Thursday, May 31, 2012

Our Bathing Beauty & Papa's Birthday

Our Memorial Day weekend was split between us being in Chicago and time spent with family enjoying the holiday.  We arrived home on Saturday evening and had a nice dinner with my parents & Elyse before coming home and getting back in our routine of being a family of 3.  I was certainly glad to be home with my baby girl! 

On Sunday we went to church and then quickly headed down to my parents' house.  It was my dad's birthday and the weather was perfect for Elyse's first pool outing so we loaded up Elyse, Bogey, & all of our stuff and off we went!

Before heading out to the pool we showed Elyse the new doll Momma & Daddy bought for her in Chicago.  Yes, we are THOSE parents who bought her her first American Girl Bitty Baby before she even understands what dolls are.  However, she certainly enjoyed chewing on her hands & licking her head!  ha!

Shaking hands Elyse style:  Doll hand in the mouth!  Nice to meet you Bitty Baby!
One hand on the face, one hadn in the mouth...perfect! 

And a nice big suck on the forehead for good measure!  I can't believe that soon she'll be draggin' this doll around everywhere with her! 

After some time with the doll we headed out for her first official experience with the pool.  I'm pretty sure that she had a little dip with her Papa & Gigi while we were in Chicago, but they saved her first official dunking for Momma & Daddy! 
Checking out the water temp with daddy!

and now getting my legs all wet!
Family Photo:  without Elyse looking at the camera! 

Going for a ride with daddy in my own personal shaded raft!

Time for some relaxation...

Sun hat...check, Sunglasses...check, Sunscreen...check, Rash Guard...check, Shaded Raft...check, Pacifier...check!  Wait, where's the pool boy to fan me?!?
After an afternoon full of fun in the sun, we had a fabulous family dinner and then welcomed the grandparents for cake & homemade ice cream.  It's such a huge blessing for both sets of my grandparents to live so close & for them to experience Elyse's development!  They just love being around their great grand-daughter!
Elyse with her momma & family matriachs:  Great Grandma Smart & Great Grandma Herndon
All the gorgeous women in my family:  My momma, Great Grandma Smart, Me, Elyse, Great Grandma Herndon, & my sister-in-law Millie!  How blessed I am to have such fabulous women in my life! 
Make a wish dad! 
During dinner my dad said all that he really wanted or needed for his birthday was for his family to be together, and I have to admit it was a pretty fabulous day just spending time with family & recognizing how incredibly blessed we are!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

5-Day Weekend Rewind--Just a Sneak Peak!

Wow, life seems a little hectic right now.  I guess that's typical for summertime, but my head seems to be slightly spinning as I try to play catch-up at work, home, and also find time for some fun things. 

So...I may have taken one look at the 427 unread blog posts in my reader this morning and after one quick thought of regret, hit the "mark all as read" button.  Please don't think I've stopped reading, or commenting, or that I've just fallen completely off the face of the earth...but sometimes spending time with family & actually doing my job & laughing with friends & family is my important than reading 427 blogs. 

Let me just say that we had a fabulous time in Chicago, and we (meaning Hubby, myself, & Elyse) were all refreshed after the quick getaway.  A full recap will come later, but for now just a sneak peak at a few things we did...
A Segway Tour of the Museum campus & lakefront

A ride on the Navy Pier Ferris Wheel

Seeing the standard sights & sounds of Chicago!
When we arrived at home on Saturday evening we still had 2 of the 3 days left in our Memorial Day weekend and those days certainly didn't disappoint.  I have plans to do a full recap as well...but for now here's a shot of our little bathing beauty with her first offical outing at Papa & Gigi's swimming pool.  She loved it! 

Be back later this week with lots more details & lots more pics!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

See You Soon Baby Girl!

Today's the day.  We leave in a few short moments to celebrate our 5 year anniversary in the Windy City.  We're leaving Elyse in the very capable and loving arms of my mom & dad, but it doesn't change  the fact that for the next 2ish days, I'll be without my baby girl...the little girl who has completed my life for the last 5 1/2 months. 

