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Experts Dish

On Dining With The Kids


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Experts dish on dining with kids BY PAULA ROY


on’t be surprised to see celebrated Ottawa ply having high chairs isn’t enough to encourage restaurateur Stephen Beckta giving a families to visit. Stephen’s wife Maureen and son stranger’s baby a cuddle and a kitchen Seanan, 7, packed tool boxes for a variety of ages, tour. To him, making families – particularly those loaded with crayons, puzzles and other toys to with young children – feel at ease in one of his amuse young diners. All Beckta restaurants are restaurants is no big deal. designed with lots of cozy nooks which are ideal “It is the essence of hospitality,” says Stephen. for family dining. Stephen firmly believes that “If I can jiggle someone’s baby on my shoulder people – especially kids – want to feel safe when for a few minutes so they can enjoy their meal, I trying something new. It’s also not uncommon won’t hesitate. It’s my job to care for people and to have the chef at any Beckta restaurant come ensure guests can have a great experience with us. out for a tableside visit to find out what a child Whether it’s at Beckta, Play or Gezellig, kids are enjoys, then craft a corresponding dish that will always welcome.” appeal to them. Teaching children how to be pleasant patrons “We have incorporated a lot of family-friendcan only happen if we take the time to expose ly elements into our restaurant, because we know them to nice restaurants, notes Steve Wall, what it’s like to be out with kids,” says Jen. “Our chef/co-owner of Supply and daughter Kinley is four and Demand Foods. “Parents need “When parents are like most kids, she’s happy to to have a night out so whata colouring book and relaxed, so are their receive ever we can do to make it hapcrayons as soon as she sits kids.” pier for their family, we’ll do it. down, so we have those on Really, it’s not unlike accomhand at Supply and Demand. modating any other food preferences, as we do We’ve also got placemats with dribble trays and all the time for vegetarians and vegans. While it’s have included a large table in the ladies’ room for always fun to see young kids who are adventure- those who need a change station.” some and want to try new foods, I’m perfectly Stephen’s biggest advice is simple: relax. fine with sending out a bowl of pasta with but- “When parents are relaxed, so are their kids. If ter if that’s what works. We’ll also provide little you are anxious about how your child is going to samples of different foods so kids can have a taste behave, they’ll pick up on that. “The more a child before deciding what to order.” learns how the restaurant experience works, the His wife Jen Wall, who has many years of more they will enjoy it and come to appreciate front-of-house experience, shares Steve’s phi- good food.” losophy. “We try to make it fun for children to Seanan Beckta, who’s always been an advenlearn about food. For example, I’ll tell them we turesome diner, is a case in point. “He loves going have great cheese balls – my [daughter’s] name out to eat; right now he’s fond of Absinthe, where for gnudi – on the menu, and that makes the dish he likes the steak frites and mushrooms on toast. more appealing to kids.” Allium, another favourite, serves up the only Jen says there are a few simple things parents green salad in town he’ll touch – because of the can keep in mind when dining with children. honey-lime dressing. When we go out, we read “For example, if they are old enough to sit on a the menu to him, point out dishes he might like, stool, many kids really enjoy the interactiveness then he gets to choose.” of dining at the bar. It gives them someone else to The Walls are quick to praise a number of talk to and keeps them distracted.” other local restaurants they find to be particuThe Walls and Stephen Beckta are among a larly family-friendly, including Union 613, the growing group of local restaurateurs who are Manx Pub, Tennessy Willems, town and Oz Kafé. themselves parents of young children, so they “We also like going to Art-is-in and have really know the experience of family dining from both enjoyed bringing our daughter to Mariposa Farm sides of the table. Their empathy is shared by for brunch. The atmosphere there is so great and many of their staff who are also parents. it’s important to bring kids to a farm so they can Savvy restaurateurs know that these days sim- understand where food comes from.”

