Tag Archives | Olivia’s Growing

Charting Progress

Our Parents as Teachers Coordinator stopped by this past week to check on Olivia’s progress and administer her 12 month ASQ Screening.  As I expected, Olivia passed with flying colors and even obtained perfect scores in the gross and fine motor skills categories.  Part of my homework from this session including filling out Year 1 of a multi-year medical record.

Medical-HistoryThe questionnaire started with the normal rundown of documenting birth and medical complications.  On the next page, I found a box labeled “General Development.”  Such simple questions… that left me with tears streaking down my face.

I’m not sure what it was… perhaps the act of writing it down or seeing it so neatly condensed on 2 sheets of paper served as a trigger… but the juxtaposition of Olivia’s early start compared to her vibrant and healthy current reality has never felt so palpable.  I am just so grateful.

My beautiful, feisty, independent girl is thriving.  These days, she is literally running to embrace life.  I struggled to contain all of my answers to the first question {What can your child do well?} on a single line and felt my heart swell with all the memories of Olivia’s milestones.  I didn’t even know what to write for the second line.  Yes, she has trouble sometimes focusing on listening to an entire storybook BUT that is usually because she is ready to practice a new motor skill.  Perfectly normal at this stage.

Not to say that there aren’t difficult moments and darn right challenging days.  Sometimes, it’s minute by minute!  Despite demanding learning tasks (for both mom and baby!), watching Olivia awaken to all the wonderful possibilities of this world is such a special gift.

I am so grateful.

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…and she is ONE.

A sneak peak of a precious milestone for our family.

Winter ONEderland First Birthday

Winter ONEderland First Birthday 2

Olivia’s beautiful spirit, feisty independence, and incredible strength continues to amaze us on a daily basis.

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30 Days of Thankful: Week 3

Another week has gone by and I am loving Cathy Zielske’s 30 Days of Thankful project.  Here’s a peak at my pages through yesterday:


Before our trip, my Mom and I stopped at Pottery Barn Kids and I picked up a pack of DIY butterfly paper masks to bring to Wisconsin for Halloween.  This darling set turned out to be such a fun activity for all the girls.  They even made a special butterfly cut-out for Olivia… priceless!






A snapshot of my favorite details: fun musical notes, a camera tag, a little ribbon bow, and more!


Project archives: Week 1, Week 2

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In the Workshop: Halloween Scrapbooking

As I mentioned in this post, I created 2 scrapbooks to savor the season and preserve some of our first Halloween memories with Olivia.

Halloween Memory Books

I just love how these turned out!  I followed Kathy Orta’s instructions from her Interactive Mini-Scrapbooks guide to transform a mixture of photos, papers, and embellishments into a treasured keepsake.  I also tried to leave a bit of “empty” space in various places so I could add journaling text documenting funny stories.  Here’s a peak at the overall layout of the book on the left:

Halloween Memory Book

And, here’s a glimpse at some of my favorite design elements:

Halloween Memory Book Details

For this book, I used lots of punches, patterned paper, letter & number stickers, glitter, and die-cuts.  I am really looking forward to adding more pics to cascading pages in the center section over the next few years.  I think it will be so fun to look back at our baby’s different Halloween costumes.

I decided to make the second book for my sister-in-law.  Here’s a peak:

Halloween Memory Book Details 2

The last page was intentionally left blank for her to add a picture from this year’s Halloween.  The little pocket with the bat contains a collection of fun Halloween jokes from Kristen Duke… I knew my little nieces would get a kick out of reading these!

Looking forward to next year’s “spooktacular” memories!


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Fall and Halloween Traditions

Lately, we’ve been:

watching the leaves turn.


visiting the pumpkin patch.


helping Olivia stand and pull herself up on various pieces of furniture.

singing (lots of singing).

practicing different learning concepts like “on/off, open/close, up/down, etc…” with our very active 10 month old.

picking out the perfect Halloween costume for our girl.  Our darling little Snow White literally grew overnight… right into the next sized costume!!


crafting various cards and collecting new project ideas.  So excited to be part of Jessica’s new team!

loving this beautiful smile.


shaking off feelings of overwhelm and stress.

and most recently:

dreaming of a beautiful, fully functional kitchen (see this post).

thinking about Halloween traditions.

