March Break Fun

This past week I spent many days enjoying the company of my grandchildren in some march break fun. As many pandemic restrictions have been lifted here, it was great to get out and enjoy the adventures offered in the Ottawa area. A few years back I complained that my own kids were past the march break years. Fast forward six years to a few school-aged grandchildren to share in the fun.

Sugar Bush

One of our adventures included a short drive to Fulton’s Maple Sugar Bush. Two years ago I planned to take some of my grandkids there, but Covid shut down that idea. Fast forward to 2022 where the sugar bush is now covid compliant as most activities are outdoors. The pancake house, previously a favourite for breakfasts and lunches, was permanently closed, assumed to be a covid casualty.

For those of you not familiar with this attraction, let my pictures show you the details. Activities included a horse-drawn wagon ride around the property and plenty of play structures to keep the kids intrigued.

Taffy on snow was a highlight for my granddaughter and me too! My grandson not so much. He wasn’t tempted by the gooey, sticky, sweet treat, created as we looked on.

march break fun

Educational posters around the site explained the process of making maple syrup well. From the tree to the buckets to the sugar camp, and finally to the products sold. We learned too that it takes 40 buckets of sap from the trees to make one bucket of syrup!

March Break Fun at the Experimental Farm

Our next adventure took place at the Agriculture and Food Museum within the experimental farm. Spring is the best time to visit here as the baby animals are on display. From cows, donkeys, and horses to goats, chickens, alpacas, pigs, ducks, and sheep.

Here too covid precautions were in place, with many indoor exhibits closed or modified to avoid possible contamination.

Outdoor Fun with Snow and Water

My eldest grandson loves to play in snow, ice, water, and mud. Most five-year-old boys do; I remember that well as his father enjoyed the same things as a kid. As well as walks through our neighbourhood trails, March break fun this week included a lesson on how to build a dam to block water when warm weather began the spring thaw.

After the outdoor fun, he dried off inside with a new dinosaur puzzle:

march break fun

Christmas Fun: Girls Sleepover

Christmas Fun: Girls Sleepover

My two granddaughters and I had a girls’ sleepover recently, with lots of fun, giggles, and sugar, but not much sleep.

We filled the evening and morning with lots of girly activities, something I was not particularly fond of as a youngster, and did not experience raising three sons, but am enjoying immensely with these two cuties. Their smiles and enjoyment are contagious.

We began the evening by painting our fingernails, all thirty of them, in a multitude of colours and sparkles…

After enjoying cheesy pizza and candy cane ice cream for dinner washed down with iced tea, we bundled up for an outside stroll around the block to inspect the Christmas lights. These girls are loyal; they voted our light display their favourite:

Our outdoor trek was followed by hot chocolate and painting our toenails, which we figured would hold up better after donning socks and winter boots for the outside adventure. When the toenails were dried and smudge-free, we changed into our pjs, matching Christmassy ones Grandma found just for the occasion:

We were supposed to roll out and bake cookies next (the basic sugar cookie dough was premade on Grandma day last Wednesday) but as it was already past bedtime, we decided Grandma would do that part solo and have the cookies cooled and ready for decorating in the morning.

After a pancake breakfast and healthy green (cucumbers were detected, and grudgingly consumed) smoothies, the decorating began:

When the cookies were glammed up then packaged for safe transport home, the girls enjoyed a dance party while Grandma cleaned up the sticky mess. (Not so) fun fact: sprinkles are like glitter, they end up everywhere!

I’m not sure who enjoyed themselves more, the girls or their Grandma. The only glitch was the actual sleepover part. They insisted on sleeping together in the same bed, something neither of them is used to, so quality sleep time was not ideal, but to be expected at a sleepover. It did not help that at not quite four years old, the younger one wanted to stay up with the eight-year-old who is a bit more accustomed to staying up past bedtime.

I hope they make it through the rest of the day today without any meltdowns due to exhaustion and sugar consumption.

Either way, it was unanimous: we have to do it again soon! Maybe next time I will convince them to sleep separately.

Did I tell you I have a third granddaughter arriving in the new year? Not that she will be enjoying sleepovers anytime soon, but eventually we will let her join the fun.

Christmas Fun: Girls Sleepover

That will make for three of each, a balanced six-pack of grandchildren.

Next up? A sleepover with the eldest of the brothers that were excluded from the fun last night. Grandma might need a nap first!

Fall Craftiness…or Not

After collecting beautifully coloured leaves outside with both my granddaughter and grandson, on two separate occasions, Grandma suggested some fall craftiness.

My three year old granddaughter was impressed with our crafty creation, my four year old grandson not so much.