Jen and Steve Wall, co-owners of Supply and Demand Foods with Kinley (4) PHOTOS : MARK HOLLERON

The bottom line when dining with children, according to Stephen, is to ask for what will make you and your child happy. “Don’t worry if your kids misbehave for a minute or two. In my experience, it is very rare to have another patron

complain about kids. Everyone loves seeing families dining out together.” TURN TO PAGE 6 for Jen’s Tuna Melt Recipe

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1335 Carling Ave., Suite 313 (beside Westgate at the Qwy.) Tel.: 613.722.0233 • Fax: 613.722.0719 w w w . c a p i t a l p a r e n t . c a | APRIL 2013 3

From The Editor



Andrea Tomkins

Follow us at: @capitalparent

arenting is one of the toughest jobs around. It is rewarding and challenging, and can leave parents so worn out they have little energy left for themselves. So when it’s time to grab a bite to eat, it’s no wonder that many families hit the drive-thru. It’s cheap, and it’s easy, and best of all, there are no dishes to wash. But there are other options. Have you ever taken your toddler out to a restaurant that has silverware and linen on the table instead of crayons and paper placemats? This is the idea we’re exploring in Capital Parent this month. It might seem overwhelming, and as you’re sitting there surrounded by a pile of shredded napkins you may wonder what possessed you to bother trying, but taking your kids out to dinner is well worth the effort. One of the best things my husband Mark and I did as parents was to regularly take our daughters out to eat when they were toddlers. We started simple, with breakfast at our local diner. It’s fast, cheap, the coffee flows freely, and there’s always something on the menu for everyone. We also used our restaurant outings as a way to socialize with other families. We got smart and started making “dates” with families that had children of similiar ages. It was a great way for the kids to get together, brush up on their restaurant manners, and for the parents to feel like they’re getting out of the house.

Parenting Blogs We Love: A Little Bit of Momsense


uthor Rebecca Stanisic describes her blog as “a little bit of everything.” A Little Bit of Momsense ( is indeed a hodge podge of parenting life, part of the reason we enjoy our visits so much. We don’t know what will greet us when we click through, but we do know that it will be meaningful and relevant to Ottawa and the parenting space in which we live. Rebecca’s posts are often about being a mother in Ottawa. She also shares crafty projects she’s undertaken with her two young kids, shopping deals, family travel ideas, and more. Rebecca likes to cook and bake with her kids, and her tried-and-true recipes are worth bookmarking - there’s a recent one for homemade ranch-style dressing we really like. Serving up a hot dinner every night isn’t easy, and the recipes she shares are healthy, filling, and family friendly. We think you might like them too! 4 APRIL 2013 | w w w . c a p i t a l p a r e n t . c a

This month, regular CP contributor Paula Roy asked some local restauranteurs – who also happen to be parents - to get their take on dining out with young kids. Etiquette expert Cecilia Pita shares some of her top sanity-saving tips in regards to the fine art of table manners. And last but not least, we asked you - our fellow Capital Parents - what restaurants you frequent with your children. The answers may surprise you!

Thanks for reading,

PUBLISHER Mark Sutcliffe EDITOR Andrea Tomkins 613-238-1818 ext. 279 CONTRIBUTORS Lynn Jatania Cecilia Pita • Paula Roy Ottawa Public Library


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editor ’s


Noteable Quotes “Andy and I have had our family trip booked to PEI this summer since August. Almost a month after we returned from our trip last year, we booked again, this time for two weeks. Now you may think I’m crazy for even bringing this up, but seriously, not a day goes by when we don’t talk about it. It’s not as though it’s some magical portal that transfers us into a non-tantrum, nosibling-fighting universe – but holy cow, there is a touch of magic to how we all end up feeling when we are there. Is it because we are together, just the four of us? And the kids have so much extra attention? Is it because the food is amazing and often not cooked by me? Because the chores and work are typically

minimal and when possible left in Ontario? Why does the pace feel so different? Maybe it is a magical place. We are so excited, and I guess it’s good to have something to look forward to.   But I’m daydreaming a little too often about it now… is it the place I’m thinking of, or the pace?  Whatever the case, none of us can wait.”

