the mini album

My mom is the queen of the mini album. For each of her grandchild she has created a "Brown Bear, Brown Bear" book using all of the members of our family for the different pages. My niece, Sonna, once called and told me she could 'read' her book all by herself and then read the thing to me three times in a row.

I love these books because they reinforce family no matter how far away the family is. All of Ivar's cousins on the Harrington side live in Montana or Washington, so books like this are really, really important to me.

Mom also makes small albums for each grandchild after she visits them. She takes a ton of pictures on her trips and then comes home to develop and assemble an individual book that will be sent in the mail. She has done this since her grandkids were babies, so when you visit my brother or sister, you will find these 4x6 albums strewn all around the house. Again, it is reinforcing family and all the fun we have together, even when we live an airplane ride apart. To see these simple albums, click here.

Ivar's baby book

Yesterday I wrote about our Family Album. The plan for the Family Albums is that I will not make multiple albums for multiple children. Rather our kids, if they ever care to, can take those albums and scan or make copies of whatever pictures they want. But a baby has got to have a baby book. I found this Eric Carle baby journal at Barnes and Noble and loved it for its bright colors and tons of blank pages for special pictures. All of these pictures are duplicates from the Family Album, but these pictures pertain specifically to the topics listed in the journaling questions on the pages in between. And even though there are proper spaces for each picture, it is becoming more of a "scrapbook" on other the front cover I mounted my favorite pregnancy cards, in the back cover I mounted Ivar's baptism and dedication certificates. And on any empty area in between I have stuck in other special mementos: the napkin from Ivar's restaurant in Seattle sent from Uncle Ben and Aunt Jeanette, a picture of Ivar drawn by his cousin Mara, a little note my grandma included in with her gift. It's all in the pages of this book.

And now all that's left is the journaling. Heaven help me. That is an overwhelming task! I think I'm going to take a page a day. And I also plan on printing a lot of my blog posts and maybe add those in an envelope in front so that those stories are included within the pages of the baby book.

My final goal with this baby book is that it stays out and is read with dirty fingers by an excited little boy. I mean, not super dirty fingers, and not a super little boy, but that one day (after his ripping pages stage) Ivar can enjoy this book throughout his childhood.

another scrapbooking game plan

I have written a lot on this blog about my plans for scrapbooking. I got really excited about digital scrapbooking for a while. And then I found templates that made it super easy. I thought this style of month-by-month scrapbooking was going to be my scrapbook solution, but each month still took about 2 hours to compile, and honestly I am still stuck back in September. Once Ivar was born, I realized that if I didn't figure out a game plan quick, I'd be overwhelmingly behind. My game plan this time around had to be super, super simple. The solution: print the pictures. Stick them in an album. I waited for a deal at Walgreens and printed 400 pictures. My plan is that these albums will be family albums...not just Ivar albums. This means that when kid #2 comes, their pictures will just be added in chronological order with the rest of the pictures. This is not Ivar's baby book. It also doesn't mean that I am done scrapbooking! My hope is that if I feel so inspired, I might choose to scrapbook a vacation's worth of pictures, or some other picture-happy event. But if it just doesn't happen, those pictures can go into this album guilt-free. What I love about scrapbooking is the combination of story and pictures and mementos. So this album is going to have it all, just without the cropping, matting, trimming and embellishments of an entirely crafted scrapbook. On the page above I have included our three parking stubs from going to the hospital three times before Ivar was born, our hospital wristbands and the sheet of paper we wrote my contractions on. A friend recently introduced me to Project Life and this is sort of the same idea, just without purchasing the kit.
I have places on most pages that at this point are left empty and will be filled with journaling cards next. I have been looking around for the perfect fit, and so far I haven't found many options. I do like Amy Butler's journaling cards, but I have a feeling I may end up making my own 4 x 6 cards to write on, which will probably be a welcome reason to get out my cutter and sticky adhesive :) The other option would be to go digital for the journaling cards and print them like pictures. I'll keep you posted on what I settle on...

So there it is. My latest picture documenting game plan. Give me another few months. It may change yet again. But for now, I'm just proud to be current with Ivar's life!

