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From The Editor


We’re pulling out the time machine here! It’s yours truly trimming the tree.

Andrea Tomkins

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or our family, the entire month of December is all about traditions. This brings me a lot of joy, but there’s a certain amount of stress that goes along with it as well. Sometimes I wonder if I’d be happier lying on a beach, where the only white fluffy stuff in sight is the froth on my Piña Colada. But who am I kidding? I’d miss the Christmas carols, decorating the Christmas tree, and going skiing with the kids. I’d probably miss stressing out about the turkey too. I’ve learned that time and energy – especially around this time of year – is a give and take. By paring things down over the past few years I’ve managed to keep my stress level in check. We’ve held on to the traditions that are the most meaningful to us, and found ways around others that tend to tip the scales into the stress zone (such as holiday baking). For example, it took me years to figure out that I don’t enjoy baking cookies. It’s so much easier if I just go out and buy them. That way I’m supporting a local business and don’t eat nearly as many! In this issue we’re helping you create your own family traditions. After all, it’s what kids seem to remember long after the wrapping paper has been put away. Katharine Fletcher profiles some cut-your-own Christmas tree farms in the Ottawa Valley and offers up some great tips, Anita Grace assembles some fun seasonal crafts that you can do together as a family, and Paula Roy shares some ideas about delegating meals during this busy time of year. (YES! You can let someone else stress about the turkey for a change!) And speaking of traditions, writing letters to Santa is one thing you can do with the kids that is cheap and easy… as long as you leave a little time. In past years we’ve made a production out of writing our letters. We start with a mug of hot chocolate (and candy canes for fuel), which we

enjoy while making multiple drafts of our letters. After much deliberation, the good copy is transcribed on special paper that is decorated with an equal measure of glitter pens, stickers and holiday themed doodles. Once our letters are complete we make a trip to the post office to buy stamps and pop them into the mail, but you can also take it one step further by delivering the letters in person. All you need to do is co-ordinate a trip to your neighborhood shopping centre. (You’re probably going to be there anyway at some point, right?) On page 10 there’s a list of malls Santa visits before the big day, as well as some of the Santa Claus parades in the area. It’s a very fun activity to do with kids, just don’t forget to bring some loonies and toonies and a toy to donate! There are many families in our region who need a helping hand, especially this time of year. Looking for toy ideas? The Canadian Toy Testing Council has provided a list of top toys on page 12. Throughout the month of December the Capital Parent website will be a jolly place to visit. Look for some easy holiday recipes, Elfon-the Shelf ideas, suggestions for charitable gifts, and lots of other fun stuff. Don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter and follow Capital Parent on Facebook too. That way you’ll always be the first to know about contests and special features you may otherwise miss. No matter how you celebrate the season, I want to wish all of our Capital Parents much joy and happiness, and many wonderful family traditions, whether they’re new ones or old ones. Happy holidays,

PUBLISHER Mark Sutcliffe EDITOR Andrea Tomkins 613-238-1818 ext. 279 CONTRIBUTORS Katharine Fletcher • Anita Grace Lynn Jatania • Annie Pisanu Paula Roy • Kate Settle Ottawa Public Library

COPY EDITOR Judith van Berkom CREATIVE DIRECTOR Tanya Connolly-Holmes 613-238-1818 ext. 253 DESIGN & PRODUCTION Sarah Ellis ADVERTISING Mike Beard 613-238-1818 ext. 270

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Cover Story Meet our cover family, Cleo and Ryan Thompson, with Tyler (9) and Brody (7)! Photographer Kate Settle shares some of the backstory about her shoot: “It’s amazing how a crisp afternoon stroll at Laird’s Tree Farm, surrounded by the aroma of Spruce, Balsam and White Pine can make put you in a seasonal mood. Add a flask of hot chocolate and a couple of marshmallows to the mix and we had everyone picking their favourite tree and feeling very festive. Often my most treasured photos are of my children taking part in family traditions during the holidays, often snapped with my cell phone or compact camera. Not only does it capture who they are at that moment, but it records our traditions for years to come, maybe for sharing with future generations of children.” 2 DECEMBER 2013 | c a p i t a l p a r e n t . c a |




PRESIDENT Michael Curran CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER Donna Neil V.P. SALES Terry Tyo 613-238-1818 ext. 268

ere’s a quick liday traditions. Th of our favourite ho y never go e on ma u is Yo te . ola ch oc rat hot ch making it from sc try Making our own to e lik u’d if yo ught again! recipe on capitalp back to store bo


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o you’re expecting a baby, what an exciting time! Soon you will be picking names, decorating the baby’s nursery and buying baby stuff. What about the car seat? This will be one of the most important items you will need for your child. According to Parachute Canada, motor vehicle collisions are the leading cause of injuryrelated deaths in Canadian children. Transport Canada states that every year about 10,000 children (from infants to 12-year-olds) are hurt or killed on the roads. However, you can reduce the risk of injury or death significantly, by as much as 75 per cent by: • Placing your child in a properly installed child car seat • Using a child car seat that is appropriate for your child’s stage of development There are three stages of children’s car seats: Stage 1, rear-facing car seats The law in Ontario states that your baby needs to be in a rear-facing car seat from birth to at least 9 kilograms (20 pounds). However, safety recommendations suggest keeping your child in a rear-facing child car seat for as long as possible. Some rear-facing child car seats are made for children that weigh up to 20 kilograms (45 pounds). Don’t worry about your child’s legs touching the back of your vehicle’s seat as long as your child is still below the weight and height limits of the child car seat. How to install your rear-facing car seat: Make sure the back of your rear-facing child car seat is at a 45-degree angle. The child car seat should not move more than 2.5 centimetres (1 inch) from side to side. Make sure the shoulder harness straps are positioned at or slightly below your baby’s shoulders. Only one finger should fit between the harness strap and your child’s collarbone. The chest clip should be at armpit level. Stage 2, forward-facing car seats The law in Ontario states that your child needs a forward-facing car seat from 9 kilograms (20 pounds) up until 18 kilograms (40 pounds). However, safety recommendations suggest keeping your child in a forward-facing child car seat for as long as possible. Some forward-

