DIY Decor

Home Improvement

Family & Baby

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:

Facebook | Instagram | Website | Twitter

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


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!


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″.

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


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?

Family Pregnancy/Baby

Goldfish Swim School of Ann Arbor – First Lesson Recap

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.

Isla is turning 9 months old this week.  Our laid back, easy going baby has turned into a super mobile, energetic little monster!  I wrote recently about how she visited Lake Michigan with us, and went swimming in a pool for the first time.

Since then, we’ve gotten a little kiddie pool set up at home and she loves it.  If it is full and she sees it, she squirms and squeals until we get her in.

This is Bubbles, the Mascot at Goldfish Swim School.

It’s amazing to see her having fun and being so fearless.  But as a mother, having a baby with no knowledge of the dangers water can pose strikes an unbelievable amount of fear into me.  Water safety is so important, and we wanted to teach our little one early.

So we got her signed up at Goldfish Swim School of Ann Arbor, and were excited to get started!  It’s just a 15 minute drive from where we live in Chelsea, and well worth it.  We recently had her first 30 minute lesson.  Registration was a breeze!

Goldfish offers numerous classes based on age – from 4 months all the way up to 12 years old.  Isla is in the “Mini 1” class, which goes from ages 4-15 months.

There were 2 other babies in the pool with us on Saturday, and 2 instructors – so we really felt like we got some great 1-on-1 time with each teacher.  They were so good with the babies, making sure that safety and fun were the top priorities.

The instructors were amazing! So interactive and cheerful.

The Mini classes are a gentle introduction to the water, where Isla is starting to learn the basics of swimming and water safety.  They also keep the pool at a very comfortable 90 degrees – it feels just like bathwater!  I love the idea that we’re easing her into this, at her own pace.

Conditioning! Getting her used to having water on her shoulders and head.

I got in the pool with her, while daddy watched and cheered us on.  Isla worked on the basic swim stroke, floating on her back, getting used to having water on her head/face, and even a few quick dips under the water!  It’s so amazing how intuitive babies are, and how they reflexively know to blow bubbles and stop inhaling when they’re under water.

Practicing floating. She’s not so sure about this skill yet.

Isla was a little hesitant, but that’s why it’s great we’ll be coming back every week – so we can work on these skills and build on them so she can be safe and confident in the water.

I have to give a special shout out to the staff.  They were so friendly, helpful in getting us checked in, and letting us know where to go.  At the end of our lesson we realized that our car battery had died, and one of the staff members went out of their way to find us and ask if we needed help.  That is sometimes hard to come by in those situations, so thank you!

At the end of our lesson we left with an adorable little baby swag bag, and smiles on our faces.  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:

Facebook | Instagram | Website | Twitter

See you next week, Bubbles!

Can’t wait to share with you how our little Goldfish progresses through her next few months of classes!

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