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Lately… September & October 2014

This Fall has been a BLUR. Lately, I’ve been:

…creating works of art with a very talented toddler. Crayons are a big hit these days.

Lately-October-2014-Artwork

…traveling to Salt Lake City for an essential oil convention.

… listening to this YouTube by Kid President. They actually aired it at convention during part of a breakout session presentation. This line is a game-changer: “You’re made from love, to be love, and spread love. Love is always louder.” (minute: 2:15)

…reading these articles on Motherhood:

  • 25 Ways to Annoy a Toddler: Oh, my! This one had me laughing! … and I could relate to so many things on the list, especially #19! How about you?
  • 5 Mistakes Moms Make: it all goes back to balance. I just love that first quote graphic from Lena Horne: “It is not the load that breaks you. It’s the way you carry it.” Motherhood is all about finding the right adjustments as you navigate different phases. Love Desiree’s reminder to stop playing the comparison game.
  • Home as a Haven: such a beautiful post and a gentle reminder to cultivate comfort within the walls of your home.

… generally feeling like THIS. Did I mention that this Fall was a blur?!

…taking more photos for The Dating Divas product team. In October, we launched our new exclusive Welcome Home Kit. It contains everything you need for a fun and memorable celebration!… and just wait until you see what we have in store for the Holiday season!

Welcome-Home-Pack-2

Welcome-Home-Pack

…celebrating our 5-year anniversary.

Lately-October-2014-Anniversary

…savoring gorgeous sunsets at the lake.

Lately-October-2014-Sunset

…listening to Olivia’s constant stream of chatter these days.

…wishing James, my Mom, my Aunt, and my Grandma very happy birthdays.

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22 Months and Growing

To my precious, independent, strong-willed, and beautiful daughter:

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I love you. Always and forever. You are teaching me so much about the world. You make me laugh and want to pull my hair out… every single day. We are both learning new depths of patience and how to navigate the world together. I love your tenacity and know it will serve you well as you grow older.

Olivia-22-Months-4

These days, you love to listen to music. I can’t help but smile as you immediately start dancing to whatever rhythm is playing. You are also a big fan of bouncing on the trampoline at gym class and soaring through the air on your new red swing. I’ll say, “READY, SET,” and you enthusiastically fill in the “GO!” You started saying the word “Mama” a few weeks ago in a very intentional way… and I’m pretty sure my heart explodes into a million pieces every time I hear it. You regularly say “bye-bye” and blow kisses. So many other phrases are just on the brink of your grasp. Your Daddy and I have no doubt, however, that you understand absolutely everything.

Olivia-22-Months

My darling girl- you have such a soft spot in your heart for animals. It is so amazing to watch you with the puppies. You love to give them hugs and are a regular helper with their care- finding their leashes to take them outside and feeding them dinner each night. Over the past several months, you’ve also become an expert on animal sounds (monkeys, cows, puppies, cats, lions, and even chickens!).

Olivia-22-Months-2

Olivia-22-Months-1

You are quite attached to your blankets these days. We don’t dare leave home without one! You also adore jewelry and fashion accessories. Necklaces, bracelets, hats, headbands- you name it!

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It’s hard to believe that there’s only 2 months until your second birthday- what a journey we’ve had!

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XOXO, Mom

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DIY Sensory Bin for Olivia

To help her sensory and speech issues, Olivia has been working with an awesome occupational therapist.  On one of Tracy’s visits, she brought an enormous sensory bin filled with colorful noodles.  Olivia LOVED scooping, dumping, and pouring.  The best news?… the bin was large enough for Olivia to actually climb in (which she eagerly did!).  Here’s a quick pic I took during this visit:

Sensory Bin Success3

I knew I wanted to recreate this learning activity… so….

14 boxes of noodles later, Olivia has her own extra-big DIY sensory bin!

Sensory-Bin

Tracy told me the secret to getting her noodles to turn a gorgeous blue was soaking them in rubbing alcohol. I did a few Google searches to figure out the exact process.

Some posts suggested using vinegar to dye the noodles.  I actually tried this approach with one box.  Unfortunately, I didn’t have the same success.  The noodles I dyed with vinegar came out clumpy and an entirely different texture.  See the comparison?

Sensory Bin Process

Since I wasn’t planning on using any of the noodles in later recipes, I went ahead and used alcohol as a dying medium.

I would definitely recommend using gel based food coloring! I mixed the gel coloring with alcohol in a small bowl and then dumped in into a Ziploc bag filled with noodles.  The next step was super easy- shake, shake, and shake some more!