facing car seats are made for children weighing up to 30 kilograms (65 pounds). How to install your forward-facing car seat: Remember all forward-facing car seats must have the tether strap connected. The child car seat should not move more than 2.5 centimetres (1 inch) from side to side. Make sure the shoulder harness straps are positioned at or slightly above the child’s shoulders. Remember only one finger should fit between the harness strap and your child’s collarbone. The chest clip should also be at armpit level. Stage 3, booster seats The law in Ontario states that your child needs a booster seat for kids who weigh over 18 kilograms (40 pounds) until one of the following occurs: • The child reaches 8 years of age or • 36 kilograms (80 pounds) or • 145 centimetres (4 feet 9 inches) tall However, safety recommendations suggest if your child has reached one of the above three criteria, they may not be entirely ready for a seatbelt. The shoulder belt needs to rest on your child’s shoulder and not on their neck or arm. The lap belt also needs to be snug and resting on their hips. Remember, think A1Secure for every car ride; • Armpit level for harness chest clip. • 1 finger space only between harness straps and the child’s chest. • Secure car seat to vehicle according to the car seat’s user guide. Here are some other helpful tips: • Bulky snowsuits and other winter clothing can affect the tightening of your child car seat’s harness. • Do not leave loose items in your vehicle because they may hit and hurt someone during a sudden stop or crash. • Items that did not come with your child car seat may not be safe to use. • Register your child car seat with the manufacturer; if your child car seat is recalled, you will be notified.

For more detailed information about all the car seat “stages,” consult your car seat user guide and your car’s owner manual.

• Replace your child car seat, if it was in a car during a crash, if it is expired or if it is torn or damaged. • In Ottawa, failure to properly secure a child in a child car seat is a $240.00 fine and 2 demerit points. Good luck on the wonderful journey you are about to embark upon with your baby through the various child car seat stages. If you need more help with the installation of your child’s

car seat you can have it inspected by a certified technician at S.E.A.T.S. for Kids Canada ( or at Ottawa’s Safety Council’s Best Fit Program ( You can also visit for multilingual pamphlets and installation videos in various languages. If you need more information you can call the Ottawa Public Health information line at 613-580-6744.

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was the night before Christmas, and in our little house, “The kids are not sleeping,” I said to my spouse. “They’re hopped up on sugar, candy and sweets, What were we thinking, with all of those treats?

“Sure, they’re all nestled and safe in their beds, But visions of LEGO dance in their heads, The stockings hung by the (gas) fireplace with care, Hold promise of Pokemons soon to be there. “Tomorrow means waffles and a day spent in jammies, Movies and art kits and Skype calls to Grammies, They’re humming with far too much holiday feeling, We must bring them down from this dance on the ceiling.” But my husband was busy with hammer and wrench, Assembly and stickers and instructions in French, Soft swear words and vows to start early next year, (A pledge we have made many times, I’m afeared). His long winter’s nap seemed a good long way off, As he stared with a sigh at the construction standoff, So resuming his annual search for the tape, I left him to battle the gifts into shape. With a swig of courage from Santa’s soy shake, I flew up the stairs to find three kids awake. “Go to sleep,” I begged, “Or there will be no new toys, ‘Cause Santa can’t come to awake girls and boys.” “Don’t turn me into some mean old green Grinch,

Who must threaten with force of 10 pounds per square inch, I’d rather relax with a festive mixed drink, And hey, are those hooves on the roof? Yes, I think.” “We’re trying,” they claimed, though it did not seem true, With giggling and whispering and blankets askew. And I swear I heard singing, from time to time, Songs about Rudolph and jingle bell chime.

“‘Twas the night before Christmas,” I rapped with voice soothing, And the rhythm and magic soon had them all snoozing. I crept down the stairs, to my spouse called out, “Hey, Enjoy the short-lived peace while we may.” Three little sleepyheads, snug down in their covers, I’ll see them all again in just four short hours.

I thought up a story and thought it up fast, Astonishing tales of holidays past, When letters to Santa were paper, not digital, And I’d never heard of the great Christmas Pickle. Fables of times before shopping online, And ceaseless searches for parking cloud nine, When breakable ornaments our tree did festoon, Times when we slept Christmas morning ‘til noon. When “holiday time” meant two weeks in December, (Now I do all my shopping at sales in September,) But one thing remains just the same through the years, It’s family and friends and joy and good cheer. Soft-spoken stories soon did their work, And heads started nodding, and I saw a sleep jerk, “Time for the big guns,” I thought to myself, And I pulled down a book from the very top shelf. “Gather ‘round, all you ninnies,” I said with a smile, “And I’ll tell you a story of Christmas old-style.”


Starting at

Starting at








100 Laurier Street, Gatineau, QC | 819-776-7000

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he holiday season is upon us and youngsters everywhere are increasingly excited. How to best channel your kid’s energy? What could be better than heading out to a local tree farm to find the perfect Christmas tree together? There are several tree farms near Ottawa, where you can stroll about tree-plantation forests to find, cut and haul a tree to your car. Most also offer tractor- or horse-drawn sleigh or wagon rides, so you can experience an authentic farm adventure while finding your tree. Here are some destinations, including tips from the owners themselves. Check their respective websites for hours, directions, and costs.


Dave and Bronwyn Harper started planting their farmland with pine, spruce and fir in 1991. “It takes at least ten years to grow a good-sized tree,” explains Bronwyn. She notes that balsam firs remain the most popular species because they’re highly fragrant and have such soft needles. Many tree farms offer activities, not solely trees, so that your family’s experience becomes a holiday outing. Hillcrest is no exception. “This year, we added a new building where we offer hot drinks, so everyone can get cozy after choosing their tree. And, because we’ve not had much snow in recent years, we got a wagon for our horses, as well as the traditional sleigh, so unless it’s pouring, everyone can enjoy getting out with the horses,” says Bronwyn. Although their horses, Parker and Maggie, enjoy pulling the sleigh – they love it even more when kids visit them in their stable. “Kids often haven’t seen horses up close and personal, so seeing them in the barn is a highlight,” she adds. Hillcrest offers trees in a variety of shapes and sizes – and even colours (they sell Colorado blue spruce) – and wreaths as well.


