moved in: the patio

our patio |

I promised myself I would “finish up” a couple spaces in our house, photograph them, and get them posted to the blog in the coming weeks. But first, it seemed fitting to do an update on the exterior, since it was still being finished last outdoor post a year ago.

our patio |

our patio |

We spend a lot of time outdoors right now, so specifically, we’ve been working on pulling the back patio together a bit more, starting with a stone wall that Page arranged on the south side.

our patio |

our patio |

Originally the plan was to just contain our grill in place from the winds that whip through our and our neighbor’s house, but we’ve discovered there’s an added benefit of keeping Crew’s attention away from the sloping lawn on the other side (that also houses our window wells we have yet to cover.)

our patio |

It’s been nice to pull out our outdoor furniture, cushions, and — though it pains me that they aren’t as chic to look at — Crew’s outdoor toys, and have a “bonus” living room for the warmer months. We can sit and have a drink on our chairs, and Crew will entertain himself at the water table for a blissful half hour or more!

our patio |


I do have three planters that do not yet have residents…it’s on my to-do list. And next year, we would like to add a fire pit and four adirondacks around it on the uncovered portion. But for now, our pennies are being saved for some upcoming basement progress…more on that soon, I’m sure!

our patio |

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Since we last posted about the exterior, a tree had to be replaced, as did a couple smaller shrubs, and our final cedar accent pieces were stained.

completed exterior |

completed exterior |

We put in our own sweat equity by creating stone borders around each of our five trees, pulling the cedar color into the mulch, and edging in the rock in the back yard (spoiler alert — if you look closely, you can see this is still being completed!) ūüėČ

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With every completed project, it starts to feel a little less like our house, and more like our home. Anxious to share more (inside!) spaces soon…

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Crew: 17 months


Another big month for you…you’re a walking, talking machine!


Yes, you are finally an undisputed walker. In the first couple weeks of your sixteenth month, you went from tentatively taking a pass across the room here and there (and defaulting back to crawling once you tumbled), to over a single weekend, suddenly deciding that walking would be your new go-to. You’ve been so hesitant to even try it, that your learning curve happened¬†quickly and steeply. You were visibly steadier each day, and quickly mastered getting back up to a stand with nothing to pull up on (something you rarely did before this month either — stand without something to hold onto). Now that you’ve got it mastered, you’re a walking fool. With or without shoes, indoors or out, the terrain doesn’t matter.



Your version of words is becoming more pronounced and easier to understand. You want everything “open”. Somehow milk has become “mah mo” (we’re still scratching our heads), but otherwise your vocab is expanding quickly and more clearly. It’s amazing how even having a common language of a dozen words or so can eliminate so much frustration on your part. You understand far more than you can say — one of my favorites is that I can now ask you go put something in the trash, and you toddle right over to the trash cabinet and chuck the item in. It’s the little bits of help that make such a huge difference! You are constantly trying to repeat words that we emphasize, even if you don’t immediately retain or remember them. One of your new gestures and phrases is “I uh-no!” (I dunno!):

“I dunno?” #crewyeartwo

A video posted by Liz Smith (@lizblogphotog) on

And when words just don’t matter, you babble constantly — the whole car ride home yesterday you talked to yourself. I wish I knew what you were saying! :)


You went on your third round-trip flight (your first since month 9), and it was certainly more eventful that flights past. All in all, you did really well (thanks to a small town’s supply of snacks and cheapo new toys), but both directions happened to fall during a time you REALLY wanted to sleep, and it was hard for you to get comfortable, leading to some screeching for the delight of the other passengers. You also couldn’t understand why you weren’t allowed out of your seat to show off your new walking skills or talk nonstop to the (stranger) new friends you thought you were making in-flight. Fortunately, neither bout lasted long and you drifted off eventually. But for the time being, your dad and I have agreed no flying for you in the immediate future.

