Category: Olivia Iris

Happy Friday, everyone!  At this time one week ago, I was fluffing pillows and chopping veggies and preparing for a sweet little weekend with our dear friends, the Kaisers.  I met Nate and Jaclyn (photographers behind The Image is Found) in 2006 when we were all young and fresh-faced in the industry, as we worked with some amazing clients on a posh Hollywood Hills estate wedding.  We had an instant click that night and over the course of the last 8 years (!) we have made some awesome memories together.  They have photographed us multiple times, most notably for this bride & groom session we shot in a dried out lake bed in the rain in early 2007.  ;-)  My friendship with Nate and Jac has always been so natural and easy.  We just get each other.  We can go months without seeing each other and then boom — we get together and laugh until we cry like we never were apart.  Jac has also been such a loving and supportive friend to me through hard times.  When I had my first miscarriage in 2011, she was the first to send me a little love package, an encouraging book, and a heartfelt note.  To know the Kaisers is to love the Kaisers and I am so grateful they are in my life.

circa 2010??

When we used to live in LA and they lived in SD/Oceanside, we would meet in Orange County for catch up lunches.  Now that they live in the mountains and we live further up the coast, our visits have been fewer and farther between.  So, I was thrilled to have them stay with us for a few days while they shot a wedding in Paso Robles last weekend.  They arrived on Friday and we shared a scrumptious homemade vegetarian meal (butternut squash ravioli and sundried tomato soup!) together before staying up late giggling and catching up.  On Saturday, we had a delicious brunch at The Natural Cafe in SLO before Nate and Jac headed off to shoot their wedding.  Erik and I took the three kiddos (Grace, Jasper, and Olive) to Avila Valley Barn where we visited adorable animals (including alpacas and goats), enjoyed saltwater taffy and local honey, and took a requisite hayride.  Back at home, Erik took Jasper and Olive in the backyard to hunt for four-leafed clovers (we found 7 in under 15 minutes!  Isn’t that amazing?!  I don’t think I ever found one as a kid.) while Grace and I made a batch of homemade caramel ice cream.  You guys — it turned out to be the most decadent and luscious ice cream ever.  Recipe coming soon!!

While Olive napped, Erik and I played Monopoly with the Kaiser kiddos.  We had heard Jasper was a fierce competitor (and he was!), but Erik took no prisoners and destroyed us all (typical).  Around sunset, we headed to one of my favorite local parks (overlooking the vast Pacific) to run off some energy and explore the shores as the tide came in.  Then we picked up some delicious local pizza and ate it on a blanket spread out in the living room, picnic-style, while watching Frozen.  It was such a sweet and simple day.  The kids got along SO well.  I think I pinched Erik a few times throughout the day and whispered how much I’d love to have three kids one day.  ;-)

Nate and Jac got home after the kids were tucked in, and we sat up late (again), devouring caramel ice cream and cracking up over hilarious stories about our awkward teen years.  Oh geez!

They set off for Solvang on Sunday so I had Grace snap this quick photo on our steps before church.  I love hosting guests in our home but even more than that, I love nourishing enduring relationships with wonderful friends.  Thank you, Kaisers, for such a wonderful time!  We love you and can’t wait to come see you in the mountains!

I hope you all have a great weekend!  I’m speaking at the sold-out Enjoy Events Co. workshop on Sunday and will be up tonight putting the final touches on my presentation.  Yay!  If you haven’t entered our blog/site launch giveaway, make sure to do so before Sunday night!  Thanks for stopping by — see you again soon.  :)

No April Fool’s jokes here… I am honestly just excited to see this month arrive.  Once April unfolds, I feel like the entire spring and summer come tumbling behind at super speed.  I glance at my spring/summer wedding calendar and know that all of these dates will be here before I know it.  I can’t wait!

tulips and muscari in our mailbox planter

Today I have been cleaning house (literally), having been recently inspired by Clean My Space.  I found Melissa on YouTube this weekend and was instantly hooked on her fun cleaning videos (I know it seems crazy, but stay with me).  Am I the only one who gets major clean-spiration from watching and reading things like this??  You give me a cleaning checklist or show me a new trick for organizing and I’m totally energized to tidy and mop and scrub.  Anyone??  Well today I tackled four loads of laundry, overhauled Olive’s closet and vacuumed two rooms… and dinner is already in the works.  I’m feeling unstoppable!  ;-)  My toughest task is purging.  I’m not a hoarder by any means, but I’m certainly nostalgic and I find it difficult to let go of mementos.  Thankfully I am getting better at it but I still wonder if one day someone will rife through my stuff and find it odd that I kept all my high school drama production playbills.