Talk about a Christmas country experience! Here not only can you find a tree, you can scoot down a sliding hill, hike on trails, try tossing snowballs at a “bull’s-eye-target”, get lost and find yourself again in a hay maze, and even check out Santa’s workshop. If this doesn’t leave the kids absolutely tuckered, linger after dark to enjoy the Christmas tree lights from 6:00 p.m.-9:00 p.m. Ian Andrews wanted his farm experience to be more than just cutting a tree. “We aim to offer a memorable family outing,” says his wife Linda. “Our farm takes on a whole new feel in the evenings with the campfires burning. You can sip a free hot chocolate and take a walk down candy cane lane. This year we’ve added two 15-foot reindeer with a sleigh, which will be

great for taking pictures.” There is a small admission fee for those who want to visit but don’t actually want a tree. “For $3.00 people can enjoy what we have to offer here at the park – and meet Santa every evening from 6:00 p.m – 9:00, p.m.” says Linda.


Choose a tree, take a tractor- or horse-drawn wagon ride, then munch homemade cookies and sip hot chocolate around the fire at the sugar house. With 50 acres of trees, your family is bound to find one that’s perfectly suited. Want a wreath? Choose from many styles. The horses will be busy working on December 7, 8 and 14, 15. “Wagon rides are complimentary for our Christmas-tree customers,” says Gary Thomas. “And all tree prices are the same as last year save for balsam fir, which are $51.33 this year.” Want to know where the warmest spot on the farm is? It’s nestled in the woods, beside the bonfire! This farm has a particularly eco-friendly touch. Their helpful website is chock full of tips on how to look after your tree and how to recycle it. Do remember to bring a hand saw to the farm to cut your tree, else use one of theirs. Thomas tree farm does not permit chain saws or axes.

Ryan and Cleo Thompson, search for the perfect tree with Brody (7) and Tyler (9). PHOTOS BY KATE SETTLE


Here, elves can help you cut your tree if you wish, and Santa’s been sighted here, too, so youngsters should keep their eyes peeled for crimson-clad Father Christmas. Hop on the horse-drawn wagon which heads into the forest or go for a family stroll to find the perfect tree. At Fallowfield, the cost of your tree includes having the snow shaken from it and placed atop your vehicle. Can’t take the time to visit this year? Call ahead to place your order and your tree will be delivered to your door. QUICK TIPS FOR TREEHUNTING SUCCESS:

• Check the tree farm’s website for hours of operation as well as information related to saws. Do you have to bring your own? Find out before you get there. • Make a plan in regards to how you’re going to bring the tree home. Do you need to bring extra bungee cords? A blanket to cover the trunk of the car? A roof rack? • Wear clothing that you don’t mind getting sticky from a brush with pine pitch. The same goes for mittens and gloves! Work gloves are perfect for the tree farm. • Wear rubber boots if there’s no snow on the ground. It’s bound to be mucky! • Fill up the family thermos with hot chocolate before you head out to the farm. Your family will be grateful, and so will you!

While you’re there, why not gather some pine cones for future crafty projects?

Safety first! Fresh trees contain moisture (their needles and boughs are flexible) and represent less of a fire hazard. Remember to set them in a large, sturdy stand which contains two or more litres of water, and top it up daily to extend the tree’s colour, scent, and needle retention. Never put candles on or near a tree, and use certified CSA (Canadian Standard Association) strings of lights. For more Christmas safety tips, check



Sound advice... about trees


here are pros and cons to having a real or artificial tree. Picking out a real Christmas tree can be a lot of fun (see page 5). They smell great and can be recycled at the end of the season, but they do require some extra work in terms of regular watering and vacuuming. Artificial trees on the other hand are fairly low-maintenance (no sap, no needles), can be stored and put away with ease, and provide a cost savings over time. So where do Ottawa parents stand on the issue of Christmas trees? We turned to Facebook to see whether you preferred real trees, artificial trees, or none at all. Here’s what you said: Allison Johansen Burnett: “First Christmas at home with the kids, so we are going real this year! Can’t wait to go and cut one down! I have great memories doing this as a kid and so am excited to share the experience with my boys this year!”

winter season.” Judy Lincoln: “We do a fake tree for the easy aspect with kids, and to leave it up longer! Growing up we had one real and one fake, so both work for me.” Sara Middleton: “I grew up in the Balsam Fir Christmas Tree Growing Capital of the World. Real. Always. Unless you are very, very allergic.” Laurel Anderson: “We always get a “real” tree! We actually have a tree hunt party most years! Everyone meets in our driveway (picture an updated National Lampoon’s Christmas scene) and we drive out together, hunt for trees and head back to our house to eat, drink and be merry. We usually have lots of homemade soups, cheese trays, tourtière, homemade breads and desserts!”

Sarah Babbitt-Reznicek: “None. Might decorate my Norfolk Pine though.”

Amy Boughner: “I love a real tree. I love the tradition, the smell, all of it. We always had a real one growing up.”

Natasha Wilson: “Real trees, trimmed in the spirit of a classic Christmas. We decorate extensively inside and outside as early as midNovember. This is one of the ways we can share warm holiday spirit in an otherwise stale

Danielle Donders: “We’re recent converts to formerly live trees and I would never go back. Not only do I love the tree itself, I love the hunt for the perfect tree and the ceremony of cutting it down. I’m already excited and looking forward to this year!”

Sharon Sweetness: “Artificial for me. More affordable, less mess and my little girl and I make it a tradition to decorate it differently every year!!” Tracy Noble: ”My grandparents always had a real tree in their living room and an artificial tree in their family room. We alternate from one year to the next because my husband prefers artificial and I prefer real - this year it’s a real tree!” Mike Reynolds: “We roll with both. The real tree is the focus and where the presents live but we have a few fake trees that we decorate and place around the house.” Sabrina Sevigny-Hare: “Fake... with those ‘real tree smell’ things hanging in the tree. We tend to have a tree up for quite a long time and the real ones don’t always last that long. Maybe we’ll venture to real ones (as I grew up with real) when the kids are a bit older. I don’t have time to constantly clean up pine needles. I currently have a daycare and my own two boys and some of them put EVERYTHING in their mouths. Hmm, poop with pine needles in them?? I wonder if that would make the poop smell a little better? Now I’ve got myself thinking...”

since I was a child. Love the smell and the look and the feel of a real tree.” Loukia Zigoumis: “We used to do real, and I love real! Since having children, we switched over to fake, but it LOOKS really real, so I’m okay with that. Also: white lights on the indoor tree, coloured lights outside, because that’s what the kids want!” Amelie March: “Artificial. I find the real ones too messy and I’m paranoid about fires. The new trees with LED lights already on them are great! And one tree is plenty!” Amy McSheffrey: “Nothing beats a real tree. It’s such a great family event to go out and pick the perfect tree! And the smell of a real tree is the best smell around the holidays aside from a fresh batch of cookies.”

