Visiting Vancouver with a toddler or just trying to figure out what to do with your day? Here’s the weekly itinerary my little guy enjoyed from 15 months to 2 years.
8-9:30 Get some coffee! Try the JJ Bean on Granville Island or grab some breakfast snacks or grilled cheese sandwich in the market and watch the pigeons outside or walkaround inside. Usually first thing in the morning is pretty quiet during the winter months. We also like to play at the kids park near the Kids Market on Granville Island or watch the ducks.
9:30-12:30 Granville Island Playgym (or Mini Gym) at the Falsecreek Community Centre is especially great for rainy day toddler activities.
Parent and Tot Gym at Granville Island
Mon, Wed, Fri, Sun 9:30am–12:30pm
False Creek Community Centre (Google map)
1318 Cartwright Street (enter Granville Island and turn right at the Kids Market, continue along the road to the Community Centre).
$1 drop in
Includes play toys, riding toys, balls, bouncy castle
Lunch and Nap on Granville Island and then play at the waterslide in the afternoon or walk along the seawall to either west to Kitsilano Beach Park or east to Charleson Park
Need dinner in Kits? The Boathouse usually has space for kids or the food stand offers beach fare like burgers and hot dogs. Up Arbutus St. is The Nook, which isn’t great for dining with kids but does do take out. The Sunset Grill can usually accommodate little ones. Along 4th Ave is Sushi Bella or Indian Oven. And of course on 1st at Cypress St. is the mecca for kids dining, Rocky Mountain Flatbread. Nut-free. Delicious. Craft beers on tap. Play kitchen for the kids.
Panne from Heaven or the Epicurean have quick take away options. And the little corner store at 1st and Cypress is surprisingly good for produce, meats, sweets and treats.
Westside Family Place is a great option Monday to Thursday mornings or you can venture further afield.
“Play and Learn” Drop-In Hours:
Morning Drop-In: Monday to Thursday: 9:30am to 12pm (Circle Time 11:30am)
Afternoon Drop-In: Wednesday: 1pm to 4:30pm (Circle Time 2:30pm – subject to change)
The 1st visit is free and thereafter the drop-in fee is $2 per family per visit with an annual membership. Pre-paid Drop-In tickets can be purchased in bulk.
There is also Eastside Family Place and South Vancouver Family Place, depending on your location.
If you’re visiting Vancouver, I recommend renting a bike with a toddler seat at one of the shops just outside Stanley Park (at Denman & Georgia). Then you can cycle through the park, stop at the Vancouver Aquarium, and then carry on along the seawall to Second Beach or Third Beach where there are great play structures, in addition to beach access and an outdoor community pool.
If you head to Vancouver Aquarium, then behind is a massive park and play structure. It’s mostly for Ages 5+ up but a toddler would still find some access to the play spaces.
The Vancouver Aquarium is also good for kids 5 and up but little ones can still have fun. It’s a bit of an expensive outing if your toddler doesn’t have a long attention span.
Opening Hours are 10 am to 5 pm
Booking tickets to the Vancouver Aquarium online will save you a bit of money. http://www.vanaqua.org/visit/tickets
$29 adults, $15 kids 4-12, free under 4
During winter hours, the quietest times to visit are on weekdays or prior to 12 p.m. or after 2 p.m. During summer hours, the quietest times to visit are prior to 11 a.m. or after 4 p.m.
Check the showtimes when you enter and go to see the shows first, then wander around. if you time it right then you can watch the show above ground first and see it from below while wandering through the exhibits.
An alternative outing is a visit to Science World in the morning and then visit the Family Play Gym at Creekside Community Centre in the afternoon. It’s open 1:30 to 5:30 pm on Tuesdays (Check the schedule. Link below.)
$22.50 per adult, $15.25 kids ages 3-12
kids under 3 free
Open 10-5 on weekdays and 10-6 on weekends and holidays
It’s actually fun for 15 months and up. There are lights and buttons to push and the space is very kid friendly.
