Being a mother without a licence** (see below) can sometimes prove to be a little bit difficult – there are a lot of great things to do in this city, but sometimes, the travel time to get to some destinations on the bus just isn’t worth it for McKenna and I. By the time we would arrive, we would have maybe an hour before it would be time to turn around and go home again. And although McKenna has yet to have a meltdown on the bus (KNOCK ON WOOD!), I could see it happening if we were required to travel for 2 hours just to get to the zoo (we typically save adventures such as these for days when Matthew is home, or one of my wonderful friends is joining us and offers to drive!).
With McKenna being more mobile and wanting to explore more each and everyday, staying within 4 walls can drive us both a little… crazy… sometimes. I would say that 4 out of 5 days we spend the majority of our afternoons outside of the house, and at least one day a week we do a big adventure which we are away for the entire day. On the days where it is best to just stay close to home, we have been lucky enough to find several great places to pass the time, some “hidden gems” if you will… all within a relatively close proximity to our home. Some of the ways we pass our days include:
1. Splash Parks. We have found not one, but two splash parks within a 10-15 minute walk from our house. One of these parks also has barbeques, picnic tables and lots of large trees that provide just the right amount of shade for us to lay out a big blanket and play with the grass while soaking in the sun. McKenna is her happiest outside, free to explore the big world around her.
2. Walks around the lake. We have a manmade lake that is a mere 15 minute bus ride from our house. We take a walk around this lake up to several times a week, and there are always a ton of ducks and geese around for us to watch, and sometimes feed. Again, we often lay out a blanket and simply enjoy the sunshine and being surrounded by nature. Conveniently enough, this lake is also located near our local library.
3. The Library. This is where McKenna and I attend a Baby Laptime class weekly (which is also 100% free – can’t beat that!). We are constantly borrowing new books from the library to read both there and at home.
4. The YMCA. The YMCA is also located nearby said lake and library, and this is where McKenna will be taking her first swimming classes in the upcoming fall. They also have “strollercize classes” that I have yet to participate in, but I hope to take advantage of this opportunity come Fall.
5. KinderMusik Classes. I wanted to enroll McKenna into a KinderMusik class more than any other class – in case you are not familiar with this program, it is a music-based program for babies that helps them explore sound through musical instruments, other props and dance. We REALLY hit the jackpot on this one because we found a KinderMusik studio AT THE END OF OUR BLOCK. I could hardly believe it. It is a great class for McKenna, she loves the interaction with the other babies and it lends some predictability to our schedule.
6. Downtown. If we are feeling a bit more adventurous, we head downtown for the day, which is still only a 15-20 minute bus ride from where we are. There is always something going on – we visit the Art Gallery, play in the fountains at City Hall, head to a festival, or walk around the River Valley. I have several friends I meet up with for lunch when we are around and it is always nice to visit. They all love seeing McKenna as well!
7. Stars & Strollers. If the weather is lousy, and we need to spend it indoors, Stars & Strollers is a great option. Cineplex Odeon Theatres screen movies for mama’s on Wednesday’s for a reduced cost. The showing is always at 1 o’clock, which coordinates well with McKenna’s naptime, but I still prefer to wait for the child-friendly movies to be shown so that McKenna can be entertained if she chooses to fight said nap, as she sometimes does when we are out and about. I took her to see Despicable Me 2 a few weeks back, and she enjoyed the first half, and slept for the second :).
8. The Mall. I have to admit, since McKenna has become mobile, our trips to the mall have been reduced greatly. We are also now living on a budget because of all the amazing things we have coming up in 2014, so the mall isn’t really the best place for us to pass the time. But, if the weather is miserable, and we need to get out of the house, we have a preferred mall that is a 15 minute bus ride away, that has a Mother’s Room which enables McKenna to crawl around and for me to nurse her in comfort.
All in all, it’s been an amazing summer, and we have managed to be outside for a great part of it. I am hopeful that the great weather will continue into September – but here in Edmonton, you never really know, so you can bet we will be making the most of the warm days we have left!
** I do want to mention, however, that I have only ONE MORE driving class left, before I hope to challenge the test in mid-September! LOOK OUT EDMONTON, I will soon be a driving mama! I look forward to all the opportunities this will unlock for us. 🙂