I got my album from Michaels when it was on sale for $17. It holds 400 pictures and I love that there are vertical and horizontal slots on each page. Michaels also has refill pages available for this album. I can't find what brand or company created this's not labeled anywhere on the album. But they came in a rainbow of colors, with this sort of textured fabric cover. I bought three albums that day and filled the other two with childhood pictures and now plan to purchase a few more so they're ready for the next batch of prints (thankfully our picture taking is slowing down a bit...)

cousins clothesline

This week on zee blog I am going to be sharing a whole lot of picture projects I have been working on. A few weeks ago I decided that I am not going to just take pictures. I am going to print pictures too. And with the printed pictures, I have decided on a game plan for scrapbooking with Ivar... a way to document his life. Just wait until you see it. It is simple, simple, simple and I love it.

This first project took me 10 minutes to assemble. Ivar has six cousins on each side and so using a picture of him with each of his cousins, I tacked up a piece of twine, found teeny tiny clothes pins at Michaels and hung up this cousins clothesline, inspired by this blog post I saw a long, long time ago.

I like this idea because as Ivar grows and I print different pictures of him with his cousins, I can easily swap them out for a quick update.

Celebrating Hildur

Rory, Ivar and I drove to St. Peter today for Hildur's memorial service. You know what is great about a memorial service for a 103-year-old? It's a lot more of a celebration of life than of sad day of grief. For a life lived as fully as Hildur's, there just isn't a whole lot to be sad about. She had a full, rich, and friend-filled 103 years and served God with joy and gladness all of her days. Her funeral was a celebration of faith and faithful friends.

There were a lot of people at her funeral which spoke clearly of how well she kept up friendships even into her 103rd year. Her sister Lois spoke and beautifully thanked every person who had loved and cared for Hildur. Hildur lived independently in her own home even up to her very last days, and though she was well and able, there was an army behind the scenes helping her to live independently. Friends who stocked her freezer with meals, friends who helped her get to appointments, others who faithfully drove her to church... And Lois named each person by name and gave them their earned praise. It was so cool to have the focus of the funeral turned on the congregation gathered. It made sense because we were gathered because of a shared love for Hildur, but it felt so inviting to hear other people's names and how we all served our friend in different ways.

Lois said that when Hildur was asked the secret for such a long and vibrant live she would answer with a list of things, but the first secret was her love for people. That was obvious today.

happy friday night everybody

If you're checking your google reader and are like, "what? did becca just post eight new blog posts?" I'd like to answer that question for you and tell you that yes, yes I did. I feel so good getting the stories and the pictures out there. It was a full week of other stuff going on, but I really wanted to get these pics and stories recorded and tonight was the night.

So enjoy. Even if you just look at the pictures I'll feel better that at least I can start blogging in the present again.

so funny

I opened my present from Sara and Troy and Sara had sewn this amazing apron out of a table runner that she had received from Rory's grandma. The apron is adorable and even has a pocket for your cell phone. The apron is stunning, a true work of art and such an awesome gift.

We talked about this apron for a long time, stopped to take pictures, and admired all of the work that went into it. And then I opened my gift from Lisa and Kyle.
They too got me an apron. And it's gorgeous. But this one wasn't handmade and Lisa was hysterical to watch as this whole series of events unfolded. When we were admiring Sara's craftsmanship, she had sent Josie under the table to grab their gift and hide it. The card would be enough. But Josie came back from under the table defeated, "there are bars! I can't reach it!" I opened this second glorious apron and it was a funny moment in Groves gift giving.

Lisa is also an amazing seamstress, and actually I thought she had made hers as well because the fabrics and ribbons are all so crafty. I love them both and am so happy to be starting a pretty apron collection.
Here they both are...I plan on wearing them separately from here on out.

above and beyond...again.

Lisa brought these cookies to the birthday party. I just wrote about how she is always going the distance. Well, check out the surprise in these chocolate chip cookies. An entire oreo. Inside the cookie. Unbelievable. And so, so crazy good.

a birthday surprise

Two nights before we went to California we were to have supper with my folks to celebrate my birthday with the two of them. When we got to their house, they, and the Groves clan were each holding a mylar balloon and ready to celebrate. It was a great surprise that I had completely sniffed out. Honestly, I have overhyped my birthday so terribly much that the real surprise would be if there wasn't a surprise planned. Family and balloons was perfect.

