Family Time at Goldfish Swim School

My husband has had to do some traveling for work so this has been the perfect excuse to take advantage of the family swim times at Goldfish Swim School in Dayton, Ohio.

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We’ve been to a couple of Sunday afternoon times but they offer them throughout the week. The girls love to show me what they’ve been learning in class and they get to play with all the fun pool toys. It’s pretty enjoyable for me, too, plus I know they’ll be nice and worn out by the time we get home so I can get the house ready for the week ahead.

At Goldfish Swim School, they use a lot of repetition from week to week, repeating the same lesson plans and tracking how the students progress. As a parent, it’s great to see when the jump in knowledge happens – it seems like your child may not be catching on after a few lessons when all of a sudden it clicks and they can demonstrate a skill.

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Kelsey has been getting better at her backstroke and freestyle. With forward swimming she’s slowly but surely putting the breathing into her strokes. I like that her instructor is trying to instill former form from the beginning so it won’t have to be corrected down the line just improved. She can also tread water with her face out of the water for about 15 seconds now which has been a huge improvement. I can’t say that I’ve heard of kids learning to tread water before so this was a pleasant surprise in their curriculum.

Aubrey is a pro at getting herself out of the pool safely. While she’s much more comfortable in the water, she’s still working on going underwater and relaxing while floating on her back. The next step will be to incorporate front swimming with stopping to roll on her back to take a few breathes. She always looks like she’s having a great time in class.

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Once the student has checked off all of the skills in a particular level, they’ll progress to the next one and learn the next few elements, and so on.

The family swim times are a nice perk of membership and great for the kids to get a little more practice time. With two girls in class at the same I don’t always catch everything they are working on and we don’t have time to see everything they want to show me at pick up time so these are nice to check-in with how the kids are improving and feeling about their progress.

Fun times at Goldfish Swim School – Dayton

They also have member appreciation and themed events that are open to the public. Check them out for Trunk or Treat at Goldfish Swim School, Friday, October 27, 6p-8p. Sign up to pass out candy from your trunk and you could win a Goldfish Party! The event is free but, unfortunately, no swimming since they are anticipating high attendance.

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Goldfish Swim School has provided me with the experience of lessons for my candid reviews. #sponsored

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New Year’s Resolution: See More Art (Part 2)

I haven’t forgotten about my New Year’s Resolution to see more art. I was planning on doing quarterly recaps but, alas, life. I’ll try to move them quickly. Getting my notes together to start writing this post I realized a couple of things:

  • I have managed to worked my family plans into my “see more arts” mission
  • I’ve kept my eyes open more to look for opportunities to go see somethingIMG_20170321_103440

In March, I ended up with a sick child the day I was supposed to go to see Cincinnati Ballet so I didn’t make it, and I haven’t made it to a performance yet. I did, however, have a great time in Washington DC for National Arts Advocacy Day. The first day was one of those days were you feel your brain pulsing in your skull and you are hoping that it can absorb as much of the information being thrown at it as possible. That evening there were speakers and a performance at The Kennedy Center – the view from the rooftop is gorgeous. The second day I visited the offices of a few representatives after a morning pep rally with some legislators and celebrities. I was too shy to ask for photos but I did get to shake hands with and briefly chat with Rep. John Lewis.

In April we decided to check out West Carrollton High School’s production of The Little Mermaid. I found out about through the choreographer for the show and, I have to say, I was rather impressed by the quality of the production. This was a test run of seeing if the girls could sit through a musical. They started getting a little fidgety towards the end but they hung in there and we got to see the whole show plus meet some of the cast after.

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Since then, we’ve been to Town Hall Theatre’s Disney’s The Lion King, Jr and Children’s Performing Arts of Miamisburg’s Disney’s Peter Pan, both in September. I’ve been picking shows that they basically know the story line of to hopefully help keep them interested. The kids do a great job and I know there are whole teams of parents behind the scenes making it the best it can be. These have been good opportunities to start getting the girls used to attending live performances.

I’ve put putting some miles on the car these past few months with trips out to Columbus, just over an hour away. In April I went out to the OhioDance Spring Festival Performance and got to see a few Ohio dance companies and college programs. I met with state representatives on Ohio’s Arts Day in May. I served as an Ohio Arts Council grant panelist for the first time in May, as well – “yay” for getting to help give away money to arts organizations around the state. Every time I go to the Riffe Center I try to pop in to the art gallery on the first floor – it’s free and changes often enough that it’s a different show every time I go.

