Crew’s Wish List: Toddler Gift Ideas for the Holidays


I know — it blows me away a little to type “toddler” as opposed to “baby”…but our mini man is without a doubt, on the move, pulling up, getting into everything…and we have a long winter of being indoors ahead of us! :)

With his first birthday only a couple weeks after Christmas, we’ve been giving some thought to gift ideas for Crew, without going overboard. A baby (and household!) only needs SO many toys, and while some still made the list, we’re excited about the idea of gift ideas that offer experiences versus things for the long winter months ahead, as he continues to develop and learn about the world around him.

I’ve started an Amazon wish list for additional ideas if anyone is holiday shopping for someone in the one-year-old category, but a few highlights (plus some non-Amazon ideas) are below as well!

  1. Swim classes at Aqua Tots. Offered on a month-to-month basis, this chain of heated pool facilities specializes in more than what some of the Y and other “water babies” classes have to offer, including hands-on instruction for parents as you continue to help your child develop his/her water skills. Friends of ours who’ve been through the program loved how much they really got out of it, and that it was more than just “splashing around”. Crew LOVES the water, and aside from the fact that this would be a great get-out-of-the-house winter activity, we want to capitalize on the fact that he doesn’t yet mind getting his face in the water!
  2. Ball pit balls. We have a perfectly good pack ‘n’ play sitting around that is just begging to be turned into a ball pit, with the addition of a pack of these 100 balls. Crew is obsessed with any small ball that fits in his hand right now, and loves to bang them together, throw them, roll them…and with his love of “swimming” in the tub…swimming in a makeshift ball pit would make for a great winter indoor activity!
  3. Little Tikes toddler trampoline. This seemed advanced to me, until I learned on a local Facebook moms group that many of their kiddos, even prior to really walking, grasped the concept of hanging on to this and bouncing. Perhaps it’s the next phase of Crew’s infamous “Jolly Jumper” days?! :) I’m seeing it as a fabulous way to tire out an active nearly-walker!
  4. Classes at The Little Gym. Speaking of tiring out, many friends of ours have recommended our local branch of The Little Gym, a facility with classes based on age/ability levels, with play structured around physical activity. You get the theme here by now — get out of the house, burn off some energy, stay out of the negative outdoor temps.
  5. Britax Boulevard Car Seats. Yes, that’s plural. And nope, he’s probably not going to have much fun in these, but they are a necessity to keep him safe, so they make the list. Crew is quickly approaching the height limit for his infant seat (the Britax B-Safe which we LOVED!) and this next seat will get him to age 3 and hopefully further, depending on how he grows. Times two on the list, since we alternate drop off/pick up and need one in both cars. It’s a splurge, but I can’t think of a more important place to spend my budget.
  6. Books. Crew loves to be read to, and is constantly crawling into our bookcases to pull books out on his own and look at them. I can always justify money on books, and while we’re focusing mostly on board books yet (Crew appreciates a good TASTING read), The Day the Crayons Quit (and its sequel!) are making the list, as well as a copy of one of my favorites from my nannying days, Goodnight Gorilla, among other titles. It’s so dangerous to start shopping for kids’ books…and hard to stop!
  7. Kindermusik classes. (or Music Together, depending on what’s in your area.) Crew gets a little music exposure through a library Book Babies program we go to, and he absolutely loves it. Any time we turn on music he loves to bop along, and he is all about clapping and watching intently if I sing (possibly off key). I know some people buy more into it than others as far as how much babies get out of it on a long-term basis, but at the very least I figure it’s fun, he loves it, and it helps me learn more about fun ways to keep him busy and engaged at home.
  8. Sleep sacks. It’s not a toy, or an experience (unless you call good sleep for Mom and Dad an experience!) but for a babe that rolls around constantly throughout the night, it’s impossible (and not very safe) to keep a loose blanket securely around him. But without anything, pajamas alone aren’t warm enough and he seems to wake more during the night. We’ve been using these sleep sacks religiously but (sob!) he’s ready for the next size up – depending on brand, either a Large/Extra Large, or 12-18 months. I had always wondered how these worked for babies who were standing and walking – would they be unsafe? Turns out Crew manages just fine in his as far as walking around the perimeter of his crib in one — and we simply zip it off in the mornings when he’s ready to get out and move around.
Posted in General Tagged , |

Crew: 10 months!