I had read Rory the story I wrote about the mylar balloons from my 7th grade birthday a few weeks ago. When I was done reading it he said, "that first paragraph was so sweet. I wasn't ready for the rest to get to serious." I think this party, with all of beautiful, shining balloons was his way of trying to put the fun back in mylar for me.

california cousins

We got to see Rory's cousins Tim and Brittany when we were in San Francisco. Tim and I attended our first Groves Family Reunion together when we were both engaged to be married into the clan... I've always felt a special bond with him because of this fact :)

They are salt of the earth people and I wish we all lived closer!

my 30th birthday

Shannon pulled out all the stops for my 30th including 30 balloons to be delivered, a 90(!!) minute massage, supper at a French Bistro and gifts and goodies all day long. Every moment had been considered and I felt so loved.

green pastures

We spent my birthday weekend with our friends John and Shannon at their place just outside of San Francisco in Marin County. It is also their daughter Kate's birthday weekend. We were with Shannon two years ago when her water broke with Kate, and were together last year as well. And I was with Shannon the day she found out she was preggers with Kate. It is a joy to celebrate with Kate.

John and Shannon live in a really gorgeous part of the country. Everything was green, and gave us a welcome break from winter white. Rory spent much of his time walking around their place with the camera and took some glorious pictures.

blog logged

I'm behind on my blog. So backed up that I'm overwhelmed at all I want to cover. I told Rory I am blog logged and he thought that was clever. And then he told me to just break it all up into lots and lots of posts. So that's what I'm going to try to do...with the hopes that I can get things free flowing again.
I had to include this picture because seriously, how great is my haircut? It even looks nice when it's all wind blown and rained on. Let's hear it again for Kari, the girl at juut who gave me this mama-easy-hair-do.

next stop: san francisco

Dear Taylor,

Dear Taylor,
UPS Delivery just called and said they're parked outside of your apartment. I am assuming you are in unit 303, since this was the number listed by the call sheet in the entry way. Just thought I'd pass the message along. Hope you get your package.

Stars and Dots, Limes and Balloons

I was thinking about one of my very best birthdays. I was in 7th grade and it was the year of the balloons. In middle school all of your friends would bring one Mylar helium balloon to school so that all day long you could parade the fact that it was your birthday. Being a great fan of my own birthday, I had made sure everyone knew my birthday was coming up. Also working to my advantage was the fact that I was friends with a lot of people from a lot of different social circles. When I showed up to school that morning the balloons kept coming and I ended up with a huge balloon bouquet- one of the biggest I had ever seen at Scott Highlands Middle School- and proudly walked them through the halls with me from class to class.

It was a big deal. I remember feeling loved and remembered and popular. I loved those balloons.

But a funny thing happened just three days later. That day it happened to be one of my dearest friends birthday. She was one of the most loyal friends I have ever had. Her birthday came and there were only three of us who brought her balloons. And all day long she had to bring those three sorry balloons with her to all of her classes.

I felt her embarrassment, and the whole day was uncomfortable.

Those balloons remind me a lot of the stars and dots the Wemmicks give each other in Max Lucado’s children’s book, “You are Special.” The good Wemmicks who can do tricks and use big words and make others laugh are given stars from the other Wemmicks. But the ones who don’t perform well are given dots because “everyone knows, they’re not really good Wemmicks.”

That year the veil was lifted in a pretty profound way for me as I watched my bedroom full of mylar balloons begin to droop. Somehow those balloons had become something so much more than balloons and I didn’t like it. It knew it wasn’t right.

