Showing posts with label playing. Show all posts
Showing posts with label playing. Show all posts

Monday, January 6, 2014

Winter on Wheels

Winter is here and it's been a brutal one. I know, I know, we live in Canada, the snow should not surprise me, but I kind of feel like we've had more than our fair share this year and now to add insult to injury, we are breaking records with the cold and wind. It's dreadful. It's only the start of January.


I think part of why this year seems worse than previous years is that it's the first time I've had to prepare all three kids for the horrid weather. Up until now, Kingsley has gone outside in the winter when I was interested in going outside... which is rare, hovering around 0C and has a nice, friendly snow. This year, he is in preschool and at preschool they go outside, no matter the weather. He plays outside at preschool, so now he thinks outside is all fun and snow is great. My glory days are over. This year, we play outside. Blech.

The weather shifted and snow hit the week Kingsley had his casts off, which was a godsend since you cannot fit snow pants or boots over casts and leg splints. I bought him Stonz boots again with a sherpa liner for warmth. They've been amazing. They fit amazingly over his AFO's and are very warm. I am going to cry when he outgrows these boots. There's nothing special about his snowsuit or any of his other gear, but putting it on is ridiculous. Dressing a typical child is not all that much fun. Dressing a child who needs endless layers to protect skin he cannot feel, who can barely sit up in that many layers, and who cannot push his foot into a boot is a downright gong show.


Remember the scene in A Christmas Story with Randy's snowsuit? This is my life right now. I work up a sweat, I'm exhausted. And many times Kingsley has laid on the floor when we're done, flailing around yelling about how he can't get up. Gong. Show.

Anyway, other thrilling escapades involve wheeling through snow, snow drifts, melting puddles of slush, puddles in general, salt and dirt. If you thought pushing a stroller through snowy sidewalks was bad, imagine not being able to tip that stroller back to get over the obstacles. Imagine lifting that dirty, snow covered stroller into your trunk over and over and over. Imagine pushing that dirt and snow covered stroller right on into your house.


I hate winter.

I'm trying very hard not to entertain the dismal thoughts running through my head about how Kingsley will cope with recess next year when he's in school full time. And when he's older and all the other kids are running through the snow. He'll be alright, right? He's not the first kid in a wheelchair in the winter.


If there's one good thing to come out of this, it's that Kingsley has started pushing his wheels with the hand rims instead of the actual wheel, to keep his hands clean.

Whine, whine, whiney, whine, whine. 

Sunday, September 8, 2013

The Bog

In my search to find places I can take all three kids to hang out, my friend recommended the Sifton Bog. I've been there exactly once in my life and it was with a client way pre-kids. I had completely forgotten about this little gem!

It was a nice, sunny day today and we had nothing to do, so I dragged the kids into the van and off we went. Let me tell you, it was a hard sell. When I explained it, Rachel and Cordelia kept repeating: "But that's it?? Just walking? Nothing else? But what else do we do there? That's it?..." and on and on.

The Bog is basically just a boardwalk. It starts with a stretch of gravel, which was well groved and impossible for King to push himself along. Short trip, then it was wood planks.



It's nice, even planks, very easy for Kingsley to go down. The only trouble was that it dropped off on either side, as in - one wrong wheel and King would've face planted down a foot or so into the dirt and trees. I didn't worry about the girls, but Kingsley loves to watch his wheels light up when he goes very fast (his preferred speed) and that means he doesn't look where he's going. I just held his handle the whole walk and it was all fine.

The boardwalk leads to:


There were a bunch of tween-ish boys when we got there, which ended up being awesome. They had nets and were getting right in where they shouldn't have been (so glad I'm not their mother!) pulling out turtles, tadpoles, and frogs and attracting fish for my kids to watch.


All three were in heaven. We stayed on that dock for nearly an hour, just watching and exploring.


I didn't get any pictures of Kingsley because I either had a death grip on his wheelchair to make sure he didn't wheel himself over the edge or later crawl over the edge when he was lying on the dock, dangling over so he could play with the water.

I will admit, I am not a fan of all of natures creatures. They're all fine from a distance, so it took a lot of effort not to shudder and run away when these boys were running over with turtles and frogs to show Kingsley. At one point, two dragonflies landed on my shirt. I know, dragonflies are all cool and pretty and whatever, but seriously, it took all of my energy to force a smile and not scream as Rachel took this picture. She was thrilled. I was paralyzed with fear.