You are quickly morphing into an older baby boy. And heavy emphasis on the boy. When I learned we were having a son, so many boy mamas told me “ah! you’ll love this — boys LOVE their mamas”…and it is so true. I love that you are a cuddler, want to be held, get into my lap to read a book, and give full-on slobbery kisses when asked. :)



You are a repeat of your daddy, and in more than just the looks department! It’s incredible to me how, at ten months, you can already have such a tuned-in interest to motors, things that go, anything on wheels…you get the idea. The following three pics taken on Halloween were in the span of a couple seconds as you broke into a bouncing dance and grinned as a random car went by. This happens EVERY time you see one.


You are ob.sessed. with the dancing matches commercial from the Ad Council! It comes on a lot in the morning when the news is on and we’re getting ready…you will bolt back into the room to watch it, or whip around if you’re turned from the TV when it comes on. It just might be your favorite jam, followed closely by “If You’re Happy and You Know It”. You are definitely a fan of music! You are starting to bop along to certain songs that strike your fancy. You still love to clap and the waving is hit-or-miss but you’re getting the hang of it. We’re working on “SOOOO big” — but you still just give us your “you’re so weird, guys” look when we try this one with you.


Month ten was another sicky month for you – we went from a healthy nine month check to back in the office the following week with double pinkeye, then a couple days later to confirm hand/foot/mouth. It all came with a nasty phlegmy cough, just to keep it fun and interesting. I wouldn’t wish hand/foot/mouth on anyone — there was a 24 hour period in there that was by far my hardest 24 hours of parenting yet (including labor!). You had a fever for days on end, wouldn’t eat or drink, and I had to give you syringes of pedialyte just to keep hydrated. Poor buddy. Thankfully you have bounced back 100% – I missed my happy, spunky baby!

So corny 😉 but I love these two! #iowaboys

A photo posted by Liz Smith (@lizblogphotog) on

You are investigating tons of new foods – depending on what we’re eating, you try little nibbles of our meals, are obsessed with puffs and yogurt melts, yogurt, applesauce, mango, and most recently teething biscuits. You strongly prefer things you can feed yourself over me pointing a spoon at you, so we’ve been experimenting with the Num Num spoons that let you (try!) and feed yourself a little. Otherwise, it’s mostly just finger foods. I picked up our latest round of formula just today at Costco and found myself wondering how much of this I have left to buy…soon enough, we can start cutting it with real milk, and phasing it out!

Picasso in the making. #bathnight #thisisgoodfordadscomfortzone #creativemess A photo posted by Liz Smith (@lizblogphotog) on


Your vocab rotates around your three favorite things…”mama”, “dada”, and “baba”. :) Sometimes when you’re annoyed I hear a “nah nah nahhhh” out of you…is it possible you already know the word “no”?! Yikes. You love to crawl into spaces, including the tent and tunnel your dad and I got you from IKEA.

Being sick isn’t all bad. Your parents feel bad for you and buy you toys :)

A photo posted by Liz Smith (@lizblogphotog) on

You love to bang any two hard objects together to make clanking noises, and especially like to put objects inside containers.

Get well gift from Mimi and Papa Rosie 😜. #nothingbutnet #firsttry @prosenberg A video posted by Liz Smith (@lizblogphotog) on

You love your elephant walking toy, although you don’t walk with it yet, you scoot alongside it on your knees, or sit on it and bounce to the tunes. It arrived during a visit from your Aunt Blake – you had so much fun when she came to play with you for a weekend!