Supplies-for-Sensory-Bin

After the color was dispersed, I emptied the noodles onto parchment paper and arranged them into a single layer to dry.  Since the gel food coloring is so potent, a pair of disposable gloves was invaluable for the step of the process!

Olivia absolutely loves her new DIY sensory bin!  I love that this activity will grow with her.  We can use the noodles for learning colors, sorting, counting, adding to art projects, and the list continues!

 

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Summer Photo Challenge 2014

This summer has been filled with beautiful moments. If you’ve been following me on Instagram, you’ve probably noticed I’ve been using the hashtag, #bpcphonephotographyproject, to describe many of my photos along with several more specific ones like #ppp2silhouette or #ppp2light.  These labels refer to a phone photography challenge I participated in through Big Picture Classes.  Every couple of days, they released a new prompt focusing on a particular photography technique.  Here’s my round-up of photos related to this project:

Summer-Photos

I LOVED this challenge because it really forced me to focus on specific photography principles- some technical, some design related- and experiment with different editing apps.  And, it was all done using my iPhone.

Photos by Prompt Challenges

  • Row 1: Light, Action, Lines
  • Row 2: Lines/Light, Silhouette, Landscape
  • Row 3: Vantage Point, Fill the Frame/Vantage Point, Shapes
  • Row 4: Shapes, Lines/In a Row, Shapes/In a Row
  • Row 5: Fill the Frame/Shapes, Rule of Thirds, Vantage Point/Backgrounds
  • Row 6: Shadow, Objects, Portrait

Editing apps that I use on my phone all the time include: PicTapGo, Snapseed, LensLight, BubbleFrame, and Rhonna Designs.  My “action” shot of Olivia in the first row was selected to be featured on Rhonna’s Start Screen… what an honor to be featured!

Rhonna-Feature

With this challenge complete, I can check off 1 more item on my 30 During My 30th List!

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Olivia’s Nursery Update: A Reading Nook

We just officially completed a little reading nook in Olivia’s room and can’t wait to share it!

Reading Nook

When James’ parents came to visit Olivia in March 2013, they helped us create a custom bookshelf based on this popular Pottery Barn product.  James and his Dad worked all weekend to craft this beautiful piece so our precious babe would have a library at her fingertips.  Notice the curved lines?  I am still amazed at their craftsmanship!

Last week, James helped me hang this gorgeous petal shaped mirror above the space.

Reading Nook Mirror

With this new piece, Olivia’s reading nook is complete!  …And, I think our sweet girl might love this space just as much as I do!

Baby Girl Nursery

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Father’s Day Gift 2014

To celebrate Father’s Day this year, I knew I wanted to do something special for James.  We’ve had quite a year of ups and downs!  When I saw a template for adorable printable book on the blog I Heart Nap Time, I knew it would be the perfect gift for our superhero!  Here’s how my version turned out:

Super Dad Book

I used Photoshop Elements to superimpose James’ head on all the pages.  A bit of washi tape, a “Dad” rubber stamp, and a personalized message embellished my project.  To bind my book, I used the Sew Easy Paper Stitching Piercing tool to create an evenly spaced row of holes.  Then, I threaded blue baker’s twine to complete the spine.

Super Dad Book Binding

I was so excited to see Erin of Strawberry Mommycakes as the designer of this awesome printable.  I’ve had the pleasure of working with Erin several times on projects for The Dating Divas (check out my recent posts: Mother’s Day Adventure and The Puzzle Date for more of her amazing work!).

Super Dad Treats

….Definitely had to include these adorable snack toppers filled with James’ favorite treats: Skittles and Peanut Butter M&Ms!

Olivia wore her Super Girl t-shirt from Target and presented her SUPER DAD with his gift and candy!  What a great day filled with wonderful memories and the perfect Father’s Day gift.

Super Dad Fathers Day 2

In case you missed it, here’s what we did LAST YEAR.

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Thoughts on Traveling and Motherhood: Part 1

Over the past two months, I’ve spent two weekends away from my sweet baby girl.  I’m happy to report that she did great!  I, on the other hand, was largely a hot mess.  Part of me was so excited to escape my current reality for just a few precious days.  The other part was overwhelmed with anxiety- about a million questions raced through my mind… is James feeding her something other than puffs?  Is she sleeping at my parent’s house?  Does she miss me?  Does she know we are coming back?  Does she feel like I abandoned her?  Are her teeth hurting her?  Am I missing any milestones?