GET. OFF. ME.

All in all, a gold star trip. Thumbs up for the bog, we'll be back! (with bug repellent)

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

#Pinterest #Win

Way back last year sometime when I first fell in love with the insanity that is Pinterest, I stumbled upon an upcycled crib that got me giddy. Let me just explain why this is beyond awesome.

First, drop-side cribs that are pretty standard are now banned in Canada. If you have one, you can't sell it and you aren't supposed to use it unless the manufacturers sent you the kit that makes it no longer a drop-side crib, just a giant jail cell with four nailed-in walls. This recall/ban happened when King was a baby sometime and did not phase me in the slightest. For starters - our crib broke the night I put it together when I was pregnant with Rachel (Picture this:  there is a hockey game on TV. A 7-month-humongously pregnant woman is putting together a crib. She asks her heavily distracted husband to just hold the board while she screws in the four screws. He agrees. She screws in one side. Someone scores. He lets go. The board splits. The woman cries. Then the woman calls her dad. He glues it back together. It holds three children because Dad is awesome) so, there was no expectation that we would be able to sell this crib either way. However, there's also no chance of hanging on to the crib for future generations since it's already obsolete. I was just thrilled to have ANYTHING to do with this crib other than the dump.


Another reason this crib was so awesome was that it was turned into a desk that could be set at basically any level. We have such trouble finding tables and desks that are the right height for King. Adult-sized are too high, child-sized are too low for his wheels. At one point, we had even considered having a table custom made for him, just to have one. Colouring, playdough, trains, cars, puzzles, snacks, tea parties - there are so many reasons a child needs a table that they can access. Kinger has become an expert at siding up next to things, but most of the time he just gets frustrated and gives up instead.

Sooo... for the last few weeks my sister has been visiting from BC and her husband came along. The man (thankfully) is incapable of relaxing and vacationing. Instead, he scrubbed windows, cleaned out window wells, mowed the lawn, fixed our gate, and then did the grunt work on this upcycle. The original upcycle had some extra board put over and edging or something... mine is not so fancy. Kevin sanded, primed, and then painted the original board with chalkboard paint. It looks awesome. Today, I put the pieces together and held my breath. There are three levels the board could be at, or there was the option of just breaking out some nails and setting it wherever I want. By some total miracle, the highest level was perfect!

PERFECT height in his stander! 

I don't think this could be a more perfect height for his wheelchair

the girls got super excited when they saw the new desk 

the perfect, accessible tabletop for trains! 

This may be my favourite Pin ever. I am so glad that I held on to it and made this happen. So, parents, hang on to those cribs and give your kids a free desk. Brilliant! 

Monday, June 10, 2013

What's a Kid to Do?

The past year or so has been quite educational as far as what is accessible for children in our city. Kingsley has now had his wheelchair for 16 months and in that time I have been endlessly brainstorming about ways to keep him busy. Some places have been awesome. Some are total flops. There are so many things to do, places to go when you have children. So many places that you take for granted. You might notice how hard it is to maneuver a stroller through Gymboree, how inaccessible shopping is downtown, and even get irritated when the automatic door buttons are broken, but until you have an independently wheeling child, those annoyances suddenly become barriers in the most real sense.

Here is my run-down on the places in our 'hood that people hang out with kids:

1. Parks: there are designated parks in London that are meant to be more accessible and disability-friendly. It's a bunch of hooey. These parks usually include a play structure with a single ramp that Kingsley can roll up and hang out on a platform that then has steps up or down to get to the action. Sometimes there might be a bubble thing for him to look through. Wow. They also have dips in the concrete pathways that lead down to wood chips, I assume so that he can roll down into the wood chips? Brilliant. Unfortunately, the wood chips aren't usually topped up, so no matter where you're rolling into this section, you're dropping off a curb to get there. Into wood chips.

 yay! woodchips!!

wow! a ramp to stairs and a drop in the curb to roll on into those fun woodchips

There is usually a swing there that is for people with physical disabilities, in that it's a huge chair with a bars that come over your shoulders and connect between your legs, kind of like on a rollercoaster. They're adult sized. I read the fine print on the swing once, just trying to find out it's purpose as it is so big it fits two of my children at once. It says there are additional straps to support smaller people. The straps are not there.


