It’s in the Details at Goldfish Swim School

At 20 months old, there are few places that my daughter recognizes when we pull into the parking lot. Goldfish Swim School is on that short list. When we pull into the parking lot, I can immediately hear her clap her hands and shout, “Yay!” I don’t know if it’s the Goldfish logo, or something else that tips her off that we have arrived, but I do know that is not the only time she claps and shouts “Yay!” while we are there. While the small things from our visits to Goldfish may not be a big deal to some, it is these small details that make my girl’s day when we are there. Now that we have been attending class for a few months, I know what she gets excited about during our swim lessons, and I look forward to watching her face light up in these moments.

When we first arrive at Goldfish, we are immediately greeted by the ladies at the front desk. My daughter will walk in with a new hair-do or a baby doll, and the ladies behind the desk always notice and interact with her. My girl loves walking in by herself and greeting everyone; she especially looks forward to seeing her friend Dani (pictured below).

Goldfish has a lovely waiting room with books, toys, aquariums, and an art space. My daughter looks forward to drawing in the chalk area. She knows her routine: first change, then chalkboard. Once she changes, she makes a beeline for the chalk.

A five-minute warning is given before the next class begins. My daughter is just beginning to put together that when the warning is given, it is time to line up. At the start of the past few sessions, she has willingly put the chalk back into the bucket and made her way to the pool entrance when the five-minute warning is announced. Also, before each class there is an instructor at the entry door to give high-fives to each student on the way into class. My girl gets so excited in anticipation of giving a high-five.

The teaching staff is amazing! We have been so lucky to have Miss Mary as our instructor and cannot rave enough about her dedication and positive demeanor. Since we began lessons in August, Miss Mary has instructed nearly every single class we have attended. My daughter looks forward to seeing Miss Mary each week and will often follow directions better in the pool when they are given by Miss Mary, rather than her Mama or Dada. 🙂

It’s pretty amazing watching our tiny human learn to love swimming. To watch her growth the past seven months at Goldfish Swim School has been remarkable. I attribute it to the entire Goldfish team and the care that is put into the facility and instruction.

The Details: We are currently in the Goldfish Mini 2 class at Goldfish Swim School. We attend lessons at the Goldfish Swim School in Dublin, Ohio. Check out the link for location, address/telephone details and how to sign up for lessons.

Disclaimer: We were provided free swimming lessons by Goldfish Swim School in exchange for collaborating blog posts. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

A Spring Weekend in Cincinnati With Kids

Cincinnati, Ohio, is a one and a half hour drive south on I-71 from Columbus. Located on the Ohio River, the “Queen City” has much to offer on a weekend getaway with the family. It’s such an easy drive and a whole new city of adventure for Columbusites like us. Read on to see how we spent 28-hours exploring Cincinnati with our 19-month-old daughter.

Where to Stay

Do you Airbnb? Airbnb is a unique way to book lodging when you are traveling. It allows you to book a single room within a residence, an apartment, or an entire house in a unique location. I find when we travel with a toddler, it is nice to have a a room to put our daughter down for naps and bedtime, and then a separate space where my husband and I can unwind. In a hotel, it is often out of our price range to book a suite with separate living and sleeping spaces. With Airbnb, I can book an entire apartment for $50-$100/night that gives us a sleeping area, living area, and a full kitchen. In Cincinnati, I booked an apartment in the Hyde Park neighborhood for $50/night. It was everything we needed in a living space and was 15 minutes from all of the attractions. Airbnb is definitely my new way to find lodging when I travel. If you haven’t yet, be sure to click my personalized link and get started!

The Highlights

The Duke Energy Children’s Museum: The children’s museum was the first stop on our weekend away. It is an easy one and a half hour drive down I-71 from Columbus and admission is only $5.50-$10.50 (depending on age). The museum provides eight educational and themed play areas, with two specifically designed for preschool-aged and younger. For a full recap of our visit to the museum, be sure to click here.

The Newport Aquarium: The aquarium is located just over the Ohio River in Newport, Kentucky. It boasts 14+ exhibits where you are up close and personal with thousands of aquatic animals from around the world. From sharks to penguins and alligators to frogs, there is a different creature around every turn. Click here for the highlights of our trip to the aquarium, and five experiences that both adults and toddlers can enjoy.

The Findlay Market: “Ohio’s oldest continuously operated public market and one of Cincinnati’s most cherished institutions, welcoming more than a million visitors a year.” Be sure to make a stop at the market to take in all the sights, smells and tastes it has to offer.

