Postcards from Manotick

It is with great bloggy enthusiasm that I welcome our newest sponsor, the Manotick School of Music.

We’ve had the boys enrolled in lessons at the Manotick School of Music for quite a few years now and I’ve always been pleased with the school and especially the wonderful teachers. Tristan took a couple of years of guitar lessons (one of my favourite blog posts from that era is Five reasons why guitar lessons are better than hockey!) but his interest – and practicing – waned after a couple of years and he’s on a musical hiatus right now. Simon took a year of piano, took a year off, and asked specifically if he could start up lessons again this year.

It’s an exciting time for the Manotick School of Music. As of a few months ago, the school is under new management. The owner and director of Manotick’s Musical Thought Studios is taking the school in new directions, and they are offering lessons in piano, guitar, voice, drums, violin, woodwinds and brass. They also offer piano parties, workshops, ensemble quartets and recitals, among other things, and they’re developing a youth musicianship program in the coming months. You can even take lessons on the gorgeous grand piano in the director’s home studio – how awesome is that?

Oh, and in case you missed it, here are my five reasons guitar lessons are better than hockey:

1. We do not risk growing out of this guitar in mid-season.

2. Guitar lessons do not take place at 6 am on a Saturday, or in damp, dank 12C arenas.

3. There is little to no risk of a concussion in guitar lessons.

4. Other parents do not yell angrily at your child during guitar lessons. (Although the jury is still admittedly out on whether we will yell angrily at our own children in the act of encouraging the practicing of said guitar lessons.)

5. Chicks dig guitar players.

Of course, the same could be said about piano lessons! In fact, I was just reading (yet another) article about the benefits of music lessons. In this case, they found that music lessons early in life protect the brain’s speech and auditory functions as you age, and goes on to say that “children who engage in music lessons boost their attention span, memory, and even IQ.”

It’s a dream of mine to one day have a piano in the house. In the interim, I’ll enjoy Simon thumping out Ode to Joy on our electric keyboard. It never fails to make me smile. He’s having fun AND growing his brain. What’s not to love about that?

If you’re interested in music lessons with Musical Thought / Manotick School of Music, you can see the current teacher availability on the Musical Thought website or contact the director at 613-692-2824.

Disclosure: the Manotick School of Music and I exchanged services for the purposes of this sponsorship. However, I would have fully endorsed the school and its lessons despite our advertising agreement and we have been a client of the school since 2011.


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Looking for winter family fun in Ottawa this weekend? Forget the crowds at Winterlude and head out to Manotick to celebrate Shiverfest!

The Shiverfest fun starts on Friday January 30 at the Manotick Arena with an exhibition figure-skating show by the Rideau Skating Club at 6 pm. At 6:30 pm, come warm up by a roaring outdoor bonfire built by our local firefighters, and enjoy hot chocolate, Timbits and music. There will be a family skate at 7 pm and at 8 pm, a Children’s Party with a novelty and magic show with Magic Dave and Circus Chris.

Activities on Saturday, January 31 include a fundraising Pancake Breakfast at the Manotick Arena organized by the Manotick Kiwanis from 7:30 – 11 am, craft time for children, sleigh rides in Centennial Park at 10 am, all day tobogganing and skating in Centennial Park and the ever-popular Chili Contest at the Manotick Legion between 12 and 2:30 pm.

Shiverfest horses

The Manotick Arena will host Little Ray’s Reptiles from 1-2 pm and “Bands that Amp it Up” from 6-9 pm. There will also be an Open Mic Night at the Hard Stones Grill, beginning at 8 pm.

Sunday, February 1 features the popular Trivia Contest at the Mill Tavern from 1 – 4 pm. You might just be lucky enough to win a prize like this one, a framed photo of Watson’s Mill on a frosty winter day, donated by Mothership Photography.

This year Shiverfest is donating a portion of funds raised to YOMA, the Youth of Manotick Association – family fun AND you’re supporting a great community organization. The forecast looks sunny and cold for the weekend, with lots of fresh snow between now and then, so there’s no reason NOT to get out and enjoy winter!