There is ONE park we have found and - gloriously - it's the one closest to our new house! It has three whole ramps for King and each ramp leads to an actual activity, a piano, a finger maze, and I forget the other thing. Kingsley loves it. There are still wood chips, but (at least last summer) they were topped up to curb level and he loved to sit and play in them. It's a big playground with a lot of paths. It's not perfect, but it is somewhere that we can all go and have fun.


the school playground is also partially accessible

2. StoryBook Gardens: this is a big thing in our city and kids love it. I LOVED it when I was a kid, though it's changed a lot since then. When Kingsley was a baby, this was a great place to take the kids. Kingsley would nap, nurse, people watch, play in the huge sand pit, and have a great ol' time while the girls played. Now, not so much. The park itself is accessible and has lovely paths, but none of the structures, rides, or activities are wheelchair friendly. Kingsley is no longer content to sit and watch, so this place is out. Sadly.

3. Children's Museum: another huge thing for kids in our city and was when I was a kid as well. This place is accessible, has an elevator and ramps, activities at his level and that he can access, lots of fun. However, the museum has HUGE safety hazards in the form of big wide open stairwells on the upper levels. They are central stairs, right in the middle of the action and there is nothing to stop Kingsley from flying right down them or have another kid bump him in that direction. I am shuddering even typing that. There is also a big wide open stairwell down to a mermaid sand pit, where of course King loves to play. It gives me nightmares. It's on my to-do list to email them and tell them to put in some flippin posts at the top of the stairs, for Pete's sake. Until that happens (and I'm not holding my breath), we can't hang out there unless I'm one on one with King.

4. Indoor Playlands: there are basically three in this category - Adventures on Wonderland, Kidscape, and McDonald's. McDonald's is pretty much the same everywhere and they aren't accessible, not even remotely. And it's McDonald's. Kidscape and AOW have the same problem, being that they aren't accessible. They are big places with different spaces within them, lots of kids running here, there, and everywhere, back and forth. He can get in. He can sit and watch. As a baby, there were big mat areas where he could play, but that got old when the only thing I could do with him was PT exercises. Boring mommy ;)

5. Skating Arenas: they are accessible! We haven't been able to go this year, since my PT laughed at me when I asked if I could skate with a torn ACL, but last year we went and King had his borrowed sledge and did great. I have heard that you can even borrow sledges if you call ahead, but I don't know if that's true. The change rooms are just benches, like any skating place, I suppose. I'm not sure I've ever seen a change table, nevermind an accessible change table. We don't hang out long though, so have never needed one.

6. City Swimming Pools: they're kinda iffy. I mean, they are accessible, but not overly. A couple of them have lifts or ramps, but the city-run pools don't really have accessible change tables or spaces to change King other than a bench. It's fine now, at this age and with his abilities, but I know others have had issues with this. It's part of why we've put in a pool at our new house.

7. YMCA: oh, boy, I had high hopes for this place. ;) Fortunately, they have not let me down again! It's great. The change room is great, the pool has a ramp and a lift (though not to the shallow end, but this doesn't bother us right now). The gym, the playrooms, the activities for kids, and the whole place is very inclusive. Kingsley can go anywhere and do (almost) anything. They have a Treehouse room with a structure similar to the indoor playlands, but different in that there are things on ground level that King can wheel into/under. I've only gone to the one in the north end, but I hear the other Y's are also good.

8. Libraries: I can't say enough about how much I love our public libraries. We've been to a handful now, and not one has disappointed us. They all have train tables, books (obviously!), computers, tables at Kingsley's height, toys, floor space to sit and hang out... they're just awesome. We go weekly, sometimes more, all year round. All three kids love them. I love them. We love them. Except the family bathroom in the Westmount one has a hugely heavy door that does not have a button to open it. It's ridiculous. But other than that, love. ;)


9. Movies: Jeff and I have always been drive-in people. We used to drive his half-dead car with the dead stereo to the outskirts of the city and listen to the movies on a beat up old ghettoblaster that ate batteries for breakfast. It was cheap and we could bring our own snacks. Anyway, it's also a great place to bring babies because you can roll up the window or strap them in a wrap and go for a walk if they started to cry. Now, the kids understand what 'adult movie - go to bed' means so we wait until the first movie is a family movie and pack up the kids. The location itself is not accessible, not the bathrooms (unless there's separate one I've never noticed?),  not the gravel paths, nor the playground. But, we can all go and hang out by the van and play, get comfy in chairs and make it work for now.


