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PlanetBox Lunch Ideas


Back in August, I had taken a little trip out to Terra20 with my girlfriend and our kids and we checked out a TON of litterless lunch options. She and her grade-two daughter simply could not resist the PlanetBox lunch kit with the rainbows and unicorns. I can't really blame them, can you? But both mom and daughter are still very happy with how the PlanetBox is working out for them. So much so, that I thought I'd share some of the pics … [Read more...]

A Long Weekend at Long Point Eco-Adventures

Look at me, mom! I'm flying at Long Point Eco-Adventures!

We've been hosting Thanksgiving dinners at our home since we moved in, but this year, my parents were travelling and we will be fortunate enough to have an aunt from overseas visiting next weekend. So, we pushed out our big family gathering until next weekend and instead decided to take advantage of the additional day off of work to squeeze in a roadtrip. With an invite in hand from Attractions Ontario, we jumped in our car as soon as we could … [Read more...]

Manitoulin Island: Highlights from our Roadtrip


If you live in Ontario, there's a good chance that you've heard of Manitoulin Island and said to yourself: "Oh, I must visit there one day!" That's exactly how our family felt, so we were sure to include it in our list of places to stop for our family's summer roadtrip 2015. To say we enjoyed our stay on the Island is an understatement. We only had three nights on the island, but could have easily spent far more time exploring, hiking, and … [Read more...]

Summer Road Trip 2015: Northwest Ontario

road trip 2015

After last year's epic adventure to Australia, this year's summer holiday needed to be a bit more subdued. My husband suggested a road trip across Canada -- from Ottawa to Vancouver. Um, how is that scaling back exactly? He then countered with a camping road trip in Northern Ontario. I was not excited: is there anything but mosquitoes in Northern Ontario? I was wrong. So very, very wrong. For our 10-day trip, here is the route we took: 1. … [Read more...]

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


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

mothering and milestones

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


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


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?


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!


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?


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


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


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


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


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...]

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