Someone got a new fun thing! @gqueenb #bouncin 😊

A video posted by Liz Smith (@lizblogphotog) on

You roasted your first Halloween as Albert Einstein! I wasn’t sure if you’d allow me to put on a knit baby hat that I glued some hair to, nor did I think you’d stand for the white makeup I used to paint on eyebrows and a mustache…but you pretty much took it all in stride. Less-than-ten-dollars, less-than-ten-minutes-worn costumes for the win. 😉 You loved watching the trick-or-treaters come to the door…you were fascinated by the costumes and quickly put it together that the doorbell sound meant more new faces to check out. 12186723_10103380345911639_6006133871188701452_o I’m in total denial that we are into the double-digits of month counts! In some ways it’s gone so fast, and in others it seems we’ve ALWAYS been a fam of three. Eagerly looking forward to the holiday season with you, and some slower, cozy winter months to soak up this awesome stage that you’re in. Love to you pieces, buddy. Muah!!

Obnoxious plaid times three. ☺️ A photo posted by Liz Smith (@lizblogphotog) on



Posted in General Tagged , |

my west elm-ish plates for fall.


A few autumns ago, I bought four of these West Elm plates for fall. I have kicked myself every day since that I didn’t buy more, especially when we upgraded to a table that seats six, and now eight. I’m obsessed with these plates – the dark greyish brown putty color, and the gold perfectly-imperfect designs and the phrases they display.

I set my table anyway (half of it), and did my annual googling/ebay/etsy search for some used ones to add to my collection. Perhaps they’ve offered them before, but for the first time, I stumbled on the SAME plates (plain, no designs) by West Elm, and leaped at the chance to order four more. I figured at the very least, I could mix and match some plain with designs.

Feeling bold, I did a little more research and ordered a gold paint pen that was stone and glass-safe and bakeable in an oven. Technically, it’s not food safe, but I figure these are just for looks. :)


I doodled my own version of a couple new sayings to mix with my existing “gather together” and “in good company” versions. Baked for 30 minutes in a 300 degree oven, and the finished product had me jumping for joy.


Sure, you can tell my imperfect versions from the originals, but I don’t even care — all together I love the vibe and they make me happy. Happy fall, y’all!

Posted in General Tagged , , |

our Halloween entry (and our credenza makeover!)


I’m so excited to be posting about this latest project!


Since the day we moved in, I’ve had my eyes peeled for a buffet/dresser/cabinet/fill-in-the-blank to put in our entry. It’s a fairly deep and wide space, and my previous entry pieces (a small console table or the red hutch which set up camp in our last house’s guest room) just weren’t cutting it – they were too small for the space and looked rinky-dink.

I knew I wanted substantial size with ample storage space. While doing some local looking this summer for Page’s office (another post soon to come), I stumbled across a vintage resale shop just outside of town, The Porch Junkies.

the porch junkies

It was so fun to check out the shop and browse the array of vintage pieces. Things were in a wide variety of conditions from pristine to screaming for some DIY love. We settled on a piece that was structurally pretty sound, but needed some surface help, a vintage Broyhill credenza.


The owners were kind enough to deliver it for us on their way home that evening, and we popped Crew on top (his pre-crawling phase, don’t worry!) for scale. :)

The plan to stain versus paint was an evolving one, and took place in the garage over the coming weeks whenever I could get a free naptime, or an evening after Crew went to bed. I started with CitriStrip, which worked wonderfully and with little elbow grease…

citri stripped

When some (presumably water?) damage showed through after the stripping, we opted to paint versus stain. So on went a couple coats of wood primer.


I had my heart set on a color from the get-go, but had to do a little convincing for Page. The first couple coats were in-your-face HOT pink, against the bright white primer coats, but gradually, the color deepened into the dark berry I was after. (Below is post-first and post-third coat, for comparison!)

sherwin williams cerise

I was bursting at the seams to get this moved inside in time for Halloween. There is still some metallic accent paint to be added, but for now, who cares – I was getting out the decor within minutes of the guys moving it inside last night! IMG_0221I did add some shelf liner to all of the drawers, to tie in with our navy entry rug, and bring a little bit of modern (and cover up a few stained drawer insides!).


And a few quick naptime photos of the (90% complete) final product, in its new home in time for trick-or-treaters tonight!

IMG_0143 IMG_0148  IMG_0156 IMG_0159

Happy halloween!!!

