Category Archives: Parenting

Parenting research and personal anecdotes.

Horizons K-8 School Playground adjacent to Admiral Arleigh A. Burke Park, Boulder, CO

In 2013 the City of Boulder Parks and Planning and Horizons K-8 School partnered with other organization to update the Horizons K-8 school playground which is adjacent to Boulder’s Admiral Arleigh A. Burke Park. The project was completed in September and I was curious to see what had been done. The playground is accessible to the community during non-school hours.

Based on the website it was unclear to me whether the park itself had a playground or only the school grounds. Driving up, it became apparently the park did not have a playground. However, it did have a shelter with a picnic table and some benches.

01Shelter

Thunderbird Lake is within the park and there are walking paths all around it.

02Lake

The park also contains a wood deck which was designed by a University of Colorado class for outdoor classes and meetings. The deck was suppose to be bigger but a pared down design was required in order to finish it by the end of the semester. There were big signs about not allowing skateboarding which the structure really looks ideal for.

03MysteriousStructure

The playground itself is on school property. It has swings, a tire swing, and a tether ball. It also has new playground equipment which appears to use both the PlayBooster and Evos equipment from Landscape Structures. Calvin immediately gravitated to the roller slide. He slide down it once in the traditional style and spent the rest of the time pretending it was a treadmill.

04RollerSlide

I think the Dakota Ridge Park was the first place I’d seen the Evos equipment. It’s very different from the equipment I had growing up with but Calvin loves playing on it and it provides him quite a bit of climbing and strength exercise. I’m now a fan.

05Climbing

06SwiggleBridge

It's hard to tell from a still picture but these circles rotate.

It’s hard to tell from a still picture but these circles rotate.

08OZone

After spending time on the Evos equipment, Calvin transitioned to the more traditional style equipment. He started with the fish net climber.

09NetClimber

The spring bridge was also fun.

10SpringBridge

I’d seen a lot of double slides before but this was the first triple slide I’d seen.

11CloudburstSlide

And finally, he had to climb up the Corkscrew Climber.

12CorkscrewClimber

Also on the playground was a sand area. However, there wasn’t any built-in equipment for it and I hadn’t brought any of our toys so Calvin ignored it.

All-in-all, it was a very nice school playground.

Summary:

Features Swings (no bucket swings), tire swing, tether ball, roller slide, climber, O-Zone climber, Swiggle Stix Bridge, Gyro Twister, Fish Net Climber, Spring Bridge, Triple Slide, Corkscrew Climber, Loop Arch Climber, Covered Slide, Rush Slide
Surface Material Bark Chips
Restrooms No
Water fountain No
Shade No.
Picnic area There’s a covered picnic table but it’s not very close to the playground.
Parking Fairly convenient street parking
Pros
  • Nice new equipment
  • Lots of climbing options
Cons
  • Playground not available during school hours
  • No restrooms


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Playground at Princes Street Gardens, Edinburgh, Scotland

The absolute best playground we visited in Scotland was on day two at the Princes Street Gardens in Edinburgh. The playground is located on the far western side of the park. The park map we saw neglected to mention there was a playground and we trudged the entire length of the park, Calvin complaining the entire time, on faith having heard a rumor there was suppose to be a playground somewhere.

I was very relieved when we found the park to see it was worth the trek. The park is spectacular. The main playground equipment is setup like a play castle.

04CastlePlayground

It has all the normal playground features such as slides, monkey rings, rope bridges, etc.

03CastleSlide

06MonkeyBars

08RopeBridge

There’s also a climbing wall so you can storm the castle.

07ClimbingWall

The playground also had a wide variety of spinners ranging from single-person spinners to a giant rope climbing apparatus that also spun.

12Spinnerwithoutsun

09IndividualSpinner

02spinner

There’s also a little kids area and the obligatory themed spring rider.

11LittleKidArea

05SpringRider

And, of course, a log swing that looks like it could be used to ram open (fragile) castle gates.

01logswing

If you’re looking at the park facing south, you can see the play castle overshadowed by the real Edinburgh Castle. (The sun was not kind to my pictures.)