And so, the next 2ish days by the numbers: 
  • 75~minutes until I kiss my baby goodbye
  • 55~actual hours I'll be away from Elyse
  • 55~hours I'll be alone with my husband celebrating & remembering why we fell in love in the first place
  • 10~feedings I'll miss
  • 10~times I'll attempt to pump to maintain my supply
  • 2~nights that Hubby & I will sleep without expecting to be woken by a baby's whimpers
  • 2~nights that I hope Elyse sleeps through the night for my parents' sake
  • 1~authentic Chicago Deep Dish Pizza
  • 1~sunset viewing from the Willis Tower
  • 1~fancy steak dinner at a romantic restaurant
  • 1,000,000,000~thoughts I'll have of Elyse while we're gone
  • 0~Elyse naps that I will try to prolong during the day
  • 10~bottles of frozen milk that I've sent with my mom to feed Elyse
  • 7~adorable outfits with matching bows that I packed for Elyse to wear
  • 500~times I'll kiss Elyse's precious face when I return on Saturday night
  • 55~hours that I'll not be the one responsible for our baby girl
  • 0~hopefully the number of tears shed as we leave for the airport
It's going to be a quick trip, but one that we've been waiting on and one that I'm super excited for!  We don't have any major plans for the quick getaway other than spending time together and shopping, shopping, shopping! 

See you soon baby girl, your momma & daddy will be back before you know it! 

Monday, May 21, 2012

Our Wood Anniversary Weekend

5 years...I still can't believe we just celebrated 5 years of marriage!  Time has flown by and I can only imagine how much faster it will pass having one and hopefully someday more kiddos in the picture!

Our weekend celebration started out on Friday at work when these were delivered to the office! 
Mmm...ginormous chocolate covered strawberries!
Nick actually took the afternoon off from work to run a few errands and then we spent the evening at home with our baby girl!  We had a casual dinner of hotdogs &tator tots and then took a walk around our neighborhood. 
Elyse posing in her adorable Naartjie Baby this brand of clothing! 
Saturday morning Nick volunteered to work so I could stay at home and play with Elyse.  I couldn't hardly stand it because we decided to wait and exchange our gifts after Nick got home at lunchtime.  The traditional theme for 5 year anniversary gifts was wood & while we haven't kept up with this tradition in the past I think we might have to start!  It was fun to have a theme and I think we both did really well with our gift choices! 

Hubby actually constructed me a flower box.  He's never been super handy but it turned out so neat & I was so incredibly touched by his efforts!  He spent a lot of time working in the garage trying to hide this from me!  The flower box is meant to hang vertically from an outside wall; however, due to the weight I think we might just lean it up against our front wall outside near the entryway.  We haven't yet decided, but I just love all the color it brings to our front porch!  
My beautiful wooden flower box!  Love it! 
I decided to cater to Nick's love of everything St. Louis Cardinals &I ordered him a commemorative bat from the 2011 World Series.  It has the Cardinals logo, World Series logo, and series score all engraved on the bat.  He absolutely LOVED score for me! 
Hubby's Bat
We spent the afternoon just lounging around the house & we both ended up taking a quick nap.  My parents had babysitting duty with Elyse &we headed out to dinner at Cantina Laredo on the Branson Landing.  We absolutely LOVE this restaurant and had such a great time just reminiscing over the last 5 years and where we think the next 5 years might take us! Our reservations were outside on the patio where we had a great view of the lake & the fountain show (even though the fountains seemed to be malfunctioning as the BIG show never went off!)  Boo!
Happy Anniversary Hubby!
All ready for date night out with Papa & Gigi!
Sunday was CRAZY!!!!  We had regular service at 9:30, nursery duty for the second service @ 11:00, Hubby had a meeting at church @ 4:00, and then we had small group @ 5:30. was crazy.  We also all brought snacks for small groups so I whipped up 2 new recipes from Pinterest.  Both were a big hit and will go in my list of perfect recipes for group functions!
Trix Krispies via Tasty Kitchen

Spicy Chicken Tortilla Rolls via

Before we headed out for small group, I had a little photo session with Elyse...she's growing so fast that some of my favorite outfits are almost too small before I ever get a fabulous photo!  Poor girl, we're going to have thousands of pictures of her before she's even 1! 
Standing up in her crib...propped up against the front railing of course!