This simple craft involves colourful leaves, waxed paper, and a hot iron. The leaves get sandwiched between two pieces of waxed paper, wax side inside the sandwich. The hot iron makes the wax paper pieces melt together. Kind of like a grilled cheese sandwich, an analogy my granddaughter came up with.

Fall Craftiness...or Not

My grandson however, was adamant that I dismantle the fall craftiness, so the leaves were loose again.

Fall Craftiness...or Not

My granddaughter took her craft home intact, my grandson took his leaves home loose. To each his/her own!

Pandemic Adventures at Mud Lake

pandemic takeaway, mud lake

A few months into the pandemic, when I was searching for outdoor activities to share with my grandchildren, a friend told me about Mud Lake. My (now) four-and-a-half-year-old grandson and I have since become regular visitors to this nature lover’s paradise in the middle of Ottawa. With so much to do and see there, our pandemic adventures never disappoint.

pandemic adventures

We are both nature lovers, preferring to spend as much time as possible in the great outdoors on “adventures” as he calls them. The picture of the geese approaching us like a parade was taken on our very first visit to Mud Lake. It felt much like a welcoming committee!

The next visit we discovered the Ottawa river side.

On the stinking hot days we spent our time on the shady river side. It was absolutely beautiful there with a cool breeze off the Ottawa river. On the cooler days we would wander the trails that circle around Mud Lake. This is a bit of a misnomer, a swampy, more of a large pond than a lake. We found lots of critters of all kinds.

My grandson categorizes the sides by what we saw where. The crayfish were in the pools of water (much like tide pools) created by low water levels. These were a result of the extreme drought we had been experiencing. The baby milk snake was discovered on that side too. We spotted an Eastern screech owl in a tree along the road dividing the river side from the pond side. We just happened to park in front of his roost one day. The family of wild turkeys followed us around the trails at Mud Lake a few times.

More recently we have received lots of rain. The water levels are much higher now and the water much faster. Grandma has to continually warn him not to get too close to the water’s edge. The rocks he loved to hop on and examine (flip over) are totally submerged now. You can identify these pics by the changing colour in the leaves on the trees.

These pictures are just a few of my favourites from our pandemic adventures. Rrom both sides:

Now that junior kindergarten is this grandson’s top priority, our visits are limited to after school hours before the sun goes down. The weather is changing too but there is still lots to see around Mud Lake in the fall and winter.

Fall Garden Chores and a Beautiful Bouquet

What started off recently as a lesson in fall garden chores turned into a beautiful garden bouquet for this little lady…

Fall Garden Chores Results in Beautiful Bouquet
Fall Garden Chores Results in Beautiful Bouquet
Fall Garden Chores Results in Beautiful Bouquet
look at that concentration!

Fall Garden Chores and Cleanup

I like to do as much as I can to clean up my gardens before the snow flies so I won’t have as much to do in the spring. Some plants however like the protection of their leaves, slimy as they may be, over the winter. Cut back some perennials to prevent the spread of powdery mildew. Included in this list are the following:

  • peonies
  • coneflowers
  • phlox (the tall variety)
  • monarda
  • anything else that looks diseased, dead, broken etc.
  • hostas

Fall is also a great time to move things around, so if you (and the plant) were not completely happy with the location of some perennials, get moving.

It is a bit late for deadheading, but I did do so to a few perennials hoping I might get one last flush of bloom in this warm weather.

Gathering Up The Remaining Blooms

My three year old granddaughter loves to pick flowers from my garden anytime. Recently she started off helping me do some fall cleanup. The clippers soon gravitated to the few flowers still blooming

The bouquet she ended up with was beautiful:

Of course I cannot refuse any request from this sweet girl. I love the fact that she loves my flower gardens as much as I do!

This one was just a bud at the time, so she missed it:

Fall Garden Chores Results in Beautiful Bouquet

Patience is a Virtue

patience is a virtue

Patience is a virtue they say, unfortunately one that I (sometimes) have a limited and selective supply of.

Thankfully with my grandchildren I seem to have an unlimited abundance of patience, perhaps because I now realize, thanks to the wisdom acquired over my years, that it’s the little things that matter in life.

And time, I have much more time to spend on the small things, including the special small people in my life.

Patience is a virtue
frog hunting takes lots of patience!

I also lead a much less stressful life than I did when my three sons were young. Back then I had two full time jobs, one outside the home and one within. It has been proven that patience is inversely related to stress. Who hasn’t noticed that when they are stressed, the smallest of annoyances makes them impatient and when you become impatient, you feel agitated and stressed?

Of course there are still many things that test the level of my patience. Things like:

  • long lineups, anywhere
  • bad drivers
  • unnecessary traffic lights
  • commercials/advertisements when watching or reading shows/stories etc
  • people that consider themselves “experts” on social media that offer bad advice and inaccurate/wrong information

Thankfully, the things that make me impatient are not encountered as frequent these days.

