Month : November 2015

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.
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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



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!