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Dear April Rey,

I woke up today to a beautiful sunrise. Purple and orange. Bright and bold like you are. 

Today is a special day. It's a day that I held fondly in my heart until our earth shattering news back in July. 

Today is your due date. 

You've been gone now for just shy of 5 months. 

My belly void of your growing body. My body wishing it was still feeling your tiny kicks.

My heart is bigger. It is more sensitive. It is not missing a piece, but rather gained one.

You filled my heart with more love than I knew was possible. 

The added piece to my heart is full of love, yet at the same time full of grief and sadness.

I long so badly to see you grow up. To see you play with your sister. To see you laugh at your silly Daddy.

I can still feel your skin against mine as I held you for your first and final moments.

I can feel your hand clench down on my finger.

I can see your beautiful face, your beautiful, perfect fingers and toes. 

I can feel your strength and your peacefulness. It stays with me every day. 

You filled me with your strength and peace when you were born. You surrounded me with your love and gave me so much joy. 

I'll never forget the feeling of holding you. The feeling of your energy all around me. The strength you gave me in that moment was a gift. You showed me how to focus on the joy, instead of hiding in the sadness. I was able to celebrate your life, instead of immediately grieving your death.

Today is a brutal reminder of my empty womb. 

Today is a brutal reminder, that you don't get to live the life you deserve. 

Today is a brutal reminder that you are gone.

Every day and every moment fills me with thoughts of your sweet face and your strength and bravery. 

Every day I stay strong is because of you. I do the best I can. 

Today I am letting the grief win, though.

Today I am letting it be ok to just be sad and miss you. 

You are forever and always in my heart. 

Thank you for all that you've done. You've truly made me a better person. And your legacy lives on. Your legacy is helping so many. Thank you for giving me the strength to share it. 

Love you forever,
Mama
12-28-17



6 am I hear my name being called. My husband jumps out of bed in excitement. He's been up for a couple of hours already and has been anxiously waiting for Caroline to wake up on Christmas morning. I struggle to get my eyes open as I shuffle down the hallway. My husband races Caroline downstairs to see what Santa brought. 

Out on the family room floor were toys from Santa.

- A new Paw Patrol bedding set (from Auntie, but it was just too hard to wrap LOL)

- A Paw Patrol coloring book (I bought this two years ago for like $1 at Michaels- this was the perfect year for it since Caroline is now obsessed with Paw Patrol)

- Cookie Monster stuffed animal (I buy the $5 stuffed animal from the Kohls Cares program each year)

- A Marble Track


Caroline headed straight for the marble track. Let me just say that I almost didn't buy this. Here's the back story...We had marbles that we were using as a reward system. That quickly had turned into Daddy finding some old pieces of molding and making some makeshift marble tracks. Caroline loved what he'd put together.

I wasn't sure if she'd want to use an actual marble track, or if she was too fascinated by the makeshift ones. I knew that she'd be able to use this one more easily on her own though. Anyways, this marble track was only $15 on amazon. That was a steal! So we decided to get it.

This marble track was payback for all of the Christmas eve nights that our parents had to stay up and assemble toys for us... this one was quite the puzzle to put together. It was so much fun sitting on the floor with my husband in that role, though.

Good thing we ended up getting this present. It was the HIT of the day! It was her all time favorite present. She played with it for hours, and never wanted to stop- not even to open more presents. LOL! Caroline stayed in her underwear all day just playing with this toy. Never did she get dressed. Never did she even stop to put a blanket on!


We finally convinced her to open the rest of her presents... a few more leapfrog books to add to her collection, light up paw patrol sneakers, and more.

This Christmas was so hard, though. Our house was quiet with just the three of us. It was filled with thoughts of April. Christmas was an odd mixture of happiness, loss, and grief. I watched Caroline play, and I cried. I want her to have her sister here to play with.

I wanted to be carrying April down the stairs to see what Santa had brought her on this Christmas morning. I wanted to show her the joy of Christmas.

