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      1. Graphic Novels 2021 from the Ottawa Public Library

        The Ottawa Public Library is back to share some great graphic novels with us. This month’s post is by Lise Dumas, Supervising Librarian, Children's and Teen Services at the Main Branch of the Ottawa Public Library.

        Graphic Novels.png

        I remember when I was young, visiting the Ottawa Public Library’s Alta Vista branch and going straight to their graphic novel section. My favourite graphic novels at that time were Astérix and Tintin.  I still love children’s graphic novels today. They are fun, thought provoking and often beautifully rendered. For those of you who love graphic novels, the Ottawa Public Library has a wonderful collection for all ages.  Here are some of my favourite children’s selections this year:

        Witches of Brooklyn by Sophie Escabasse

        Graphic novels1.jpg

        Ages 8—12

        This story is about a young 11-year-old girl named Effie, who having become orphaned, goes to live in Brooklyn with her eccentric aunt Selimene and her partner Carlotta. Effie discovers that her aunts, officially acupuncturists and herbalists, have magical powers when a pop diva, Tily Shoo, comes seeking a magical skincare remedy. Effie also finds out that she has inherited the family powers and that her skills are required in effecting Tily Shoo’s cure. This book nicely sets up the cast of characters for a series. In fact, the OPL has the second book on order! I love the characters drawings in this book, they are very expressive and distinctive.  

        Class Act by Jerry Craft

        Graphic novels2.jpg

        For ages 8-12.

        This sequel to Jerry Craft’s Newberry and Coretta Scott King Book Award winner New Kid does not disappoint. It is brilliantly crafted to reflect Jordan’s second year at the upper class, mostly white middle school, Riverdale Academy Day School, with his friends, Drew and Liam. Each boy faces challenges related to race, socioeconomic status, friendship, puberty, and individuality. Although the subject matter is weighty at times, the book is also funny and clever and the story honest and believable. Kids will recognize chapter title pages comically parodying popular graphic novel covers.

        Graphic novels3.jpg

         The Inkberg Enigma by Jonathan King

        Ages 8-12

        Miro is happy to spend his summer staying at home and reading rare books until he meets Zia, a girl who loves mysteries and adventure. The two accidentally witness a multi tentacled sea creature attacking a sailor in the port of their sleepy town of Aurora. Zia convinces Miro to help uncover the town’s mysterious history and its unusual prosperity in hard times. For mystery fans, this is a fun tale of sea farers and marine mutants. The drawing style is reminiscent of Hergé’s Tintin.

        The Good Fight by Ted Staunton

        Ages 9-12

        Graphic novels4.jpg

        This book is based in Toronto in the 1930s. Sid and his pop live in Toronto’s immigrant slum and rent a room from the Vendetellis. Both families face hard lives facing bigotry, poverty and trying to find honest work during the great depression. Anti-Semitism is on the rise. Sid and his friend Plug get coerced into some shady activity which land them into some trouble with the police, who in turn ask for their help. The story climaxes with the real-life story of the Christie Pits Riot, in 1933, one of the worst outbreaks of ethnic violence in Canadian history. This book addresses many issues such as prejudice, the immigrant experience and taking a stand against injustice. The images are coloured in sepia tones which reflect the urban location.

        When Stars are Scattered By Victoria Jamieson

        Ages 9-12

        Graphic novels5.jpg

        Based on coauthor, Omar Mohammed’s life growing up in a Kenyan refugee camp, this book tells the story of his struggle to keep himself and his younger, non-verbal brother safe in the harsh conditions of the camp. When Omar has a chance to attend school, he is torn between wanting to go and leaving his brother alone all day with his foster mother Fatuma. The refugee’s life in the camp is divided between endless waiting in lines and the painfully slim and seemingly arbitrary chance of resettlement by the UN to the US or Canada.  This is a lovingly rendered and touching story of the resilience of these boys in the face of hardship. The back of the book includes photographs of Omar and his brother as well as author’s notes. The images of the characters are sweet and brightly coloured; the starry night sky is beautifully rendered.