Disclosure: I pilfered much of this text from the Manotick Village and Community Association newsletter. Why reinvent the wheel when they said it so well?


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In the past year, the Youth of Manotick Association (YOMA) has been offering regular activities for local youth, primarily through Friday night drop-ins. YOMA’s activities provide a safe, inclusive and socially accepting environment that helps support local and area youth in building positive relationships, experiencing new opportunities and connecting them to their community. They focus particularly on kids aged 12 to 17, an awkward age where they’d like to get out of the house and socialize, but don’t always have the means to get to Barrhaven for a movie or hang out the way older teens might.

I think this is a fantastic initiative, one that is very much needed in the community. I had the pleasure of attending a recent drop-in to take some publicity photos on a night where the activity du jour was tie-dying t-shirts. I think the photos speak for themselves!

YOMA-4

YOMA-3

YOMA

I would have loved to be a part of something like this when I was young, and I’m happy to support it in my community. YOMA is really still in its launch phase. They’ve had organized some terrific activities for participants, from expeditions to Saunders Farm and ski nights to movie nights and concerts.

Of course, running an awesome program like YOMA costs money. There are two paid youth worker on site at each event, so that parents are not required to volunteer nor cramp the style of their teenaged youth. The youth workers are also available to answer questions and chat with the teenagers. The drop-in program doesn’t have a permanent home, so rental costs are also incurred and drop-ins take place where space is available: the Legion, the community arena, even the local seniors’ residence. The ultimate goal is to build a youth centre, which would offer youth social programs, preventative programs, intervention services, life skills development and leadership opportunities.

Which brings me to my point. You knew I’d get here eventually, right? I mean, YOMA is awesome, but this kind of awesomeness needs a little community support.

Next Friday, November 28 from 6 to 8 pm, YOMA is hosting a fundraising spaghetti dinner at the Manotick Legion. The goal is to both to raise funds for existing programming and to move forward with new initiatives. Gluten-free options will be available. There will also be a raffle and silent auction with some amazing prizes including One Direction tickets, Sens Tickets, NAC gift cards, restaurant gift cards, golf packages and more! And did I mention the celebrity attendees? Our local MP Pierre Poilievre will drop by, and the dinner will be attended by Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson.

You want to go, right? Tickets for the spaghetti dinner are $10 for adults, $8 for seniors and children under 11. For tickets or more information call 613-296-1202 or e-mail at youth.of.manotick@gmail.com.

Thanks to the generosity of the organizers, I have two tickets to give away. BUT! This is a fundraiser, remember? So I would be happy to separate the tickets, so any family can have one free admission so long as they pay for the rest of the tickets. That seems fair, right?

If you’d like one of the two free tickets, just leave a comment below telling me some mischief YOU got into as a youth. I’ll do a random draw from all entrants, and we’ll work out how to get your ticket to you. Winner will be selected and contacted on Wednesday November 26. Want to know more about YOMA? Like their Facebook page for updates about the weekly activities.

I’ll be there – see you there!


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Did you see the weather forecast for this weekend? Sun, sun and more sun, with a side of heat and a little more sun. Helllloooooo summer, we are *so* glad to see you!

You know I love summer. You know I love free family fun. You know I love Manotick. What’s not to love about free summer family fun in Manotick this weekend with Dickinson Days? There’s a jam-packed schedule of events with a little something for everyone.

Here’s a dozen things to see or do:

1. Dickinson Days Parade on Manotick Main Street, Friday at 7:00. The kids love Manotick’s parades – get there early for a good spot!