Every moment that I watch Caroline grow up, is a moment to remind me that April doesn't get to grow up.

Caroline held me. She comforted me. She told me everything would be ok. She told me she missed April and wanted her here to play with. It was a hard, hard day.

On the Saturday before Christmas, we opened a package from Caroline's great auntie- purple, sparkly, colorful, starry crocs. They were perfect for Caroline and she just loved them. They were too small, though. My sweet, thoughtful daughter decided she wanted to save them for our next baby.

Caroline talks about April and Chelsea. She wants to talk about why they died. She wants to talk about how everyone dies eventually. She talks about having another baby in Mama's belly. Part of our Christmas was spent looking at pictures of me when I was pregnant with her, and with April, as I answered all of her questions.

A simple question about why Mama wears a bra, quickly turns to talk about why women have boobs, and that babies drink milk from them, etc. The simplest of questions is a sharp reminder of our loss.

Our daughter is full of questions lately. Great questions. She knows that when the tampons are out, Mama is on her period. She knows that means an egg is released...like the egg that April grew from. She asks SO many questions. And we answer them.

I wasn't expecting Christmas to be any different, but I also wasn't expecting it to be so hard. I can handle the 3 year old inquisitiveness. I can handle the matter of fact talk about what happened.

But, Christmas was hard to handle.

It's hard to feel happiness when I feel so broken. And on this day I felt very broken. April needed to be there. April was supposed to be born this week- December 28th was her due date. That's making this Christmas season extra hard. I want to watch her grow up. I want to hold her just one more time. Feel her hand on mine as she squeezes my finger. Feel her take breaths- just once more.

We have two very special daughters. They are each so special in their own ways, and they both have amazing ways of taking care of me. Christmas wasn't all happiness and joy this year, but it was spent thinking about and celebrating the lives that are so important to us. It was small and perfect in it's own little way.




Ok, I can't believe it's taken me almost a month to get to this post. Caroline turned 3. Three. Time has just flown by. People try to warn you about how fast the years go by. It's one of those things that you know is happening, but is still astonishing at the same time. Caroline is 3. Wow.

Every month, every year, I'm so excited to see what the next year brings. I loved the baby stage, I really did, but I've loved each year even more. Each year brings out more and more of Caroline's personality. Each year we get to enjoy more and more things together.

Each year is just amazing to watch how much Caroline has learned.

I just love being a part of Caroline's life and I love everything about being a mom. While my job as a stay at home mom is hard, it is honestly the most rewarding job I've ever had, and I am so glad to be doing it.

Schedule

Ok so we'll start with her schedule. Not much has changed over the last year at all!

7:00 am wake  (she no longer drinks milk)
7:45/8:00 am breakfast
12 pm lunch
12:30/1-3:30/4 pm nap
5:30/6 pm dinner
7:15 pm bed


2 days a week, Caroline attends school from 9-11:30. She still goes to gymnastics once a week (we also schedule this during the late morning hours), and she has swim class once a week (also in the morning).

Eating

My last update was a few months ago. We were snacking all of the time due to my crazy hunger during the pregnancy with April. We now have the snacking under control LOL! We are back to eating 3 good meals a day...although Mama is still super hungry on occasion, so we break the rules every once in awhile.

Caroline has a great sense of smell like Mama does, so she has some picky moments based on the strong smell of things at times. She's back to trying things without issue though, and can totally be bribed into eating more if need be (if you eat x bites of ___, you can have 1 bite of ____). It's a helpful tool at times, but really we don't worry too much about the quantity that she's eating.

She eats one great meal a day and does her best with the others. We've finally broken away from peanut butter and jelly every single day!

Speaking of her great sense of smell... in my last update she'd decided that her milk cup smells and was refusing to drink milk out of any cup. She now very rarely has milk... very rarely. We make sure to give her lots of cheese and yogurt as a replacement. And any time we go out to eat, she loves ordering chocolate milk, of course!