        Apps I use to save money on groceries

        IMage description: Screenshot of a cell phone showing a folder called grocery saving apps and most of the apps listed in this post

        IMage description: Screenshot of a cell phone showing a folder called grocery saving apps and most of the apps listed in this post

        I’ve always been someone who looks for savings when it comes to grocery shopping but with the prices of groceries increasing so much since COVID began, I wanted to share some of the apps I use to try to save some money when it comes to the grocery bill.


        Flipp is an app that gives you access to local flyers and to create a grocery list that you can share with others.

        Their description: This essential app brings you the latest weekly ads, deals, and coupons from more than 2000 of your favorite stores.

        How I use it:

        I go through the flyers and pick which store has the best deals for the week, circle items in the flyer I want to buy and start thinking about my meal plan for the week (that I base on what’s on sale)

        I add items from the flyers to the grocery list which is synced with my husband’s app (because he does the grocery shopping)

        A couple of extra ways to use it:

        If the store you shop at does price matching you can use the app at checkout.

        You can create a watch list of products to look for on sale - something that can be super handy for more expensive items you don’t want to buy unless they’re on sale.


        Flashfood is an app that lets you see what items are almost at their expiry date at your local grocery stores and purchase them for pickup next time you’re in the store.

        Their description: Get massive savings on fresh food items like meat and produce that are nearing their best before date at grocery stores across Canada and the U.S.

        How I use it:

        Whenever we’re going to the grocery store or going near some of the stores we like, we check to see if they have anything good in stock. We have gotten a lot of the family meal kits we really like for half price, as well as more than half price cold cuts, snacks, and cheeses.

        There are often great bargains in Flashfood, but it’s definitely hit or miss. I often check it if we don’t have a plan for dinner and find something easy and cheaper than resorting to takeout or even something full price.

        I’ve included my affiliate link to check out the app which will get you $5 off your first order (and I get a credit too! :)


        This app is a combination of quick surveys you can take for small amounts of money, and opportunities to scan receipts for cash back.

        Their description: Caddle is a free app that allows you to earn cash back by responding to surveys, purchasing products, providing reviews and more!

        How I use it: I really like to answer their mini surveys and scan shopping receipts for cash back. The surveys take no more than a few minutes for the very longest ones. We occasionally take advantage of their product specific discounts but they definitely don’t have a huge variety so that doesn’t happen very often.

        I’ve included my affiliate link for this one as well.

        In the time I’ve had this app they have sent me cheques for $20+ at least 3 times.

        Checkout 51

        Checkout 51 is an app that shares special offers on food that you can claim by sending in a photo of a receipt showing you’ve purchased specific items.

        Their description: Checkout 51 lets you save on the brands you love: Get new offers weekly, buy from any store, snap a photo of the receipt and earn cash back!

        How I use it: This is one I don’t have on my phone but my husband does and has been able to upload enough receipts on product discounts to claim multiple refund cheques adding up to about $100 over a couple of years.

        PC Points / Airmiles

        This is definitely where we make the most money back every year. By always scanning our PC points card both at Loblaws/Superstore and at Shoppers Drug Mart, and taking advantage of 20 times the points promotions at Shoppers, we accumulate at least $300-500 in free groceries per year. Our strategy with these points is to save them up throughout the year and then use them in November and December to defray costs of holiday gifts.

        We also collect Airmiles whenever possible, though we do use those every time $10 comes available, saving up at least $50-100 each year on gas at Shell and at Metro.

        Do you use any other apps or reward plans to help with the cost of groceries? Share in the comments - we’d love to hear!

        Soccer in Ottawa - Atlético Ottawa

        KITC would like to welcome back guest blogger, Stephen Johnson. Stephen Johnson is an Ottawa writer who loves to write about family travel. During the summer, you will most likely find him and his family at a local fair or festival. During a non-pandemic winter, a beach in Mexico is a likely bet.

        One of the best feelings in the world for our family is the atmosphere prior to the start of a live sporting event. Of course, it has been well over a year since we had that feeling. Thankfully, our family had that it again when we attended the most recent Atletico Ottawa soccer match. 

        Atlético Ottawa Soccer

        The Atlético Ottawa match was the first outdoor professional sports event in Ottawa in over a year and a half. They were facing the Halifax Wanderers. 

        Approaching TD Place, it almost felt normal. Fans were wearing Atlético Ottawa jerseys. Families were enjoying a pre-game meal. The only difference was that almost everyone was wearing a mask. 

