Friday, June 2, 2017

Sky Zone "Sensory Sunday" Review

My son is proprioceptively hyporesponsive (among other issues) which has made him hold true to the "bouncing baby boy" cards. He bounces all the time. Not as much as before, but still a lot. And he turns 17 tomorrow!

Along with the proprioceptive issues were other things like sensitivity to sounds, lights, and smells. The only person I know that doesn't like the smell of baking buns at Subway! All these little issues are pretty big when you're a little guy, and we spent a lot of time avoiding places or modifying activities to keep him comfortable. Sometimes it was frustrating. Storytime at the library? He sat when the other marched, marched while they sat, played human bowling when they were supposed to be twirling. Etc. We missed out on a lot. Then add two more kids, and then a big move.

In 2014, I saw Sky Zone on "Undercover Boss". I had heard of Sky Zone but there wasn't any local to us. I was really impressed with the business after watching that episode! In 2015, one opened in Whitby. So even though my kids were now older (15, 12, 8), I was sure they'd still enjoy it. Me....meh. I'm not a jumper. Perhaps something to do with my body shape, LOL. Somehow I managed to convince the husband to take the three kids by himself.

They came back loving it, though Hugh said the music was annoying/too loud. For a kid with earbuds in all the time, he never talks about music, never wants to go to a concert, doesn't have a favourite song, band, genre. I don't know if he ever listens to music other than when we're in the truck.

Earlier this year, I heard that Sky Zone has special "sensory" jump times. Incredible. Where was this 14 years ago?! It's advertised as a "quieter, more relaxed jumping experience" with modified safety measures, less crowded environment, added staff to support all jumpers, and light and sound reduction.

I was invited to write about Sky Zone for this blog and I thought it would be awesome to check out the Sensory Friendly jump time. I know so many kids that would benefit. And not just kids--I'm one of those adults who doesn't do well in high energy environments.

At the Whitby location, the Sensory Friendly jumps are on certain Sunday mornings, 9-11am, (June 25th/2017 is the next one) and Monday afternoons, 3-7 (Monday June 5th is the next). Check the online calendar or call for more dates. On Sundays, they open to the general public at 10am and Mondays at 4pm. I arrived at about 10am on a Sunday to tour.
https://www.skyzone.com/ca-whitby
This photo is not totally accurate. Draw a line down the centre and ignore everything to the right. The court in the middle is dodgeball, and the main court, foam pit, and SkySlam are stretching back to the left.


The first thing I noticed when I walked in was the lack of music. I love music, but the combination of loud music and loud, happy children is too much for me. I had been into Sky Zone once before when my daughter was attending a birthday party, and it felt so bright, noisy, and overwhelming. It was none of that this time! The lights were dimmed to a comfortable level and it was not busy at all. I immediately relaxed.

For some great pictures and video of the actual Whitby location, click HERE. I like being prepared when I go new places.

Nicole gave me a tour and talked about the different zones and changes they make for Sensory Friendly jump times. There is a sign in the washrooms suggesting patrons do not use the hand dryers, because of the noise! Awesome! There were staff everywhere, interacting with kids, not just observing. There were only a few families there, so there was lots of space on the main court for the kids jumping. I also saw kids using the  SkySlam! area-- three basketball nets (different heights!), and saw the toddler zone. I could see into the foam pit and was amazed at the tiny little girl jumping in!

Photo fromhttps://www.skyzone.com/ca-whitby

I actually saw a child I know from my lunch supervisor job. I know he has autism and was happy to see him having a great time. I told him the next day that I saw him there, and he got SO excited. He says he loves Sky Zone, and his favourite is the "cheese pit". I assume that's the foam block pit!!  LOL!

One thing that would have concerned me when my kids were little was how to keep them all contained in one area. The layout is great though, and it would be easy for one parent to watch several kids while keeping an eye on the entrance ramp. I thought the ramp was awesome. Going up stairs can be tricky for little kids, or other people with spatial or physical impairments. I also noticed fluorescent tape accenting many features around the park. This is for their "Glow Party" nights, so you can still find things with the lights down.

There are activities on the main floor area, away from the trampoline, as well as a snack bar area with lots of seating. A good spot for a breather. 

I was even excited by the pricing. It's $6 +tax for 60 minutes and one non-jumping chaperone is free!

Normally, for open jump time, 60 minutes is $15.99 +tax. While Sunday mornings are not my optimal time for family outings, I would definitely consider going on a Monday. Many local support groups/services also co-ordinate outings, so if you're a member of any support group, ask about that. It's more fun to jump with a friend.

Waivers still need to be filled in (I'd do it online to reduce children's impatience once they get in there), and SkySocks are a must. If your child is sensitive to socks, I suggest wearing the SkySocks over their regular pair of socks. It took a bit of digging, but I also found that no outside food is allowed. Understandable, though frustrating for those on a budget. Really, for one hour of jumping, just have some snacks in the car. I assume there are water fountains though I will check.

