Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Safe Splash Swim School

It's finally starting to feel like fall outside and I know what you're thinking--You're thinking of sweaters and hot cocoa and colorful leaves and pumpkins. Generally, October is not the time of year that you're thinking about swimming. But this is the best time of the year to enroll your kids in swimming lessons. They can learn now and next summer, they'll already be little fishies.

The older kids had swimming lessons several years ago but somehow in our hectic schedules we missed getting lessons for Lilly and Molly. So when we were offered a chance for the girls to receive lessons from Safe Splash Swim School, I was thrilled. They were thrilled. Possibly more than thrilled. Lilly, especially, has always loved the water but hadn't responded well to my halfhearted attempts to teach her. (Based on my genetics and childhood, I am not a very good swimmer.)

The staff at Safe Splash Swim School were extremely welcoming and friendly. The girls were put in small classes of 3-4 students that matched their abilities and levels. Even though the girls both tend to be shy they immediately felt comfortable with their teachers. The classes were small so they got plenty of personalized instruction from the teachers and time to practice their new skills. The lessons were fairly short, though the girls could have stayed in the water all day.

During their four half hour sessions, the girls learned to float on their backs, jump into the pool and roll to their backs and climb out of the pool. They learned to be comfortable putting their faces in the water. At Safe Splash Swim School they are focused on first teaching the children how to rescue themselves. Lilly was able to advance and start working on swimming skills. I was primarily concerned with helping the girls feel more comfortable in the water and with the ability to float and exit the pool safely. They have a ways to go but they are definitely doing well.

Safe Splash Swim School focuses first on water safety. Then they move on to swimming skills and finally, they have programs for competitive swimming. They teach children as young as six months old and up to 14 years old. They even have classes for scouts in the evenings to help them pass off the swimming requirements before scout camp. Safe Splash also has a program to help kids with special needs learn to swim.

We were very happy with our lessons at Safe Splash Swim School. The girls are already anxious to go back and learn more. I would definitely recommend them.

Arielle started coaching for SafeSplash's original school in Lone Tree Colorado in 2007 after graduating in high school. She returned there to coach for 4 years. In 2008, Christine, Arielle's mom, joined SafeSplash at the front desk to spend more time with her daughter. In spring 2013, Arielle opened up the first SafeSplash Utah location in Sugarhouse with her husband Cliff. Chris and Christine, Arielle's parents, were also owners of SafeSplash Utah and helped with billing, registration, and other tasks from Colorado. They opened the Sandy location fall 2013 and Taylorsville in Spring 2015. Chris and Christine moved to Utah fall 2014 and now Arielle and Christine run day to day operations together while Cliff and Chris help with marketing events and financials. Together, they run the family business and are grateful for the opportunity to work together and be close to one another. They also sponsor the National Drowning Prevention Alliance of Utah, a 501(C) Non-profit here in Utah. They go to schools, parent groups, daycares, and community fairs to talk about water safety and help educate kids and parents on how to have a fun, safe time around water. As part of the NDPA, they partnered with Autism Speaks to offer scholarships to autistic students in the area. For the past year, every quarter they are able to give 15 new students a scholarship for swim lessons with our school. 

Connect with Safe Splash Swim School Utah :
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**I received complimentary lessons. No other compensation was received. All opinions are my own.*

Monday, October 26, 2015

The Admissions - Book Review

The Hawthorne family is living an idyllic though hectic life in an affluent subdivision near San Francisco. Their oldest daughter Angela is in her senior year of high school and focused on her early application to Harvard. She's always been focused on attending her father's alma mater. Though she's maintained the position of Valedictorian, her sometime friend Henrietta is nipping at her heels. Between school and her extra curricular activities, Angela's plate is full. Her parents are feeling just as harried. Her mom, Nora, is juggling her career in real estate with raising her three daughters and chauffeuring them to their activities. Gabe is always busy at work and there is a new intern that seems to have her sights on him. If they can just get Angela accepted to Harvard, then and only then, they might be able to take a break and breathe.

