Olivia's Mediterranean Inspired 1st Birthday Party


I seriously can’t believe my baby is one! This past year was the fastest year of my life, but also the most fulfilling. I love watching Olivia grow up, and am continually amazed at how much she learns every day.

When I was thinking of a theme for her first birthday party, I knew I wanted it to be unique and have some meaning behind it. My inspiration for her Mediterranean inspired birthday party came from two things: her nickname, Baby Olives, and a gorgeous dress our friends got her when they went to Greece.

I made the invitations and envelope liners myself (I’ll post a tutorial on how to make envelope liners soon). Also, because I love beautiful postage stamps, I just had to curate a set of stamps that went along with the Mediterranean theme. Aren’t they gorgeous?!

Mediterranean inspired invitations
Mediterranean postage stamps

I wanted to have something at the party that the adults could do, so we set up an olive oil tasting game. There were five different olive oils, each with a slightly different flavor profile. The guests were to taste each one and try to match the olive oil in the dish to the bottle it came from. I chose not to use infused olive oil flavors just to make the game a bit harder. The winner received, of course, a nice bottle of olive oil!

For the food, my mother and mother-in-law made an amazing Mediterranean feast! A lot of the food was made from produce from our garden (that my husband grew!). We had the tastiest falafel ever with cucumber sauce, rice and lentils, cucumber and tomato salad, caprese skewers, bruschetta, and pesto pasta salad. There were three spreads for the bread and crackers: hummus, baba ganoush, and sun-dried tomato pesto. And we had the most amazing charcuterie board full of extra fixings such as dates, caramelized walnuts, and roasted red peppers.

There were cakes too, although I don’t have any photos of them unfortunately. We set them on the display stands and bees immediately came for all the sugar on them, so we covered them up until it was time for dessert.

They were super good though! I had made mini olive oil bundt cakes with a lemon glaze. If you’ve never had a olive oil cake before, it’s a traditional Italian cake made with olive oil instead of butter. Since I didn’t get any photos of these cakes, I think I might make more and share my recipe in another blog post.

We also had adorable sugar cookies made by Dorothy Ann Bakery. Lemons, flowers, and number ones!


For the kids, we held a simple Olympic Games. There was the long jump, discus, balance beam, hurdles, javelin throw, and a race. We used a frisbee for the discus and a dowel for the javelin throw. When it was over, the kids lined up and we had a little “ceremony” where they were awarded their metals!

We didn’t do a traditional smash cake with Livvy, mainly because I forgot to make the coconut whipped cream (haha oops). But she loves raspberries, so we piled those on top of her cake (which was a banana cake!)

Oh, and she refused to wear her olive branch crown. Still looked cute though!

The party was held in a park right on the Mississippi River. A cool, foggy morning turned into a beautiful, sunny 80 degrees.

We had a wonderful day celebrating our baby girl! She is our pride and joy, and we love her so much.


Our Modern Baby Book | Artifact Uprising


The most gorgeous baby album keepsake

Artifact Uprising Baby Book

As I sit here, Olivia is 10 months old and trying to hit the keyboard as I type. Where has the time gone? This post is long overdue lol.

When I was pregnant, I knew I wanted a physical baby album. Although, I wanted more than just a generic pocket album from the store. I wanted it to be beautiful; something I could leave out on the coffee table and it fit right in with the decor. I wanted it to have space to write down the memories that went along with the photos. But most importantly, I wanted it to be a special keepsake piece for my daughter.

I’m a huge fan of Artifact Uprising and their albums and prints. Their modern baby book, The Story of You, fit all the traits I was looking for!

My parents were so kind and gifted the Olive colored one to us because, of course, of our Baby Olives (as I like to call her). 😄


At the beginning of the album is a couple pages for the parents to share about their life before baby arrived. I can just imagine Olivia all grown up, looking back at what Mommy and Daddy were like before she was born!