I was really impressed with Nicole's enthusiasm; it totally matched what I had seen on Undercover Boss. Staff seemed happy to be there. I know Open Jump times might be different, due to the busyness, but if you're catering to kids with extra needs during Sensory Friendly jump times, you need staff that are approachable and excited to be there. If you're unsure if your child will enjoy it, at least it's not an expensive outing, and you're not committed to using up passes or coming every week at a certain time. Come once, and just be prepared for the big smiles, sweaty brows, and the constant question "When can we go to SkyZone again?".

Friday, November 11, 2016

Write

Leonard Cohen died yesterday. Once again, we're seeing "RIP" in all the tributes. Why do we save peace for our eternal slumber?

In grade 13 (Ontario, Canada! Way back in the last century, they made you take grade 13/OAC if you wanted to go to university!), I took "Writer's Craft".  This was a "fluff course", guaranteed to get you a decent mark for your university application. I, however, enjoyed writing anyway and had previously taken workshops and extra tutoring. For your semester long "Independent Project", you had to study an author and create work inspired by them. I chose Leonard Cohen. He seemed so radical, modern, sexy, adult. No Edgar Allan Poe or Emily Dickinson for me.

My end project was well received by the teacher--a younger, edgier man with an earring and (small) ponytail. It was 1989, LOL. Looking back, many of the poems make me blush--are they actually as good as he said? Over the next few days I'll post a few. Very few eyes have read most of these poems!

Looking through my folder, there are very few after 1993, and none after 1995. I suffered a unexpected breakup in 1995 and it was like that wiped the creative juices from my soul.  However, last night I was inspired again.



Why do we say "Rest in Peace" when someone dies?
Why do we save peace for the eternal slumber?
It's the people left behind that need the peace.

Instead of
Rest in Peace,

Let us

Walk in Peace,
Work in Peace, 
Love with Peace,
Dream with Peace,
Share in Peace
Practice Peace
Teach Peace
Embody Peace

Instead of 
Rest in Peace

Let us 
Live in Peace.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Chip Truck #12---Island Fries (Port Perry)

I don't get to Port Perry very often, but a friend who lives on the island suggested this truck.  So when we took our new boat to Lake Scugog to test it out, I knew we had to try the chip truck.  It was busy, so that's usually a good sign.

Sorry, no pictures.  I was too busy enjoying it!

The man running the window is from down east--as noticed by my youngest when he said "poo-tin" instead of "poo-teen".  She asked him and he confirmed it.  The man behind us said he was from "Bat Hurt" and that confused my girl until I reminded her about the French's lack of "th" and that he was really from Bathurst LOL.

My husband got a cheeseburger.  There was an impressive array of toppings.  However, when the burger arrived, it didn't have all his toppings. There was some confusion in the back and it was cute hearing them bicker.  He got his burger a few minutes later, but it felt much longer in the hot sun.  NO SHADE!

His cheeseburger was awesome.  I immediately wished I had gotten one.  Next time.  There were some other good looking options on the menu too.  I don't remember if we got onion rings. 

If you're going through Port Perry, or want a nice drive somewhere, check it out.  At the corner of Highway 7A and Island Rd, where the traffic lights are.  There is also a bakery with gluten free products and antiques.  Lots of parking, though if you have a boat, take a peek as you drive up to figure out where you want to park as it's a bit narrow for a full U-turn.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

I am Not a Bad Dog Owner

My dog barks.  At squirrels.

I've never had a barker before.  Our last dog, Cooper, was an "old soul" from birth.  We lived in a 3 year old house, in a subdivision with barely any trees.  We had no kids and plenty of "free" time.  We spent a lot of that time on the walking trails, hiking trails and open fields.  Although he showed interest in wildlife, sometimes chasing it, he rarely ever barked.  At anything.

A little over six years ago we moved to this house.  Older, in a mature subdivision filled with large trees and tons of urban wildlife.  In our backyard, we've seen rabbits, rats, chipmunks, red squirrels, grey squirrels, skunks, raccoons, possum, and even a blue heron.

A few months after moving in, Cooper died on Christmas Eve.  He was 11, and had recently been sick, but we thought he was on the mend.  We had no plans for another dog though we kept an open mind.  Then, in mid-March we found out that Cooper's brother had sired a litter of supposively purebred Goldens.  On Easter weekend, we (along with my brother's family and our parents) went to check them out.  We all ended up with a puppy.