Travel with a toddler. 😳😁‚úąÔłŹ👶🏼💤👏🏻 #graciouspassengers #allthesnacks #tgfnaps #crewyeartwo ¬† A photo posted by Liz Smith (@lizblogphotog) on

You’ve hit a bit of a sleep regression this¬†month, perhaps in part due to a cold you can’t fully kick. I’m not sure if it’s that combined with bad dreams or the new walking skill, but you were suddenly up — REALLY up — around midnight or one for nights¬†on end. And it hasn’t been the¬†simple “give him a pacifier” remedy per usual to get you back down…you are¬†inconsolable unless we literally¬†rock you back to sleep, which we’ve otherwise never had to do. Hoping this phase is soon a thing of the past!


We’ve seen more clinginess this month — another thing we haven’t experienced much of, ever, so we’re still figuring out how to deal with it. It certainly won’t help that you’ll be starting a new daycare in a couple weeks…but we are ultimately very happy to know you’ll be in a smaller, more consistent environment with the same faces each day you’re there, rather than bouncing around rooms/teachers/peers. Because you’re only part-time in school, (I’m trying to re-train my brain to call it school!), it’s already hard enough to make it seem comfortable for you when you go, so I’m hopeful having more consistency when you get there will make this transition, and the days going forward, easier. You LOVE the people who take care of you once you know them…we just have to get to that point again!




You continue to be SUCH a lover…big hugs and kisses, not so much when we randomly ask for them now, but when it’s your idea, and especially first thing in the mornings when you wake up. You are of course curious and like to tell us “no” or do things you KNOW you’re not supposed to (dripping your milk is the current fave naughty activity) but we are fully aware of just how good we have it with you.


The obsessions with cars, trucks (anything with a motor), and balls continue…and you’ve added dogs (“bow wows”) to the list. You are particularly fond of our neighbor’s dog, Bo. You giggle like a maniac when you can get close and want to pet, be licked, and grab tails. Needless to say, we are working hard on being “gentle!”.


Happy seventeen months to the happiest little soul who is quickly growing into a boy. Please stay my baby a bit longer.



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Loft Playspace and Our Ikea Latt Hack


When I last posted about this loft landing between our three upstairs bedrooms and bath, it looked like this (see above). I was just starting to store some toys up here for a baby who was quickly becoming more active and interested in them, yet was immobile enough that I could do a little work here and there at my desk as he played.

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It’s several months later, and safe to say Crew has fully moved in. My desk (and all its cords, electronics, etc.) has been relocated to the guest room, a space I’m hoping to share very soon. This has left this loft area¬†completely to Crew.

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To recap, this space is at the top of our staircase coming up from the main floor. It’s hard to get a level shot the way our stairs sit, but here is a collage of “home” elements that hangs on the wall as you come up. This wall makes me so happy – so many of these pieces have special meaning to us and the homes we’ve created since we were first married. The drawing is of our first home we built/bought, the print of the dog was my first anniversary present, and the floral shadowbox holds a copy of a key to every apartment and home we’ve lived in…And yes, to set the tone as we move upstairs, that’s one of our baby gates (seriously, the best!) that you see to the very left of this shot.

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To balance things out after the desk left, I moved the bookcase of toys to the room opposite the photo wall. An IKEA curtain rod and clips showcases some of my favorite art projects that come home from daycare (and some he makes here at home). Once they’ve had their time to shine, I’m keeping my favorites to later scan into keepsake books.

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As for projects yet to be created, these cubbies (which will eventually house media components when this space evolves to an older kid/TV hangout spot) for now hold all the art supplies that a certain someone can’t be trusted to keep out of.

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I love that this space also has a small nook of shelves way back in the corner, above the (baby-locked!) door to our clothes chute. It’s here that I stash Crew’s baby books so as I work on them, and the odds and ends that go into them — photos, documents, etc.

