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Happy New(ish) Year!

Hi everyone, hope you all had a Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!  I’ve gone a blogging hiatus for a bit, which is why it’s been so quiet.  Today is a snow day with Isla, so I thought I’d take a few minutes to update!

We kept it low key this year for the holidays – last year we committed to every gathering under the sun, with a 4 week old baby.  It left us feeling burned out, and really grumpy.  So we agreed to take it easy this year and just celebrate with the 3 of us.  As guilty as it felt not spending it with our extended family, it was the right decision.

My two favorite people on the planet.

The first photo above is our failed (or successful, if we’re rating these on how ridiculous they are) attempt at a Christmas card.  Having a wiggly, uncooperative one year old didn’t work out for us.  Still, hilarious memories.  Our little lady isn’t walking just yet, but she is a pro at crawling and is SO fast.  We finally got the house mostly babyproofed, but I’m sure she will still find trouble.

Isla’s big Christmas gift: her very own chair! | Pottery Barn Kids

We’d planned on heading to St. Joseph for New Year’s Eve, for a family friend’s annual party (Hi, Lesters!).  Old Man Winter had other plans however, and dropped a snow storm on our travel route, so we stayed in PJ’s with homemade pizza and cranberry mules.  I’m really glad we didn’t travel, because there ended up being a 50-car pileup on the freeway we would have traveled.  Staying in was a great alternative, and  I was actually impressed we made it to 10:30 before passing out!

If you saw my NYE Instagram post, you know I mentioned that my intention this year was to make 2018 the year of Grace, Not Perfection.  I have a type A personality, and I also have a lot of hobbies/interests.  This is a problem because I want to pursue all of them, perfectly – which as a human being, I’m not capable of doing.

This left me feeling like the entirety of 2017 was just me sending myself in 13 different directions, doing nothing well or being able to follow through.  Never feeling like I was doing “enough”, or that I was “enough”.  Not good feelings to be experiencing, and all self-induced!

So, this year is a year of refocusing.  A year of getting out of my own way.

A year of realizing that I can do anything, just not everything at the same time.

Thanks for tagging along with me.


Christmas at the Smied House + A Goldfish Swim School Giveaway!

Happy Christmas season!  I don’t know about you, but the last few weeks have felt really crazy for us here – we celebrated Isla’s first birthday (post coming soon!), celebrated Thanksgiving, and have been trying to decorate for the holidays.

The rule at our house is no Christmas decor until after Thanksgiving.  Last year I had a baby on Thanksgiving day, so we hardly decorated; this year I was ready to go ALL OUT on November 24th!

But my toddler had other plans.

She is so active now, that it’s hard to carve out time to get much done.  It took me over a week to get the Christmas tree setup (1 day), get the lights on the tree (4 days), and get the ornaments and tree topper on (another 3 days).

But now it’s done and she loves it!  She was only a few weeks old this time last year, so it’s really fun now to see her enjoying the snow, and looking at all of the Christmas lights.  It’s so precious watching her experience the magic of Christmas for the first time.

“Decorating” the tree = ripping bows and ribbon off presents and stuffing them into the branches.

We taught her right away that we don’t touch the tree – and she loves showing us the things she’s learned.  So she’ll crawl up to the tree, make sure we’re looking, and then wag her finger at the tree and say “no no!”.  Not touching the tree is pretty serious business to her.


Considering how long it’s taken me to get my decorating done, you can bet that I don’t have my Christmas shopping done yet.  How about you?

On that note, for my Metro Detroit readers out there – I have a great idea for a gift this year!  We have had an awesome experience this year at Goldfish Swim School of Ann Arbor, so I am really excited to give away one Goldfish Swim School Holiday Package to one lucky reader!  These packages are *adorable* and are a wonderful way to give the gift of experience (the best kind of gift!) and water safety.

This giveaway isn’t just for Moms & Dads, I’m also looking at you Aunts & Uncles, Grandparents, any of you out there with a special little one in your life!