I also attended the annual Arts Midwest Conference in August being held in Columbus this year. I was fortunate enough to be selected as a David J. Fraher Future Leader and got to meet lots of great people in the industry plus see a good amount of dance companies from all over.

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In June I attended the Dance/USA annual conference in Kansas City, MO. I really enjoyed that they worked in some “pop up” performances from local companies and it also coincided with a performances Kansas City New Dance Partners at the Kaufman Center for the Performing Arts. I also slipped away to visit a few sights, including The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art and the 18-foot Shuttlecocks sculptures on the lawn.

Around Dayton, I’ve popped into the Sinclair Community College Art Gallery a few times, helped paint one of the many murals going up around the city, attended a Dayton Gay Men’s Chorus performance in June for the first time. Attended Art in the City (mark your calendars for the first Friday in August 2018!) where we got to paint, yarn bomb, play instruments, and catch lots of performances and art works around downtown. We stopped by the grand opening of the new Dayton Metro Library Main Branch to scope out the ReImaging Works collection, including the huge but delicate piece that takes up the whole center of the library, FRACTAL RAIN by Terry Welker. In September we headed towards the Dayton Art Institute for Oktoberfest and to visit the Alphonse Mucha exhibit and for the girls to check out the Performing Art exhibit in the kid friendly Experiencenter. Wright State University’s CELIA program brought Complexions Contemporary Ballet to Dayton for one night in September and Dayton Contemporary Dance Company started its home season with three new premieres all set to music by Wynton Marsalis with live music for portions of it.

I took the girls to the dress rehearsal so they could watch without having to worry about them upsetting paying customers while I was working during the performances. I think they might have enjoyed it a bit too much.

During our vacation in Nashville, TN in July, we got out to see as many of the murals as we could and caught plenty of live music, including a show at the famous Bluebird Cafe.

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Inside Nashville’s Bluebird Cafe

At the top of the summer I was officially sworn in as a member of the City of Centerville’s Centerville Art Commission and have been having fun getting acquainted with all arts programming it offers including the Summer Concert Series and a new artist featured in the gallery at the police station each month. I’m lucky to live in a city with a good appreciate for the arts between middle and high school musicals, student art shows, and free community programming.

 

Did you know that the arts and culture industry produces $166.3 billion in economic activity? A few years ago we at Dayton Contemporary Dance Company helped gather survey responses for our local arts advocacy organization, CultureWorks. This summer the results from that survey that fed into a US wide look at the economic impact of the arts and culture industry. Randy Cohen from Americans for the Arts came to talk in Dayton about the national and local findings (#AEP5). In Dayton, the average arts and culture patron spends $19.71 per person. Doesn’t seem like a lot until you realize how many arts and culture patrons there are in a given weekend. Find out what it’s like near you here.

Swimming into Fall at Goldfish Swim School – Dayton

“Tomorrow’s Sunday? That means we have swim class tomorrow!” ~ My kids every Saturday, a couple of times during the day.

 

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Waiting impatiently for their class time

 

We are back taking lessons at Goldfish Swim School in Dayton and the girls are excited to go every time. I am happy that they each get more and more comfortable in the water each week and that the teachers work with each student at the ability and comfort level they are at. When I sit and watch classes, I do notice that every teacher in every class (there are at least 10 classes simultaneously throughout the pool) is adapting to each student they are working with. My kids love their swim instructors.

Kelsey has been showing some great improvement in going under water, breathing, and moving through the water. We’ve still got some work to do on form, but I’m happy she is working on being an effective swimmer. I was personally very happy to see her swimming backstroke for the first time since that and butterfly were my two main events when I swam in high school.

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Aubrey is better about putting her face in the water and she will put her head back and float like it’s no ones business. Now that the biggest hurdle of not being afraid of water over her head is out of the way, I think we’ll start making more progress on her swimming ability soon. She’s also a master of the crab walk along the wall as well as getting herself out so take that Michael Phelps!

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That’s really is he name of the game for me as far as having my kids in swim classes. While we do not own a pool nor do we live right next to a water source and I don’t intend on leaving them unsupervised near water, I want to have at least some piece of mind that if either girl ever ended up in the water somewhere by accident, they would be able to help themselves to a certain degree. Not being afraid of the water is a start, knowing they can float or swim backwards to keep their faces out of the water is better, and being able to get themselves to the edge and out of the water is best. It about water safety right now. #watersafety

At Goldfish Swim School – Dayton, the girls get one-on-one attention in a positive atmosphere that helps them look forward to class each week while learning to swim. They enjoy the friendly staff, the fun prizes, and feeling accomplished.

