Category / Celebrations

home for the holidays (part 4)

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I’m so grateful we got a headstart on the decorations this year, got our baking done a couple weeks ago, and thanks to good old Amazon Prime, our gifts arrived in plenty of time to wrap, leaving the last couple nights to soak up the anticipation of the holiday.

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The gifts moved to their rightful place under the tree, and the advent calendar hung empty.

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Our wreath was filled with family and friends’ faces.

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Crew was enjoying playing with a couple new (early) gifts from friends.

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I loved just walking around the house the last couple days, taking note of all the little Crew infusions that make up Christmas for us this year.

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Per our tradition, a freshly-bathed Crew came down to admire the tree one final time in his jammies, and I grabbed a couple (more mobile this year!) shots.

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Off to bed he went, so Santa could come…

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I won’t rub it in, but one of our best gifts is the ongoing gift of a child who (somewhat) sleeps in. Around 8am, our buddy came down to start Christmas!

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Shortly after this, I put my camera down the rest of the day, to just enjoy and partake. With no real present-unwrapping since his birthday (almost) a year ago, it took a few gifts to understand the concept of opening, but as he gained momentum, the squeals and “oh my gosh!” chants became more intense and the paper-ripping skills improved 😉

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Today we’re enjoying a still-in-our-jammies day at home, running loads through the dishwasher, unboxing and building a couple of our gifts, and packing some of the decorations away. It’s calm and content, and kind of amazing to have such an entertained little guy while we play with our own new stuff!

Merry Christmas to you and yours. Wishing you safe travels home if you’re headed that way, peaceful and content last days in 2016, and an oh-so-happy new year. 

home for the holidays (part 3)

hot cocoa station |

Today I wanted to document the rest of our decor for the holiday season. I have some traditions and photos and little details of things I want to share and remember as well, but I’ll save that for another post. (I purposely didn’t call these “3 of 4” or anything, because I never know how overly ambitious — or lazy — I may end up getting, but I’m hoping to put together at least one more post this month!)

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One of the additions I made this year were these two potted pre-lits for the front patio. The pots they came in were a womp-womp flat antiquey gold, so I shined them up with some copper spray paint to coordinate with our exterior light fixtures and accent roof. I feel like it made a huge difference, and I’m always for more shine than less. I love the extra glow they bring to the front of the house at night.

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(Note to self — consider less noticeable white cords for next year!) But I digress. Please, come in! 🙂

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I’ve had several of what I call the “slinky” silver sequined trees from Target, for a few years now. I love how easy they are to store flat and pop open onto stands. I didn’t get them out last year, but love having most of them on the credenza in our entryway, along with a white IKEA star lamp I’m thinking needs to just stay out all year. It worked perfectly with the big gold star (last year, Target) hanging from fishing line in the ceiling.

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The flex room’s permanent plan is still a work in progress (goal for 2017 — focus on this room!), but for this season, it’s a play space and window light-filled spot to curl up with our Christmas reads.

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We sold the HUGE tree that took over this room last year, and scaled down a couple feet (both in height and diameter!) for something we could incorporate into our main living room.

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I was feeling more neutrals this year, so instead of picking a color scheme, it stayed to copper, silver, and white. I had to double-count when I realized we incorporated our tenth (!) Crate&Barrel frame ornament this year.

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This is only our second Christmas in this home, and I feel like I’m still getting a grip on not just how to decorate it for the holidays. Not everything from our previous house works here, and style and taste evolves, and of course new merchandise hits the market. I am really liking combining some more rustic/lodgey type of Christmas pieces with just as many shiny elements this year. I don’t like to lean too bling or too log cabin — the balance this year feels just right, and none of it is too precious that it can’t survive a toddler. (Case in point…those adorable melamine dishes just waiting for Santa’s cookies and milk!)

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I do love to set the table, and in years past, it’s been so fun to create a full-out holiday tablescape. But this year, who am I kidding, it gets in the way of our everyday meals, and frankly, takes up prime lego-building real estate.