Having a puppy again was so much harder this time.  The kids got wound up, Skippy got wound up.  He (and his brothers) did this "psycho puppy" thing of racing around the kitchen or backyard in circles (I have a video of it on my YouTube channel).  He was already a very dominant dog, not responding to our previous puppy training experience.  He was challenging to walk, took longer to housetrain, get through the biting stage, and learn commands.  He was certainly quite smart, but also very clueless at times.  The alpha-dog part is still the hardest thing.

I don't know when or why it started, but Skippy has the biggest hate towards squirrels.  There are two big trees in adjoining lots at the corners of our backyard.  Every day Skippy goes out there and has a barking showdown with the squirrels.  I yell, I try to drag him in (it's like dragging a tantruming three year old), I try to leash him.  The most effective (but time consuming) thing has been to have a staring contest until I see his tail drop.  First though, I have to get his attention which isn't easy.

Strange thing is, he doesn't do this on the weekends when Rob is home.  He might run out and give one cursory bark.  Once in a while he might go crazy, but it's not like Monday-Friday, between 7:30am-8:00am. 

Rob keeps talking about getting a training collar, but he wants one of the most expensive ones, with a huge range and lots of features that he can't even find locally.  I want the cheap (still $100+) one that just does barking, so that I don't have to stand there and wait with the controller for him to bark.  So, he's never gotten around to getting one.  And, it's not an issue for him.

What else can I do?  I can't not let him out as he's just gotten up and/or eaten breakfast.  If I leash him before he goes out, he won't go pee.  What I really want to do is get rid of the squirrels.  Other than a pellet or .22 gun, how?!  And how to stop others from moving in?

He rarely barks at people or dogs going past the house.  Doesn't bark when the doorbell rings.  He does get very hyper when people come to the door.  Generally, he's a good dog, but from 7:30-8:30am and again for a while after lunch, he is the most annoying thing on the planet.


Friday, September 18, 2015

When To Go Pro

I've been knitting non-stop for just over 20 years now, but I first learned a long time before then (like, 15 years...).  It wasn't until three years ago that I went "pro".  Facebook made it easy.

Why did I turn pro?  I knew I could use my many years of experience to provide top notch, high quality products.  I could create my own patterns, adapt other peoples patterns, and had a vast knowledge base, and library and stash, to work with.  I wasn't afraid to try something new, since I had a lot to back it up with.

Much of my early pro work was with photographers.  Photography has always been an interest of mine, and I loved using my Konica SLR, until the digital age took over and I couldn't keep up (financially, or learning-wise since I was hardly keeping up back then with just my kids!).  In the photography world now, there is a lot of talk about people thinking that just by getting a DSLR, they can become a photographer.  Just having a passion for taking photos should be enough, right?  You can check out a few websites and learn some things, create a free website and FB page, and Wham!  You're a pro.

This has created a huge divide between photography pros with years of education, business experience, equipment, talent, and intuition, and those that just picked up a camera and are presenting themselves as a pro.  Often, they will say they are "portfolio building" so their prices are really cheap compared to other pros.

When you hire an electrician, do you want a first year apprentice, or a fully licensed, union-backed electrician?  What if the beginner had a passion, and was just working for experience and the love of it, not for the money?  Would your dentist work just for the love of it and charge 1/10th what others do?

I saw a link on Facebook to another new photographer's website.  The girl says "Well my younger sister just started her own business for it and I'm just trying to help her get her name out there. I'll be attacking a link to her website. I've personally seen her photos and they turn out amazing. She's also very patient with kids as well if you want nice photos of your kids as well."

I took a look at the website.  I'm sorry, the photos are NOT amazing.  A picture of a dog, with the legs of a stool in the background, right behind him.  Baby pictures with drool.  A boy squinting into the sun.  And, just like the errors in the FB post, all through her website she uses "photo's" instead of photos.  

If you want to appear to be a pro, you need to make sure you present yourself that way, and present your best work.  And you have to know when the time is right to launch yourself as "pro".  Research others in your field, whatever it might be.  I look at other's knitting pages on FB, and I see lousy photos--out of focus, dark, busy, etc (some of my early photos were not the greatest, stylewise, but they were always in focus and showed the product).  I see spelling errors, grammar errors.  These things matter.  It might seem superficial, saying you have to have good spelling when you're "just a knitter" but it's all part of the package.  You have to be really good at self-examination and know whether or not you're ready to play in the big leagues.  Compare yourself to the pros.  Ask others for honest constructive criticism.  

And, most important, be willing and able to listen and acknowledge and learn from that constructive criticism.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Why This Doesn't Scare Me

This article by CityTV News is making the Facebook rounds this week.  Last year, it was this article from my local paper.  It allows you to enter the first three characters of your postal code (Canada) and find out how many registered sex offenders live in your "area".  

Before you do that (it's at the bottom), read the whole article.

There are 1798 registered sex offenders in the Toronto area, with a compliance rate of 97%.  The  provincial total is 12 018 and there are also 112 sex offenders, in the whole province, who are not on the list due to no fixed address or postal code missing.  

