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the savvy guide to Ottawa in April

Ottawa: the Savvy Guide to April

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Do you feel that warm sunshine on your upturned face? Rejoice! Spring is officially here and we are all feeling refreshed and recharged. It’s a good thing, too, because there’s a million and one things to do. We’re sick of tripping over winter boots and stray mitts, so spring cleaning is definitely in the works, and it’s that time of year when winter activities overlap with spring sports, making for some seriously crazy weeknights and desperate dinner scrambles. But we can help you make it through the month with ease—it’s all here in our Savvy Guide to April.

DO
Cast off the clutter and purge worn-out winter gear
Why? Nothing short of hiring Marie Kondo herself as a live-in housekeeper is going to get rid of all the clutter that is produced by a busy family. But we do need to make an effort to keep it at bay. Spring cleaning is a great time to unload all kinds of stuff. Start with the winter gear that’s worn out or too-small and get rid of that now; don’t store it all summer. Then pick one or two more broad categories to tackle and you will feel instantly lighter.

GO
To Valleyview Animal Farm on Easter Weekend
Why? Besides offering a variety of fun-filled activities such as puppet shows, a farm museum, playground, and a petting zoo, there will be a special Easter weekend egg hunt with hundreds of eggs scattered around the property.

GET
RunLites
Why? It’s a flashlight in a glove! It’s a small, rechargeable LED light in a cute sports glove, to be more precise. They are available in a variety of sizes and styles to fit both kids and adults alike. We immediately thought of camping: no more lost flashlights during night-time bathroom emergencies. But they’ll also be great for night runs and all kinds of fun after-dark activities that the kids will dream up.

PLAY
Bicycle obstacle course
Why? This is a great way to engage kids of different ages. The youngest will be able to play with the big kids, since they can take their time weaving around an obstacle course, even on a trike. You can use a good sized driveway, vacant parking lot, or school yard. Set up pylons (or anything you have lying around, really) and get the kids to weave around them on their bikes. This blogger even added empty soup cans along the course for the kids to drop pennies into.

READ
Outfox Magazine
Why? This monthly print mag is full of fun trivia, jokes, activities and articles that celebrate differences and encourage kids to love who they are. In particular, it’s a must-have for families with children on the autism spectrum. There are features that star kids on the spectrum and a comic strip designed by an artist with Asperger’s Syndrome. (PS. Discount code OTFX30 will get you 12 issues for only $3.80 a month.)

APP
Dinosaur Train: Paint and Match
Why? Fans of the ever-popular TV show will be excited to colour and play with their dino friends, Tiny, Shiny, Dawn and Buddy. Paint with Buddy includes 24 pictures that kids can paint using a variety of brush sizes and colours; and Match with Mr. Conductor is a memory game with four difficulty levels to choose from. Kids will develop their memory skills, hand-eye coordination, colour and composition skills, and creativity. Most important, they’ll have fun. (Available for both iOS and Android.)

SURF
EWG’s Guide to Sunscreen
Why? It only takes one beautiful spring day spent outside before sun-burnt cheeks and noses remind you to start stocking up on sunscreen. But which kind should you get? There are a dizzying number of options out there with all kinds of gimmicks and at all kinds of price points. And not all sunscreens are made equal either; some are ineffective while others are downright dangerous. The Environmental Working Group is a fantastic resource for deciding which sunscreen brands are right for you and your family. They score the best and the worst, offer other tips for sun protection, and offer a highly informative sunscreen FAQ.

GREEN
Set up your own solitary pollen-bee nest
Why? The plight of the honey bee has become our green cause du jour. According to Greenpeace, honey bees are responsible for 80 percent of the world’s pollination and 70 percent of the top food crops. The bad news is that bee populations are dying off for a variety of reasons including pesticides and habitat loss, which puts our natural habitat and food supply in danger. Doing your part to help out the honey bees can make for a fun family project. We love this solitary-bee nest that provides a safe home for 20 bees. Mount it in your yard and watch it become the perfect complement to edible pollen plants in your garden.

MAKE
Healthier, spring-inspired snacks
Why? We already mentioned how busy your weeknights are going to be. Dance and soccer plus piano and t-ball mean the kids won’t be lacking in exercise, but how about nutrition? We firmly hold that there’s nothing wrong with an occasional drive-thru dinner on a crazy night, but nobody wants that to be the standard. Stave off hunger and supplement those chicken nuggets with an arsenal of healthy, homemade snacks like popcorn, watermelon sticks (sticks, not slices!), kale chips, and bean dip. We’re all about the Salted Honey-Roasted Chickpeas in this Eating Well on the Go gallery. Let spring colours be your inspiration, too; think berry smoothies, fresh salsa, cucumber cups with mashed avocado or a green-speckled herbed yogurt dip.

HELP
Raise funds and awareness for Parkinson’s research by going to Comedy Night for Parkinson’s at Centrepoint Theatre on Saturday, April 8 at 8 pm
Why? Because it’s important to schedule date nights. Parkinson Canada partnered with Yuk Yuk’s to organize this event—and it’s a popular one, so be sure to act fast on tickets.

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