Sleeping

Sleeping has been a bit of a roller coaster since April died.


I've written about it a few times here:

Sleep and Behavioral Disruptions- Making a Big Change to Get Back on Track     

Toddler Sleep Disruptions During A Family Crisis



For the most part, she's back to going to bed nicely without screaming. She makes a ton of excuses (itches she can't get, potty, etc.), but she's made great progress and goes to bed very well most of the time.

She's very frustrated with not being able to fall asleep immediately. She will stay quiet for a minute, then complain that "it's not working" and she needs help to fall asleep. We are working with her to be patient. She used to just read and play and read and play in bed. Now she's just very aware of the fact that she's not sleeping, and wants to fix it.

She's also waking once in the middle of the night still on a good majority of the nights. She will be wide awake and again be impatient with not falling back to sleep. She's losing sleep as a result of being up so much in the middle of the night. She deals with it so well for the most part, though.

That brings me to naps. A big part of me thinks that if I dropped the nap, she'd probably sleep through the night. But, she's still taking great naps. She complains that she's tired. She needs her nap. The only way to remove nap, would be to just keep her up. That's no help.

She at least needs rest time. On occasion she just sits in bed and reads and plays quietly. But I can't prevent her from sleeping while still giving her rest time. So for now, we are leaving nap alone, and just not letting her sleep too long. 

Wake Time

Back in October, Caroline's teacher brought to my attention that she was having some anxiety out at the playground. I wrote about it all here:

My Toddler's Anxiety Around Other Children

I am super happy to report that after our week long "boot camp" addressing the above behaviors, Caroline started doing really well at the playground (read above link). She is still going strong and doing very well.

She  still tells me that she doesn't like playground time. She tells me that she doesn't like it when both classes go out at the same time because it's too busy and crowded. Some days she goes down the slide; some days she just stands there.

She always does her best, though. If I ask her to try and run around, she does just that. She is always pushing herself to do her best. I am so proud of her effort and determination. I am so happy that she discusses her anxieties with me. I am so impressed with her willingness to work on this with me. 

Gymnastics is still going great. She's doing very well at the preschool level. She just finished her first session and earned a ribbon. She gets a little progress report now on all of her skills, so we'll be able to track her progress for each skill. Now that there are new children in the class, she's having a bit of anxiety again just around the new people. She's working through it, though and doing well. 



She's also still continuing on with swim class. She's been at the same level since August, but she's still enjoying it. Class progression may have stopped, but she's just at the last step where she needs to do her back float (starfish) on her own...then she'll move up again. 

We also did some rearranging recently in the basement. We removed a large desk that I was no longer using, and created a play area next to the guest bedroom that is set up in the basement. It is working so well! Caroline loves having independent playtime down there, and she is also enjoying watching her new favorite show- Paw Patrol! 




Milestones & Interests

Caroline has a new favorite TV show! She only wants to watch Paw Patrol! We only have access to it through the Nick Jr. app, so she's watching the limited shows over and over. But she loves it. Her favorite pup was initially Skye, but has now changed to Zuma.

Her favorite songs are Thomas Rhett "Unforgettable", and Luke Combs "When it rains it pours".

She is enjoying listening to new CD's at bedtime. We broke out our CD collection from back in the day. She's listening to things like John Mayer, Backstreet Boys, and old school Kenny Chesney.

She still loves being outside. She grabs sticks and rocks to add to her collection on our front porch any time we are outside. She really enjoyed going to the beach and collecting shells!

Caroline requested recently to talk about "the baby and Chelsea" every single day. 

She also now refers to "the baby" as April. Finally! My heart is so happy to hear her say April's name.

Caroline has become very helpful lately. She offers to help with everything that I am doing. It is so lovely to see. 

Caroline says please and thank you, bless you when we sneeze, etc. She is so polite.

Caroline has worked really hard on saying names. She has practiced and mastered saying all of her classmates names.