Totally stereotypically.  Totally normal.  And, yet, I’ve never experienced this push-pull range of emotions so completely.  Traveling solo during my first weekend away also brought up another set of questions that I wasn’t necessarily prepared to answer.  All those pesky “what if” scenarios… What if something were to happen?  What if there was an accident?  I was quickly reminded how fragile life can be.  I also immediately thought of a post I had seen on Instagram by Holly from Decor8.  In one of her captions about her beautiful little boy on April 25th, she wrote “I’ve never valued my own life more than I do now…”

Decor8 inspirational words

Ah… I can completely relate.  Don’t you just love Holly’s inspirational words?  Being Olivia’s mama has definitely challenged me in a completely new way to be the best version of myself.  Taking exquisite care of my health, both physically and emotionally, is also a gift to my daughter.  Not only do I just want to be around for the next several decades, I want to make the most of it!  So many things to teach to her and so much love to give!

Motherhood Memories

Photo Credit: Karen Hendrix Photography

And, as if the universe heard my concerns and longing to be a great mama/teacher/friend, I happened to run across a little treasure along the aisles of our local Hallmark store: a recordable version of my most favorite book: Wherever You Are My Love Will Find You.  I’ve mentioned this beautiful story before HERE– I just adore it.  And, now, my sweet baby girl has a version to listen to in my voice.  Knowing Olivia could her me reading and feel all the love from this book’s message made leaving just a little more bearable.

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Two Photos and a Lifetime in Between

Mother’s Day is around the corner.  My mom has always treasured this little grouping of photos that sits nestled in the edges of her dresser mirror:

Mom Gardens

I was probably 15 months old, happily exploring flowers at my grandparent’s garden.  The little girl on the carousel is my mom.  I recently asked her why the photos are taped together and she replied, “well that’s easy- I love this photo [of me] because I can see you in it!  You’re mine.”

I snapped this scene a few weeks ago of Olivia and my mom at the Botanical Gardens:

Grandma and Olivia Spring 2014

I’m struck by the similarities- a flower scene and so much love.  I have a feeling that one day, this photo will be pinned to my dresser mirror as well.

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Around Here: April 2014

I didn’t think that life could actually get fuller.  And then it did.  April has flown by and I’m trying to catch my breath and replace moments of overwhelm with confident faith that everything that needs to get done will.  This month I have been:

… finishing projects.

… planning surprises.

Glittered Champagne

… reading this article: I’m Done Making My Kid’s Childhood Magical and reflecting.  A friend sent this and it struck a nerve, especially since I place so much effort and emphasis on crafting beautiful events for the people I care about in my own life.  I both agree and disagree with this eloquent writer.  Childhood is truly a magical time.  I can almost see light bulbs illuminating for Olivia on a daily basis as she learns new skills or simply delights in activities like watching the puppies or walking around the neighborhood.  However, I also firmly believe that parents can create meaningful moments of engagement… there is a place for crafts, party planning, and beautiful decorations within the sphere of fostering beautiful memories.  It all goes back to intention- are you going through the motions simply for the sake of appearances?  Or, are you building a memory?

… visiting a precious newborn!

Baby-Barrett

… celebrating Easter with our little bunny!

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Photo Credit: TH Photography & Design

Easter2014

Photo Credit: TH Photography & Design

… crying after finding this article: Time & Inspiration. LOVE, love, love Kami’s encouragement to embrace “moments of wholeness and tender growth.”  All the overwhelm/stress/anxiety melts away when you read something like this– suddenly your perspective widens and you are able to appreciate the here and now.

… running my silhouette nonstop in preparation for a special bachelorette weekend.

… listening to the magic of these four voices: (and checking off at least one item on my 30 During 30 list!)

Il-Divo

… managing temper tantrums.  My, oh my, yes… we have entered a new phase where running away in a fit of anger and then dropping to the floor in disgust (complete with tears and flailing arms/legs) is a common reaction to a simple redirection.

Walking-with-Dad

… starting a new project.  Based on this inspiration, James is building me an “L” shaped desk in our living room.

Living Room Desk

… searching for delicious protein packed meals that are easy to make.  Cooking motivation is still eluding me!

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Happy St. Patrick’s Day

St.-Pat's-Day-2014

Wishing you a charming and magical St. Patrick’s Day!

(Photo taken last year and this year- my oh my, what a difference 12 months makes!)

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