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Isla’s First Trip to the Detroit Zoo

Recently, my mom mentioned she wanted to take Isla and her cousins to the Detroit Zoo for her first visit!  We met up with my mom, my brother Paul, and my niece and nephews on a sunny Sunday morning.

Babiators.

 

Source: The Detroit Zoo

 

The Detroit Zoo has 125 acres of habitats for more than 2,000 animals.  I was really excited to see the new Polk Penguin Conservation Center – which I just recently learned is the largest facility for penguins in the world!


We started with a train ride to the back of the zoo, which she LOVED!  She was clapping and pointing at everything :).  I have so many memories coming here with my mom and brothers as a kid, and doing the same thing.


She’s only 11 months old so obviously she has a short attention span, but she had a GREAT time at the sea lion/polar bear exhibit, and watching the penguins swim by!  They were so fast and interactive, that she was really able to focus.

Isla also had a ton of fun watching her older cousins enjoy the exhibits – it’s amazing to see babies so observant of older kids, trying to mimic their behavior and join in on the fun.

Just the cutest little things.

I think the cutest part of the entire trip was the tunnel in the Arctic Circle exhibit.  She caught the attention of a lounging seal, who came over to check her out.  I know buddy, I think she’s cute, too.

She had a great time exploring the zoo with her cousins, we can’t wait to bring her back again when she’s a little older.

I’m quickly learning how much fun it is to experience these things all over again, through the eyes of your child.  Now I’m really looking forward to Christmas and all of the fun the Holidays bring!

Family Pregnancy/Baby

Water Safety at Goldfish Swim School of Ann Arbor

This Water Safety post is brought to you by Goldfish Swim School.  While I was provided lessons in exchange for this review, all opinions are 100% my own.

Hi readers!  How have you been?  We’re enjoying the last little bit of summer here, almost 90 degrees all week.

Most pools here close after Labor day, but we’re still in the water every weekend!  Isla has been in classes at Goldfish Swim School for almost 2 months now, so I wanted to share a little update.

All ready for class to start!

When we started her in swim lessons at 8 months old, I wasn’t sure how much she would really pick up.  I am pleasantly surprised at what’s she’s learned so far, she’s made some great progress in the last 7 weeks.

Last week was WATER safety week at GSS – which is a big deal in our house if you read my last Goldfish post.  Even though the outdoor pools have closed, water safety is a year-round issue!


Bubbles, Water Safety Awareness

Source: Goldfish Swim School

The WATER acronym stands for:

Wear your life jacket!

Act. Throw! Don’t go.

Take swimming lessons.

Educate, learn swim safety skills.

Respect, play it cool and follow the rules.


“Mini 1” WATER Safety Awareness

In our class we focused on staying within an arm’s length of baby when they are in the bathtub (or near any body of water, really), and practicing conditioning, floating, holding on to the edge of the pool, and climbing out.

She was in the water with daddy this last week, while I cheered them on.  It’s such great bonding time with her during class, so we alternate who gets to go in every week.

Chasing Bubbles!

On my “out of the pool” days, I often leave with sore cheeks from smiling so hard watching them in the water together.  She’s learning a ton, and having fun with her dad at the same time.  It’s precious.

Conditioning is so much fun!

I have noticed that while Isla is still completely unafraid of the water, she has a newfound respect for it.  She’s learning to take a breath and hold it before she goes underwater, so now there’s no more swallowing and choking when she’s taken for dips under the surface.

Bouncing: great practice for holding on to the side of the pool.

I’ve seen her practice this in the bathtub as well.  Little lady has been pulling up to standing in the tub, and sometimes falls back into the water.  I’m right there to make sure she’s okay, but I’ll watch for a second (seriously, like .02 seconds) to see how she handles the situation, and she’ll usually make sure she rights herself first.  Sometimes tears follow, but it’s amazing to watch her focus on making sure she is safe and can breathe before she gets upset.

She’s also started to float on her back, on her own – that’s her default position, and one of the best skills she’s learned thus far.  The babies are learning that if they fall into a body of water, the first thing to do is to flip yourself on your back so you can breathe.

Like a little baby otter.

Now when we’re in the pool with her, she tries to sprawl out on her back and float. It’s amazing to watch, and hilarious when we’re supposed to be doing something else.

At the end of the class, Isla earned her WATER safety guard ribbon!  I love these little milestones – it’s still so much fun for us to watch her progress.

So excited for her Water Safety ribbon!

I’m thrilled with how far she’s come.  I definitely feel like these lessons have been invaluable for her safety as well as for our peace of mind.  We love our Saturday mornings in the pool with her!

If you’re looking for swim lessons for your water babies (or big kids), you can find a local Goldfish Swim School at their center locator, and more information below:

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Have you had an awesome experience at Goldfish Swim School?  Would love to hear your stories in the comments!

Favorites

Fall Wreath Round Up

Michigan has had a distinct chill in the air over the last week.  The leaves are changing, the days are getting shorter, and it smells like Fall.  Also, pumpkin spice is back, if you’re into that sort of thing.  (I’m not.  #sorrynotsorry.)

We have a pretty neutral color scheme in the house, which lets us swap out colorful decor for the seasons.  One of my favorite places to start decorating is the front door.  So today, I’m sharing my favorite fall wreaths – and BONUS, they’re all less than $50!

*This post contains affiliate links.  Thank you for your support!



  1. Faux Magnolia Fall Wreath
    This is basically a fall-colored version of the classic Fixer Upper Magnolia Wreath from Magnolia Market.  Full, and so pretty!  It looks like it could also be hung over a fireplace, or bed.