The middle of the week was never my time to experiment so we basically stuck to Family Place in the morning and afternoon. You have to pay the drop-in fee twice to attend both sessions but it’s worth it on rainy days. Otherwise, I recommend a visit to Family Place in the morning and then the Kitsilano Branch Library in the afternoon, or Kidsbooks. Both are ideal locations if baby is sleeping and you have to get out of the rain.
The volume is turned down during these film screenings, there are change tables and an area to park a stroller. It’s ok if baby cries and for the most part people are very forgiving of talking toddlers.
Thursday is swimming day. We enjoyed Aquaventures swimming lessons but if you’re just looking for some one-off pool time then Hillcrest is the place to go.
We were also super lucky to have some great friends in the neighbourhood so Thursday afternoon was playtime at the Kitsilano Dog Beach, behind the Maritime Museum. If it was windy then playing at the Museum of Vancouver was also a fun time, and more sheltered.
Maritime Museum on Thursday nights 5-8 pm is admission by donation.
You can board the St Roche and view the other exhibits. The ship, of course, is the highlight. Adult admission is otherwise $11 so if you’re only going to wander around the ship quickly with a toddler then Thursday night is a good opportunity to do that at a donation rate. http://vancouvermaritimemuseum.com/visit/hours-rates
And again, Thursday night pizza party at Rocky Mountain Flatbread is a recommended treat.
Best to cool your heels at the end of the week with the Playgym at Granville Island. Maybe ride the False Creek Ferries for a few stops. Beware that the rainbow boats are a different company than the blue boats. My vote is for blue because one of our friends drives the boat.
If it’s summer time then try the Farmer’s Market at Trout Lake. There is a playstructure there, lots of picnic spots and a little sandy beach. Although swimming is hit and miss because of duck and goose poop. Jericho Beach is a better spot for toddler swims, and there’s the Jericho Sailing Centre upstairs in the club where you can get ice cream, salmon burgers, nachos, beer and other goodies. It’s open to the public and a great patio spot.
Park near Jericho at Alma and Cornwall
Playgym. Granville Island. Otherwise relax. If you’re a foodie then the Kitsilano Farmer’s Market at the Kitsilano Community Centre is a good spot to wander. There’s an enclosed playstructure that is fun for all ages and a small water park.
Wobbler to Toddler Parks
Tatlow Park off Macdonald has two play structures and the small one is perfect for wobblers. Also there is a large grassy area and little paths with bridges over the creek so there’s lots to look at too. And there are tennis courts here, which are great for kids learning to ride bikes. Although you can’t ride if there are tennis players.
McBride Park at Waterloo also has a playstructure that is ok for wobbler to toddler.
George Wainborn Park in False Creek, just opposite Granville Island (almost directly across from the cement plant), has a tiny park that is just up from the waterfront walkway. It’s small but perfect for littles who’ve just started walking.
Second Beach and Third Beach have some great playgrounds and also beach or grass areas for picnics.
Richards & Davie Street downtown has a nice little park area with lots of playstructures for kids, and some water features.
Check out the Vancouver Public Library site for the Central Branch storytime. And the Kitsilano Library Branch does “Man in the Moon”, which is a storytime for babies and their dads: Saturdays at 10.15 am
Just Between Friends kids consignment sale: http://vancouverbc.jbfsale.com/homeView.jsp (these folks are really well organized and it’s a great big sale with clothing, toys and small furniture for kids. Totally worth attending. Some things are brand new and still in their original packaging, unopened. Most items are $2-25.
Barefit Pre-Natal and Post-Natal workout groups are a super way to meet other friendly moms who have great advice on things to do. Chat away and get fit. http://barefitandpregnant.com/
Many Paws is a light-hearted, interactive pop-up book about menopause that readers can alter for themselves or to give as a gift to the wonderful women in their lives who might need a good laugh between hot flashes. Below is a guest post from altered book artist and author Susan DeGarmo.