I was like Amy in Little Women, fixated on her limes, “It’s nothing but limes now, for everyone is sucking them in their desks in schooltime, and trading them off for pencils, bead rings, paper dolls, or something else, at recess. If one girl likes another, she gives her a lime. If she’s mad with her, she eats one before her face, and doesn’t offer even a suck.” (chapter 7)

Isn’t it amazing how we seem to be able to pick such arbitrary objects to fixate our affections? God must go crazy sometimes trying to keep up with our ridiculous fads. Limes for Amy, balloons for Becca…and in the end it is all so silly. And sad. Makes me wonder what my current day “balloons” are…and makes me want to pop those idols real fast.

today's the day

I'm celebrating 30 years today. So crazy. And so good. I like where I'm at in life and don't feel too taken aback by such a number. I feel strongly that a woman is her most beautiful between 35 and 45, so the best is yet to come. This means I might be a wreck on my 45th birthday. But not on this one.
I've seen this done a lot on various blogs as a way to mark the year and to set goals for the 365 days ahead. So here is my list of 30 hopes in my 30th year.

(And, a tip from my mom: When you make a list, it is always important to write down a few things that you have already done that day so that you can cross things off the list to get your engines fired up. You'll notice a few of these are already done. Go me!)

1. New hair color and style
2. Host a Favorite Things party
3. Join the Y
4. Learn how to use the manual mode on our camera
5. Make a small quilt
6. Keep a prayer journal
7. Use my water colors
8. Join a creative arts club
9. Create a place where Bible can stay out all the time
10. Make modge podge art scenes

11. Collect frames for wall collages
12. Print pics, fill frames and hang on the wall

13. Paint the bedroom
14. Make this kind of bread15. Pick color scheme for wardrobe overhaul
16. Finish and print 2010 digi scrapbook pages
17. Make lemon ice and eat it with my sister
18. Get a consistent plan together for visiting Mount Olivet Home

19. Honor the Sabbath
20. Eat more veggies
21. Write and mail letters by hand
22. Introduce Ivar to Lake Superior
23. Make cupcakes with large decorating tip
24. Try a few new soup recipes
25. Find a monthly mom's group
26. Keep writing
27. Make a picture slide show for Grandma's party
28. Present my 'Passing on the Faith' workshop
29. Frequent the library
30. Grow fresh herbs

29 accomplishments in my 29th year

Tomorrow I turn 30. I'm excited. And I'm also reflective. I just went through my blog, pulling out 29 favorite accomplishments. They are, and in no particular order:

Grew a life inside of me
Attempted once-a-month-cooking
Put on 45 pounds, took off 35
Stopped talking on my cell phone while driving almost entirely
Hired 70 incredible college students for camp ministry
Enjoyed the bounty of a patio garden
Backed up my computer…on my own!
Realized the key to warm feet is thick socks
Survived labor and found an inner strength I never knew
Took thousands of pictures and actually printed some of them
Put together an adorable nursery
Made a rainbow cake and shared it with my sistah's
Realized I have journaled my entire life
Learned how to knead dough (sort of)
Organized a parade
Shared a hotel room with a stranger
Spoke at an adult retreat
Moved states
Read a new favorite: Million Miles in a Thousand Years
Received all sorts of mama and fatherly wisdom
Launched and failed "becca-anna's banana's"
Watched this video countless times
Scrapbooked on the computer
Baby-mooned on the North Shore
Celebrated 5 years of marriage
Discovered Trader Joes
Was celebrated and supported big time
Grew in love in ways I never knew possible

It was a good year, 29. Thanks for being so good to me. Now if you'll excuse me, I have another decade to report to.

a guest blog post

I recently ran into a life-long Mt. Carmel friend (best surprise ever) at Ikea in the candle and vase area. We wondered together if the candles were any good from Ikea, because the price was amazing. Well, Rene got to the bottom of this one for us and I thought I'd share her findings :)

Today she sent me an email with the subject line: "If I had a blog..." and her first line was, "...Today's entry would be this: (thought you might like to know)"

Take it away Rene!


Last weekend I purchased an orange (melon-smelling) candle from IKEA for $1.99

Since I like candles and have tried a few different brands over the years, here is my review.

(show photo here - before burning)

I would give it an A+ for the price

a B for the 'clean melting down the sides' ability (but do think I can recycle the glass jar when done - IKEA suggests using it for their votives, of course they are trying to sell you more stuff)

an A- for the smell - it was good, but have you ever tried a Colonial Candle? YUM! (But you do pay for that wonderful smell!)

(another photo of half burnt candle)

So, I think these 3 grades average out to an A-. Go ahead, pick one up on your next trip to IKEA. It's well worth it for the price!