In other news around the house, Erik spent most of the weekend leveling and filling in our side yard with float rock (a light colored landscaping rock).  I love the look of it and can’t wait to add some outdoor furniture, a grill, and maybe a hammock??  He also built another raised bed planter to add there.  We picked out four heirloom tomato varieties for planting and we’re nearing harvest time for some of our leafy veggies.  It’s amazing to see how beautifully everything has come up, when all we did was plant and water.  Next up, he’ll be putting up a new wooden fence and gate for that area.  I’m hoping that by the end of the month, we will finally get to refinishing the hardwood floors inside the house and tackling the kitchen cabinets.

from two recent site visits // dallidet adobe & saddlerock ranch

Our busiest time of year for weddings is just ahead so I’m handling lots of walkthroughs, timelines, stationery design, floor plans and design presentations right now.  Seeing things fall into place for each event makes me so excited.  I’m also working on my presentation for the Enjoy Events Co. workshop next weekend in Santa Barbara.  I am honored to be a guest speaker and hope to share lots of useful information with the attendees.  I think a couple seats may still be available if you want to check it out!

And perhaps most exciting of all: my completely new website and blog will launch very soon!!!  I cannot wait to share them with you so stay tuned.  ;-)

meal plan + shopping list from a few weeks ago // LOVE this meal planning pad from my friend rachel of heart of light

For now, I’m off to pour myself a glass of home-grown lemonade (yum!) and finish my weekly meal plan before we go to the grocery store this afternoon.  How was your day??

requisite photo of Olive :)

See you again soon!

Just a couple weeks ago, Olive had the time of her life visiting Disneyland for the very first time.  As longtime Disney-philes (Erik and I have been to Disney World in Florida 2x, Tokyo Disney, and are previous Disneyland annual pass holders), we had been eagerly awaiting this milestone with her.  But, I am glad we ultimately waited until she was nearly 2 to make this special trip.  I think she was at the perfect age to really soak in everything around her, interact with some characters and remember (in the short-term, anyway!) things about the day.  If we ask her about Disneyland, she can recount to us the rides she went on, the characters she saw, and on and on.  ;-)  It was a perfect first Disney experience.

Our visit was facilitated by our dear friend Jackie whose husband, Brendan, (Erik’s longtime friend — he was in our wedding and Erik officiated Brendan and Jackie’s wedding!) works for Disney.  That means she can sign us in (woohoo!) when we are in town.  ;-)  A biggggg thank you goes out to Jackie (and baby X!) for making our day so special; we can’t wait to revisit with Brendan joining us!

her Mickey from home had to join us!  She didn’t love her 1st visit button so this is the only pic of her wearing it.

Erik and I weren’t sure what to expect with Olive’s first visit.  Would she be terrified of the characters?  Would she be overwhelmed by all the sights, sounds and activities?  Would she be too scared (or too small) to go on any rides?  When would she nap and where?  Would we push her in the stroller or let her walk?  Would we have any fun?  Well, here’s a recap of our adventure and a few suggestions I’d offer to anyone planning their own child’s first Disney trip!

We got to Disneyland about an hour after opening and it was just right.  We didn’t have to stand around waiting for the park to open and we didn’t have crazy parking drama from arriving too late.  We parked quickly, grabbed a stroller and got straight to it!  We decided to do both parks that day (Disney CA Adventure + Disneyland) so we started at DCA.  Olive’s first ride was Ariel’s Undersea Adventure.  The Little Mermaid was my favorite Disney movie growing up so I thought it was only appropriate.  ;-)  Olive was fascinated overall but did find some parts (with Ursula) “too scawy.”  Other rides we hit in DCA were:  The Golden Zephyr (maybe a little too fast for her.. she got nervous toward the end but luckily the ride was already winding down at that point), Heimlich’s Chew Chew Train and Francis’ Ladybug Boogie (a teeny version of the teacups).  Our lunch stop was the Lucky Fortune Cookery at DCA.  Their rice bowls are pretty yummy and filling.  (My other quick DCA fav is clam chowder in a Boudin bread bowl!)

After lunch, we headed over to Disneyland.  As we were walking through the gates, we spotted Mickey Mouse in front of the Main Street Cinema.  It was perfect timing as we only waited about 5 minutes to meet the mouse.  Olive’s initial Mickey meeting was better than I could have dreamed.  She walked up to him slowly, then held both of his hands and asked gently, “Mickey??”  They hugged, she kissed him on his nose, and they cuddled some more until I realized we probably should let the other families in line have a turn.  :)  As soon as we had finished, we bumped into both Donald and Pluto so we had to meet them, too!  Since we were able to get photos with 3 characters in one place, we decided not to spend any additional time that day standing in line to meet other characters.  We’ll save Minnie and co. for next time.  ;-)

Rides we went on in Disneyland: Dumbo (2x), the carousel, Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride (I love the nostalgia of it but it is a pretty disturbing ride!  Olive deemed it “too scawwy” as well.), Storybook Land Canal Boats, Casey Jr. Circus Train (a must for my Dumbo-loving girl), Pirates of the Caribbean (Olive was half asleep for most of it, haha) and Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters.  We also made a requisite stop for Dole Whip (which resulted in a near meltdown when Olive got a taste and wanted to desperately shovel the rest into her mouth.  Erik took her for a walk while I finished it off!).  What did we expect?  Everyone knows Dole Whip is irresistible.  ;-)  We chose the ubiquitous Mickey ears for her first souvenir and she still can’t get enough of them.  Even with the personalization, they were quite a bargain and well worth the price.