I’m particularly intrigued by Linda’s suggestion to make a fortune cake on the blog Giggles, Gobbles, and Gulps.  I loved reading Modern Parents Messy Kids guide describing 31 ways to begin a family Halloween tradition.  (J and I might have to try using cookie cutters to carve our next pumpkin!)  These 2 pins {HERE & HERE} have an awesome list of suggested books to read at Halloween.  And finally, a simple search on Pinterest yields hundreds of fun “Boo Your Neighbor” ideas… I can’t wait to try out this fun activity next year!

To capture the memories, I created 2 multidimensional mini scrapbooks from scratch in early October.

Halloween Scrapbooks

The inner pages are perfect for recording the details of Halloween adventures across multiple years.  More details to come regarding this amazing keepsake based on Kathy Orta’s instructions!

How do you savor the season?

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Lately… Summer 2013


Row 1: In late July, James’ parents visited and we tackled cleaning up our yard.  We weeded like crazy!  (I don’t think our yard has had any attention since Olivia’s early arrival.)  The garden bed along the side of the house was completely overgrown.  Due to the unseasonably cool summer temps, Olivia was able to spend some time outside with us.  She is pictured here on one of my favorite quilts from my Grandma.

Row 2: We tried a recipe for homemade mango margaritas… yum!  Olivia practiced her swimming skills and I enjoyed snuggles early one morning with both my girls (Lexi and Olivia).  I also sent my favorite children’s book (Wherever You Are: My Love Will Find You) along with a handmade card to a friend that delivered her baby very prematurely.  My heart goes out to this new mama and we pray for their sweet boy each day.

Row 3: I severely burned my hands after a glass dish broke filled with scalding liquid.  Real aloe and lavender essential oil were a saving grace.  We made a fun “Congrats!” sign for a friend that completed his PhD.  I couldn’t be there in person to hear his dissertation defense, but Olivia and I cheered him on in spirit!  We also celebrated 2 big milestones during the month of August: Olivia learned how to sit-up by herself and tried her first solid foods (avocados!).

Row 4: A friend and I tried making laundry detergent, body wash, and diaper rash cream using essential oils.  With my mom’s help babysitting Olivia, I was able to work on several fun card projects this month including several thank you cards.  On August 17th, we took Olivia to the zoo for the first time.  We enjoyed seeing the giraffes, elephants, and tigers.  I never realized how gracefully hippos glide through the water!

Row 5: Olivia took her first plane ride to Washington DC to attend James’ brother’s wedding over Labor Day weekend.  (Read my 10 Tips for Traveling with a Baby post.)  It was awesome to see Olivia interacting with her 4 sweet cousins.  Our trip included many sightseeing adventures and even a trip to the ocean!  Olivia was not a fan of the waves.  When the water started to rush up onto her feet, she immediately started crying!  We met a fisherman along a pier while exploring the beach that proudly told us his philosophy on fishing: “You just missed the two best fishing days of the year… yesterday and tomorrow!”

Row 6: Lots of wedding fun!  A quick pic of J and I before the ceremony started.  Olivia “helped” us make a card for the newlyweds… she might have tried to bite off the corner… And, finally, our sweet girl turned 8 months old.  It is amazing how much she changes and grows each day.

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You Are My Sunshine Party Theme

When Olivia was discharged from the hospital, we followed the nurses orders to stay away from public places for fear of RSV.    When the flu season ended in late April, we decided to celebrate!  I knew that I wanted to do something based on song, You Are My Sunshine, since I sang this tune to Olivia while pregnant and during her time at the hospital.


When I searched Pinterest for inspiration, I came across the tag line, “We’ve weathered the storm and landed on Cloud 9” from this gorgeous party on Bump Smitten.  I couldn’t believe how perfect this little saying was for capturing both the turmoil and joy of the past few months.  Here is my spin on Olivia’s sunshine party.