Love, Page, Liz, and Albert Einstein 😉


Posted in General Tagged , , , |

our favorite baby gear


There are about a million too many products on the baby gear market, so narrowing down choices is SUPER hard. It goes a long way for me if I’ve heard first-hand that something is particularly awesome, holds up, washes well, etc. On a nearly daily basis I come into contact with something that I think “ahh, I’m so glad we decided to buy/register for this”. (There are also those items you thought you’d need and are still in the packaging…sigh.) But in an attempt to focus on the former, I give you our “must list”, nine months into this baby gig!

  1. All the swaddle blankets. I thought people were crazy when I was told to register for 8-12 of these. Seriously? Seriously. Crew was a winter baby, so he was constantly bundled in one of these lightweight layers over his outfit, as well as at night. I worried for the investment that the short swaddle stage would be over and we’d have to pack them away, but as it became safe to put him down with a blanket, I felt better knowing these were “breathable”, and he’s become attached to them. He loves to snuggle with one of these at bedtime, nine months later. They also weigh nothing and can wad up pretty small, so they’re fantastic for travel — we’ve thrown them on an airport terminal floor for layover playtime, covered a sleeping baby from glaring sun while we moved him in or out of the car, used them as impromptu changing pads in a pinch, and for countless other nose-wipes, spit-up dabs, and other events you just can’t always plan for and reach for the nearest piece of fabric. :) Aden swaddles are very popular but my favorites were more unusual designs from some newer brands like Lulujo, Coveted Things, and Addison Belle (whose stock hits Amazon exclusively the end of this month). All three are SUPER soft (and get even softer with each wash!).AddisonBelleFOX05
  2. Munchkin Loft baby gates. I was a little taken aback at the price tag, but for something we use daily and provides safety for our child, (and okay…they LOOK good in our house, which was important!) I love that these babies just kind of blend in, don’t scream “baby on board!”. They open/close smoothly, and don’t have the frame across the floor for people to trip on (so annoying!). They also have a quick release feature, so you can take the whole gate off the supports at a moment’s notice — fantastic if you have people over and don’t want them to have to keep maneuvering around all your baby-proofing.
  3. Boon highchair. Another item that we use daily and the ease-of-use factors just make everything a little bit easier when it comes to mealtime. I love that the tray cover pops off to rinse or run through the dishwasher, the whole chair glides around the room if we need it to, the height adjusts should we want him to sit at the counter while we prep, or at the table while we eat, and the style again (ours is grey with green insert) just BLENDS with the house a bit more – no obnoxious baby colors or designs to bum me out.11056629_10103242907609099_132718121208992064_n
  4. The Jolly Jumper. All the credit goes to Page on this one — after my request that a jumper not be “ugly and babyish” (do you see the theme here??), he found this gem that is not only unobtrusive to look at, but folds away flat to stash as needed. And of course the most important part…Crew lost. his. mind. bouncing away!jollyjumper
  5. The Boppy Lounger. If I could, I would go back in time and put this one on my baby registry. We ended up borrowing ours from a friend when Crew hit about three months, and used it daily until he was comfortably sitting on his own. This “dog pillow” as Page refers to it (ha!) is the perfect landing spot for a babe who wants to sit just a bit more upright and see what’s going on – and it’s lightweight and easy to move from one spot to another, as opposed to something larger like a swing or cradle.
  6. Sophie. I didn’t get why a teething toy needed to cost more than twenty dollars…until I saw this thing in action. It was one of the first toys Crew could really get a hold of and maneuver. It’s still one of his favorite things to gnaw on as he works on each new tooth!
  7. Dohm sound machine. A key ingredient to Crew’s sleep was white noise, but as we quickly learned, most devices that provide this turn off after 30 minutes or so. Which would be fine…except that the sudden lack of sound would wake him up. We’ve plugged this machine in on the floor under his crib and it runs all night. The switch is easy to hit with your toe, so if your hands are full with a drowsy baby, no need to bend over and fumble around for the on/off button.
  8. Ktan wrap. Yes. Yes. Yes. At so many points this thing came to my rescue. I admittedly didn’t even get it out until Crew was nearly a month old, after hearing from other mom friends that you need to acclimate babies to wraps early, otherwise they don’t like them. (Not sure if that’s true, but I followed the advice!) When Crew hit his hold-me-all-the-time phase from about week 4 to week 6, this was the ONLY way to keep him calm as we moved to our new house, and just went through daily life in general. As he was able to hold his head on his own, we tried a couple other positions but ultimately didn’t start using it heavily again until he could face out (his favorite) at which point it was awesome for running errands in which we didn’t need to haul a stroller around, or when I wasn’t up for lugging his carseat with us.

