Wednesday, November 28, 2007

So Thankful!

We have so much to be thankful for this year! It has been the most amazing year of our lives...watching Olivia grow. As we stop to reflect on all of the wonderful things we have to be thankful for, the one that tops the list is family. And this Thanksgiving, as always, we were surrounded by lots of family...making it another Thanksgiving to remember!
Aunt Susan and her family flew in from California. Her son Ryan, who is a Senior at IU picked them up in Indy and they headed to the Fort. Grandma Cleo and Uncle John drove down from Michigan as well. Since we no longer have any spare rooms at our house they all stayed with my Mom. She had quite a house full!

For Thanksgiving dinner there were 10 of us all together...so there was a lot of turkey! Last year Olivia was only a few weeks old and Todd and I will still adjusting to being new parents. We were not able to relax and enjoy the holiday like normal, since we were stressed and sleep deprived. Well it's one year later, and things are much easier! Olivia was even able to partake in most of the yummy dishes this year...making it much more fun for her! We had a fabulous Thanksgiving dinner and enjoyed a long weekend of good food, good drinks and good company! Here is Olivia enjoying her first official Thanksgiving meal...

Feed Me! (Notice her shirt?)
Ohhhh...that's good!
Since Aunt Sue and her family live so far away now we only get to see them a few times a year. That being said, she gets quite excited to spend time with little Livie. Now it always takes Olivia a little while to warm up to people she is not used to, but within minutes of Aunt Sue Sue's arrival Olivia had a new best friend. They spent a ton of time together over the weekend and in a matter of a few days Aunt Sue had taught Livie a new trick...how to say "NO-NO!" Oh my goodness Sue, what have you done?

It was all very innocent really. She was just teaching her the song about the monkeys jumping on the bed. At the end of the song you say, "No more monkeys jumping on the bed!", and you shake your finger. Well Olivia caught on to this very quickly and all weekend she was shaking her head and finger while saying "NO-NO!" Although it is very cute she is now using her new phase on a regular basis....usually to tell me that she doesn't want something. It is amazing how they figure out what certain things mean and what context to use them. My biggest challenge is keeping a straight face and not letting her think it is funny for her to tell me NO. Oh, what is in store for us!!!! Here are some pictures from our fun weekend...

Taking steps...
Four Generations...

Belated B-day present...

Worn Out!
It was a fun weekend and we were sad to see everyone go. We will be spending Christmas with Grandma Cleo and Uncle John, but we do not know when we will get to see Aunt Sue Sue again. It could be awhile. That makes me sad...especially seeing how much Olivia enjoys her. But we were thankful to be able to spend Thanksgiving with everyone. Now the holidays are in full swing! This is our favorite time of year. We are excited to start some Christmas traditions with Olivia and watch as she enjoys all of the excitement this time of year brings. There is just so much to do....

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Need a little help...

getting into the Christmas spirit? Well then take a look at this...

A Family of Elves

My Aunt Delia made this, featuring me, Todd, Olivia and my Mom. It sure was good for a few laughs, as well as a good 15 minutes of entertainment for Olivia, after watching it over...and over...and over!

Enjoy and Happy Holidays!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Special Moments

Every moment with Olivia is a special moment. And over the past couple of months our little girl has grown from a baby to toddler...creating many, many special moments for us! The transformation seemed to have happened overnight...leaving me wondering what happened to our Baby O? Along with this transformation comes a whole new world of experiences. Although it was tough leaving the baby stage behind, the toddler stage has been a joy! Every day she surprises us with something new...whether it be a new word, a new skill or an adorable new habit. I have been told that the second year is amazing...as you watch them grow in body and mind. We are so excited for what lies ahead!

So as we enter this new stage I would like to share with you some very special moments from the past few months. Each of these pictures captured a special moment that stood out and will always be remembered. I am not a very good photographer, but once in awhile I take a good picture. The pictures below were taken by me and some of my family members. I will briefly explain the story behind each of the photos...