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The latest edition to this space has been an IKEA Latt table. It’s a total steal, and Pinterest is full of inspiration if you want to hack one of your own. I opted for some gray stain that we had on hand, as well as leftover chalkboard paint our builder left us after painting our chalkboard wall in the mudroom downstairs (another spot I need to get around to blogging!). The only new paint I added to the mix was a hit of “Peppery” by Sherwin Williams — I love the burnt coral color against the stained finish, as opposed to something more primary.

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Thanks for stopping by our loft playspace. :) I’m committed to (finally!) sharing more of our home, yes, a year later, very soon!

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Crew: 16 months


From the beginning, there’s been a correlation between you and the number FIVE. It was May 5th two years ago (5-5) when a test revealed two pink lines. You were born at 5:12¬†in the morning, on the fifth of January, 2015 (1-5-15). So it’s kind of fun that with all those overlapping fives, the anniversary of learning we were pregnant also marks another monthly birthday for you.


This month, you have entered full-on toddlerhood. You continue to be a HAPPY kid…until you’re pissed about something. We may or may not have laughed and used the word “psycho!” on more than one occasion. You talk constantly and have developed a screech you use at least once a day (you stop if I tell you to…but by then I’m already jolted by the sound!) as part of your expanding vocabulary. It¬†occurs¬†whether you’re excited, frustrated, or just want to hear yourself make noise.


Fortunately, your vocab¬†also includes more real words…your favorite phrase right now is a very dramatic “Uh oh…oh NO!”, a very pronounced “more?” which means just about anything from more snacks to more milk, to more going back outside after we’ve come in. I swear you’re trying to say “ah-side” when you want to go out. Which is all. the. time. (And another cause for screeches and meltdowns.) You want everything “ah-peh” (open). You’ve also developed an obsession with¬†pretzels “puh-pul”.

Rainy Wednesdays = inside “pool” time 😜 #crewyeartwo

A photo posted by Liz Smith (@lizblogphotog) on

April brought a ton of cold, windy, rainy days, so among other activities, we filled¬†a wading pool with ball pit balls – a good excuse to work on colors. You don’t always nail it if you’re busy doing other things, but you’re starting to discern yellow and purple, specifically. I’ve asked you to find me a ball of either color, and you’ve done so on more than one occasion. The wheels are turning!


You have walked as much as a lap around the room at one time, and seem pretty steady, but have no real interest in doing it more than a few times a day, and only when it’s convenient. You continue to know you’re faster on all fours, and I swear your affinity for cars and anything that rolls along the floor motivates you away from walking as well. You’re getting steadier in even the last ten days, but I still wouldn’t call you a “walker”. It’s about an 80/20 split of crawling to walking by choice. Your doctor isn’t the least bit concerned, and while we cringe watching your knees on the sidewalk, and I’ve resorted to the cheapest pants (since you wear the knees out immediately anyway), we know you’ll choose to toddle when you’re ready. No rush.


You must have been a beauty queen in your last life. You LOVE to wave at everyone and you totally have a¬†parade wave! Up and down the grocery aisles, at restaurants, in the yard, everywhere you go, you’re waving. Your southern sounding “hah!” is becoming a more pronounced “hi!” and you have yet to meet a stranger. As long as Mom or Dad is close by, you’re comfortable around new people quite quickly, and most times will go to others without blinking an eye.


You survived a second haircut with WAY less drama than the first one, shortly before Christmas. I chalk it up to going mid-day with less chaos and crazy kids around. Plus, hello, you got the magic word — a SUCKER! (Dum dums have become my hail mary and I keep one stashed in my bag now for the ultimate toddler deterrent!) I was nervous this second cut would clip away the curls, but to our delight, they keep coming in thick! ¬†


You love to “dress” yourself right now — pants, jacket, shirt, you throw them all over your head, wrapping them over your shoulders, and then give us a look like “wait, is this right?”. You will still try for a couple¬†minutes at a time to put your own shoes on — one of your more patient tasks, but because¬†you still equate shoes with getting to go outside.