This is some helpful stuff. I do believe I will be zippin over to Ikea one of these days for some A- candles of my own.

Exponential Improvement

I have a friend who had a baby recently and I shared this story with her in an email as a bit of mama-encouragment that life will get a bit more "normal" with time...

Ivar got his four month shots today and I was in awe at my improved state of wellness since the last time we were there. I remember for his two week check up I could hardly make it to the check in counter. Rory was holding everything and I hobbled to the elevator slow as molasses. Then for the two month check up, Rory still held the carrier and diaper bag as I made my way to the elevator at his same pace. But I was exhausted that day. And so happy to have him there.

But today, Rory and I met at the clinic. I got there first and I carried Ivar and his many props in, took the stairs even, and couldn't believe the exponential improvement I have experienced since this little boy was born. I wouldn't have believed it at month one or even at month two, but it’s like my energy has doubled each month since having Ivar. I still need naps occasionally, and I still wonder what it might be like to get an uninterrupted night’s sleep in, but on the whole? Well, I actually think I’m going to make it!

the snowy day

We took Ivar out to play in the snow. It lasted for three minutes and consisted of a photoshoot and an attempt at a baby snow angel. It was a fun introduction and has me excited for the day we can build forts together. His little outfit reminds me of The Snowy Day. I might need to go and find the board book version of this favorite...

6:40 am

Dear 6:40,
What's up? Actually, I can tell you what's up. We are. Our whole family. And the truth is, 6:40, we don't need to be. But there is a little fella in our family who seems to want to greet you each day, and it's crimpin my style. He loves you though. Greets you with a smile and a happy disposition. I'm afraid I can't say the same.

I know this isn't a super early wake-up time for a lot of the world. But I also know that a lot of the world doesn't have to get up so often during the night and wrestle wiggly legs into a clean diaper and sit upright while a belly is filled.

So 6:40, let's just part ways and hang out in the pm. I'd be happy to appreciate you then.

above and beyond

Whenever I describe my sister-in-law Lisa to anyone, I describe her as Above and Beyond. She never does anything half way. Or even all the way. She goes past all the way...

I was just washing my mirrors with some glass cleaner she loves and gifted to me. A while back I had asked her if I could borrow her cupcake tree for a birthday party and the next night at church she left for me two different cupcake trees, medium and large plus a huge bottle of her favorite glass cleaner thrown in just for good measure. I opened that bag and saw the two cupcake stands and the glass cleaner she had grabbed at Sam's club that day and said, "above and beyond. That is Lisa Groves."

And the glass cleaner? Awesome. I'm afraid Toonces my try to fly through our windows.

the every day

I came across these pictures while putting the printed version in our family album. I love having captured the ordinary, every day. I need to take more pictures like this. These shots were taken on a Saturday when the three of us worked hard at the kitchen table. One was working hard on business stuff, another on thank you notes and the other on neck control.

getting myself in the pictures

I am in the middle of a monstrous picture printing/documenting project. Actually, the monstrous project is simply trying to keep up with Ivar's little life. I printed 400 pictures a few weeks ago when Walgreens was running a deal and now I'm trying to get them all into an album. (I know. 400 pictures in 4 months is a bit extreme. But he's our first and this is what parents do with their first child.)

What I began to notice, however, is how many adorable pictures I have of Rory and Ivar together. Mama seemed a bit absent from the shots. I wasn't entirely absent, but if we were keeping score (and maybe we were...) Rory would have won. Though I don't fault him...there have been a few photo opps where I asked that my pajama-pant-dirty-hair-self be left out of the photos.

All this to say, today I staged a photo shoot for me and my baby boy. We were in our Sunday best and feeling photogenic. He was wearing a sweet cardigan and corduroy outfit from Mom Groves that was given at Christmas. Adorable. Reminded me a lot of my Grandpa Bredberg in his button up cardigan.

So mama's, grab the camera and enlist your hubby, sister, bff or mom. And get in the pictures!

be sure to look for our clothing line

My niece, Maddie, sent this on to us's an email from Forever21 announcing their new line of clothing by designer Rory Beca. How crazy is that?!!