The package contains:

  • 2 Months of Swim Lessons
  • Waived Registration Fee
  • Family Swim Passes
  • Fleece Blanket
  • Winter Hat

The winner will pick up their prize at Goldfish Swim School of Ann Arbor, and it can be redeemed at any of the 7 Metro Detroit area Goldfish Swim Schools:
Ann Arbor, Birmingham, Canton, Clarkston, Farmington Hills, Macomb, Rochester


Follow the instructions on the Rafflecopter widget below to enter the giveaway!  If you cannot see the Rafflecopter widget, you may need to reload the page (or if you’re viewing this in an email, click over to the post).

1 winner will be chosen randomly on December 15th at 12AM EST, and will be notified via email.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck (I secretly hope you all win), and Happy Holidays!

Family Pregnancy/Baby

Benefits to Pre-First Birthday Swim Lessons

This 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.

I can’t believe it, but we officially have a one year old!  It doesn’t seem possible.

We’ve been going to swim classes at Goldfish Swim School in Ann Arbor since August. When I tell friends and family about it, they’re often surprised and little confused that I would put her in classes so young.

To be honest, when I started Isla in swimming I was just as skeptical that she would learn much at all, but the skills she’s gained are noticeable and definitely beneficial.  It was recently progress report week, and she’s doing so well!

Oh hey, guys. Just taking a picture with Bubbles!

So I felt the need to share the top reasons – from a personal experience – why you should enroll your baby in swim classes before they even turn 1!

As I’ve talked about in my first lesson recap and water safety posts, we’re in the Mini 1 class, which ranges in age from 4-15 months.

1. Confidence In the Water
I’ve met many little babies and toddlers who HATE the water.  Bath water, pool water, lake water, they hate all of it.  Some of this boils down to the baby’s personal preferences, but some of these little ones just weren’t exposed to it (other than bath time) early on in life, and end up developing a fear of it.  Isla was introduced SO young – she had her first dip in the pool at 6 months, and started swim classes at 8 months – that now it’s no big deal.

2. Bath Time Fun
This brings me to my next point – bath time!  Some babies love it, some hate it.  Isla was in the former category when we first started baths, at least when it came to getting her head and face wet.  She would gasp, choke, and try to climb out of the tub to get away from the water – and this would usually end up in panicked tears.  Poor girl.

Since we’ve started at Goldfish, her comfort level with water has increased 1000x.  When we wash her face/hair, it’s a non-issue.  We tend to do bath time every night right before bed, so it’s a huge relief that she can relax now and wind down instead of working herself up.

Floating like a little baby otter.

3. Bonding Time with Mom & Dad
We LOVE class time with Isla.  So much, that we have to take turns every other weekend getting in the pool with her!  Not only does it solidify the trust between you and baby during teaching moments, but we also spend most of the lesson smiling or laughing.

4. Physical Activity 
Swimming is great exercise for kids and adults alike, and I’m glad we’re getting her started early.  I’ve also noticed that she naps a lot better right after class — she usually fights naps like it’s her job, so I’ll consider this a big win.

Practicing climbing out. Elbow, elbow, belly, knee!

5. Social Interaction/Observation
If you’ve ever visited GSS on a weekend, you know it can be busy.  However, I’ve found that to be a plus for our girl.  She loves watching all of the other kids and babies swimming while we’re waiting for class.

My favorite thing is when we’re in the pool trying something new and she’s hesitant, she’ll often look to the other babies in class and watch what they’re doing.  When she sees that they’ll try it (and have fun!), she’ll look right back to us with a new found bravery and try it herself, like “I can do it, too, Mama!”.

6. Babies love it!
This one is pretty self explanatory.  When we’re in the changing room, I can hardly get her into her suit and swim diaper before she’s demanding I pick her up.  She’ll look at me, point at the door, and say “bye bye!” – it’s her way of saying “okay, mama!  I’m ready for the pool, let’s go NOW!

My two favorite Goldfish.

We are looking forward to growing up through swim lessons, and learning how the Mini 2 classes will be when she gets promoted in just 3 short months!

We love our instructor, Miss Megan!

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!


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.



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!