        To gain admittance into the game, it was necessary to wear a mask. People were expected to wear their masks at all times except when consuming food or drink. 

        We arrived early just to take in the atmosphere. There was a large crowd as Atlético Ottawa instituted a pay what you can model for the first game. All proceeds from ticket sales went to the Youth Services Bureau. 

        When player introductions were started, everyone started cheering. It felt like the entire stadium had been waiting for this moment. Live sports were back in Ottawa. Once O Canada had been sung, it was hard to hear yourself. 

        Halifax jumped out to an early 1-0 lead. This did not dampen the enthusiasm of the Ottawa fans. One of the most fun aspects of the game was watching the Ottawa supporters section. They can be described as super fans. They were chanting and singing throughout the course of the entire game. The Ottawa supporters also were very family-friendly in that their chants and behaviour were always respectful of all fans in attendance.

        When Ottawa scored their first goal, the supporter section and everyone in attendance erupted. It was a beautiful header that I am sure made the sports highlight reels. By halftime, the score was 1-1.

        I’ll be honest, this is usually the time our son, David, is ready to head to the exits. He likes live soccer but 45 minutes is usually enough. I said out of habit, “So buddy, do you want to head home.” I was surprised when I got, “No, let’s stay for the whole game.” In shock, I did not question this newfound appreciation for soccer. 

        Atlético Ottawa

        In the second half, Ottawa carried most of the play but did not manage to score a goal early on. I thought it was going to be a draw when Ottawa squeezed a goal by the Halifax goaltender in the 87th minute. David, Sandy and I leapt out of our seats. We were satisfied to see Ottawa notch their first victory at home. 

        For more information about tickets and schedule for Atlético Ottawa, visit https://www.atleticoottawa.canpl.ca.

        Stephen and his family received their tickets free, but the opinions expressed in this post are his own.

        5 ways my family benefits from spending time in nature (and how yours can, too)

        When I first committed to helping families heal their relationships with the natural world, my primary concern was motivating them to take action to protect our planet—and thus, our children’s futures. However, when the pandemic hit and schools shuttered, my boys and I headed outdoors in a serious way.

        5 ways family in nature.png

        While we had always been committed weekend warriors, this was the first time that they (and perhaps more importantly, me) were outside in nature every day. We explored the local provincial and municipal parks and did a fair bit of cycling, but our most frequent haunt was a creek that crossed the few acres of land we had the good fortune to be staying on. And with this daily routine, we had the opportunity to actually experience what it means for seasons to change from winter, into spring, into summer. Our minds were blown—and our knowledge of the natural world exponentially increased.

        Like for many families, this was an extremely tough time for my family—with many frustrations, changes, and stress. The time spent outside saved us, and it also made me realize that although nature needs us, we need nature so, so much more. I had already been advocating for the developmental and health benefits of time spent outdoors and how it provides opportunities for children and adults to build skills and knowledge that make them more resilient and adaptable. However, now I know it in my bones.

        Below are a few of the benefits my family experiences by spending more time in nature. Hopefully these benefits will inspire your family to spend more time outside as well.

        We are able to make meaningful, in-person connections

        Social isolation due to lockdowns has caused its own mental health epidemic—particularly among children, but also among parents. Depression, anxiety, and addiction are on the rise.

        Although there’s no simple solution, research has shown that meaningful connections can help. And that’s what the outdoors makes possible: a COVID-safe environment to re-establish in-person connections with family and friends—a place where children, parents, and caregivers can be together and enjoy each other’s company.

        We get a mental health boost

        Spending time in nature is an effective way to reduce stress and alleviate some of the mental health symptoms that children and parents (especially mothers) are exhibiting due to the pandemic. A growing body of neuroscience and psychological research into the benefits of outdoor play for children and time in nature for adults is demonstrating that these activities are sometimes as effective, or even more effective than, therapeutic and pharmaceutical interventions.

        Our mental health doesn’t only benefit from meaningful connections with other people, but from a connection with nature itself.

        We enjoy quality time together as a family

        While in nature, it is easier for us to self-regulate—meaning we’re better able to calmly confront challenges that arise in our day-to-day lives.