One morning a few weeks ago I walked into Olivia's nursery to get her up for the day. I usually walk in to find her standing, waiting for me to pick her up for a big hug. But on this particular morning she must have been more tired than usual. She seems so peaceful, so I had to snap a picture. It truly captures her innocence.

This was taken on Olivia's first birthday. We were at my mother's house for Olivia's party. While we were waiting for the guests to arrive Livie was exploring the house. She is quite fond of this low shelf that holds family photos...mostly of me as a baby. I like how she is studying the pictures. Although she does not know she is looking at pictures of her mommy as a baby, she gets very excited when she sees other babies. (That is me in the frame in the background).

This picture is a bit dark but I think it is just adorable. This is Olivia's Auntie Delia. She is my Dad's brother's ex-wife (got that?). Even though she is no longer married to my uncle we have remained very close. Up until a few weeks ago Delia and her husband Brian were living in Florida...and had yet to see Olivia since she was born. Well they now live in Bloomington, Indiana and we are so very excited! Delia and Brian came to see Olivia for the first time the weekend of her Birthday. My husband caught this special moment of the two of them. We look forward to being able to see them more often and for Olivia to get to know her Auntie Delia.

This is Olivia and her friend Henry. We met Henry by going to the mom group at Dupont Hospital. We have since grown out of the mom group but we have stayed in touch with some of mom's and babies we have met. Those of us who have babies close in age try to get together from time to time so the kids can play together. Henry's mom Laurie invited us over recently for a birthday party for the little ones who just turned or were about to turn one. We each brought a gift and had an exchange. The toy you see in the picture above is the toy that Henry choose as his present. Olivia was immediately interested because she has the same toy at home. For that reason she felt it was necessary to show Henry exactly how it worked. I just love how they interact with one another.

In the past few weeks Olivia has found the courage to start walking with the help of her walking toy. We just turned around one day and there she was...taking steps! Now she is all over the place with that thing...walking it into walls most of the time...but she loves it! So much so that she has mastered the skill with one hand. In the picture above she is holding onto her walker with one hand while holding her favorite orange toy in the other. This girl can multitask! The video below shows just how proud she is of her newest accomplishment...

Isn't it amazing how quickly they change? We have been so busy lately with all of the new developments and milestones I realized that I have not given any updated stats on Livie in awhile. A few weeks ago we went to her one year appointment at the pediatrician. She weighed in at 23 lbs. 15 oz and was 31 inches in length. She received a clean bill of health and Dr. Lisa said she is developing wonderfully! As you saw above she is actively walking with her toy. In fact she took her very first steps without the toy this past Sunday! Of course I missed them as I was having coffee with a friend at the time. I leave the house for one hour and miss one very special moment...can't believe it! I know she will take more steps very soon so I am excited to witness them firsthand. I will also post some video when she starts doing it on a more regular basis.

She is also talking up a storm. She has many words including...baby, bubble, ball, kitty, bye-bye Elmo (of course), and the basics...mama, dada and nana. She is a busy little bee...constantly on the move. She plays so hard that she still needs two naps a day. She is eating 100% table food. Things are much easier now that she can eat many of the same things we eat each night for dinner. Olivia also loves to read her books. Although she likes for us to read to her she also enjoys pulling all of her books out of their basket and spending time looking through them herself.

It is an exciting time in the Menor household. We are getting ready to start celebrating the holidays and we are preparing for all that will come along with Olivia's newest skill...walking! Next on the agenda...Thanksgiving...the best meal of the year! I am excited for Olivia to be able to enjoy her first turkey day! I have no doubt she will like it! Many more special moments to come...

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Sixty & Sensational

With the hustle and bustle of planning Olivia's first birthday party my mother's recent milestone birthday was almost overlooked! This was the year of the big 6-0! Many months ago I asked her if she wanted to do anything special...and she quickly answered NO! Her reasoning was because she was going to be too busy planning Olivia's party and she did not feel it was necessary to make a fuss. Although I disagreed I told her that it was ultimately her decision. Well I didn't listen and I immediately started planning a fantastic party to celebrate Judy turning sixty!

