Friday, November 30, 2012

Warning Signs

This week has been a long one.  One day at work. One day at the hospital. One day at home prepping for my party.  One day at my parents' house helping my mom decorate for Christmas.  One day back at work.  Sounds normal, right?!?

Oh, you mean the day at the hospital doesn't sound normal?  Well, it's not. 

Tuesday morning I woke up to Elyse crying at 5:30, but told myself I would leave her until 6:30 when we normally get her out of bed...unless she got really upset.  But she must have known something was wrong, because at 5:45 I got the first phone call that rocked my world. 

To make a short, private story even shorter, by 7:30 my dad was out of surgery after having a stent placed in one of his major arteries.  By 7:30, I was giving my dad a hug, wiping away tears and trying to avoid the "what if..." thoughts that went through my head.  I spent the rest of the day at the hospital keeping my mom company, running errands, or running interference for the several visitors that came by to check on my dad. 

My dad is incredibly healthy.  He goes for long walks with their dogs & eats way more fruits & veggies than I ever think about eating.  He doesn't smoke. He's supposed to be invincible.  He's my daddy.  My hero. 

But he's not invincible & his momma, my grandma, has genetically high cholesterol.  Now thanks to some medications and maybe some adjustments in diet/exercise, he'll be watching those numbers much more closely.  As will all of us. 

He had some warning signs, but thought they were just prolonged symptoms of a chest cold.  Shortness of breath, tired out easily, slight chest pains....they were there.  And thank God he didn't ignore them for too long. 

I could go into all the horrible details of that day, but instead I think I'll just say this...a lot of bloodwork doesn't test cholesterol numbers.  In fact, most general bloodwork doesn't.  So, if you know someone...a mother, a father, a husband, a sibling, or maybe even yourself who might not know their medical family history.  Go get a  Regardless of the cost, it's worth it to at least know where you're starting from. 

As I said, my dad was incredibly healthy & it's his collateral arteries, & probably chewing an aspirin before heading to the hospital, that probably saved him. 

I'm praising God this week, and every day as I try to keep those "what-ifs" at I was in my kitchen earlier this week trying to prep for my cookie party.  I was listening to worship songs & I lifted my hands in worship & eventually fell to my knees in a good, sobbing cry; for watching over my dad, for getting him to the hospital, for giving us a doctor confident in his own abilities, for giving us a nurse who was honest & blunt & knowledgeable, for giving us friends & family who bathed us in prayer that day, for bringing my dad home only 36 hours later. 

Go get a, it might save your life or someone you love more than anything. 

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Cookies & My Girls~Cookie Exchange 2012

Last night 12 of my closest girlfriends (friends & family) came knocking on my door with plates or bowls full of yummy, sweet treats for my annual Christmas Cookie Exchange.  
Invitation courtesy of Etsy
It seems that each year, while the guest list stays mainly the same, the girls who are able to attend always changes just a bit. I truly love having these girls over to my house & it's such a great way to start the season of holiday parties!  

We filled our bellies with yummy potato soup & chili & then it was on to the most important part of the night...the sweets!  This year we had lots & lots of yummy things...spice cookies, chocolate mint bars, turtle bars, cashew nougat balls, candied Bugles, Rocky Road pizza bars, Nutter Butters dressed like Santas, Grinch cookies, pumpkin snickerdooles, monster cookies, and a couple cookies using the Candy Cane Hershey's Kisses!  There were honestly all incredibly delicious!  

This year I went with a festive cookie that I'm sure many of you have seen on Pinterest.  They turned out delicious and I think they will be something I'll make each Christmas just because they're so fun & Christmasy!
All ready for the oven!

& the finished product!
 Candy Cane Blossoms

1 bag Hershey's Kisses brand Candy Cane Kisses
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 egg
2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 tablespoons milk
Red and Green colored sugar

Preheat over to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove wrappers from candies (approx. 35)

Beat butter, sugar, vanilla, and egg in large bowl until well blended. Stir together flour, baking soda and salt; add alternatively with milk to butter mixture, beating until well blended.

Shape dough into 1 inch balls. Roll in red and/or green colored sugar. Place on ungreased cookie sheet.

Bake 8 - 1o minutes or until edges are lightly browned and cookies is set. Remove from oven; cool 2 to 3 minutes. Press candy piece into center of each cookie. Remove from cookie sheet to wire rack. Cool completely. Yields approximately 35 cookies.

These girls are all priceless to me & while I wish that every single girl I invited could have come, this was a fabulous group & I already can't wait to do it again next year!  

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Thanksgiving #2 & Decking the Halls

Black Friday to us has never really meant more than an extra day off of work or a day to spend lounging around decking the halls.  In the past we've done plenty of Internet shopping on Black Friday, but we certainly don't join the crazies trying to grab the deals! 
We had a casual morning and got to work quickly putting away all the Fall decorations and making room for Christmas.  We got a lot done but then put everything on pause & headed to my in-laws house for Thanksgiving #2.  Hubby spent the afternoon with his dad supervising the kiddos while I worked in the kitchen with my MIL & SIL.  We had a wonderful Mexican feast since we were all a little ham & turkeyed out. 
Elyse had a fabulous afternoon playing with her cousins...she loves those boys! 
Crawling on Jackson...