The Admissions by Meg Mitchell Moore was a She Read Book Club pick for fall. It wasn't necessarily a book I would choose but I usually like the She Read choices so I was willing to give it a shot. As a mom with teenagers worrying about college admissions, I initially found The Admissions to be a stressful read. I could relate to so much of the pressure and stress that the Hawthorne family was feeling. However, as the story began to unfold and the family members started making their sometimes unwise decisions, I became immersed in their story and could disengage my own emotions from the turmoil of their lives (thank goodness).

I ended up loving The Admissions. It might even make my top favorites list for the year. The characters were engaging and real and normal enough that you don't usually find them in literature. They regularly made unfortunately choices but I loved how Moore showed their justifications. It didn't make their choices any more wrong but it did make the novel so much more human. They weren't bad people. They just did dumb things and eventually there were consequences to their actions.

The Admissions by Meg Mitchell Moore is a perfect contemporary piece of literature that lays bare how many families in middle class America feel about raising children and getting them into the best colleges so that they are more likely to have that golden life with the best opportunities. With a snarky wit and a keen eye for observing human nature, Moore delivers a powerful, though entertaining, novel on family life and the drive for success.

The Admissions by Meg Mitchell Moore is published by Doubleday in August 2015.

**I received a complimentary copy of The Admissions. All opinions are my own. No other compensation was received. **

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

The Hours Count - Book Review

I was mesmerized by Jillian Cantor's writing in her novel Margot, a reimagining of history if Anne Frank's sister Margot had survived the Holocaust. Cantor's writing is beautiful and so captivating and compelling that I wished very sincerely it was true and that Margot was indeed living a secret life in the United States.

In The Hours Count, Cantor imagines an alternate history for Julius and Ethel Rosenberg who were executed for espionage in 1953. Told through the perspective of Ethel's friend and neighbor Millie, the novel brings to life the era of fear and terror as people lived with the constant threat of war with Russia. Millie is young and naive and worried about her young son who still hasn't spoken a word. Her husband, Ed, a Russian Jew has only been in the United States for a few years. His thick accent makes him suspect in their neighborhood and Millie worries that he won't be able to keep his job. But then Ed begins working with Julius and Millie, desperate for friendship, tries to encourage their relationship with the Rosenbergs.

For years the guilt of the Rosenbergs has been questioned. New information has been released recently that seems to exonerate Ethel but there are still so many questions. In her novel, Cantor doesn't attempt to explain history the way it definitely was but only offers a fictional account of how it might have been. She creates fictional characters who interact with the Rosenbergs to showcase their personalities. The setting of the 1950's in the midst of the Cold War and the McCarthy search for communists is fascinating as the Russian Jews try to navigate their world of suspicion and fear.

Once again, Cantor writes with style that compels the reader to sympathize with the characters while not being able to put the book down. Millie is a fascinating character who is pushed out of her comfort zone as a wife and mother and must act to defend her friends and save her children. I thoroughly enjoyed this novel. I found myself searching and reading articles on the Rosenbergs so that I had a better understanding of the accusations and trials. It is a very interesting and sad period of our history and Cantor uses this to her advantage in this thrilling novel.

The Hours Count by Jillian Cantor is published by Riverhead Books and releases on October 20, 2015.

**I received a complimentary copy of The Hours Count. No other compensation was received. All opinions are my own.**

Friday, October 9, 2015

The Last September - Book Review

Brett develops an almost obsessive love for Charlie since she first met him. Though she is finally married to him and the mother of his adorable baby, their marriage is not as "happily ever after" as she had hoped. Already stressed with a tenuous marriage and trust issues, Charlie's mentally unstable brother Eli is planning to move in with them.

Now, Charlie has been brutally murdered and it though Eli is obviously the suspect, Brett feels responsible for the death of her husband.

The Last September by Nina de Gramont is an engaging and compelling murder mystery and psychological thriller. Brett takes the reader back in time to the first time she met Charlie and details their relationship with a depth and honesty that makes The Last September less a whodunnit and more a introspective on relationships and love. I was immediately taken in by Brett's unique voice. She seemed to bare her entire soul and yet held back enough to make me doubt her sincerity. I felt her pain and confusion.

Suspenseful and thrilling, The Last September is more importantly a beautiful, introspective study of dealing with family members and loved ones who are suffering from mental illness. Brett's relationships with others become central as she tells her own coming of age story and her search for true love. The Cape Cod setting perfectly contributed to the overall feeling of storminess and unrest.

