5 Stars for Starr Gymnastics!

Welcome to Starr Gymnastics, our featured sponsor this month! photo (2)

Our daughter was delighted to check out Starr Gymnastics (Orleans location) this past week. We've been living in Orleans for three years now, and have definitely been missing out on this local gem!

With a bright and large open space for plenty of exercise, Starr has it all - a climbing wall, a swinging rope, several mini-trampolines, and balance beams and bars. There is also a nice quiet room in the back, intended for use by parents with really young children, and a raised area where there are four large round trampolines, and a foam pit for the children to dive into. There are also slides, balls, hoops, bean bags, and small play equipment spread throughout the space.

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Starr offers regular instructional classes,March and Summer day camps, and private birthday parties. We checked out one of the many drop-in play times. My husband was very impressed with the instructors, who he said were enthusiastic and very helpful. The highlight of the hour was the parachute, when the kiddies got to send a bucket full of balls flying up into the air. By the end of the drop-in, my daughter had already decided that instead of soccer this summer, she would rather do gymnastics camp!

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We'll certainly be signing her up for a class. If you're looking for last minute March break activities, there are still spaces available in their half or full-day camps. For those who like to plan in advance, summer camps will be posted soon!

Have you visited one of the three Starr Gymnastics locations? What's your child's favourite activity?

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MWF Seeking New Friends

IMG_4900 I am not good at making friends. Before Twitter I just had a small group of friends, but connecting online has brought me into a whole community. The problem is that the majority of the community I built as a mother lives across the city from me. (Stittsville–Orleans is not always doable, and once the kid starts school we're screwed).

It was easier when we lived a bit less west, but a year ago we moved into Stittsville, which makes even meeting centrally difficult when there pick-ups and drop-offs to manage as well.

And so I am trying to find a way to make friends, and find friends for my daughter and I feel like a stalker at the park.

Any time the kid talks to another child or seems to get along with them I have to try to find out a name, push myself out of my comfort zone and try to talk to the mother, and I've gotten friendly with a couple of parents, but then it's time to leave and I just can't seem to, as they say, close the deal.

After gymnastics last weekend my daughter ended up playing with another little girl while I talked to her mom. The girl is in the same class and we had exchanged pleasantries waiting for them to finish over the three classes they've had so far. It was thrilling to see my daughter play so nicely with someone, making up games, building sand castles and swinging. Behind me my husband kept hissing "Get her number!" – A West end play date! A friend!

In the end I suggested that next week my kid could bring her sand toys and maybe they could play again, hoping to build up a relationship and move things forward.

Meanwhile, my daughter invited the girl over to our house to play on her play structure.

So how do you do it? How do you 'date' friends for your children?

Amy is mom to two year old Maggie and a 6 year old schnauzer named Henry. You can read her blog at amyboughner.ca where she writes about motherhood and anything else that’s on her mind. She also shares a blog with her husband at boughner.ca where they talk together about parenting a daughter.

 

Flashback: Charlemagne Child Care Services Play Group

Charlemagne's pre-school programs still has a few spots left for the Fall - I highly recommend the program .  Check out Sara's great post about all their offerings! ~Lara by Sara

Tucked away at the side of St. Peter's Catholic High School in Orleans is one of our favourite drop-in play groups.  Charlemagne Child Care Services houses Charlemagne Nursery School and the Charlemagne Preschool Resource Centre.  Located at 750 Charlemagne Blvd, the drop-in play group, which is a satellite Early Years Centre , is open 5 mornings (9 to 11:30 am) and 2 afternoons (Monday & Wednesday, 1 to 3:30 pm) a week.  Tuesday and Thursday mornings are reserved for caregivers.

The bright sunny space is one of my favourite places to take the boys.  We like it so much that we've been regular visitors since 2007, when my oldest was only a year old.  The centre is set-up much like a nursery school or kindergarten classroom.  There are well-defined activity centres throughout the large room, including an art table, two sensory play areas, a dramatic play centre (kitchen, dolls, dress-up clothes), a play dough table, fine motor activities (puzzles, blocks), an infant area, as well as a small climbing structure and ride-on toys.  There's even a separate room, with a half-door, for children over the age of three.  Within the Kinder-room there are more sophisticated arts and crafts supplies, a reading corner, as well as 'big kid' toys, like Rescue Heroes and doll houses.

