The New Kid-Café on the Block


So is it just me, or is there a sudden boom in the kid-friendly café market? After all, I haven’t been looking for very long, it’s possible I just didn’t notice.

My first clue that such things existed was while expecting Girl the Younger. I was googling for things to do to get myself out of the house after baby arrived, and came across Kid Kaf. A couple weeks later I heard about Two Monkeys (from Savvy Mom, I think), and now we have a new kid friendly café on the block: the Sippy Cup Café in Morgan’s Grant.

This morning I was treated to a taste of what’s in the Sippy Cup, where preparations are in high-gear for Monday’s planned opening. The space was still littered with ladders and cables (and a sprinkling of contractors), but it was not hard to picture what visitors will see on Monday.

When you enter the café, you first pass by the stroller parking in the vestibule. But with no strollers in sight, you’d never guess this was anything other than your typical café – the marble counter-tops, the dark chocolaty colour scheme, and the brick accent wall all say “urban-chic coffee house”.

Walk past the counter and through a glass door and you reach the play room. When I saw it, the play room was still dominated by a large stack of special rubber-backed carpet tiles, designed to provide a little bit of bounce for anyone that goes ‘boom’. But proprietor Preston Martelly described for me the bench-style seating that will run along the wall, the drink shelf (keeping hot lattes away from little hands), and the toys: a play house, workbench, kitchen set, and train table, along with books and a rotating selection of free standing toys.

The menu includes everything you’d expect from the coffee house experience: a wide array of hot and cold drinks, baked treats and fancy sandwiches, plus of course a kid’s menu. This will consist primarily of pre-packaged snacks to start with: the goal, Preston told me, is to keep the play room peanut-free, although the adult menu will include items with nuts.

Preston also expressed an interest in supporting local mompreneurs and parenting groups, by providing a venue for meet-ups or an assembly-point for group field-trips. Such events could be posted to the event calendar on the café website. The calendar will also eventually include on-site activities like kids crafts and movies.

So welcome to the new kid, let’s get together and do coffee.

(re)Discovering Andrew Haydon Park

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I’ve always known it was there, and have even spent some time walking through it, but a few weeks ago I rediscovered Andrew Haydon Park. Have you ever noticed the picturesque little waterfall hiding at the west end of the park? Or watched the radio-controlled sailboats race on the pond?

It all started with a leisurely stroll ’round the pond with Girl the Younger, when she decided to break her habit of sleeping through absolutely anything (except, of course, ‘the night’), and needed to be fed. It was one of those lovely, mild, post-heat wave days in August, and we found the nicest nursing spot in town: a bench just off the beaten path, facing the river. So there we sat, a soft breeze playing on our faces, I nibbling on my leftover Moxies asparagus-and-goat-cheese pizza; she nibbling on, well, her lunch. It was all so gosh darn perfect that I was compelled to rush home and throw together a picnic dinner for Daddy and Girl the Elder.

The park sports three play structures, two near the middle of the park and a water play park at the east end. Elder (at 20 months) enjoys the larger play structures, but they are definitely designed for the older kids (some of whom tend to run rough-shod over stray toddlers). The water park is sized better for the younger set, and also has washrooms near by.

The landscape is dominated by two large ponds, encircled by paved (read: stroller friendly) walking paths.  These are perfect for a leisurely stroll or a run, and have links to the NCC path network.  I found the paths great for some of those early post-baby outings, when you’re not sure how much walking you are up for (or how much time baby will spend happily in stroller) – you can park in the middle of the park with plenty of pathway available, while keeping within an easy striking distance of the car.

The big event in the park is Canada Day, but the Nepean Concert Band also performs at the bandshell bi-weekly on Wednesday evenings, from June to August (Damn! Maybe next year). Other groups perform there as well – our picnic was serenaded by a Christian sing-along group (who were nothing if not enthusiastic) – but darned if I can find a schedule. The Rideau Nautical modellers and the Ottawa Area Model Yacht Club are out on the pond Tuesdays and Fridays from 10 until 2, and Wednesday evenings from 6 until 8, and have always been more than happy to talk whenever I come by.

And finally, there’s the wildlife.  Girl the Elder loves to point out the geese (her first sign after ‘milk’ was ‘bird’), and there are plenty to be had – thankfully the pathways get cleaned periodically.  On our last walk, we treated to a gray heron (?) sighting at the end of the east pond.  And me with nothing but a camera phone – I won’t let that happen again.

Paint the Town Red! (or green, or blue…)

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Quick, before the snow flies!  Take equal parts cornstarch and water, add food colouring, and voilà! Sidewalk paint!

I came across this on Postcards from the Mothership (no idea what I was actually looking for at the time), and simply had to try it. Girl the Elder enjoyed herself, but mommy had a riot.  And talk about non-toxic, they can drink the stuff if they want to – although you may want to curtail this once the paint brushes start picking up bits of gravel.

And, silly rabbit, this trick is not just for kids.  Picture scrawling “just married” or “happy birthday” across someone’s driveway – not to mention the decorating potential for Halloween.  Our the driveway has about the same slant & aspect ratio as a pinball machine. Hmmm…