Olive usually runs on a very normal schedule.  She naps like clockwork everyday for 2-3 hours.  So how did she do with all the stimulation at Disneyland?  Well, she fell asleep in line for Casey Jr. (at her typical nap time) but we chose to wake her up when we finally got on the ride because we knew she’d love it.  And of course, she was completely enthralled when she heard the song cue up and we began moving.  Unfortunately she never truly fell asleep again, aside from another quick catnap in the evening.  Erik and I decided to take a chance and go on Pirates with her on my lap and it paid off.  I’m glad we got to enjoy one of our favorite rides together.  I think Olive did really well sans nap (aside from the Dole Whip incident, no other meltdowns occurred) but I know this will vary from kiddo to kiddo.  If we were visiting the resort over a few days, I’d probably return to the hotel in the afternoon for her nap to keep her happiest.

We ended up staying until closing (at 8p) but skipped World of Color (the spectacular nighttime show in DCA) this time.  It was a fantastic day filled with so much laughter and joy and wonder.

getting sleepy on the Storybook boats

Dole Whip, pre-incident

Here are my tips for anyone planning first trips with their little ones:

  • Start early — I’m glad we began our day early when Olive is generally the most energetic and happy.  It also meant we got to ride a lot of rides without much of a wait, avoiding the burgeoning afternoon and evening crowds.  And although we skipped World of Color, we did get Fast Passes for the show (which run out very quickly in the day) because we arrived early.
  • Pack snacks — Disneyland is great about letting you bring in your own bottled water and snacks.  We brought a bunch of goodies including Plum Organics pouches, almond crackers and fresh fruit.  It helped us keep Olive content and well-fed throughout the day, especially when she suddenly needed a snack and we were smack in the middle of a line.
  • Rent a stroller — we went back and forth about bringing our own nice stroller but ultimately didn’t feel comfortable with the idea of leaving it at the entrances of rides.  Instead of buying an umbrella stroller (which would never use again), we rented a Disneyland stroller.  It was roomy, comfortable, had a better height than most umbrella strollers (Erik is 6’4″ so pushing short umbrella strollers is awkward for him!) and had room for storage under the seat.  The canopy is also really big which was great for sun protection and some extra storage (we put Erik’s backpack on top of it).  We still carried our valuables onto each ride but it was great to not worry about our stroller in the park.
  • Let your kiddo set the pace — We knew that taking Olive meant going for her.  We are both huge kids at heart and we love rides so it was different going to the park and not hitting any of our favorite attractions.  But, we ended up riding things we had never gone on before (!) and enjoying the experience in an entirely different way.  With adjusted expectations, we were able to enjoy our visit so much more.  That said, I still can’t wait until Olive is tall enough to go on the “big rides” with us!
  • Be flexible — We didn’t have a real plan or list of things to do or see.  We went with the flow and never pushed the pace.  I felt like we were never rushed but we were still able to do and see a lot!

last pic of the night!

I hope you all are having a great week!  It has been such a busy few days that I am in disbelief that it’s Thursday.  Wasn’t it *just* the weekend??  I’m off to run errands with Olive; see you again soon!

Our little sweetheart turns TWO today.  Unbelievable!  I started writing Olive’s birth story to share here (which I’ve never done!) but I’ve got cupcakes in the oven and lots of chores and emails to handle so it will have to be posted anther day!

Today, I wanted to share another love note to my little girl.  Hope you don’t mind.  ;-)



My dearest Olive,

Happy birthday baby!!  I simply can’t believe you’re two years old.  Well sometimes I can.  I honestly cannot imagine life without you so in some ways, I feel like you’ve always been with me.  But most of the time I’m in a state of shock as time whizzes by and you keep getting bigger and lovelier by the moment.

