When Weston was first born, Eric's parents live many states away and weren’t able to come meet their new grandson for three months. Though they live far away, Eric and I have come up with many ways to include them in Weston's life over these past eleven months. We’re lucky to be living in such a technological age, which allows for far-away grandparents to be part of their grandchild’s daily life.

Shortly after delivering Weston, Eric called his parents on FaceTime via the iPhone, and they got to not only hear about their new grandson, but see his tiny face as well. The next day, as we were waiting around the hospital, we called my father-in-law on FaceTime, and he could watch his grandson sleep, be held, and yawn those adorable baby yawns. It was comforting knowing my father-in-law was “in the room” with us and soaking up those special moments.

We are big advocates of FaceTime (or Skype), and invested in an AppleTV, so that we could FaceTime through our television; this way, Weston can crawl around the living room, and do his normal playing, while my in-laws watch, and Weston can see them on the big television, instead of the computer screen. FaceTime is extremely precious to us, because we are able to call up my in-laws from the park, the beach, a walk, the doctor’s office, and have them experience the moment with us.

We utilize video-chatting not only to talk to each other, but to have family-activity time, as well. My father-in-law and Eric both play music, so we let my Weston play with his toy instruments as he watches and listens to his father and grandpa play guitar together. Sometimes we even keep the FaceTime on so my in-laws can “join in” at dinner time and watch my son eat; though we can’t be at the same table, that’s the next best thing!

Because we only see my husband’s family a few times a year, I wanted to introduce my Weston to distant family members in various ways, so he would remember who everyone was when we did see them in person. I downloaded a flashcard app for my iPad, and imported pictures of all the distant relatives and added their names. Weston and I flip through the flashcards learns not only everyone’s names, but their faces, as well.

My in-laws aren’t here for every special moment, so to include them, I occasionally get photo books made and shipped to them. While, I do email photos almost daily, the photo book is a nice piece of memorabilia which the grandparents can flip through and watch their grandson grow. Some books even have a voice-recording element, so one could record a grandparent singing lullabies, or reading a story to their grandchild; even in the grandparent isn’t there to tuck them into bed, they can still be part of the bedtime process.

Though it seems like a small gesture, just sending a photo to the long-distant grandparents means a lot to them. I try to send daily photos Weston in action, playing, crawling, eating; I want his grandparents to see what his daily life is like. I have an app on my phone, which I can upload 100 photos and have a book made, for only a few dollars more a month, you can have a book made and sent to the grandparents, as well.

As Weston grows up, I want him to know that although Eric's family doesn’t live near us, they are well aware of everything happening in his world. Living in such a technological age makes it easy for us to keep his grandparents abreast of all the minute details in his life, and it helps keep my small son very well aware of the sights, sounds, and laughter of his grandparents.

Often times, we hear News stories and say, "huh, that's interesting," or, "I'm glad that wasn't me/someone I know!" But, sometimes, we see a story on the News and say, "Oh my god, I know that person." Remember that story bopping around last year about the Breast Cancer Time Lapse Video? That isn't just a video to me, that's my former House Momma, and Resident Advisor, Emily Helck.

When I was a freshman in college, I got pretty much the worst housing pick for my sophomore year. My two friends and I decided to take a stab at applying to a "theme house" (sort of like a frat/sorority, except that we educated the campus on a theme, ran events, etc). We decided on Asia Tree House...why? Well, we heard it had openings, and it was located in a house, instead of a dorm. We applied, and we all got in. At the time we applied, the House Advisor was Emily Helck. Emily was part of a group of older girls whom I always referred to as the "cool older sisters I never had." They had cool haircuts, they wore slacks with t-shirts, they were smart, sassy, and fun. More importantly, they took me under their wing and made me, a chubby 19 year old with too thin eyebrows, feel awesome. Emily went on to become the Resident Advisor for the housing unit, and then graduated the next year. But, I never forgot her. See, Emily paved the way for me to become the House Advisor my senior year, which led me into teaching. Which, obviously, has changed my world.