I shouldn't even mention this, because I don't want it to stop... but she's finally helping me pull her pants up and down! So excited to see her trying to dress and undress herself a bit.

When asked at her 3 year well check what her favorite thing to do is, she responded with "read books". So true! She also still really enjoys pretend play with all of her characters (Daniel tiger, Trolls, Dinosaur Train, Paw Patrol).

Caroline tried crab in Ocean City, and really enjoyed it! Love that she's willing to try new things.

There is no hiding food from this girl. She has ears like our dog. So much as open the pantry, open a slice of cheese, etc., and she's onto you. Trying to hide food in your mouth? Nope not happening. "What are you eating?" she always asks. Or she'll look at us and just say "Mama" or "Daddy", with this BIIIIIIG grin on her face, like what's up!? And where's mine!? 

She's obsessed with all things Paw Patrol right now. We play lookout tower on the twisty slides at playgrounds, and she pretends to be Zuma some days.

One of these days I'm going to do a full post on this. Caroline shortens words when she talks. It is sooo hilarious. She'll say things like "wat" for water. "Din" for dinner, etc. She does it all the time, and is just too cool for school! haha

I also thought this was fun and wanted to record it here. A "toddler/preschool test" was circulating on Facebook. So, we had some fun with it and I asked Caroline the questions. Here are the questions and her responses:

TODDLER/PRESCHOOL TEST

No coaching them, just ask and write the response down:

Caroline is currently 1 week from turning 3
  • What is your name? Caroline
  • How old are you? 2
  • When is your Birthday? Ooo! I don't remember
  • How old is Daddy? 3
  • How old is Mommy? 3
  • What is your favorite color? Purple
  • What is your favorite food? Cheese
  • Who is your best friend? Tiny (from dinosaur train)
  • What is your favorite animal? Ummmmm lion
  • What are you scared of? Nothing
  • What makes you happy? Drinking
  •  What’s your favorite thing to do with Daddy? Play and rest
  •  What’s your favorite thing to do with Mommy? Play with you
  • Where is your favorite place to go? Swim class
  • What do you want to be when you grow up? A picture
  • What does love mean? I don't know



Find all of our baby and toddler schedules and updates at this link.

April died. It was only 4 months ago. Some days it seems like it was yesterday, and others it feels like forever ago. The world kept spinning. People kept living. Days stayed busy. Life kept moving.

My husband had to go back to work. His parents had to return home. Our older daughter, Caroline, started up the new school year, and resumed her gymnastics and swim classes. Life got back to being its busy old self. Everyone got their escapes- everyone but me.

At times I feel stuck. I feel the world just spinning. I feel everyone around me moving at warp speed, and I feel like I can't take a breath. I feel like I can't catch up to normal speed, and the littlest of things send me into a spiral.

My emotions are intense and more acute in nature. My anger is ten fold what it used to be, but so is my happiness. I long for more of the happiness and more time to breathe, however. I feel as though I never got a chance to test my new surroundings and breathe. I feel this need to stop- stop and appreciate, stop and take things in, stop and capture the stillness, the peacefulness, the quiet. I feel this need to be outside and only around my family and those closest to me.

Life kept moving, though. And my desire for quiet, peace, and a chance to just catch my breath got lost in the busyness. Before I knew it, I was screaming. Yes screaming. And I realized I'd never gotten my chance to breathe. My chance to just stop and escape. And so the words came out "I need an escape."

All I had been able to do was have my initial moments of intense grief and sadness, and then I was hurdled right back into life. I have a 3 year old to take care of 24-7. My job doesn't stop. There are no moments to enjoy the quiet. No moments to have peace. And so, my need was never fulfilled. Somewhere in the busyness I hadn't even realized I needed it. But when the calm would settle in, I knew. I knew that the only place I wanted to be was there in the peaceful moment, and that I needed more.

When my husband heard those words, he made it happen. He told me to find a place for a weekend getaway, and that he'd look as well. He made it happen the weekend that followed those words.

