Thursday, May 25, 2017

Swim Lessons

With the end of the school year drawing to a close I find myself looking forward to the relaxed days ahead where I'm not scrambling to get the kids to bed at night or rushing through our bedtime routines just to repeat it all again the next day. Mornings of enjoying a hot cup of coffee that hasn't been reheated are fast approaching.

We don't do summer camp because I work from home and quite honestly my kids would dread it. They enjoy playing outside, going to the park, having lemonade stands and play dates. The only activity that has become a regular for them are swim lessons.

Before last summer my children were not afraid of the water, as we had a pool at our residence and spent much of our 2 summers hanging out there, but they also couldn't swim.

My oldest, 11 at the time, could do the basic front stroke, but struggled with taking breaths. He was eager to learn, but also has an anxiety disorder that gets in the way when trying something new.

My eldest daughter is petite, so at 9 years of age she was still struggling to touch the bottom of the pool at a depth of only 4 feet. This made her very scared to even want to try to learn because when she got tired she couldn't just stop and take a breath by putting her feet down.

The youngest, 6, had finally learned to be comfortable putting her face in the water, but that was the extent of her knowledge. All of this made taking my kids to the beach or an outdoor pool feel overwhelming. How was I supposed to keep an eye on three children? Needless to say we stuck to inviting friends over to our quaint, barely six foot deep pool.

Last summer one of the moms at our children's school started a Montessori swim program that did wonders for my children. When Nicole reached out and mentioned wanting to start a swimming program for the school community I couldn't have been more excited. It would be a chance for my children to not only learn to swim, but also help them bond with other classmates and learn how to be safe in and near the water. It also gave me the opportunity to have an adult conversation with other parents or make use of the pool as well. A win win for everyone!

The mission of  the S3 Aquatics program gives my children the opportunity to learn how to swim at their own level while offering them opportunities to teach their peers (just like in the classroom) all while giving them time to hang out with their friends. They have never been pressured into doing something they are not ready or comfortable doing, something we have experienced in other swim programs.

At the start of each lesson the children were gathered and they discussed real life safety scenarios. Then they got to experience what they discussed in the water. Watching your six year old learn how to save a child bigger than her? Priceless! 

On top of the regular swim classes, we had the opportunity to stay for an open play time. This gave my children extra time to hang out with their friends and maybe meet some new ones. There are also classes for the parents and caregivers to educate on water safety and my oldest was able to take a Junior life guarding class. Having my children learn to swim, learn to be safe and then learning water safety myself is like nothing else out there I have ever seen.




I will never forget the day that Myles got the confidence to realize he could breathe while doing the backstroke. Before this he would do a few strokes, stop to breathe and then keep going.

Diving into 12 feet deep water off the diving board.


At 6 she learns to do a somersault in the water!



Happy (and safe) kids makes for a happy and relaxed mom at the pool!


I am a big believer that home and school need to blend. If I am teaching my child to be kind at home, I want that to be backed up at school. Finding a swim program that encapsulates Montessori methodology was a huge win for me! I am so grateful that this program exists for my children. They, and I, are looking forward to another summer of fun and learning at the pool!

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Setting Up Routines

As we near the end of our second week of the new school year we are finally settling into our new routine. I'm not sure why we don't keep more of a routine during the summer, because quite honestly the children all do better when they are going to bed around the same time and have more schedule to their day. In fact its not just the children, it is me as well.

In order to help the children get a bit more organized, and so that I don't have to repeat myself, this year I decided to make them each a color coded list of what needs to be done in the morning and before bed daily.

Each child's is slightly different, but for the most part they have the same tasks. I have them placed by their cubby where their backpack goes as well as in their room on their cork board. This allows them to have the reminders in a place they view daily and hopefully not forget. 

Their cork board is used to put all their important school information, i.e. homework, upcoming field trips, book reports and the like. None of the children have a workspace currently in their room so the cork boards may get moved if we find that it is not working effectively. It's all about trial and error, but the children were all a part of the decision making process which is key.


So, what does our day look like? Here's a rundown of our weekday schedule:

5:30a.m. I get up and get ready
6:20a.m. I wake the children up
7:00a.m. breakfast is over 
7:10a.m. walk the dog
7:25a.m. leave for school
3:15p.m. pick up from school
3:45/4p.m. arrive home
6:00p.m. dinner
7:30p.m. in bed and read
8/8:30p.m lights out

We only have one after school activity at this point in time that happens once a month. This is the first year that the children have the ability to come home right after school and it's been a really nice change of pace. Each child comes home and will take a moment to decompress in their own way. By sitting back and observing I have already realized that one of the children needs 15-20 minutes before even looking at their list to just get centered.

