Goldfish in Westerville

I am so proud of our partners at Goldfish Swim School for opening their beautiful new facility in Westerville. You can see it for yourself this Saturday, April 30th at their Grand Opening Party, which is open to the public.

I sat down with the owner, Lisa Armitage, while Larkyn took a lesson and Rhys was a little antisocial. We got to look around the clean and bright space and talk about the happenings at Goldfish. You can see our experiences at the Dublin location here.

This pool is about the same size as their other location in Dublin, but a little wider. I noticed how bright the area seemed to be, because of the windows behind the pool. They have the same mural (by the same artist!), in which you can find their family names hidden. I love how Lisa described her two locations as her "babies".

Outside of the pool area, the waiting area has a more accessible exit where you can flow right into the changing area. There is a hair drying station and many private changing rooms. I love that the lights are automatic to save a little energy.

There is the Treasure Island Pro Shop and a waiting area with a selection of toys and coloring sheets. Rhys loved the diggers, of course!

And inside the pool, we had a seamless transition between the two locations. I can't believe she just got right in the water with a new (wonderful) teacher and did her thing. She has come so far, and Goldfish is to thank.

Also, check out the big girl in the shower!  This has been the perfect place to introduce showers (they are nice and warm). I noticed there was a handicap-accessible shower stall at this location-- bravo!

While Larkyn was in her lesson, we chatted about the two locations and I wondered a few things. You cannot go back and forth and have a "dual membership" type between the two. They are under the same ownership, but are two separate entities.

There was a lot of hiring and training to prepare for the opening. How exactly do they choose the best candidates? Lisa explained, "I would not hire anyone I wouldn't trust at home alone with my children.  Everyone goes through 40+ hours of paid training on our proprietary curriculum.  They also obtain their lifeguard certifications- which include first aid, AED and CPR.  We also run background checks on everyone we hire.   We look for people who love children, are reliable and demonstrate our core values:
1.  Golden Experience
2.  WOW! Customer Service
3.  Integrity/Compassion/Trust
4.  Extraordinary Results
5.  Celebrate"

We have experienced all of those in our time with Goldfish.  Lessons are offered 7 days/week in Dublin and 6 days/week in Westerville. Weekday evenings are the busiest, but the hard-working staff will do their best to get you a time that is convenient for your family. 

Chicago or bust

Full disclosure: I wouldn't exactly call this a guide to taking your own children to Chicago, which some of you have requested. We did the best we could on survival mode, and I'm just here to share it. If it helps you plan your own trip, that's a bonus!

When we found out that our schedules would not allow for a summer vacation with all four of us, we quickly put together a Spring Break vacation. We wanted it to be kind of close (Pittsburgh, Indy, and Louisville were all in the running).

I went to Chicago 6 years ago and had so much fun. We stayed outside the downtown area near Wrigleyville and had a blast on a girls trip. I thought it might be fun to try it again and introduce the kids to the Windy City.  We found an amazing Groupon deal for a hotel right off the Magnificent Mile, and off we went with thoughts of shopping, deep dish pizza, and the Shedd running through our minds.

Ha. Traveling with ages 5 and 2 is not a blast. We had some good times, but two was a very tough age for a hotel room and big city trip (and all the naps!). Larkyn was the perfect age for both, but finally hit that "Are we there yet?" stage. I hate to say it, but the iPads seriously saved us in the car.

The first night we were there, there was a rain/snow mix. So, I ran next-door to Gino's East for some carry-out. Matt loved his deep dish supreme, the kids got buttered noodles, and I had some awesome appetizers. And a lovely glass of wine in our hotel lobby while I waited for the food.

We grew to love our hotel lobby. It had everything we really needed (a restaurant that served breakfast, lunch and dinner; a snack bar with snacks to go; and a full Intelligentsia coffee bar!)  The concierge, restaurant staff, and valets were always so helpful and friendly. I would 100% recommend the Mile North to anyone, especially if you can get a suite. The room was huge (with a fold out sofa) and was luckily affordable for us because of the Groupon deal.

We began our first morning with donuts from Do-Rite Donuts, also very close to our hotel. We got there at 7 AM and several flavors were sold out and in boxes for people who had pre-ordered. The lesson in Chicago: Get everywhere and everything early. I loved the cinnamon crunch donut!

We nixed our Shedd plans because of cost (would have been $104 plus parking) and I took the kids to Navy Pier and the Chicago Children's Museum instead. We were able to walk there from our hotel and look around while we waited for the museum to open. Upon opening, there was an immediate gigantic line, so go in as soon as they unlock the doors!  There are lots of shops and things to look at inside the Navy Pier building, but it is definitely a tourist trap.

The museum was a lot of fun, but VERY easy to lose sight of your kids if you have more than one!  I appreciated the areas that had gates. The kids loved all the awesome imagination stations (A fire and rescue area, dinosaur dig, pet hospital, tinker lab, treehouse, etc).

Later in the day while the boys napped, Larkyn and I walked to The American Girl Store. I didn't exactly plan on buying her a doll or even really going to the store, but I ended up doing both, because...the store is freaking incredible. If you have a little girl, it is a must-see. And just plan on bringing a doll home or buying some over the top accessories for your own dolls.

On Day 2, we drove out of the congested city and into Lincoln Park to visit the (free!) zoo. There is lots of parking on-street, in a lot, or valet. We thought the cat house was really cool, as well as the indoor area with several African animals.

The carousel was a hit, and if the line weren't so long, we would have ridden the train too (neither are free).  We were up against lunch and nap time, or we would have stayed and explored Lincoln Park and the conservatory. What a gem of the city! We had a quick (and awesome) lunch at Five Guys, and headed back. 

After dropping the boys off for a nap (again), Larkyn and I were off to Millennium Park. It was a straight shot down Michigan Ave, but I opted for the bus to cut down on whining. She was a walking trooper that day!

We found the giant bean (Cloud Gate) and played around at the park for a bit. Soon, we decided to walk back, which was a highlight of our trip. I loved watching Larkyn discover the vibrant city; asking about street performers, hearing new music, different languages, and pointing out beautiful architecture.

She was really in the mood for a treat, so we stopped at the Corner Bakery (right before the Michigan Avenue bridge). It was a delicious little snack, but I would suggest holding out for one more block, because Dylan's Candy Bar is just across the bridge. We were too full of cookies to even go in.

After our walk, we ordered dinner from the hotel and snuggled up for our last night. And the next morning, we set off for Columbus.

Phew. We were exhausted from the one hour time change in the kids' sleep schedule combining with Rhys' sleep aversion when we travel. But I would definitely go back for a girl's trip or when the kids are both older. Have you ever been?

5 Years Old

I will admit that after Baby 2, the nostalgia of Baby 1 turning another year older is a little easier on me. I don't love my girl any less, but I used to SOB looking at her baby pictures. Here are some of my all time favorites of Larkyn, debuting on 4/21/11 (her due date) and forever making my life more exciting.

These days, her life revolves around:

  • Playing outside (swings forever!)
  • Asking lofty questions about why cars can't drive on sidewalks and what does God like to eat?
  • Exploring new places
  • Ice cream, cookies, Fruity Pebbles, garlic bread, and taco salad
  • Dresses. The fancier, the better!
  • Story time before bed. Still my favorite part of the day with her
  • Her BFF, Rhys. She wants him around all the time. Except when she doesn't.
  • Swimming! I am excited for her to enjoy pool time this year instead of screaming. 
Happy fifth birthday to our strong, sensitive, funny, inquisitive, and thoughtful little girl. You are the best thing that ever happened!

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