We live a few hours away from the mountains, and a few hours away from the beach. We could go west, or east. My initial thought was to go to the mountains. I mean it is the middle of December in Maryland. It's cold and snowing. Mountains make sense. The beach wasn't calling my name. I stayed open to it, however, and I am so glad that I did.


We searched for places that were pet friendly so we'd be able to bring our dog, Moose. We did our best to minimize the cost since this isn't something we were planning for in advance. We found a great deal, at the beach through Airbnb (get $40 in travel credit when you use this link to sign up). This is our first time using Airbnb, and it was exactly what we wanted.

I didn't want to stay in a hotel. I didn't want to be around other people. I wanted quiet and peace. Which meant, we wanted a place to ourselves. That's exactly what we found through Airbnb. The place we found was incredibly affordable (better than a hotel price), and it was a few blocks from the beach. It was pet friendly, had separate sleeping areas, a game room, a mini fridge, and a coffee maker. We didn't need anything else.

I was unsure about going to the beach during the winter. I mean it seemed unappealing to have to bundle up for snowy weather, and have the water beckoning your name all at the same time. LOL! We don't get to visit the beach during the warm summer months, however. It's just the nature of my husband's job. Since I love the beach, we decided to give it a shot, even in the snowy month of December!


It was perfect. The feeling of standing on the beach, looking out for miles, without seeing a single other person, is just magnificent. There was the occasional passerby... the occasional person out running with their dog, but mostly it was just us.

The views were stunning and unhindered with the usual crowds of people. The air was fresh off the water, and the quiet was endless. I could feel the tension in my body. I could feel myself fighting it and unable to relax. I felt the need to take care of our daughter, make sure she was warm, run around with her etc. But my husband sent me off on a walk.


I felt guilty for leaving. I felt like a horrible wife and mother for that moment as I walked off. But I also knew I needed it. Ahead of me I saw open shoreline. There was no one in sight. The sounds of my family vanished in the distance as I walked. I was finally surrounded by quiet.

The tears streamed down my face almost instantly, as I let go. I let go of the tension and the stress for that moment. I said hello to April and to Chelsea. I talked with them and walked with them. I had a long walk with April and I couldn't wipe the tears away fast enough.

Then I looked down. There was a black seashell. It was perfect. As I reached down for it, it was a reminder that April was there on that walk with me. In all the blackness and grief that is in my life, there is fullness. There is happiness. That perfect black seashell is my life. There is black in my life right now. There is a cloud that makes it hard to breathe at times. But my life is beautiful and stunning at the same time.


That perfect black seashell is my life. There is black in my life right now. There is a cloud that makes it hard to breathe at times. But my life is beautiful and stunning at the same time. 

It is ok to be happy and sad at the same time. We've said it a million times to Caroline, and Caroline reminds me daily. It is so true.

And so I walked. I held that seashell tight and walked with April and Chelsea. I let everything go in that moment. I let my eyes wander to the beautiful seashells and stuffed my pockets. Then I turned around and headed to my happy place- the laughter that was coming from down the beach.

I made my way to my husband's healing arms and Caroline's infectious laughter.


"Eat, Sleep, Beach" was my husband's motto on this trip... and it was all we did.

Eat, Sleep, Beach  - although my babywise self wanted to change it to Eat, Beach, Sleep LOL

That is literally all we did for the entire weekend. We stayed up late and enjoyed the stars on the beach. We woke up early to see the sunrise. We walked, collected shells, and enjoyed each others company. We laughed, we cried (well I did), and we just took in the quiet, peaceful beach.


There was snow on the ground at times. There was a chill in the air that we bundled up for.

We ate great food.

We even dipped our toes in the icy water once before leaving.



We took a breath and just enjoyed life in the slow lane.

I really hope to make this a yearly tradition, as it was amazing.



