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Thursday, August 20, 2009

Thinking outside the park

I am a creature of habit. I like to stick to my routine. I take comfort in having the semblance of control over the uncontrollable. In other words, my children.

For that reason we do pretty much the same things everyday. We get up, eat breakfast, the boy has a nap, we go to the park, come home for lunch, the boy has a nap, we go to the park, come home for dinner and then go to bed. Whew! It sounds like a lot but since I have been doing it everyday for months now it has become second nature. I know what to pack to take to the park. I know who will be there at what time for the girl to play with and me to talk to. I know that I can always walk back across the street if I need to.

Since Monday the routine has changed. I don't like change. However, I have decided not to fight it because that will only make me miserable. Instead I have accepted that the boy is transitioning to only one nap. While there are a lot of positives to only one nap, like the option of getting out and doing things for an entire morning, it is a little hard to give up the little bit of me time I could sneak in the mornings by letting the girl watch a little video. But give it up I have.

My strategy to get me through this transition is to get out of the house as early as possible in the morning and to stay out until lunchtime. If I hang around at home I will start to obsess over whether or not the boy may or may not be tired and if I should or should not try to get him down for a nap. I will drive myself totally crazy and I don't need to be any crazier than I already am.

My strategy also involves going somewhere other than the park. Our park. Don't get me wrong, I love the park with a passion that may seem disproportionate to those who don't live at a park the way we do. But I have a hope that if we go somewhere different the boy will have a small, maybe even minute, nap in the stroller and that will make it easier for him to sustain his happy mood until his afternoon nap.

I am now on a quest to find fun things to do with the kids within a thirty minute walk of our house. (We have to be able to walk because we don't have a car.) Not just any fun things though. New fun things. Things the kids haven't done before. Things that will keep the boy awake and the girl engaged.

I think I am on a roll.

Tuesday we visited the husband's office. We did end up at the park afterwards, but it was to eat a picnic lunch which is infinitely more exciting than just playing in the park.

Wednesday we took in the sights of Parliament Hill. We managed to catch the end of the changing of the guard procession as they marched down Elgin Street. I found it exciting and thought the kids would like the marching band. The girl, however, was unimpressed. When I asked if she liked the parade she quickly replied "no".

She did seem to like walking around Parliament Hill, but was disappointed not to see my sister there. The girl apparently misheard me and thought we were going to Karlament Hill, a hill that sounds an awful lot like my sister's name. Thus it was my sister's hill. The girl informed me there was also a baby hill, a hippo hill and a mommy hill to make a total of four hills.

We walked all the way around the outside of the Parliament buildings. The girl was less impressed with the majestic architecture than she was enamoured by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police horses and the seven large raccoons eating all the cat food at the cat sanctuary. I like to think that only in Canada would you have a "cat hill" located behind the national seat of government.

The real reason we went to Parliament Hill that day was to participate in Yoga on the Hill. The girl has a deep interest in practicing yoga that I attribute to my sister and the desire to replicate the poses my sister shows her. The girl always has a lot of fun trying to do downward dog or child's pose. Even better is when she makes up her own poses. The husband, the girl and I have passed many enjoyable moments calling out random animals or people and watching the girl demonstrate the related pose. Really, you should see her dinosaur pose. I am sure that it will catch on soon. Forget hot yoga, dino yoga will be the new cool thing,

It was a great turnout that day with over five hundred people practicing yoga on the front lawn of Parliament Hill. The girl participated a bit and I even managed to sneak in a few poses while also trying to prevent the boy from knocking the woman next to me over. I think the girl might have been a bit happier had she been leading the class instead of participating. A couple of times her voice rose loudly over the crowd "I want them to do cobra, mommy" and "Tell them all to dance. Dance!". We left after about fifteen minutes.

Thursday (today) we finally visited the Legget Park Children's Garden on Main Street in Old Ottawa East. Every Thursday morning over the summer (and into September) parents gather at the garden for an informal playgroup. I have been meaning to go every week but have always found some excuse not to go and go across the street to our park instead. Today we went with some friends and it was wonderful. The garden was in full bloom and the children were able to wander through it picking whatever vegetables were ripe. The girl ate two small tomatoes right off the vine. The boy, meanwhile, chose to clutch his tomato in his hand for the entire visit instead of eating it. The girl and her friend walked around with gardening gloves on but never actually picked up the pails and rakes I had set out for them. We all sat in the stone circle at the end of the playgroup and sung songs loudly while it lightly rained. It was lovely. A garden oasis. We will go back next week.

Here's to thinking outside the park. May it go as well next week. Please.


  1. Sounds like quite the adventure! Good for you! I actually left the house and went to lunch with some other moms from my daughter's school! I, of course, was the only one with 2 little ones in tow! But I was assured that it was totally ok and that there was another mom with 2 about the age of mine and she is usually there, but something came up and she couldn't attend! They are planning another lunch next week....I might be tempted to leave the house again!! :D

  2. I love the idea of dinosaur yoga. I'll have to practice my pterodactyl pose... something like eagle, only more ferocious, right?

  3. So that is what that gathering was on the Hill this week! Dino yoga indeed. We need more exciting and different ways to get our kids active, and that there be one of them. ;) Does she have a Brontosaurus pose?

    The garden sounds amazing! We have our own veggie patch at my Dad's farm, so when we take our son out now he roams about, holding pieces of cedar bark in his hands from the mulch (we are a chemical free garden, so hes free to gum and pick at anything he wants). He loves the cherry tomatoes too. My husband and I love it, and we grow a lot of our summer veggies and herbs, and preserve too. Yum!

    Have you thought about visiting the bird sanctuary out on Moodie Dr. here? is the link, I have no idea if busses go there (I'm terrible for knowing bus routes in this city) but apparently its quite a neat place for kids to see birds and interact with them.

  4. I so love the idea of crashing a yoga on the hill! Sounds like you have had a fun and exhausting week!

  5. So glad to hear you made it to the Children's Garden. I drive past all the time and have loved watching it grow after spending three years at another community garden in the city.

    Cheers to exploring new places!

  6. oh that sounds like a wonderful week. Way better than sitting at my desk at work :)

  7. What a lovely post. I too was unprepared when my daughter transitioned to one sleep.

    How lucky you are to have so many interesting experiences nearby, the playgroup sounds divine.


  8. My son is currently in the process of dropping his morning nap, too. It is not a good time. Not a good time at all. It sounds like you're making the best of it though.

    And I would TOTALLY do dino yoga if you get to roar. Do you get to roar?

  9. Ugh - that 2 to 1 nap transition is rough!!

    Who knew our lives would be dictated by a little person's exhaustion? I mean, in hindsight I can say OF COURSE! but did I really know??? Oh hell no, I didn't!

  10. That transition is a challenge. Every so often they go through these routine changes, I think it's harder on us! LOL

  11. yoga on the hill sounds like fun... I often think that dinosaur is about my level of flexibility.

    The library here on Rosemount had a story time for kids. Not sure when or where.