the trickiest space: the flex room


Our builder originally referred to this room as “the flex room” on their blueprint, and it couldn’t be more true for us. While many would dedicate this space as a formal dining room or an office space, for us, it changes based on the day.


On some days, it is my in-home studio space for newborn, baby, and small childrens’ photo sessions.  I opted for more closed storage for my props and tools as opposed to displaying them. Some were stashed in the white ottoman (which I recently sold), some in the hutch I repurposed from our last dining room space, and any overflow materials are in our built-in bench just outside this room.


On other days, it’s our bare, unstyled, extra room that I can’t quite seem to get some direction on. Crew loves to crawl in there and explore, and it’s nice to sit in the pool of natural light to read a magazine or chat on the phone, or just gaze out the window and check out the neighborhood happenings. Since the above photo was taken, I’ve added a curtain rod and sets of sheers (essential for controlling the light during sessions). I’ve also gotten in the habit of taking the beanbag to the basement when I’m not expecting a newborn session anytime soon.


In the meantime, this room has been serving as the Christmas Tree Room for the season! We went a little Clark Griswold and bought an extra-large tree last year on day-after clearance, and with a curious crawler around, we decided at least for this year, that we’d use this room (and its doors!) to hopefully control access to all those shiny ornaments and tempting cords. But now that the decs have come down, I’m ready to have a plan for this space.

I want this room to be LIVING space, first, and studio space, second. But to keep it friendly for shooting sessions, the walls need to remain neutral (no bright colors or busy artwork to distract) and the furnishings need to be easily moved/rearranged to accommodate a photo set-up.  I’m thinking a simple setup of colorful/mobile furniture and perhaps an interesting rug I can quickly roll up and away as needed.

I’m thinking some inspiration boards are in order…

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Crew: One Year Old!


It’s so cliche…but so true. Holy cow, a lot happens in a year…but that year goes SO fast.


I can’t believe this time last year I was cradling this teeny tiny person and wrapping my head around the fact that this sweet thing had been in my belly the whole time and was now a real person and member of our family.


At one year old, you are sleeping through the night consistently (!!!!!) from about 7 at night to 6 or 6:30 (sometimes earlier, but sometimes later!) and taking two naps a day, each lasting anywhere from 1.5 to 2.5 hours. You are super easy to put down and still love to have your pacifier on hand, and blankie to cuddle with.


You are a fairly easy-to-please eater, but definitely have your moments when you suddenly decide that today, no you don’t like applesauce anymore, thank you very much. Only to go back to liking it the next day. In general, you do well and we can always find something that you’ll gobble up. The best advice I’ve gotten in terms of mealtime is to not sweat a meal, but look at the big picture of how balanced you were throughout the week. Good thing — because more than once, a “meal” has consisted of cheddar cow crackers and baby cheetos!


You are getting much better with a sippy cup on your own as opposed to us helping you hold it up (something you never mastered with the bottle, either) and after a couple days of cutting back to only bottles when you first wake up and at night for bedtime, we cut them out altogether and you didn’t flinch. We started a slow switch from formula to whole milk this past month and you didn’t bat an eye. Cold, straight outta the fridge. Low maintenance…love it!


In addition to “dada” and “mama” which you’ve been saying for a while, “bababa” for bottle has become more consistent, and “baw” for ball, and “ah dah” for all done, with which you wave your hands to do the sign. We also SWEAR you say “doh” for door…one of your favorite activities is to open and close every door around the house. You love to give hugs and kisses when asked, and if I saw “aww” when you hug your Babar stuffed animal, you will give him extra hugs for another “aw” reaction ha!


To balance out the lovey side of you…apparently we need to work on sharing a bit! One of your daycare teachers jokingly mentioned that you will go all day not caring about a certain toy, but then once someone else is playing with it, it must be yours instead. Greedy, greedy. Sigh. Goal for year two.


