My friends and family know that I can’t handle clutter in certain areas of my life, particularly with toys. Our living room uses a combination of existing cabinet space in our tv unit as well as two cube shelving units with removable bins. Our original configuration had just one unit, but we’ve since turned the unit upright and purchased a second one. Toys have a way of multiplying as kids get older! ;)
As our collection of outdoor toys grew, they became more unsightly and unruly. We had a big tupperware bin to store them in, but it was always impossible to find the “right” kind of ball for the sport Aiden wanted to play. I spent several months measuring our outdoor space and trying to find a storage unit that would accommodate the bin-based organizing that works for our family while also standing up to the elements. Harder than you’d think!
Although there are a couple of cube-based storage solutions in wood available online, they only came in very restricted sizes and we worried that they wouldn’t stand up to the rain in Vancouver, even if they were partially covered. Most garden sheds, we found, are quite large and difficult to customize with shelves (in fact, most don’t come with shelves at all).
We opted for the Rubbermaid Vertical Garden Shed that, while quite narrow in depth, still offered a large volume of storage space. The shed came with two wire shelves (must be a new addition, since it’s not on the manufacturer’s website) and a template to cut up to 2 more shelves. With 4 shelves installed, I went to a few different dollar stores to find bins that were the right size and really lucked out with tall bins in co-ordinating colours. I was able to split the toys into 7 of these bins, while keeping the taller toys stacked to the front of the shelves. I have a larger bin of balls at low level for easy access, along with some s-hooks to store things like our sprinkler. I just had to make labels as well.
Our back patio looks so much better with these toys tucked away. I’d like to say that’s all the toys, but we also have the bigger dump trucks, ride-ons and bikes stacked against the wall. Still, at least it’s neatly lined up now!
I feel like I have a photo album full of deliriously happy Damien just swinging away. Of course that’s not true, but we have spent a lot of time at the park yet and I am quite pleased to have something to do with Damien while Aiden is off playing!
Damien perks up the second he sees the swing and happily kicks away and smiles while he’s in it – at least part of the time. He is a rather serious fellow still.
Aiden has always been quite afraid of the swing. He always tensed up with quick movements or changes in height, even as a young baby. He hated going down the stairs! Putting it all together over time, I think it has a lot to do with his inner ear and the sudden change in pressure. There was a brief time when he’d swing a little bit, but now he barely moves more than a couple of inches when he’s seated, as you can see from the photo below showing the arc of both boys:
Just down the street from the Butterfly Gardens in Victoria is the famous Butchart Gardens. Though not originally on my list of things to see with Aiden, its proximity to the Butterfly Gardens made us change our minds. Additionally, I was hoping to give Aiden something ‘fun’ to do (as opposed to another ‘observation-type’ activity with a visit to the Rose Carousel.
Despite my best intentions, Aiden was too afraid to go on the Rose Carousel (which was an extra fee). Going a whole weekend without a nap (while still normally napping), Aiden spent most of the trip in the provided strollers (nice perk!), though he did walk and explore the Japanese Gardens, up and down the twisting paths and stairs.
A visit to the gardens is not something to be taken lightly. It’s an expensive trip, quite outside of Victoria, though many of the tour buses make a stop there. There are many dining options – from cafeteria-style to cafe to sit-down eating – making it possible to extend your visit with kids who may not appreciate the gardens as much as you do!
The gardens does offer a Family Discovery Walk pamphlet geared to much older kids. If I were to make a suggestion, it would be to make a second pamphlet for younger kids that is more of a scavenger hunt with pictures of flowers or landmarks that they have to seek out; would be a fun way to get them involved.
See all our photos here.
A short walk from where we live is an unused elementary school, Ridgeway Annex. Once Ridgway school was upgraded, Ridgeway Annex was closed and may be redeveloped in the future. Until then, it features 2 playgrounds:
Though the playgrounds are not the newest, they retained a lot of charm for my nearly 3-year-old. He loved the little junior area with the mini yellow slide to climb up and the twisty slide to go down. The climbing structure was a little big for him, though he was able to use it to still enjoy the slide.
Address: 450 East 5th St, North Vancouver
Bridgman Park is a beautiful area to take a walk along Lynn Creek. You can take a 5.5km loop around the river or follow the trail right up to Lynn Canyon. The area is very popular for dog walkers. We went one day to explore the playground.
The playground is not very large and is nestled in the trees, so it’s quite shady. The playground is a little on the older side, but it’s serviceable. Aiden spent a few minutes playing there, going down the slide and climbing the different areas, but he soon grew bored of it and the total lack of other kids. That’s usually not an issue for him at the park, so I’m going to say this one was too tame for him (small slide, no really interesting play structures).
I think this is a great area to take your kids for a walk, especially as there is an on-site washroom, but it is not a great location just for the playground.
Bridgman Park is located on Keith Road before it turns into Mountain Highway.