        Outdoors is where my family gets along better. When we’re outside, we tend to feel more relaxed and enjoy our time together more. Rules for behaviour are much more lax than indoors, so I don’t have to constantly police my kids’ behaviour (though we’ve had challenges reigning in stick play and wrestling). In general, there are less fights, more cooperation, and more moments of shared excitement. I’d go so far as to say more love.

        We get more physical activity

        During the pandemic, children’s health suffered due to a lack of physical activity. Now only 2.6% of Canadian kids are moving as much as doctors say they need to during the day! In my family’s case, with two incredibly active boys, I mistakenly thought we were immune to this. But in the third lockdown, my 9-year-old refused to leave his room during the day. His previously svelte body became soft. Unless we take action, these dips in our children’s physical activity could follow our kids for the rest of their lives.

        Being outside can inspire active play in children. When kids are outdoors, they’re more likely to run, jump, climb, and explore—and not get as tired in the process. This is more the case when time outside is not a hike (can you hear the whining, “how much further?”). At Family Earth we don’t do hikes—we go on adventures.

        We take a break from screens and technology

        Time spent in nature can give our brains the chance to heal from too much time in front of our screens. COVID-19 and the resulting lockdowns brought about a big change: suddenly, our lives were (mostly) online. Work, school, “hanging out” with friends, even attending yoga class—everything took place through a screen.

        While the Internet provides opportunities for learning and connection, and is clearly the safer option for socializing when community transmission rates are high, in excess (and we’ve certainly had that) it’s harmful to kids and adults. Besides reducing eyestrain and preventing headaches, benefits of reduced screen time include increased mindfulness, improved sleep, deepened connections, and enhanced productivity and learning.

        While kids may need to detox from screens for a bit before being able to appreciate it, nature is just as exciting, if not more exciting. I promise!

        I hope this inspires you and your family to spend more time in nature. I’ve seen the benefits with my family first-hand. Give it a try! And let us know what it does for your family.

        If you’re interested in family-friendly nature activities, Family Earth offers a variety of programs to get kids and parents outside. Check out all our summer experiences here. We hope to see you soon!


        By Rochelle Johnston
        Founder, Family Earth

        This article was previously published on Family Earth’s website

        Picking Flowers at Green Corners Farm

        bouquet of sunflowers and snapdragons

        bouquet of sunflowers and snapdragons

        This summer has been about staying close to home, and finding new activities to try with my kids has been a challenge. When a friend of mine posted some pictures of her kids picking sunflowers and snap dragons I was intrigued!

        Child snipping some snap dragons

        Child snipping some snap dragons

        That’s when I discovered Green Corners farm, a quaint little place not far from Ottawa in Edwards, Ontario where you can pick your own flowers. They have a beautiful variety of sunflowers in different sizes, and lots of colours of snap dragons. Earlier this spring they also had tulips. 

        Book a time to go pick

        Before you go, you’ll have to register for a time slot online. There was lots of availability, but I chose the 4:00-6:00pm time slot so it wouldn’t be too hot.

        Child in a field of snapdragons

        Child in a field of snapdragons

        The pick your own flowers  works on a points system and for $15, you get 20 points. One sunflower will cost you 2 points and one snap dragon is 1 point. For $30 we came home with an enormous bouquet of fresh flowers, and wonderful memories! 

        When you arrive, you’ll be greeted at the entrance. The owner explains how to choose the best flowers, and where to trim them. She will provide you with scissors and a basket or bucket to collect your flowers in.

        Arranging and keeping your flowers fresh

        Flowers being used as staging for one of Vicky’s latest weavings

        Flowers being used as staging for one of Vicky’s latest weavings

        When you’re finished the owner will help you arrange the flowers in a bouquet and even added a few sprigs of basil. She also recommended we add a bit of bleach to the water to make them last longer.

        The whole outing took us about an hour. There was plenty of space to distance ourselves from other visitors and lots of flowers to choose from. The kids loved walking through the tall fields of sunflowers and getting to snip their own flowers. One of the best parts was how friendly and knowledgeable the owner was. She said it’s her first year of doing this and she’s going to try different flowers next year!

        If you’re looking for something different, easy and outdoors to do with your kids this summer I highly recommend Green Corners Farm!

        Vicky is a mom to 3, a teacher  and enjoys weaving @weftjourney

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