10SpinnerAndCastle

Summary:

Features
Surface Material Mostly poured rubber
Restrooms Yes, relatively close, it appears you usually have to pay but we didn’t the day we were there
Water fountain Can’t remember
Shade Reasonable amount of shade
Picnic area Can’t remember but the park itself has a ton of benches.
Parking No
Pros
  • Nice playground equipment
  • Very scenic backdrops
Cons
  • A bit tricky to find if you don’t know where it is.

Playground at Highland Folk Museum, Scotland

I’ve been meaning to post pictures of the Scottish playgrounds we visited but kept procrastinating. While Scotland isn’t quite as overflowing with playgrounds as Hong Kong is, we visit several nice ones. On our seventh day in Scotland we visited the Highland Folk Museum. We arrived toward the end of the day so didn’t have nearly enough time to wander around. However, right within the entrance is a pretty nice playground area for kids.

Among other things, they have the best tire swing I have ever seen. It’s huge.

01TireSwing

The main playground area had a rustic feel to it.

05springrider

However, they had several more modern pieces of playground equipment also. I’m pretty sure one of our Boulder parks has this one:

03modernplay

They also had a fantastic spinner. I think it would have been even better with more people on it.

02spinner

There was also a single-person spinner and a wobbly balance beam to walk on.

04singlespinner

Away from the main playground area there’s also a digger, fairly close to their sawmill building.

06Digger

Summary:

Features Modern age 5-12 playground equipment, log-house style playground equipment, wooder spring rider, amazing tire swing, large spinner, individual spinner, wobbly balance beam
Surface Material Mostly bark chips
Restrooms Yes, relatively close
Water fountain Can’t remember
Shade The more modern playground is shaded by the trees but the wood-based playground elements don’t appear to get shade.
Picnic area Can’t remember.
Parking Parking for the museum
Pros
  • Best Tire Swing Ever
  • Nice variety of equipment
Cons
  • N/A

Columbine Park, Boulder, CO

After Salberg Park I decided to drop by Columbine Park which was just a few blocks away. Earlier in the morning when I was trying to decide where to go I stumbled across a Boulder City post about their Top 10 Nature Play Parks. Columbine Park was on the list but I wasn’t sure if it was going to be large enough to amuse Calvin for more than a couple of minutes.

Columbine Park was a very pleasant surprise. It doesn’t have any traditional playground structures but still had enough elements to keep Calvin amused. The first thing he did was run over to the “OmniSpin Spinner” which appears to be a modern equivalent of a merry-go-round. It’s definitely a cut above most modern merry-go-rounds but I found it difficult to get up to a nice speed (being pregnant probably doesn’t help). Even though it goes slower, it’s pretty comfortable to sit in. I relaxed in it for a bit and let Calvin (briefly) spin me.

01MerryGoRound

Next up, Calvin climbed aboard the “Oodle Swing” (at least, I think it’s an Oodle swing, definitely similar if it’s not that exactly). Add some pillows and I think it’d make a nice hammock-like swing for a kid to read in.

02Swing

The playground also have several rocks with rope ladders to climb up.

03Climbing

A unique feature of this park is its extended balance path consisting of pretend tree stumps, rocks, log balance beams, and log tunnels. Calvin enjoyed running back and forth on them.

05Balance1

06Log

07Balance2

The park also had a fake “stream” wandering around one edge of the playground area with rocks providing more balance options.

08Stream

The final feature of the park is a tree. Normally, I just mention the man-made structures. However, this was a perfect playground tree. Its branches hang low enough to the ground that children ducking under toward the trunk are nicely hidden. Plus, the branches are low enough to the ground that children can climb up the (sap-leaking) tree. This is probably not an officially approved activity but I liked Calvin have the opportunity to climb on something actually natural, not just nature-imitating. Calvin didn’t go up more than a couple of branches but enjoyed that bit of climbing up by himself.

04Tree

I was amused to see a sign indicating the playground was designed for ages 5-12. I know they have to do this for safety reasons but there was a lot that younger kids could get from this park. I think it’s one we might go back and visit once 2.1 is born.

