Curing the Nature Deficit

July 1, 2012: Milkman’s Lane, Yellow Creek Ravine, Mud Creek Ravine, Don Valley Brickworks.

In his book Accidental City, Robert Fulford wrote about Toronto’s ravines:

The ravines are to Toronto what canals are to Venice and hills are to San Francisco. They are the heart of the city’s emotional geography, and understanding Toronto requires an understanding of the ravines.

If you’re not familiar with Toronto’s ravine system, I recommend the blog, Toronto Ravines and Trails with Abbey. It’s the personal blog of a Toronto father who has chronicled his adventures exploring Toronto’s ravines with his five-year old daughter.  Of course, if you have a literary bent, there’s always Margaret Atwood‘s Cat’s Eye to read,  in which Toronto’s ravines figure prominently.

Walking in Toronto’s ravines has become a Canada Day ritual for us, those years when we can’t get out of the city (read: most years). There is nothing like an amble along a sun-dappled trail to get the imagination flowing. Not five steps on to Milkman’s Lane, and the boys had launched into a new game of their own devising, which continued, unabated, until they finally stopped to smell (or water) the roses at the Evergreen Brickworks, our destination of the day:

P.S.: We’re wishing our American readers, family and friends a very happy, relaxing and restorative Fourth of July.  Whether you spend the day in a ravine, at a beach, at a barbeque or just in the company of people you love, we hope today is a good one.


Help! What to do with these kids!?

Stuck on what to do with the kids?  Are the summer days feeling long?  Searching for the perfect activity to do with the family this weekend?

Melanie On The Go to the rescue!

I stumbled across this great website, where Melanie, a mom of two, reviews hot-spots for kiddies in the greater Toronto area.  She gives a complete over view of parks, splash pads, amusement parks and farms complete with pros and cons, which makes planning a whole lot easier.

Melanie’s site is perfect for families with little ones but for kids who have outgrown wading pools and kindergym, check out these websites that I look to for a little inspiration:


Click on About Town and Things to Do With a Boy (on the Categories menu) for some other suggestions from the 4mothers.

How about you?  What are some of your go-to websites?  If you live outside of the GTA share the wealth and let us know where to go, someone might be visiting your town!

photo credit:

What lazy days of summer?

I long for those lazy days of summer.  Reading books under a tree, strolling for ice cream, meeting friends for patio dinners.  Those are the summer days of yesteryear.  My days of summer are not anything but.  It’s been three weeks of summer and we’ve:

–       Planted cucumbers and tomatoes, a planter of begonias and a bed of gerbras

–       Had four cottage weekends complete with boating at the crack of dawn, fireworks late into the evening and a baby who refuses to sleep in his temporary crib

–       Attended (the kids, not me- I can only wish) a week of day camp

–       Visited two libraries, Santa’s Village, numerous parks/playgrounds and friends, farmer’s markets, and story tellers

–       Made waves in swimming pools and splash pads

–       Effectively wasted enough water with the sprinkler and hose-play to remedy the African drought

–       Seen Cars 2, the movie (read about THAT experience here)

–        Had two very nasty poo-explosions courtesy of the baby (who must have been feeling left out of all of the activity) which resulted in MAJOR clean-up and emergency baths all around

–       Had one lamp smashed to smithereens

–       Made one trip to the ER for a staple to the head, my son’s, not mine (can you imagine!?!)

–       Tried three neighbourhood restaurants for lunches (what was I thinking?)

–       Applied Benedryl to a swollen ankle rendered useless thanks to a Muskoka mosquito (*Mr. Mosquito, next time please aim for the lips.)

It’s important to note that while most things on that list sound summery and like a lot of fun, you must imagine doing each with three boys who must have been circus carnies in their previous lives.  Gong!

Of course, playing Activities Director has added to my already heaping amount of daily responsibilities (and laundry).

Boredom, if you are looking for someone to assault this summer, please, please pick me.

photo credits: and

Summer Solstice

June 21 is the day of the summer solstice this year.  I love to follow the solar and lunar calendars.  Being reminded of our little blue marble of a planet floating in the universe somehow makes the issue of who left the marbles laying on the playroom floor seem a wee bit less urgent.

School is almost out, and I’m in the mood to relax the rules and loosen our routine. 

Here are some ways to celebrate the longest day of the year.

Make popsicles–there’s nothing like a frozen treat on the longest day of the year.  I’m going to try to make mojito popsicles with fresh mint and lime.  Mmmmm. 

Eat outside–grab a blanket and keep it simple.  Finger food.  Fruit, veggies, cheese and bread.

Take bathtime outside–move the bedtime routine outdoors and wash off the sunscreen in a splash pool. 

Sleep outside–put a tent up in the back yard, read a stack of books with a flashlight and sleep under the stars.

Go to bed super late–one of our advent calendar gifts for the kids was a gift certificate that entitles the bearer to one super late night.  This is the time to use it.

Night walk–get out the flashlights and take a night walk through the neighbourhood.  Use all your senses to take in your world at night: smell the flowers, listen for the owls and raccoons, touch the dew on the grass, let your eyes get used to the dim light and taste night air.

2010 by the numbers

From the home office in east end Toronto, Canada…

(ed. note: Wait! Wrong type of list!)

All right. For those readers who compile lists of useless data as a hobby,  a late Christmas present.  For your consideration:

2010 At My House: By the Numbers:

Number of times we moved house: one

Number of houses we looked at before we found this one: five

Number of items broken during the move: none

Number of summer camps the boys attended: six (three each)

Number of choir rehearsals attended by Daniel: 16

Number of choir concerts: three

Number of swimming lessons the boys attended: 40

Number of gymnastics lessons: 24

Number of ball hockey games: 8

Number of references to the Harry Potter movies or books made by one or the other of the boys: too many to count

Number of visits to Great Wolf Lodge: two

Number of times Marcelle got sick after visiting Great Wolf Lodge: two

Number of times Marcelle was diagnosed with pneumonia: one

Number of cross-border shopping trips: seven

Number of cross-border shopping trips not involving a trip to Target — one

(NB. That was a trip to New York City. They’ve got other stuff there to keep me occupied….)

Number of kilometers run by Peter: 1125

Number of marathons run by Peter: one

Number of blog posts by Marcelle: 27

Approximate number of cups of coffee drunk by Marcelle: 397 +/- 10

Happy New Year from our house to yours. May 2011 count as your best year yet.