Since you won’t remember much of anything of yourself at this age, let me tell you all about you at two.  You are a complete and utter joy to me and your Daddy.  You are so full of life and energy and laughter.  You love to dance and run and jump and play. You could go down the slide at the park all day long (and sometimes you do).  The swings still aren’t your favorite, though.  No matter how often you ask to be put in them, it’s only three or four swings before you abruptly tell me that you’re finished with them.  You love the beach and the sand and you aren’t afraid to get dirty.  You’ve helped me loosen up about this, too.  ;-)  You love shoes and you are constantly pointing your shoes out to strangers when you meet them in the store.  “Shoes! Shoes!” you excitedly exclaim as you point down at your sparkly Toms or shiny boots or Saltwater sandals.  When we get dressed in the morning, you love picking out the perfect pair for the day (although I admit I often steer you away from the patent leather dress shoes and toward the sturdier options).  You are an incredible talker and chat with us all day long.  You have an extensive vocabulary and surprise us with how well you can repeat things back to us after hearing them only one or two times.  You are sensitive and empathetic.  When you see me wince or even cry (as you did recently), you come over with furrowed brows and say, “No cry, Mommy.  It’s okay!”  You hug me tightly and rub my back and kiss me until I show you my smile.  I thank God for giving you such a sweet nature and kind spirit and I know you will share so much love with others as you grow older.

You are daring when you’re with Daddy — you can jump off of anything if he’s within arm’s reach and love to rough house with him.  But you find a few things frightening, like Ursula on the Little Mermaid ride at Disney’s California Adventure.  You declared that “too scary” and buried your head in my chest until the ride was over.  You are a great eater and have never been picky.  Even if you refuse something (to test us?), you will try it when sternly asked and almost always ask for more.  I love watching you devour a bowl of Japanese-style pork curry or my homemade Thai coconut-lemongrass soup (tom kha gai).  Despite our initial efforts, we caved and have let you watch a little bit of media here and there (on Netflix or on the iPad in a desperate situation).  Your favorites are Peppa Pig and the Leap Frog learning videos, so we lucked out there.  You also adore Dumbo and the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse.  You love music and always want me to sing to you, or with you.  You can sing “Let it Go” and “Do You Wanna Build a Swowman” from Frozen and Daddy and I die laughing when I say “Go away Anna!” and you hang your head and say “Okay bye….” like in the song.  It cracks us up that you can already “act” and get the meaning behind the words we’re singing.  You also love singing “Baby Mine” from Dumbo and “Jesus Loves Me.”

You love your extended family and have a great group of local and hometown friends.  I am thankful that you are growing up alongside so many wonderful kiddos.  We are blessed by our community!  Your closest friend is probably Jetta from church, and you get uncontrollably excited whenever you see her.  I love seeing the two of you girls together!  Although you have always been pretty social, you’ve been a bit more clingy with me lately.  I know it’s just a phase so in the meanwhile, I’m enjoying the extra snuggles and cuddles.  I hope that even when you’re older, I can be a source of comfort for you, turning your eyes and heart to the great Comforter, our God.

Olive, you have turned our lives upside down in the very best way and we thank God for you every single day.  We pray as a family at bedtime each night and I still get choked up thinking about how long we prayed for you.  The fact that you are here now, for us to hold and laugh and learn with… it is such an amazing blessing and joy.  As you grow older, I pray you will come to know our Lord and I pray that your Daddy and I will be strong examples and encouragers to you.  As you graduate from babyhood, I think it’s only natural that I have been wondering if God has a sibling in store for you.  I catch myself being fearful or anxious about how life will/would be if you were an only child.  I know these worries are fruitless.  Although we are praying daily for another little one to add to our family, I hope you always know that you are so special and precious to us.  I know that whatever the Lord decides for our family, it will be the best.  For now, I will continue to strive to pour out my heart and energy and love into your life.  I know I will make lots of stumbles and mistakes along the way but know that I will always do my best.  Whenever you read this, I hope you can get just a glimpse of how loved and treasured you are.  You are such a gift, sweet Olive.  I love you with all my heart and everything I am.

xoxo, Mommy


I hope you’re all having a wonderful day; I’m off to frost some cupcakes!  See you again soon!

I’ve come to accept the fact that Olive is nearly two.  It’s just undeniable at this point given that there are less than 2 weeks until her birthday.  I’ve started telling people that she’s two (instead of 23 months) when they ask how old she is.  Olive will proudly put up two fingers and pronounce “TWO” when asked that question herself.  Growing older is inevitable.  While I’m not bummed about getting older myself (I’ve never been spooked by it), I have to admit that it’s tough sometimes watching Olive grow from baby to toddler.  Don’t get me wrong; I know it is a blessing to grow old(er) and I am thankful for each and every day with my sweet girl.  I just catch myself wondering if future-Olive will be as cuddly and close to me.  I keep hearing it only gets better so I’ll look forward to what’s to come.  It’s a good reminder to hold her with an open hand, knowing she is a gift from God and ultimately belongs to Him, not me.  <3

So.  Here it is.  The last monthly update before Olive is TWO!