Check out the growing list of our favourite Ottawa-area parenting blogs at Do you have one to suggest? Send an email to

V.P. SALES Terry Tyo 613-238-1818 ext. 268





he other day I was running a bath for my five-year-old daughter, and she excitedly jumped in without going to the potty. She usually pees first, so I asked her if she needed to go, and she said no. Then I went to get her jammies, and when I got back, she was still in the tub, but crouched down in a funny kind of way, with one of our blue plastic rinsing-off cups held between her legs. The cup was mysteriously filling with yellowish foamy liquid. Me: What are you doing? Her: NOTHING. Me: Are you…peeing? Her: NO. Me: I can SEE you peeing. Her: IT’S JUST YELLOW WATER. I don’t know where it came from! Me: Okaaaaay. After I’d taken the cup from her, dumped it in the toilet, sterilized it with boiling water and bleach, and sterilized myself with boiling water and bleach, it was time for a chat about honesty. As my good friend William Joel would say, it’s such a lonely word. It’s not the first time we’ve had this little

talk. My youngest is still at an age where the times, mommies and daddies need the nontruth is a fluid sort of concept. She’ll lie mostly fiction version. We need to know when they’re because she’s afraid of getting in trouble, and I in trouble, to prevent it from getting worse. have trouble punishing her for that, because I Imagination is wonderful, but it’s the real world totally get it. I mean, who can know what kind facts that help us build trust for those times when of crazy penance awaits you for peeing into a cup we really need it. in the bathtub? That’s a black hole of unknown It’s a process. The other day my middle daughpossibilities. Surely it will all go away if you just ter was reading a book entitled, “Boy Saves Earth deny, deny, deny – didn’t we all From Giant Octopus,” then learn that from my good friend “My youngest is still at asked me, “Mom, is this book William Clinton? fiction or non-fiction?” Seems Her other form of lying an age where the truth like it might be time for a little is creative storytelling. She’s is a fluid sort of con- chat about the laws of physics. constantly trying to convince It’s no wonder the kids are cept. She’ll lie mostly confused, us that her teacher – surely a as they do get conbecause she’s afraid flicting information on this relative of Miss Frizzle – takes her class on weekly field trips They’re not supposed to of getting in trouble, issue. to all sorts of wild destinatell other kids when they’ve and I have trouble tions, including the local pool, been invited to a birthday party. a dude ranch, and the moon. punishing her for that, They’re supposed to keep their Meanwhile, her teacher was lips zipped about mommy’s real surprised to hear recently that because I totally get it.” hair colour. They’re expected to her father doesn’t actually go affect a foreign accent (mixed to work; instead, he apparently spends his days origin acceptable) when telling telemarketers that going to birthday parties of the rich and famous. no one here speaks English. (Good thing we all enjoy leftover cake for dinner, And although I really try to be as honest with and the swag covers our heating bill.) the kids as possible in all situations, I occasionSo lately we’ve been trying to talk to the kids ally find it hard to set a good example. There’s the about “fiction” versus “non-fiction.” Stories that Santa and Tooth Fairy situation, which is a grey are pure invention, dreams, or fantastic wishes area for me. There’s all those times I “gave away” are fiction, and oh boy, Fiction Is Fun! But some- a broken or babyish toy to a “cousin” when really,

they uh, ended up elsewhere. There’s the time my youngest asked me what “making love” meant, and I softballed it by saying “showing physical affection for someone you love,” then prayed she wouldn’t use the term at preschool while hugging her classmates. In the end, I guess we’re all working on honesty – and I’m not too worried about the children figuring it out, as all kids go through this stage. As my good friend William Cosby says: “There is not an agent in the CIA or the KGB who knows how to conceal the theft of food, how to fake being asleep, or how to forge a parent’s signature like a child.” Hang on – forge a parent’s signature? I’m so very unprepared for the teen years.

Lessons learned: 1. Although lying is not good, having your kid collect her pee in cup, rather than just letting fly into the clean bathwater, is actually not a bad thing. 2. It’s kind of nice to think that our kids still live in a world where a boy may actually save the earth from a giant octopus. 3. As my good friend William Shakespeare once said, honesty is the best policy – for parents and kids alike.

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Jen Wall’s Tasty Tuna Melts

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s befits the Supply and Demand menu which emphasizes the freshest fare from the sea, Jen says this quick meal is one of her fouryear-old daughter’s favourites at home. She says that Montrealstyle bagels are ideal, but English muffins are a nice base also, particularly for kids who like small portions.