Seriously, how big does she look in this picture!  I can't hardly stand it! 

Saturday, May 19, 2012

1827 Days

5 years ago today I said "I Do" to a man that I never thought I could love anymore.  5 years ago I walked down that aisle in my childhood church and began a new chapter in my life.  One that would bring me some trials and struggles, but one that would bring me so much more laughter, joy, & incredible times that I ever could have imagined.

If someone had told me that a little over 8 1/2 years ago, I would meet a boy who would take me from this...
1st Valentine's Day Together:  February 2004
To this...
Engagement Night:  August 11, 2006
and finally To Mr & Mrs Layman:  May 19, 2007...

I'm not sure I would have believed you, but even more...if you had told me that our family would look like this...
Newborn Photos December 2011
and finally to this...
3 Month Photos March 2012

I'm almost certain that I would have thought you were crazy. 

We had an incredible 4 1/2 years together as just man & wife and I certainly questioned myself last Spring wondering how things could possibly get any better by bringing a child into this world.  But let me tell you, they have gotten SO much better.  I've realized I love my husband in ways that I never thought possible & seeing him interact with & teach things to Elyse almost makes my heart burst with joy. 

These last few months have made me so excited for the many, many more years that are to come in our marriage & I know that with God's blessing we will continue to have a family thast I could have only dreamt about all those years ago. 

Happy 5 years baby, you know you'll always be My Favorite!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Elyse Love ~ 5 Months

Wow, where has the time gone?  Our baby girl is almost to her half birthday and it seems like just moments ago that we were fighting through the uncertainty of what in the world we're supposed to do with this little person that the hospital sent us home with.  Elyse is truly the light of our lives and I can't really imagine what we did with all of our time before she arrived.

Weight/Height: We don't have any official measurements this month, but I'm going to assume she's probably around 14-15 lbs and still about 25 inches long.  Regardless of the true measurements she is growing & changing each & every day!  She's still in size 2 diapers and I think we'll probably be there for awhile longer.  Or at least I hope so since we just got a brand new box of 200 on our doorstep yesterday! 

Clothes: She's wearing mostly 3-6 month clothes but can still fit in some of the 0-3 month things if it's not too short.  She's our tall skinny-minny so she seems to outgrow things because of the length.  Any new clothes that we buy her are of course 3-6 month and she has a closet full!  Of course it's fun to dress her in something new every day so we go through the outfits pretty fast.  Even though I got a ton of hand-me-downs, I've done (and so has her Mamaw & Gigi) my fair share of shopping...little girls' clothes are just too hard to resist!  I need to stock up on cute onesies for now...that's practically all she wears during the day!
Food: At the end of April, we moved Elyse to a 4 hour schedule because she had stopped eating very well as we tried to feed her every 3 hours.  The four hour schedule has been wonderful and seems to be working so well for everyone.  She is eating 5 times a day & normally doesn't take any sort of feeding overnight.  She is probably taking in somewhere close to 30 oz of breastmilk a day either from breastfeeding or with a bottle of pumped milk.  We haven't started her on any solids yet, but have plans to do that right at 6 months.  I did buy a box of rice cereal yesterday just so we're prepared, but she seems to be gaining weight and still satisfied for now so we're not going to rush things. 

Sleep: Sleep seems to go in cycles each week...Week 1-Sleeping great with no waking, Week 2-Sleeping horribly with 1-2 wakings per night, Week 3-back to 1 waking, Week 4-Sleeping great again.  The only thing I can contribute this to is her growth spurts because it normally is around the time that she isn't sleeping well that she starts learning all sorts of new things.  I also think that her teeth are trying to work their way up, they just haven't shown themselves yet. 

