Stitching the States Custom U.S. Map

Remember at the beginning of the year when it was January and there was fresh snow on the ground and it was the start of a brand new year full of possibility? Remember how I said I was going to try to blog weekly?

**crickets chirp**

*hangs head in shame*

About that… I’m really going to try to blog more. I really am. The good news is that I usually still take pictures when I am working on projects in the hope that “someday I’ll blog about this” so I have a few things I can share right away.

I’ve discovered recently that one of my absolute favorite things in the world is custom making things for people. I really enjoy creating things for myself and our family, but when I know that I am making something specifically for someone else there is an added element of specialness.

One such project that I did recently was creating a custom U.S. embroidery hoop map art for a sweet friend. My first real embroidery project was creating this map for myself and after I was finished, I wanted to do it again! (You can call me crazy, go ahead.) I used this pattern from the Raising Up Rubies etsy shop. If you don’t follow Jamie’s blog, stop whatever you’re doing right now and go visit. And then after you’re done there you can peruse her shop for even more of an adorableness overload. Seriously, I don’t think I’ve ever read a blog post or looked at a picture of something Jamie has created without being inspired. (And hey, we’re both from NY so maybe we’re secretly destined to be friends!) She has such talent, but also is such a sweet soul—you can just feel her kind spirit through all of the words she writes. You can make your own U.S. map by buying her pattern here. Oh, and if you have any desire to be inspired all.the.time. do yourself a favor and follower her on Instagram too. Just saying.

Anyway, I really enjoyed making the map a second time, fixed a few mistakes I made the first time, and got to try out a whole different approach of filling in the states with color.

Picture overload, anyone?

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The top one is the first map I made (and kept!) and the bottom one is the custom map.

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Custom map by itself.

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A little closer.

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There were two special hearts that I added. One where my friend was born.

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And one where her hubby was born too.

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My U.S. geography has improved IMMENSELY since completing these two maps.

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You can see my (imperfect) stitching on the back, but I also added a fun finishing touch with some state fabric that I have.
I thought it tied in well.  :)

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The two maps side by side again. Rainbow color and “random” color.

Believe it or not, I have already started on a third map for another custom order. I love this form of crafting since it takes a minimal amount of focus and is therapeutic for me with its repetition. All that to say, I like making things and I really like making things for other people to enjoy.

**I’m somewhat open to the possibility of making more of these. Shoot me an email if you think you’re interested. And remember, you can always get the pattern and make it yourself!**

Thanks for stopping by!

<3 Liz

Benjamin David 12 Months Old

First things first, I changed some things around this here blog, like it?

Second things second, our tiny little peanut is now a one year old little boy and I am bursting with love, pride, and sentiment.

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Benji 12 months old

12 month Collage

I managed to squeeze him in the basket one last time.
The bottom right is a little blurry, but I love that I captured his little crinkle-nose face.
Also, could he look any more like his daddy??

I don’t even know how to summarize the past month, this kid just seems to grow by leaps and bounds every day. He has such a fun and mischievous personality. This kid. Let’s just use getting into the dog food as an example. This is not a new issue for us, we’ve been training him that the dog’s food and water dishes are off limits since he started crawling. Now he’s gotten to the point that he KNOWS it’s naughty and so he sneaks over there and grabs the dog food/splashes in the water. When he hears some one coming he bolts away as quickly as possible so that maybe he won’t get caught and will get to keep the dog food that he still has stashed away in his little death grip. Sometimes he listens when we tell him to come here away from it and sometimes he laughs at us and runs over to it. He can be redirected time and time again or carried to the other end of the house, but the kid is determined to get into trouble. I feel like this won’t be the last that we see of his strong will.

He has definitely gotten to the point where he walks more than he crawls now. In fact, I get a little surprised when I see him crawling since his go-to is now walking or RUNNING. He is such a physical little man and he is getting fast on those little feet and chubby legs. He is also a climber, so he really has started to keep me on his toes. I have found him on top of tables and chairs and beds and he is just so proud of himself when he figures out how to get on top of new things. He loves to throw himself around on the couch, but of course he also tries to throw himself OFF of the couch sometimes too. I am trying to figure out the balance between letting him explore/learn lessons the hard way/get some bumps and bruises and keeping him from getting hurt. He is just such a wild man.

He is a sweetie though, too. He loves to laugh and make us laugh—especially Ellery. They are still interacting fairly well together, even with Ben’s increased ability to reach all the things and follow after her and knock over everything. He still has a little separation anxiety when I put him in the nursery, but most of the time he is a HUGE fan of people. Seriously, you give him an audience and he will ham it up.