So often child protection programs focus on "stranger danger" and people always pipe up that strangers are not the real risk.  That's very true.  But shouldn't we know who these monsters are so we can choose to live in a "safe" neighbourhood, and protect our children?  True again.  But the Registered Sex Offenders list can not protect your children, nor really help you in any valuable way to protect them.  

For example, entering the FIRST THREE characters of my postal  code into the search box of that article reveals there are 40 registered sex offenders in my postal code zone.  How big is that zone?  Well, where I used to live in downtown Whitby, the postal code was L1N.  Where I live now, it's also L1N, and we're about 2.8km apart (the black star and approximately the red dot).  Where else in Whitby is L1N...I did a bit of Googling...all the way down to Victoria St in the south end (south of the 401), to Rossland Rd, just north of me.  The west-east boundaries appear to be Cochrane St (just to the west of me) to the Oshawa-Whitby border.  It takes me at least 10 minutes to get to that easterly border by car, along Rossland.

Take a look at this on the map:

 Look how huge this area is.  It encompasses the downtown, where there is a huge mix of socio-economic classes, and most of "old" Whitby.  Oh...and it includes the Ontario Shores Centre for Mental Health Services.  AKA, "The Whitby Psych".  Where there are people convicted of crimes but held here because they were deemed mentally/psychologically unable to be in a jail.  I'm sure some of these inmates must be on that list.

And only 40 registered offenders for that entire area (including the OSCMHS).

It's important to look at what will get you on that list.  The second article I linked to explains it a bit more, and also that offenders are not on the list "for life".  This is both good and bad.
Some other things not mentioned in the article...teenagers...how many 16 year old girls are dating guys 18+......good news....that would no longer be a sexual offence as in 2006 the gov't created a close-in-age exemption for sex between 14-15 year olds and partners up to 5 years older....okay, so 18 year olds are no longer going on the registry for a sexual relationship with a 16 year old....but if one of the partners claims it's not consensual, and the partner is convicted...they're on the list.

The other things listed by the article...old man brushing a woman's legs on the bus.  Is that sexual assault?  If the victim views it as it is, then it is.  Do we care how the old man viewed it?  I'd be interested to know what he was thinking before shaming him to this list.  


Yes, there are some violent, vicious, unsavoury people on this list.  But is the list going to help you protect your children?  It can't tell you where the offenders live.  It can't tell you their name or show a picture.  It can't tell you their crime.Sexual assault by someone in a position of trust (coach, pastor, etc) vs sexual assault by stranger, or by drunken miscommunication after a party?

How many of that 40 do we need to fear?  Where are they?  And if we knew who they were and where, what do we do with that info?  Do we take our children to those addresses and say "watch out for this man"? For sure, if there was an address on that list that was directly in my neighbourhood, it would raise red flags and I'd be a little more vigilant, cautious, with my kids...but the old man rubbing a lady's legs is likely not interested in an 8 year old walking to Mac's.

I'm seeing so many people jumping to conclusions thanks to CityTV's article.  "OMG, there's 40 in my neighbourhood".  I really don't consider the L1N postal code my neighbourhood, and it's definitely NOT my children's neighbourhood.


Keep an eye on your local paper, see who gets arrested for crimes, and where they live, or follow your local police on FB or Twitter.  Last spring I found out an 18 year old from our actual neighbourhood (on the main street that runs through our development) was arrested for a very violent, perhaps pre-meditated assault.  He took concealed weapons to a large, public, holiday gathering.  I think he might be the older brother of boys in my daughters classes.  THESE are the types of things we need to know about and worry.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Chip Truck #11: Rachel's Chips and Cones

This truck has been on my list to hit for awhile.  Everyone says it awesome (did come across one woman who said she's wasn't all that impressed).  It's just not in an area we get to often.

When heading south on Simcoe St (Oshawa), continue south of Wentworth and look for the sign by the curb, across from the fire hall.  The truck is tucked back a bit, but you can see the nose of it as you approach.

It wasn't busy, but there were other people before and after us.
Click on this picture for a larger view.  I had been told there were onion rings there, but none on the menu :(  Check out the blue raspberry dipped cones!  I've never seen that before!!

 Since I had just one taste tester with me, we opted for the poutine, a small.  It was quite good.  The fries were excellent, with a great crispiness.  The gravy was good...not heavy on the spices, but full of meaty flavour and richness.

There were two picnic tables, one had an umbrella, so that was nice because it is super hot right now.

 This isn't my picture, but it's a great shot.  The first two pictures weren't mine either.  Thanks to my Frugal Facebook Friends!

Rachel's has a FB page with other great pictures.  Go hungry and get the X-treme or the Rachel's Mess!