Did you know that Goldfish Swim School provides a free W.A.T.E.R. Safety Presentation? This 20 minute program is designed for ages 3-7 at educational institutions including preschools and daycare centers. Visit dayton.goldfishswimschool.com for more information. 

 

 

Goldfish Swim School has provided me with the experience of lessons for my candid reviews. #sponsored

Blasting into Summer at COSI

The family and I have been working on the summer bucket list, as time permits, and this past weekend we had the opportunity to take the girls to COSI for the day. Just about an hour drive from Dayton, Columbus always has things going on and COSI is a favorite no matter what time of year for a quick day trip.

It worked out that we could go while the Big Machines exhibit was out. Kids (and adults) got the chance to climb into all sorts of construction equipment and even get to work the arms on a few of them. It’s an annual event so it won’t be back until next June but Farm Days, August 9-13, will feature tractors and combines, a chance to meet farmers, and even get to milk a fiberglass cow. Check back on COSI’s website every so often to find out what special exhibits are being planned.

My oldest, Kelsey, loved getting right into the chairs and making things go. Folks from Operating Engineers Local 18 were on hand to help kids get in and out of the equipment and show them how to use the arms. It was great for kids to see both men and women skilled at working with these powerful machines.

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Back inside, we spent the most time in three exhibits: Be the Astronaut, Gadgets, and Little Kidspace. In between we checked out fun hallway exhibits, activities, and shows that had the girls building arch bridges and learning about recycling different materials, feeling electrostatic shock, identifying insects, and making a drum beat in time with their heart beat. Kelsey just really excited about the High Wire Unicycle so we may have to look into that more next time we visit.

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Be the Astronaut is part of COSI’s Cosmic Summer programming running through September 4, 2017. In addition to the interactive exhibit, there is a giant screen movie and planetarium show exploring the future of space exploration. This particular exhibit is geared towards older kids and adults more than my two, but they still enjoyed the touch screen puzzles and trying to fly space crafts and rovers.

The girls have been interested in all thing space lately so this was a great chance to let them pretend to be astronauts for a little while. My husband had fun flying space crafts, too. With plenty of stations, there was no waiting around and everyone got to play on any style of console they wanted. We capped off our day with some astronaut ice cream from the gift shop.

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The girls could have spent all day in the Gadgets exhibit (Facebook Live video here) if we had let them. They had a blast while learning about motion and mechanics. The girls launched balls across the room, pulled themselves up with pulleys (video here), explored how gears work, and made their own creations with large foam pieces.

We spent a good amount of time in this room and still didn’t see every display. We’ll have to make time to check out the Gadget Café next time, too, to get to take apart an appliance.

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I definitely see why a membership to COSI would be a good investment. Little Kidspace was yet another space the girls could have spent all day in. It’s designed for kids 6 and under to give the youngest kiddos a space without older kids. It has several play spaces to pretend to be everything from an ambulance driver, to life on a farm , to housing construction.

We more or less made a beeline straight to the end with the water and art spaces. My girls have always enjoyed playing with water – at home a bucket of water can entertain them for three hours! In the Splish Splash area they experimented with floating items, directing water flow, and filling and dumping. For the older infants, they have a table with built in chairs and little streams of water that was honestly the best thing to sit and watch all day.

The art space was another big hit with open invitations to paint, make collages with found items, and play with color mixing. Kelsey jumped right on the climbing wall every chance she got. When it was finally time to go, we had to show a slip of paper that we received on the way to ensure we were leaving with the same number of kids we came in with.

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A couple of tips to help you plan your visit to COSI:

  • Parking fills up quick. This may be elevated once they finish construction on the new underground parking, but for now, be prepared to walk a bit.
  • You can pack a lunch or but one. They are tables to sit out inside and out to eat. There are plenty of restaurants in Columbus and near COSI but if you don’t want to leave the building, keep it simple and order from the quick serve onsite. They have a few kid friendly options that make pictures with food and a selection of meals for adults and other snacks.
  • Bring a bag. You won’t want to need to go back to the car if you can help it or lose anything so bring a backpack or tote to let yourself be hands free while hanging on to the hats, snacks, and odds and ends the kids pick up. They do also have storage lockers available for rent.
  • Do a little research. Take a look at the exhibits on the website before you head out and pick a top three of exhibits your family would be most interested in. There are so many things to see and do you may not get a chance to see and do all of it. At the same time, don’t be surprised if an area catches their attention and you end up spending 30 minutes at one activity.