The Invites

I’ve always loved the idea of sending candy as part of a beautiful invitation.  I spied this elegant invite and knew that I wanted to design my own whimsical version for Olivia’s big day.


I used digital patterned paper, a collection of fun fonts, and a butterfly punch adorned with tiny pearls to complete the look.

The Decor


Tablescape elements: handmade tissue clouds sprinkling raindrops and hearts; a handmade “Olivia” banner constructed from patterned paper, punches, and spellbinder dies; chocolate dipped oreos and assorted lemon treats; fresh flowers; and a fixings for sunshine sundaes!



I fell in love with this gorgeous set of spoons by BellaJacksonStudios that are stamped with the lyrics to the party’s theme song.  They ended up being the perfect serving pieces for all the sundae toppings.


I also made mints for guests to take as favors!  One side featured a flower sunshine burst while the other sported a delicate tulip.


Our bar area was stocked with various lemon flavored drinks and a fun sign announcing our signature concoctions.



This manzanita branch tree functions as a perfect backdrop for displaying special photos and vignettes related to important celebrations.  For this occasion, I hung handmade little frames, gold glittered stars, and a mini bunting banner spelling out Olivia’s name.



The main event of the party: making sunshine sundaes!  We had a selection of toppings including: chopped lemon cookies, candy pecans, mini chocolate chips, Andes Mint chips, butterscotch/white chocolate chips, and sprinkles!


Since the guest list included mostly adults, I wanted to come up with an activity that would be fun AND still allow everyone to chat at their leisure…  our homemade sunshine dart board turned out to fit the bill perfectly!


Finally, I also set up a station filled with cards to give to Olivia in the future on her 16th, 18th, and 21st birthdays.  I asked our guests to leave our sweet girl a fun message or memory.  These simple cards were made in Photoshop using various digital elements and adorned with rhinestone/pearl embellishments.  I can’t wait to see Olivia’s face as she reads priceless messages from family and friends.  Completing this activity with my grandparents and seeing their handwritten well wishes has become a treasured memory for me, as well.

It was a wonderful day filled with laughter and sunshine for our sweet Olivia.

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Marking 33 Weeks and 4 Days.

I was pregnant for exactly 33 weeks and 4 days.


Today, Olivia is 33 weeks and 4 days old.


So many mixed emotions running through my mind today…

Olivia has been outside as long as she was safely tucked away inside my tummy. It’s crazy how quickly this much time has passed…although I can still vividly recall the feelings of fear, shock, failure, and overwhelm as we realized our sweet girl was coming so many weeks early as if it were yesterday. Her beautiful spirit and strength have changed our lives so profoundly and I am so grateful to all the family and friends that have kept her in their prayers. We are SO fortunate that she is thriving. We love you, Olivia.

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Happy Birthday, Lexi!


Our sweet puppy, Lexi turned 5 today.  This little darling has been a ball of energy and personality from the moment we picked her up.  Even on the most rotten of days, she always manages to make me smile.



Lexi and Olivia are becoming such great buddies.


Here’s an excerpt of one of my letters to Baby talking about our pups:


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DIY High Contrast Books for Babies


During our first visit with the Parents as Teachers program, our coordinator emphasized how fascinating black and white images were to infants.  She recommended this popular board book to help stimulate Olivia’s brain development.  It features a total of 10 large and familiar shapes for babies to study.  I loved the concept of this simple book and thought I could replicate the intent using my mom’s library of craft punches.

I made a total of 2 books that incorporated white, black, and red punches.  Here’s the process in action:


A snapshot of the first high contrast book:


And, here is the second, smaller book that I created that focuses on different Holidays throughout the year.


I had so much fun coming up with Halloween and Spring scenes for Olivia to ponder.  I also loved how each of the seasonal images gave me something to talk about- it was like an instant little prompt for me to share a story about a particular event.  We talked about Halloween costumes, Easter traditions, Fourth of July fireworks, and the list goes on!

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