The rest of the book goes month by month through the first year of life, with prompts and spaces to fill out memories and place prints. There’s also beautiful quotes, pages to write letters to your little one, and even a pocket to keep special cards. It’s binder layout means that you can purchase and add extra pages wherever you’d like so that you can keep more pictures and memories!

Artifact Uprising Baby Book
Artifact Uprising Baby Book

I can’t wait to show Olivia her baby book someday. I know it’ll bring smiles to both of our faces.

Do you keep a baby album for your kids?


Olivia's Birth Story


Olivia May Maluo Nixon

September 18, 2018 | 5:48 am | 5 lbs 9 oz | 19 inches

TL;DR The plan was to have a natural birth at a birth center. The reality is that my water broke at 36 weeks 2 days (I was so unprepared haha) and I gave birth at the hospital. Labored for 5 hours (!) with no epidural (!!), was completely silent during transition, pushed for 45 minutes, and our beautiful baby girl was born happy and healthy! We love her so much!

Finding out that we were pregnant changed our world. Raising little humans is such a blessing. Life doesn’t always go as planned, but that’s what makes life beautiful.

I wanted to have a natural birth, if possible, so I looked up birth centers in Minnesota. One that immediately caught my attention was the Minnesota Birth Center (very descriptive, right?!) in St. Paul. The rooms are beautiful and calming, and the group of midwives that provide care there are amazing! Giving birth at a birth center is in between giving birth in a hospital and having a home birth. The midwives here even have admitting privileges at United Hospital, which is less that 5 minutes away, so they would continue care with you there if you transfer in a non-emergency.

Now, Caleb and I live in St. Cloud. St. Cloud is an hour and a half away from St. Paul driving on the freeway. Even with the possibility of having a car baby (and having to spend so much on gas to get to appointments), we decided to go with the birth center.

Fast forward to the end of July. I’m 29 weeks pregnant and end up spending two nights at the St. Cloud hospital due to Braxton Hicks contractions that were 5 minutes apart. I was 1 cm dilated with a shortened cervix, but after receiving IV magnesium sulfate (awful stuff) and a course of steroids to help baby’s lungs develop, I was able to go home.

Even though there was a very good chance I would carry Livvy to term, the possibility of having her born early really got me into baby preparation mode. Unfortunately, when you’re in the third trimester, you’re also very tired. I started to push tasks back day after day, saying that “I still have time.” But, as we soon found out, baby comes when baby wants to come.

Monday, September 17, 2018

It was a cloudy, cool day, only 64 degrees. It felt like a storm was going to blow in, and while eating lunch there was thunder like I’ve never thunder before. It was a hefty, deep rumble, one I can’t even describe. We commented to each other on how different it sounded, and Caleb went to power off the machine shop.

3:00 pm

Caleb and I were sitting next to each other on the couch, when all of a sudden I felt a gush of something in my pants. I ran to the bathroom trying to figure out if my water just broke or if I had just wet myself. After a few minutes, I was 98% sure my water had broken and we were in shock trying to figure out what to do. I was 36 weeks 2 days, which meant that I was still considered preterm (37 weeks is early term) and wouldn’t be able to give birth in the birth center.

I called the midwife and she gave us two options: drive down to United Hospital or go to the St. Cloud Hospital. Both places would test to see if I was leaking amniotic fluid, and if it was positive, they would admit us right away because they like the baby born within 24 hours of the water breaking to prevent infection.

I first told her that we’d just go to the hospital here in town. But after hanging up, and a brief chat with Caleb, I called her back and said we would drive down to the cities.

Now, we were completely unprepared for this. Nothing was packed, none of Olivia’s clothes or blankets were washed, we were going to install the car seat the next day and take maternity photos later in the week. We didn’t even have the crib mattress yet!