If you're looking for help or some more ideas that fit your needs, please don't hesitate to contact me!


Setting Up Routines

As we near the end of our second week of the new school year we are finally settling into our new routine. I'm not sure why we don't keep more of a routine during the summer, because quite honestly the children all do better when they are going to bed around the same time and have more schedule to their day. In fact its not just the children, it is me as well.

In order to help the children get a bit more organized, and so that I don't have to repeat myself, this year I decided to make them each a color coded list of what needs to be done in the morning and before bed daily.

Each child's is slightly different, but for the most part they have the same tasks. I have them placed by their cubby where their backpack goes as well as in their room on their cork board. This allows them to have the reminders in a place they view daily and hopefully not forget. 

Their cork board is used to put all their important school information, i.e. homework, upcoming field trips, book reports and the like. None of the children have a workspace currently in their room so the cork boards may get moved if we find that it is not working effectively. It's all about trial and error, but the children were all a part of the decision making process which is key.


So, what does our day look like? Here's a rundown of our weekday schedule:

5:30a.m. I get up and get ready
6:20a.m. I wake the children up
7:00a.m. breakfast is over 
7:10a.m. walk the dog
7:25a.m. leave for school
3:15p.m. pick up from school
3:45/4p.m. arrive home
6:00p.m. dinner
7:30p.m. in bed and read
8/8:30p.m lights out

We only have one after school activity at this point in time that happens once a month. This is the first year that the children have the ability to come home right after school and it's been a really nice change of pace. Each child comes home and will take a moment to decompress in their own way. By sitting back and observing I have already realized that one of the children needs 15-20 minutes before even looking at their list to just get centered.

If you're looking for help or some more ideas that fit your needs, please don't hesitate to contact me!


Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Back To School

One of the most daunting tasks of children going back to school is school lunches. It can be challenging, if not frustrating, to get your child to help with the process of packing a lunch, let alone doing it independently. Here are some tips to aid in the process:

1. Have your child make their lunch the night before. Try to pick the same time every evening and make it part of their nightly routine.

2. The more you let your child do on their own when they are younger, the more they will want to do. That means your preschooler can be washing and cutting fruit/veggies among other things.

3. Have what they need at hand and most importantly at their level. If the containers they need are out of reach they are going to need your help. Make sure that you have enough containers to rotate so there is always something clean and that your child is able to open them independently.

Our current stash of containers




4. When you do the grocery shopping have them choose 1-2 options of what they would like to eat for the week. We go to the farmers market and I have the children each choose 1 fruit and 1 vegetable that they would like to have for lunch. I also allow for them to choose one non-perishable item that they may bring for a snack. Set up boundaries beforehand so your child(ren) knows what is acceptable to bring for lunch.
A small glass container that is always out on our counter where the children can see and choose a snack.
Our snacks in the cupboard. I found that by putting them in glass containers it allows the children to see what is available.




5. Purchase a thermos for your child to have warm food if there is not an available way for them to heat their food at school. I find that when I heat it up a little extra so that the food is piping hot, it is just the right temperature when it is time for their lunch.






Saturday, March 29, 2014

Happy Birthday, Greta!!!

Tomorrow my baby is turning four. Yes, 4!!! I cannot believe that we are already here. I remember a good friend telling me when Myles turned 4 that the years would start to fly by. I didn't want to believe her, but man was she ever right!

I remember when I was pregnant with Greta,  Myles would tell me he wanted another sister. He denies that now saying he wanted a brother, but don't believe him. He was adamant about wanting a sister. I will never forget the day he first saw you. The smile on his was was so big!



It wasn't until a few years ago that he started asking for a brother. Sorry buddy. Factory is closed. Enjoy your male cousin and friends because our little family is perfect.

Grace was excited, but just having turned 3 and no longer the "baby" she wasn't sure what to make of everything. She was hesitant to go near her at first, but you could see the love she had for this new little bundle clearly in her eyes.



I always used to say I birthed a toddler because Greta was eager to catch up to her two older siblings. At 3 months she was rolling across the floor to get places. She was always on the go and loved to just watch Myles and Grace. At 4 months she was trying to crawl.

Myles and Grace adore Greta, but along with being 3 years younger than your sister and almost 5 years younger than your brother means that you get spoiled rotten by them. They will giver her whatever she wants just so they don't have to hear her cry or scream. It gets better with time, but at least they love her, right?!


I've been really blessed to have gotten to spend a lot of one on one time with Greta this past year now that Myles and Grace are back in school. She is a funny, outgoing, spunky little firecracker who has her own sense of style. She loves to tell jokes, read books, count, read and play. We spend our days baking, cleaning, and me shuffling her to classes. Right now her favorite sport is soccer and she loves her swim classes. 