Where to Eat

The Maplewood offers “West Coast-style cuisine, which emphasizes healthier food using local and seasonal ingredients.” Although, there is no kids meal per se, we were able to build a delicious meal for our daughter A La Carte, and the adult meals were amazing. This is the type of “fast-casual” restaurant where you place your order at the counter and then your food is delivered after you find your seat. A unique feature of the restaurant that we greatly appreciated is that the staff helps your party secure a table (and a highchair) after you have placed your order.

The Sleepy Bee Cafe “is a gathering place that offers locally sourced sustenance – food that tastes, makes you feel, and is, good. In an environment that embraces the beauty of it’s community, through it’s and featured artistry.” This restaurant was recommended to us for breakfast and we are so glad we made a visit. There is a kids menu with healthy options. Our server was wonderful! She staggered food delivery for our hungry little one and dropped off books from the restaurant library to keep her entertained.

Until next time – A huge Thank You to The Duke Energy Children’s Museum and The Newport Aquarium for hosting our visits, and to the Cincinnati USA Convention & Visitors Bureau for coordinating our visit. We had a great time and are looking forward to visiting again in the summer months.

A trip to The Newport Aquarium with the Young and the Old(er)

We recently spent a weekend in Cincinnati, Ohio and The Newport Aquarium was a must see on our list of things to do. The aquarium is located just over the river from Cincinnati in Newport, Kentucky, so we were there in a matter of minutes from our stay in the city.

When my husband and I planned our trip to Cincinnati, we had our daughter in mind for each of our stops and picked destinations based on her interests and experiences. She loves the water, so we made sure The Newport Aquarium was on our list. However, we quickly realized once we arrived that what appealed to our toddler at the aquarium also appealed to us as adults. Read on for the highlights of our trip to the aquarium, and five experiences that both adults and toddlers can enjoy.

Up Close and Personal: The Newport Aquarium boasts 14+ exhibits where you are up close and personal with thousands of aquatic animals from around the world. From sharks to penguins and alligators to frogs, there is a different creature around every turn. The displays are arranged at varying eye-levels and include traditional aquarium viewing windows, overhead glass tunnels, and windows in the floors.

Touch A Shark: We were taught the two-finger touch technique to pet the sharks in Shark Central. It was exhilarating to be that close to such a wild creature. While my daughter couldn’t quite reach the sharks (and I didn’t quite trust her two-fingered touch), she loved watching us dip our hands in the water and being at eye level with the sharks.

Amazon Tunnel: “A 32-foot long acrylic tunnel lets you see the world’s largest freshwater fish – the Arapaima and the exotic Pacu – among dozens of other species.” My daughter was fascinated by the large fish swimming in front of her and over head. I was fascinated by the divers feeding the fish in the water.

Penguins: The penguin exhibit was fascinating. My daughter loved climbing up and down the stairs in the exhibit to see penguins at different levels. When she climbed to the top of the stairs, she could see the penguins above the water, and then when she got the the bottom of the stairs, she could see the penguins swimming below the water. My husband and I loved learning all the fun facts about these majestic creatures during the “penguin talk” from a friendly employee. My daughter also had the opportunity to see a penguin up close and personal during the talk.

Manageable Size: The Newport Aquarium was the perfect size for our toddler to navigate without the stroller. I loved that we could let her walk independently and follow her lead. She only requested to be picked up a few times to see something. There are so many wonderful exhibits in the perfect amount of space.

Some things to know before you go:

  • General Admission to the Newport Aquarium is $24.99/adults (ages 13+) and $16.99/children (ages 2-12).
  • Buy your tickets on-line ahead of time and skip the ticket line.
  • We parked in the Newport on the Levee Parking Garage took the elevator up to Level PL and were steps away from the aquarium.
  • Strollers are permitted, but due to the nature of the aquarium experience, kids and parents will enjoy their visit more without a stroller. Free child carriers are available to be borrowed from Guest Services.
  • A visit can last anywhere from 1 to 3+ hours. We explored for close to an hour and a half and there was still so much more we could have done.

We are so glad we made the trip across the river the The Newport Aquarium and cannot wait to make a return trip. As my daughter grows and her interests change there will be more for her to see and explore at the aquarium.

Disclaimer: The Newport Aquarium provided me and my family with complimentary admission. As always, all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.

Learning Through Play at the Duke Energy Children’s Museum

We recently spent a weekend exploring Cincinnati, Ohio. The first stop on our adventure was the Duke Energy Children’s Museum at the Cincinnati Museum Center. The museum is an easy one and a half hour drive down I-71 from Columbus and admission is only $5.50-$10.50 (depending on age). The relatively short drive and affordable cost allow it to be a fun day trip from home or must-see stop on a weekend away in the Queen City.

