After one look at the pristine pools packed with toys, and it?s no surprise why La Petite Baleen?s four San Francisco?area swim facilities are so popular with kids. What may be surprising, however, is that the flourishing network of schools started humbly in the backyard pool of John Kolbisen and Irene Madrid.
In 1979, the public school teachers were brainstorming ways to integrate their passion for educating kids with their love of the water. Starting with their own three children, some neighborhood kids, and their logo?Waverly the Whale, John and Irene began teaching swim lessons with a rather progressive philosophy: They approached swimming not just as an extracurricular activity, but as a means to boost self-confidence, build friendships, and learn to overcome fears.
More than 30 years later, La Petite Baleen has become a renowned family of schools, partnered with the U.S. Swim School Association and the Swim for Life Foundation. Part of the success has to do with how children are grouped. In weekly sessions, pods of tots of similar age, skill level, and personality evolve at a similar pace?earning individual achievement ribbons as they do. Kids make friends in the group, and the recurring scheduling means that they can stay enrolled with their new buddies indefinitely or until they grow their own dorsal fins. Each location?s indoor pools are kept at an inviting 90 degrees, in an attempt to make even the most timid student to feel comfortable in the water. Perhaps most importantly, the teachers participate in ongoing training designed to encourage empathetic, yet firm teaching methods.
Though the birth of a child changes the lives of all parents, it doesn’t usually spark inspiration for a new business. But for the Soon family, the arrival of son Jordan Alexander highlighted the need for a place where little ones can explore, learn, and socialize through interactive play. So the parents created Diddalidoo to fill this void.
The Soon family's playground welcomes kids aged 0–4 to play with toys and solve puzzles within its colorful confines. Separate areas cater to different age groups, with a baby area perfect for honing sensory skills and discussing the rising costs of rattles. A two-level playground looms over the toddler play area and creates laughs with its bright-yellow racing slides. Granting breaks from playtime, a quiet room caters to nursing mothers, a boutique shop sells gifts, and an onsite café serves up health-focused snacks and food for hungry teddy bears.
Understanding that each child learns differently, the staff members of Sylvan Learning Center?s numerous study centers design custom lesson programs. Based on the results of standardized testing, diagnostic tools, and one-on-one interviews, the staff works with students to help them to firmly grasp basic skills such as reading, writing, math, and how to remember facts without tattooing them to their chest. Programs target students in kindergarten through grade 12 and mold to various learning styles, helping kids to feel more comfortable in the classroom. After-school or summer classes can ready high-school students for the rigors of the ACT or the SAT, or they can help students to wow college admissions officers with their superior writing skills, exemplary test scores, and willingness to arm-wrestle the school mascot.
The staff at Plaza 101 Salon and Spa helps clients look their best from crown to toenail, cultivating elegant looks amid stately surroundings of exposed brick and mahogany furnishings. In addition to trimming wayward strands, the stylists can invent a dramatic new look by using highlights or lowlights to add depth and dimension. The salon's massage therapist designs custom sessions that can incorporate a mélange of Swedish, deep-tissue, shiatsu, myofascial-release, and reiki therapies in order to address each individual's needs. While the nail technicians beautify digits with the rejuvenating benefits of paraffin dips and Dead Sea salt, Dr. Debra Mowery steps in to offer physician-supervised cosmetic procedures, including injectable dermal fillers, chemical peels, and microdermabrasion sessions that can improve the skin's tone, texture, and bioluminescent capabilities.
Dart Ops creates a safe indoor battlefield where players vie for victory using toy dart guns loaded with foam ammo propelled by short blasts of air. Neon-colored screens, walls made of mesh netting, and hanging targets pepper the arena space, which transforms into a monsoon of flying foam at the start of each friendly battle. As games progress, players can curl their trigger fingers around more advanced weaponry, including velcro-tipped darts that adhere to targets or the weak spots of enemy sock puppets. A marshall ensures fair play and organizes different types of game play, such as Free for All, Capture the Flag, and Protect the President. Aside from open play, Dart Ops' staff also host birthdays in a party booth and organize monthly Tour of Duty tournaments.
The traditional Filipino dish of crispy pata is nearly always "pure pork bliss," according to Saveur, but the version at Patio Filipino is a cut above: it's “the best I've found,” writer David Bolosan says. To create the dish, pork foreshanks are simmered, slathered with fish sauce, and then deep-fried for a crispy coating. It's a three-step process perfected by Patio Filipino's head chef, a Manila native with both Spanish and Filipina heritage. It's no wonder, then, that the kitchen incorporates ginger, miso, and other Filipino ingredients into their tapas menu. Diners can wash down these shareable dishes with one of the restaurant's own wines, or clack their empty plates together like castanets to accompany the painting of a flamenco dancer gracing the dining room.