Because we visit the center at least once a week, I really appreciate the variety of toys, arts and crafts, and sensory activities.  Each activity area is usually centred around a theme, for example, during the Month of May we made Mother's Day cards, created tissue paper flowers, and used spring stickers and paint markers to make colourful pictures.  The sensory areas are even theme-based: in the fall the kids searched for animals in a big tub of leaves and at Easter they hunted for eggs in Easter basket grass.

The resource centre staff, Sheryl and Catherine, are welcoming and go out of their way to make everyone feel comfortable and part of the group.  There's a good mixture of regular visitors and occasional drop-ins, which makes this play-group a great place to meet moms who have kids of all ages.

Between 9 and 10 each morning the children engage in free play and then join Sheryl for circle and story time.  Sheryl has a great repertoire of stories, songs, felt stories, and finger puppets to capture everyone's attention.  Even the busy toddlers who have trouble sitting still (ahem, monkey).   Bring a (nut-free) snack to refuel after circle time.  While the kids are all eating its a good time to talk to other moms and childcare providers or check-out toys from the toy lending library.  There are three large binders to peruse that have toys appropriate for ages 0 to 5.  We frequently borrow large ride-on toys, which are a hit with both boys but too big to keep in the house on a regular basis.  The centre also has a great resource library with hand-outs on a wide variety of health and parenting topics, books, and videos.

The centre closes for the summer on Friday June 11th and re-opens on September 13th, 2010.  Make sure to check-it out before the summer hiatus: I'll be the one following the almost 2 year old whirling dervish from activity to activity.

Sara is mom to a 4-year-old firefighter and 2-year-old monkey.  You can find her at her blog, My Points of View

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Kids in the Capital playdates

With Spring finally here we thought it was time for us to  finally get organized and restart our weekly Kids in the Capital playdates! Yay for Spring! From now until the Fall we will be hosting weekly playdates every Friday morning from 9:30am to 11:30am at St.Luke's park in Centretown. It's a chance for readers to hang out, watch the kids and chat. St. Luke's is just off of Elgin which means coffee is close by, as are bathrooms. Don't forget to bring swim suits in July and August because the wading pool opens at 11:30am!

Playdates will be cancelled if it is raining!

We hope that you and your kids will join us!

Playgroups are for playing, and community

by Krista We love mondays in our house. Mondays mean playgroup in the park day. Our park is Kingsmere park, in the neighbourhood of Glabar park.  It is one of the reasons why we bought our house, before we even had children.  It has all the bits you need - sand, a play structure, swings, a wading pool, lots of room to run around, big trees for shade, and benches for mom and dad when we get a minute to sit.  The community playgroup makes it all that much more perfect.

Most weeks we arrive at the park a little after 10:00 am.  There are a good number of wee ones and their moms or dads by that time, usually at the swings or in the sandy/playstructure area.  Most of the children in the group are under the age of four, but that changes in the summer and the older children come as well.  The parents tend to gather in little groups in the shade when not joining in the fun.  We talk over coffee about the week that has passed, the new things our little ones are up to, about the struggles we face, and life in general.  This was especially important when my little people were much younger and I NEEDED to talk to adults, about adult things.  Now I can offer that to the newest moms and dads in the group.

The older children tend to roam farther as the morning progresses, so the parents break up in small groups that follow. They don't often follow their own children, just the children that seem to need help at the time.  It's great that I can help out another parent and push their child on the swing, knowing that someone else pitches in with my children and plays with them on the slides.

Snack time is a free for all, with all the little monkeys dipping in to each other's snacks.  I know that it is safe for my peanut allergic son, as there are several moms who have allergies in their own homes, and we all look out for each other.  My guys love it, as they often find the snacks of others to be tastier than their own.  Even if we offer the same!! As an added bonus, it teaches them to share, and they love to do it.

Playgroup is free, and open to anyone, not just those living in our neighbourhood.  We meet as early in the spring as weather permits, and keep going until the snow flies.  We have met a local gym in previous winters, but when that is not available, we try to meet at people's houses. This isn't as successful, and makes us appreciate the times in the park all that much more.  For more information, or to get added to the mailing list, see the Community Alliance's website.

We are always sad when our friends start to drift home for lunch, but we know that we will see them the following monday, if not on one of our other visits to the park in the course of the week.

I think that the best part of the playgroup is that you get to know your neighbours, and build relationships in the community.  We are meeting the families that live in all corners of our community, regularly enough that we really know who they are. We are all building friendships that will hopefully last for a long time, as our children grow together.

Krista is married to Willy and mom to a 3 year old son, Woo, and 1.5 year old daughter Goose.  You can find her on twitter @kgraydonald