I found The Last September engaging and absorbing. It was nice to just get lost in this novel and meet these tormented and fascinating, yet believable characters.

The Last September is one of the She Reads Fall Book Club Selections. I am pleased to add my own praise for this wonderful, rich novel.

The Last September by Nina de Gramont is published by Algonquin in September 2015.

**I received a complimentary copy of The Last September through She Reads Book Club. No compensation was received. All opinions are my own.**

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Gordmans - 100th Year Celebration

This fall Gordmans is celebrating their 100th birthday, so it's a little weird that last week was my first time shopping there. In my defense, the stores are relatively new to my area. But since they advertise 60% off department store prices, I was definitely intrigued.

We just recently got the kids all decked out for back to school, so when I entered Gordmans last week I was shopping for me. Just for me! I rarely shop for myself. It's just so much easier to buy clothes for the kids, but with the seasons changing soon (I hope!) I really wanted to get some new sweaters. There's nothing better than pulling on a warm sweater and cuddling up with a cup of hot cocoa and a book while it's chilly outside. I LOVE fall!!!

I hadn't been in Gordmans long before I found several sweaters that I fell in love with. And a blouse and even a pair of pants. Oh, and that necklace too. Really, I felt like I made out like a bandit! The prices were absolutely reasonable and unlike other discount clothing stores, there were multiples sizes of every item and they were organized and arranged nicely. 

Other than the amazing prices, 
I felt like I was shopping in a department store.

After I picked out clothing for myself, I took a tour of the rest of the store. 

With clothes for kids and a full junior and mens section, I could definitely outfit my entire family at Gordmans.

I was impressed by the home decor section. There were lots of cool pieces to add style and definition to your home. If I actually decorated for Halloween, I would head back to Gordmans immediately. I'm sure I will be checking out their Christmas decor soon.

The kitchen section of Gordmans was filled with fun and colorful items that would be perfect as gifts for the next bridal shower I attend. Oh! There were some of the softest throws ever! They would be perfect for snuggling this winter. I will definitely be shopping for gifts at Gordmans this Christmas season.

As they celebrate their 100th year with bricks and mortar stores, you can now shop from home on www.gordmans.com -- Seriously! 
You can still save up to 60% off department store prices but from your own home and in your pajamas. And you all know that's my favorite way to shop.

**I received a gift card from Gordmans. However, these are my honest opinions**

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

The Uninvited -- Book Review

Ivy Rowan is still recovering from influenza when her father and brother, revenging her other brother's death in the Great War, murder the young German immigrant that owns the furniture store in town. Upset by her family and reeling from the effects of the flu, Ivy leaves home and finds a world remarkably changed.

Set in 1918, the small midwest town of Buchanan is reeling from the Great War and the Great Influenza Epidemic. Weighed down by the association of guilt, Ivy forms a friendship with the murdered German's brother and finds a new and exciting world of jazz music. But Ivy also has the burden or gift of seeing ghosts. Deceased loved ones come to warn her of impending death and as the epidemic takes more lives, Ivy is overwhelmed by her uninvited visitors.

I love a good ghost story and since The Uninvited by Cat Winters had a spooky cover (I totally judge books by their covers) and plenty of amazing reviews, I was anxious to read it this fall. Unfortunately, I did not connect with this novel at all.

Ivy was an odd character--once a recluse, she was suddenly so outgoing that her change did not feel believable. She behaved so irrationally and impulsively that I had a difficult time reconciling her with the character she once was. There were times where I thought the novel would show promise but overall, I found it dull. The ghost sightings were actually rare and though there was the otherworldly atmosphere it wasn't really spooky in the way I was hoping. There is a surprise twist at ending that makes the rest of the book make more sense but by then I was already so bored by the story that I didn't really care.

I recognize, however, that I am in the minority. Most readers were enraptured by The Uninvited.

The Uninvited by Cat Winters was published by William Morrow in August 2015.

**I received a complimentary copy of The Uninvited. No other compensation was received.  All opinions are my own.**

Saturday, October 3, 2015

The Winner of After You Giveaway

The winner of a copy of After You by Jojo Moyes is...

Debbie Cranberryfries

Congratulations! I hope you enjoy the novel. Please contact me by October 11, 2015 with your information.