Your water table, your wagon, your truck, and the stroller are all favorites. You continue to love bubbles, watching Dad mow the grass (and doing so with your own bubble mower). You would love to be in the street, since that’s where the cars are — we play in the back of the yard mostly, so you aren’t constantly tempted! We have yet to run our sprinklers this spring, but I’m guessing that will be a hit as well.


You cut some molars the last weekend of April, which were the first teeth that caused you any grief. It was short-lived, but still awful to watch, as you spent a whole day and a half whimpering and wanting to be held, and eating a super select menu of things. I continue to be thankful you’re a big milk drinker — we can always at least get that in you! Otherwise some of your current¬†likes are¬†hot dogs, pears (if you get to use a fork to eat them), yogurt and oatmeal mixed together, and while you haven’t shown much interest in eggs, when I had a piece of quiche the other day, you gobbled a ton of it. You still hate any noodles, and most fruits are still a no-go because of the slimy factor. ¬†

I feel like we “talk” more and more now. Entire conversations, even if your end of them is mostly babbling¬†and questioning inflections. We can say things like “we’re going outside, where are your shoes?” and you’ll go to the mudroom and find them. Or if we ask if you’d like to eat (and you’re hungry), you’ll make your way to either your high chair or the pantry door, point and say “nah?” (snack). You also love to sing and dance. The Wheels on the Bus is the big hit right now, and you try to roll your hands for “round and round”, flap your arms for the doors going “open and shut”, and bounce up and down when the people go “bumpity bump”. Your teachers say you sit totally still when you have music hour at daycare — you are entranced and want to follow along. Excited you’ll be a music lover like Mom and Dad!


Looking forward to a second (!) Mothers Day already (your gift to me was letting me shoot a couple mother-son pics this morning at the Lilac Arboretum!) ;), a trip to Naples in a couple weeks (crossed fingers for a calm toddler plane ride!), and counting down the days until the pool opens. Happy sixteen months you crazy but oh-so-sweet little boy.

Love you tons and tons and tons. Thanks for being my reason to celebrate Mothers Day.


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Bluum Subscription Box for Crew: A Review!


Crew has been treated to his fair share of Bluum boxes since he arrived (it’s how we discovered the only pacifier he loved – the Natursutten, which I talked about here!), and I’ve always loved the quality of the contents.¬†Offered on an ongoing monthly basis, or as a short-term¬†subscription, these are great baby/shower gifts, or just something to treat yourself and Baby to, each month.


I like to think I have my finger on the pulse of the baby market (read: I shop wayyyy too much), but there is always a new brand or product (or both!) that I learn about via these boxes. Unlike several sample-sized subscription boxes, I love that this particular box includes full-size products, recommended by real moms, created by brands who are actively looking for ongoing feedback from parents (and babies!).


You can opt to be surprised with items pre-selected for you (customized to both age and gender), or in a NEW development since we last Bluumed, you can customize the box yourself and select your products!


This time around, I was able to team up with Bluum to offer a review of Crew’s 16 month box! I took advantage of the “customize my own box” option, but¬†while I loved knowing I was getting my very top choices, I did miss the element of surprise when it arrived. To give you a taste of what you can expect in a typical month, here’s a rundown of what was included in Crew’s box:


Re-play utensils

As he’s learning to wield a fork and spoon, the baby spoons we’ve been using to feed Crew are too long-handled for him to use himself, but the others with metal spoon/fork pieces are still too sharp when he jams them into his mouth too quickly. These will be perfect for this stage as he learns control to feed himself. Link here for $10.07 — but I’ve seen sets of these in Target for less than half that price!


Kid-O mini go car

ANY car is okay in Crew’s book, but I’ve had my eye on these forever — I love the sturdy, uncomplicated construction, and it’s very crawler-friendly!