  • We made new friends (Hi Zakary, Boden, and Ellis!) and played with old ones (Jetta and Piper!) at the park, beach, and beyond.  I am grateful for Olive’s little pals and the time we can spend together.
  • We went mini-golfing for Erik’s birthday and Olive LOVED it.  Mini golf has always been a favorite date activity for us and it was so sweet watching Olive get into it.  We look forward to many more memories on the mini links (ha!) together.
  • Erik introduced Olive to the joy of splashing in the rain and she got soaked, loving every second of it.
  • We visited the local nursery for more flowers and found a frog — Olive was so fascinated!
  • A few late night drives to Los Angeles were made, and Olive was grateful for time with both sets of grandparents.
  • I *finally* let Olive help out in the kitchen (stirring, mostly) and she has been SO eager to help since.  I love seeing her excitement for everyday tasks.
  • We planted some primroses in the front of the house and Olive supervised.
  • Speech continues to explode, and we are blown away by the things she says!  She is speaking in many full sentences, with some up 5-7 words long.  This area is certainly her strongest and we are amused by her funny comments throughout the day.  Recent new phrases and sentences: Mommy/Daddy, where aaaaare you?  Come back!  What are you doing??  (She asks this about 10x in a row.)  I go find Daddy.  There he is!!  Where did Dumbo go?  There it is!  I go play on baby slide.  Mama we go color Dumbo?  We go color Mickey Mouse?  She can sing a few songs in their entirety (Jesus Loves Me, Twinkle, Twinkle, and now… a good portion of “Let it Go” from Frozen.  You guys — there are few things more hilarious than a nearly-two year old singing “I can’t hold it back anymore!”  haha  A preview of some teen girl angst, perhaps??)

It was another sweet month with my favorite little girl.  As her birthday and birthday party approaches, I am filled with gratitude for how the Lord blessed us with this doll.  Last night we snuggled with Olive for 30 minutes or so before putting her into the crib.  Those memories, those giggles, that scent of her hair (I wish I could bottle it!) and her sweet kisses… those moments are priceless.  Sweet Olive — we love you with all our hearts and we are in awe of you each and everyday!

I will save the totally sappy post for next month.  ;-)  I’m off to tidy up around here and not cook dinner.  Yep, I usually make dinner 5x a week but of course today we find out that there is a major problem with our stove leaking dangerous levels of CO2.  They turned off the valve and put a scary red “DANGER” tag on it and everything.  Looking on the bright side, there might be a pretty new range in my future?  And of course, dinner out.  ;-)  Have a great weekend and see you soon!

Happy Monday everyone!  I knew I wanted to write a catch-up post today and I realized that I already did a “life lately” in January… only a couple months ago.  It didn’t feel right putting February in the title, since most of these photos are from last month so… there ya go.  ;-)  Here is a glimpse of what we’ve been up to around here…

Daddy made a new mailbox (refinished this Saddlerock wine barrel for the base!) and Olive had to inspect it

Girl dates at Sally Loo’s!  This one with some sweet college girls and another one with the lovely & talented Jennifer Young.  Great conversations accompanied by yummy açai bowls = my favorite.

roasting lots of veggies

planning and prepping for 2014 clients!

waking up with the sun to workout (who am I??)

dipping our toes in the sea

chartreuse ladybug sighting (we match in our dots!)

beach time with some pals and their mamas (Olive was not in a picture-taking mood, even with the treats in her mouth) // loved catching up with Ally and April and their girls

Olive loved hanging at the park with Boden — aren’t they precious together??

This pic is my fav, though — she is literally falling off the back here.  haha  (Don’t worry, she was fine.)

Me and Boden’s mama, the multi-talented Jess Wilcox

coloring with my girl // can you tell which side is mine?

our hellebores are starting to bloom!

wallpaper weekend!  Erik put up my dream wallpaper, Cole & Son ‘Woods,’ in our bedroom.  I can’t wait to share the final result with you all!

a quick snap during breakfast yesterday; I wanted to capture the length of Olive’s hair when it’s all down.  I love this sweet pic of her profile, too.

splashing in the rain yesterday, as encouraged by Daddy.  She got soaked and loved every second of it!

Things have been great around here; busy with all good things!

Hope you all have a wonderful week!  I have a sweet client coming to town for some meetings so I can’t wait to finally meet her in person (yay!) and get down to business planning for her oceanview wedding.  See you soon!