When I was about 47 years old, I put some eggs on the stove to boil. I went downstairs to my office to grade papers and before I knew it, I heard explosions coming from my kitchen! I ran up and saw exploded boiled eggs sitting in a pan with no water. Exploding because I left them in there and totally forgot to take them out.
That year when I had my yearly check-up, I told my doctor I thought I was going crazy! I couldn’t remember the simplest things. I was starting to leak when I laughed, I sweated in bed, had hot flashes in the day, my eyesight was getting worse and my middle was spreading! She patted my hand and told me that I was going through the change. I couldn’t believe what she was saying! At 47 years old I started getting “old”. She handed me a paperback book that she said would help me understand what my body was doing.
That night I relaxed in the tub and picked up the book and began to read. The words were sweet and delicate. “You’re still a woman even though you can’t have babies anymore.”
I couldn’t take it! I tossed it in the trash.
My doctor wouldn’t give me anything to get rid of the symptoms. “It’s perfectly normal”, she said. So, every day became a new adventure with the symptoms of menopause. Thank God my family still loves me!
Since I couldn’t find a book that shared the in-your-face experiences of menopause and getting older with a bit of humor, I decided one day while teaching my altered book class at a local design college, I would make an altered book on the subject and it would be about my experience. Why did I come up with that idea? It was freezing cold outside, my head was beet red, sweat was dripping down my face and my students looked at me like I had a third eye! I just shrugged and pressed on.
I found an old book that had a by-line…the years of change. I took that book and altered it to create “ManyPaws, the Years of Change”. Each week I did a spread in the book. Depending on what challenges I was going through, that is what I wrote about. We had a show-n-tell in the class every week to show off the work we did in our books. I showed mine to the students and there were lots of “yuck”, “my mom’s doing that”, and sometimes laughter. I wasn’t trying to appeal to them, just critiquing the pages.
At the end of the semester, we had an Altered Book Show. The students and myself would have our altered books on display for the faculty, staff , family and friends. Of course, my whole experience with menopause was there for the whole world to see. It wasn’t long before we heard laughter. Not only from the moms and older women of the college, but from their husbands! Oh no. I was totally embarrassed, but come to find out, they liked it! They started telling their stories and wanted a copy for themselves or to give to their girlfriends. So that’s how all of this started.
Susan DeGarmo is a truly creative spirit. Born and raised in Memphis Tennessee, Susan “was always makin’ something’ from nothin’,” according to her grandma. While teaching an altered book class at a local college, she had a hot flash and decided to create Many Paws.
Her book and greeting cards are available for sale on manypawsforwomen.com or Amazon.com
1. iPhone photography has taken away the hands-on, tactile aspect of shooting images. We don’t have film, slides to advance, prints to handle. So maybe we should think about all the other ways that touch screens and digital tools have made us too “hands free”.
2. Build time in your schedule to make. Think about yourself as a maker. DO Things. Especially if it’s just for play.
3. Play and practice is how you refine your skills, and that can lead to paid work (if you’re interested in that sort of thing).
4. Say YES, I don’t know exactly how to do that but I’ll give it a go.
5. The first time you do anything, it will probably suck. Hooray!
Also, I like Rachael’s quiet sense of humour and little jokes in her presentation. I’m proud of my friend. I’m pleased that she overcame the nerve-wracking experience of speaking in front of an audience, and that she did a bang up job at preparing, practicing and presenting.
Ease into your chair. The talk is 30 min then there’s 15 min of Q&A. Rachael hits her stride around the 8 min mark, but don’t skip ahead, just relax, get inspired, and then go make.
Butter: keeps cookies tender because it inhibits the formation of gluten (flour + water from the eggs). The more butter, the more tender the cookie, and the more it spreads as it bakes.
Ideal ratio: 1 part butter to 1 part sugar to .8 part flour
Don’t go for shortening
Melted butter = denser cookies, whereas creamed butter = cakier cookies
Eggs: “By keeping the total mass of egg added to a dough the same but altering the proportion of white to yolk, you can achieve a variety of textures. Two whites and a yolk, for instance, produces the more open structure of the top cookie in the photo above, while three yolks and no whites produces the denser, fudgier texture of the cookie on the bottom.”