With the help of her friends we were able to pull off a party to remember! Her close friend Helen offered her home in which to hold the fete. We disguised the event as a party for Helen, who celebrates her Birthday just one week later. It was the perfect cover and an easy way to get my Mom to her party without being suspicious. My dear friend Korrie came up with the fabulous idea of giving the party a theme. She thought it would be neat to throw a pink party, in honor of breast cancer. We asked all of the guests to come wearing something pink. We also suggested that in lieu of gifts they make a donation, in my mother's name, to the Vera Bradley Breast Cancer Foundation. Since my Mom really does not need anything I knew she would be thrilled to know that we were raising money for a cause that is so close to her heart. Of course she still received a bottle of wine from just about everyone who attended...are you surprised?

Not only did Korrie design the classy invitations for the party she also made an amazing cake! On top of that was able to get Vera Bradley to donate party favors and decorations. Once they heard about the theme party and the fact that we were raising money for their foundation, they jumped at the chance to participate. Each guest got to take home a notepad and a card holder. They also gave my Mom a backpack in their breast Cancer Foundation signature design...amazing!

So after weeks of planning and trying very hard to make sure no one spilled the beans...the time came to surprise my Mom. The party fell on the same weekend as Olivia's 1st Birthday party, so my Mom was too busy to notice if anything strange was going on. We had family in town for Olivia's party, but they were also in town to attend the big 6-0 party...little to my Mom's knowledge. I had everyone arrived at Helen's by 6:30 and by 7 my Mom was arriving with my Grandma & Uncle. She was not surprised to see Helen's house full of people since she knew she was coming to a Birthday party...but she was more than surprised when we announced that the party was for her...Happy Birthday!

She was in complete shock! We explained why everyone was wearing pink and the purpose behind the theme. She was quite touched and thought it was a great idea for a fabulous cause. I provided a full dinner...catered by Casa's. We had a wonderful evening of food, friends and of course...good wine! Here are a few shots from the party...

Mom & daughter...
Our host...
Ladies in pink...

Four Generations...

Good friends & good wine...
Tough guys wear pink...
The pink family...
Thank you to everyone for helping to pull this off. I knew it would be tough to keep a big secret like this...but we did it and it turned out perfectly! Thank you to Helen for opening her home to all of us. And a BIG thanks to Korrie, for being the brains and creative force behind this unique idea. Without her it would have just been a simple birthday party. Here is a great shot of all the Pink Ladies...excluding my Mom...as she had not yet arrived. I wish we would have thought to take another picture once she joined the party!

When it was all said and done we raised close to $600! My Mom was so grateful to everyone, not only for their generosity, but for being such amazing friends! All night she kept saying how blessed she was to have so many amazing people in her life...and she is right! I think even though she said she did not want anyone to make a fuss on her 60th birthday, she was thrilled that a fuss was made

So cheers to you Mom! You deserved this party for so many reasons. You are an amazing mother...a loving Nana to Olivia...and a caring and supportive friend to so many. You truly are sixty & sensational!

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Look Who's One!

Are you surprised that Olivia loved her very first Birthday cake? Are you surprised that Olivia loved having one day that was all about her? Wait...every day seems to be all about her! Well, on this day we were celebrating one very special occasion...Olivia's 1st Birthday!

The theme was Elmo! Olivia has had an obsession with Elmo for quite a few months now...so we thought it was necessary that Elmo have a strong presence at the party. And that he did! From the Elmo plates, napkins and party hats, to the many adorable balloons and finally the amazing Elmo cake (made with lots of love and hard work by Olivia's godmother, Korrie), my Mom's house was turned into party central! And let's not forget the presents! Look at that pile of loot! This is one lucky little girl!

Olivia's Nana was kind enough to host the party at her house. I don't think I could have handled all of the stress of planning and hosting this party at my house, while still being able to enjoy Olivia's special day. She is a pro and truly enjoys entertaining. It was originally supposed to be a small family affair, but it grew into a much larger celebration. I was worried that Olivia may get a little overwhelmed with all of the attention...but of course she handled it like a champ! Here we are arriving at Olivia's party.