What level is your patience at? Do/did you find it better or worse during Covid restrictions? What do you do to relieve the stress that impatience brings on or the impatience that stress brings on?

Pinecone Craftiness

What child doesn’t love collecting pinecone after pinecone? My grandchildren are no exception. They all love to collect them. The problem becomes what to do with the pinecones once they arrive at my home.

Pinecones and Summer Flowers

I got this idea somewhere, but cannot remember where. The last batch of pinecones my three-year-old granddaughter collected has become a summer flower arrangement, thanks to some spray paint in pretty colours and a plastic bowl.

The first step was to protect my garage floor. We painted the pinecones in the garage as it was raining out the day we decided to tackle this craft.

An old plastic-coated table cloth did the trick. I have several of these around, they come in handy in my gardening business to protect the floors of my van when transporting plants, soil and mulch.

Next, I protected my granddaughter’s clothing and hands as the spray paint I have on hand is not exactly kid-proof or easily removed from clothes or skin.

Although I have several aprons, including a few child-sized ones, they would not cover her arms or legs. So I used one of my favourite long-sleeved shirts designated as gardening wear; it fit her like a dress.

She also wore her garden gloves that stay at my place for our garden adventures/chores…

Pinecone craftiness
Protective gear

I had spray paint in green, purple, orange and two shades of pink, a nice assortment of summery colours. We saturated the pinecones with colour, then let them dry in the heat before arranging them in a plastic bowl…

Fall or Winter Pinecone Decorations

In fall or winter, pinecones can be painted white or silver or even left in their natural colour and used in Christmas or winter decorations.

Pinecones collected on our walks are usually small, perfect for holiday centrepieces and more craftiness.

Craft and even grocery stores carry larger ones in fall and winter. These jumbo pinecones look great in outdoor winter arrangements, some even have sticks attached to them for easy insertion into your decor.

Use your imagination to inspire your own pinecone craftiness!

Mud Lake: a Nature Lover’s Paradise

Recently I took my four year old grandson to Mud Lake, tucked in between the water filtration plant and Britannia beach in Ottawa. More of a (man made) wetland than a lake, Mud Lake is sure to delight nature lovers of any age. Also called the Britannia Conservation area, Mud Lake is maintained by the National Capital Commission (NCC)

Creatures in Their Natural Habitat

On our 3.5 km trek around the lake, we saw numerous friendly adult and baby ducks and geese, turtles, tiny frogs and tadpoles, huge bullfrogs, beaver dams (but no beavers) rabbits, squirrels, chipmunks, chickadees and herons.

My grandson wanted to catch them all, but I convinced him to leave them there with their mommies and daddies.

Directions to Mud Lake

You can get there off Poulin, then Howe Street or by following Britannia Road to Cassels Street, next to the Britannia Yacht club. There are a few designated parking spots, but parking on either Howe Street on the south side or Cassels Road on the north side is easier and permitted. There are entrances to the trails around the perimeter of the lake from both sides.

NCC Rules

There are no dogs allowed and no bikes on the trails. These rules make sense as the area is supposed to be about conservation, namely the health and happiness of the wildlife that considers this area their home.

Although you are not supposed to feed the animals, the geese and ducks in particular were quite friendly, approaching us looking for food.

This aggressiveness is one reason you are not supposed to feed them. Creating dependence on humans for food is another reason to avoid feeding them our food. Ideally, they should be able to forage for any food they need to survive.

Respecting the natural beauty is an essential rule. No littering is obvious. Trails are well maintained and should be adhered to for protection of the fragile eco system.

When to Visit Mud Lake

Open year round, Mud Lake offers beauty, peacefulness and nature at its best throughout each season. Birds are predominant in the winter months, but the trails themselves are especially beautiful when snow covered.

Between Mud Lake and the yacht club, the elevated trails can be icy in the winter and spring though, so explore these carefully.

In the spring, migratory birds are abundant, in fact the area is know to bird watchers and photographers. The latest report shows 269 bird species!

In the summer months the wetlands come to life, full of all sorts of creatures. The trails are wide and easily manageable, even for seniors or baby strollers.

Favourite Moment

After our hike around the lake, we were enjoying a snack when a snake-like formation of geese approached. Mom was in the lead with at least 18 babies following along. They waddled ashore right beside us, climbed the small embankment and disappeared across the road…

Buzzpatch, Who and What They are

BUZZPATCH

Buzzpatch attracted my attention recently as a company that produces non-toxic, fun stickers that repel insects, namely mosquitoes. As a grandmother of five, these stickers appeal to me for use in my gardens as well as at our family cottage.

Who is Buzzpatch?