Extra egg whites = taller cookies; extra egg yolks = fudgier cookies
Ideal ratio: 1 yolk to 1 white (oh, they way eggs come naturally)
Sugar: Blend only the white sugar with the eggs to give a jump start on caramelization then add brown sugar later with the melted butter.
Chocolate: Hand-chopped chocolate = most intense flavour and interesting texture.
“Here’s what we’re working with so far: White sugar is beaten into whole eggs until it dissolves. Butter is browned and chilled with an ice cube to add back lost moisture and hasten its cooling, before being beaten into the egg mixture, along with brown sugar and. Flour and baking soda are folded in very gently, along with chocolate.”
Salt & Vanilla: Salt is essential to balance the flavour of caramelized sugars, and a good amount of vanilla is a must. Press coarse salt to the cookie tops when they first come out of the oven.
Cooler oven = wide cookies, hotter oven = compact cookies That said, caramelization occurs at 356 degrees so if your recipe calls for the oven to be set at 350 degrees, you’re out of luck. Crank up the heat.
The Christmas spirit has captured me this year so each day I’m going to play with StumbleUpon as a little digital advent calendar. Instead of a paper calendar I’m going to push the StumbleUpon button and see what I get. One a day, leading up to Christmas. I’ll post the reveal here for you to also enjoy.
As I said in my post last year, although the Bank of Canada denies there is any maple scent I think this would be a really interesting enhanced security feature because it would be incredibly hard to counterfeit.
This article isn’t particularly long but, in the days of 140 character tweets and status updates, it exceeds the character count of my usual single-item readings. I asked James to read it aloud to me this morning while I was eating my breakfast and several times I made him re-read lines that I thought were hilarious or wanted to solidify in my brain. This gem is James’ find and a nice little reading experience that he shared with me in the half-hour block of time this morning between our son’s nap and next feeding. It’s worth a read.
Tim Kreider introduces this as an essay about arrested adolescence but it’s really about looking around and wondering if you’re living the life you want to be leading and how we look at our friends’ lives and either feel jealousy or pity.
The Referendum is a phenomenon typical of (but not limited to) midlife, whereby people, increasingly aware of the finiteness of their time in the world, the limitations placed on them by their choices so far, and the narrowing options remaining to them, start judging their peers’ differing choices with reactions ranging from envy to contempt.
As a new parent, I’m constantly looking at my childless peers and thinking, “8 weeks ago, that was my life too.” Or I’m looking at strangers in the street who are carting around little ones and thinking, “bloody hell, those liars told me things get better” or “that woman has it together, I want to be like her when my child grows up.”
Reading Kreider’s article “The Referendum” coincidentally coincides with me filling out my son’s baby book with family members’ birthdays, which leads me to think about how young some of them died. Mid-50s seems to have claimed a number of loved ones on both sides of our family and at 37 years old that doesn’t seem all that far away.
On a brighter, yet caustic note, here are some of my favourite lines (extracted especially for my friends who are parents and only have 140 more seconds of attention):
To my friends with children, the obscene wealth of free time at my command must seem unimaginably exotic, since their next thousand Saturdays are already booked.
A lot of my married friends take a vicarious interest in my personal life. It’s usually just nosy, prurient fun, but sometimes smacks of the sort of moralism that H.G. Wells called “jealousy with a halo.”
Like everyone, I’ve seen some marriages in which I would discreetly hang myself within 12 hours, but others have given me cause to envy their intimacy, loyalty, and irreplaceable decades of invested history. [Note to all my married friends: your marriage is one of the latter.]
I have never even idly thought for a single passing second that it might make my life nicer to have a small, rude, incontinent person follow me around screaming and making me buy them stuff for the rest of my life. [Note to friends with children: I am referring to other people’s children, not to yours.]
