Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Five ways to prepare your child for swim lessons

Swim lessons (in my opinion) are a critical part of growing up.  Genuine swim lessons cannot begin until a child moves past their fear of putting their face in the water.  "Gentle" toddler swim lessons that involve lots of splashing, bubbles and playing are a lot of fun... if you have a lot of time and energy to work with your toddler.

If you want your toddler to move into swimming, they must get over their fear first.  There just is no way past this point.  If you can begin this process at home, either in a tub or a small child's pool, it can lower the child's anxiety level and allow productive swim lessons to begin.

Please note that I am not a professional swim teacher, but I am a hobby one...... and I love it a lot, lot, lot.  It is really rewarding to see the little guy who screamed at you for three days move within a week or so into "one more time Teacher Cindy"  off of the diving board. (It usually takes about 3 days for a child to move past their fear if they are not conditioned to putting their face in the water).  NOTE:  I don't mind the screaming at all - just a part of swim lessons  :)  :)  :) 

So..... my list (to be used with adult supervision ONLY):

A child can be considered "ready" for actual instruction when they can get into the pool independently and put their own face into the water upon request by the teacher.

1)  A great first step is in the bathtub over the winter or in the days or weeks leading up to swimming.  The water is warm, which is a huge plus.  Use a watering can, a bucket, a pot - something and dump water over their head in a sitting up position.  I give my usual "underwater trigger" of "ready...go - 1-2-3...stop" to help them learn the breathing pattern.

2)  Blow bubbles, starting with eyes and nose out of the water and progressing into making all kinds of rude noises by blowing against the bottom of the tub, face fully submerged (we have boys around here and that brings much laughter :)

3)  Use the rings as a distraction/reward to teach the feeling of being on your tummy in the water, going under, retrieving and coming up.  This would be especially important if you have had your child in a life jacket in the pool a lot.  Going horizontal in the pool when you are used to being supported in an upright position freaks kids out.  It is probably the most difficult thing to overcome, and the tub is a great place to start the process.

4) Lay the child on their back in a couple of inches of water.  Make sure the water is only to the child's ear.  Let them get the feeling of being on their back in the water while fully supported.  You can add more water as they get comfortable with this and then support the child with your hands to float on top of the water.

5) Tigger Hops:  This is a great safety technique for kids of all ages and it can begin at home.  From a standing position have the child squat down then JUMP up as high as they can go with their hands over their heads.  This movement is a great motor skill to develop for any sport.

So, that is my list...... be sure to reward their good behavior with something special.  We use a "Treasure Box" which is filled this year with Raw Revolution, LaraBars, non-sugar suckers and other treats.


Thursday, June 17, 2010

A Project in Process

We have all been working hard around here to make the pool area safer, cleaner and function better.  One of the big projects involved turning an old, unworking, hot tub into a kids pool.  The next generation is coming up and I am tired of fishing kids out of the middle of the silly thing.  Also, cleaning it was a nightmare because of the different levels and little corners.

It started out looking like this (well, once we drained the swamp):
This mess got pressure washed and scraped with a wire brush, then rocks added to the middle:
Next came the big concrete job  :)  :)
                               (normally their concrete jobs look more like this)

First you gotta fire up the old mixer.  I think it is older than I am.  It is a good thing George keeps anything and everything.... and keeps it working :)
Add a little concrete and water, mix and dump.

Devise a high tech concrete delivery system.... 
Lots of advice on how to properly spread it around.
Looking for a nice, straight.... or kind of straight... board.
Yep, it works  :)
Floating it out with a little advice from the peanut gallery....
I'll help Papa!
You are never too young to figure out how to finish concrete around here.
.....or a little instruction from Dad...
It is all ready to be cured and painted.... The process will take a couple of weeks.
The baby obligingly slept through the process.
Then, time to move on to the next project..... the never ending fence fixing.
A semi-finished kids pool.  Somehow water got in there.  I have no idea how that happened.  Dad planned to put the final coat on with the sand mixed in so it is not slick.... all possible kids are frantically scooping water out.


Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Today we were farmers

....and loved every minute of it.  The kids started at the raspberry patch...
Then we planted seeds - corn, sunflower, winter squash and my favorite squash which got forgotten in the regular rows, so I tucked them into a space in the cucumbers that did not germinate well.
Watering, weeding and mulching are ongoing.
Checking out the new Mama Hen and her chicks...

The "chicken salad" garden is working out well.
A long day of gardening and swimming leaves you pooped!
And a picture of the new baby from yesterday.... just for a treat!

From Spring to Summer

Our seasons shift again as the garden is in, the pool is up and running and we move into maintenance on the farm.  Still a lot of work, but not as much.  That means I move into my other love.... swim lessons and my sister moves into her other love.... setting up classes for her school.  I am pretty sure the BT kids can look forward to their history classes this year.  She has been watching Glen Beck's Founder's Fridays and is reading like crazy and fully involved in teaching original document history in context to every kid she can get her hands on.  I am pretty sure our kids are getting a dose over the summer.

Sign up early this year.  I understand they are limiting enrollment.  :)  :)  :)

Thank you to my daughter and daughter in law who helped me shift back into "Teacher Cindy" mode.  I dipped my toe into swim lessons yesterday with just a couple of 2-3 year old sweethearts and a few older kids that know me well.  This session is not really for the kids, it is for me.  Every year it is important to reassess what and how to teach swimming - can the lessons be more effective - think outside the box - is there a different technique, make it more interesting, move them along better, introduce some new concept?  The next 2 weeks will help me develop that.  I probably should have been thinking about this for the past 6 weeks, but it just didn't work out that way this year.  I was busy developing a new appreciation for farmers and how hard they work.

Over at The Bee Hive, Mama Mock has documented the past few years of swim lessons.  I re-read them and smiled.  To be honest, I headed to her blog to lift a picture, but instead, was reminded all over again why I teach (well, OK, I did lift the picture from her blog :)  Baby Bee was with me yesterday and we just did a LITTLE work.   I start out every year full of compassion, then watch the news, hear of a bunch of unnecessary drownings and get a lot tougher.  :)  Anyway, enjoy the stories.

I have always thought that doing a two week session, teaching M-W-F would be the best way to run lessons.  It almost never works out that way and I have never given it a fair shake.  I am taking notes on this mini-session to see if it works out better.  Usually the logistics of that don't work out for many parents, but I want to start out and see how effective it is.  It might be counterproductive - you never know until you try.

Thank you to the parents for hauling your kids there and letting me practice with them.

Why do I teach swim lessons?  When my daughter was two, her best friend fell into the pool reaching for a toy.  No one knew she was out there - she had opened the door at her Grammie's house on a Sunday afternoon and slipped out.  Our good friend, her father, was napping on the couch, woke up suddenly, saw the door cracked open and knew she was out there.   He yelled, ran out there and she was floating and blue.  He amazingly remembered enough CPR from high school to revive her.  A helicopter landed on the street and hauled her to ICU for a couple of days.  She recovered, but it made a vivid impression on me as a very young Mom.

Since then, it was always a priority in our life to get our kids swim lessons (and for me to keep updated on CPR).  If we couldn't afford lessons, I traded whatever I could.  Eventually I ended up trading swim lessons for lesson instruction.  My friend taught me how to teach swimming.  I used to go up where she runs swim lessons and work for two weeks.  She would teach my kids and train me - we would talk over how to do it this year..... and I taught little guys under her supervision.

I am always willing to share my progression list, ideas and techniques if you are interested in helping your own kids become "water proofed"  - Can a 2 year old actually swim?  I am expecting my grandson to be able to get from one short side of the pool to the other by the end of the season.  Baby Bee should be right there with him.  However, both have the advantage of being around pools and lakes all the time and parents that know how to teach them.  He did great yesterday and probably wondered why Grammie was being so easy on him.  (It was cold!)