HAPPY 4th Birthday Greta Claire!!!

Sunday, March 16, 2014

I'm Back!

Sunday, March 16, 2014


It's hard to believe so much time has passed since I've blogged. I have been meaning to come back for quite some time, but life just always seems to get in the way and there are just not enough hours in the day.

So, what have we been up to? Well, for starters we moved to an entirely new neighborhood so that we could send Myles and Grace back to school. As much as I enjoyed homeschooling, they both really longed to be back in school. I spent so much time researching schools and in February of 2013 we found a public school that offered a Montessori program through 5th grade and then an IB program through 8th. Mike and I made the trek for an open house one evening and I was really excited about what I had seen. I went in with absolutely no expectations and was pleasantly surprised. The parents and staff were so very welcoming! They all were impressed that someone from the north side of the city would consider moving so far south just to send their kids to school. The classrooms were beautiful, and I was shocked at how much of the Montessori materials the K-1st classes had. That night Mike and I made the decision that we needed to move so that we could send the children to school there.

In June of 2013 we moved and I swear that we hit the jackpot of all blocks! Everyone on our new block was so welcoming. There are so many children on our block (I believe 11 total including our own) and it us such a lovely, close knit community. We are 1 1/2 blocks from the school which means we get to walk! I never got to do that growing up and on the first day the children were so thrilled that we had a crossing guard. It's funny how such little things make them so very happy.  Myles and Grace have adjusted well to their new school, and even Greta has been attending a play-school at a nearby park district which she loves, and of course she is still taking her favorite class, swimming!

I have been slowly trying to get my Montessori home organizing and consulting business underway, but it's been challenging since Greta is still with me most of the time. I have done a few home consultations and currently have 1 client whom I am organizing their entire home. It is so rewarding when I am able to go out and work, but being able to have more one on one time with Greta has been nice too. 

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

A New Beginning

January 1, 2013


After losing my job rather suddenly at the beginning of June 2012 my life, as well as my family's,  was thrown into a whirlwind of the unknown. Where would I send the children to school? How could I afford to continue to send them to Montessori without a job? How do I apply for a job without having a school to send the children to and how do I apply to schools for the children without having a job? Our life as we once new it was literally halted into a standstill.

I decided I would give homeschooling a try. I am AMI trained for ages 3-6 so I figured I would at least be OK for the girls and with Myles, well I would kind of have to follow his lead and interests and add in where I felt necessary. 

It's hard. Really hard. Hard to get them to work. Not all of the time, but most. It is hard to not fight with them about why it's important to keep up with certain work so that they can at least maintain what they had already learned. It's hard for me to find balance as a teacher, mother, wife and individual. 
All that said I do absolutely love being home with them and seeing them grow and learn. I love that we do not have a specific time they need to be up by, unless of course they have a class. I love that if they are a bit under the weather they can chill a bit more than usual and keep from getting really ill. I love that I get to finish a cup of coffee in the morning. I love that I am seeing a bit more of mom's from my mom groups.   I love being able to cook more and bake more. I love being able to stop and really follow the children's interests. I do believe they enjoy homeschooling too. In fact this morning as Grace was helping me pull off the leaves of fresh thyme for our hoppin' john's she said "You know mama, at school we used to grate cinnamon, kinda like what I'm doing now. I like my new school." Words I thought I would never hear. Being pulled from her most important year as a kindergartner left her angry and sad. Very sad. She has talked about school almost every day and how much she misses it and her friends. Having your child hurt about something you had absolutely no control over is painstakingly hard. There was nothing more I wanted than to at least scrape the money together to have her finish what we had started for her. Being told that "usually the family stays together" was a slap in the face and something I do not think I will ever understand. What happened to me and my family hurt and still stings.

There two things that I read this morning from some friends online. One was a quote from Jonathan Lockwood Huie that said "Celebrate endings, for they precede new beginnings".  It is time to let go of the hurt and move on. There is absolutely nothing I can change about what happened. I am thankful for all the wonderful families who keep in touch and support my endeavors to homeschool as well as have play dates with my children so that they do not lose touch with their friends. 

The second was to pick a word to encompass what you want for your year as opposed to writing a list of New Year's resolutions. The word I am choosing is Renewal. There is so much I want to start over with in a sense. Instead of making a huge list I will continue to live day by day and working on things as they come. We have a new lifestyle over here that we are still trying to get used to. Each day is a fresh start to make wonderful new memories.
So, here's to a wonderful new year and all the new adventures that lie ahead of for myself, my husband and my children.

Happy New Year!