He has six teeth now that the four on top have officially come in. He still loves to put things in his mouth and likes to bite things (like my knees..even though he knows that’s naughty too), but I am VERY thankful that he’s never tried to bite while nursing. Speaking of nursing, WE MADE IT TO A YEAR! There were times I didn’t know if we would, but I am so thankful that we did. Considering I was never really able to nurse Ellery, this feels like a miracle. Once he started consistently sleeping all the way through the night (around 11 months) he was still nursing around 5 or 6 times a day. Now we are down to 3 or 4 times a day. He seems to be less and less interested (probably because he is still eating everything all of the time) and I don’t know how much longer we will last. Although, I kind of feel like it is best case scenario if he decides to be done on his own.

He FINALLY said “mama”, but he is very selective of when he actually uses it. Usually it’s when he’s really sad and a little “mama” whimper will sneak out. I love it though. He seems to be babbling a lot, but most of what comes out of his mouth is “daddad dada da ddadadad”.

We had a fun birthday party for him last weekend with some friend and family. It was a little chilly that day, but I  think everyone still had a good time. That kid LOVED his cake and loved that we thought it was a good idea to give him an entire cake. He smashed it. I think he would have enjoyed it more if he wasn’t cold and he didn’t keep shoving green frosting up his nose. We had a nice, fun day at home on his actual birthday with birthday pancakes and balloons and presents.

The night before his birthday, (aka the early morning hours of his birthday) he had a really rough night of sleeping. I’m not sure if he was so excited for the big day or if he was having flash backs of where he was a year ago (hah!), but I heard little cries quite a bit. Every time I checked him he was still lying down and it appeared as if he was sleeping, but he just seemed to be struggling to settle. So after a while I went down and just rocked him for a while so he could settle in asleep on my chest. He hasn’t slept on me for months and months (he hardly holds still long enough for a cuddle) and I got to hold him as he changed from a baby to a toddler. That was the sweetest gift he could have given me.

first year Collage

(I will update his stats after we have his one year check-up next week.)

Benjamin 11 Months

Benji Doodle aka Doodles

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11 months old
Notice how it’s pretty much just his torso that fits in the basket now?

11 month Collage

This kid. If you haven’t met him, let me just tell you that he’s hilarious and a delight. He has his share of off moments/days, but most of the time he is just so much fun to be around. There is so much personality packed into this little peanut. He loves to have fun and make other people laugh. He is developing his own little laugh that is a chuckle with lots of space in between each little noise.

He is definitely developing his own opinions and preferences and he works hard at letting you know them. He always active and squirmy, but especially whenever someone is trying to put clothes on him so I’m pretty sure he would just prefer to be naked all the time. Once he starts working towards a milestone, he does not stop practicing until he’s quickly mastered it and then he moves on to the next. He started taking steps last month and now he is walking so much! He can almost stand up by himself without pulling up on anything and he chooses to walk quite often, even without a destination in sight. He can walk long distances ESPECIALLY if his sister is in his line of sight. Ellery will call out to him to come here and he will happily toddle over to her, and then he grabs her and they both fall to the floor giggling. He certainly seems like he will be running before we know it.

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At the beginning of the month he was working on getting his 2nd tooth (both on the bottom) and once that popped through we discovered that he had also cut a tooth on the top (one of his canines). Currently I’m pretty sure that he is working on cutting THREE teeth on top—his two front teeth and the other canine. I can’t imagine that it feels very nice, and he has been a little more clingy/needy/whiny at times, but who can blame him? Even when he doesn’t feel 100%, he still loves to play and have a good time.

He is still eating like a teenage boy (aka so much and all of the time). He nurses 4 or 5 times a day still and eats anything and everything we give him. Mike thinks he is just in a perpetual state of growing. He got back into the habit of waking at night to eat (AGAIN!), but I think we mostly broke the habit now (AGAIN!!) and he seems to just be waking once around 3 a.m., needing some reassurance that we are still there, and then he goes right back down. (With the exception of last night where he was up screaming at us for an hour, but whatevs. Maybe it was teeth. I think it was stubbornness. hah)

Ben is becoming quite the daddy’s boy as he gets SO excited when Mike gets home and definitely seems to prefer him at times. He still loves his mama, I have no doubt of that, but he has a special admiration for his daddy. Which brings me such joy. He has started to have some separation anxiety, especially at the church nursery, but we are working through it. It breaks my heart to see him so sad when I leave him, but I know that he calms down very quickly. Other than that, he is a big fan of people and would let a stranger pick him up. He still won’t SAY ‘mama’, but has started to repeat the few words he does have on command. He will say ‘dada,’ ‘baba,’ ‘ah ah’ (like a monkey), and ‘eeeee’ (which is either his word for Ellery and “whee” on the swing). He is still very expressive vocally.

