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All In Hand

Baby gear

Miss Vicky Wed Jun 14, 2006

andrea wrote, in another thread where I obliquely referred to our search for the right stroller:

If I can throw my two cents in re: the stroller.

If there's one thing I regret about our own stroller purchase is that (a) the wheels weren't big enough. Get the biggest wheels you can. It'll be easier to get around in all seasons. Trust me. (b) there was no cupholder and (c) there wasn't enough extra "carry" space.... something big enough to hold a diaper bag would have been nice.

Oops. That's three things. Now four: it pays to spend $$$. You'll be using it a lot. And ultimately you get what you pay for.

Wise advice, indeed. We have been thinking hard about the stroller purchase - especially since we spend a lot of time out and about in the 'hood, during all seasons. We set our criteria fairly early in the process. We wanted something that could handle different kinds of terrain - snow, ice, cottage roads as well as sidewalk - and different levels of activity, but was also manoeuvrable and not so huge that you couldn't take it in to the odd store. We wanted something relatively light, that could accommodate an infant, had decent storage, was easy to fold, and could fit in the back seat of Trixie along with the babe in the car seat so Winston could be in the hatch. Tall order, no?

So we narrowed our search fairly early to the three-wheeled variety of "all-terrain" strollers. We wanted a swivelling front wheel that could be locked when necessary. Cupholders were a consideration for the Webgeek, while comfort, storage and the ability to recline were imporant to me. Here's what we came up with:

Zooper Boogie. Good storage, infant car seat compatible, nifty adjustable handle. But it was hard to fold, pretty heavy (31lbs) and very bulky even in the folded position. We pretty much scratched it off our list right away for that reason alone.

Bob Revolution. Available at MEC, which is a plus. Very sturdy, has good suspension for those bumpy rides, is easy to fold and pretty small when folded. It's also lighter than the Zooper (22.5 lbs) and comes in funky colours. You can purchase an infant car seat adapter and a handlebar console (with cupholder). But it seemed long to me and it didn't recline much.

Phil and Ted's E3. When we went to Kiddytown to check out stroller models, a staffer was demonstrating this model to a couple - it didn't take long for a crowd to grow. So we got a pretty good introduction to this stroller, and were pretty impressed. It is light, it is easy to fold and fairly compact when folded. It reclines fully, so you can put a newborn in it, and you can also get an infant car seat adapter. It seems very sturdy. It's a stripped down model - not many bells and whistles, but very utilitarian. You'd have to get extra stuff for comfort, since it's very basic. But the cool thing is its adaptability - you can get an extra toddler seat later, say, if you end up having an extra addition in the family (we're not planning that, BTW, but we weren't really planning this one either).

Bumbleride Rocket. Appealed to our geeky aesthetic sense, to be sure. Light, easy to fold and fits in the back of Trixie (we tried). Car seat adapter, cupholders, and other extras are included. Storage is not bad (although not as good as some of the other models), the handles are adjustable and it was easy to fold. More cushy for baby than the Phil & Ted's. Reclines fully.

There are more expensive models but that just seemed silly.

We have yet to take the plunge, but we're leaning towards the Rocket at this point. Fortunately a certain family member is helping out with this particular item, for which we are very grateful.

As for baby-wearing, as accidental altruist suggested, we're planning on a carrier as well. Actually we were hoping for a hand-me-down Baby Bjorn from siblings but they keep getting pregnant, dammit. But given our penchant for strolling and shopping, I think the stroller is a must.


Westfest and other notes

Miss Vicky Tue Jun 13, 2006

We spent most of our weekend at Westfest, weather bedamned. And I have absolutely no regrets. It was great to see so many people out in the street, chatting and enjoying the neighbourhood. We ran into a ton of folks we knew, made a few new friends, shopped a bit in the local stores (including some new spots we hadn't checked out yet), and generally enjoyed the vibe.

Westfest has so much going for it - it's free, it's locally-run (Elaina Martin is a force of nature. That woman can ORGANIZE), it's diverse - from kids activites to visual arts, busking, song, dance, guerilla shakespeare, spoken word, literary readings and, of course, great local and Canadian music, there is something for pretty much every taste. And if you just want to sit on a patio and people watch, you can do that too.

Highlights for me included the spoken word segment, curated by Greg Frankson (aka Ritalin). Brought me back to my poetry sweatshop days (but that's another story altogether). Justin Rutledge was great, Kellylee Evans actually had the crowd DANCING (in Ottawa, no less!), and I enjoyed the Hilotrons as well. Mostly I enjoyed watching the crowd. Webgeek and I were able to do some serious research on strollers (pretty much every one known to humanity was out on the street this weekend), and there were lots of dogs to greet as well (Winston stayed home). If you didn't get a chance to go, definitely put it in your calendar for next year.