Joy Kelly Mills: “We always have a fresh tree,

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f you’re making your gift list and checking it twice, you might want to check the advice of expert toy testers. And no, we don’t mean the elves. Every year, over 800 children, ages 0-16, from across the National Capital Region test newly released toys for the Canadian Toy Testing Council (CTTC). “Testers put new toys through rigorous home testing to see whatworks, what doesn’t, what’s engaging and fun, and what’s worthy of wow,” explains Zaccary Dyck, who has been testing toys for 14 of his 16 years. This year, busy little testers evaluated 370 toys and 200 books. Toys that kids vote as being “wow worthy” receive CTTC awards – Children’s Choice (the best of the best), and Best Bets (top-notch toys). All tested toys also receive star ratings, which, along with tester feedback, are presented in the CTTC’s annual Toy Report. “We test toys because it’s great to see all the different toys that are out there,” says Kanata mother of two, Julie Favreau. “And we actually get to have a voice, to say what the kids enjoy versus what’s not so great.” Toys the CTTC tests are distributed to six families with kids in the toy’s target age group. Families have the toy for six to eight weeks, then return it to the Council along with a completed report on such things as safety, durability, function, and play value. “It used to be that at first glance I would think, oh this toy will be really great,” says Candace WoodsPichette, a teacher and mother of three girls in Orléans. But having tested toys for three years, she now thinks much more critically about them. She wants to be sure that whatever she purchases, whether

for her kids or for a gift for another child, will have real play value and not just end up sitting on a shelf. The motto of the CTTC is ‘learning through play’ and the small non-profit believes that children’s play is essential to their development. Executive Director Liliane Benoit also explains that the CTTC works to encourage the “design, manufacture, and distribution of toys and books sensitive to children’s needs.” “Testing toys has forced us to make time for playing,” says Westboro mom Christine Wettlaufer, whose daughter Isabel, 8, began testing toys this summer. While testing toys, the family enjoyed regular game nights and Christine appreciates those times spent together. “We love the opportunity to have a toy for just a 6-8 week testing period,” Julie says. Her kids are three years and six months old and she notes that at this age they go through toys very quickly. She says it’s great to be able to have toys that are developmentally appropriate. Monica Sullivan, whose two daughters have been testing toys for four years, likes not having to keep the toy afterward. Testing families, as well as the general public, have the opportunity to buy tested toys at discounts of 30 to 50 per cent of retail value, so if there is a toy that becomes an absolute favourite, families do have the option to purchase it. “The CTTC, through rigorous testing, helps consumers get the most bang for their buck by weeding through the vast multitudes of toys in the marketplace each year,” says Liliane. On average, Canadians spend close to $700 on gifts in the holiday

Toy tester Cole Neville, 9, shows off a toy he tested, Bloco’s Combat Dragon, which is made from pieces of pre-cut foam. PHOTO BY UNPOSED PHOTOGRAPHY/ROBIN ANDREW.

season, according to BMO’s Holiday Spending Outlook. Toys make up many of the gifts for children. “I like being able to pass on what I’ve learned about a toy to friends and family,” says Julie, “to let them know which toys work and which ones weren’t so great.” So if you want to know which toys were a hit and which ones were a bit of a miss, you can check the CTTC Toy Report at Pro tip: don’t just check the report for toys listed

under your child’s age. If you have a four year-old, there are probably toys for the 3+ crowd that will still appeal, especially if the toy is an award winner. There may also be some 5+ toys that your child will soon grow into. Interested in becoming a toy testing family? • Annual membership is $35/family • New families must attend a 2-hour training session

• Children ages 0 to 16 can participate. Children test toys targeted to their age range. • Families are guaranteed at least three toys per child during the May-August testing season, but will likely have several more. • Evaluation reports take about one hour to complete per toy. • For more info, or to apply, go to www.

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Simplifying the Season BY PAULA ROY


f there’s one thing the holidays are all about, it’s details. Trying to get each aspect of the festive season just right including gifts, decorations and entertaining can be nerve wracking and exhausting. When it comes to food, there is a better way: get professional help. We are fortunate to have an abundance of fantastic food purveyors in Ottawa – why not welcome some of their treats into your kitchen this year? Here are a few suggestions to get you started on making the holidays deliciously easy.


For over twenty years, Thyme and Again’s take home foods have enhanced parties throughout the region. Among their best sellers are several delectable pâtés including smoked salmon and stilton-port as well as a great assortment of heat-at-home appetizers such as spiced pecan and brie in phyllo or bacon, caramelized onion and cheddar in puff pastry. Epicuria on St. Laurent Boulevard has a great selection of appetizers to be served warm or cold; two of their most popular are crepes with barbequed duck and chili coconut shrimp with pineapple lime salsa.


Tulips and Maple offer both a traditional cheese platter featuring classic favourites, complemented by a blue cheese and poached pear spread, grapes and baguette as well as an artisanal cheese showcase platter with several of Ontario and Quebec’s finest cheeses, accompanied by a housemade compote or jelly, fresh fruit and baguette. The House of Cheese in the ByWard Market is a favourite among embassy chefs thanks to its incredible selection and expert advice. They can

prepare cheese trays in a wide range of styles and prices, using imported or local cheeses, along with a huge assortment of crackers, jellies and more to enhance your platter.