Summary:

Features Multi-person swing, merry-go-round substitute, lots of balancing elements, several rocks/ropes to climb, good climbing tree
Surface Material Poured Rubber
Restrooms No (though there’s an elementary school behind the park that might be available if you get desperate)
Water fountain Yes, it was even turned on
Shade Yes, there’s quite a bit of shade provided by a picnic structure and mature trees.
Picnic area Yes, one covered picnic area with a couple of tables, including wheelchair friendly tables.
Parking Fairly convenient street parking
Pros
  • Lots of balancing options
  • Merry-go-round-like equipment
  • Good climbing tree
  • Interesting multi-person swing
Cons
  • No traditional playground equipment, may bore some kids?
  • No restrooms


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Salberg Park, Boulder, CO

October has been unnaturally warm. It’s almost the end of October and today was sunny and almost 80 degrees. On the weekends Calvin has a tendency to get stuck in the family room playing with Legos all day. I love Legos but I also think that outside time is important. So I decided it was time to go and explore a couple of parks.

We first went to Salberg Park. Calvin and I have been to this park before but it was in the pre-photographing of park era. It’s a nice park with restrooms! (Though it appears the restrooms may only be open in summer as they were locked today).

Playground Equipment

The park has a nice-sized traditional playground structure. It’s mainly designed for “older” kids but does have several things underneath for younger kids. An example is a little bucket swing.

Little Swing

Calvin enjoyed climbing across the rope wall.

04Climbingrope

The playground also has two regular swings and two bucket swings for babies. (Calvin hasn’t learned how to swing himself yet so I don’t have any pictures of them). I had forgotten that Salberg park has a very nice sand area. I should have brought our sand toys. Even so, Calvin was able to amuse himself with the built-in sand equipment: two regular diggers, a wheelchair accessible digger, and an elevated sand table.

Sand Area

As always, Calvin enjoys climbing on the rocks.

01ParkRock

I think the playground might have been upgraded since I was there last. It has two structures that I don’t remember. The first is some equipment that I believe is suppose to mimic a sailboat (note it’s also surrounded by blue poured rubber). The entire structure can be rotated, with some effort.

Sailboat

The other structure provides more climbing opportunities.

05climber

Summary:

Features Small double slide, curved slide, swings, bucket swings, mini-swing, rope wall, sand diggers, accessible sand digger, elevated sand table, stylized sailboat structure, climbing wall
Surface Material Poured Rubber and some sand
Restrooms Yes (possibly only open for summer)
Water fountain Didn’t see one but seems like there should be one by the restrooms
Shade Yes, there’s quite a bit of shade provided by a picnic structure and mature trees.
Picnic area Yes, one covered picnic area and additional nearby picnic tables.
Parking Dedicated parking lot
Pros
  • Good equipment
  • Easy to park
  • Sand!
Cons
  • N/A


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Pregnant

I have a good reason for my blogging silence recently: I’m pregnant. I spent pretty much my entire 1st trimester either sleeping or curled up in a ball trying not to throw up. Morning sickness was a lot more intense this time and towards the end I ended up taking meds to keep the vomiting under control (though I know I got off a lot more lightly than some women). Now that I’m at 13 weeks, the vomiting mysteriously disappeared which was a relief1. I planned this pregnancy carefully to make sure my migration (big project) at work happened before I was likely to hit any preterm labor problems in case I have a repeat of last time. However, I hadn’t counted on being incapacitated during my first trimester. I was still able to get in all my hours but I don’t think I was operating at my normal level.

Below is a post I wrote the morning I found out I was pregnant back on July 8, 2014.


It turns out that it’s a bad idea to take a pregnancy test at 2:00AM. It seemed like a good idea at the time because I didn’t want to avoid going to the bathroom all night just to make sure I had concentrated enough liquid.

The test shows the very faintest plus symbol. Technically, I took the test one day before the instructions recommended. I got it confused with the non-generic brand I used last time and didn’t notice the difference till after I had already tested. So, I was a little surprised to see a faintly positive result. My understanding is that if you see any plus at all, no matter how faint, you are pregnant. However, according to at least one study, 22 percent of “chemical” pregnancies never become “clinical” pregnancies2

Now I am sitting down in the family unable to go back to sleep.