Dickinson Days Parade 2013

2. Concert with Junkyard Symphony and fireworks to follow, Friday at 8:30, Manotick Arena and Centennial Park

3. Kids fishing derby on the dam, Saturday 9:00 to 12:00 on the dam behind the Mill.

4. Pancake breakfast in Dickinson Square (in front of the Mill), Saturday 7:00 to 11:00 am.

5. Farmer’s market and village craft sale, Dickinson Square

6. Horse-drawn wagon rides through the village (my kids still love these!)

231:365 Oh look, it's the Mill. Again. :)

7. Used book sale in the carriage house, across from Watson’s Mill

8. Charity BBQ from M&M Meats, Dickinson Square

9. Doors Open Ottawa – there are six Manotick locations participating, including Watson’s Mill, Dickinson House, the Canadian Guide Dogs for the Blind Training Centre and SunTech Greenhouses (have you tried their cherry tomatoes? To. Die. For.)

10. Community dance outdoors in Dickinson Square (Saturday 7 – 10 pm, admission $10, kids under 12 free)

11. Watson’s Mill will be open with costumed interpreters and milling demonstrations and Dickinson House is featuring an exhibit of vintage toys and games.

163:365 Dickinson Days Fun

12. Trivia contest in Dickinson Square, Sunday 1:00 to 4:00.

Can you believe that’s only a portion of the activity going on this weekend? For a full schedule with additional events, details and links, visit the Dickinson Days page.

Hope to see you there!


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We live on an island, so you don’t have to go far to find water. No wonder I have moisture issues in my basement! But even on the island, there are little patches of water, like this small, nearly hidden pond a block from my house. If you walk past at dusk, you can hear the most delightful sound of frogs singing, but I was even more delighted to walk by yesterday and find this unexpected red canoe resting quietly on its bank.

Unexpected red canoe

It was totally worth the three dozen mosquito bites I acquired while taking a few variations of this photo! If only you could hear the frog music in the background. :) For all the challenges we’ve had with this house and living in a very small town, it’s having this sort of lovely scene just around the corner waiting to be discovered on an evening walk that makes it all worthwhile.


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This blog post is part PSA and part rant.

The PSA part is that the city is planning to update the play structures at George McLean park in Manotick. (Thanks to the Manotick Village and Community Association for the notification on this one!) According to the MVCA parks and recreation page:

The City is replacing aging play structures in George McLean Park, and would like community input as to the type of new play structures it would like to have.

The city has advised of the following mandatory play equipment changes:

1. The sand will be removed and replaced with wood chips
2. The little merry-go-round/roundabout will be removed for safety reasons.

The city has asked residents to provide their comments on replacement options and if possible to also complete this questionnaire..

Comments and completed questionnaires should be sent to secretary@manotickvca.org.

The deadline for feedback to the City is April 11; removal and replacement of the structures is expected to begin in August.

(I know the deadline was last Friday – I’m hoping we can get a bit of an extension for comments.) So families, if you are interested in what happens to George McLean park, please take a moment to express your opinions.

Here comes the rant.

The city wants to remove the roundabout for “safety” reasons. This makes me crazy. That roundabout was our hands-down favourite feature of that park. Look!

Easter family fun

It’s old, I know. My attachment may be purely nostalgic. Maybe there is a perfectly good reason for this gorgeous retro roundabout to be removed – but I suspect there is not. I fear the safety issue is not in its construction or durability but in its inherent design. I fear that what we are facing is not a safety issue but a liability issue. We are not protecting the kids, we are protecting the city.

Yes, kids will go flying off the roundabout- remember how much FUN that was? Did you ever get one of those metal bars to the cheekbone? I did – and I learned to keep my face out of the way the next time. And I learned about centrifugal force at the same time. Fun + learning = learning that stays with you!

I’m not the only one ranting about disappearing roundabouts. Check out these articles from Free Range Kids and KATU media in Portland, Oregon, both published within the last few months on this subject.

I fear, however, that I am waging a lost battle.