We had a great family day at COSI and I want you to get the chance to take your crew there for the day, too! Gather your crew and explore space through the eyes of an astronaut, with three amazing experiences this summer at COSI.

Enter to win!

Two winners will get a four pack of tickets to COSI! To enter, just visit COSI’s website and then come back here and comment on what your family would be most interested in exploring.

Enter HERE through Rafflecopter to make it official and earn extra entries. Giveaway ends on July 11, 2017 at 11:59pm. Good luck!

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Domesticating Michelle was compensated for this post. All opinions are my own.

Domesticating MichelleCOSI Ticket Giveaway

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Above and Beyond for Kids

Today I had the pleasure of getting a tour of the new patient tower at Dayton Children’s Hospital. I’ve been watching this new part of the building in progress off the side of the highway so it was very exciting to get a sneak peek inside. While my girls have not ended up needing treatment at Dayton Children’s Hospital to date, it is where we would go should we need specialized pediatric care so I’m happy to know that they have the best facilities and newest equipment possible.

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Modern Design

The modern design and kid-friendly features greet you at the main entrance with spaces for kids to be kids in the lobby. Parents and kids alike were having fun playing with the centerpiece of the lobby, The Dragonflyer – an homage to the dragonflies buzzing around Huffman Prairie, where the Wright Brothers tested their flying machine, with bike wheels as feet and biplane wings. The lights on the wings and spinning propellers as eyes carry over into the Take Flight Gallery.

Looking up in the lobby gives you a view of the four large sky lights that are framed by color changing lights. Up on the fourth floor is the Sky Deck, a play area with soft flooring, xylophones, and seating around the sky lights so you can peek down into the lobby. You can also see work by local artists hanging from the ceiling and on every stretch of wall throughout the lobby. In fact, the walls the art hangs on is a building made by local companies and workers, putting money right back into the local economy. Even driving to and from the building, you can see the hospital has spruced up the whole block.

The theme of the building is things that fly and touches of theme are carried throughout. From the floors to the artwork, to the handles on the doors to inpatient rooms, each floor has a different icon and associated color to help families find their way around.

Inpatient Rooms

The inpatient rooms are state of the art. Regardless of the purpose, each room has TV’s that can pull up patient information and medical staff can send informational videos to that room. Patents can even order their meals and notify personnel if something needs to be addressed in the room. The hospital will employ two robots that use UV light to kill the last of the germs that may be left in a room after cleaning between patients. They really seem to be putting lots of patient feedback into the design of the room including many more single rooms.

For some of the rooms where kids will have longer stays will be single rooms, not only can kids watch TV and movies, they can bring their gaming systems from home to connect and play. The rooms have couches that pull out to sleepers for parents and have family refrigerators. They will also be offering room service so parents and caregivers don’t have to leave to the room.

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On the NICU floor, chairs pull out to sleepers and each baby gets a live feed for parents to log into and share with family. I didn’t realize that since babies can have extended stays some parents may opt to go back to work and save leave for when the baby comes home. What a great tool for parents to stay connected to what is going on with their little ones. Close to my breastfeeding heart is the Milk Lab where Mom can leave milk for baby.

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Some PICU rooms have adjoining rooms for instances where there may be multiple children from one family needing care at the same time. We also shown that the boom and other equipment have been integrated into the ceiling to free up floor space and take the weight of IV bags. They also showed us the tablets outside of each room that remind medical staff of what type of protective gear they should be wearing or other reminders for that patient.

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Caring for the Whole Family

On top of all the thought put into the equipment and function of the rooms, the hospital seems to have really put a lot of effort into making things as easy for families as possible. Plenty of lounge spaces, play room spaces, family bathrooms, a treadmill for families to utilize, separate TVs for parents to look at (there’s only so many times you can watch Frozen), and, most importantly, a staff that tries to make a difficult time as easy as possible.

See It For Yourself

Dayton Children’s Hospital is having a community open house on June 11, 2017, 1pm-4pm! Check out the Facebook event page for more information. Follow #AboveAndBeyond4Kids and visit me on Instagram for more photos and posts about the new patient tower.

TIPS:

  • Heading to Urgent Care in Miamisburg? When your child is sick, get in line from home by checking in at childrensdayton.org/saveyourspot.
  • Parking is free so why not stop in and grab lunch at the CulinAIRY café or pick up a gift from the gift shop.

 

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Some of Dayton Children’s Hospital Ambassadors were on hand to celebrate!

Blue Star Museums – Kicking off summer!

Memorial Day is upon us so that means it’s time for Blue Star Museums to kick off for the summer! What is Blue Star Museums?