I would have gotten a shot of JUST the car…but someone called dibs the second he saw it inside.¬†Retails for $10.34.


Boon SNUG straws

I¬†LOVE anything Boon makes, from the sleek un-babyish design, to clever functionality, to its¬†enduring quality. I could give¬†a rave review to every single product of theirs we’ve purchased. When I saw I could select one of their newest products, I didn’t hesitate. Crew uses both spout and straw style sippy cups, so he had no trouble using these, and I love that in a pinch at a restaurant, I don’t need to have a whole cup on hand to improvise a drink for him. Retails for $11.98.


Bumkins reusable snack bag

I was gifted a bag similar to this one while expecting, and it gets used all. the. time. I loved the design on this one, and can already think of a hundred uses for it, aside from Goldfish snack¬†storage in my purse. It would be great to hold sunscreen in our pool bag this summer, or the stash of baby meds I keep in my car as backup when we’re out and about.¬†Plus, in a pinch, it can always double as a way to contain a dirty onesie until you can get it home to wash!¬†¬†Retails for $8.44.


A total success in our book! To gift a Bluum box subscription to someone (or yourself!) you can do so here.

Disclaimer: This post includes affiliate links and products have been sponsored, but the opinions are all my own!
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Crew: 15 months!


Growing. Moving. Talking.
Exhausting. Amazing. 

That right there, could be the whole post. :)


But nope, this month’s post is especially long, after last month’s was brief and light on pics. But you’re also just DOING so much new stuff this month…so I have to report on it all! (And I keep holding off on taking an “official” 15 month pic…the weather finally promises some good days this week so we can get one OUTSIDE!)

You are busy, busy, BUSY. From velcroing the HVAC vents to the floor, to darting around all day keeping the bathroom doors shut, we are¬†on our toes! You love to take everything apart, take everything out of its container, eat snacks, climb wherever possible, eat more snacks, dance along to music, give hugs and kisses and cuddle, hurl yourself down your slide, take off for the street the minute we get outside, eat even more snacks, climb out of anything you’re not strapped into especially while it’s moving (making¬†wagon rides and certain shopping cart trips interesting!), and chatter, chatter, chatter. One of your latest tricks to is to point to things you’re not supposed to have, or go right ahead and do something you’re not supposed to (i.e. climb on top of your table) and then deadpan a scolding face and wag your finger at us saying, “no no no!”. So yeah…you get the concept…but the following through could use some work.


You are taking life by storm in every aspect — nothing you do is half-hearted. When you’re happy it’s the BEST belly-laughs and squeals of joy, when you’re frustrated, it’s an all out lay-your-head-on-the-floor-drama, and when you love, it is all-consuming hugs, kisses, and snuggles. One of our favorite parts of the day is when everyone gets home and you go back and forth to hug both our necks, then pull everyone in for a group hug and hold us both tight…you came up with this little routine completely on your own. You are SUCH a love bug right now.


Yes, you’re busy. And so are we. But it’s a really fun and exciting and engaging time with you – you are paying SUCH close attention to our every move, and you learn SO. FAST. Among your newest skills, you can show¬†us where your head, tummy, eyes, ears, mouth and nose are, and tell us what the fish and the pig say. You know to hold up your pointer finger for “one” and are suddenly trying to pull your own clothes on when we dress you. It seems from one bedtime to the next, I’m reflecting on how much more you know over yesterday.


We are still practicing a few¬†signs with you, to reiterate the actual words we’re saying. “More” and “all done” (yes, the demands) are your favorites, and we’re working on “thank you”¬†and you’ve most recently mastered, “I love you”. As far as actual words, “up” is hit or miss, but you’re starting to clearly ask for your “mih” (milk) and “wa wa” (water). If we repeat it with you a couple times, you’ll talk about things you love by name — specifically “bubbo” (bubbles) and “buh” (school buses). You’re also much more consistent with waving and saying “hah!” (hi…with a southern drawl??) but still not a fan of “bye” or waving when you leave someone. Tender heart — you hate goodbyes! I have yet to catch a good waving pic on camera — below is the closest I’ve gotten — you were saying “hah” and waving like a crazy man here!