Coincidentally, I interviewed an OB today. I really liked my Longmont OB but the Longmont Hospital won’t do VBACs. It’s not that I necessarily want a VBAC. I had a great c-section the first time and due to various factors my odds at a successful VBAC aren’t great. However, I dislike not having the flexibility to choose a VBAC. The OB I interviewed today delivers at Avista Adventist Hospital. It’s 20 minutes away from my house but has a Level III NICU3, vegetarian food in the cafeteria4, and does VBACs. However, the main reason I’m considering this particular OB is she is very close to one of the libraries I can work at. The OB answered my extensive list of questions and I felt pretty happy with her responses.

I have an interview scheduled with a Boulder OB next Monday. Boulder Community Hospital also does VBACs and is only 12 minutes away from our house but prenatal appointments would be slightly more inconvenient than the Avista OB. They also have a lower level NICU though I’m not sure how much importance I should place on that.

Assuming this pregnancy continues, my due date is March 24, 2015. Does this date seem vaguely familiar? Calvin’s birthday is March 26. This was unintentional. I’ve been trying for a while to get pregnant and I guess this was just weird coincidence. Perhaps something about summer makes me more fertile.


UPDATES: I decided to go with the Boulder OB. Both OBs seemed great but Boulder Hospital appears to have a dedicated vegetarian menu which is hard to beat (particularly if I end up there for several weeks). I also got the fancy MaterniT21 genetic blood screening done since I’m “elderly” at a whole 35 years of age. It came back negative for the major chromosomal abnormalities it tests for. In addition, it was able to determine that I’m having a boy. So, Calvin will get the little brother he’s always wanted. Of course, I’m not sure Calvin really realizes how long it is before babies become interesting humans.

  1. With Calvin I had much milder morning sickness that lasted significantly longer.
  2. I’ve been seeing a therapist for the last couple of months for stress-related issues. She would no doubt like me to point out at this point that only a 22% loss means that it’s more likely than not that I will stay pregnant.
  3. I thought I saw they were a level IIIB but the OB said they take babies at 28 weeks or later which implies IIIA.
  4. I thought PSL in Denver had bad vegetarian options till I delivered in Longmont. They were worse. I could get frosted flakes for breakfast at both locations but at least at PSL, the moderately “healthier” options, such as a whole wheat bun instead of snow white, required the approval of a dietitian.

Camping

Our family spent the Fourth of July long weekend camping at Moraine Park Campground. It’s a very civilized campground with flush toilets! This campground was also the site of Calvin’s first camping trip back in 2010.

This time I tried a new way to organize camping food. All the stuff that needed to be cold went into the cooler. But everything else got portioned into my cloth grocery bags. I had one bag for each cooked meal. So, in the first bag went everything I needed for the first meal that didn’t need to be chilled. The next bag contained everything for the next meal, minus the items I needed for the first meal (like the camping pot) and so on. Then, at the end of each meal I redistributed the things that would be needed later into the appropriate bags for their next meal. This system worked surprisingly well and prevented me from doing a lot of the rummaging I’ve done in previous trips. I would have preferred to use clear plastic bins for each meal but this was a lot cheaper.

Thursday
We left for the campground Thursday evening around 5ish. As soon as we got there I put up the bug shelter for the picnic table and then started to make supper. Since we were expecting to arrive around supper I made it super easy. I brought a bag of freeze dried pasta primavera for each of us and a pound of asparagus. In retrospect, I can’t believe I never thought to bring asparagus for camping before. It’s incredibly easy to prepare and cooks within minutes.

After supper we put our stuff in the tent (we have a fantastically huge family tent), got everything organized. I read to Calvin for a while and we all eventually fell asleep.

Friday
Thursday night I slept the best I can remember in a tent. The air was pretty warm most of the night and Calvin slept straight through without waking. In addition, nobody else’s child was screaming which was a definite plus. At around 5:30 I was woken up by a loud noise. At first I thought it was the wind violently whipping the tent around. Then I realized a huge herd of deer had decided to go pounding through the campground. We got the tent door open soon enough to see them stampede away. It was not uncommon to see a couple of deer in my backyard growing up but it was still pretty interesting to see a whole herd of deer wandering around a campground.