And then I saw a photo of Emily through a friend's Facebook and she had no hair. I messaged a friend, who let me know that the 28 year old Emily had been diagnosed with breast cancer and undergone a mastectomy. My heart just broke. Life isn't fair, is it? Especially because Emily's husband had already undergone a bout with cancer...ugh. But, I also knew that if anyone was going to attack cancer, it would be Emily. She's an amazing artist, creative spirit, and a brilliant writer. In fact, I highly recommend checking out her sometimes hard-to-read, mostly funny, and very real blog, The Real Tumors of New Jersey. You can also check out her writing on The Huffington Post.

Recently, she had an open call for questions about having cancer, and I asked...and she answered. Her answer is real, raw, honest, and quite surprising (for a nervous Nellie, like I am!).

Anyway, Emily is one of my heroes, and I am proud to say she is not only a friend, but an inspiration. Not only is Emily inspiring as a person, but as a writer. Which is why I was so excited when Emily invited me to join in the "My Writing Process Blog Tour," which is a really fun way to see how different bloggers approach the thought-development and writing process.

So, here goes my Writing Process:

1. What Am I Currently Working On?

Currently I have a ton of projects brewing! I'm a contributing writer for Rookie Moms, Hint Mama, and Long Island Mamas, so I have upcoming posts to work on for all of them. I need to do my weekly challenge for Rookie Moms, I have a fun hint I'm working on about small space playrooms for Hint Mama, and I'm doing some really exciting recipe posts for busy moms for Long Island Mamas. As for my own writing, I'm putting together some posts on how amazing genetics and ancestry are; I love that when I look at my son there is a huge amount of history and people in those eyes. I'm excited to share some new one-pot recipes coming up, as well as budget living tips, too!

2. How Does My Work Differ From Others?

I think my work differs from other bloggers because it is honest and raw. I've written about the challenge of being a new mom, being a working mom, a paleo mom, and all the craziness that ensues. I am a big proponent of moms helping moms, and lifting each other up, so I tend to write a lot about that.

3. Why Do I Write What I Write?

We're living in an age of everyone having an online persona; I decided early on that I wanted my persona to be me, myself, and I. Olivia in the Real Life, not the online life. So, I write what happens in my daily life, I write what comes to my mind, and I write what I want people to hear and see. Writing is my outlet, I can viscerally feel it in my bones when a post needs to be written.

4. How Does My Writing Process Work?

Most of my posts are formed while I'm rocking my baby to sleep. The lights are out, the sleep sheep is humming, and I just let myself dream. After I get some thoughts together, the words start to form, but sometimes it isn't until weeks later that I actually write them down! Then, I sit down, and usually it all spills out at once. I edit, and then hit publish! Gotta be quick with the little one crawling around like crazy.

Now, here's the fun part: I've invited three bloggers who will be sharing their writing process next Monday on their blogs (and they will be "tagging" bloggers to write about their process, too)! 

Liza Talusan, an past teacher and mentor, blogs over at Marathon B4 Mastectomy about being BRCA+, family life, motherhood, life/work balance...and oh yeah, running! She's a fantastic writer, and more often than not an inspiration to my daily life (as is her amazing daughter, Joli!). I'm very interested to see what Liza has to say about her writing process, as often her posts are beautifully woven stories, with deep life messages hidden between the lines.

I've known Allie since before I can remember, as we both attended private school together for over ten years. Funnily enough though, we didn't talk much at all in school, and it's only been in the last few years that we've become pen pals, of sorts. Allie has an amazingly funny, raw, and moving blog about fitness, Crossfit and food...but mostly, it's about achieving your goals. She's an inspirational (and terribly funny!) blogger, so check out In Shape Out Of Mind.

