Backyard Patio – Before and Afters

Our lumpy backyard lead to an unfortunately-placed hill that had been draining down directly into our sunroom. Brown water would seep in through the sliding door tracks every time it rained. So since we knew we would need to level out this section of ground directly outside the sunroom, we took the opportunity and arranged to have paver stones installed for a large patio. We are SO in love with this new space and I’m especially looking forward to styling and adding functional decor like a fire pit, teak Pottery Barn chairs that I’m fawning over, large planters, benches, party lights of course.

The company that did all the work on our Patio is TRG Contracting located near Baltimore, MD but they service the mid-atlantic area: Maryland, DC, Virginia, New Jersey, Pennsylvania. We HIGHLY recommend their work. I am VERY picky about the craftsmanship and attention to detail that go into any projects around our home and Ryan and his guys lived up to my (some say ridiculously) high standards. They were also professional, extremely polite, friendly, and SO quick!

Before and after

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First night sitting around on the new patio. Cal was just as excited as we were!

 

What I Did on My Summer Vacation

One big wrap-up of all the awesome stuff we did this Summer 2015. Forever grateful that we got to spend so much quality family time together.

Caroline’s favorite place in the world  –  every. single. weekend. Summer_1Summer_2

Annual Sea Isle City weekSummer_3Summer_4Summer_5Summer_6New favorite photo of these two goofs.

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First Phillie’s game – On a VERY hot and sunny day.Summer_9Summer_10Summer_11

First trip to the Philadelphia ZooSummer_12Summer_13Summer_14Summer_15Summer_16Summer_17Summer_18

The Sunroom – Before and After Photos

This sunroom. THIS sunroom. Definitely the biggest transformation, thus far and a nice addition to our home’s value. This room was junked, dirty, unusable space. Like a lot of rooms in the house, the previous owner just let this one go to waste. We took the entire Summer to turn this room into a (partial) outdoor retreat for relaxing, playing, and the occasional glass of wine while we listen to Summer crickets chirp. Aaaahhh so relaxing…

Before…

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After…
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The cat really appreciates the new space. “Thanks, humans.”

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Party lights!

What was done:  Ripped up existing carpet squares, cleaned EVERYTHING, scrubbed and painted all door/window frames with oil-based “Rust-Oleum”, painted the floor and raised platform with Benjamin Moore’s “Revere Pewter” in eggshell (several coats).  New carpet, lanterns, and “party” globe lights from Target.  New chairs from Ace Hardware and new pillows from Pottery Barn and Etsy (all very discounted because end-of-Summer).

For the lower floor, I portioned out some paint and mixed “Skid-Tex” non-skid additive to give the floor some much-needed grip.  I’d never used a paint additive before and was worried about the texture, application, and usability but this stuff is awesome. It mixed thoroughly, applied evenly (with a roller) and now has a great texture to prevent slippage in wet weather.

 

Cal’s First Birthday Party

Five months later.  Eh – Whatareyagonnado.

A “neon and gold” first birthday for my sweet babe.  Her very first taste of cake, ever.  I intentionally waited for her first birthday so we could get some genuine enthusiasm for that confectionary goodness.  We loved every bit of this perfect afternoon with family and friends.

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For Caroline, On Her First Birthday…

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Oh, my Caroline.  My sweet Cal baby.  How is it possibly that you are one already?  This year has simultaneously flashed by and also felt infinitely longer than all others.

Having a one year old in the house, having YOU in the house, is exhausting.  I had imagined that you would be like Mommy was as a kid – I guess I thought this because you’re a girl and also the first child.  I pictured you playing quietly on the carpet with favorite toys, intent and focused for hours. Shy, slightly timid, quiet, satisfied with not exploring too much – “I’m fine just where I am, thanks…”  You are NONE of those things.  And I love that.  You are completely your own girl.  You are silly, loud, and all over the place.  You’re out-going.  You wave to EVERYONE when we’re in public, UNLESS they wave at you first.  How dare they wave at you first??  Thank you for being a champion sleeper so that Daddy and I can recover from you.

You amaze me.  Watching you learning new things is utterly fascinating.  We slowly and distinctly pronounce new words for you and we can see you concentrating and absorbing.  You frown slightly and intently watch our mouths for the pronunciation and then usually try out your new word with enthusiasm.  You love the words “Dog” (pronounced DOOOOG!, with an elongated “O” and practically shouting with excitement), “cheese” (usually comes out as SHeesh), and your new favorite is “baby”, pronounced “bebee”.

