We are are stuck in snowy, cold Ohio this winter. Ugh. The forecast this week will be in the single digits… brrrr! Our weekly “tropical” escape is always Goldfish Swim School.

If you’re taking a winter vacation this year, I’m jealous!! But seriously… it’s always a good idea to brush up on some water safety with your kids before taking the family to the beach or a hotel with a pool. Especially for families who live in colder climates.

Staying Safe at Hotel Pools

Swimming in a hotel pool can be a bit different than swimming at an outdoor community pool in the summer, when there are tons of other kids and families in the pool — and lifeguards on duty.

Staying safe at an indoor pool means following a few tips. Since hotel pools generally don’t have lifeguards, it’s important kids always swim with a buddy and have an adult present. If your child needs a life jacket, be sure to ask the hotel concierge before you travel to see if the hotel has any for guests to use … if not, be sure to bring your own.

Swimming in the Ocean

Even if lifeguards are present on the beach, the ocean can be tricky, even for seasoned swimmers. Never swim alone (this goes for adults too!) and make sure little ones understand to stick close to an adult when near the water.

The ocean can change in the blink of an eye, so have life jackets nearby. And remember that drowning doesn’t always look as dramatic as it does in the movies, so learn the signs of drowning and what to do to stay safe.

Instructors at Goldfish Swim School use integrity, compassion and trust to teach families lifesaving swim skills — skills that can be used to stay safe while on vacation at the ocean.

Keeping children enrolled in year-round swim lessons means you can have some peace of mind, because instructors talk about water safety during each and every lesson!

Luke and Eden are approaching their second full year of weekly lessons which allows them to continue practicing new swim skills, work on getting stronger at the skills they already know, and reinforce how to stay safer in and around the water. YAY.

To sign up, visit Goldfish Swim School today!

*This post is sponsored by Goldfish Swim School. All opinions are my own.*

Weekly swim lessons allows them to continue practicing new swim skills, work on getting stronger at the skills they already know, and reinforce how to stay safer in and around the water.
Going on a winter vacation? If you live in colder climates, it’s wise to brush up on some basic swim safety first!

I’ve heard it all the time, a girls’ trip is good for the soul…I never took it really seriously until this last weekend.

My three best friends from high school and I said “hasta la vista” to our kids, husbands, fur babies and other responsibilities and traveled to Saugatuck, Michigan for 3 days. Honestly, we didn’t want the trip to end.

If you’ve never been to Saugatuck, it’s a perfectly idyllic coastal town on Lake Michigan. We Airbnb’d an adorable yellow house with a big front porch just steps away from the water. The town is splattered with art galleries, ice cream shops and small boutiques.

We enjoyed an amazing brunch and dinner at Mermaid, which was directly on the water. We devoured delicious meals, like Street Corn Salad from Wild Dog Grille in Douglas, MI. We also jammed to some rap tunes from the Broadway play Hamilton from a Kenny Rogers lookalike, haha. My personal favorite meal was at Grow where we brunched on avocado egg sandwiches, carrot cake pancakes and chocolate milk infused cold brew coffee. YUM!

As for us girls, we laughed until we cried talking about old times and people of our past. We also cried until we laughed touching on some deep discussions on life, stuff I can’t really talk to anyone else about. There really is something remarkable about spending a few days with people who know you best. The people who have been there for you for as long as you can remember. It was a great reminder of how important best friends really are. It also showed me of how crucial it is to maintain and nurture these relationships even when we are in the eye of the storm of raising babies, wiping noses and trying to work all at the same time.

But back to the lake house, did I mention the peace and quiet?! We woke up every morning, sipped on coffee without little humans demanding breakfast and activities. The first morning, we sat on the front porch in our pajamas drinking Bloody Marys and didn’t even leave the house until almost 2 PM. Talk about relaxation!

We paddle boarded and frequented the beaches, and spent our evenings watching Netflix and laughing like elementary school girls at a sleepover.

Last night, I spent several hours at the Chicago airport working on my laptop, eating junk food and reflecting on the trip and the week ahead as I snap back to reality. I boarded my airplane and landed back in Columbus, Ohio. I grabbed my bag and rushed out the sliding glass doors. At the very end of the passenger pickup lane stood my husband, with the tailgate open and Luke and Eden screaming “MOMMY!” with pure excitement. I had an overwhelming feeling of happiness and relief.

The kids climbed over the backseat and ran into my arms. As I bent down to hug them, I slipped in a pile of vomit. I kid you not, some clown threw up on the ground of the airport and no one cleaned it up, so my black flip-flop fell victim. C’est la vie cute seasonal shoe.

Despite snapping back to reality and two ruined flip-flops, I spent last night showing my kids videos and pictures from our girls trip. I took them upstairs, tucked them in, prayed with them, and kissed them goodnight.

Having the opportunity to step away from my chaotic life was something I needed more than I even realized. And today, it’s reminding me how wonderfully fantastic my chaotic life is.

*Special thank YOU to my wonderful mother who kept the kids while I was gone and Jeff was working. You are a saint!*

xx

Girls Trip to Saugatuck, MI

Bloody ‘Merica at Saugatuck, MI

Girls Trip to Saugatuck, MI

Paddle boarding was really the only form of exercise we partook in all weekend long. Unless you count hot tubbing and porch chair rocking.

