Junior Jazz Basketball

Go Blue Lightning!

This is Theo’s first time playing basketball on an organized basis and so far it has been a lot of fun. I think his dad is the most excited about this of all of us, because he is the coach and gets to relive his school days playing on the basketball team. We organized a team of players of mostly school friends, so all the kids are familiar with each other and have a very no-pressure experience.

I know there are lots of different places around the valley that offer Junior Jazz seasons, and we are doing ours at the Jewish Community Center. They have teams available for age Kindergarten through age 14. The JCC provides court space, small “junior” sized balls, jerseys, and tickets to a Utah Jazz game.

Theo’s team has had a few practices and just one game, and so far it is highly entertaining for both spectators and players alike.

Swimming Lessons

Theo has always loved the water and has taken swimming lessons since he was 2. But they were always rather informal and I don’t think he really knew how to swim even after years of lessons. We were recommended to SwimKids which several friends love but we never tried it because of location (it was a little further than I’d like) and cost (the priciest lessons I’ve encountered). We were pleased to be introduced to Superior Adaptive Swim School by a classmate of Theo’s and have been really enjoying it!

They are a private company, but teach lessons out of the Fairmont Aquatic Center in Sugarhouse. During the weekday when Theo has lessons, the pool is pretty much deserted. He has a 30-minute private lesson with the pool basically to himself, and ends up wanting to stay to splash around and play for another hour.

I like that it is at an indoor pool so he can take lessons even through the fall (while most swim lessons that are outside stop after the summer). Lessons are paid for on a monthly basis so you only have to commit to a few at a time. Theo is loving being able to get into the pool even after it starts to cool down outside and I’m glad that he’s able to continue improving his swim skills throughout the year.

Jupiter Bowl

When you think of a “bowling alley,” what do you typically imagine? In all of my past experiences, it was always in a dingy, seedy, retro-in-a-not-cool-way location. All of these perceptions were blown away when we first went to Jupiter Bowl in Park City a few years ago. Not only was it a gorgeous, clean space, it was also a perfect outing for families with young kids. Amazing!

Theo, 3 years old

The key to involving young kids in bowling lies in the available accommodations:

1) Old-school gutter bumpers (they are controlled by the main desk, so just notify the staff which people in your party need them)

2) Bowling ball ramp (see above)

This guarantees that even a toddler can enjoy “bowling” and not get frustrated by their lack of strength and coordination. Also, look how cute those tiny bowling shoes are!

On Sundays from 12-7pm they have a “Family Fun Day” package that includes 2 hours of bowling (& shoe rental) plus a pizza and pitcher of soda for $49.50 (up to 6 people). By the way, the food here is actually really good. The pizza is delicious and they have a full menu and bar. I’ve gone to events here for adults-only that were really fun too. This is one of those places that I wouldn’t necessarily think of as a great place for kids, but it really is a super fun time, for both kids and parents.

Activities for All Abilities

Have you been enjoying watching the Olympics? We have! I asked Theo what his favorite event to watch has been so far and he said “Upside Down Skiing!” (i.e. Aerials). What these athletes do with their bodies mentally and physically is just astounding.

As the Olympics come to a close, I am looking forward to introducing Theo to the Paralympic Games where physical limitations do not stop these amazing athletes from competing at the highest levels. This year’s Paralympics will also be held in Sochi and run from March 7-16; they will also be broadcast on NBC and NBC Sports Network. There will be five sports in competition which include: Biathlon, Cross-country skiing, Alpine skiing, Ice Sledge Hockey, and Wheelchair Curling.

Also, are these just the most adorable mascots ever or what?! I’m pleased to introduce to you Snowflake and Ray of Light.

Here in Utah, there is a wonderful organization called the National Ability Center which provides adaptive recreation programs and events for people of all abilities, including children. On March 6 they will have a Paralympic Opening Ceremony party for members and their families. I love their mission and the fact that they also provide social activities to enhance the feeling of community.

Photo Credit: National Ability Center (discoverynac.org)

If you have a family member who could benefit from their programs, they are currently registering for their spring 2014 activities which start at the end of March (early bird registration with a discount ends on March 10).

This is their comprehensive schedule of available activities. If you want to just check out their facilities and see if they would be a good fit for your family, they will host a free Demo day in May. They have a fun schedule of family activities throughout the summer as well.

I’m grateful for events and organizations that help all of us be more understanding of the world around us and that personally give me a way to impart important values to Theo. When a classmate of mine won the Bronze in the Nagano Paralympics our senior year of high school, it made quite an impression. Let’s celebrate the fact that the human spirit is the same within all of us, regardless of the differences in our physical bodies.

February on TV

I was lucky to have the chance to go on the air and talk about some of my latest posts.
Click to watch the video here.
The topics discussed were the upcoming Olympics and fun Music&Movies mashups.
It is always a fun time and I am looking forward to going back on the show next month!

[UPDATE 2/8/14: I heard back from the Utah Symphony PR people that there will not be screens set up during the Harry Potter show, but the music from the movies will be performed. Just wanted to clarify!]

