Monday, July 18, 2011

The Alphabet Two Ways IS HERE!

Happy days, a box full of The Alphabet Two Ways has finally arrived. Cody opened the box and said "I'd like to read that book" and I said "you made it!" and she went "oh yeah". It was a funny three year old moment.

I'm really super happy with it.

So there is a PayPal option up on my website should you feel the need to have one in your hot little hands. It's $10 and postage is $4. If you have a child who is in kindy or school let me know and if I have enough copies left I will donate one to their library. At the moment I'm looking already to need to have a second print run (assuming I sell a few copies and cover my costs to order a second run).

I have to say, my friends are being amazing and supportive. Strangers are being amazing and supportive. Thanks so much.
I've started a Facebook Page for updates. My poor friends have been spammed via my Facebook page enough so with a dedicated page at least I can channel my updates to those that want them! It would be great if you pressed that LIKE button...

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Ashgrove Library Park

The Ashgrove library park certainly isn't the greatest park in the world. It's bare bones, a bit old, and sandwiched between two roads! But it is adjacent to Ashgrove Library, which means you can extend your park fun with a library visit or - like we did last week - a stop at Storytime. And then - if you are wanting to make your day super duper - walk up the road two minutes to Jeremiah's Cafe. Map to the library is here.

I guess the tandem experience with the library is perhaps the only way to do this park - unless you lived a street or two away its really not a park worth too far of a travel. This said, it has a climbing frame, swings, a fort type structure with walkways, climbing areas and a slide. And there is a covered table for plonking yourself down on and watching the kids play. It's not bad at all really, but I we really had a super time last week and I think for us the greatest fun was the library itself.

Having a park adjacent to a library means that the park is going to be full of kids around times when kids activities are on at the library. At Ashgrove library this is Monday and Friday. The BCC timetable is here. Of course all BCC library's run a storytime so you should check your local library for times. I think we will be swapping between Ashgrove and The Grange (which has a cool park we will review very soon!).

I was always worried about taking Cody to Storytime. She's a wiggler and an over-sharer. The wiggling clearly was not a problem and I should have never been worried about it. I look back at what a noob parent I was to be worried about that as EVERY kid there was wiggling and running off and grizzling in. In fact Cody (being the oldest there almost) was the only one who sat still the entire time! Did I care about the wiggling/running/grizzling of others? Nope - and nobody did so I don't know why I was worried about Cody before! As for oversharing - well my girl does like to talk and if she's heard of a sloth then she's going to tell you where and when she heard of it (I applaud the librarian for not knowing about Diego!!) - once again, nobody cared and the librarian manged the kids really well. Four books were read (the theme this week was bedtime) and then they did some colouring and stickering (which I think was the point when Cody became super hooked - bring out the stickers and most kids are completely engrossed in their art). We went to the older session (2-5 years old) and took Mika (who also sat on the floor and looked at the book) but there is a younger session beforehand (for the under 2s).

The lady who took the session was young and fun and loved her job. You can't ask for more than that. We got some books - I found a new edition of Juxtapoz (probably not even in the newsagents yet it was so new) so everyone left happy. Cody is itching to go back this week - which we will.

I'm not going to do the typical rating as there's not much to rate. I'd happily do this every week if I could - and so would Cody - which means it would rate pretty high!

I should add that Ashgrove Library has just gotten a new annex built and expanded considerably. Aparently there is a coffee shop going in there (so you can sit and have a coffee whilst watching the kids play in the park). That's all well and good but do go to Jeremiahs Cafe as he's a top dude and very kid friendly.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Paten Park, The Gap (AKA Nursery Park)

After reading my post about Wittonga Park on Hilder Road in The Gap, Adam reminded me about the Nursery Park over the Payne Road side of The Gap. I'd completely forgotten about this park so it was off for a quick revisit. Map is here.

The park is called Nursery Park as it sits in front of the nursery (duh) but also because the nursery theme has transgressed to the park itself in the form of the "shopfronts" which have been created. There is flowers to spin, a walk in greenhouse, a delivery truck, a water tank and a florist shop. All pretty cool. The bits Cody loves are the pretend sink in the greenhouse (my girl loves pretending to wash her hands for some reason) and the bit Mika loves is the spinning flowers. Side note: I was thinking the other day about how I have an extended duty of review now that Mika is old enough to be interactive. So you'll get the parks suitability for a four-ish year old and an under one.

Also worthy of mention is the spiderweb which sits off to the side. I've no idea what these climbing frames are really called but we call them spider webs and this one is a great net like structure which you can lie on and roll around in. The climbing frame is also impressive - it has a bell at the top which I find really spurs the kids on to get to the top.

Behind the park sits a dog off-leash area and between the two there are a couple of picnic tables (none covered or with a BBQ).