I have to write this post today, before I forget the details of the precious, beautiful, fleeting moment I experienced last night with Olive.  So yes, I’m kicking off the week with a very personal diary-style post and I hope you don’t mind.  ;-)

Yesterday Olive woke up with a sniffle and a runny nose.  She still greeted me cheerfully as I walked into her room to get her.  I got us ready for church and off we went.  At that point we weren’t sure if she had allergies or a cold, since she didn’t have a fever and it was just a clear runny nose.  Just a couple hours later, however, we could tell she wasn’t feeling well.  Her eyes were watery, her nose was still constantly dripping, and she had begun to both sneeze and cough.  Her afternoon nap was normal, but she continued to cough after she woke up.  It broke my heart every time I heard that rumbly chesty cough come out of her, or watched her try to wipe her nose in frustration before I swooped in with the Nose Frida (mamas know what I’m talking about!).  No one wants to see their baby sick!  We had a lazy afternoon and unremarkable evening.  I just focused on keeping her hydrated and snuggled up.  And then it was bedtime.

Typically we change Olive into her PJs, brush her teeth, and walk her through a simple bedtime routine that includes turning on her Sleep Sheep and Ladybug Constellation night light and then praying together as a family.  We place her into her crib tired but awake, and she snuggles in without a peep.  We call out that we love her and close the door.  And that’s it until morning.  It is pretty incredible that she has always fallen asleep easily and without much of a fuss.  I am grateful for it, of course, but I would tell my mama friends that I often wished she would fall asleep in my arms or let me rock her.  There are some nights that she literally wriggles and leaps out of my arms into her crib after we say, “Amen.”  She is *that* eager to get to bed and *that* comfortable doing it on her own.

So last night, it was different.  Last night I could see that Olive was having trouble breathing with her nose because she was so stuffed up.  Erik prepped her cool mist humidifier and I gave her a soothing nighttime bath.  She was getting drowsy.  I got her into her PJs and wrapped her up in a blanket and then went back into the bathroom.  I turned on the hot shower water and sat down on the closed toilet lid, my two year old “baby” bundled up in my arms.  She didn’t struggle.  She didn’t wriggle or ask for “night night.”  She just stared up at me, straight into my eyes.  And as steam filled the room, I started to rock her.  I started softly singing “Twinkle Twinkle” to her.  But she looked up and quietly said, “Jesus Loves Me.”  I couldn’t believe it.  I’ve only been singing the song with her for a few days and out of nowhere, she was requesting it.  The words also seemed like a simple statement from her lips and the power behind it just blew me away.  I started to sing the song, still rocking her, room full of steam.  She started to drift to sleep, her eyelids fluttering, but when she tried to keep her eyes open they were fixed on me.  The last thing she said before she fell asleep was, “Jesus.”  I lost it, guys.  I totally began to cry, voice creaking, warm tears landing on her little shirt (gratefully she was wearing an undershirt so I don’t think she felt my raindrops, haha).  It could have been the cloud of steam or the veil of tears, but for a moment I honestly saw her as a baby.  I literally saw her closed eyes and peaceful sleeping face as it was when she was a tiny baby.  And in that moment I felt so unbelievably grateful.  And I’d be lying if I didn’t say I also felt a twinge of sadness.  I thank God everyday for my beautiful daughter and yet I also feel that pull in my heart, that desire to hold too tightly, that secret wish for her to stay little forever.  I pray I never cling too tightly; I pray that I always see her for what she is — a child of God, a tender soul to shepherd and guide and love and instruct.  A gift entrusted to me.

I told a friend today that motherhood has changed me in every single way, and for the better.  I have learned so much about myself since becoming a mother and I know I will continue to be stretched over the years ahead.  At the moment of Olive’s birth, something in me switched… something put in motion from the moment I knew I was pregnant with her.  I have learned so much about God since having Olive, too.  I can glimpse a tiny bit of the love of the Father for us in the way I love her.  It is incredible to ponder.

After gently putting Olive into her crib last night, fast asleep and heavy in my arms, I went to bed early with teary eyes, just relishing and reliving the precious moment I had just experienced.  It’s funny that one of the first things I thought was, “I need to write this down before I forget!”  I so desperately don’t want to forget these simple little moments that mean so much to me.  I am truly so thankful for the reminder I was given last night — a moment to slow down, savor her “littleness” one more time (as it rapidly slips away), a moment to thank God for the long-awaited answer to prayer that is my baby Olive.

me and my olive // 7 weeks old

Thank you for letting me share a bit of my heart here today.  <3

Olive turned 22-months old on Sunday and I’m already writing her monthly recap — how’s that for efficiency??  I’m usually so late on these that I thought I’d hustle to get this update posted today.  ;-)  With Olive’s 2nd birthday around the corner, I am getting *even more* sentimental, thinking about how quickly time has passed since her birth.  I got pretty teary last night while snuggling her before bed.  It might have had something to do with just having watched The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (highly recommended!!) but I just felt SO grateful for her.  I know every mother must feel the same way about their children, right??  I hold her tight and breathe in her incredible baby smell and kiss her cheeks and feel like my heart is going to explode with the amount of love and care I have for her.  It is amazing.