• • • • • • •

2 bagels, cut in half 2 cans (6oz each) of tuna, drained 1/4 cup mayonnaise 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard 2 green onions, minced  1 apple, cored & thinly sliced  Grated or sliced sharp cheddar to melt on top

In a bowl, combine tuna, mayonnaise, Dijon and green onions. Spread one quarter of the mixture on each bagel half. Top with apple slices and then cheese (or reverse it and put the apples on top of the cheese). Bake at 375F for about 3 - 5 minutes so the tuna heats through, then broil for 2 – 3 minutes until cheese is nicely melted and beginning to bubble. Serves 2-3.


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10 Tips for Family Fine Dining BY CECILIA PITA PHOTO : POOYA EBRAHIM


ou’re in a restaurant. You look to the right and see children calmly sitting in their chairs engaged with their parents. Then you look to your left and see one child blowing bubbles in their milk and another hanging off their chair while their redfaced parents try to wrangle them into submission. We could rationalize that maybe it’s too late and the rambunctious children are just tired. Or maybe they’re not feeling well. However, as you look back at your table and survey your own children, you may start to wonder which way your night is going to go. Although children can be unpredictable, it is possible to dine out with them. Set the stage for a positive experience, and don’t leave it up to chance.

you the confidence and knowledge to then share with your family.

we’re going to eat _______ and I would really appreciate it if you would remember to ______.”



Here’s how:






Demonstrate, practice and explain manners at home, regularly. You can’t expect a fiveyear-old to instinctively place her napkin in her lap and use a knife and fork properly. And, if you’re not sure about table etiquette, a refresher from a qualified etiquette professional will give

Avoid being selective about when children need to be well mannered. Manners exist in the everyday, not just before special occasions, like visiting Grandma.


Be patient and remember that they are children. Take their temperament and age into consideration when choosing a venue. Toddlersized squirmy children tend not to fare well with linens and wine glasses. It’s also unfair to expect young children to just flip a switch and act like an adult. So…

Turn off all communication devices and focus on each other and the meal. Dining out is a social experience after all. Keep in mind that you can’t very well ask your children to disconnect if you’re not willing to do it too.

Although children can be unpredictable, it is possible to dine out with them. Set the stage for a positive experience, and don’t leave it up to chance.

Start at casual family-style restaurants. They have forgiving staff with experience, patience, efficiency and accessories to keep children entertained. Then work your way up to restaurants without a children’s menu. Go over the game plan so that children know what to expect. “We’re going to _______ and


If a child makes a mistake, don’t put the spotlight on them by berating or embarrassing them. Pick your battles and use the “sandwich technique”; find something positive to comment on, follow it by something that could use improvement and finish with another compliment.

Prepare for the unexpected. Ten minutes waiting for a table feels like an eternity to a child. So bring any necessary snacks and distractions to keep them occupied.

enjoy your meal if you’re constantly correcting your child. So, if despite your efforts things just aren’t going well, you may have to concede defeat, ask for your meal to go and finish it at home.


Teach children to respect other diners and the establishment. You can remind them to use their inside voice, stay at the table, and keep their area clean and tidy. Children learn through experience. It’s just like learning to ride a bike. They need us to be positive, patient and willing to practice. Similarly, instilling manners takes time, repetition and most importantly, requires models of mannerly behaviour. With consistent effort, it won’t be long before you look forward to the opportunity to dine out with your family and enjoy the experience. Cecilia Pita provides etiquette and protocol consulting to business, government and individuals. Her website is

Accept that you may have to leave early and try again another time. You can’t possibly

w w w . c a p i t a l p a r e n t . c a | APRIL 2013 7

top 5 books


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pril is National Poetry Month! Celebrate the joy of poetry with these amazing collections chosen by staff at the Ottawa Public Library.

My Very First Mother Goose

by Iona Opie and Rosemary Wells (Ages 2-6) A classic collection to borrow or buy. Folklorist Opie and illustrator Wells (creator of “Max and Ruby”), collaborate on this rich and humorous volume – children and parents will return to this one again and again.

