May 2008

Long time readers and friends (hmmm, that may be redundant) know that I have always harboured not-so-secret dreams of being a “real” writer.

You might argue that I already am a writer in that my day job (in that other life that still lurks outside of maternity leave) since a large part of my job comprises stringing words together in a way that is meaningful. It’s rarely creative, though — at least, not in the conventional sense.

You might have more success in arguing that through blog, I have come closer to earning the title of “writer.” I write regularly for an audience, often with at least a certain amount of craft and attention to style, voice and narrative. In accepting paid advertising and other compensation, I’ve even been remunerated for my writing. All very nice, and all writerly sorts of things to do. But somewhere in my head, I’ve always felt I wouldn’t be an official “writer” until someone commissioned an article and published it, and was even kind enough to pay me for my efforts.

That day has finally come.

Remember last summer, when the nice folks over at Smuggler’s Notch offered us a free weekend getaway at the resort, all for the simple effort of blogging it? Well, my contact there sent me an e-mail just after Lucas was born saying congratulations on the new baby, and oh, by the way, would you be interested in writing an article for our resort magazine? I was barely a month postpartum, hormonal and sleep deprived. I couldn’t write a coherent grocery list, let alone be creative and wordy enough to write an actual essay. Of course I said yes.

The theme was “taking a walk on the wild side” and the idea the editor wanted to pursue was adventures with your kids. I took my original blog post on our canoe trip from hell and polished it up a bit to turn it into a freestanding article (click on the link that says “Family Adventure: Who Needs Wildlife When You’ve Got Kids” near the bottom of the page.) In re-reading it, there are a few things I would change, but it’s not bad for a first try, especially one written when I considered it a good day to get my teeth brushed by dinner time.

The resort magazine has a circulation of about 17,000, so it has the potential to be read by quite a few eyeballs. And of course, I stuck the blog address in my byline.

My first published article. One more item to check off on my life-long to-do list. I’m so proud of me!!


Three tanks of gas: $240
DVD player to replace the one that died 35 minutes into a 20 hour road trip: $129
Upgrade hotel room to a two-room suite for two nights (invaluable!): $80
Toll highway to bypass Hwy 401 rush hour traffic (worth every penny): $26

Five day road trip to take the boys to see both sets of cousins:

Beloved's family

Dani's family



More meme-aliciousness

by DaniGirl on May 24, 2008 · 4 comments

in Memes

More fun filched from About Miche:

Your Thinking is Abstract and Sequential

You like to do research and collect lots of information.
The more facts you have, the easier it is for you to learn.

You need to figure things out for yourself and consider all possibilities.
You tend to become an expert in the subjects that you study.

It’s difficult for you to work with people who know less than you do.
You aren’t a very patient teacher, and you don’t like convincing people that you’re right.

It’s all true, except for the fact I’ve been told I’m actually a pretty good teacher, and my thinking these days is pretty much along the lines of, “Where was I? Oh right! *pause* Erm, where was I?”


I’m not even sure I want to know what this guy was looking for when he found me.


Now that summer is almost upon us, I’m compiling ideas for cheap family outings in and around Ottawa. We’re so lucky to live in a city with walking trails, waterways, parks and other inexpensive or free things to do with kids, but there are also plenty of things to do on a rainy day. Some of these things are full-day adventures, but most will occupy at least a couple of hours. I started with a list of 15 things, then aimed for 25, and finally ended up with FORTY!!

Capital ideas

Diesel dogs (street vendor hot dogs) under Maman the Spider makes for a memorable if not nutritionally sound lunch

Watch the ceremonial parade and changing of the guard on Parliament Hill every morning at 10:00

Take a tour of the Parliament Buildings and check out the view from the Peace Tower

Explore the grounds of Parliament Hill, from the statue of Sir Gallahad to the colony of feral cats

Peruse history in the collections at Library and Archives Canada

See the horses at the RCMP stables and musical ride centre

Visit the Bank of Canada’s Currency Museum

Tour the gardens at Rideau Hall

Admission to the National Gallery is free on Thursday nights

The Canadian Museum of Nature also free on Thursday nights.

The Canadian Museum of Civilization, including the absolutely stellar Children’s Museum, is free on Thursday nights after 4 pm.

Borrow a free museum pass through the Ottawa Public Library’s Museum privilege program

See a bit of local history at the always free-of-charge Nepean Museum

Admission to the Experimental Farm animal barns is free in the winter months.

Watson’s Mill in Manotick is free every day, with milling demonstrations through the summer months. (They’re closed through a lot of the winter months – check for times before you go!)

Naturally lovely

In the west end, walk the boardwalk along the Rideau River wetlands in the Chapman Mills conservation area

In the east end, walk the boardwalk through the Mer Bleu bog, an “internationally significant wetland”

There are some wonderful hiking trails in the Greenbelt. The Jack Pine Trail is about a 40 minute loop, plenty easy for little legs.

For an easy walk with a stroller, wander the paved bike path from Hogs Back Falls to Vincent Massey park. Take the high trail on the way back and visit the oft-missed stone patio overlooking the river, and bring some birdseed to hand-feed the chickadees and nuthatches

Feed the ducks and geese on the Rideau River near Billings Bridge

Take a wander around Rockcliffe Park and enjoy the gorgeous stone gazebo and the lookout onto the Ottawa River

Visit Rideau Falls and the gorgeous parkland around old city hall

On Sundays in the summer, Colonel By Drive is closed to traffic and open for bikes, blades and strollers

Retail therapy

Chapters has a great kids section, and most of them have a train table or other toys to play with while mom and dad browse

Ross’ Independent Grocer in Barrhaven has a free playzone where you can drop the kids while you shop

Drop off the kids at Ikea’s ball pit and play centre for a free hour while you browse

Take me out to the park

There’s a terrific splash pad and playground off Longfields in Barrhaven. We pack a picnic and could spend the whole day there.