For breakfast we had scrambled tofu that I had prepared back home, pastries from the Bavarian Bakery, and strawberries. I heated up the tofu in my cast iron skillet so cleaning up was really easy. I just dumped the extra tofu into the compost sack1, wiped out the skillet and then heated it on the stove again to sterilize it.

Our goal on Friday was to hike up to Emerald Lake. Since Calvin loves transportation, and parking at Bear Lake is impossible, we took two shuttle buses to get there. Calvin obviously can hike when he wants but he spent much of the time complaining. However, it was still a successful hike for him.

On the way back we stopped by the Moraine Park visitor center and I got seduced into buying three books. Two are books about park ranger adventures and the third was a picture book about scat. Calvin also decided he wanted to use his allowance to buy a stuffed fox.

For supper we were contemplating hot dogs. However, they didn’t start selling wood till 5:30 so I read to Calvin out of one of the new ranger books. Around 5:30 Jaeger left to get the firewood and it promptly started raining. I changed supper bags and started getting things ready. The bug shelter provided some protection from the rain but not for a particularly large area.

While mom was visiting she took me shopping to Costco and suggested I try using the prepackaged Tasty Bite entrees. They’re shelf stable and it turns out you can heat the pouches up by just putting them in boiling water. This has the distinct advantage of keeping a pot from getting dirty. I paired them with boil-in-a-bag brown rice and called the supper a success. Given the rain it was particularly nice not to have to spend a great deal of time cleaning up.

Saturday
Saturday I attempted to make pancakes. I haven’t had prior good success with pancakes while camping but gave it another shot. I used a Krusteaz mix so I only needed to add water and then oil for the cast iron skillet. It took me a couple of times to get the cooking time and temp right but eventually I ended up with pretty decent pancakes. Probably a first for me.

Jaeger was having trouble coming up with hiking routes that were both interesting and something Calvin could reasonably be expected to do. Eventually he settled on going over to the west side of the park and taking the Big Meadows trail. This time we explained clearly to Calvin that we didn’t want to hear any moaning or no smores for supper. This hike went much better, especially during the short time when we were walking as the same speed with another family that had kids close in age to Calvin. The meadow was nice but I didn’t find it quite as inspiring as a lake as a destination. On the way back we saw a moose.

Since Calvin did so well, and it was way too hot, we decided a treat was in order and drove to Granby to get ice cream. Then we returned back over Trail Ridge Road to camp.

There wasn’t any rain in the evening so we were able to eat our veggie hot dogs and smores. To my surprise Calvin seemed to think the smores were ok but he only wanted one.

Sunday
Sunday we ate a fairly boring breakfast of oatmeal then packed up and came home. Remarkably we were on the road by 9:30 so got back home in time to unpack and put things away in a orderly manner.

All-in-all I think it turned out to be a pretty successful camping trip though Calvin can definitely use more practice hiking.

  1. I wanted to minimize dish cleanup so we brought compostable dishes and had a bag we put all the compostable stuff into. It worked fairly well except the bag stunk up the car toward the end. Next time it needs a sealable bin.

Bookmark

For Mother’s Day this year Calvin’s preschool had him create a bookmark. This is one of the more useful Mother’s Day presents I have received from daycare/preschool because I always need more bookmarks. The front has a drawing which I suspect is suppose to be me. I have very large feet. The back has typed written descriptions of what Calvin must have told his teachers about me. It must have been in the form of fill-in-the-blank but they aren’t explicit about which parts Calvin filled in. I found it pretty amusing:


Gem

Her hair is brown.
My mom’s favorite food is food I
don’t like.
My mom likes to wear whatever
fits her.
My mom’s job is working at home.
My mom’s smart because she knows
I don’t know if she’s smart.
My mom works hard at I don’t know
if she works hard.
My mom relaxes by exercising on the
treadmill in our basement.
My mom tells me a lot to hurry a lot
when we’re late for school.
I’m happy when my mom reads
to me.
I love my mom because she loves me.
I know my mom loves me because
she hugs me a lot.

