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Minecraft Lootbags (for less than $8 each!)

Minecraft Lootbags

As per usual around here, it was the night before the birthday party and I needed to get lootbags ready for 8 boys. I have a major love/hate thing with lootbags. On the one hand: kids love them and it's so fun to see how excited they get at the end of the party when they receive one. On the other hand: they can get really expensive (and time consuming!) and seem to be an unnecessary distraction away from celebrating the birthday boy … [Read more...]

Driftwood Provincial Park: A First Trip

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Upon the invite from friends of the family, we strayed from our usual mainstay camping fave of Achray in Algonquin Park over to Driftwood Provincial Park for a weekend stay. The pros of this camping spot: short drive from Ottawa (just over 2 hours) waterfront camp sites are available all sites are well-treed and offer space and privacy the vibe was friendly and there were a lot of families the waterfront is sandy and shallow -- … [Read more...]

A Weekend in Ottawa: Prose in the Park

Photo of table at Ottawa's Prose in the Park

I was flipping through an old newspaper before throwing it into the recycle bin when I came across an article about an upcoming event called "Prose in the Park." Since the paper happened to be old, the event happened to be taking place on that very day. Well, Stella and I were certainly going to need to visit this inaugural event! We drove down from our quiet suburb into the hustle and bustle of Ottawa's Westboro area, where the Parkdale … [Read more...]

All Kids Shine at Starr Gymnastics (Psst! This post includes an amazing giveaway!)

Birthday party at Starr Gymnastics

Our family loves Ottawa's Starr Gymnastics. Both Stella and Max have taken classes there and I'll tell you why: because it's fun and it's positive. For Stella, she appreciated the friendly environment and that she could wear shorts and a t-shirt, since a bodysuit is not required. For Max, we initially enrolled him to help strengthen his core and increase his gross motor coordination, but we stayed on because he was really enjoying the music … [Read more...]

Coffee Service is Stalled

Photo of WTF note left for Julie

I don't know if I should admit this publicly, for fear of being perceived (exposed?) as the biggest princess on earth, but every morning, Hubby brings me up a cup of coffee to my bedside table. He gets up earlier than I do for his work schedule, and this little "coffee service" ensures that I will never, ever let this marriage falter. You might recall that for our 15-year wedding anniversary, he gave me a special gift. So I thought it might be … [Read more...]

First Camping Trip of the 2015 Season!

Arriving and setting up.

It will come as no surprise to some of you that we chose Achray campground in Algonquin Park for the location of this season's first outing with the pop-up tent trailer. (If you've never heard of Achray and want to learn more, click here and here for details.) Nature was so kind to us! We had beautiful weather, with beautiful people and left with beautiful memories. So, I'd thought I'd share some of this beautiful with you ... … [Read more...]

Mothering & Milestones

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It's been a while since a new milestone was hit around here. Or, at least, it sort of seemed that way with kids that are almost seven and thirteen. No new words, no first steps, no bedtime rituals to master ... . But I realized this past Mother's Day though that Stella is pushing forward into new milestones. She often stays up past her mom's bedtime (lame as it might be), she now listens to the news, and she makes her own lunches and does her … [Read more...]

Sharing the Magic

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Someone's big sister taught him the magic of climbing trees. On Saturday morning, he was confident enough to climb on his own. Once reaching a top branch, he looked out and proclaimed, "I think it would be amazing to read a book in this tree." We couldn't help but shrug and nod in agreement. Later that same day, his two special friends came out to play. One had a Minecraft book with him. Next thing I know, Max is tearing through the house … [Read more...]

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Fairies

Stella is grade 7 now. I remember those years as being confusing and rather overwhelming. She's handling it quite well and still managing to maintain her own sense of self despite the ever increasing social pressures that come with high school. In thinking about this, I re-read a post from September 2009. Stella was in grade 2 then. I thought you might enjoy the memories too. ************ My daughter’s tastes are what many refer to as “tomboy.” … [Read more...]

Cutting the Cable Brought Us Closer Together

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So, I don't think I've told you yet that we cut our cable. Yep, we did it. It actually felt a bit uncomfortable to do it since the last time I didn't have cable television was when I was a broke student. But the monthly bill for cable adds up, and we weren't really watching that much. A few people we know had already taken the plunge and assured us we wouldn't regret it. And we certainly haven't. We cancelled our cable service in June (it made … [Read more...]

Have you ever spent more than you planned to at the grocery store?

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Did you answer “Yes”? Me too; especially in the winter, when we’re forking out for fresh fruits and vegetables that certainly aren’t local to Ottawa when we’re knee-deep in snow! Parenting in Ottawa: New info resources from Ottawa Public Health This question was just one of many relevant discussions that I found taking place on a Facebook page called Parenting in Ottawa. Ottawa Public Health and its community partners are running the page … [Read more...]