The museum provides eight educational and themed play areas, with two specifically designed for preschool-aged and younger. The children’s museum provides more than 1,800 additional hours of programming each year. We picked a weekend when the museum was hosting “Learning Through Play for Families.” Drop-in activities were offered throughout the space “for families to experience the joy and benefit of playing together in Duke Energy Children’s Museum.” It was busy, but we loved all the additional activities offered that day.

The museum is divided into sections and even has a large protected area for children ages four years-old and younger (which is wonderful for families like us with a toddler). The museum encourages kids to “climb, crawl, explore and learn about themselves and the world around them.” There is a lot to take in upon arrival and my daughter required a few minutes to warm up to the surroundings before engaging in an activity. Once she was comfortable, she began sprinting to activities that appealed to her. Below are the highlights of her favorite sections, along with ideas on how to encourage language development while exploring the museum.

Kids’ Town is a kid-sized neighborhood complete with a grocery store, daycare center, auto shop, and more. This area provides miniature versions of shops and toys to promote imaginative play. While playing, vocabulary specific to your child’s activities can be modeled to label objects and talk about what your child is doing, example: “You are driving!”

There were so many opportunities for my daughter to learn about the concept of up/down throughout the museum. She was very interested in the duplo center where she could build towers up and then knock them down. She was also interested in watching the play crane and dump truck. Children fill a basket with foam rocks, lift the basket up into the air and then watch the rocks fall down into the truck.

Another highlight of the visit was the house building area. My daughter watched mom and dad use the foam board to fill in the sides of the house, but she didn’t have much interest in joining us. She preferred walking inout, and through the house while carrying her doll. These concepts were used to narrate where she was in relation to the house.

The water area is large and provides many opportunities to use the concepts wet/dry. There are buckets to fill and dump, and opportunities to manipulate water movement. There is plenty of opportunity to get wet in the water area and then to dry off with the hand dryers when you are done.

Little Sprouts Farm is an area designed for children 4 and younger and is a protected space separated from the rest of the museum by an entrance gate. My daughter enjoyed watching balls stop/go on a ramp, climbing up/down, and playing in the soft sand. This area provides so many opportunities for movement and for an adult to model vocabulary while your child is playing.  

The above exhibits were the most age appropriate for my daughter and where we spent the majority of our time. Older children will enjoy spending time exploring the three-story structure in The Woods and being part of a complex machine in the Energy Zone.

Some things to know before you go:

  • The Union Terminal is currently undergoing extensive repairs and restoration. The Duke Energy Children’s Museum and the special exhibits hall are the only exhibits open at this time.
  • Parking is located in front of the building and is $6/vehicle, $4/vehicle after 4:30 p.m. and free for members.
  • Admission for the children’s museum is $10.50/adults, $8.50/children (3-12 yrs), $5.50/toddlers (1-2 yrs) and 1 and under are free.
  • Bring a change of clothes. If your child is anything like mine, she will be all in when it comes to the water table and will need a change before going home.
  • A visit can last anywhere from 30 minutes to 3+ hours. We explored for close to two hours and there was still so much more we could have done.

The trip to the Duke Energy Children’s Museum was the highlight of our Saturday. We are so glad we made the trip to the and can’t wait to go back to see the completed renovations at the Cincinnati Museum Center. There is still so much for us to explore in the museum as our daughter continues to grow.

Disclaimer: The Duke Energy Children’s Museum provided me and my family with complimentary admission. As always, all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.

All Things Green

In anticipation of Spring and St. Patrick’s Day, this week we are celebrating with all things green. Read on for some green inspiration.

Make a Green Smoothie. Not only is making a smoothie a great way to build your child’s language skills, but it’s a great way to sneak some healthy food into your child’s diet. I used this recipe from Super Healthy Kids for inspiration for the perfect green smoothie.

Set up a Green Walk down the hallway. I printed out common green objects, cut them out, and then taped them on the hallway walls. My daughter went up to each common objects and imitated a word or sound after I modeled it for her.

Set up a Green Sensory Bottle. Jess, over at This Twin Life, posted a St. Patrick’s Day Calm Jar how-to. A year ago I made a variety of sensory bottles for my daughter. She was excited for the newest addition to her collection.

Green Pepper Stamping. We used green peppers to create a shamrock stamp. Baby girl followed the directions to “dip” the pepper into the paint and then “push” the paint onto the paper.

Put together an All things Green Sensory Bin. A sensory bin provides your child with a variety of materials and textures which stimulates the mind. There are no rules when it comes to playing with a sensory bin, it is self-directed learning and a chance for your child to have fun.