    Source: Pier 1

  2.  Oak Leaf Wreath
    This lifelike beauty from Crate and Barrel looks like real oak leaves, tucked into a grapevine wreath frame.  This would also make a great Thanksgiving decor piece.

    Source: Crate & Barrel

  3. Orange Berry Halloween Wreath
    I know that this has “Halloween” in the name, but it really is a subtle fall wreath.  With the black, yellows, reds, and oranges, this really could be kept up through the entire fall season.
  4. Bleached Wheat Wreath
    This Wayfair find is simple, but the texture of the wheat just screams fall!  It’s actually very similar to a Smith + Hawken wheat wreath that I picked up at Target last year, and currently have on my front door.  This one is even fuller, which I like.
  5. Dried Mushroom Wreath
    I know the name of this one doesn’t sound super-appealing, but just take one look at this stunner in person, and you’ll understand why it is perfect for fall.  The mustard yellow is one of my favorite colors to wear when the weather turns cooler.  The mushrooms are also a really unique texture, which is visually interesting.

    Source: Target

  6. Pumpkin Wood Curl Wreath
    Guys, this really doesn’t need much explanation.  I know it isn’t the traditional wreath shape…but c’mon.  It’s a pumpkin, and totally adorable.  I loooooove this one.
  7. Dried Shola Kadam Wreath
    Another Smith + Hawken beauty.  The simple off-white color of the dried flowers/jute combination, makes for a beautiful piece.

Source: Target

That’s a wrap!  I wish I could buy them all, but unfortunately, I only have two exterior doors to hang wreaths on :).

Would love to hear which ones are your favorites!  Have you started decorating for Fall?

Home Improvement

Fixer Upper Inspired Board + Batten Shutters

Happy Friday!

The end of summer is approaching and I’m 200% ready for fall.  I was still enjoying the warm weather until Jeremy’s grandparents gifted us some mums.

Then suddenly, I was ready for sweaters, boots, bonfires, and cider.  Like right now.  Yes, I know it’s Labor Day weekend.  I’m a little ahead of schedule.

But before that cooler weather comes through, I wanted to get at least one more outdoor project finished.  This one was a biggie, as we replaced something that has been bothering me for YEARS: our shutters!

yuck.

Not only is the purple color faded and dated, but yellow jackets have taken a liking to building their nests in the slat openings.  It got out of control this year, to the point where they were EVERYWHERE and it was difficult to even enjoy time outside with the baby.  So, they had to go.  Both of them.

I wanted shutters that were more proportional, as our current ones were too skinny/tall, and just didn’t look right on the windows.  I was really inspired by the shutters that Chip and Joanna put together at the “Overgrown Ranch” on Fixer Upper.

Source: HGTV

I priced out pre-made shutters, and the least expensive ones I could find for our nearly 6 foot tall windows were $80 EACH.  With 6 windows, we’re talking almost $2000.  No thank you!  So, after a little bit of research, we figured out that we could easily build these ourselves.

To measure for the correct size shutters, we followed this guide.

Our windows averaged around 42″, so we decided on 3 1×6 boards side by side.  Since 1×6 boards are actually 1×5.5, this gave us a 16.5″ width which was perfect.  We opted for rough sawn, untreated pine boards.  The rough cut is only on one side, so it isn’t visible, and we didn’t need the boards treated since they were going to be painted over.

We ended up replacing 12 aluminum shutters, all 14×72″.


MATERIALS
24 1x6x12 rough cut pine boards (untreated)
Chop Saw
Nail Gun
1 1/2″ Finishing Nails (square or hex head)
3″ Deck Screws
2 cans of Interior/Exterior Liquid Nail
Primer: Benjamin Moore Interior/Exterior Primer (tinted gray)
Paint: Benjamin Moore Exterior in Onyx (Soft Gloss Finish)
Paint Brush
Paint Roller
Dropcloth

STEPS:

1.  Boards:  18 of the 12′ boards were cut in half to make our 6′ tall boards.

2.  Battens:  6 of the 12′ boards were cut into 16.5″ lengths to make our battens.  If you prefer a narrower batten, buy 1x4x12 boards for this instead.

3.  Prime, then Paint*.  We gave all sides a good coat of primer, followed by two coats of paint.  I went with my favorite black paint:  Benjamin Moore Onyx, in soft gloss.  The glossier finish adds a nice sheen.

*This step will feel like it takes forever.  Be patient, throw on some late 90’s early 00’s jams, and just power through it.  We actually did this and alternated painting and dance-offs to NSYNC.

4.  Assemble!  Lay your three boards next to each other.  Place your battens where you’d like them.  I recommend placing them at least the width of one board (6″) from the end.

5.  Once you’ve decided on placement, put down a good amount of liquid nail down.  Place your batten on top, and press down to get a good bond.

6.  Then finish with your nail gun.  We did about 6 nails in each batten.

7.  Hang the shutters.  We used deck screws (2 at each end) to hold them in place.  Not only are they secure, but the end of deck screws are so much easier to drive in – and when you’re on an extension ladder working on the second floor shutters, you’ll be happy you used these.  Be sure to look for deck screws with a square or hex head.

That’s it!  7 steps.

Our cost was $170 for the wood and finishing nails, and $78 for the paint and primer – for a total of $248.  At $20.67 per shutter, we saved 87% of the cost doing this ourselves…over $1600!  Plus, they give a completely fresh look to the house.

I’ll call it a win!

What do you think?  Have you ever considered making your own shutters?