And lastly, I had to include one of my favorite mom bloggers in this list! Kristin blogs over at The Mommy Project, all about her Rookie Mom challenges, being a new mom, and all about living in San Diego! I keep telling her one of these days I'm packing up Weston for a trip to see her and her daughter Blake, so she better be ready! I love Kristin's views on being a new mom, and read her blog on a daily basis. 

There are a ton of delicious paleo pancake recipes on the internet; Against All Grain has a delicious looking recipe, as does the Spunky Coconut...but, the thing is, I'm really, really, like historically bad at making pancakes. They always stick, I can never flip them, and they're always a let down. So, I never indulged in one of those recipes. I just shied away from any paleo pancakes and continued on my day.

Except, when Weston started eating food on his own (!!), I knew it was time to jump back in and create a recipe which I couldn't screw up. I needed a recipe which wasn't just fool proof, but had almost no ingredients. So, here's my super simple recipe for paleo pancakes. Let me just say that these aren't fluffy, airy pancakes, these are more thin, dense pancakes, but nevertheless, taste delicious and make a great base for adding maple syrup, coconut butter, or some Enjoy Life chocolate chips. They also get the 11 month old Weston seal of approval! He gobbled them up two days in a row!

Three Ingredient Paleo Pancakes:

  • Recipe yields about six 3-4 inch pancakes, I tend to eat three and I'm full, and I make about four small ones for Weston

You'll need:
  • 2 tablespoons of coconut flour
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon of cinnamon, or I use pumpkin pie spice, too
  • Coconut oil for pan

To make:
  • Heat the coconut oil in the bottom of the pan, at a medium-low heat (seriously, keep it low!)
  • Crack the eggs in a bowl and mix in one of the tablespoons of coconut flour; beat well, until all the flour is mixed in, and then mix in the next tablespoon. 
  • Beat in the teaspoon of cinnamon 
  • When the pan is ready, pour or spoon in about a dollop (I never measure, so you don't have to either!) of batter
  • When the pancake starts to look firm on the sides, flip so the other side gets done (I assume you know how to sort of make pancakes?). 
  • Keep the temperature low so these don't burn!
  • Top with coconut oil/butter, chocolate chips, blueberries, syrup...and enjoy a guilt free breakfast!

Today I have a fun Music and Motherhood post for you from my "boss lady," over at Rookie Moms, Ms. Heather Flett! Heather is the proud mom of three boys, and blogs over at Rookie Moms and 510 Families. Personally, I'm a big fan of Heather's writing, especially her recent Stitch Fix review which had me in stitches laughing (ha?). Take it away, Heather!

1. Who are you? What's your website? Who is/are your little one(s)?

Heather Flett from RookieMoms.com and 510Families.com (our hyperlocal site for our part of the Bay Area). I have three sons: Holden (9), Milo (7), and Sawyer (2).

2. What is your favorite type of music? 

I love happy upbeat music with funny lyrics. I've been loving Dave Matthews Band since I was "23 and so tired of life..." From my parents generation, I like the Beatles. From modern times, I like Vampire Weekend, P!nk, and F.U.N. I am probably my most happy when I listen to old favorite songs and sing at the top of my lungs with the windows down, but I'm not sure that hearing Alanis Morissette or early Eminem pouring out of a minivan looks the way it feels.

3. What music got you through your early days of motherhood? Any specific songs? Why? 

When my littlest one was an infant, we listened to Death Cab for Cutie on infinite rotation in the minivan because it would always calm him and get him to sleep. This was most unexpected, but we turned to it over and over.

4. Did/do you sing any special songs to your little one? 

I have a few songs that I sing at bedtime: Hush Little Baby (I can make it as long or short as I need to), Rockabye Baby (customized so the baby doesn't die in the song), You are My Sunshine, and our Sleep Rules song (this is a true favorite).

5. Did you partner have any music that helped him/her through the early days? Was it different than your musical taste? 

Not that he can recall, but he really likes the National and Spoon and always plays that in the car when he gets the chance.

6. What music do you play for your kids now? 

We're on a loop between Justin Roberts (kids music that really doesn't suck), the Frozen soundtrack, Weird Al Yankovic, and Top 40 radio.