The company was established by parents for parents concerned about their children and grandchildren and the overabundance of mosquitoes any time we step out the door. Some (I have a few like this) kids are downright afraid of bugs, others don’t seem to notice them biting, but scratch the bites or worse, develop an allergic reaction to the bites.

What is Buzzpatch?

As the name depicts, buzzpatch are cute sticker-like patches that you attach to childrens’ (or adults’) clothing to keep the bugs at a distance. The bugs might hover around, but do not land when they smell the product.

Created from all natural essential oils (predominantly citronella AKA lemon) and no toxic DEET, these patches are safe for everyone. Stick them on your kids’ hats, shirts, pants etc. If worried about toddlers peeling them off, stick them on their bottoms or the tops of their hats.

My Experience with Essential Oils as Bug Repellents

I have been a proponent of essential oils for ages now and actually created my own bug repellent using geranium and lemon oils, both of which bugs hate. It smells wonderful and works, although I do reapply after several hours outdoors, especially if working up a sweat in my gardens.

Absolutely non-toxic, I spray it all over my clothing and even in my hair and on the bare skin of my neck, hands, legs, etc. My skin is very sensitive to everything else (including those other bug sprays and sunscreens) but not to this natural remedy.

How do Essential Oils Repel Mosquitoes?

When we as humans breathe, we release CO2 which mosquitoes are attracted to when we exhale. The scent in certain essential oils (like the citronella in Buzzpatch stickers) confuses the mosquitoes, creating an invisible shield around your kids from mosquitoes. That’s the theory, I am anxious to try out the stickers.

How do You Order BUZZPATCH?

Perhaps you have seen the same advertisement I did on Facebook. I was intrigued with the advertisement due to my experience with homemade bug repellent, so clicked on the ad and ordered.

I now have a referral code, please use it if you plan to order! If I love the buzzpatch product, I will create my own advertisement on this blog and share the news.

buzzpatch

I received my order of Buzz Patch stickers this week. They came in convenient, resealable (to keep the scent in) pouches, in sheets of six stickers, ten sheets per pouch. I ordered several pouches to keep a stash at our cottage, home and even in my van for pond adventures with my grandson.

I will keep you posted as to their effectiveness!

Mothers Day Celebrates My Greatest Achievement

Mother's Day: Celebrating my Greatest Achievement

Today I celebrate my greatest achievement on Mothers Day. I’m sure it is apparent how much I adore my three sons. They are all kind, caring, and loving, not to mention handsome, intelligent, successful, and definitely more humble than their mother.

Mothers Day

I am especially proud of the fathers my two eldest have become with the help of the wonderful mothers of their children.

Raising Boys to Men on Mothers Day and Beyond

When my boys were growing up, people always commented on how difficult it must be to raise three boys. I wondered about that comment as I never had any daughters to compare the boys to and I always thought it was an unfair exaggeration.

These days one would call the comments sexist and all kinds of other descriptive words popular in our vocabulary today.

I have to admit, I loved every minute of it. Ok, maybe not every single minute, but 99.9% of them.

Mothers Day

Disputing the Theory

As a mother of three boys and a grandmother to three grandsons, I dispute the opinion that boys are more difficult to raise. They may be busier physically, with different interests, but not harder or more stressful.

My father, who raised three boys and three girls, always said the girls were harder. His theory was based on the fact that he worried more about the girls until they were married. Perhaps another sexist comment, but the norm and non-offensive back then.

Boys will be Boys

There is something to be said for the saying “boys will be boys.” My experience is that (most) little boys are fascinated with things like bugs, dirt and mud, cars and trucks, dinosaurs, and more. I don’t believe these interests are taught and learned, but more instinctive or innate. Encouraged (as they should be) perhaps, but not taught.

For example, my four-year-old grandson can spend hours flipping over rocks looking for bugs. His big sister and a younger female cousin, not so much. They tend to run from the bugs, as fast as they can.

And, one of the words my youngest grandson, at just one-year-old, can say is vroom, vroom. OK, that’s two words, but I’m sure you get the gist.

Tomboys Raising Boys

Perhaps I find boys easy to handle because I was a tomboy growing up, much to the chagrin of my mother. I preferred playing hockey, football, and other sports with the boys instead of playing dolls with the girls. I don’t recall though, being particularly enamoured with bugs.

You could say I had lots of practice hanging out with the boys, that could be why I have so much patience with my grandsons’ antics and interests.

Conclusions on Mothers Day

In closing, bearing and raising happy and healthy children is something to celebrate. Mother’s Day gives us mothers a special day to do so. Even though mine are all now adults, I still consider them to be my greatest achievements in life, bar none!

Happy Mothers Day to the rest of you celebrating your own achievements!

photo credit: Facebook