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So I kept it simple (and edible, should you need a snack) with some faux pinecone garland, interspersed with some clementines for a little kitchen-flavored pop of color.

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In the kitchen, I stashed some pre-lit boxwood garland on timers above the cabinets. My favorite partridge in a pear tree plate and some simple berries in a vase sit on the counter. Of course, the lights on the garland hadn’t clicked on yet mid-day and I was too lazy to climb up there yet again, so one will just have to imagine. 🙂

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For the first year, we hired someone to hang our outdoor lights and we were thrilled with the result. Neither of us was about to climb up and reach those highest peaks, ourselves.

It’s pretty crazy that it’s mid-December and there still isn’t a decent covering of snow — I’ll have to capture this again when it looks more like the typical Iowa wintery scene.

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From our home to yours, Merry Christmas (and happy decorating!).

home for the holidays (part 2)

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I started holiday decorating this year in our loft playspace. I replaced the “kid tree” from last year (the old one was cheap, not pre-lit, and we hobbled it along in a corner last year since it was missing one leg of its stand). I opted for the flocked look on this one, and as messy as it is to set up initially, I LOVE the snowy look.

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This tree is all ornaments that can’t be shattered or otherwise broken, so it’s stress-free. (The majority of the ornaments you see are this year and last year’s Target collection or Land of Nod.) Crew does like to take off the same couple ornaments and re-hang them from time to time…and the OCD in me just waits until he’s in bed to place them all back in their “right” spots. #yesimthatmom #funkiller

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I love this play space decorated for the holidays. It’s so colorful and whimsical and quirky — I mean come on, an octopus and a mouse king from the Nutcracker, and a donut, all living in tree harmony? LOVE IT.

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A little spruce tree on his coloring table and a stash of gifts complete the decor. Because gifts can’t be trusted under the tree yet (someone is getting the concept of “open!”) I’ve been displaying them on top of the bookcase as they get wrapped, along with a snowglobe that was mine, a little countdown tree, and a nutcracker of Page’s.

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After years of decorating in “adult Christmas” mode, it’s so fun to play with the childhood side of things and I can’t help but feel the child-like magic of Christmas when I climb to the top of the stairs each day.

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home for the holidays (Part 1)


With an almost two-year-old in the house, the magic of Christmas started early in our house this year. It’s been so fun to see Crew react to the twinkling lights, exclaim “Kiss-mus tee!”, and point out Santa wherever he spots him. He calls all references to snow “snow man”, so he has some differentiating to figure out….it’s Iowa, so he’ll get plenty of chances this year ha! At any rate, with an enthusiastic audience, it’s been fun to start the decking a little earlier, so we can enjoy the holiday season for as long as possible.


I’m hoping to photograph and post our home this coming weekend — but the season always kicks off for me officially with Christmas cards.


Cards are, hands-down, my favorite tradition of the season. Facebook posts just aren’t any substitute for seeing what people are up to, and I love old fashioned mail that no one sends anymore. I love displaying the cards we receive around our house, and always pack them up at the end of the holidays with the decorations, to flip through them one more time when we unpack it all the following year. As in past years, I designed my own (I’ll post it once it hits mailboxes!) but saved myself a ton of time (and not so great handwriting) by ordering customized pre-addressed envelopes from Tiny Prints’ holiday card collection. I keep an excel file anyway of everyone’s addresses…it was a HUGE time saver to just upload my list and have envelopes WAY cuter than anything I could address, arrive at my doorstep, ready to stuff!

What is your favorite holiday tradition?? Now that I’ve checked mine off my list, it’s on to more decking of the halls! 🙂

A Pacifier-Obsessed Scuba Diver and His Shark Dad

toddler scuba halloween costume |

In Des Moines, trick-or-treating happens the night before Halloween, on Beggars Night. It’s a tradition I had to adjust to at first, but now it’s fun to be able to have and share costume pictures ahead of time!