Where we stayed:

Robin's Nest through Airbnb (get $40 in travel credit when you use this link to sign up)


Where we ate (all family friendly and open in the winter months):

Ponzetti's Pizza (fabulous wings and pizza)

45th Street Tap House Bar and Grille (more amazing wings and one of the best cheesteaks we've ever had)

The Crab Bag (I got to enjoy snow crab legs and raw oysters)

Dumser's (great breakfast and amazing ice cream)




We have a wonderful guest post today from Christine Keys! This topic is something I struggle with a bit. I like the idea of teaching Caroline about Santa and having the magic of Christmas... but when I say it out loud, I'm lying not teaching. And I hate that. I never want to lie to my children. And so, we're not going to. We may have fun with the idea of Santa, but we aren't going to act like Santa is real...

Feel uncomfortable about leading your children to believe in something that isn't real? You're not alone. However, I know there are a lot of parents that are stuck. They don't want to lie to their children about the existence of Santa but still want to keep the magic of Christmas alive.

Well, it isn't as difficult as you might think. I should know. We were never brought up to think that Santa was real, but Christmas was (and still is!) the most magical time of the year for me. So, here are some ways to help you get started:

Set Fun Traditions


Whether it's driving around to view Christmas lights, or piling on the couch to watch festive movies, it doesn't really matter. Make some special family traditions and enjoy them (Here's a list of ideas!). Half of the magic of Christmas is being able to do things that you don't do for the rest of the 364 days of the year. Kids love it - I know I did!

Make It A Big Deal


Christmas comes but once a year so live it up! Get out all the decorations, put on the Christmas carols, bake some Christmas treats, and make sure that all the family is together. Children are amazingly in tune with our attitudes and emotions. If you're not exuding the Christmas spirit, then chances are they won't either. Create anticipation with advent calendars and get the children involved with festive crafts and activities.

Play Into The Magic


Now while I don't advocate teaching your children that Santa is real, it doesn't mean that you can't still have fun with the idea of it. Kids have big imaginations. I remember as a child lying in bed at the end of the day and dreaming up crazy imaginary worlds that were full of all the most exciting things.


As children, my siblings and I knew Santa was just a character in a delightful story, but we still put out cookies and milk on Christmas Eve, and my father still joked about Santa coming down the chimney. We knew he didn't exist, but as children, it was fun to pretend that he did.


Children are very gifted at getting lost in their imaginations. We don't need to lie to them in order for them to have a part in a magical fantasy. Set the scene and they will be able to do the rest.


If you feel wrong about letting your children believe Santa is real then you really don't have to worry about stealing away the magic.

Kids are brilliant little creatures that often surpass our expectations. Make Christmas time special and meaningful by doing things together and with love. Your children will be thrilled!


Merry Christmas!





I can't believe Caroline is already 3 years old! I also can't believe it's already the middle of December and I haven't written about it yet!

Caroline has been asking me for MONTHS to make a rainbow cake for her birthday. MONTHS! She is so decisive and never even thinks about changing her mind. Since she also loves Trolls now, I decided to do rainbow Trolls cupcakes.

So first, the cupcakes... I made a simple boxed cake. It was the white cake with party confetti inside so there would be lots of color throughout. Nothing fancy, though, as we like to keep things simple around here!

For the icing, I decided to step outside of my comfort zone a bit. I made cream cheese icing from scratch, and bought this nifty little piping system that does 3 colors at once! Caroline chose orange, pink and purple. It was so easy, and I think they came out great. I needed a bit more icing to make them fuller looking, but I had what I had to work with. We bought Trolls rings to put on top for decoration.




As for her birthday celebration, well it was amazing. My husband's family (Mom, Dad, Sister, Brother and significant others) all came for Thanksgiving and for Caroline's birthday. It was perfect.

Caroline just loves being around family. She talks to them nonstop, plays with everyone and has a blast. Since we had family in town, we didn't do a "friend" party this year, although we aren't big on those anyway.