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My Very Best Friends (VBFs) from kindergarten at New Albany!

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I made them take quite a few “Instagram worthy” photos. hahahaha

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This town is filled with the cutest little cottages.

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My delicious breakfast at Grow in Saugatuck.

I bought a shirt a couple of days ago that reads: “i like you, but i love bozeman” and I think it sums it up our last week perfectly. We LOVE Bozeman, Montana.

We planned to take this vacation for Christmas last year, but Adam was in the hospital with RSV so we had to reschedule. There is something just so…what’s the word I’m looking for here? …. American, about spending the 4th of July out West in a place like Montana.

We went to the 93rd Annual Livingston Montana Roundup Rodeo…we saw grizzly bears and bison…the kids went to a chicken farm to watch them lay eggs…we went fly fishing and white water rafting, but most importantly we had some great family quality time at the ranch.

Here are a few of my favorite pictures from our trip to Bozeman, Montana. We can’t wait to go back.

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It took 3 people behind the scenes to make this happen

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Livingston Roundup

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Livingston Roundup Rodeo

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Montana Morning

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Uncle Bill is a fan favorite

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Cowgirl Eden (with a weird boot position)

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We spent A LOT of time front porch rockin

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3 little cowpokes

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Montana cousins on the 4th of July

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Front view from ranch

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Off to the rodeo

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When you take on a rapid named “Sweet baby Jesus take me home” and your husband laughs in its face

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Home on the range

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Mountain Men

It was kind of last minute and we went back and forth and back and forth on taking this trip. BUT, we went. AND, I am so happy we did.

It was so refreshing spending time with my mom and Thing 1 & Thing 2 before we welcome their baby brother/sister in 8 short weeks. Oy.

5 things I learned from this trip to Disney:

1. SLOW DOWN

Being 7 months pregnant helped that. Vacation is overwhelming for little kids. It’s new, out of their routine, and there is a lot to absorb. Some of the greatest memories on this trip were dancing by the castle…watching a bunny eat (yes we did this for almost an entire hour)…running in the rain…and riding the monorail.

By nature, we (adults) want to go go go. Mom and I really slowed down and just let the kids explore. Luke was Buzz Lightyear until about day 3 and then he became a pirate searching for buried treasure. Eden was a princess on day 1 and still a princess on day 5. (She was also a cat hoarder. We purchased two more cats, a cat hat and cat coffee mug.)

2. ARRIVE EARLY

This is the first time we have done this. My kids are not early risers, but they were this trip. We made early breakfast reservations so we could get into the park first. Try to make reservations before the parks even open if you can. Yes, everyone will hate life, but it’s SO worth it. It wasn’t super hot and the park was empty.

3. GO WITH THE FLOW

Things will not go as planned. You won’t get to do nearly as much as you hoped for, it could rain (or hurricane) kids can get sick (which both of mine did a few days before we left). It’s all OK! These are the things that make the memories you’ll remember. I saw so many parents rushing everyone around while kids were having meltdowns. Granted, I am not perfect… but just go with the flow. It’ll make everyone’s life easier and happier.

4. NAPS and SNACKS

Duh.

5. TAKE YOUR CAMERA

Also a first this trip. Usually I just depend on my iPhone and those Photo Pass people to take pictures. Let’s admit it, iPhone pics aren’t the greatest. The Photo Pass is great….BUT…it’s super expensive. I’m also a fan of candid pics and not staged smiling snapshots. The pros won’t take these kind of pics. I thought taking my camera would be a giant pain in the a**, but it wasn’t bad at all. And I’m really happy to have these pictures now.

***WARNING*** picture overload:

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At the Princess breakfast, Luke did not have much interest UNTIL he met Jasmine. “Where have you been? I’ve been waiting for you. No! Don’t stand there, come over here and take a picture with just me.”

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When in Italy… (no wine was consumed for the making of this picture)

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Luke got to meet Buzz Lightyear this day. He was so star struck.

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Taking a break from dancing, running, sword fighting and every other physical activity imaginable.

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Jackie O on the Boardwalk.

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Luke: “Mom takes a lot of pictures Buzz, all you have to do is say ‘Cheeeeese’.”

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While searching for buried treasure, Eden spotted some lady’s hair and started crying because she thought there was a bear on her head.

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When you let the kids pick out any toy they want on vacation, you introduce Meow Meow 3 and 4 to the family. Eden also got a Meow Meow hat (pictured below) and a cup. #cathoarder

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Nanny.

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Luke did not want her in his personal space, so she photo bombed his picture.

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Thrilled about her hat. Not thrilled I took 900 pictures of her wearing the hat while laughing hysterically.

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Breakfast at Cinderella’s Castle was a highlight, and totally worth it. Especially because Luke got sword #2 and Eden got a magic wand (aka: sword to fight her brother)

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3 going on 18.

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Seeing Cinderella for the first time.

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Eden has the damsel in distress act perfected. She likes to tell Luke she’s scared and he tells her he will protect her.

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Mom asked me why I take so many pictures of their backs. It’s so I can’t see them eye roll me as I snap picture 2,439.

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If you’re wondering if it’s hot in Orlando at the end of August…the answer is YES. Tink looks as though she’s about to pass out here. (mom was too)

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Nothing like a night on the Boardwalk.

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The only halfway decent picture they took with their mom. They pose so much better with Nanny.

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So long. See ya real soon.

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