I remember when came here when we first moved to The Gap and met an extraordinary lady and her son. It really made us feel that this was a great move for us. Unfortunately The Gap wasn't a great move for me, but we did meet some awesome families along the way.

The nursery theme makes this a lovely little park. Cody and I agree its around a 6.


Age Groups: The playground has tried to cater to all ages with the toddler friendly aspects but also adding some elements which require the skill set of a slightly older kid.
Kid Friendliness: The kids have always been cool here.
Parent Friendliness: Ditto - the parents have always been cool here.
Shadiness: there is a sail cover in place playground is shaded by a canopy of trees
Tricked Out: the nursery theme is cute (not sure it qualifies as tricked out though)
Picnic/BBQ: not a picnic or BBQ park
Shabbiness: gets a bit of rubbish but overall pretty clean
Toilets: no toilets
Hovering Required: It's small enough that you don't need to hover
Bring Yr Bike: I was going to say no, but when we were there a mum was teaching her son to ride without training wheels across the slope of the grass.
Crowded: not at all
Wow: a cute theme - will really impress the younger set

Gregory Park, Milton (AKA Pencil Park)

It was a cold and wet day. We were trying to go to the amazing Perrin Park at St Lucia, but when we arrived it was still closed down after flood damage from the January floods. Cody had a grizzle in the backseat of the car and I explained how sometimes Plan B actually is the best plan of all. Yeah, maybe not in this case though...

So Plan B was Gregory Park in Milton - a great park and I'm glad we went but by the time we arrived it was drizzling. And by the time we left it was pouring. No fun trying to change a four year old and a five month old into dry clothes in the back of the car. But lets assume the sun is shining, the world is happy and you are on your way to Gregory Park. Map is here.

Tucked right behind the Milton Primary School - immediately adjacent to the part of Rosalie which went completely under in the floods and was the area of town which was focused on in all of the January news. It was completely nuts of us to head here after being turned away from a flood damaged park! The good news is that apart from the maze, the park was open and in full operation (well, except for the toilets which were broken and the locks on the doors busted). I think some people refer to this as Pencil Park for the line of coloured pencils which greet you at the gate.

This is a climbers park. The perfect age for the park is the primary school kids which must look out longingly from their classrooms across the park each day, but it also serves the slightly younger crowd too with the sandpit and slides. The bulk of the park however is the climbing frames and rubber/chain spiderwebs which sit invitingly in different hubs across the park. My girl, well you know she's a climber, so this park really hit a high note with her.

What she also loves is the hills which have chains to pull them up and slides to get them down again. The Enchanted Forest and Jubilee Park in Bardon also have this feature and it generally is a hit with all ages. Of course, in the wet weather it was pretty slippery!

The thing which will keep your younger crowd coming back is the sandpit. And it's not just a sandpit, it's decked out with platforms and moving things and is pretty fun. On this day, of course, the sand was mush due to the rain, which made the crowd even happier. Sand is fun, but slushy sand is much much better. This area is covered with shade cloth (as is most of the other sections of the park) so its good to pop your little one down and let them enjoy all the grotty fun.

The playground itself is surrounded by a large oval, including a basketball court. As I've said before, I rarely see ovals used (except in formally structured sporting events like organised cricket). This had a group of kids scootering on it and really having a ball. There is a big shelter with a number of tables and I can only assume this is a big hit with mothers groups due to this reason (Cody has been here once for a birthday party too). There are toilets handy, but enter at your own risk. It's not fenced, but the kids have to run a fair way to get near the road. I can't comment on the proximity to coffee as it was raining too hard to think about going anywhere - but as I said earlier, it was very near the Rosalie shops so I can only assume that there is coffee to be found.

This was a fun park but the rain certainly made it hard for me. That said, the sand turned to mush, the bigger kids were doing skids on their scooters on the basketball courts, the slides were so slippery you slid right off the end. Sounds like super fun right? Perhaps this is the perfect rain park? Parents sheltered safely in the more-than-ample concrete bunker, kids happily getting soaked nearby. Bring a change of clothes and I'd say you've found yourself the perfectly grottily wet weather park!

Its a good park and worth a visit to. I would give it a low 7. Cody enjoyed the grottiness way too much and rated it higher, but I feel I could give her a mud pile and she'd be just as happy as long as she could get wet and grotty (FYI she complained the ENTIRE way home in the car about being muddy).


