he can tease me in front of others whenever the opportunity presents itself or when he’s just bored) and years ago we vowed to never do the professional family photo shoot thing. Why bother? We already have about a billion gigabytes of special moments from our trusty Sony Cybershot.

However, we realized that we have very few photos of the three of us together just being us. There was an ill-fated attempt to take some holiday pictures, with the man using a timer and jumping in with the dog at the last moment. In addition to getting some lovely shots of us around the Christmas tree with our eyes closed, I learned that while orange walls do look cool in my living room, they make my otherwise photogenic family look like the Simpsons.

So, this year I convinced the man to let us get some pro pics with a guarantee that they would look nothing like the ones in the drawer. I told him I had an idea…and that it involved poutine!

Over the last few years I’ve fallen madly in love with not just poutine but our neighbourhood. I know my neighbours, people hang out on the sidewalk, it’s quiet but close to everything, it’s diverse and beautiful, and frankly, just perfect. It’s really an extension of our home. So instead of hauling my family to some outdoorsy location we rarely visit, I suggested doing the photo shoot at our fave Lowertown hangouts.

I wanted something candid, urban and us.

Enter Rebecca White Photography!

Rebecca did a friend of mine’s engagement photos and they looked fabulous, so I pitched her my idea.

She spent two hours following us as we hung out on our porch and street, played at Jules Morin Park, ate poutine at Jack’s on Rideau Street and went for an evening stroll in MacDonald Gardens Park. I love the photos. They really are us and they really let our neighbourhood, our home, be a character in our story.

You can see a few of the pics below. Hoping this will inspire other families to use their urban neighbourhood as a backdrop…

P.S. I highly recommend Rebecca White Photography if you’re looking to have family photos done. My daughter loved her and she was very easy to work with. She’s especially interested in weddings and everything related (engagement, maternity, family, etc.).

 

Kid-Friendly Neighbourhood: Civic Hospital

Posted on by Pub Patio Playdate Posted in downtown living, guest post, neighbourhoods, park profile | Leave a comment

Fairmont Park in Ottawa 300x179 Kid Friendly Neighbourhood: Civic HospitalCivic Hospital resident/dad Rob Thomas tells us what makes his Ottawa ‘hood great…

Civic Hospital is the best neighbourhood in Ottawa for young families and I’m not the only one who thinks so.

An example…I phone the city’s 3-1-1 service the other day. A sign in the park needs to be replaced. I say the name of the park (Fairmont), then begin to spell it (F-A-I-R…). The operator stops me.

“I know the park,” he says. “My wife grew up on Young Street. There’s a little grove that runs from there into the park.”

“Our place connects to that path as well,” I brag. “My kids are running through those woods all the time.”

“It’s beautiful,” he says.

I agree.

I hear this all the time.

My wife and I moved from Hintonburg to Civic Hospital four years ago. We had one child at the time and were hoping for more (we’re up to three now). We still love Hintonburg, but we traded up. We’re just as close to the core but the new hood has a more residential vibe, quieter streets, more trees, newer homes (rubble foundations are cute and all), bigger yards, and house prices in the lower stratosphere. It was a 500 meter move, so we also still enjoy Hintonburg — great restaurants, shops and events.

I’ll give you a quick sketch of Civic Hospital’s boundaries: the Queensway (north edge), the O-Train corridor (east), Carling Avenue (south) and Island Park (west).

The highlight for our family is Fairmont Park. If you don’t know already, it’s a huge swath of green space, with tennis courts, mature trees, an open field, sand pits, two play structures and room to spare for a generous dog park. Most important, the playground is well stocked with communal trucks, push cars and sand toys, which are constantly replaced by local families. There are also two ice rinks in winter: one for skating, one for hockey (without boards). There’s also a wooded embankment that traces the eastern border of the park. This is where you’ll find the “grove” that so impresses my 3-1-1 operator. It’s one of two walking paths that link neighbouring streets to the park. The brush is just thick enough to feel that you’ve stepped out of the city for a moment. It’s perfect for climbing, fort building and adventuring. My kids love it too.

Fairmont is the largest of three parks. The others are Reid and Eve Trembley (near Little Italy). Both have wading pools. Reid is currently getting a make-over , thanks to the city. I can’t wait to see the results. Highlights include a new community building, new park furniture and an enclosed off-leash dog park. Eve Trembley Park is beyond our family’s normal range but we’ve enjoyed it when we’ve visited. It also has tennis courts where, I’m told, bike polo is played from time to time. The play structures are new, the sand is very clean (I assume it’s been recently replaced) and the pool is quite large. When I’m there I like to pick up a sandwich from DiRienzo’s, across the street (Beech) from the park.

My kids also enjoy waving to the O-Train at the pedestrian overpass at Young Street. Sometimes, if they’re good, we continue on to Preston Street for gelato. I mean REALLY good. I also look forward to exploring to new O-Train pathway that connects with the Ottawa River pathway. But, so far, we’ve found our fill of adventure closer to home/

Best neighbourhood in the city, as I say.

Thanks Rob! I’ll definitely be adding Fairmont to my own list of parks to check out.

 

Spider-Man, Skipper and the Magnificent MAGFORMERS

Posted on by Pub Patio Playdate Posted in products, stuff I love | Leave a comment

Magformers condo 300x205 Spider Man, Skipper and the Magnificent MAGFORMERSMy kid’s favourite toy changes often. Right now, she’s full-on obsessed with a Spider-Man action figure and a Skipper Barbie doll. Her favourites are usually perfect for her, but I wouldn’t always recommend them. Not all of us want to spend the afternoon in some elaborate world where superheroes and skinny girls are BFFs who ride around in a Little People school bus driven by a miniature Peter Pan.

But during our recent trip to B.C. she tried out a toy that she loved, that I loved, AND that I could see most kids loving.

I rented some stuff from Just Play Toy Rental and one of the things we got was MAGFORMERS, which is a magnetic construction set.

To be clear, I have no relationship with MAGFORMERS; I just really like this toy. I also don’t usually do product reviews but I have to tell you about this product because it’s awesome.

Everyone in our family really enjoyed playing with it and there was definitely some pieces hogging by people who are much older than four. The colours are bright and gender neutral, it’s simple, and the whole thing is easy to clean up and store.

This building set worked especially well on the airplane because the magnets kept the pieces in a clump on the table. This meant I didn’t have to spend a five-hour flight awkwardly crawling along the aisle, accidently caressing strangers’ feet while searching for lost little pieces. The little one spent much of the trip building a rocket ship, a school bus and a condo for about a dozen tiny animal puppets.

Magformers bus 300x237 Spider Man, Skipper and the Magnificent MAGFORMERSYesterday, Skipper and Spidey were even hanging out at the MAGFORMERS swimming pool.

We have lots of Duplo, Lego and other building toys at home but these things really got my daughter actually building. They also attracted lots of attention as we had several people come up and ask about the toy.

We had a simple set and could do quite a bit with it, but I see on the website that they have some other more elaborate sets. I’m thinking a modern magnetic dream house is in Spiper’s future…

 

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