We took Kingsley to his first movie theatre a week ago! It was great and he did surprisingly well, quite surprisingly considering how big and loud the theatre is. The only issue is that the wheelchair spaces are all down in front and the good theatres are the really big ones which means you'd have to be looking up to watch the movie. Not my favourite place to sit. We parked his wheels and he sat on my lap, which is where he wanted to be anyway.

10. Other People's Houses: this is one that is starting to become a problem and I don't see that changing. He's outgrowing his Bumbobile. His little bum and skinny legs fit in the seat just fine, but it's low to the ground and at his age, kids start to stand up more. To be at the level of his peers/sisters, he prefers his wheelchair or stander. Unfortunately, people's homes are not generally designed to be accessible so his big wheels don't fit and kids don't stay put. They run upstairs to show you their room, run downstairs to grab more toys, want to play outside... And Kingsley is left there with me and the other mom. I am getting better at inviting people to our house to play, since it's pretty kid friendly and King can obviously get anywhere. Even going downstairs, other kids are very eager to wait for Kingsley since it means they get to ride the elevator. This is one hurdle that won't get any easier as he grows up, but I'm not dwelling on it yet. We will tackle it as it comes.

11. Bowling: this is one rare gem that we've stumbled upon. There's a cool place here called the Palasad where you can play arcade games, bowl, eat, and a bunch of other stuff. There was one right by our old house that underwent big renovations and one of the things they did was make it completely accessible! I took the kids to a birthday party there recently, full of anxiety, and as soon as I walked in the door a staff member appeared out of thin air asking if King was going to bowl and they had a ramp there before we even got to the alley. I haven't been to the other big bowling-fun place here, Fleetway, but I'm told they are connected with an organization for adults with disabilities and have made sure it's accessible for everyone.



That's about all that I've found. The malls are also all accessible, but Kingsley's not a huge fan of shopping without an ice cream bribe. Fortunately right now we are surrounded by construction, which is still endlessly entertaining for Kingsley. When we get really bored, we walk up the street to the end of the subdivision where they are preparing the next field for an apartment building. There are a lot of diggers and dump trucks, cement trucks, and cranes around here. The construction crews are so friendly to Kingsley, waving and honking their horns. He loves it.

If there are more places to go that I don't know about, let me know! It's going to be a long summer. :)

Friday, April 26, 2013

Change of Seasons

There's a joke about Canadian seasons: Almost Winter, Winter, Tired of Winter, and Patio. That puts us smack in the middle of Tired of Winter right now, which I find incredibly accurate. April has had us swing from spring-ish weather, to snow, to sunshine, to snow, to t-shirts, to snow again. Tuesday was warm and sunshiney, yesterday, it hailed and today there was frost on the ground. Tomorrow, it's supposed to be nearly 20C. There is just no rhyme or reason to this. 

 some of the deceptively sunnier days here

colouring his favourite superhero on the garage floor

In the meantime, we are getting ready for Patio season! The workmen have come to work on our yard all week and it's been fascinating. Kingsley and I have spent most of our days in the garage or at the back windows watching trucks and workmen do their magic. The cement truck arrived today to pour the driveway and I could barely drag the girls out to school, they just wanted to watch. 



The sunnier days this month have made me so eager to get the yard done. It's been frustrating for both Kingsley and I to limit ourselves to the garage and front porch when we want some fresh air (uneven gravel is no friend to wheelchairs or crutches). Today, they are paving the driveway and the front walk. The other days this week they've done the prep work for that and done the stone/rock work in the backyard, added some of the features to the pool, and prepared the patio for concrete. In the next two weeks they will continue to do the back yard, add fencing, and then eventually we will get grass and landscaping done. So exciting!!

 the future path to the front door which will complete the smooth ride into the house for King

this is the back patio taken from two different windows. the patio has a ramp (where those rocks are) that will end beside the stairs. the gate to the pool will be there. watching the Bobcat place the rocks was probably the highlight of King's month. and yes, it was snowing when I took these pictures yesterday.