Left column: week 1, 2, 3. Main image is week 6-7. Right column: week 4, 5, 6
Finlay John Sherrett is 7 weeks old today. It is shocking how fast, and slow, time has gone. He’s gone from week 1 being 6 lbs 14 oz to losing weight to week 7 being over 9 lbs. Finlay is a string bean. Long and skinny. And thankfully for the last two days he has been rather happy. I think week 4 was the worst of my life and part of week 6 was vying for the top spot. But the little man is sleeping, eating and playing nicely. That makes me happy. Plus there was sunshine again today.
For those of you keeping score at home, Finlay is 24-hour cuteness. And no, this is not going to become a mommy blog so not to fear, there will be book reviews and regular programming interrupted with the occasional commercial break (in which I pitch the awesomeness of my son) or public service announcement (in which I share useful anecdotes). I believe Finn neatly falls under the “other amusements of Monique Sherrett” category on this blog and will make his appearances with permission from me and his dad.
Finlay at 4 hours old
Finlay at 4 days old (actually 3 days old, but there’s very little different between this photo and the 100s of similar ones I took the next day)
Observations upon being home now for 3 whole days:
New parenting is like scuba diving. There are a lot of non-verbal cues to learn. If you took the resort certificate, you only have about 6 hours of training before being expected to be successful on your first dive. Although in this case no dive master will be accompanying you, it’s more like in 6 hours you need to be seasoned diver ready to dive the blue holes where you need to be hypervigilant and work as a team to survive. You are responsible for yourself and your dive partners at all times.
Breast feeding is like becoming a pro athlete in 3 days. Think about having to perfect a golf swing or shot put throw in 3 days because that is really the amount of time you have to go from the colostrum stage to transition milk to breast milk. The baby holding technique and angles are highly important if you’re going to get anywhere. I’ll spare you the details of the ear, shoulder, hip alignment required since many of you may not be parents or ever wishing to be and perhaps I’ve already overshared. The point is that it is hard to learn and not a natural instinct for mom or baby. Thankfully Finn and I are above average. We could get scouted for the leche league.
Tip for visitors: Wash your hands when you arrive, not because I don’t believe in germs but because we are both still recovering from our hospital stay and you need to be gentle with our immune systems right now. And bring food. Quick, healthy snacks that can be consumed with one hand or food that can be heated easily. It is shocking how fast a day goes by and suddenly it’s 4:30 am and you’re wondering when you last ate and why you’re so dehydrated and tired. Like a triathlon, I need people at regular intervals handing me cups of water.
Ok, enough metaphors for today. You know what’s good about paperback books, you can hold them in one hand. What’s hard, turning pages with one hand. I’m currently reading Michel Houellebecq’s The Map and the Territory. It’s great.
Do you know about the Canadian not-for-profit organization called The Shoebox Project? I’m going to participate this year. The idea is that you fill a shoebox with small gifts and non-essential items, which are then distributed to women in shelters during the holidays.
This is the first time The Shoebox Project has a Vancouver initiative. And, my friend Kate has written a good blog post on how to participate. The goal for Vancouver is 100 shoeboxes to share with the Downtown Eastside Women’s Shelter and the Vancouver Rape Relief Centre.
I’m in apartment declutter mode so I certainly have a empty shoebox to fill. Plus, it doesn’t take much time, it’s fun to give during the holidays, and the dollar value is $50 so it doesn’t cost very much. If $50 sounds steep, why not buddy up then it’s only $25 for each of you.
Since the shoebox needs to have new items, if you’re a local business and have appropriate items for the shoeboxes, then please consider donating items. It doesn’t have to be for all 100 boxes, see Kate’s post for details on that.
Here’s a list of what should go in the box (approximately $50 in value):
Body or hand lotions
Makeup: mascara, lipstick and nail polish. (Please no concealers or foundations)
Toothbrush, toothpaste and floss
Chocolates, cookies, candies
Mitts, hat, scarf
Bus or subway tokens / phone card
Gift certificates (McDonald’s, Tim Horton’s, Shoppers Drug Mart, Wal-Mart, Cineplex). Please include the receipt!
* And don’t wrap the box, it has to be opened and inspected.