Blue Star Museums is a collaboration among the National Endowment for the Arts, Blue Star Families, the Department of Defense, and museums across America.  Each summer since 2010, Blue Star Museums have offered free admission to the nation’s active-duty military personnel and their families, including National Guard and Reserve, from Memorial Day through Labor Day.

Every summer we are happy to get to explore some of the areas institutions a little more. In Florida we visited the Ringling Museum and MOSI. In Ohio we’ve visited Brukner Nature Center, Dayton Art Institute, Springfield Museum of Art, and Aullwood Audubon Center and Farm with this program. Follow this link to see which museums are participating in your state.

This program is for military and their family but all of these museums sound like great places to visit.

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Now that the girls are a little older, we’ll try exploring a little further this summer as time permits in addition to the Dayton area organizations, Dayton Art Institute (the Experiecenter theme is “performing arts” right now), Sunwatch Indian VillageAullwood Audubon Center and Farm, and Brukner Nature Center. Some of the stops on our summer bucket list this year include:

Contemporary Arts Center, Cincinnati

Ohio History Center, Columbus

Armstrong Air & Space Museum, Wapakoneta

Take a minute to follow your favorites or get a calendar of events so you can plan a return visit during the year. If you are heading out for a summer trip, add one to your vacation itinerary. If you are new to taking children to museums, Blue Star Museums has some tips here.

 

Did you know that this is a National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) program? The NEA is currently looking at funding being eliminated but arts advocates would like to see an increase in funding from its FY17 $148 million to $155 million. That sounds like a big number doesn’t it? However, it actually only makes up 0.004 percent of the federal budget. Did you know that the nonprofit arts industry supports 4.13 million jobs and contributes $729 billion, or 4.2% of the gross domestic product? That sounds like a pretty good return on investment.

In case you were wondering, if the increases to the NEA had grown in relation to inflation it would be over $300 million at this point. Given that 40% of its money goes out to the 50 states to be redistributed, imagine how many more afterschool arts programs, theatre camps, and writing workshops there could be in all congressional districts. NEA also funds Art Works, Our Town, Rig Read, and Creativity Connects programs.

If you would like to let your representatives know that you support funding for the arts that reaches all Americans, take a moment to let them know by clicking here and help #SavetheNEA.

 

I have not been paid by any organizations mentioned in this post I just enjoy them and want other people to enjoy them, too!

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Thanks, Moana

We are still pretty hard core Frozen fanatics over here, but Moana has been creeping into playtime more and more lately.

We had a trip to Florida planned to visit family and go to a wedding so I worked in a stop at my parents beach condo just outside of Fort Lauderdale. Every time we have been up until now it ends up being windy or rainy or too chilly or all of the above. If the weather is half way decent, my girls have way more interested in the pool than the sand.

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Thanks to Moana, however, the girls have been interested in the beach and the ocean so they were quite excited to hit the beach on this visit. Still, I wasn’t sure how long they’d last or if they’d be willing to give the ocean a try.

We ended up spending at least an hour playing in the sand, collecting and exploring shells, chasing birds, running from the waves, and enjoying time with my Mom and sister, Erin. Erin found a little friend we named “Tommy,” as in Tomatoa, the crab from Moana, since we thought it might be some sort of crab. Turns out it was a fighting conch.

The moment of truth finally came and the girls tentatively tiptoed into the ocean. My sister and I had been walking around in the water off and on trying to coax them out but, of course, they weren’t going to try it out until they were good and ready.

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Thankfully, the tide was out so we could walk out a bit and still only be mid calf high. The girls splashed around, sat in the water, and jumped over waves. While Kelsey was sitting down a wave went over her head – I froze up for a moment, nervous that it would end Kelsey’s time in the ocean but, thankfully, she laughed it off and went on having fun.

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We did eventually head up to the pool – after putting Tommy back in the water and dragging our sea shell finds up with us to go through. We ended up bring back a good sampling of shells and fossils that we looked up to identify so Kelsey could take them into school to share with the class. Poor Aubrey was wiped out and fell asleep on the floor for a while.

I thought I’d take a little “we’re in the ocean” selfie only to realize later that Kelsey decided to show off the bucket she was playing with and cover her sisters face in the process. I posted it anyways and ended up getting featured on Average Parent Problems on Instagram. With over 4,900 “likes” I guess a lot of parents have had this little problem.

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It was a great day at the beach. So, thanks, Moana, for finally convincing my girls that the ocean is awesome! And thanks to my Mom and sister for helping to make the day happen.