Age Groups: It caters for all ages quite well.
Kid Friendliness: it was school holidays and wet weather so to be honest there was no interaction amidst the chaos
Parent Friendliness: a few grandparents who were taking their very young grandkids down here were very nice. I think this is a widely used mothers group park too.
Shadiness: shade cloths cover most of the park
Tricked Out: a couple of small features but otherwise what you see is what you get
Picnic/BBQ: some tables and benches under cover and one BBQ
Shabbiness: the park itself was well worn
Toilets: terrible (but present!). i was desperate and needed to put up with whatever to go - there were no locks and the toilet was very far back from the door (i.e. you couldn't put your foot on the door to hold it shut) so I sang my "I'm in here please don't come in whilst I have my pants down" song to try and dissuade visitors.
Hovering Required: No you can see everywhere in the park from wherever you stand.
Bring Yr Bike: No there are no bike paths here but the kids were having fun on the basketball court
solid but not stunning

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Alphabet Book

For the past (almost) year, Cody and I have been off and on working on our Alphabet Book. It took a bit of a backseat during the later stages of pregnancy with Mika but we kicked it off again after she was born and have finally finished it up. I got a printers proof yesterday (which looked amazing if I do say so myself) and expect our box load to arrive next week.

So what is this book? Well, its a photographic exploration of the alphabet by Cody and myself. We talked about a subject for each letter and then both took a photo of the subject. Hers are the top images and mine are the bottom. I think the letter 'W' really displays it best - the shot out our art room window (note the image differs depending on if you are shooting from the size of a child or an adult).

We have got 100 which we are giving to our friends and maybe selling a few online. The approach is the same as what we do with the blog - we are just having fun with it and its an exercise of art, exploration and discussion which I'm having with my daughter. Beats sitting around watching Dora.

More details about the book can be found on my website.

We are going to have a backyard launch party during which Cody is going to do a book reading. I'll post what is sure to be a most entertaining video of the event!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Sedgeley Park, Alderley/Newmarket (AKA New Park)

There is a small park to the very side of Sedgeley Park - it's run down, broken in parts and I thought was on the verge of becoming dangerous. Not so long ago caution tape was put around many of its features and the playground was officially off limits. Within weeks, the foundations of a brand new park - over the other side of the area - began to take shape. A brand new park! Exciting. We drove past ever day wondering what it would feature, what would be the main structure, how would the formation take place. Finally last week it was done. We hit it hard the next day. Map is here. You'll know it as the park behind the dog off leash park and right next to Newmarket Pool.

This new park has the best and the worst of modern park features. My family think that it perhaps has one of the best attractions ever at a park - high praise! The spinning climbing cone combines everything that we love - climbing, spinning and the thrill of possible danger (although there really is none unless you make it go at super duper speeds - which of course we did). Cody climbed inside and held on for dear life. Adam did a few rotations spinning it around and then jumped inside, shifting the center of the weight and making it spin at alarmingly fast speeds. I was surprised the day didn't end in vomiting actually. It was super fun and I think they spent 90% of the time at this park doing that. Would it have been as fun if Cody didn't have her dad with her making it go outrageously fast? Perhaps not as she had some trouble making the weight of the cone shift to move it around. But it was fun to climb around and inside of too.

The worst feature would be the rocking boat. I really hope this does not become the standard of "wow" for new parks. It's pointless for small parks like this. You can't shift it without a parent and only doing it with one kid is really not all that enjoyable for anyone. There is one at New Farm Park but given the volume of kids there its slightly more enjoyable (I think this is an attraction which requires sharing of joy - doing it by yourself is not really great but having a gaggle of kids to share the experience with makes it infinitely more enjoyable). I'm just not a fan of this feature.

The main tower feature is built for bigger kids - 4 and over I'd say. You have to climb to get up to the slide - and its quite a tall slide too. There is a chain wall, a shaped pole and a climbing wall to help you get up and even our spectacular climber Cody had some troubles the first go.

On the high side of the playground is the more traditional aspects, although the flash new design is anything but traditional. I was really impressed with the see-saw design and think it's a really good looking piece for the park. And of course the mega climbing frame - which seems to come standard with most new parks to attract the older kids - and the swings (the swing seat was a different design to what we are used to also - its more of a firmer material which holds you in better).

We stopped at the local store on the way and bought sandwich fixings to make up a picnic lunch and had a nice time completely undisturbed. I stated at the time that no matter how many times we visit this park I don't think we are ever going to see another person playing there - it just feels really isolated in a way!

If this is the new park design then I think we are in for some great parks in the future. A rating of 8.


Age Groups: Suits the older crowd. Cody (at 4) is very happy here but I don't think there will be much for Mika when she starts walking.
Kid Friendliness: no one else around
Parent Friendliness: as above
Shadiness: i was worried about this - we went at noon and it was pretty hot - but within half an hour the shade of the nearby pine trees started to cover the park
Tricked Out: nah, not at all really (the spinning cone was amazing though)
Picnic/BBQ: there is one BBQ and one undercover table
Shabbiness: the park was one day old so it was clean
Toilets: there is a toilet block nearby. I was expecting the worst but it was surprisingly okay.
Hovering Required: No, the park is small
Bring Yr Bike: No
Crowded: no
Wow: no wow just a solid park