The Olympics – My favorite time of every-two-years

The 2014 Winter Olympics are coming up in a few weeks and I can’t wait.  Even though I’m not incredibly athletic nor much of a sports fan otherwise, the Olympics (either Winter or Summer) are one of my favorite things ever. It is not just about the athletic achievements but about the dedication and passion for something that humans can all strive towards. I also love the international aspect of it and how for a short time, it seems like we are all just one big human race and not separated by any boundaries.

Anyway, this is also a time that I think is full of teaching moments and opportunities for kids. I’ll break it down into the two most obvious themes.

International Unity

Politics aside (I’m not a fan of Russia’s anti-gay policies), I really love that people of all different races and cultures can come together in one city for 16 days and relate to each other as members of the same worldwide family. Theo received this game as a present a few years ago and I’ve always loved it, especially the back:

The game consists of matching up faces on cards, but each face is a picture of a child from a certain country. The back lists the countries the faces match up with. We’ve had more fun talking about the different countries and locating where they were on the map than doing the actual matching component.

We’re a little map-crazy in this household because my family growing up was very international (I’ve lived in multiple places in my life and each member of my family was born in a different country, on 3 continents). My brother currently lives in Europe and my husband/Theo’s dad lived in Germany for a few years, so I’d like to give Theo an awareness of our place (literally and figuratively) on this planet. In his bedroom, we hung a huge world map which we got from a wonderful local store that specializes in maps, Utah Idaho Supply / Map World:

From a very young age he was able to locate Salt Lake City, Utah on the map (“Where do we live?”) and also other key areas such as Richmond, Virginia (where my parents live), Seattle (where his cousins and aunt and uncle live) and, of course, London. We’ve also used it to identify the origins of different restaurants we frequent (India, Pakistan, Tibet, Thailand, etc.). It is a wonderful resource to have and cost around $30 at the map store.
I also bought these inexpensive placemats from a local toy store, which were about $5 each:
We used to keep them in the playroom as reference materials but started actually using them as placemats when we eat. I love the conversations that start out with just random observations about a place on a placemat.
All that said, the Olympics are a great time to discuss the different countries, identify them by their flag/uniforms (a friend of mine is looking for small versions of the worlds’ flags to show her daughter), locate them on the map, and discuss their cultures (and perhaps delve into skin color/ethnicity/race issues). When else do we have the chance to have so many “real-life” examples of people from different countries right on the TV in our own homes?
Sports/Athletic Determination
Whether or not your child (or you) is athletically-inclined, I think everyone can enjoy watching someone be at the top of their game and achieve a life-long goal. Being in Utah, we can appreciate the Olympics as a former host city, and create a sense of wonder and applicability by visiting various Olympic sites, like the Olympic Cauldron Park where you can see the torch, and the Utah Olympic Park and Utah Olympic Oval where actual events took place in 2002.
Theo the Future Gold Medalist
If your child gets inspiration from watching the athletes during the Olympics, lucky for us, we have options for training right here! At the Oval they have classes for kids in ice skating and hockey, but also in speed skating and curling (!). Figure skating classes start at age 3, speed skating at age 5, hockey at age 6 and curling at age 8. I’ve talked about alpine skiing for kids on a previous blog post, but some of the more esoteric sports like ski jumping and bobsled and skeleton are also opportunities you can try at the Olympic Park.
There are also the life lessons on continuous practice, determination, perseverance, and dedication that are sometimes hard to explain in a concrete manner, but that are easy to explain when you have a story and example to use in the form of these top athletes.

“Secret” Kids Ski Rental Program

Theo started ski lessons last year (at age 4) and one of our first to-do items was to find out what to do about ski gear. I had heard from friends about this great program at Utah Ski & Golf but was unable to find out any information online. Turns out that they don’t advertise this program and just use word-of-mouth to spread the information. Well, if this is your first time hearing about it, I’m glad to be the mouth spreading this word!

So the deal is, you make a one-time up-front payment of $350 and it includes unlimited trade-ins for used boots and skis until the maximum junior size offered (which they estimate to be about age 10-12, depending on the size of the kid obviously). Poles (when they need them) are extra.

Normally, you can rent kids gear for $17/day. Last year Theo took two sessions of ski lessons at Brighton for 10 weeks. That would’ve been $170 for one season’s worth of rentals. If he continued at this same pace, we’d pay off this investment in 2 years (and this year he is only 5 years old). That’s 5-7 more free seasons of ski rentals for him!

The sooner you start / the smaller the kid, the most value you will get out of this program. Happy skiing!

Dads & Kids Outing


Who wants to join Dave & Theo on a DADS & KIDS outing?

Harlem Globetrotters

Monday, February 10, 2014
Energy Solutions Arena
Tickets: $19 each in lower bowl with no extra fees

Moms of course are also welcome to go, but we thought it might be fun for the dads to have their own event. Perhaps a separate moms outing can be arranged. 🙂

Let me know who wants to go and I can order tickets together. Maybe a fun holiday gift for the kids/dads in your life?