National Geographic Book of Animal Poetry:

200 Poems with Photographs That Squeak, Soar, and Roar! (Ages 4-9) Beautiful full-page photographs of wild and domesticated animals are paired with poems by famous and lesser-known poets. A book that invites children in and will keep them turning the pages too.

Lemonade, and Other Poems Squeezed from A Single Word

by Bob Raczka (Ages 8-12) A nifty concept - Raczka creates each poem by rearranging the letters of a single word. For example “Vacation: action in a van” or “Creative: I crave art”. Sit back and marvel or be inspired to write your own.

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Outside Your Window: A First Book of Nature

by Nicola Davies (Ages 4-9) This lovely oversize title brings together science, art and poetry. Simple poems for every season remind us how much there is to notice outside our windows and encourage children to get outside and explore.

Truckery Rhymes

by Jon Scieszka (Ages 2-6) A.K.A. Mother Goose with trucks! Scieszka’s language has pre-school appeal. “Three loud trucks. Three loud trucks. See how they zoom. See how they zoom...” Your truck lover will love this!

Calling all Capital Kids (and teachers too)! You can create a poem out of one word, just like Bob Raczka does in Lemonade. Give it a try. We’d love to see it! Email it us to It might appear in our next issue!

For information call (613) 722-7500 •

You said it!

“I picked up a copy today at the library and read it from cover to cover! Congrats to the whole team, and the new editor! My fave article in this issue was Lynn's on cutting a newborn baby's fingernails.” - Julie Harrison

We want to hear from you!

Email your feedback to You can also leave a comment on our Facebook page. 8 APRIL 2013 | w w w . c a p i t a l p a r e n t . c a


Your favourite family-friendly restaurants in Ottawa


o parents ever bypass fast food joints and dine out with their kids? If so, which Ottawa restaurants top their lists? We posed the question on Facebook and here’s what some of you had to say: “We used to dine out with our niece (now 12) when we lived in Ottawa. We’d go to places where we knew there were things on the menu that she liked, but that also suited our tastes. Agave Grill and Royal Treasure were two favourites of ours - both relaxed atmospheres with understanding staff and quick delivery of food from the kitchen.” - Kaitlin Wainwright “+1 for Lone Star. They’re great with noise and mess. And they didn’t flinch when my 5-yr-old asked for peanut butter to put on his tortillas - in fact, the waitress said she’d recommend they add it to their new breakfast menu!” - Danielle Donders “Our kids always hated kid’s menus. Their favourite place is the Mekong. It suits my 10-yearold vegetarian daughter and my meat and seafood loving 12-year-old son.” - Kelly Moorcroft Richardson “The Table has a really relaxed vibe and kids are welcome, buffet vegetarian food (deeee-lish!), highchairs. We find most Vietnamese and Thai

indie restaurants very child friendly as well. We don’t agree that kids should have their own menu.” - Brenda Galambos Asselstine “We always had a great experience at Von’s Bistro on Bank Street. They have a great variety of food, they are nice to the kids, and a waitress there showed us how you can flip one of those wooden high chairs upside down to fit a baby bucket seat wonderful if your new baby is kind enough to fall asleep during the meal!” - Juliette SK “It depends on the age of the child. I have an active son, and we used to have to ensure we went somewhere where he could walk around and explore in between ordering food and receiving it at the table. Now 7-years old, it is not such a factor. The best kid-friendly places are loud and buffet style. Mongolian Village is good too, because the kids can choose which items they want grilled up.” - Jennifer Lawrence Byrne “We take our 6-year-old to Milestones quite often. The waitresses there are great. They bring him those small animals that are on glasses and cups for fancy drinks, and the menu is good. Another great spot is the new Royal Oak in Centrepointe great menu for kids and a fun atmosphere.” - Patti Taggart