4:30 pm

After dumping a bunch of things into a suitcase and filling up the gas tank, we were off. We felt excited and a bit scared, but mostly we were just so thankful for our little baby girl. As we got closer to the hospital, a beautiful rainbow appeared in the sky. As unprepared as we were, I knew that everything was going to be ok.

7:30 pm

The amniotic fluid test came back positive, so we were admitted. (Side note: we got the last Labor and Delivery room, there were so many pregnant ladies! I blame it on the pressure change from the storm haha)

9:00 pm

My midwife, Courtney, checks my cervix. I’m 3 cm dilated and 70% effaced. I wasn’t really feeling any contractions, so I was going to be induced. She told me that we would skip the Cervidil, which is a cervical ripening hormone, and start on Pitocin in about an hour. At this point, I grimace, because I’d heard the stories about how Pitocin makes contractions feel worse because your body didn’t gradually (i.e. naturally) get used to them. She reassured me that they’ll use the lowest dose needed to get things going and then proceeded to sweep my membranes.

10:20 pm

We begin the Pitocin. I’m told to try to get as much sleep as possible. We watch an episode of Friends and then doze off.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

1:00 am

I wake up needing to use the restroom and realize that I’m feeling some contractions finally. I deal with them on my own for a bit while Caleb sleeps on the couch. My nurse, Rosie (she was the sweetest!), comes in and sits with me while I breathe my way through some more contractions. Caleb gets up soon after that and I ask if I can go labor in the tub. As Rosie gets the tub ready, I start to get out of the hospital bed. What happened next was the scariest moment of my labor: choking on my own vomit.

I remember panicking because I couldn’t breathe and I made some sort of terrified gesture to Rosie. While I was freaking out, she was super calm and nonchalantly told another nurse in the room, “oh, she’s choking”. I remember thinking, “YES I AM AND I’M GOING TO DIE!” Anyways, she told me to breathe through my nose and sit up straight and all was well again.

I get in the tub and labor some more while clinging for dear life to this little aromatherapy stick that smelled like peppermint. I was given the lavender one at first, but peppermint smelled better. I also had another bout of choking while in the tub. Not fun.

After a while, I started feeling a lot of pressure and almost felt like pushing. Which was surprising to everyone considering that only a couple of hours have passed. I get out of the tub and Rosie gets Courtney.

Up until this point I was coping through moaning. But once I got out of the tub and back in the bed, I labored completely silent until it was time to actually push. No moans, no hums, no loud breathing, nothing.

I remember hearing Courtney, Rosie, and Caleb talking: “Is she still having contractions?” *checks the contraction monitor printout* “I think she’s in transition” “Have you ever seen anything like this?”

I was in my own little world chanting some sort of mantra in my head during every contraction. I can’t remember what it was exactly, but it was something like, “Breathe, relax, open up, it’s going to be over soon.” Haha. I also held that aromatherapy stick basically in my nostril during contractions. The instructions say to hold it 3 inches away. Ha.

Eventually I felt the urge to push and it’s confirmed that I’m fully dilated. Because I had no pain meds, pushing was the most painful part of the whole thing. The ring of fire is NO JOKE PEOPLE. I was no longer silent; I screamed.

5:48 am

After 45 minutes of pushing, all the pain melted away once Olivia was placed on my chest. I have never been more in love! I couldn’t believe she was actually here! Everything about her is perfect, from her little nose to her fingers and toes.

It’s been almost 2 weeks since we brought her home and we’re cherishing every moment. She’s changed our lives for the better and we can’t wait to see who she will become.

Love you more than you will ever know, Olivia May Maluo.

P.S. I wholeheartedly believe that letting my body relax and not fighting labor, but embracing and working with it, was the only way I made it through without any pain meds. In order to completely relax, Caleb physically supported me in addition to emotionally supporting me. He kept me from slipping too far down in the tub, allowed me to put all my weight on him at times, and held my legs up when I couldn’t anymore. Basically, I was a limp noodle in Caleb’s arms haha. But hey, it worked!