You are starting to fit into some 12-18 month clothing, but pants in general still run a little long on you — short legs like Mom, sorry! :) I’m hoping when you are doing more walking versus crawling, they won’t get in your way so much — all that knee-dragging pulls them down even further. Speaking of, you walk along anything you can grab onto, and do a little standing here and there unsupported. Ultimately though, you know you’re faster if you crawl, so you’ll drop back down to all fours and take off in search of whatever you have your eye on. For the longest time, you would “walk” behind your walking toy but on your knees, we’re finally seeing you walk behind it ON your feet! If we leave a gate open, you BOLT for the stairs and can climb them crazy fast. You are quickly mastering turning around to go feet-first on your belly DOWN them, and slide off the couch, bed, etc in the same way.


Your one-year appointment isn’t for another couple of weeks, but we weighed you at home unofficially the other day and you clocked in at 21 pounds on the dot. Anxious to see how tall you’ve gotten!


You continue to favor cars and balls above all else. Except for the remote. That is your FAVORITE. THING. You actually scoot along the couch and end tables looking for it, yell at it when you spot it (out of reach) and howl like a crazy person if we let you hold it, waving it lasso-style over your head and staring at the TV screen, expecting it to come on. Ri.Dic.U.Lous.


Happiest of birthdays, my one-year-old boy. Since I first learned you were on your way to us, you’ve infinitely changed my world for the better and we couldn’t love someone more. You are such a happy, spunky, strong, and loving soul and I can’t wait to see the life you will lead. I’m so very lucky to be your mama. Thanks for choosing me for the job.

Ticklish neck kisses and extra-long hugs,

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ONE in an instant.


We didn’t go all-out on a party for Crew’s first birthday, but I did do a cake and a couple decorations as part of our one-year-later housewarming / new years day brunch with family and friends. It was fun to do a party with so many people (about 40 stopped by throughout the morning), something we haven’t had room in the past to host. Birthday photos of Crew ARE coming…just not in this post ha! He slept through nearly the first hour of the party, and then it was go-go-go. I always sigh and figure if I don’t have pictures from when something is actually happening, it’s a sign it was a good time. :)


For the kiddos the bevvies includes chocolate milk shots…


…and for the adults, mimosa and bloody mary bars.


We had figured with so many parents of littles, we should stock up on coffee…but clearly this crowd was ready to drink. CHEERS! 😉


We kept the food simple. Fruit and donut hole skewers, which I repeated after serving at a baby shower last month (SO easy, and pretty to display!)…


…and sausage/egg/cheese breakfast enchiladas, which were still in the oven at photo-time :)



Understandably, the bakery could only make me a “camera” cake, as opposed to the actual Instagram logo, but I added a little color once I got it home, to get it a bit closer. 😉


Some Instagram prints, one for each week of his first year, were strung up as garland…


…beginning with my last belly shot and his first photo at an hour old. #sob #washereallythatlittle


Little camera viewfinder favors went home with the kiddos…



…and I made a photo prop that we totally forgot to point out to people until the party was over! ha! IMG_5919

A definite success. It was a very sweet moment to hear everyone sing Happy Birthday to Crew (who grinned at all the attention!) and to be settled in our home, brunching with friends, was a perfect way to kick off the new year.


Cheers to 2016!

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one little word for 2016.


For the past two years, I’ve passed on the concept of a resolutions list and simplified things with one little word. (You can read about the One Little Word concept here.) Like everyone else, yes, I’m planning to get back into regular workouts, eat better, continue to improve work/life balance, and visit somewhere new in 2016. But rather than sweat the checklist, it is so much more gratifying to me to let a single idea guide my year rather than get hung up on what exactly I did or did not accomplish.


After a crazy-busy year of adventure in 2014, followed by last year’s settling in and nurturing a new little family life, I’m ready for a year to not take it all so seriously. Hello, I sleep through the night again after many, many, long months of not. My hubby and I can finally talk about the possibility of a “just us” trip sooner than later. This awesome tiny roommate of ours is SO. MUCH. FUN. and on a daily basis, I just want to gobble him up with kisses and tickles. I’ve made some new friends and am ready to spend more time reconnecting with old ones. I need more one-on-one time with my mom this year – it’s like soul food to get a good long conversation with her and it happened too rarely in the Year of the Newborn.