My declutter mode has also sussed out some cool sparkles and other decorative items I can put inside the box for padding. Off to package up my shoebox gift.
Drop off location open until Monday, December 17th:
Vancouver: 2305 McLean Drive (Mon to Fri: 8AM to 6PM; Sat: 11AM to 6PM)
Barcelona was my favourite city on our trip. Not only did we have an amazing penthouse apartment while we were there, but we were also in the heart of everything. We were a few blocks away from La Rambla (the huge main pedestrian thoroughfare), steps from the Paral-lel subway station, and walking distance to Barceloneta.
Barcelona felt like a city you could explore on foot whereas Paris was worth visiting via the Hop on Hop off bus. I have a ton of favourite moments from our four days (Sunday, May 27 to Thursday, May 31).
360 View from Our Flat
Walking La Rambla
Catalan Architecture: A great mix of old and new buildings
Gaudi’s influence is everywhere. Mosaic rooftops, nature-inspired benches and street tiles, magical perspectives
Usually built in a spiral pattern with seafood in the centre and radiating out to fruit drinks, dried fruit and nuts and chocolates.
Our last honeymoon celebration was drinking a bottle of sparkling wine left for us by our host with a lunch picnic we gathered from Boqueria market.
Pentacost Celebrations in Barceloneta
Can Maño: tiny fish shop
Cascada Fountain in Parc de la Ciutadella
Statue of Columbus. The new world is over there.
Catedral de Barcelona
And, of course, the Gaudi architecture was my absolute favourite. I’ll have to do a post on that specifically.
This post is a bit out of order because I haven’t told you yet about our amazing bike trip along the Canal du Midi with Darren and Julie. But I’m longingly thinking of Barcelona this morning so I thought I’d share how we got there.
Friday, May 25
Friday is flower market day in Beziers so Julie, James and I set off in the morning for the market and a coffee.
Just after lunch we headed out for Casa Pairal in Collioure, which is a small beach resort town along the Mediterrean.
After our first swim of the year in the ocean, we had a lovely dinner at a restaurant Julie recommended. The chef was Japanese and each dish was a delightful morsel, wonderfully presented.
Walking around Collioure at night was warm and reminded me of hot summer evenings in Manitoba.
The next morning we had a swim, breakfast in the garden, where we enjoyed croissants, jam, fruit, ham and eggs. Then we set off for Figueres, Spain.
Figueres is the home of the Dali Museum, which was our afternoon stop. What a place!
The main entrance and building itself is remarkable with huge Mother Goose eggs and golden sculptures. Then inside the front entrance is a look into the atrium.
The most remarkable thing about Dali’s work is the number of different medium he experimented with, plus the number of different senses he put into play with moving parts, optical illusions, sound, scent and I’m sure taste was in there somewhere.
Post museum visit, we had a quick bite to eat then were on the road to Mataro, which is about 30 minutes outside Barcelona. Although there are three city beaches in Barcelona, I’d read that Mataro was more spectacular.
The Ibis hotel where we stayed is on the edge of the action, the far edge. There was a big street festival going on during our first night and also a circus so we wandered through the streets into the downtown looking for a place to have dinner.
The funny thing for North Americans in France and Spain is finding somewhere that will feed you between 6 and 9 pm. Most restaurants are closed or don’t do dinner service until 8:30 or 9. We did find a butcher shop with a lunch menu and back garden who was also serving tapas and drinks.
Between my beginner Spanish, the waiter’s Catelan and some show and tell, I was able to order us some amazing tapas. My favourites were these little fried sausages and breaded balls of meat.
There are a ton of unique tasting proscuitto.
Sunday, May 27
Since it was our last day on the road before hitting Barcelona, where we stayed put for 4 nights, James and I went for some beach time in the morning, had a terrible breakfast/lunch in the fast-food joint of our hotel, then made our way into Barcelona.
We dropped our car off at the airport and took the Aerobus into the city, jumped on a subway and arrived at our totally sweet penthouse apartment.