I have always loved reading. Even into my teenage years, I would curl up with a book and breeze through it in a day or two. Danielle Steele was one of my favorites. Probably because that’s what my mom was reading.

When I became a mom, one of my favorite things to do was read with my girls. I loved having books as a part of our bedtime routine and the same is true with Olivia.

I started reading to her at 6 months old and she loves books now. She’ll snuggle up in my lap and I’ll flip through the pages and either read the words, point at the pictures, or explain what’s going on. She doesn’t always have the patience to sit through the story so then I just let her flip through the pages on her own.

As we get closer to her first birthday, I’ve made reading a part of our bedtime routine just like I did with my older two. I pick out a stack of her favorites and then we say goodnight to each book and turn out the light. She loves it!

Instead of toys, I’ve asked family and friends to get her books for her birthday so that I can add to her library. Books are a great gift for a first birthday. Or any birthday for that matter! Here are some of the best books I’ve found for baby’s first birthday.

Before I dive in, I wanted to talk a little about what kinds of books are best for one year olds. Since babies are pretty hard on their toys, board books with sturdy cardboard pages are the best choice.

As they approach their first birthday, babies start to grasp some of the words we read to them. Reading starts to become more interactive which is always fun. The most meaningful words are usually the names and things from their everyday life — words like “doggy,” “mommy,” “daddy,” “milk,” or “bottle.” Point to the pictures and act out what you read. Wait and see if the baby will babble back to you.

Ok on to the list of best books for baby’s first birthday!

Birthday Wishes – Minnie Birdsong. We have this one and I’ve already been reading it to Olivia so that we can talk about her birthday and sing Happy Birthday too. She loves hearing her name when I sing Happy Birthday!

Happy Birthday from the Very Hungry Caterpillar – Eric Carle. I love the bright, colorful artwork in this book.

One: A Birthday Book – Melanie Erin Morgan. I love that this book celebrates the special milestone of turning one and the illustrations are so fun.

Where is Baby’s Birthday Cake? – Karen Katz. I had so many Karen Katz books when my girls were little and I can’t wait for Olivia to read this. This is a great lift-the-flap book with lots of festive things to find.

You Are a Star – Ariella Aboloffio. This one isn’t a board book either. Lol! I know, I know, but I had to choose a few that parents would enjoy just as much as kids. I love the message to celebrate all the things you can do and the importance of finding your own voice.

The Wonderful Things You Will Be – Emily Winfield Martin. This isn’t a board book, but I had to include it because the message is so sweet. It’s about all of the things parents think of when they look at their children – brave, bold, creative, clever, etc.

Now You Are One – Minnie Birdsong. Use this book instead of a card! You can write a personalized message under the cover flap (you can also do the same with ‘Birthday Wishes’). The illustrations are adorable too.

Birthday Monsters – Sandra Boynton. This book is so fun and I love the rhymes! “You hear your door come crashing down—those birthday monsters are in town!”

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I can’t believe I’m typing this, but we’re in full on prep mode for Olivia’s first birthday. I sound like such a cliche, but I don’t know where the time went. A whole year has flown by already. 365 days! How is that even possible?

I think it’s so hard to process because I thought I was prepared. I have two other children so I know how quickly time passes. My oldest will be 16 in a couple of months. Just 2 weeks before Olivia turns 1, my middle child (who I always thought would be my baby!) will be 12! I’ve already gone through this so I tried to take it slow and reminded myself constantly to breathe it all in. And yet somehow I’m still floored that we’re here!

To celebrate this year and all of the changes it’s brought about, I wanted to do something special on Instagram. All month long, I’ll be sharing 30 lessons I’ve learned while photographing Olivia’s first year.

When I found out I was pregnant, that’s one of the things I was most excited about – having a reason to pick up my camera again. Just for me.

I love photographing my clients and their families, but over the years I’ve used my camera less and less on my own family. And that’s the very reason I picked up a camera in the first place – to document my children and their childhood. So this was going to be my opportunity to dive back in and feel creative again.

Well, as with most things in life, it didn’t exactly happen as I imagined it. From the day Olivia was born, I had to manage my expectations and let go of some of the photos I had been dreaming of. One of the biggest let downs was not being able to photograph my big girls coming in to the hospital room to meet their baby sister. Visitors were banned because of the flu. I was crushed!

I was able to capture them meeting her at home, but it took a little while for me to get over the disappointment.

So the lessons I’m sharing will all lead up to a guide that I’m working on for expectant moms who want to document their baby’s first year. All the tips and tricks I’ve learned along the way will hopefully help new moms document the first year in a creative, authentic way.

If you’d like to know when the guide launches, sign up here.

Come check out all the lessons I’m sharing over on IG too! Here’s what I shared March 1st, 2019.

It’s March 1st! Do you know what that means? It’s party time! That’s right. Olivia turns one at the end of the month and I wanted to do something special to celebrate. All month long I’ll be sharing 30 lessons I learned photographing her first year. When I first found out I was pregnant, one of the things I was most excited about was being able to document this baby in a way that I wasn’t able to with my other 2. I didn’t have a digital camera when Julianna was born. That was almost 16 years ago! Yes, I know, I’m old! Even 12 years ago, when Jaime was born, I was just getting in to photography and learning all about my new Canon Rebel. Now, with more than 10 years of photography experience under my belt, running a business and capturing other’s people most precious moments, I had the chance to do it beautifully and intentionally for myself. I had so many ideas! Wait, hold up, you didn’t think it was going ot be that easy, did you? The very first lesson I had to learn was to let go of all of my expectations. There were so many photos I dreamt about taking. One of them I was super pumped about was my girls coming to the hospital to meet their baby sister. I was crushed when I found out that visitors were banned because of the flu. Absolutely heart broken! That vision I had in my head was not going to happen and I had to come to terms with it. I had to let go. And, in the end, it worked out fine. I love the photos I did get at home, but it took a little while to get over it. You know when you build something up in your head and it just doesn’t turn out the way you wanted to? Has that ever happened to you?