7. What music do you hope your child likes? 

Anything goes, but I hope it's not too violent or misogynistic.

8. What music/songs are/were you excited to introduce to your baby/child? 

Not sure... Let me think more!

Lovelies, I'm sure by now you've heard of Stitch Fix, right? Well, we haven't tried it yet, which is why I am so thrilled to introduce you to our new guest blogger! Jen is a friend of mine from college and she's going to be blogging all about her Stitch Fix boxes...you've actually seen Jen on here before, in a way, as years ago we featured her beloved dad's woodworking on a very new Lovely at Your Side! Jen will be here once a month, as we get to help her pick out what to keep, and what to send back...take it away, Jen!

I first heard about Stitch Fix from a friend’s post on Facebook, and then I saw it pop up a few more times on my Facebook sidebar -- apparently retargeted marketing works on me because I signed up and created a profile!

I’m not a fashionista and I don’t always have time to make it to the mall, so I loved the idea of receiving a package every month with five items of clothing picked out with my style in mind. It’s like a fine-tuned version of Birchbox with items that will last longer than a single use. Overall, it seemed like a neat idea and I figured the most I had to lose was $20 (which then could be used as a credit towards a purchase)!

My first Stitch Fix package arrived at the end of June, and I loved the fabric, color and cut of each individual piece in my style package, but nothing fit! The jeans were too long, two of the shirts were way too baggy and the one tank I really loved didn’t fit my budget. I ultimately kept the scarf because a) I liked it a lot and b) I had $20 from the stylist fee in credit to put toward it.

After sending 4 out of the 5 items back to Stitchfix, I left a thorough review for each item and adjusted my profile. I scheduled my next fix to arrive at the end of July. I mentioned in my personal note that I was looking for items of clothing that could be worn at BBQs, beaches and general summer time activities. I added: “No pants, but I’m in the market for a good pair of shorts.” And then on July 21, 2014 my second Stitch Fix arrived on the front porch!

I really enjoy the first look. I think Stitch Fix does a nice job of packaging their clothes and presenting them in a personal way with a note from the stylist and inspiration cards.

Here are the items I received in my July 2014 Stitch Fix:

1. Brody Cargo Shot by Sanctuary: $68

I liked the cut, the fabric and the pockets! I would have kept these if they hadn’t been a size too small. If I could have one Stitch Fix wish, it would be the ability to return an item and go up/down a size.

2. Christine Strapless Diagonal Striped Maxi Dress by Laila Jayde: $98

When I pulled this out of the box it had everything I love in a maxi dress -- a basic pattern, limited colors, and a flowy skirt. I couldn’t wait to try it on, however, I quickly realized it did not work with my body type. The elastic around the waist was much tighter than the rest of the dress. The skirt cascaded and billowed with too much fabric below the elastic.

3. Alison Sleeveless Colorblock Dress by Pixley: $68

I was so excited when I read the personal note from Natalia, my stylist, because she included the Pixley colorblock dress because she saw it on my “Style Board” on Pinterest. I thought: “Yay! They use my input!” However, I didn’t consider the fit and cut for my body type when I pinned the picture of the dress on a mannequin. It was a size too small and did nothing for my curvy body!

4. Lyla Crochet Panel Dot Print Tank by Collective Concepts: $58
I’m on the fence about this item because I own nothing like it in my current wardrobe. I love the color and the crochet details on the side, but I’m not sure how often I would wear it. What do you think?

5. Kahlo Embroidered Racerback Tank by Le Sample: $48

LOVE IT! The Kahlo Tank was on the very top of the box when I opened it and I immediately fell in love with the yellow embroidered details. When I tried it on, I was so happy that it fit and that it was comfortable. I can’t wait to wear this to my next BBQ!

Overall, StitchFix has my style down! In one way or another, I love almost every item they send my way. My next step is to use the lessons learned and tweak my profile to better represent my body type.