The playground at Brewer Park has always been awesome, but it’s just been retrofitted to be especially accessible for those with disabilities

There are dozens of wading pools of various shapes and sizes tucked away in parks throughout the city. You can get a list of them here

Did you know the city offers free swimming lessons?

Take a Sunday morning browse at the Ottawa Farmers Market at Landsdowne Park, then stay a while and play at the lovely little park on Fifth just before the Driveway.

Plan a day of sun at the beach at Britannia Beach. Buy yourself some fries for lunch, but don’t feed the seagulls (they’re a leading cause of beach-closing e-coli.)

Visit the recently-improved Petrie Island beach and nearby trails

There’s a great list of urban parks and a bit of a history lesson on the NCC site

Consider a playground tour. New is interesting, especially to kids!

For a few dollars more (not quite free, but mostly around $10 for the family)

On a rainy day, consider an indoor pool – or maybe even ride the surf at the Kanata wave pool

Doesn’t every preschool boy love trains? A round-trip on the O-Train is only an hour or so.

Get out of town

Tour the Hershey Factory in Smiths Falls (it’s open until December 2008) and get your free sample

Spend a day at Lac Phillip and spelunk the Lusk Caves

Enjoy an afternoon getaway to the Mackenzie King estate at Kingsmere
(you’ll have to pay a per-vehicle fee less than $10 if you drive)

Hike the Eardley Escarpment in Gatineau Park, especially lovely in the fall (you’ll have to pay a per-vehicle fee less than $10 if you drive)

Edited to add: this post is quite a few years old, but still very popular. Sadly, some of these things like the Hershey Factory have disappeared. If you’re looking for other ideas, check out these blog posts about family fun in and around Ottawa. πŸ™‚


Doing it right

by DaniGirl on May 19, 2008 · 2 comments

in Memes, Mothering without a licence

Chris over at Smartmouth Mombie tagged me for her most excellent Mother’s Day meme. She said:

I think the Moms/Mommies/Mamas in the blogosphere spend more than enough time admitting our shortcomings and not nearly enough time celebrating our strong points. So, I’m suggesting that on Mother’s Day, or the day after, or at least some time in May, you take a moment and make a list of three things that you do well as a mother and either post it in the comments here or in your own blog.

She’s so right. We really have to find more time to celebrate the things we as mothers are doing right. Confident as I am in my mad mothering skillz most days, I still found it surprisingly difficult to write this post – and not only because I am trying to write it while stuffing the soother back into Lucas’s mouth every two minutes while he fusses on the swing beside me. Three things I’m doing right, in no particular order:

  1. I’m fairly consistent with rules, routines and discipline. I set limits and impose structure, and stick by them so the boys always know where the lines are drawn and even what to expect from daily routines. I’ve recently begun to perfect my hairy eyeball, a gift from my own mother, so that I can often convey more effective threat of consequences with a single look than I could with 100 words. But I strive to be reasonable, and try to see things from their perspective before meting out discipline.
  2. The boys know they are loved, by me and Beloved and their extended family and friends. I never miss an opportunity to tell them how much I love them and how wonderful they are. Tristan and Simon both made Mother’s Day ‘stories’ in their classes with fill-in-the-blank statements like “My mommy’s name is” (Simon said, “just mommy”) and “My mommy’s favourite food is” (Tristan said “coffee”). Both of them ended with a variation on the same sentiment: I love my mommy because: she loves me.” Reading that, I felt like I was doing a good job as a mother. Come what may, I promise to always love them and always stand behind them.
  3. I let the boys play, and I play with them — sometimes. I think I strike a pretty good balance between letting them entertain themselves, inspiring entertainment (nothing like the sudden appearance of fresh bubbles to improve an otherwise boring afternoon) or joining in on the fun. I like adventures as much as they do, and love family walks, visits to the museum, the park or the pool.

Phew, that was harder than I thought. First, all modesty aside, I thought I wouldn’t be able to narrow it down to three — and then once I got going, I found it hard to find three good ones!

Now it’s your turn to share with the class. Consider yourself tagged and play along, either in the comments or back at your place. Name three parenting things that you do well.

(Edited to add, after two days with ZERO comments: Really? Nobody can think of three things they’re doing well??)


Oh great, something else to obsess over

18 May 2008 Memes

Filched from Suze: Your Score: The True Neurotic You scored 54 anxiety, 53 awkwardness, and 67 neuroticism! Congratulations, you are The True Neurotic, you nail-biting, conflict-avoiding worrier, you. You’re plagued by self-doubt and anxiety, which makes social activity hard–even though you may be well-liked, you feel under a storm of silent criticism. It doesn’t help […]

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Wherein Tristan has Beloved’s number

17 May 2008 Ah, me boys

We’re getting ready to go out to visit some friends for dinner, and Beloved is taking a, erm, bathroom break. I’ve recently taken to teasing him that he uses the bathroom as a refuge. He has his book in there and the door locks. Can you blame him? “When are we going?” asks Simon. “As […]

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Kids’ music: a review in three parts

16 May 2008 Consumer culture

Thanks to the quirks of Canada Post and Amazon, I received three new CDs in the mail one day this week. (Can we pause for a minute here and reflect that the idea of buying CDs has become vaguely anachronistic, while I clearly remember not only when the technology debuted but was an adult when […]

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Hey! You! GUUUYS!

14 May 2008 Life, the Universe and Everything

If you can hear Rita Moreno belting that out when you read the title to this post, then you are of the proper vintage to appreciate this tidbit: PBS is remaking The Electric Company! Production starts this week, and the first episodes should appear in January 2009. I have mixed feelings about this. I loved […]

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