wearing a favorite vintage dress from my friend and former client, Jess

Here are our highlights from month 22…

  • We saw Frozen at the drive-in and she seemed to pay attention for most of it!  We’ve been going to the drive-in since she was a newborn and it really is the best way to see a movie with kids.  You get a double feature for $8/pp and you can eat and relax in the comfort of your own car… Can’t beat it.
  • We visited the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach and had a great time!  Olive has been obsessed with aquatic life since we took her to the Sydney Aquarium last spring.  I love watching her face light up as she observes the “fishies.”
  • I did a wedding in Long Beach (the first ever at The Loft on Pine!) for a sweet friend and Erik and Olive were guests!  It was kind of crazy having her there and trying to work, but I still love a chance to dress her up.  ;-)  She did try to help me by picking up rose petals (one by one) after the ceremony was over.
  • We celebrated Christmas in soCal with our families and had a wonderful time.
  • Lots of park time with friends!  The slide is still her favorite — she could go down it 20 times straight!  The swings are her least favorite.  She’ll go in for about 12 seconds before she says “all done swing.”
  • We rung in the New Year with friends and woke Olive up at midnight for a kiss.  The deer-in-headlights photos of her crack me up.
  • She saw Finding Nemo (aka “Nemo Fishy”) in parts this month and she loves it!  I also showed her a clip on YouTube of “Under the Sea” to acquaint her with another Disney ocean-themed classic.  It’s now on her request rotation anytime a computer is around.
  • Many more words and phrases including: Ouchy boo-boo for any type of injury, both real and imaginary, in request for a kiss from Dada, Where you going?, Thank you much!, Si-yee Dada or Si-yee Mama when she thinks either of us is being goofy, Oh dear! whenever I ask her where something is or where something went, etc.  She loves play cooking with some new kiddie cookware, pretending to talk on the phone (mostly with her grandparents), riding around the sunroom on her toy car and cleaning up (with a duster).  ;-)
  • Olive has always been an affectionate girl but she is really ramping up her lovey-ness and I can’t get enough!  She requests hugs and kisses on a daily basis, is always asking me to pick her up (“hold you!”) and loves to cuddle.  I am so grateful for this because I am such a snuggler… I don’t know if it’s nature or nurture but I love it!

{ 22 month photomosaic }

Darling Olive — Sweetie you make us laugh everyday with your antics!  I love hearing you chatter and sing throughout the day, I love watching you play with a new toy, I love seeing your sweet facial expression while we bow for prayer as a family.  I am soaking up every minute of your little-ness.  So many mama friends around me have urged me to never take a moment for granted because this time is over so quickly.  I don’t think I could do much more in terms of soaking each minute in, but I still feel time slipping away from me.  I can never get enough of you!  Thank you for still letting me cuddle you like a baby (we call it “baby mode” and you know when I say that to curl up like an infant in my arms — it melts me!) once in a while.  I promise not to bug you to do that when you’re a teenager… hopefully.  ;-)  You fill our home with so much joy and you remind us everyday that God answers prayers.  We love you babygirl!  love, Mama

I hope you’re all enjoying this week so far!  I’m working on putting together final docs for our first wedding of the year which happens to be this weekend.  Can’t wait; see you all again soon!

Hello everyone!  I am sneaking in right before the end of 2013 to get this latest monthly update in.  ;-)  I have a New Year themed post scheduled for tomorrow but I just *had* to get this post up before the month (and year) draw to a close.

With the holidays in full swing, writing this update was a challenge.  We have been busy traveling to see relatives and hosting some as well!  I write these monthly posts according to Olive’s birthday, so they run from the 12th of a month until the 11th the following month.  So, this post covers November 12-December 11th!  I just thought I’d clarify since my belated post is coming after Christmas, but won’t include it.

Highlights from month 21:

  • We had a luxurious stay at the Pelican Hill Resort while I worked on a spectacular wedding.  Olive loved running around in our suite and exploring the property with Daddy while I worked.  
  • Our good friends Ben & Drew of the Cana Family took our photos for our Christmas cards.  Olive was a little less than excited to pose for photos that day, but they still managed to capture some incredible images we will treasure forever.
  • We hosted two dinner parties at our home for church members.  We can’t wait to eventually have everyone over!  Olive was the life of the party, cheerfully mingling with our guests.
  • We got our Christmas tree and Olive fell in love with its twinkle lights and sparkling ornaments.  She learned quickly not to touch the tree and was great about her obedience all season long.
  • Olive got to see all of her grandparents at Thanksgiving and she loved every second.  She also had a blast playing with her cousins, Adrian and Alejandro.
  • We took Olive to ride the train in the mall for the first time.  She was unsure about it, then terrified, and then I had to get on board with her.  haha  She still isn’t sure what to think about it, but I blame it on the boring circular track.
  • Olive somehow caught hand-foot-mouth disease (ugh) but had a very, very mild case.  We are thankful that she never lost her energy and joyful spirit while she was sick.  Unfortunately she passed the virus on to Daddy and he had a much harder time with it (an entire week home from work, 90% of it sick in bed).
  • New language includes hilarious phrases like, “Where Dada go? Dada go wuhk (work)!”  She also tells me to be “care-foo” when I’m standing on a chair or hanging something up.  Random skill: she can distinguish a bunch of types of nuts because they are one of her favorite snacks.  She can point out pine nuts, almonds, cashews, and pecans.  ;-)
  • She can count confidently from 1-10 and sing her entire ABCs.  Olive still loves nursery rhymes and a new favorite this month was “Hickory Dickory Dock.”  She also loves the Mother Goose Club on YouTube — the “Dinosaur Stomp” and “Driving” are the ones she is constantly requesting.