On the day of her birthday celebration, Caroline woke up early. It was the day before her actual birthday and she was a bit nervous. I explain it in this post, but Caroline was scared that she was going to die on her birthday like her sister did (see post for that full explanation). We talked and talked and got everything explained.

Then, we went downstairs and iced the cupcakes. I was glad I hadn't done it the night before, as it was a nice distraction from the previous conversation, and helped get her excited. We made the icing, she picked out the colors, and we piped it onto the cupcakes together. She then put all of the Trolls rings on as well!


For breakfast, she had a donut with sprinkles!

Her uncles arrived late that morning and we did a nice early celebration before her rest time. She blew her 3 candles out on the first try! Then she got to opening up her presents.

After that was play play play. She played all day long, then had some rest, and played again.

Her favorite thing that day was to play with her stamps (stamps she's had since I think last Christmas). She didn't want to stamp with them, but wanted to play with them. She put them on Bananagrams letters (scrabble letters), and pretended they were skating. All day long.




On her actual birthday, she got to go on a train ride! Her aunt and uncle had gifted her an experience for her birthday... and it was such a fun one! Caroline loves trains, so going on a real train was super fun.

The train was sloooooow (like we could have walked as fast as it was going), but it was a train ride and our 3 year old LOVED it- which is what matters! Santa was on board and sat down with Caroline. She gave a quick smile and said hi, but wouldn't tell him what she wanted for Christmas.

She loved looking out the window and finding power towers, water, tractors and more!

After the train ride, we went into the train museum for some hot chocolate and cookies. So much fun.





In exchange for an honest review on this blog, British Swim School of Central MD has provided my family with free swim lessons. All opinions and thoughts are my own.

As I meet parents that have had their children in the British Swim School program, the talk of instructors always comes up. The reality is that having a good instructor- one that works well with your child, is really key to a successful class.

What's great about British Swim School, is that they get that. They know that they need to hire swim instructors that are going to work well with kids. It's just a part of the job. They need to have good personalities, patience, and creativity.

They take the time to work with new instructors and ease them into the new setting. In fact, Caroline's class is currently with an instructor that's in training. The aquatics director is right there in the water showing the new instructor how things are done first hand.

The care that is taken in training, really shows through.

One of the names that always comes up when talking to other moms, is an instructor named Jared. Moms just rave about him quite honestly. He's great with the kids and very patient. Caroline has not yet had Jared as an instructor, but I've had the pleasure of watching some of his classes that are going on at the same time as hers.

Even as someone that hasn't been in his class, he knows Caroline's name and always greets us with a smile and some conversation. Today, we are continuing on with our interview series. And yes, you guessed right... Jared is our interviewee today.

Before we get to the interview, I wanted to provide a quick update on Caroline's progress at the Seahorse level:

You know those moments... the ones when you KNOW without a doubt that your child can do something, but they just won't do it!? Caroline is in one of those phases right now in a lot of aspects of her life (now that I think about it).

She can totally put her own shoes on- but she refuses to try. I've seen her do it long long ago, however. She could also be getting herself dressed and undressed- if she tried. She's a very stubborn child. She may or may not get that from both me and her daddy.

It's one of those things, though, that if you push it, an all out tantrum ensues. So we usually just leave it alone. I know full well that she won't be going to college unable to pull her own pants up. She'll get around to doing it when she's ready.

That's the thing about Caroline. She doesn't do anything until she feels fully prepared, and completely ready to be able to successfully do something. She waits until that moment to show me that she can do something. In the meantime, she practices. She observes. She learns.

She's doing this same thing in swim class at the moment. I am 100% confident that Caroline knows how to float on her own and do that wonderful starfish she's been learning for many months now. Yet she won't yet take that plunge.

If you ask her how to do a starfish, she can tell you "legs out, arms out, belly up, chin up". When instructor Chase was filling in for Ms. Christine one day, he had her do the starfish all on her own. It was her first time doing this, and she did it extremely well. She listened and probably floated for about 5 seconds.