On Sunday night we stopped by the Cube gallery for Vanishsage, a benefit for the Blink Gallery, which was robbed a couple of weeks ago (right after their opening - horrible!). Cube owner Don Monet stripped his walls bare except for a single, large, empty frame and projected images of Blink's opening night and the stolen art on the wall. There was a great turnout, some money was raised for the artists (not enough to make up for the loss of $20,000 and months of hard work, mind you), and you could definitely feel the sense of community in the room. Don's dedication to cultivating our artistic community really shone that night, and you can see it is paying off.

In fact, he's started a trend in the Parkdale Market - a new gallery is opening up next door, along with a photographer's studio and, if everything works out, a black-box theatre. They had the space open so folks could check it out. If they pull it off (and it sounds like they might), we'll have our own "off-Wellington" theatre/arts zone at Hamilton.

8 memey things

Miss Vicky Mon Jun 12, 2006

Well, I got tagged by skdadl at pogge, so here goes. I am to provide 8 random pieces of information about myself.

1)I did a brief stint in the naval reserves while in university. I learned to play the glockenspiel so I could avoid handling firearms by spending time in the band.

2) I did my Master's thesis on a once-obscure Flann O'Brien novel that is now the source of much obsession for fans of the TV show Lost.

3) My favourite swimming stroke is the butterfly

4) When I was five, my favourite outfit was an orange taffeta party dress.

5) I was asked to audition for the part of Anne in CBC's Anne of Green Gables mini-series. I was away at university. My mother thought it sounded "weird" and told them I was unavailable. Whenever I see Megan Follows perform, I have uncontrollable moments of bitterness.

6) I once cut off Ed Broadbent at a town hall meeting I was chairing.

7) I did a community theatre production of a play that required all the actors to learn how to wrestle, WWF-style. And it was a musical.

8) I have a collection of vintage cocktail dresses.

I think rather than tagging anyone, I'll leave it up to the faithful legion to add their own random things here or on their blogs.

Go West!

Miss Vicky Fri Jun 9, 2006

WestFest is a FREE weekend of music, art and fun in the heart of Westboro Village, along Richmond Road. Miss Vicky and the Webgeek will be heading west on Saturday and Sunday to take in the festivities.

The festival began as a way to bring people to the area during its road reconstruction a few years ago - but it's become a tradition... a great, free weekend with plenty to do and see.

Musical headliners include Juno nominee Elliot Brood, Jim Bryson, Emm Gryner, the Hilotrons, the Skydiggers and the Cash Brothers. The program also features Canadian and Ottawa-based literary figures, spoken word, dance and performance art, including Ann-Marie MacDonald

The main stage will be at Richmond and Golden, but the action takes place all along the Westboro strip. It starts at 10am on Saturiday with the Bigstone Drummers, an aboriginal drumming and singing circle. Sunday morning is an early wake-up with Westfesttamtam, led by djembe percussionist, Dr. Lee. Feel free to bring your own drum!

Festival-goers are encouraged to bring non-perishable food items for the Ottawa Food Bank camp (set up at Roosevelt and Richmond). Also keep your eyes open for buskers (including the Company of Fools), plenty of kids' activities (Ray's Reptiles is always a hit), free yoga classes (a friend of mine is doing a partner yoga demo on Sunday at 1 - that's always fun!) and more. Or come and hang out on one of the many extended patios.

See you there!


Have a slice of Parkdale Pie!

Miss Vicky Wed Jun 7, 2006

I received an email this week about a fabulous event coming up at the Urban Element, that fantastic cooking school in the old Parkdale fire station. They've joined forces with Cherry Pie, which has held a number of networking events for women in business. "Parkdale Pie" will profile west-end women and their businesses - and it promises to be quite the evening.

The event will take place on June 26 at the Urban Element (424 Parkdale), between 6 and 8pm and 8:30 and 10:30pm. Tickets will be $20.

So far featured businesses will include: Nectar Teas, Gallery 3, Clothes by Muriel Dombret, Bija Bijoux, Hush, 3 Tarts bakery, Storm Communications, Groovy Grapes and Kathleen's Sensual Fitness (I always knew they'd find a good use for that fire pole!).

I can't think of a better way to meet some great women, sample what Kitchissippi has to offer - and have a good time to boot! I'll forward more info as the date approaches. Anyone interested in getting involved or snapping up one of the limited tix can contact catherineknows (at) videotron.ca.

Helmet Head

Miss Vicky Wed Jun 7, 2006

Whew! It's Commuter Challenge week, and today is Clean Air Day, so I decided to mark the occasion by biking to work. I haven't done this in a while - it's a 45 minute trek from my place to our Queensway Drive office. But I have a new bike that is much more friendly to my pregnancy-shifted centre of gravity, so I thought I would give it a shot. I took the direct route down Wellington/Richmond to Pinecrest. My after-work route will be more meandering, along the river. Anyway, I'm still benefiting from the endorphin rush, so I'm glad I did it.