Our darling Olive, We are so grateful for the year we have had with you!!  It is hard to imagine you as you were in January: a wobbly walking little babe.  Today you are such an active, animated and entertaining character!  People are amazed when we tell them you’re not yet 2 — you are such a precocious girl with your bubbly personality and language skills.  You still make me and Daddy laugh on a daily basis, sometimes on purpose and sometimes not.  ;-)  Although you are quite social and fiercely independent, I love that sometimes the only thing you want is mama’s arms.  I hope that never changes.  You are such a precious part of our family and we thank God for bringing you to us.  Love you so, my darling.  xoxo, Mama

Our 21st month photo mosaic:

Thanks for reading!  I hope you have an absolutely wonderful evening, whatever you do to celebrate.  I’ll see you in 2014!!

Hello everyone!!  Today I am starting to catch up after nearly a full week of Thanksgiving vacation.  We had such a wonderful time visiting our family for the holiday but it feels great to be home, too.  Olive is napping away and I’m finishing some laundry and inbox upkeep, so I thought I’d stop here with a little recap of our Thanksgiving celebrations!

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite days of the year.  I always look forward to gathering with my loved ones and reflecting on all of the blessings we enjoy together.  My blog is a highlights reel of my life, so a casual reader may think that everything is always picture perfect over here.  Trust me — I experience real life struggles and difficulties like everyone else.  I’ve learned that thankfulness comes from a heart with the right perspective.  Happiness may come and go based on circumstances and situations, but contentment comes from within, and is borne from an awareness of our identity in Christ.  I can honestly say that even when times are tough, I have so much for which I can be thankful.  I have my unchanging God, an eternal hope, an unshakeable peace.  I am constantly working on cultivating a heart of gratitude and I pray that I demonstrate a spirit of thanksgiving all year round!

On Thanksgiving day, we were given an abrupt and dramatic lesson in gratitude.  As we drove from one celebration (at my mom’s) to another (at Erik’s aunt’s home), we noticed an erratic driver in front of us.  I called 911 to report him since he was weaving in and out of the lanes, slumping over his wheel, etc.  As I was speaking to the operator, we witnessed him drive straight into a streetlight pole.  It was surreal and horrifying.  While the driver did survive, they found him to match the description of a fugitive.  A search of his car also uncovered various drug paraphernalia, suggesting he was likely under the influence on the road.  Erik and I thanked God that we were behind his car, not in front of it, and that he was stopped (albeit dramatically) before he could further harm himself or others.  But I had to wonder… who was this man, and why was he strung out and all alone on Thanksgiving Day?  It hurt my heart to consider.  I prayed for him as I thanked God for my precious family and the gift of life.

In spite of the traffic scare, Thanksgiving was still a lovely time.  We began the day with a mostly vegetarian organic & gluten-free brunch at my mom’s.  We feasted on seafood cioppino, decadent crab casserole, roasted vegetables, a refreshing arugula salad, and of course, my mom’s famous guacamole (still my all-time favorite).

there’s just something about your mom’s cooking…

grateful for our great God, and praying that Olive grows to know and love Him one day

grateful for my sweet mama

grateful for a healthy, goofy little girl

grateful for my sweethearts

Olive is grateful for Dumbo

grateful for self timers on cameras :)

In the evening, we enjoyed a more traditional turkey-centric dinner at Erik’s aunt’s home.  Olive had a ball playing with her two cousins and enjoying the play room.

I am truly thankful for all of the abundant blessings God has poured out on my life.  I am thankful everyday for my relationship with Christ, my sweet and hilarious husband, my beautiful miracle baby girl, our amazing extended family, the roof over my head, the good food we have to eat, the beautiful area we live in, the dear friends who pour into my life and heart, the inspiring clients and colleagues with whom I work, and of course YOU — the readers who cheer me on and lift me up from afar.  I am grateful for everyone who takes the time to stop here.  Thank you for your support!

I hope you’re all having a sweet afternoon; I’ll see you again soon!