Activity: With moving to the 4-hour schedule that means that Elyse is now up for about 4 2-hour stretches during the day.  Let me just say that sometimes keeping a 5 month old entertained an active for 2 whole hours can be exhausting!  She is such a happy, content baby but one activity can only hold her attention for 15-20 minutes.  Thank goodness we've got her activity mat (with both back & tummy time), her piano activity center, the Mamaroo, the jumper that hangs in the door, her iSnug seat, her high chair & lots of little hand-held toys!  We just move from one thing to another depending on how long she can be entertained. 

This month she has started grabbing for toys more consistently & can occasionally move the toy from one hand to the other.  She also just started rolling over again from her back to her belly...not sure why she prefers this move compared to belly to back since it's a more difficult thing to accomplish!  Overachiever! 

She also learned to sit un-supported at times and sometimes she prefers to sit on the floor between our legs playing with toys instead of laying on the floor. 
Personality: I'm really not sure how our baby girl could have more personality.  Everyone who is around her for very long comments on how she's such a happy baby.  And she truly is.  You can almost always get her to smile unless she's just super tired or hungry.  She also does really well to go with the flow.  Some days the naptime gets thrown off or we end up hauling her around from place to place...but she just goes with it and seems to get right back on schedule.  She is starting to talk & talk &talk & talk when you catch her in the right mood.  Her Uncle Nick got her talking like crazy on Mother's Day & it's those noises that I can't explain to you or even sufficiently describe that I will miss so much.  Her blabbers & coos &giggles & screams as she experiments with her vocal cords are priceless and I just love it! 
~Blowing Raspberries:  She will giggle & laugh so hard when you blow raspberries on her tummy.  She gets these a lot when she's having her diaper changed and the smiles & laughs she sends my way are incredible. 
~People she loves:  She's becoming more & more aware of those people who she knows & those she doesn't.  She just lights up when someone new walks in the room that she knows.  She will practically smile at everyone eventually...but those people she knows get a smile right away.
~Sophie the Giraffe: This truly is the best toy ever.  She is able to hold her in her hands and even pull her to her mouth and chew.  She still gets frustrated when she can't get Sophie in just the right spot!
~Hands & Toes:  She is still chewing on her hands and sometimes we think she may end up with her whole fist in her mouth; however, this past week she has also discovered her toes so at times she would rather just chew on her toes than her fingers!
~Books:  She is starting to become so interested in everything going on around her that reading a story has become much more enjoyable.  She actually sits and listens & will even hold my hand as I turn the page.  We read at least one story before each naptime and this might be one of the highlights of my days at home. 
~Just like last month, I really can't think of much she doesn't like!  She can handle almost anything for a period of time and will let you know when she's ready to switch it up.  I really don't think that we have any idea with how good we have it...probably just means we'll pay for it with the next one! 

5 Month Milestones:
*Sitting up unassisted-tripod style:  May 7th
*Really & truly discovered toes:  Beginning of May
*1st 4-Wheeler Ride: Mother's Day 5/13
*Reaching for & grabbing toys, holding on to someone who's holding her, sleeping more consistently through the night

Monday, May 14, 2012

My Very 1st Mother's Day

If I had written the script & scenes for my very first Mother's Day weekend, I'm not sure I could have done any better than how it happened in real life. 

Friday evening we met up with some friends for dinner at a new local restaurant:  Aviary Cafe & Creparie.  We had delicious savory crepes for dinner followed up by some fabulous sweet, chocolate crepes for dessert.  We had Elyse along with us and while she was restless from missing her evening nap, she still did incredibly well for being forced to stay in our laps for the entire meal.   

Daddy & Elyse before dinner
Saturday morning came bright & early as it was time for our neighborhood garage sale.  Nick & I are both pretty good at purging things throughout the year, always creating a fairly nice stack of items to try and pass on to those who decide to roam our neighborhood looking for some good deals.  We only had about 3 tables worth (one completely full of clothes), but we ended up walking away with about $125.  Hey, that's $125 we didn't have before and most all of our junk is now gone!
The garage sale across the street:  the kiddos made over $60 selling water, chips, donuts, & lemonade!
 After the garage sale & Elyse's nap, we came outside for some fresh air.  She is learning to situp unassisted and is loving to sit between our legs and reach for toys.  It's so fun to watch her brain develop right before our eyes!
Hanging out with Mommy

Elyse:  Mom are we done with pictures this weekend?  Momma:  Nope, it's Mother's Day...lots more pictures to come!