Having someone else prepare the side dishes – sometimes among the most labour intensive elements of your meal – is a great time saver. Visit Gladstone Avenue’s The Red Apron for all sorts of delicious dishes, from the traditional to the creative, including organic quinoa with black beans, sweet potato, cranberries, mushrooms, spinach and walnuts or a lentil, tofu and roasted vegetable ragout. Pick up some tasty, house-made condiments to spice up any holiday menu at Richard’s Hintonburg Kitchen.


There are quite a few spots around town that offer complete take-home holiday meals, whether you fancy turkey, roast beef, glazed ham or roast pork. NEXT in Stittsville serves up a full menu including roasted freerange turkey with a root vegetable and brown butter sage stuffing, olive oil and horseradish mashed potatoes, green beans and glazed carrots, along with chef Blackie’s delicious star anise and orange cranberry compote and seasoned gravy; extra side dishes and dessert options are available too. Le Café at the NAC similarly prepares hundreds of meals with a variety of desserts and sides including rosemary and pear stuffing, gravy, three vegetable dishes plus citrus, cranberry and ginger compote. Cuisine & Passion in Orleans has an à la carte menu, ideal for those looking for just the turkey – even half a turkey, if you prefer – and their version is marinated, plus it comes with apricot and bread stuffing as well as gravy.


Freezing a stash of homemade cookies and squares on hand for the holidays

is always a good idea. Second Avenue Sweets in the Glebe uses local butter and cream to make many different sweets; among their best sellers are pecan squares and lemon squares. Top of the Hill Bakery in Orleans draws customers from all over Eastern Ontario thanks to the calibre of all its goodies. For the holiday season, they’ll be baking up hundreds of gingersnaps and shortbread cookies, but don’t forget to grab some of their decadent, chewy triple chocolate cookies too. For vegan treats, check out Centretown’s Auntie Loo’s – the peanut butter and jam bars are outstanding, as are the Queen Elizabeth cake squares.


Having a few hostess gifts on hand for the holidays is always a good idea. For unique, top quality chocolates, head to JoJoCoCo in Kanata where you’ll find locally-made koko truffles, SOMA artisan chocolates from Toronto and the fun, tasty line of Newfoundland Chocolate Company gourmet chocolate bars. For savoury gifts, La Bottega Nicastro in the ByWard Market has a huge selection of balsamics, olive oils and other gourmet products, or you can visit Culinary Conspiracy in the Trainyards for house-made artisan chutneys, jams, barbeque sauces, spice rubs and more.


Wondering what to feed those with dietary restrictions over the holidays? Make a quick trip to The Table vegetarian restaurant’s new gourmet grocery shop, dubbed The Table at Home, and pick up a selection of their delicious freezer-to-oven prepared foods. Choices include fresh frozen soups, gourmet gluten free pizzas, quiches, fruit pies, lasagnas, tourtières and much more, with vegan items available too.

Stressing out about cooking the turkey? Leave the work to someone else this year!

‘Tis the season…to delegate! Thyme and Again - Epicuria - Tulips and Maple - The House of Cheese - The Red Apron - Richard’s Hintonburg Kitchen - NEXT - Le Café at the NAC - Cuisine & Passion - Second Avenue Sweets - Top of the Hill Bakery - Auntie Loo’s - JoJoCoCo - La Bottega Nicastro - Culinary Conspiracy - The Table -

s! e i t r a p y a d h t r i b We do 1255 Wellington Street West


8 DECEMBER 2013 | c a p i t a l p a r e n t . c a |

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here is something about the holidays that brings out the crafter in almost everyone. “I have good memories of doing Christmas crafts with my mom,” says Michelle Perry. She now enjoys doing homemade crafts with her seven-year old daughter Véla each holiday season. “It’s a nice family thing to do together.” “Crafting is sentimental,” agrees her sister and mother of two, Megan Perry. “It’s tradition.” If you find the idea of crafting more overwhelming then nostalgic, don’t worry! Here are some easy ideas that don’t need a lot of advance preparation and are suitable for children as young as three.


There is the ubiquitous cut-out snowflake, a simple craft that is sure to please. “We make a lot of paper snowflakes,” says Westboro mother of two, Rebecca Maguire. “My kids are entertained by that for hours.” But if you’re looking for ways to add something new to this classic craft, here a few things to try: • Add sparkle with glitter and glue-on gems • Make small snowflakes and glue them to blue card stock to make handmade cards.


Go for a walk where there are lots of trees and have your kids hunt for nicely shaped pinecones and acorns. Decorate

the pinecone scales with glitter glue and use a glue gun to attach a bright ribbon loop to the top. You can also paint the acorns in festive colours and display them in a pretty jar, or, if you’re really talented, draw miniature elfin faces on each one. Glue a loop of golden thread to the top. These colourful little ornaments make perfect gifts for teachers and caregivers and look lovely hanging on the tree or decorating the mantel.


There’s another ornament craft which allows kids to really get their hands messy. Find some plain Christmas ornament balls (blue works nicely, and you can find them at most dollar stores), and have the kids dip their thumbs in white paint and make thumbprint snowmen. Once the paint is dry, use markers or coloured paints to add eyes, noses, mouths, and accessories like hats and scarves to complete the scene. These little thumbprint snowmen also work really well for DIY holiday cards. Four-year-old Miya Nagaraj tried this craft and had fun making a whole family of little snowpeople and then adding lots of dots of white to fill the sky with snowflakes. Kids can also make rows of colourful thumbprints – then connect them together with a black line to make it look like a string of Christmas lights. These unique cards are perfect for sending to friends and family over the holidays.

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Simply dip your thumb in white paint and press it onto blue cardstock to create little thumbprint snowmen. Use markers or paint to dress them up and you have a hand-made card that’s sure to bring a smile to whomever receives it.


For another easy craft, use Christmas cookie cutters to trace outlines on felt. Cut out the same shape in two different colours of felt. Glue the pieces together with a looped ribbon sandwiched in between for a simple, yet attractive, ornament. Young children will enjoy embellishing these with glitter glue, while older ones might enjoy sewing on buttons. or trying some simple decorative stitches with embroidery thread. For another colourful ornament idea, take small Styrofoam balls and small patches of brightly coloured fabric. Glue the fabric onto the ball, making sure the pieces overlap and that every bit of Styrofoam is covered. Add another layer of watered-

down glue to seal everything in place. Have an adult use a glue gun to secure a ribbon at the top, or criss-cross ribbons around the ball to support the weight when it’s hung. Young children will also enjoy threading red and green buttons or beads on green pipe cleaners to make simple wreaths. Add a red ribbon on the top for a finishing touch. Grandparents will be proud to decorate their tree with these handmade decorations. Don’t forget to put your child’s name and the year on each ornament, as it is likely to become a treasured keepsake. And years from now, your kids may have their own nostalgic moments as they recall making Christmas crafts each holiday and pass on their family traditions.

