I named 2015 the Year to Get Organized, and now that we’re 3/4 the way through the year, I am seeing the fruits of my labours. Really, it’s a project I began in 2014 with the first of my “lists.” Once I had two kids, it became harder to stay on top of keeping everything organized, particularly with all the new “stuff.” Over time, I realized that being tidy and organized made me feel better (I’m turning into my Oma) and that I had too much “stuff” anyway. So I began purging and organizing. Over and over.
I made lists like these. Earlier this year, I started my second list. Today, as most of the items were checked off, I made a third. Some items have remained static (projects I’m obviously avoiding or are not bothering me as much), but others get added. Some projects seem to be yearly, like reorganizing the pantry and bathrooms. Others are always fluid, like going through the toys. We don’t have a huge stock of toys anymore, but there is always room to keep trimming.
This last list feels so much more final. I had to really think about what should be on it. When I mentally picture our house now, most places are tidy and easy to keep organized. When you get down to just what you need, it’s very easy to figure out how to organize it.
Now I’m thinking beyond the last few projects (some big, like the office, some small) to thing that would make our house better: new countertops in the bathroom, new desk in our office.
Damien is the crazier of our two kids. He is the one most likely to run, not walk. To jump from high places. To run into traffic laughing. To need to be told 3 times to stop before actually stopping. To laugh when he falls. He’s also crazy co-ordinated, so we’ve armed him with his own 2-wheel scooter since he was 2 and a pedal bike since his 3rd birthday. He spent 2 days using the training wheels then we worked on taking them off. With the aid of Escape Adventures and his own daring co-ordinated nature, he’s become a strong biker. Thankfully, he’s also recently learned how to stop!
Now, whether it was wise to arm this child with the ability to go faster than we can… we are working HARD on his listening skills!
Last year, I reviewed Myrtle Park in Deep Cove, which is a park I grew up visiting that had changed very little. During the off-season, the park was given an upgrade, and I recently went back to check it out. Having a new spray park is an exciting thing, after all.
Myrtle Park retained its “big kids” playground area, removing the older play structure AND the swings area, adding in more green space and a new splash area. While not exactly to the concept drawings, the revised park is still quite nice. Still, I feel like the park got more of an aesthetic upgrade than an actual PLAY upgrade. The AWESOME swing set was removed and replaced with a tiny baby swing set, no big kid swings, and one of the swing rockers that I’m not the biggest fan of. The splash pad is nice, great for small kids, but it’s not as interesting as the older version.
Aiden has now spent two summers in bike camps, but with different programs. Damien is in bike camp for the first time this year. This has given me a unique perspective to compare two bike programs offered in North Vancouver: Pedalheads and Escape Adventures.
Last year at age 4, Aiden completed Level 3 of Pedalheads, which was entirely conducted in a field at Brockton School. The camp focused a lot on maneuvering and obstacles, as well as road safety. Following the camp, we focused on teaching Aiden the Level 4 basics ourselves, which were mostly about road safety. We have since done some amazing and long family bike rides.
This year, I wanted both kids to go into bike camps again. Damien, at age 3, was decent on his Strider run bike and was already learning his pedal bike. Given his adventurous nature and overall level of co-ordination (drumming, 2-wheel-scooter, etc), I knew he could pick up pedal biking at this age. Initially, I had both kids registered in Pedalheads: Damien in Level 1, Aiden in Level 4. I felt like Level 4 was a bit basic for Aiden’s skill level, but the next level required a bike with gears, which we don’t have yet. Pedalheads is great for skills, but it’s progression in levels is very rigid.
Then I heard about Escape Adventures, a locally-run bike program which very quickly takes kids outside of fields and roads and gets them on trails. Already it sounded more interesting. Road and trail safety are integrated, but it’s not the sole focus – the actual bike part is quite an adventure! And, as a bonus, the program for Damien’s level was 2.5 hours instead of 1 hour (the Pedalheads equivalent for his age). DONE.
So, I took the cancellation hit and switched the kids into Escape Adventures and it has been the BEST choice. Damien is in Mini Rippers, learning how to start and stop and ride on his own. He was just figuring out the riding part when he started the program, and is now solid on that. He’s officially done with his run bike. Starting and stopping are still a work in progress, but he’s getting there. It’s crazy that my 3-year-old is on a pedal bike without training wheels. Awesome. After working with us throughout the year, I expect I’ll put him in Mini Rippers Trails next Spring, perhaps Little Rippers by Summer. At age 4, his class at Escape Adventures will be far more interesting than it would have been if we stayed on the Pedalheads advancement track.
Aiden has been in Little Rippers Stage 2 and bikes from Lynn Valley’s Kilmer Park down into the Inter River Bike Park, taking different side trails in Lynn Valley between snack and lunch time. He’s grown in confidence amazingly, doing hills and stunts that would have freaked him out last week. It’s amazing to see.
We plan to get Aiden a bike with gears and hand-brakes within the year, either repeating this level or going to the Extreme Riders .5 group in our next session. If that’s the case, Aiden may win the argument and get the full-face helmet he’s been dreaming about!! I just bought him a new helmet, but full-face seemed like overkill for road riding.
Brockton School is a private school in Lynn Valley. We paid many visits to the playground last year while Aiden was taking Pedalheads. Since the class was short, and Damien was with me, we spent a lot of time playing on the play structures.
The playground offers older play materials, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as I find some of the older play equipment is more fun than all the new “safe” stuff. There were lots of play options for kids of many ages.