If you have a few extra minutes to spare, please read this brilliant article from the March 2014 edition of The Atlantic entitled The Overprotected Kid. This is exactly what I am afraid we are denying our children when we coddle and overprotect them:

[Ellen Sandseter, a professor of early-childhood education at Queen Maud University College in Trondheim] began observing and interviewing children on playgrounds in Norway. In 2011, she published her results in a paper called “Children’s Risky Play From an Evolutionary Perspective: The Anti-Phobic Effects of Thrilling Experiences.” Children, she concluded, have a sensory need to taste danger and excitement; this doesn’t mean that what they do has to actually be dangerous, only that they feel they are taking a great risk. That scares them, but then they overcome the fear. In the paper, Sandseter identifies six kinds of risky play: (1) Exploring heights, or getting the “bird’s perspective,” as she calls it—“high enough to evoke the sensation of fear.” (2) Handling dangerous tools—using sharp scissors or knives, or heavy hammers that at first seem unmanageable but that kids learn to master. (3) Being near dangerous elements—playing near vast bodies of water, or near a fire, so kids are aware that there is danger nearby. (4) Rough-and-tumble play—wrestling, play-fighting—so kids learn to negotiate aggression and cooperation. (5) Speed—cycling or skiing at a pace that feels too fast. (6) Exploring on one’s own.

This last one Sandseter describes as “the most important for the children.” She told me, “When they are left alone and can take full responsibility for their actions, and the consequences of their decisions, it’s a thrilling experience.”

And here’s a fascinating and relevant set of statistics about just how little of a difference our endless safety standards are having:

According to the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System, which monitors hospital visits, the frequency of emergency-room visits related to playground equipment, including home equipment, in 1980 was 156,000, or one visit per 1,452 Americans. In 2012, it was 271,475, or one per 1,156 Americans. The number of deaths hasn’t changed much either. From 2001 through 2008, the Consumer Product Safety Commission reported 100 deaths associated with playground equipment—an average of 13 a year, or 10 fewer than were reported in 1980.

In other words, we’ve taken away all the fun, all the learning, all the exploration and adventure, and in exchange we’ve gained — nothing.

Speaking of statistics, check out this link from the Royal Society on the Prevention of Accidents. The leading causes of accidents on children’s playgrounds are swings (40%), climbers (23%) and slides (20%). Roundabouts come in at a measly 5%! And nobody is talking about taking away the slides or the swing. (Thanks to Jane at the MVCA for the link!)

If you’d like to have your say about what happens to the George McLean park play structures, please complete this PDF questionnaire from the city. (If I can get my hands on an electronic version, I will share it.)

And while you’re at it, please put in a kind word for our roundabout. Some things are worth saving!

Got anything to say on the subject of the modernization of retro playground equipment? You know I’d love to hear from you!


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Weekend winter family fun: Shiverfest 2014

29 January 2014 Ottawa Family Fun

The forecast for the weekend looks wintry without being bone-numbingly, cheek-searingly cold – perfect weather to come out and celebrate the season at Manotick’s annual Shiverfest Winter Carnival! There’s a full schedule of events for indoor and outdoor activities. Here’s the full list of what’s going on where and when: Friday, January 31 at Manotick […]

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This week in pictures: Winterlude and winter magic

17 February 2013 Photo of the Day

This week’s lesson in photography is about carpe-ing the diem. On Sunday morning I was up early and restless. I was twitchy to get outside when I saw the morning sun, but when I checked the temps it was still around the -20C mark. WAY too cold to go outside. After a bit of restless […]

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This week in pictures: winter family fun – and an award!!

2 February 2013 My 15 minutes

How cool is this? I just found out that Postcards from the Mothership won third place in the “Art and Photography” category of the Canadian Weblog Awards!! I had been nominated in three (!) categories: Best Parenting Blog, Best Blog about Life and Best Art and Photography Blog. (And a HUGE thank you to whomever […]

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You’re shivering anyway, so come out this weekend for Manotick’s ShiverFest!!

24 January 2013 Ottawa Family Fun

Hoo boy, is it cold out there or WHAT? If I understood the forecaster correctly, this is the coldest stretch of weather in Simon’s entire lifetime, and he turns nine next week. Brrrr! But this weekend, we’re warming up to a temperate minus 15C, so it will be perfect to come out and play during […]

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