He loves music and as soon as a song with a beat comes on he starts dancing. He bounces whether he’s standing or sitting in a seat or whatever. Soon after he started taking steps, he also started being able to climb stairs and he mastered that very quickly. Thankfully we don’t have any stairs that he can get to with a gate in front of one set and a door in front of the other, but he is getting scary good at climbing. He climbs stairs outside and he climbs up our step stool and he climbs anything he can. I foresee this boy giving his mama some anxiety and probably getting his fair share of bumps and bruises. He is definitely very boyish in that way.

His favorite thing right now seems to be crawling into laundry baskets. He walks over or pulls himself up to one, throws his body in head first, and tumbles inside. He enjoys sitting in them for quite some time and is even fairly successful at getting himself out.

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I cannot believe that our sweet baby is almost one and that I have to start thinking about a birthday party. We are looking forward to a fun summer with these two.  

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Benjamin 10 Months

Man, this month flew by, I can’t believe it’s (past) time for another update already.

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Benji 10 months old

10 month Collage

Little buddy was in a smiley mood for this month’s photo shoot which was extra delightful. He is sporting 12 month clothes these days, some of which are still a little big on him. He is still a peanut, but he is barely fitting into this basket anymore as evidenced by his legs sticking out the end and his little toes curled over the side.

A little after Ben turned 9 months his sleep did start improving (yay!) and now he (usually) only nurses once during the night. That is a huge improvement for us! Coincidentally, at the same time we were finally able to take away his third, early evening nap. Although once that happened then he stopped taking his morning nap, so he went from three naps a day to one.

He is still eating like a mini teenager/bottomless pit. He nurses several times a day, eats three meals a day, and snacks all the time. We think he is on a perpetual growth spurt. He has tried lots of different foods and seems to favor breakfast food pretty strongly. He is a little scavenger finding bits of food whenever possible and will get upset if you try to eat any food in front of him. He has done very well with a sippy cup, especially when he is given the same kind as what big sister uses. He gets very proud of himself when he is able to hold it and drink out of it.

He started waving (with his whole arm) and now does it at appropriate times (and all times) and it is adorable. On Sunday when I picked him up from the nursery he saw me and broke into a huge smile and began waving vigorously. Sometimes he even makes a funny little face when he does it too. During the past few weeks he has started standing on his own—first without realizing it—and now he has been intentionally practicing and doing it for longer and longer. He has a lot of strength in his legs and controls his squatting from standing to sitting. I don’t want to say he will be walking soon, but I’m pretty sure it’s not that far down the road for us. Personally, I don’t think it changes that much right away anyway since he can already pull up on things and get into mischief easily. It might make things a little more interesting for Ellery since he will be able to follow her around a little more easily.

They are still enamored with each other, but Ellery is started to get to a stage of imaginative play where she likes things just the way she likes them. Of course, Benji just comes over and knocks everything down so we are starting to teach her how to achieve personal space when she wants it. One of his favorite things to do is knock down towers and he tries to do so as QUICKLY as he sees one constructed.

He has not added to his vocabulary of “da da” and “ba ba,” and still only one tooth, but I know those things will come in time. He is proving to be such a BOY and loves wrestling and moving all. the. time. If there is a pillow or blanket on the floor, he loves to crawl over to it, lay his head down, smile at you, and then pop right back up. Sometimes he does this over and over. It’s never that he’s tired, he just loves playing this game—I think he knows he looks cute. It is super hard to capture though, since he only lays down for about a second.

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More and more we are able to see his fun-loving, sweet, crazy personality shine through and we love it! He loves his family and loves people. And we love him.

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Benjamin 9 months

I have been calling Benji “almost 9 months” for the past few weeks, so would think that it would be less of a surprise for me when he actually became 9 months old. Nope. Still surprising.

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It just sounds too old.

9 month Collage

As you can probably tell, he did not sit still for very long and we had an interruption visitor that was a bit of a distraction.

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I am seriously considering giving Ben a new middle name because lately Benjamin Trouble seems more appropriate. This little guy is EVERYWHERE and he is into EVERYTHING. Especially the dog’s food and water dishes. We do our very best to keep little things off of the floor, but if there’s anything there, he will find it and put it in his mouth—paper, dog hair, stickers, dog food, leftover food, the dog, etc. He does a great job at crawling through and under things and we often find him in some little corner very proud of himself.