We spent our Saturday night at home, grilling burgers & making homemade french fries, going for a walk with Elyse & Bogey and after we put Elyse to be watching a movie on the couch.  I'm honestly not sure how an evening could get much better than that.  

Sunday morning was a little chaotic as we were trying to get around for church a bit early as they were taking family photos as a gift to all the mothers.  However, we definitely made time for some playing with Elyse & also some presents for momma.  Elyse & Daddy got me a canvas hand print set so we can document Elyse's hands & feet & also a wall frame collage from Red Envelope so I can fill it with some Elyse's photos.  I've been asking for this collage for quite some time so I was so excited to open it up! 
Look Mom!  I'm able to balance myself on my activity gym!
 After church we met up with my parents & mom's parents for lunch at Ruby Tuesday.  My grandma has been fighting some healthy issues for the last several months and actually made it to church yesterday for the first time in 7 months.  I honestly couldn't have asked for a better Mother's Day present for my momma! 
4 Generations:  Gigi, Town Grandma, Momma, & Elyse
We all headed down to my parents' house after lunch for some relaxing.  Elyse went down for her nap & we all just had a great time enjoying the beautiful weather.  My brother and his wife showed up about the time Elyse woke up from her nap...and it was time for some photos! 
Uncle Nick stole Elyse's sunglasses

My family of 3 on Mother's Day
Momma & Daugther, sporting her new glasses from Gigi & Papa

Testing out the pool water for the first time

The beautiful women of the Smart Family:  Millie, Elyse, Lauren, & Momma

Since Elyse was so bright-eyed, we decided to let Elyse have another first:  a 4-Wheeler Ride.  My dad's parents live basically across the field & through the woods from my parents house so Hubby strapped on the Baby Bjorn, loaded up Elyse, and our entire crew headed to my grandparents' house...dogs & all.  We drove extremely slow & extremely carefully...but I really think she enjoyed the ride!  

Elyse's first 4-wheeler ride!
 We were able to spend some quality time with my grandparents & actually got to see some other family as well.  Within 10 minutes of us showing up, my aunt & uncle, cousins & their significant others (a wife & a girlfriend) showed up as well...along with their dogs.  So...for about an hour it was quite hilarious as my grandparent's welcomed 12 adult visitors, a 5 month old baby, and 8 dogs.  Yep, we're a dog-loving family! 
Me, Grandma & Elyse

Passed out in Grandma's arms with my ankles crossed like a lady!

Not sure if you can see it, but Elyse has her tongue out...I think she was ready to go home! 
We headed back to the house to get dinner on the table, hoping that Elyse would go down for her nap.  But it wasn't time for was time for playing with Uncle Nick & Aunt Millie!
I swear, my brother Nick can get Elyse talking more than anyone Elyse! She loves him!

And she also loved some naked-baby time!

She loves her Uncle Nick so much she thought she'd take a bite...

but then decided her own toes might taste better! 
We finished off the evening with a wonderful meal of steaks, baked potatoes, salad, & an assortment of cupcakes.  Elyse took a brief nap & gave all of us adults some time to enjoy a fabulous dinner together celebrating my momma! 
Red Velvet, Tuxedo, Carrot Cake, Chocolate/Peanut Butter, Chocolate Raspberry Truffle, Double Chocolate, & White Confetti...mmmmmmm!
 Before heading home it was time for one last activity...swinging outside.  This girl was LOVING it and I can already imagine her saying in a few years..."Higher Momma, Faster Momma...Higher Daddy, Faster Daddy!"
Love that precious girl, and so incredibly blessed & honored to be called her momma!

I can't believe my First Mother's Day is already in the books, but it's time for another week and almost time to celebrate our 5 Year Wedding Anniversary on Saturday...where oh where does the time go!?!?