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As if being a new mom and owning my own business wasn’t enough, I recently decided to jump into the world of direct sales. And it was totally by accident!

I follow Brittany Viklund on Instagram and was watching one of her stories. She was unboxing books that she had just purchased for her two boys and I fell in love with a bunch of the ones she was talking about. Olivia loves books and I am always on the hunt for cute ones to add to her collection.

She had a link to swipe up and shop so I did. It took me to her Usborne Books & More page. I had never heard of the company before so I dug around and checked out more of the books. Then I saw an invitation to join.

I hesitated at first. I thought back to all of the times a random friend had messaged me about a new business they started. Whether it was skin care or makeup, I cringed every time because I felt the sales pitch coming on and I didn’t want to be that person. BUT, then I thought back to how I even discovered Usborne in the first place. By watching someone I follow on Instagram talk about the books and how much her boys loved them. There was no sales pitch. She was just a mom sharing something she love. And that’s what sold me. Well, that and the fact that there are no sales minimums or quotas. I just had to pay $75 for a starter kit full of books and supplies and that’s it. I could do a little or a much as I wanted in term of sales.

So I took the leap! I signed up under Brittany’ team and told myself I would give it my all for the 12 week incentive period. I had a Launch Party on Facebook and was so grateful for family and friend showed up. Then I booked two more! The parties are super easy and fun! They are held on Facebook so you don’t even have to get out of your pj’s. You can show up with a glass of wine and learn all about the books and get a preview of all of the new titles. The best part is creating personalized wish lists for my guests. You just tell me your kids ages and interests and I put together a list of books they’d love. I mean, how can they call that work!

I just created my own wish list for Olivia’s first birthday! It’s huge because I couldn’t narrow it down. Lol! If you’re curious what’s good for a one year old, check out my list here.

If you’re curious about becoming a consultant, let me know. You can also check out my IG account @olivia’s_book_nook where I share more about reading and our favorite books.

Just one in a series of books called “That’s Not My.” This is “That’s Not My Llama.”

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This is the last first holiday that Olivia will have. Oh my gosh! That just hit home. I can’t even believe it. Well, technically she wasn’t born yet on St. Patricks’ Day, but we’ll be flying to Disney on that day so I’m not counting it! She’ll be one next month already. A whole year. Ahhhh!!!

I wanted to make this Valentine’s Day extra special so I bought a few things for the girls. Nothing big, just a few small things to make them feel over-the-top loved. Here’s what I got.

Shopping for my older girls can be tough sometimes, but they do have a few things in common. Both love notebooks and journals and anything that has to do with lists. I picked up this bullet journal for my 15 year old and a new Wreck This Journal (not pictured) for my 11 year old. If you’ve got a tween, these are so fun! You’re given a whole bunch of prompts for things to write and draw that end up making a mess. Super fun!

The other thing my older two have in common is their love for chocolate and anything sweet. I picked up some strawberry and cookies and cream Pocky, a couple of heart shaped ring pops, and heart shaped lollipops from Five Below. I scooped up these cute socks from there too.

And finally, what teenage girl doesn’t love to paint their nails? I loved these two Essie colors for Valentine’s Day and these super cute printables from The Ever Co were the perfect way to package them up.

Olivia is a little harder at this age, but books are always an amazing gift. She loves to read. Plus, she loves animals so this one will be a winner for sure.

I didn’t want to do a stuffed animal because she has so many, but I couldn’t resist when I saw these. My family threw me a baby sprinkle that was donut themed so I HAD TO have these donut shaped Mickey, Minnie, Donald, and Daisy plushies from The Disney Store. And they came packaged in the cutest pink sprinkle box.

I didn’t get cards. Instead I printed out this template for a love letter from The Mama Notes. I love that it marks their age and leaves me room to write all the things I love about each of my girls. I made one for Olivia and hope to keep the tradition going every year.

And that’s all folks. If I have enough time in the morning, I’ll make them heart shaped pancakes too, but the idea is to let them know on Valentine’s Day and every day in between how loved and special they are.

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Getting all three girls in the frame has proved to be more difficult than I imagined. Someone is always missing. For now I’m going to take what I can get and just make sure it’s not too one sided. Jaime is always a willing participant (especially if there are cookies involved) so I need to make sure I get Julianna in front of the camera too.

Last weekend I tried to get Liv involved in decorating cookies for Valentine’s Day. And when I say involved, I really just mean keeping her from making a mess. I sat her on the kitchen table so she’d be in the shot, but it was tough because she wanted to touch everything. Finally I have her one of the undecorated cookies to try and that gave me a few minutes.

My best piece of advice when photographing wiggly babies, is to set your expectations really low. My goal was just to get them in the frame together. I didn’t really have a shot in mind. I was more curious how things would unfold so I sat back and watched.

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