I will miss you being a baby.  I will miss cuddling you in stillness and calm (when you were asleep) and when the length of your entire body, from fluffy hair to long, slender, toes, would fit neatly curled against my torso.

But I am SO thrilled to watch you grow. I just got to spend one entire year with you!  Not one, single, full, day apart.  How lucky am I?!  I am honored and so fortunate to collect this time with you. I want to collect 100 years with you.

I find myself having to make a conscious effort to tell you “I love you”.  How can I “tell” you, how can I express in just words, something that is SO powerful?  “Love” doesn’t come close to what I feel for you.  Before this day last year, my knowledge of love was everything that I feel for your Dad.  …and then you were born AND THE UNIVERSE EXPANDED.  My love for you is all-encompassing.  Infinite.  Everything.

Happy 1st Birthday, my Cal baby.

Twelve Months With Caroline

Cal has become quite a steady walker, with brief moments of running.  Her graceful and intentional movements are at a level I had expected to see at TWO years, not one.  She adds to her vocabulary daily – Her new favorite is “fan”, with an elongated “ffffff”.  She looks up and points when asked “where’s the fan?”  When asked “where’s your belly??”, Cal looks down and proudly smacks her round, baby, gut, with both hands.  She likes to “rocky, rocky…” in her tiny rocking chair at Granny’s house.  This kid amazes me with what she understands and what she is capable of learning.  When you watch her, you can tell that she is proud of herself. You can see that she is delighted with her new abilities, skills, and the possibilities that lie ahead as she explores her world.

Proud beyond words and delighted by what lies ahead – I watch you grow and feel the exact same way, baby girl.

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Eleven Months With Caroline

At 11 months, Cal is officially a full-fledged walker.  It happened rather unceremoniously – I pictured one day she would stand up, walk a few steps, and Jay and I would celebrate!  I certainly pictured being able to tell her, “you took your first steps on “this” date…”.  Instead it was “one step” and “boom” thud, back to the ground.  “Two steps” and “boom”, back down.  Little by little she collected steps without falling and one day she was just… walking!  Cal LOVES Taylor Swift’s “Shake it Off”, and Bruno Mars’ “Uptown Funk”.  Loves to dance to all music but especially these two.  Her signature move is a controlled and rhythmic “no, no, no” head shake.  Cal is very affectionate and “lovey” lately.  She’ll usually give “huggies” on request, including sincere and heart-melting “pat, pat, pats” with her tiny hands.

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Ten Months With Caroline

This month Cal had her first ever swim class and, of course, our water baby absolutely loves them.  She goes every Friday night.  Mama especially loves swim classes because that means one exhausted baby when we get home.  She barely makes it through her last bottle before passing out for the night.  At 9 1/2 months Miss Caroline just decided to stand up on her own one night.  Like, no big deal.  Jason and I were shocked.  Cal loves it when she gets attention and cheers for standing.  She squeals and flaps her hands, in response to Mama’s praise.  At ten months she has officially mastered standing on her own.  She prefers to hold a small toy or remote when she stands – Not sure why that is.  I think it’s a “security blanket” kinda thing.  She’s not yet confident enough to take steps on her own and still relies on holding one hand (barely) from Mom or Dad.  We’re SO close to walking.

Cal_TenMonths_small_1 Cal_TenMonths_small_2 Cal_TenMonths_small_3 Cal_TenMonths_small_4 This is what a proud Dad / water polo coach looks like.

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Nine Months With Caroline

This month I can see Cal transforming from “baby” to “toddler”.  She’s so playful lately.  Cal likes being chased by “Mommy monster”, being tickled (especially under her arms and deliciously doughy baby thighs), following Mom and Dad all over the house (crawling – she’s getting fast!), and she goes crazy for the chance to jump around on our bed and climb pillow mountains.  Cal is communicating now with spoken words (she never did follow through on any sign language).  She says (and knows the context and meaning of) “baba – bottle”, “ha?! – hi”, “Muh?! – more”, and the first half of “Uh oh!” – if she drops something, it’s “UhT!”  OH, and this crazy kid has SIX full teeth, plus two on the way.

Cal_NineMonths_small_1 Cal_NineMonths_small_2My new favorite photo of her.  It’s always the accidental shots that I end up loving the most.  That baby has evil genius plans in mind.

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Newborn Session – Baby Mason

This session with tiny Mason proves that sometimes you don’t need special props or outfits to get gorgeous photos.  Katie and Dan are the kind of dream clients who were basically like “whatever photos you have in mind are great – We’re down for anything”.  Their relaxed attitudes and complete adoration for this little guy totally shows through in their photos.

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