As of a couple of days ago, I have ditched the crutches and can walk on my own (finally). I have a long way to go before my knee is back to normal, if it ever gets there, but at least now I can drive and by the time we really do reach Patio season, we will be ready to enjoy it! 


Thursday, January 17, 2013

With No Segue

Our new house is awesome. No, we do not yet live in it. Long, boring story, but hopefully very soon we will be moving. In the meantime, I torture myself by daydreaming about how amazing it will be to actually live there. It is a Dream Home in every sense of the word. ;)


The potty action started great, then as I should've anticipated, everything went out the door when the holidays hit. Bedtimes were all over the place, we were all sick, lots of grandparents needing to babysit... Anyway, as soon as our routine started up again, I dusted off the potty and we got back to it. It's so very strange to potty train when nearly every factor is in my control and he has none.

All in all, things are going well. Lots of clean times during the day, lots of potty action, but it's still a learning curve I'm trying to master. All in time.


Remember the pregnant Mom I met at the library? In this city, six degrees of separation is really only about two degrees, so I was able to find her! And of course, she blogs ;) Her beautiful daughter, Ava, was born on December 4th and she's doing very well. This little fighter and her family are amazing. You can follow her story here.


Kingsley turned three this week. It feels like his first year was really heavy and consuming and action packed, and the next two have been kind of chill and just a chance to settle in and be comfortable. He really does feel like a three year old though. He didn't feel much like a one year-old when he was one because of the absence of walking and talking or all of that physical growth stuff. He didn't feel much like a two year-old because of the lack of language and tantrums (aw, shucks!) and toilet training trials that happen then. But three feels like three. I think three is going to be a good year for him.

For those of you who keep track of these things, tomorrow will also be his three year shuntiversary! He's still rocking Billy the First, which is awesome.


We are officially  members of the YMCA. Kinger and I went in there last week and had our tour, signed the papers and got our cards. We went for a workout Monday and had a wee snag though. When I dropped him off, I was one of the first there and they asked if he could stand. No. Could he crawl? No. No biggie, just have him sit there on the play mats. When I picked him up, I realized I had put him in the baby room and he was surrounded by infants. Today, he hung out with the kids his age and I had to drag him out of there (not) kicking and screaming.


And whatever is a mama to do when her camera stinks and her photorific sister refuses to cross the country to update her ancient blog header? Well, obviously, I went back to Laura! So. Ridiculously. Cute. The restructuring is a work in progress. I still need to play around a bit. :)

Sunday, September 9, 2012

The Bucket Overflows

Oh, my goodness, the summer is over.

I can't believe I went an entire month without a post. It's been a little busy here and really I've had a wicked case of disinterest in writing. At all. Anyway, I'm dragging my lazy butt away from Pinterest and finishing what I started here with my list of things we've done this summer!

31. Go to the beach - we went to the cottage for a week. That's an entire post that I really need to get to. It was awesome. Lots of beach time!


32. Pudding Painting - the kids loved this. Kingsley freaked out, of course, as soon as his finger touched the pudding. I prompted him to wipe it on paper and then when that failed, to stick his finger in his mouth. Game on. His new fave craft.


33. Splash Pad - ah, can't take credit for this. My mom took the girls a few times. I should've taken Kingsley, but the walk is too long for my knee. Next year!

34. Sleepover at Grandma's - KINGSLEY WENT TOO!! I had a full 26 hours without children. To say that I was giddy would be an understatement. A big understatement. Bigger than big.

35. Playground by our new house - we have gone twice! It's a great park. That's another post as well because it got me thinking a lot.


36. Glittery ice - this was a Pinfail. Ice cubes + glitter + oil. Drop cubes in big bowl of warm water for glittery bubbles floating on the surface. It lasted about 35 seconds and ended with Kingsley freaking out and all of us being covered in glitter for a day. My lawn still has glitter on it.


37. Coloured Spaghetti - very awesome. Whole box of spaghetti cooked, split and soak in a little food colouring and water. Drain and play! DO THIS ONE OUTSIDE. A house full of cold rainbow spaghetti is notsofun to clean up.


38. Indoor scavenger hunt - another girls only game. Rachel enjoyed it, but Cordelia got bored. Maybe next year.

39. Slip and Slide - I found one for cheap at an end of summer sale. It has a little collection of water to slide into that Kingsley loved.