Véla Furlong-Perry (7), makes thumbprint snowmen on a blue tree ornament – a quick and easy craft that is guaranteed to look unique and festive. PHOTO BY ANITA GRACE

Did you know that Capital Parent is on Pinterest? Follow us at capitalparent/ for more fun holiday craft ideas, kid-friendly activities, recipes, and more.

This holiday season give gift cards for LOCAL unique businesses via .ca Share Meaningful Acts of Kindness & Karma convenient :: meaningful :: personal



Do some Santa spotting!


anta loves to visit different parts of Ottawa before the big day. Whether you pay him and his elves a special visit at the mall or just wave to him while he’s on a parade float, it makes for a great family tradition.


Hazeldean Mall/Kanata Hazeldean Lions Club Santa Claus Parade Saturday November 16, starting at 10:00 a.m. The parade will start on the corner of Castlefrank and Terry Fox, head down Castlefrank, turn on to Abbeyhill Drive, and end at the Hazeldean Mall. Families will see a variety of community groups, non-profit organizations and businesses coming together in support of the Kanata Food Cupboard. This year’s parade will feature live bands, community floats, Spartacat, Puck (the Ottawa 67’s mascot), cheerleaders, firefighters and of course, Santa! OTTAWA

The 44th Annual Help Santa

Toy Parade ( Saturday November 23, starting at 11:00 a.m. Note the time change: the Help Santa Toy Parade doesn’t take place at night anymore. The route starts on Wellington just east of Parliament Hill near the National Archives, goes down Bank Street, and continues west along Laurier Avenue. Bring some toys – and some spare loonies – to donate to kids in need. Members of the Ottawa Firefighters will be collecting them along the route. ORLEANS

Santa’s Parade of Lights ( Saturday November 30, starting at 6:00 p.m. Santa’s Parade of Lights takes place on St. Joseph Blvd., (Youville Drive to Prestone Drive). Meet your friends and neighbours as you enjoy the sounds and sights of the parade! Toy and cash donations will be collected by firefighters along the route.


Barrhaven Lions Santa Parade ( Sunday December 1, starting at 5:30 p.m. This volunteer-run parade sees entries including elaborate floats, marching bands, entertainers and costumed characters, all lit up to the delight of 30,000 spectators. The parade begins at Beatrice Drive and Strandherd and now ends at the corner of Strandherd and the Park n’ Ride. Do note that there’ll be a variety of local food vendors along the parade route. Families are encouraged to bring non-perishable food items or cash donations for the needy, which will be collected along the route.


Santa returns to Bayshore on Sunday November 17 from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. There will be free photos with Santa all day to celebrate! CARLINGWOOD

Centre Court in front of People’s Jewellers. He’ll be there on Friday, November 15 and every day after that until December 24. Check the Carlingwood website ( for visiting hours. RIDEAU CENTRE

What’s on your wish list? Santa’s visits to the Rideau Centre begin on Saturday, November 16 and run each Saturday and Sunday until Sunday, December 22. ST. LAURENT CENTRE

Visit Santa and his friends at the Root Court at St. Laurent Centre starting on Saturday November 16 from 11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. There’ll be jolly music and fun for all. PLACE D’ORLEANS

Santa’s visits to Place D’Orleans start on November 18 and run daily until December 24. Check the website (www.placedorleans. com) for his exact schedule. You won’t want to miss him!

Visit Santa at Carlingwood in the

Pro tipS: Mall bound? Plan your visits around offpeak hours to avoid crowds and potential melt-downs. If you’re having photos taken with the big guy, make sure the kids are wearing a nice outfit that isn’t too scratchy or uncomfortable. No pinchy shoes either! And don’t forget to bring your letters to Santa. Heading to a parade? Bundle up, wear sturdy boots, pack a thermos of hot chocolate and a stash of Christmas cookies along with your charitable donation. This might also be a good time to bring hand and boot warmers.

A Christmas village of lights right here in Ottawa!

Preschool, Kindergarten, Elementary Grades Preschool, Kindergarten, Elementary Grades Before & after school supervisionElementary Grades To register or arrange a school Preschool, Kindergarten, BeforeFrench & after school supervision Extended program tour, please call or emailTo register or arrang Before & after school supervision Independent, school Extendednon-profit Frenchco-ed program Extended French program tour, please call or e Extracurricular programs including: skating, gymnastics, dance, science, jiu jitsu & violin co-ed school Independent, non-profit Extracurricular programs including: skating, gymnastics, Low student-to-teacher ratio Extracurricular programs including: skating, gymnastics, dance, science, jiu jitsu & violin Advanced preschool literacy program dance, science, jiu jitsu & violin Diverse international student community Low student-to-teacher ratio principal@fernhillo Low student-to-teacher 50 Vaughan Street, Flexible full & half day programsratio Advanced preschool literacy program Ottawa, ON K1M 1X1www.fernhillott Enriched curriculum: Music,literacy Art, IT, French, Spanish Advanced preschool program



Diverse international student community Diverse international student community Flexible full & half day programs Flexible full & half day programs Enrichedcurriculum: curriculum: Music, Art, IT, French, Enriched Music, Art, IT, French, SpanishSpanish

Illumination Ceremony - Saturday, November 30, 5 p.m. Every Friday, Saturday and Sunday from Nov. 30 to Dec. 22

Select spaces available at the Grade School level for the 2013-2014 schoolGrades year. Preschool, Kindergarten, Elementary

To register or arrange a school tour, please call or email

Before & after school supervision

To register arrange a school 50 Vaughan Street, Ottawa,orON K1M 1X1

Cumberland Heritage Village Museum 613-833-3059 ext. 221 10 DECEMBER 2013 | c a p i t a l p a r e n t . c a |