He has one tooth on the bottom and he is possibly working on more currently because he has been drooling all of the time. Since we started giving “baby led weaning” a try and letting him feed himself, he has gone from eating very little solids to eating anything you put in front of him ravenously three times a day! I think his favorite is mashed potatoes.

We are still working on words but we think we have heard a “dada” from him a time or two. He also says “baba” which we all know is the precursor to mama. Don’t let his lack of vocabulary fool you, he is very vocal. He loves to yell and growl and make all sorts of noises. UPDATE: A few days after I first wrote this, Ben has started saying Dada pretty much non-stop. He babbles it, he says it when he’s angry or trying to get our attention, etc. While I am still working on “mama” I think it is the most adorable thing to hear him jabbering on and I love that this gives us a clue into what his little voice will sounds like when he starts talking.

Benji continues to be more and more mobile. He is able to pull up on tables, couches, and chairs. He can navigate from one to another. He has even started holding on with only one hand or just resting on something with an elbow. He had a short time were he would be “stuck” holding on to something, but he quickly figured out how to bend down and sit and he has been practicing. Standing my himself seems to be not far off and we will see what happens after that. I’m not wishing for an early walker, but I’m not strongly against it either. He is already so independent and he gets so proud of himself whenever he develops a new skill.

He has still been having trouble sleeping. I won’t get into it much, but sometimes it feels like he’s a newborn again. And sometimes it’s not that bad. I try to remind myself (sometimes successfully, sometimes not) that this is just a season that will “pass” and someday he will stop waking at night and he will stop doing a thousand other baby things and maybe just maybe I will miss this, sleep deprivation and all. Maybe I’ll write more on that another time. For now I will enjoy my two sweet little loves that get big all too quickly and make life beautiful and hard and wonderful.

We had a good appointment with the Dr. for his well child appt. After the nurse took his measurements she checked where he was on the growth chart and declared, “Well, he’s tiny!” hah. He weighs 17.9 lbs (15th percentile) and is 27 inches long (5th percentile). We know he is a little peanut, but we know (and the dr. affirms) that he is growing and thriving. He is just such an active little man and still has so many delightful rolls, so we are very reassured that he is doing just fine.

Why I’m Not Going to Treasure Every Moment

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“The days are long, but the years are short.”

“Don’t blink.”

“You’re going to miss this.”

“Treasure every moment.”

There are some people that would have you believe that every moment of your child’s life is to be remembered and held sacred. That you should never wish away any age or stage. That years from now you will wish you could go back in time to get back to today.

And I get what they’re saying, I really do. And I’ve only been on this motherhood journey for a little over 3 years (my daughter is 2 1/2 so you’d better believe I’m counting from when she was conceived, because that’s when I became a mama). And I even mostly agree with their overall message.

But coming from a mama that’s “in the trenches” with a baby and a toddler, I’m pretty sure I can politely disagree. Because there have been (and will be) moments that I will not treasure and hope to just forget. That there will be stages that I just focus on getting to the other side of. That there will be many days that I just “survive”.

Now, I know there are probably some experienced moms and grandmas shaking their heads at me already. And I will concede that maybe, just maybe, thirty years from now I will have to delete this post because it is just all wrong. But hear me out.

I get sentimental every time I have to trade out my kids’ clothes for a bigger size. I try to keep track of as many of the “lasts” that I can, just as much as the “firsts”. I do my best to be “intentional” during the day with my two littles and say YES when I can to reading and puzzles and “if you try to put me down I will cry”.

And I absolutely believe that there are moments to be treasured. Oftentimes those are the moments that get me through some of the difficult stuff. I hold on to Benji resting his head just so on my neck and under my chin or standing in his crib and squealing in delight at the sight of me and holding his arms out for me to pick him up. I hold on to Ellery taking my hand and asking me to dance with her, or smiling at me and telling me she loves me unprompted. I melt when I see how much they adore each other and I hope that it never ends and that they are always close friends. I love those moments. And I am blessed with so many! And I have so many more to look forward to!

But I think it’s okay to give ourselves permission to not treasure all of the moments. Like when you start feeding your baby solids (yay!) and then immediately regret it at the following diaper change. It can be easy as a mom to hear the message of “treasure every moment” and think that if I struggle that I’m not being a good mom. Let me weave you a tale.


It’s the day before Valentine’s Day and your sweet husband asks if you want to go to an all-you-can-eat chili dinner at a local church. “Sounds great,” you say. “Should we bring the kids or find a sitter?” the sweet man asks. Your resounding last words pop right out of your mouth, “Oh, let’s bring them.”