I have a year of balancing motherhood, day job, side job, and life in general under my belt, and I’m continuing to prioritize. I’ve let some things go in favor of others that are more important. I’m not going to do it all, and I’m getting better at declining an opportunity here and there. I’m trying to get tuned in to what I care about most so I can spend my energy whole-heartedly and in the right places.


I’m planning on lots and LOTS of laughter in 2016. Happy tears. Dancing and singing. Silliness. Waking up rested. Slowing down for extra hugs and kisses. Coffee and conversation. Cocktails and conversation. More laughter. Sore face muscles from so much smiling. Maybe even staying up past 10. And when the inevitable tough stuff comes along, finding a way to laugh, yell, “plot twist!” and make the best of it. So much happens in a year, and it’s all really good, joyful stuff.



Here’s to 2016…


Bring it on.

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deck the halls: 2015


Yes, it has taken me until Christmas Eve to blog our home decked for the holidays. But it’s not for lack of trying. A handful of times, I’ve been ready to whip out my tripod, tornado-quick-clean the house, and max out someone’s naptime, shooting all of the little details of our merried-up digs for Christmas. But every time, it has been UBER gloomy, rainy (yes, RAINY in Iowa in December) and the photog-snob in me was not about to turn on all the can lights to get the shots and I wasn’t wild about using my flash. #naturallightlover

But as the December days ticked by, I became more willing to compromise. So over the past week, I’ve grabbed some handheld snaps here and there, with no tripod or overly well thought-out shots, in less than perfect light, as time permitted. The result is pretty scattered, but documented, nonetheless.




I’m so glad I have these perfectly imperfect images of our home at Christmastime, our first with the little man. Art imitates life, and this year’s decorations — somewhat haphazard, some strategically placed out of reach of a certain someone, reflect the happy crazy that is life with a nearly one-year-old this year. It’s documenting what’s real and now.

Is this my most decked-out year ever? Definitely not. It’s a transition year if anything, learning how old decorations fit (or don’t fit) in our new home, filling in some gaps with some new pieces, and I feel like my style is evolving along with the style of this new home. I’m less glitz and more cozy. And as mentioned, I’m also working with a certain third pair of curious hands in mind…

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(whose gift to us, with a little help from his teachers, was the first one under the tree this year.)

So if you want to follow along on a random ride of photos, I can promise you no rhyme or reason to what follows, but lots of festivity. :) Merry Christmas!





(yep, blurry, but at the risk of not waking the boys by throwing my flash on or clammering with the tripod, I was still determined to get a shot of my boxwood garland) :)


This year, the guest room was Santa’s workshop. Not only was it a place I could shut the door and keep Crew out of the wrapping supplies, but I also set up the “kid tree” in here so he could come peek at it from time to time, but I could keep him away from it when needed. I love this little tree with it’s color and whimsy…and all teething-proof ornaments!

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Sometimes just a simple little detail brings the cheer in. And the mixer likes having the company of the partridge.


The hallway off our mudroom seemed a great spot to display the holiday mail. I’ve filled this wire wreath in past years with ornaments and tulle. This year, I added clothespins and clipped our cards around it.



Further down the hall is my Pottery Barn Kids knockoff DIY project. I didn’t add any treats or trinkets this year, but focused on experiences. Spoiler alert — we didn’t get them all checked off, but I’m certain there were things NOT on the list we did instead. :)


A few more little details here and there. Still figuring out themes and color schemes for different spaces, but it has been fun to play around!
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Which brings us to this shot, just this evening, of our tree, ready for Christmas morning. We didn’t put gifts under it until just today (at the risk of an early opening!). It feels real now that Santa has arrived. :)

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Merry Christmas, ya filthy animal. From our home to yours, peace this Christmas.


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Wishing you and yours a very merry everything, and peace and prosperity in the new year.

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