$7 per person / $18 per family

50 Vaughan Stree Ottawa, ON K1M

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tour, please call or email


Parenting blogs we love: Coffee with Julie BY LYNN JATANIA


ulie Harrison of Coffee With Julie ( is like a lifestyle detective. She’s always on the case, looking for the next fantastic family vacation, the next delicious family dinner, or the best new eco-friendly products for your home. She’s completely open to new experiences, new thoughts, and new adventures, and her blog is the top place to go for ideas on how to make your family life - in a word - better. With two young kids, Julie still finds time to travel, both with and without her family. She’s got all the tips on how to make travel fun and easy with children, from staycation spots like Gatineau Park to farther destinations like New York City. This summer, she dared to explore the Northwest Territories during a multi-day camping/fishing canoe trip; her series was inspirational both for the gorgeous scenery and the spirit of adventure involved. Even if you’re not up for a trip to the great white north (and there were times when Julie herself was wondering what she was thinking), reading her reports can inspire you to be brave and seek out new experiences for yourself.

Recently, Julie’s been on a tear to find new eco-friendly products for her home, specifically in the realm of personal care and makeup. She’s doing all the legwork for us, trying out different products and reporting back, while we just get to sit back and reap the benefits. She makes it almost inexcusably easy to join in her quest to make the world better for herself, her family, and future generations. And that’s just barely scratching the surface of her great content. At any point you might find thoughtful discussions of parenting issues, hilarious digs at getting older, fast and easy dinner recipes, interior design insights, or even the occasional high-quality giveaway. Add in her friendly, easy-going, chatty tone, and you’ll soon find yourself pulling up a chair for a regular cup of coffee with Julie.

Noteable Quotes

“I’m always trying to encourage my children to try something new. Whether it’s a new food or an

activity, I want them to have these opportunities. I don’t expect them to like everything they try, but I believe that the simple act of trying has value in and of itself. I don’t think I’m unique here. I think most parents feel the same way. And yet, as parents, are we modelling this kind of behaviour to our children? Are we trying new foods? Or we pushing our comfort zone and trying a new activity? Change is hard because it’s uncomfortable. I also find that, for me, it takes more time and energy than just doing the same old thing. And as parents we tend to be low on time and energy. So it’s really not surprising that we tend to fall into a cycle of doing the same types of things day in and day out. But if I’d like, for example, my son to ‘put himself out there,’ and try out for a school team, shouldn’t I be able to confidently point to a time when I recently did the same?”

Meet Julie Harrison from Coffee with Julie. PHOTO BY CL BUCHANAN PHOTOGRAPHY

DECEMBER 2013 11

Top toy picks BY ANITA GRACE


he Canadian Toy Testing C o u n c i l (CTTC) sent out 370 toys this year to be tested by children ages 0-14 across the National Capital Region. All of these toys were evaluated for criteria like play value, durability, design and safety. Feedback from testers is summarized in the Toy Report 2014 and also used to identify which toys are the best of the best – Children’s Choice and Best Bets.

HERE ARE 10 TOYS THAT GOT TOP MARKS FROM TOY TESTERS: The Fisher-Price Little People Disney Klip Klop Stable playset was deemed an absolute delight for princess and pony-loving tots ages 1.5 and up. They loved that the two little horses actually “klip klop” down ramps between castle towers. This pretty-in-pink toy won a Children’s Choice Award. Battat’s colourful Critter Clinic won a Children’s Choice Award for kids ages 2-6. The little animal hospital has vet tools, cubbies for sick pets, and two cute stuffies to nurse back to health. Robot Invasion, from Montreal’s Bloco, also won a Children’s Choice Award. Kids ages 4-10 loved using the 200 foam pieces to make imaginative stand-alone sci-fi creatures. Endless potential for play since pieces can easily be taken apart and reassembled into new creations. Perfect for winter fun, the Zipfy Freestyle Mini Luge is a sturdy, innovative sled with a large handle in the middle. Kids ages 5 and up (or anyone weighing anywhere from 40 and 250 pounds) can use it to zoom down hills, make curves, and even do jumps. Winner of a Best Bet Award. Spot It! Basic French and Spot It! Basic

English both won Best Bet Awards for being fun, easy-to-play games that are educational to boot. Each of the 55 round cards in the compact tin case has one matching symbol with any other card: could be word–word, word– picture, or picture–picture. Any child with basic reading skills can play. Best for ages 6+. The Bigmouth Beaver Project Kit won a Best Bet award for ages 7+. Using Canadian clay and an instructional DVD, kids can make two cute clay beavers with wide-open mouths. Snap Circuits Light won a Children’s Choice Award for being a fascinating and educational activity for ages 8+ (and especially for those studying electricity in Grade 6). With over 55 parts, kids can build more than 175 projects that offer hands-on explorations of light circuitry. Make Clay Charms, also for the 8+ group, won a Children’s Choice Award. Follow the easy-to-read instructions or use your own imagination to make cute and colourful clay charms to attach to the included bracelet. This kit provides hours of creative entertainment as well as attractive end products. Match pictures to witty captions in the humourous game of PicWits, Best Bet Award winner for ages 9+. The game comes with more than 500 weird and unusual pictures and 144 caption cards. Best played with more than four players, this game would be great for family holiday gatherings. For kids over 12, there are two model kits for building functioning catapults which also won Children’s Choice awards: Medieval Siege Tower with Catapult and the Leonardo da Vinci Catapult. Both of these kits have quality, pre-cut wooden pieces and great instructions. The complete list of award-winning and tested toys can be found at the CTTC website:

Toy testers hang out on the Zipfy Freestyle Mini Luges, one of CTTC’s Best Bet Award winning toys of the year. The girls in front are (from left) Sarah, Rebekah and Emma Tustian. Joshua Tustian (left) and Lucca Dyck are in behind. PHOTO BY UNPOSED PHOTOGRAPHY/ROBIN ANDREW.


(in the Glebe shopping district)

mr s 12 DECEMBER 2013 | c a p i t a l p a r e n t . c a |

613-234-3836 Bayshore Shopping Centre 100 Bayshore Drive 613-721-0549 Rideau Shopping Centre 50 Rideau Street 613-230-8081 Place D’Orleans 110 Place D’Orleans Blvd 613-834-8988 315 Richmond Road

New this Fall: Floral Design Workshop for all ages

(in the Westboro shopping district)

Check party dates, details & availability online!