As you can tell Olivia was thrilled with the decorations. She was especially fascinated with the walking Elmo balloon given to her by her babysitter, Mama Kay. She spent most of her party crawling around and mingling with her many special guests. All of Olivia's aunts and uncles were there as well as most of her cousins. Olivia's Great Nana Cleo and Great Uncle John were also in attendance. They drove down from Michigan to celebrate with us.

Big Elmo balloon...

Livie & Great Nana Cleo...
After a fabulous Italian lunch, fixed entirely by my Mom, we decided it was time to sing "Happy Birthday" and let Olivia dig into her cake. This was by far the highlight of the day! I thought that Olivia would be the type of child that would have dove in, head first to her cake. I think she was in a little bit of shock as she looked around at all of her guests. I can't imagine what she must have been thinking.

All of the attention caused her to become slightly shy. She oh so gently swiped the icing off the top for her first taste. She quickly realized just how good the icing was and the finger started moving at a quicker pace. After a few minutes of that she got the courage to stab the cake with that finger, getting a taste of the chocolate goodness! From that point on she knew she had a good thing and became a little more aggressive. I knew this was the perfect time to sneak the cute little birthday crown on her head (thank you Kim!), that she had refused to wear at any point thus far. The wonderful taste of chocolate was the perfect distraction. Within minutes she was grabbing handfuls of cake and attempting to cram it in her mouth. The amount that actually made it into her mouth was minimal compared to the amount that was "caked" to her body when she was finished.

Testing the waters...
Getting adventurous...
Digging in...
Yeah...all done!

Olivia's front row audience consisted of her youngest cousins. They were making goofy faces and egging her on to make an even bigger mess. She could hardly contain her excitement between the cake and the entertainment from the boys. I was prepared to deal with a huge tantrum when it was time to take the cake away but surprisingly, she was easily distracted. I think she knew that the next task on the party agenda was opening presents!

Time for presents!

Livie loves books...
It's all about Elmo...
Olivia received some wonderful gifts...many of the Elmo variety. A few of her favorites were the Elmo books, the talking pizza Elmo from her G-Ma in Hawaii, and the giggle and shake Elmo chair from her Mommy & Daddy! She also received some beautiful clothes and very first wooden rocking chair...very cute! My Mom also opened a college fund in Olivia's name, which was very generous of her. Olivia is very blessed!

I cannot believe that we have just celebrated Baby O's first birthday! It was by far the fastest year of my life. In some ways we are sad that those baby days are behind us, but we are so very excited about Olivia becoming a toddler! Thank you to everyone who attended Olivia's birthday bash and showered her presents and lots of love! What a perfect party for a perfect little girl!

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Looking Back...

I am still trying to wrap my head around how quickly this past year has gone. It seems like just yesterday we were welcoming Baby O into our lives. I knew that I would love this baby, but I could not comprehend just how strong that love would be until I looked at her for the first time. This little girl has brought so much joy to so many people in the short time she has been on this earth. Now that she is here I could not imagine my life without her in it. She amazes Todd and I each day with her glowing personality and rapid development. We have so many memories from her first year and I am so glad that I documented them on this blog. Not only to be able to share with all of you, but to be able to one day share with my sweet Olivia. It is been the most amazing and challenging year of my life, and I would not change one single second! I just love being a mommy...but I am so very blessed to be Olivia's mommy!

Today we celebrated Olivia's first birthday with an amazing party! It was a very special day and we were so fortunate to be able to share it with the people that mean so much to us. In the hustle and bustle of the day I, of course, did not take many pictures. Others did...and as soon as I get those pictures from them I will show you what a fun party it was.

So thank you Olivia...for bringing so much joy to our lives. The first year with you was so special and I am so excited for year number two...and three...and four...

Mommy & Daddy love you so much!