“Chances R in Nepean is great for kids - with good food, too. They even have real highchairs. We also like Kelsey’s and The Works. And to be honest, when we go to upscale restaurants, it’s usually for parents’ night out. I want to enjoy a leisurely meal when I pay that much for it.” - Nicole Shadbolt “Montana’s is great. The Royal Oak in our neighbourhood is great (I assume the others are too). Local Heroes in Bell’s Corners has some

very kid-friendly waitresses and is good overall. I just discovered a great kids’ play area at St Hubert in Hull - not sure if the ones in Ottawa have it too. I guess we go to lots of pubs and family restaurants.” - Andrea Horton “My 8-year-old and I loooove eating at the Green Door Vegetarian Restaurant. We love the buffet style of eating - choosing what we like and avoiding what we don’t.” - Maria MacDonald

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Earth Hour

Saturday, March 23 Earth Hour 2012 took place in more than 7000 cities and towns in 152 countries and territories across all seven continents, and hundreds of millions of people switched their lights off for an hour. Can we beat the record? Turn your lights off between 8:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m.! Consider having a fun family dinner by candlelight, or telling stories under the covers with a flashlight. For more information about this international challenge go to

Spring Children’s Used Toy, Equipment and Clothing Sale

Saturday, March 23 This fundraiser for the Barrhaven Family Resource Centre will be taking place from 9-12 p.m. at École Jean Robert Gauthier, 651 Promenade Chapman Mills. Cash sales only! For more information call Dale O’Reilly 613.825.9385 Ext. 14.

A Taste of Ottawa - Westboro Easter Food Market

Saturday, March 23 19 local artisan gourmet food vendors will be selling their products such as hot cross buns, chocolate bunnies and ganache-filled eggs, macarons, truffles, teas, pork and beef sausages, vanilla, jams, and chutneys. It is a one-stopshop for all your Easter food and gift giving needs, and runs from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the Westboro Masonic Hall, 430 Churchill Avenue at Byron. Parking and admission are free. For more information visit


Nature Unleashed: Inside Natural Disasters

Until May 5 Don’t let this exhibition at the Canadian Museum of Nature pass you by. It’s an eyeopening perspective of the awesome power of nature: earthquakes, volcanoes, hurricanes, and tornadoes. How do they work? How do they shape our planet? Visitors can see what it’s like to stand inside a roaring tornado, trigger an underwater earthquake and a tsunami, create a virtual volcano, touch and examine real rock and lava specimens from past geological events, learn about the shifting effects of tectonic plates, and discover how people adapt to living at risk. We were inspired by the poignant and personal stories of disaster survivors too. For more information go to


Our Family Calendar


editor ’s

family snaps


April 13 and 14 There will be something for everyone at this year’s event, whether you’re a parent who wants to learn about the latest and greatest products and services for your family or looking for a great way to entertain the kids. There’ll be stage shows, Dora and Diego, interactive exhibits, educational demonstrations and play zones to burn off steam. We are especially looking forward to seeing Ray’s Reptiles new show and exhibit: SWAMP THANG! Capital Parent will be at Kidsfest too, and we are looking forward to seeing you there! For more information or to buy tickets online, go to

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

Meet Bryan, Toosje (Toesha), Madelaine (age 5), and Catherine (6 months)

We are the Delaneys and we live in Old Ottawa South in our dream home, a turn-of-the-century farm house on a corner lot with a wrap-around porch and huge front lawn for the kids to run around! We love our community and all the trimmings, including being near steps to Windsor Park where we enjoy seasonal activities such as tobogganing, skating, swimming, and an open dog park for our big golden retriever to enjoy. The area is loved by families who enjoy all the amenities too, and it makes it feel like one big family!

Easter on the Farm

March 29 to April 1 There’s no better way to ring in Spring than a visit to the Canada Agriculture Museum (a.k.a the Experimental Farm)! There will be lambs, chicks, baby bunnies, an egg hunt, and more! For information go to

Do you know of an event that Capital Parents would like to hear about? Submit your information to:

Hungry for more? There is extra content on! Recent posts include: • A round up of Ottawa-area sugar shacks • Family-friendly arts and crafts • Recipes • Kid-friendly activities

Don’t forget to follow us @capitalparent 10 APRIL 2013 | w w w . c a p i t a l p a r e n t . c a

Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new. - Albert Einstein


















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Capital Parent April 2013  

Ottawa parenting newspaper

Capital Parent April 2013  

Ottawa parenting newspaper