Here are some of the lessons I learned and plan to apply for my next Stitch Fix:
  • Pin Myself! I plan on pinning a few pictures of myself in Stitch Fix items so the stylist can see my body shape and have something in addition to my weight, height and dress size. 
  • Pin Carefully! I need to be more descriptive in the text of my pins. I plan to state exactly what I like or don’t like about specific clothing items. Both times the stylists used Pinterest to get to know my likes and dislikes. 
  • Details details details! Leave feedback on every item of clothing before closing out the order. I did this last time and it seemed like they listened, so I plan on doing this again. Also, include details on what you’d like to see or not see in future fixes! They gave me two dresses and a pair or shorts because I mentioned how much I loved wearing them in the summer. 

Let me know what you think! And if you’re interested in receiving a Stitch Fix, sign up and start a profile. I’d love to hear what you think about your future fixes! 

Thanks for reading!

Hi friends! Are you all ready for this weekend? I'm super excited because I've been planning my lovely Melissa's bachelorette day and it's tomorrow! I can't believe I've known her for over 10 years...she doesn't know where we're going, so I can't tell here, but I will next week! (PS. This was the post before MY bachelorette! Wow, time flies.)

Have a long week? Need a good laugh? These links made this mama crack up this week! 

What made you laugh this week?

busy mom
When Mater.ial, a new independent fashion company, contacted me to see if I wanted to try out one of their shirts, I have to say, I was a bit skeptical. I mean, I don't normally wear too many graphic items, but I really loved a few things about Mater.ial, so I decided to give it a go. First off, it's a sister run company, Mater.ial is owned by, and all graphics are designed by sisters Lauren and Jacqueline Matera. The sisters had the novel idea to create clothing which could be worn by the busy mom (Lauren, mom of three!), or the party girl (Jackie!). I loved that their clothing could be worn by women leading such versatile lifestyles, so I decided to take them up on their offer and had them send me a shirt for a "busy mom" such as myself.

The shirt came in two days, and was packaged beautifully. On first touch I loved the tank top they sent; it was super soft, and cut perfectly for a new mom. It was fitted on top, but gave a little extra fabric below to cover that post-baby belly (muffin top!). The upside down crown was vintage looking and less trendy and flashy than I thought it would be. I wanted to take my new shirt for a spin, so one morning when getting ready for Music Together class, I put together a fun outfit with my new tank. I paired it with my skinny black jeans, and a chambray shirt, as well as my Adrina Croc flats and my navy and white diaper bag (which doubles as my bag, too).

The shirt was so comfortable and easy to  wear. I loved that Weston couldn't pull down the front, like he does on other tanks, and I also loved the tank style in the back. True confession: I wore the tank the next day too, and paired it with a neon orange sports bra! It was cute.

I'm happy to report that Mater.ial is indeed a wonderful brand for every woman; the clothing is well-made, easy to wear, and most importantly, easy to style!

Thanks, ladies, I love the shirt!

When I was a little girl, my mother used to take us into Locust Valley and let us wander through the most gorgeous toy shop: G. Willikers Gifts. It was almost magical, with all the toys and gifts carefully curated and tempting to the touch. Now that I'm a mom, I'm excited to bring my son to G. Willikers and let him pick out some special presents (his first birthday is so soon!). Having been around for more than 30 years, G. Willikers is a Long Island staple and a must-visit for any out-of-towner.

Can't get over there now? You can shop their inventory online now!

G. Willikers is having a very cool giveaway that I wanted to share with you all: by simply entering your email address, you can enter to win a totally rad VW Bus Camper Tent. What kid wouldn't love to play in that?

PS. I'm thinking of picking up this adorable trumpet for Weston!

Visiting Long Island? You can find G. Willikers at 22 Forest Avenue, Locust Valley, NY 11560 (Store Hours: Mon-Sat 10-6; Sun 11-3). And, don't forget to follow them on Twitter and Facebook!