The "Treasure Box" is making a reappearance this year - loaded up with Raw Revolution Bars, agave sweetened suckers, molasses sweetened candy - organic and non-GMO.  I just can't do the candy bars this year after studying health issues all winter.

I'm looking forward to seeing so many of you at the pool. 

Best of Health to you

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Quail Update - The house around the corner

Quail Update from Arleen:

Our quails are hatching, slowly but surely.   Her are a few pictures of our adventure so far.

The size of the eggs.

Very small. 
Don't use the chick feeder! 
We have a dozen chicks in the brooder.  We have Cortunix, California Valley Quail and Georgia Bobwhite.  I wonder who tastes better..........

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

The Great Quail Adventure

As of last night, six quail have hatched.  they are tiny, lively and cute.  The reason for raising quail is the feed to meat ratio.  I guess they convert grass and bugs into meat a lot quicker and more efficiently than chickens.  I am excited to see how this works out.  I think we butcher them in about a month.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Farm Life

The past several weeks have been really intense - good, but intense.  Here are a few pictures from throughout the planting season.  We are almost done planting and are now mulching.  We are up to 105 chickens and are ready to butcher.  That is next....  as soon as we get the details worked out.  There are 6 ducks in our menagerie and two pigs.  The green feed in the orchard is working out great and our "chicken salad" is giving our cooped chickens lots of greens in a steady way.

There are a bunch of quail in my sister's ever expanding incubator.  The first one is pipping out, probably tonight.  By tomorrow we will probably have a bunch of quail.  I don't even have a vague idea of how to take care of them, but will soon figure it out.

There are 60 chicken eggs in the incubator at this time.  Since we decided that 15 is the limit for one Mama Hen (otherwise the little ones get suffocated) we are trying to train a couple of other Mama's.  One is working out nicely and I'm looking for another little house and have the next Mama picked out.

We ended up with over a hundred tomato plants.  Thanks to all who took my extras.  They were overwhelming.   We also have in onions, garlic, potatoes, sweet and hot peppers, cucumbers, 27 varieties of melons, beans, peas, radish and lettuce and will be planting corn soon.

The raspberries are just ripening up and the kids have been on the strawberry hunt for days now.  I have little bunches of strawberries all over the place, and if you hunt, you can find some.  It is a lot of fun.

The guys have been working like madmen on a road realignment project and a big house foundation, but they have shoved a couple of things in around here.  Fence fixing is ongoing and we did a lot of work on our pool.  It is quite old and needs work - always.  We pressure washed, drained and painted the pool and shortly they will convert an old, non-working hot tub that was attached into a kids pool.  By the way, that was a royal we.... I really didn't help at all.  My sister is the ramrod of that project and boy am I glad it is almost done :)  It will be more efficient, safer and a lot cuter than anything I could come up with.

Hope everyone has their garden in.  We are working hard in ours.  Everything is popping up and growing like crazy.  I can't wait for tomatoes!

Showing off a beautiful granddaughter!
We love baby ducks!

There is always time for a bike race!

This is the "chicken salad"  Different seeds planted in these old raised beds and as they grow, the chickens can eat the greens, but the plants live.  It is working really well.
The house and run for our Mama Chicken...
Training up a second Mama Chicken in this house.

A little repair work on the step.

I am really not helping.... just checking it out.
Patching and painting are not my thing at all.
I really admire anyone who can do this type of work and I WISELY married someone who is great at it.  Twenty nine years and counting!
 Let the painting commence!  A little tile work and it is just like new  :)

This mess will become a neat kids pool with some gravel, some concrete, some paint and some tile.
We collected about 50 million polliwogs to feed to the ducks and worms in the pool cleaning out process.   We also collected several buckets of very nice leaves laced with lots of algae and used them to mulch the potatoes.  We begin refilling the pool Wednesday.  I can't wait!

Loving it!
Be healthy and well