We can see your brain working so much more — you understand more of what we’re saying and are actively trying to listen and understand. I can ask you to hand me something or bring over an object you know by name, and you can follow the direction. You will spend several¬†minutes at a time looking through a stack of books, dragging your finger across the pages like we do, and mimicking voice inflections as you babble. The evolution of human language really is surreal to experience!



You finished¬†your¬†first month of swim lessons, and I’ve¬†enrolled you in a summer week-long session for June. You love the water and are almost TOO fearless, so we are more than happy to keep you learning when it comes to swimming. You love to slide, and swing on the patio, now that we’ve gotten a few warm days. You have certainly figured out that the best stuff is on the other side of the exterior doors and you are MAD when we don’t take you with us through them! A new thing is trying to reach your coat and/or shoes and “put them on” (see below) since that means you are going outside…hopefully the coat is soon a thing of seasons past!



The biggest headline of this month was that you moved from the infant (3-14 month) room up to the toddler (14-24 month) room in early March. After ruling the roost for some time, this is a BIG change for you, and frankly, for us, too.


When you’re at daycare, you only take one nap as opposed to two (although at home, you still go down for two naps with no protest, so I’m not about to change that!), you are expected to drink from a real cup at meal and snacktimes (no sippy cups! whaa?!), and you sit in a chair at a table, as opposed to a high chair. You no longer nap in a crib, rather on a mat on the floor. I’m still amazed you stay put for that, but the report is that you do!

You were very attached to your old teacher, so adjusting to all the new faces is taking a little time, and there have been tears at most dropoffs until just this week, and even during a couple pick-ups during the end-of-day craziness. It’s hard to see you sad, but we do know as soon as we’re out of sight, out of mind, you’re busy tearing around the classroom. We’re working to learn these new teachers and their methods and always keeping possibilities open for your care going forward. While we had a fantastic experience in the infant room, we are¬†less enthused about a few¬†aspects of day care right now. We’re hesitant to make any rash decisions, but it’s also crazy how much notice you need to change up childcare situations, so we’re working on a new care situation beginning in the summer. On the bright side, you are able to be much busier in the toddler room — the toys are more stimulating, the peers challenge you more to share and get along (ha!), and the schedule allows you to go between different classrooms, the gym, music time with a visiting guitarist (the report is you LOVE this time!) and the playground outside. Much more variety in your day!


As for days you’re home with me, it’s been fun to venture out and try some new activities including Tot Lot, music class, the park when weather permits, and Book Babies. You always like to check in that I’m still around, but are otherwise very social and I like to see that you venture off in new places, unintimidated. Any day now, I’m hopeful we’ll get some consistently warm days when the winds are NOT 30mph, and we can add hanging on the patio with your water table and swing to our list of activities. W


As far as physical updates, you COULD walk on your own, but won’t! You will cruise everything in sight, walk holding onto a single finger, and take a couple steps at a time, but otherwise, you still¬†drop to your knees (you know you’re faster that way!). We have yet to do your 15-month well visit, but when you were in last month for pink eye, you were closing in on 23 pounds. They didn’t take your height, but by my haphazard attempts to measure you, you’re about 30″ tall. And as for that hair, the curls continue to grow in full force. Suddenly every aspect of you seems “big boy” to me!



We had fun celebrating your second Easter (you could open your own eggs this year!) with a 3-and-under egg hunt downtown, and opening your basket goodies Easter morning. We are looking forward to more warm weather memories soon to come like the pool, the zoo, and things you don’t remember from last year like the farmer’s market. We are also getting excited for a family trip to Naples next month. Every new season with you brings anticipation for all the things we want to introduce you to!

Happy 15 months, sweetness.

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