Don't forget to sign up for the commuter challenge online or at your workplace - or you can fill in a slip at any Bridgehead!

A Wacky Wiki Woo

The Webgeek Tue Jun 6, 2006

WikiProject Ottawa
I was just poking around on Wikipedia, as I am want to do on occasion. Usually, I start by checking if any updates have occurred to a certain local candidate's Wiki page, then move on to other pages. As is usual on these visits, I quickly happened into unknown territory. I went from Vicky's entry to the 2006 municipal election to Kitchissippi Ward and off, rather randomly, to Westboro where I noticed the link to a list of Ottawa neighbourhoods. That, in turn, brought me to the Gloucester burrow of Ficko (how can you NOT follow a link labelled "Ficko") which turns out to be a stub article for WikiProject Ottawa. An interesting endeavour to try and categorize and organize information about the Nation's Capital. It's pretty extensive too. And they're calling out for help. I'm not sure how much time I'll be able to devote to the project myself, but I thought I'd let more people know of it's existence, in case one of you wanted to pass your pearls of wisdom along.

Well, that, and I really wanted to title an article "Wacky Wiki Woo".

Loeb to recycle plastic bags

Miss Vicky Mon Jun 5, 2006

Media are reporting that Loeb grocery stores will be announcing a new plan to collect and recycle used plastic grocery bags. I was in the Wellington Loeb this morning and they have a large, blue bin set up at the front of the store, ready to go. They are also encouraging customers to use reusable bags instead of taking the regular plastic ones home - nice bags made of recycled material are available there, although if you're anything like Miss Vicky, you have a host of cotton shopping bags from assorted conferences and events taking up space in the basement or closet somewhere in your home.

It's about time, really, that major retailers started taking responsibility for the waste they help to produce. Sure, those plastic bags are cheap, easy to store and take up less waste than the old paper kind, but they're an environmental nightmare. We pay a massive price for convenience.

Like many, I was appalled when the city discontinued plastic bag recycling, and didn't renew it when they started taking containers again. I'm a little baffled that Loeb can make a go of it and still have money to give to the United Way, yet the city couldn't afford the cost. But I'm glad that someone is taking the initiative.

The question remains, though: is recycling enough or should we be discouraging the use of plastic bags altogether? After all, there are alternatives - reusable bags or bins, paper bags, and even biodegradable plastic bags are available. Other jurisdictions have banned the use of plastic shopping bags, or imposed a surtax on them to discourage their use. Ireland's 15 cent surtax on plastic bags, for example, has resulted in a 95% reduction in their use. Of course, this may be perceived as a burden for retailers. However, biodegradable alternatives are available - so are <biodegradable dog poop, kitchen waste bin liners and trash/compost bags. Hopefully other retailers will build on Loeb's initiative... or is there something the city should be doing to encourage and support them?



Miss Vicky Sat Jun 3, 2006

The Elmdale School Art and Plant fair is TOMORROW - Sunday June 4! Not today! So sorry!

Wander westerly this weekend

Miss Vicky Fri Jun 2, 2006

It's a big weekend in Kitchissippi..... here are some ideas for you and your family.

Saturday June 3

Hintonburg Commuity Day
9am to 3pm at the Hintonburg Community Centre (Wellington near Fairmont)
This event features a huge garage sale, BBQ, games for kids... and of course, the Giant Map of Wellington Street West will be there to record your ideas and vision for the future of the 'hood.

Wellington Village Business Association Sidewalk Sale
Wellington St W. from Parkdale to Island Park
all day

Island Park area annual garage sale (watch for the signs)

Elmdale School's annual Art and Plant Show
I hear that plants grown by gardening guru Ed Lawrence will be up for grabs!
10-2pm in Champlain Park

Mothercraft Annual Garage Sale
475 Evered (near Churchill and Byron)
8:30 to Noon

Music in the Park
11 - 3pm in the Westboro Kiwanis Park
(adjacent to Dovercourt Recreation Cenre)
Listen to local bands & choirs, enjoy a BBQ

And of course, Doors Open Ottawa is being held on Saturday and Sunday. This is the annual event that gives us a peek at otherwise-unavailalbe buildings and facilities around the city. Some Kitchissippi highlights include:
Old Standard Bread Company/Enriched Bread Artists building, 951 Gladstone.
Rosemount Library (Rosemount near Wellington)
Ottawa Area Guide House, 453 Parkdale
Ottawa Main Mosque, 251 Northwestern
Ottawa School of Speech and Drama, 294 Picton
Westboro Masonic Hall430 Churchill
Protection of the Holy Virgin Russian Orthodox Church 99 Stonehurst, near Laroche Park


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