  9. NoseFrida Snot Sucker Yes, I was horrified, too, until I saw it in action and the relief Crew felt during his first cold. Have a drink if you need to beforehand, but this sucker (literally) is the bomb when your babe is under the weather.
  10. Natursutten pacifier. I wish they were a bit cooler looking, but this was the pacifier that won out in the long haul for the Crew-man. He began with a wubbanub animal and the newborn stage soothie pacifier that came with it. But as that got too small, he wasn’t interested in the same pacifier next size up, but still wanted something to suck when he fell asleep. This little wonder showed up in a Blum box one month so I offered it to our mini man and the rest is history.

Always curious to hear what others just couldn’t live without! I’m sure I missed some things here!

Posted in General Tagged |

Crew: 9 months!


It’s official — you’ve been here on Earth longer than you were in my belly. Kind of surreal! This month was a particularly fast one — and lots of new firsts for you.

On the crummier side, you had your first ear infection, at the same time you were cutting three teeth, fighting an awful diaper rash, and worst – croup. Rough week this month for you, but you handled it like a champ!


You are starting to pull up on some lower surfaces around you. We’ve dropped your crib mattress. And speaking of crib, you’ve dropped your third nap of the day, a power nap you usually take shortly before dinner. You are getting more and more predictable in terms of routine — a morning nap around 9:30 or 10, and another around 2, both lasting about 90 minutes.

You gave us a great anniversary present when you slept straight through the night (11 hours) without so much as a wake-up to retrieve your fallen pacifier. Epic! You are still going down around 7 or so, and sleeping until about 6, typically waking at SOME point during the night in search of that darn pacifier.


You are becoming a fan of sweet potatoes, applesauce, anything with blueberry, and if offered the choice, you always go for a sippy cup of water over a bottle of formula. I’m sure the cold of the water feels good on all those teeth you’re cutting (five is the most recent count – two bottom, three top!).

We’re working on waving — you do the motion, but then get so excited to be waving your arm that it breaks into clapping instead! Working on it. :) One of our favorite activities is to sit outside and watch the neighborhood cars go by – and wave at them. You’re already into anything with a motor – nothing else matters if there’s a moving car to check out.


You get the concept of putting things INTO other things, and cause and effect of throwing/knocking down things. Favorite games are for us to stack up your blocks so you can knock them over, and then chucking them into your little push-cart or between the rails of the loft to the first floor. I love that you love to read books — you will follow along with anything we read to you, and your favorites at the moment are any of the touch/feel books with various textures. The That’s Not My… series is a major favorite!

You and I had our first nights away from each other while you and Dad had a “bro weekend” and Mom went to Philly for three nights. I love to you to pieces – but it was a welcome little break from mommyhood for a short while. :) Dad did give the report (later) that you did a lot of crawling around babbling “mama” — it must be so confusing to be a baby! When I got home you kept touching my face and smiling – so silly! The ten-month update should be interesting, as the time apart seems to have kicked off some new separation anxiety habits – hopefully you do well when Dad leaves for a weekend later this month!

You have become pretty independent when it comes to bedtime. We rarely rock you to sleep anymore, for naps OR bedtime. You like to get drowsy with a bottle in the rocker, get your pacifier and snuggle your blanket over your head and be left alone, 90% of the time, falling asleep on your own.


Looking forward to more firsts with you soon – including your first Halloween! Your dad and I are already looking forward to the holidays with you, as you’re becoming a big fan of lights! Happy nine months, sweet baby man!




Posted in General Tagged , |