The four of you enjoy dinner together. Sure, there is some juggling of the baby who keeps grabbing your bread and eating part of it while most of it falls in a crumby mess on the floor. Of course, the toddler decides to sit on your lap while she eats her ketchup laden hotdog and you are forced to sneak in bites with your wrong hand. You expect that when you get your dessert that half of it will be greedily snatched up by said toddler as she holds a cupcake in the other hand.

But, you take all of that in stride because your incredibly handsome husband is helping you and you EXPECTED all of that to happen. Sharing your meal is nothing new. Making a mess is part of your itinerary.

But, this next part, takes you by complete surprise.

The baby is getting antsy and wants to be out of the high chair. The toddler is all done eating and very uninterested in the coloring book you brought for her and wants to get up out of her chair. You smile at your loving partner and say, “It’s okay I’ll just walk with them.” You weave in and out of people with trays of food chasing the toddler and holding the baby. She spots a long hallway and starts trotting down it, which you foolishly think is a good idea because then you are away from all of the people and she can get some of her energy out. It is only when you are at the absolute other end of the hallway, seemingly miles away from where the people (and your husband) are that she yells out, “I need to pee on potty!”

No worries. You are literally feet away from the women’s room. But then she yells it again and sounds much more worried and starts walking with her feet apart like some dribbles have already happened. You glance down the hallway hoping to see hubby or ANYONE, but you are sadly all alone. You fling open the door and blurt out instructions while trying to figure out WHERE TO PUT THE BABY! She yells again and has her legs out as far as she can. You put the baby down as far away from germs as possible but still IN the bathroom with you as you try to tell the toddler to hold it. Well you would, but you can already see liquid streaming down her stockings. You yank down the dripping tutu and undies and stockings as she continues to yell and pee (on you) and put her on the toilet so she can finish and QUICKLY grab the baby that is speed crawling towards the puddle of pee.

Then, you have a less than stellar moment as a mom as you reprimand your toddler for peeing the floor or at least for not telling you sooner.

And reprimand is a kind word and not truthful. I yelled.


It came after a long day after a LONG week, and it just felt like the bale of straw that was thrown onto the camel’s already broken back. The hubby did find me (I don’t know how and I am so thankful) and got the clean change of clothes that was in the car (that he put there a while ago—THANK YOU) and took Benji so I could help her change.

Yes, that might end up being a funny story later on(okay, it is a little bit funny now that it’s over) , but that MOMENT is not one that I will treasure. Not that feeling of wanting to give up. Not that regret at showing my frustration at my sweet girl and in front of them both.

I think it’s okay to admit that I will be glad when potty training mishaps are a thing of the past and when I can go a day without being pooped on/spit up on/etc. Or, wonder of all wonders, when I can sleep through the night uninterrupted.

Will I miss when they were babies and toddlers and every stage in between and after? YES. Do I let the non-treasurable moments define me or my motherhood journey? NO! You’d better believe that I apologized to my little girl and explained how we could have done things differently and told her I loved her and had her crawl on me for most of the rest of the night.

The sweet hubby put her to bed tonight and when she said her bedtime prayers the first thing out of her mouth was, “Thank you for not peeing on the floor.”

I am so thankful for these days and weeks and years through all the hard and the messy and the beautiful. I am thankful that I get the privilege to even have these two blessings that call me their mama. But I’m not going to force myself to believe that I should treasure every moment. And neither should you.

There is GRACE. There is so so much beauty and wonder and sweetness. There is strength that you didn’t know you had and infinite reserves of strength waiting for you from your heavenly Father.

Simple Valentine’s Day Decorations

Happy Valentine’s Day! <3

I don’t always decorate for today,
but when I do, it’s pretty simple and mostly from stuff I already have. :)

Here is the chalkboard in our living room.

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I used these super sweet mason jars with crocheted hearts from Raising Up Rubies to create a simple garland with mini clothespins. (Seriously her shop is the best and her blog is the best. Her Instagram is even the best. I just get so inspired by her.)

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The pom pom garland I had already made last year sometime and I decided to see if it would work if I hung both. And then the number of pom poms worked PERFECTLY with the spacing. Happy little surprise.

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The heart cross stitch design I actually copied from this tutorial for a cute memo board from East Coast Creative. Easy to recreate and super cute.

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And this is our mantle.

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The fabric scrap garland I actually made for Christmas (for my ‘booth’ at my first ever craft sale), but the colors worked really well for Valentine’s Day too. The embroidery hoop “O” with the flower was actually left over from the sale, too.

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The letters I made following this tutorial here. I had the straws and knew this would be a perfect, simple decoration. The tissue paper flowers are from Ellery’s baby shower that I have held onto and been able to use over and over.

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Pretty simple, but it makes me smile when I see it.

Hope you have a great day!