Love,
Calvin, age 5

Mother’s Day 2014

Pineview Park, Boulder, CO

Several weeks ago Calvin and I made it to another park. However, then life got busy and I never got around to posting about it. We visited Pineview Park which is relatively close to his preschool.

01Playground

It’s a nice playground with a “nature” theme that was just remodeled in 2013. It even has sand!

02Sand

The playground structure itself has a lot of different climbing options. Calvin ventured out on the rock but didn’t want to try climbing down that way.

03Rock

He did venture up the petite climbing wall though.

04Climbing

And the ladder.

06Ladder

An interesting feature is the “tree trunk” was created to be hollow to allow climbing ladders up and down.

05TreeTrunk

The park also has a nice covered area for parents to sit on and both regular and bucket swings. As an aside, the Boulder park website claims there are restrooms, a water fountain, and a parking garage which is incorrect I assume that must be a copy/paste job from another park.

All-in-all, it’s a cute park and is close enough to Calvin’s preschool we might visit it again.

Summary:

Features Curved slide, “wooden” ladder, rock, small climbing wall, tree house, swings, bucket swings, accessible digger
Surface Material Poured Rubber and some sand
Restrooms No
Water fountain No
Shade Seating area for parents in shaded and there are some trees, though I’m not sure it’d shade the playground
Picnic area Yes, one picnic table
Parking Street parking, the best parking is on Cloverleaf drive then you walk down a path and over a bridge to the play structure
Pros
  • Nice new equipment
  • Secluded
  • Sand! and a large field by the playground for running around
Cons
  • No restrooms


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Shanahan Ridge Park, Boulder, CO

The weather was marvelous today. I spent the morning working on money but after lunch Calvin and I went thrift store shopping and then stopped by Boulder’s southernmost park, Shanahan Ridge Park. The Shanahan Park Page, on Boulder’s site, said the park was “small” but I didn’t understand how small till we got there. The picture below shows you most of the park.

01Shanahan

Parking turned out to be quite tricky. In addition, Google maps took me a couple blocks past the park and into an apartment complex. I followed Google’s directions hoping it knew about a parking lot I didn’t but, alas, it was just confused. I backtracked and decided the road next to the park was too narrow to park on the street. Eventually, I parked on Smuggler Way which had a path to the park.

As I stated above, the park is really small. However, it did have a very unusual feature: a human sundial1.

Human Sun Dial: Stand along the centerline opposite the current day of the year with your arm raised above your head.  Your shadow will point to the current time. *Tempis Fugit*

Human Sun Dial: Stand along the centerline opposite the current day of the year with your arm raised above your head. Your shadow will point to the current time. *Tempis Fugit*

Hours are arced around the the sundial:

03SundialTimes

I had Calvin try it out but I think a taller person would have worked better. It seemed roughly accurate, within an hour or so2.

04CalvinSunDial

The sundial amused me a lot more than Calvin. However, even though the park is really small Calvin had a blast running up and down the slide area. When I looked at the city’s picture of the park, I thought the slide had asphalt on either side but it turned out to be poured rubber.

05Slides

They also had a random hole that kids could run through.

06Hole

Lastly, the park did have two regular swings and one bucket swing. Even though the park is small, it was completely overrun with kids so Calvin had to make do with the bucket swing.

07swing

It was a really interesting park to visit. The parking’s horrible but it was a fun visit.

Summary:

Features Straight slide, bumpy slide, climbing rocks, hole, sun dial, swings, bucket swing, stairs to nowhere
Surface Material Poured Rubber
Restrooms No
Water fountain No
Shade No
Picnic area No
Parking Horrible parking options. Try parking on Smuggler Way and then walking.
Pros
  • Seems very popular with kids.
  • Human sundial!
Cons
  • No restrooms
  • Bad parking options
  • Really small


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  1. As an aside, does anyone know Latin? Google is giving me the definite impression that “Tempis Fugit” should really be “Tempus Fugit.”
  2. I didn’t see any notation of when it assumes daylight savings time starts