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Wishing everyone a safe Halloween, from our little scuba diver and the shark who tried to attack him!

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toddler scuba halloween costume |

Easter 2016

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The bunny officially made his stop by the Smith house this morning…

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…and it didn’t take someone very long to find the goodies. (Notice…going right for the pouch of food. Somebunny knows this kid is all about the snacks!)

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It’s been a quiet morning with my boys, playing with new treats and toys, even a new place setting for breakfast.

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And when Crew crashed early for a morning nap, Page and I went about attempting Eggs Benedict for brunch.


So yes, even with just the two of us, I had to play set the table. Any excuse to bust out china. 🙂



We gave ourselves a B for effort (maybe less for presentation ha!) but it tasted good, so that’s most important, right?


Happy Easter to you and yours!

He is not here, for He is risen. Just as He said.  |  Matthew 28:6


a baby’s / toddler’s Easter basket

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While his first Easter (at three months) was fun (the bunny brought him pacifiers and a bib we still use every day!), this year has been WAY more fun to plan for, as Crew is starting to really react to things and we know what types of things get him especially excited. What a difference a year makes…the contents of this year’s basket crunch, light up, makes sounds, and more. #bigboybasket

It seems the blogosphere has all kinds of ideas for Easter (and Valentines for that matter) that are aimed at girls…so I thought I’d share what I’m pulling together for my car-loving, ball-throwing, cause-and-effect obsessed 14-month-old boy.

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  • I ended up going with some other items instead, but I still love this little bunny nightlight. It would be so sweet to put in his room during the countdown to Easter each year!
  • The bunny theme continues with some new Kickee Pants jammies (similar) (the softest you will ever buy!). He’s wearing these already, and of course I’ll be snapping some Easter morning pics in them. This particular style came out last year, but they are still available on Amazon.
  • After reading a rave review by another blogger, I ordered Marco for the bath (get it? Marco Polo!). He bobs up and down in the water and his light turns colors when he’s above versus underwater. Crew LOVES things that light up, and at swim lessons, he is working on identifying what is above/below water and bobbing for toys, so this seemed appropriate. Plus I love, love, love anything Boon makes.
  • I have a book wish list a mile long for Crew, but have been saving this title for Easter. Every parent I’ve talked to has a rave review on this book! Some other titles that would be great for a basket include Pat the Bunny, The Runaway Bunny, or Easter Bugs.
  • Crew got the VTech garage for Christmas and a couple of the vehicles for his birthday. He plays with them every. single. day. so it was easy to justify another car for the collection.  (Page made fun of me that of all the choices, I got the van — womp womp, but truthfully, it was one of the cheapest, Crew doesn’t care, and Mama wanted those bunny jammies!)
  • I might put some jelly beans in an egg and see if he’ll taste them, otherwise his eggs will be filled with the pastel-colored goldfish, mini marshmallows, some white cheddar bunnies and vanilla and cocoa bunnies. I’m guessing even before they’re opened, he’ll love holding and shaking those eggs. They’re nearly balls, after all — one of his favorite things!
  • Last year, I ordered Crew’s basket from Pottery Barn Kids (pictured above). I love the quality of their baskets, and I’m a sucker for anything I can monogram!

It seems everywhere I turn, I see something else I can either justify adding to the basket, or I have to talk myself out of! Just this morning I was in Walgreens and spotted a squishy yellow “chick” shaped ball that lights up and was a fun/new texture to hold, as well as jars of bubbles shaped to look like the “Peeps” bunnies. Must. Stop. Shopping. His basket runneth over. 🙂

I ended up with a couple other add-ins not pictured including a mega-refill bottle of bubbles, a carrot-themed pouch of baby food (he still loves these, especially when a tooth is coming in!), a bouncy ball that lights up, and a little watering can, shovel, and spade from the dollar spot. Bring on the warm weather toys and spring. We can’t wait to get outside!

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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!