40. Slime - ooey, gooey.


41. More volcanoes! This time we did a big one in a waterbottle. Pretend we actually made a volcano like you did in elementary school ;)


42. Campfires and s'mores. It came with the cottage!


OK, so we didn't hit 100. I'm sure we did 100 cool things, but it felt like a big blur and there was a lot of repetition. We never did read all of the books on our shelves - I had to clear the shelves and pack them all up to do some reno's in the playroom.  Our apple test with organic vs not organic ended today and it was pretty interesting. Looks like pesticides really do prevent break down of produce? OK, it's not totally scientific, but kinda cool.

The organic apple is the far left on the left and the bottom on the right


All things considered, I was pretty impressed with the fun stuff we did. When you add in the ridiculous amount of renovations I've done on our house, it's been one of my busiest summers.

Friday, July 27, 2012

The Buckets Continue

We have crossed off a bunch of stuff again on our summer list of things to do. It has been an insanely busy two weeks, where I have wished numerous times that I had a nanny so that I could stop harassing the grandparents to babysit twice a day, every day. Our house is in full throttle renovation-mode and our new house is in full throttle picking-the-details-mode. As if that weren't enough, toss in a handful of doctors appointments for Cordelia and I, PT appointments for Kinger and I, and a day at the hospital for routine tests for Kingsley. Can we go on vacation now??

fish tanks are very distracting when you have to wait forever to get called in

Anyway, here is the fun stuff that we've been doing:

21. Pretend Makeup: I haven't actually given this to the girls yet, but I have made it and got it all ready to break out at the perfect moment of insanity. They love to play with my old make up, they love to do/pretend to do face painting. I *think* this is going to go over well. At least Kingsley will one day thank me, I'm sure.


22. Play-doh: the ol' stand by. I'm trying to desensitize Kingsley to the feeling of stuff on his hands. He freaks out if he has ANYTHING on his hands, which is crazy making for me. 


23. Crafts for Grandma: my mother in law gives the kids pink flowers on their birthdays every year. This year on her birthday we did the same! 

it's their hand prints!

24. Jello: I take no credit, I found this in one of my pins somewhere. I hate jello, I think it's rather gross and I associate it with vomiting. Playing with it seemed like a good idea. I wanted this to be one of those desensitization things for Kingsley, but the girls were driving me bonkers one nap time so I brought it out early. It got disgustingly awesome. Afterward, their hands were completely dyed red, which reiterated my distaste and decision to never eat this nasty stuff again. 


25. Mini Volcanoes: I think everyone and their uncle has done this pin, except us. It had so much hype and build up that I was certain it was going to be a bust. We finally got around to doing it and it was a 5 star success! All three loved it and there was a solid 40 minutes where the three of them completely got along. That's a rarity.


26. Ice Block Toys: this also had a lot of build up. Rachel saw me pin it ages ago and has been begging to do it since. I finally got around to doing it. Another winner! It was a good morning under the tree on the front lawn. The 12 year old neighbour came over with her 2 year old brother and both were intrigued and wanting to play as well. Not quite sure why, but this was a winner. Save it for a HOT day to facilitate.



27. Catch bugs: there was a moth in my kitchen. The girls are in love with ladybugs, butterflies and by default, moths. I'm hoping Mothy lives until the morning when they've promised to release her into the backyard.


28. Shaving cream: not sure where I saw it first, but I thought playing with shaving cream would be another way to desensitize Kinger a bit. Other kids love this! Mine did not. Kind of a fail. Kingsley freaked out and wanted nothing to do with it.


29. Swimming: I cannot believe I have only been in a bathing suit once this summer and my kids weren't even with me. This knee is slowing me down. Thankfully, my mom and Jeff's mom have taken the girls swimming. Pretty soon, I'm going to take them all. 

30. Date Night - no kids! For his birthday, Jeff wanted tickets to an annual outdoor concert downtown. Four bands were playing, but he was only interested in two of them. We don't get out much, so it was fun, even though it poured partway through. 


The coming week will not be very exciting, I'm afraid. I am in Olympics mode now. The Opening Ceremonies were awesome and I'm so excited for the games to begin! I'm doing my best to get the kids hyped up. So far, Kingsley is not impressed. 


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