Dovercourt Recreation Centre



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top 5 books


1 T

here’s no better time to give and read books together as a family. This month the Youth Collection Development team at the Ottawa Public Library share some special books that are ideal for holiday giving.

The Night Before Christmas by Clement Clarke Moore, illustrated by Barbara Reid (Ages 3-8)

There are many different illustrated versions of this famous poem. Canadian illustrator Barbara Reid has created a fresh, stunning treatment with her plasticine art. A delightful family of mice are the focus and children will pore over every detail of their adventure. It’s a new Canadian classic which would make a lovely addition under the tree.


Mr. Tiger Goes Wild, by Peter Brown (Ages 3-5) Mr. Tiger lives a very predictable life, until the


day he decides to “go wild”. Ridding himself of clothes, he moves to the wilderness, makes lots of noise, and learns to have fun. The only problem is that he misses his friends. This book is a tribute to individuality and friendship.

St. Martin‛s Nursery School Established 1964

2120 Prince Charles Road

1 Block North of Carlingwood Shopping Centre

 ECE or Equivalent teachers  Stimulating spacious educational environment  Enriched variety of learning centres integrating Music, Art and Gym  2, 3 and 5 morning programs and 3 afternoon programs for children 2 1/2 to 5  Kindergarten Program for 4 year olds

Register now for 2013/2014 School Year For information call (613) 722-7500

Flora and Ulysses: The illuminated Adventures, by Kate DiCamillo (Ages 8-12)

After rescuing a squirrel, 10-year-old Flora finds herself caught up in a series of zany adventures. With Ulysses perched on her shoulder, and new friend William Spivey by her side, Flora faces down her demons. DiCamillo has created an unforgettable set of characters, and the comic-style illustrations are a welcome addition to this book.


The Screaming Staircase (Lockwood and Co.), by Jonathan Stroud (Ages 11 -13)

This is the first book in a new series featuring the ghost trapping trio of Lockwood and Co. Lucy, Anthony, and George apply their special abilities to face down a ghost in Combe Carey Hall, “the most haunted private house in England.”


The Animal Book: a collection of the fastest, fiercest, cleverest, shyest—and most surprising—animals on earth, by Steve Jenkins (Ages 8-12)

Critics are hailing this as Jenkins’s finest book yet, and we agree! Jenkins combines his love of animals with his trademark cut-and-torn paper art to introduce the animal kingdom to children. Divided into seven chapters, children will discover amazing facts about all kinds of creatures.

DECEMBER 2013 13


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Greg, Celine, Gavin (11) & Nolan (10)

live in the Hunt Club area of Ottawa. All four members of the family really enjoy winter sports. They’re actively involved in hockey and are also looking forward to the beginning of ski season! C’mon winter! Bring the snow!



family snaps

We’d like to see your BEST family photos! Submit your favourites and you might see one or two in a future issue. For more details go to

Opportunities are usually disguised as hard work, so most people don’t recognize them. - Ann Landers

Our family calendar The Sound of Music

December 3 - 28 The hills are aliiiiiiive…. at the National Arts Centre. The Sound of Music is sure to be one of your family’s favourite things this holiday season (aside from brown paper packages tied up with string of course). This special live production includes some of the most memorable tunes of all time including “My Favorite Things,” “Do-Re-Mi” and “So Long, Farewell.” It’s good musical fun for all ages, and audience participation is welcome. For ticket information go to

Alight at Night

December 6 – January 4 Imagine Upper Canada Village decorated with a million twinkling lights! Bundle up and take a stroll around a quiet and peaceful pioneer village, or hop on a horsedrawn wagon that jingles as it makes its rounds. Holiday music, festive treats, holiday shopping and a trip on their “toy train” await







winter tobogg holiday eggno fruitca blizzar solstic snowm skating icicle


editor ’s


in this wintery wonderland. You can also have lunch with Santa! For more information go to

7th Annual Ottawa International Children’s Festival Holiday Fundraiser

December 7 There’s going to be a great holiday event for kids and parents alike at the Ottawa Little Theatre. This year, the festival will be presenting “A Charlie Brown Christmas” featuring excerpts from the original Emmy Award-Winning television classic accompanied by the original score performed by Canadian drummer/composer Jerry Granelli and his band. There will be two performances for this holiday family event; one at 12:30 p.m. (featuring The Goulbourn Junior Jubilee Singers) and one at 3:00 p.m. (featuring The Cross Town Youth Chorus). Tickets can be purchased in person at the office, over the phone, or

online at

The Mayor’s 13 Annual Christmas Celebration

December 7 This fun holiday event will take place at City Hall from 3:00 p.m. - 7:00 p.m. There’ll be ice skating on the Rink of Dreams, hot chocolate, marshmallows and horse-drawn wagon rides. Inside, kids can meet Santa and Mrs. Claus, decorate cookies, and enjoy live performances. Admission to this sponsored event is a non-perishable food donation to the Ottawa Food Bank. OC Transpo will offer free bus rides on all routes to and from City Hall from 2:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. to children 11 years and under when accompanied by a fare-paying adult.

The Nutcracker

December 16 and 17 The Nutcracker is a holiday tradition for many families, and the performance that’s

taking place at Shenkman Arts Centre is a little more Canadian than most. Ballet Jörgen rendition of The Nutcracker, A Canadian Tradition is the same story and delightful music, but with lots more Canadiana added in to the mix. Watch as scenes from the Group of Seven come alive with snowflakes, beavers, dragonflies, squirrels and other creatures in this uniquely Canadian holiday tradition. For ticket information go to

We want to hear from you! Do you know of an event that Capital Parents would like to hear about? Submit your information to DECEMBER 2013 15


NOVEMBER 23&24, 2013

EY CENTRE 4899 Uplands Dr., Ottawa • Advice From The Experts • Meet Former NHLers • Fun For The Whole Family • Entertaining Interviews • Trivia With Liam Maguire • Educational Symposium


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Capital Parent December 2013  

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