Jun 012010

Mother Goose is….

“A group experience for parents with their toddlers, focusing on the pleasure and power of using rhymes, songs and stories… This is a nationally recognized Early Literacy Program.”

While that definition is correct, it doesn’t really do the program justice. I did two consecutive sessions of Mother Goose with my son at West Side Family Place. I found it welcoming, endearing and engaging. Unlike other programs for kids that are organized and regimented, this program was mellow, loving and “free” (for lack of a better word). The “curriculum” changed with each session; it evolved, if you will. Most importantly, there were songs, some puppets, some sign language and some pure playtime.

My son, the energizer bunny, lives to do the opposite of what is going on around him. If everyone is sitting, he will stand; singing, he will be silent; sitting in a room, he will fight to escape the room. Never one to be overly held or cuddled, he is an inquisitive, impatient little boy with a huge smile and sense of humor to match.

Some days I think I’m going to lose it, and they’re going to carry me off to the loony bin. You blink, my son’s on the coffee table; you try to do the laundry, he’s pulling the outlet protectors out of the wall. Sometimes, I stop in my tracks, close my eyes and breath deeply, only to open my eyes and see his adorable face grinning from ear to ear about an inch from mine. That’s what gets me through. Well, that and a little “Mother Goose” seemed to help a lot.

The coordinators (Eva & Jill) are loving people; you can tell they care. They are genuinely interested in you and your child. This is a place of comfort and compassion. It is easy going, everyone is welcome, and nothing is perfect or polished. You leave with a good feeling, like you visited a friend’s house. Somehow, as crazy as your child behaves, it’s no big deal. The environment is safe, there’s a slight diffusion of responsibility which allows you to relax so when it’s time to leave, you feel almost refreshed. At least I did. This is a special place.

If you have a child that likes to swing from the chandeliers and there are some days you think you may “lose it”, I suggest you give Mother Goose a try.

West Side Family Place
2819 West 11th Avenue (@ Macdonald)
Vancouver, B.C.

May 302010


This morning, I visited Kokopelli Cafe (for the second time), grabbed a $2 latte, propped up my exhausted hubby in a chair, and let Caden loose in the play area. Finally, I was able to relax for a few moments while I watched Caden try to play with a little girl, who wanted nothing to do with him.

My hubby ordered a small but satisfying sandwich containing  turkey, stuffing, and cranberry sauce with a side salad for $7.95 and a 12 oz. blueberry smoothie.

While Caden struggled with rejection from the opposite sex, I thought back to my first visit to this establishment. It was a Friday afternoon (their busiest day) and the place was loaded with kids and parents. This time, I’d dragged my Aunt along for the adventure and we managed to nab the last table in this small establishment…whew!

After Caden was busy playing, I approached the gal at the counter for a chat. I asked her which of the baked goods was the most popular. She directed me to the cheese scones and the double dutch chocolate brownies. All their baked good are freshly made on site. My Aunt loved the scone which was good (for a scone) but let’s face it, a scone ain’t no brownie now is it (as you may have guessed, I ate most of that one).

I also ordered a blueberry smoothie for my son who is just learning to drink from a straw. It was really good but honestly, he was more interested in playing than drinking. The good news – more smoothie for me! It was yummy, fresh tasting and not too sweet.

I really like this place. It’s a great “re-fueling station”. Moms (or Dads) can take a few moments to chill (while their children play),  gulp down a $2 latte, get their second wind and race off again feeling a little more human.

Kokopelli Cafe
4593 Dunbar St
Vancouver, BC
Ph: 604-228-0818

May 282010

Memorial Park (also known as “that park”) is the green space tucked neatly behind the Dunbar Community Centre at Dunbar and 31st Avenue.  In addition to the playground, there’s a lawn bowling club, tennis courts and a baseball diamond with bleachers.

The day we visited, there was a lot of activity in the park. At one end, there was an intense game of Tee Ball while at the other end a small group took Tai Chi lessons.

The playground was busy, full of kids “playing nice”.  This park has three main structures, one for bigger kids with a spiral slide and the second (very similar to the apparatus at Chaldecott Park) contained a fort, mini suspension bridge and zip line. Yes, I said zip line…wheeeeeeeeeeeeee! That part of the playground was a little advanced for my little guy but he was intrigued and stood quietly while he watched the bigger kids give it a try. Third structure contained tubes you could crawl through, a tube slide and a horizontal ladder to climb on or swing from.

This playground, like many I’ve visited, frustrates me. My 21 month old loves all slides but has a hard time accessing them due to the odd design of these structures. They use different types of ladders to give kids access to the slides. These ladders are tricky to climb…shheeesh…what’s wrong with an old fashioned set of stairs. Here we go again…my poor back…I watch parents lift their kids up to the slides so they can slide on down. The only park I know of (at this point) with easy access to the spiral slide is the Granville Loop park.

Memorial Park is another park from my childhood. It was fun to visit and feels like home to me. We’ll be back to check out the zip line and perhaps even play a little Tee Ball in the future.