It’s Monday. You’re not in Florida for March Break. Would a giveaway help? Tickets to the Ottawa premiere of Dreamworks HOME!

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My kids tell me that *everyone* in their class is going on a trip to Florida for the March Break. Naturally, since I am typing this up while looking out at a ton of snow still on the ground, it goes without saying that we are not in this *everyone* crowd. But we're not crying in our hot chocolate (okay, maybe just a little ;)) ... we've got some fun things planned for the kids, including a night ski on Gatineau's cross-country ski trails. And … [Read more...]

Why is it still Monday? This calls for a giveaway! How about LEGOLAND Discovery Centre passes?

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We are likely some of the only people I know who have yet to visit LEGOLAND Discovery Centre, just outside of Toronto. It's really quite inexcusable considering how cray-cray my whole family (including the Hubby) is about Lego. In fact, you might recall that we took the kids to New York City and the Empire State Building and Central Park didn't make their list of Top 5 NYC Highlights -- but the LEGO store sure did! But perhaps we'll … [Read more...]

What I’ve Learned from Saying “Yes” to Winter

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If you've been hanging about these parts for some time, you might recall that in 2009, I pronounced a "Winter Resolution." (Side bar: Is it just me, or does 2009 seem like last year, not SIX YEARS AGO. Where are the years disappearing to?) This resolution wasn't ground-breaking. I was not going to become a world-class ice-climbing or move south every winter, but rather I would try to find a way to enjoy the season. Note, I did not say "love" … [Read more...]

Inside Her Brain

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We have a new piece of art for our home! Actually, it's not really new. It's been waiting for framing for almost four years now. Since it is so large, the estimate we received to frame it ranged from $800 to $900. So Hubby recently got inspired to try some framing on his own. The matting can be purchased at a local art store (approximately $10-20 for one large coloured sheet), and the glass is ordered custom to fit the wood frame. All up, … [Read more...]

Birthday Party Ideas for Your Future Pilot

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A special little guy in my life is madly (fiercely!) in love with everything airplanes. With his birthday coming up at the end of the month, I couldn't resist sharing these great party-planning ideas with you from my blogging buddy Stephanie, from Spaceships and Laserbeams. In fact, if you're looking for ANY kind of party theme ideas for boys, Stephanie is your gal! ********** Taking off on the planning for a high flying plane party doesn’t … [Read more...]

It’s Monday. Time for a giveaway! Family passes to see #Ottawa movie premiere of The Penguins of Madagascar

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Monday's are always such a good day to give something back to my friends who come by and spend time here at Coffee with Julie! Especially when Ottawa is so grey and gloomy right now. Today, I have -- thanks to Sara at Allied Integrated Marketing -- two family passes (each pass admits two adults and two children) to the upcoming Ottawa premier of The Penguins of Madagascar movie. Here's the movie synopsis:  “Super spy teams aren't … [Read more...]

The Halloween Re-Cap 2014

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This year, in contrast to last year (where the jack-o-lantern was left as "untitled"), Hubby and I felt remarkably prepared for Halloween. Three jack-o-lanterns had been carved a whole night in advance, while costumes had been sorted out almost a whole week in advance. I took Stella to Target, where we happily bumped into one of my brothers and his two kids, and we hunted around for a costume that appealed to her. In the end, she found a wig … [Read more...]

Coffee, Cards, and Inside Jokes

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I am waiting for my second carafe of coffee to be ready, and thinking wistfully about how different birthdays are as a adult from when you are a child. Do you remember cutting photos out of the Sears catalogue to create a visual birthday gift wish list for your parents? As superficial as it might sound, let's face it ... gifts were really the highlight of a kid's birthday. I can still remember some that particularly pleased me. There was a … [Read more...]

Mungo National Park (aka that big sand dune place), NSW, Australia

A sample of some of the interesting sand formations along the drive tour.

In the late 1960s, a young geologist was studying the Australian landscape and climate when he happened upon one of the world's most remarkable discoveries: human remains that date back more than 40,000 years. The area where these remains and many other artefacts have been found is now designated as Mungo National Park. Outside of Africa, Mungo remains highly unique and it tells of the very long history of the Australian Aboriginal … [Read more...]

And … We’re Back!

A pic from the University of Melbourne campus.

It's been six weeks, more than 32,000 kms in the air, and another 6,000 kms by car since I announced that we had landed in Australia. I had great plans for blogging as we travelled, since I prefer to write while it's all fresh and exciting. But alas, I ran into troubles accessing WiFi and paid outrageous amounts of $$ to my cell phone provider for service and then finally just had to give up and accept that I would not be "connected" with all … [Read more...]

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