That was a couple of months ago! Since then, she's not really done it again. But it's not because she doesn't know how. It's because she's being stubborn. As parents we know this. We can tell when our children are just refusing to do something, or if they are not ready.

If you watch her on the pool deck, she's focused. She watches the other children in her class as they take their turns. She knows exactly what to do and how to do it. She's taking it all in. When she's ready, she'll be able to hold her starfish for quite some time!

She's nervous though. So no matter the expectation, the reward, the distraction- she's not quite ready to take that step. And so... we wait and practice and keep her having fun.

Caroline has been at the Seahorse level now since August. She's been practicing the same skills for 4 months now, so I know that when she decides to take that step, she's going to just amaze.

Interview with Jared




How long have you been a swim instructor with BSS?

I've been working at BSS since January of 2017

How did you learn to swim?

The life guard at my neighborhood pool would teach me when there were no guests at the pool. I learned to swim when I was about 6.

Why did you choose to become a swim instructor?

When I was 4 or 5 I almost drowned at a water park.  It is very important to me that all of our students understand what to do if they slip off the edge into water.

What’s the best part of your job?

I think the best part of my job is knowing I'm preventing an accident in advance.

What's the most rewarding part of your job?


The most rewarding part of this job is seeing so many smiles. You cannot possibly have a bad day when you see all your students coming to class smiling and leaving smiling.

How would you describe your style as a swim instructor?

I'd say I have a very patient and adaptable teaching style. Not every child learns the same way, so you really have to cater to certain needs quickly.

Do you have any advice for parents who are hesitant to put their kids in swim lessons?

To put it simply, don't be! There's nothing more important than knowing that your child knows what to do in the event he/she falls into the pool. Also, seeing their progression is really fun and satisfying.

How do you handle fearful children in class?


I usually handle fearful kids with incentive and games. Kids love games. Sometimes they might not like the water very much. It's usually not water itself, more so the big pool. So having them play with a bucket of water helps. And patience is always key.

How do you make the class engaging for young babies and toddlers?

The parent's enthusiasm is the most vital part. If the baby/toddler sees that mom or dad isn't having fun, they won't have fun.  Emphasizing we all sing together and seeing big smiles from mom and dad is the biggest way to get them involved.

What does a typical work week look like for you?

I work Tuesday through Sunday. I teach classes Tuesday morning,  Wednesday afternoon and Sunday morning. I am also the site ambassador at ACAC on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday afternoons. Also Saturday and Sunday mornings. I have a lot of minnow, seahorse and turtle 1 classes.

If you had the chance, what’s the one thing you’d tell all of your student's parents?

First I'd like to thank them for giving our program a chance. Swimming is no small deal. It's incredibly important, so I think the biggest thing I'd emphasize is how grateful I am.

Why would you recommend BSS over another swim program?

I would recommend BSS because we focus on survival skills first. This helps learning how to swim immensely because the child is no longer scared to jump in or push off of the wall. They've been given all the tools they need to take that next step.

What is the Deck Ambassador position?

The Deck Ambassador is the first face you should see welcoming you to class. We answer any questions a student or parent may have. We also make sure classes start and stop in an orderly and timely fashion. More important, we make sure the kids are ready and excited to swim, and that our BSS parents are satisfied with our program. I absolutely love engaging in conversation with the kids and parents before and after class because it makes me more than just a face they see. It makes me a friend and a trustworthy staff member.



Special $15 Credit

If you live in Montgomery County or Frederick County, Maryland, and are interested in signing up for your first lesson, I am really excited to announce that you can receive a $15 credit towards your account just by mentioning my full name: Katrina Villegas! The information for our central Maryland British Swim Schools can all be found at this link. And not to worry if you live elsewhere, there are British Swim Schools ALL over the US!


Other Posts of Interest:


British Swim School- Tadpole class (level 1)

British Swim School- Swimboree  (level 2)


British Swim School- Seahorse (level 3)