A Hunter Sandwich with Jackson & Mamaw as the bread!  ha!

All the kiddos playing with Mamaw & Lucy
Saturday morning Hubby headed out to play golf with his dad & I stayed home with Elyse to finish working on getting the Christmas decorations out.  Elyse has honestly been really good with all the new shiny, sparkly stuff that is sitting around the house.  She did have one up close & personal visit with Santa...
"Hi Santa, nice to meet you..."

"I've been a really good girl this year, can I have a hug?"

"Whoa Santa, that's a BIG hug...can we slow down a bit?"

"Oh wait, you mean it's time to cuddle for naptime?  I'd love to take a nap with you Santa!"
I promise, no Elyse-sized Santas or small children were hurt in the process...she never even cried, just crawled out from under Santa & went on about her day! 

We ended up having lunch with my parents and Elyse even got a little crazy on her piano after Papa stuck a tutu on her head! 
After Hubby came home & Elyse woke up from her nap, we headed out for a quick trip to Springfield.  No Christmas shopping, but several little errands & dinner out with my 2 favorite people. 
Seriously, I get the best pictures of these two together!  My loves! 
When we got home, we still had a little bit of time before Elyse needed to go to bed.  We decided we would "decorate" the small tree we got for her room.  This year we voted to keep the decorating simple with just a strand of lights and a long strand of beaded garland.  She decided that she would much rather play with the garland than hang it on the tree. 
Checking out the beads...

& the lights...

Are you sure the garland has to go on the tree?
Finally the finished product, after Hubby took Elyse from the room and I was able to actually hang the garland on the tree. 
Yesterday we went to church & then came home to get ready for the rest of the week.  The tree is decorated, the stockings are hung, & Hubby has most of the outdoor lights up & plugged in.  I'll definitely have more pictures to share of all the decorations once I get a chance...I've got my Annual Cookie Exchange this week & I can't wait...tons of fun, but lots to do!  The Christmas Countdown is offically on!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Turkey Trot & Thanksgiving #1

Having an 11 month old definitely increases the photo taking, so Thanksgiving weekend is getting broken up into 2 posts.  

My weekend actually started on Wednesday, one of my normal days off.  I got up at normal time and whipped up a little breakfast for hubby & I to enjoy for the holiday.  I have seen the recipe on several blogs and Pinterest and I thought this was the perfect time to try it! Apple Cider Doughnuts...delicious!

My in-laws actually volunteered to keep Elyse on Wednesday so I could head home forthe day to help my mom for party prep. It was so much easier to work in the kitchen, decorate tables, and make trips to the grocery store without an 11 month old under our feet.  We got lots done and we were able to enjoy another family outing on Thanksgiving Eve...a MSU Bears game.

It was a less than exciting game, a blow-out in our favor, but it was still a fun time and it's always fun when I can dress Elyse up in a cute outfit!

Thanksgiving morning we woke up bright and early for our first official Turkey Trot as a family.  And as we were getting ready to leave the house, I glanced out the backdoor and couldn't help but be so incredibly thankful.  I mean, how could you question God with a sky like that?!

We bundled Elyse up & headed for the starting line with over 8500 other people.  She was all set with her coat, blanket, pacifier, & snack catcher full of Cheerios.  And also, thanks to my good friend Nancy, we had an awesome jogging stroller to complete the race with.  Hubby was in charge of pushing Elyse while I was just concerned with finishing. 
Ready for her first official Turkey Trot!

Checking out Daddy's funny headband! 
& laughing at Momma's funny headband too!  ha! 
Hubby & I had the same agreement as we did with the Silver Dollar City run...whenever I needed to walk, I could.  I started off feeling good, but almost to the 1st mile marker I realized that I was feeling incredibly tired and worn down...and that would make sense since we were running a sub-10 minute mile.  Yeah, this girl doesn't run...and she certainly doesn't run sub-10 minute miles.  So...we slowed off a bit, walked for about .3 of a mile and I was feeling better.  It was a quick race, and incredibly crowded with so many participants, but a lot of fun!  I ended up finishing my second official 5k by smashing my previous PR...36:37 last race, & 33:31 this race!  Woohoo! 

We came home and put Elyse down for a quick nap, showered, & then headed down to my parents' house for the Thanksgiving festivities!  We had a fabulous afternoon with friends & family and Elyse certainly enjoyed her first Thanksgiving meal. 

Loving green beans, turkey, & rolls for Thanksgiving!
We always have Christmas crafttime after we eat lunch.  This year we made a few different Christmas ornaments, Peppermint Trees and/or Wreaths, & Ribbon/Pearl Trees.  It's always a fun time and something the ladies look forward to every year.  
My finished products!
We spent the late afternoon & evening with a smaller crowd, my parents & brother & sister-in-law.  Elyse had a fun time playing and even gave us a few great grins for a family photo shoot! 
I was reminded this year, as I truly as every year, just how much we have to be thankful for.  This year we celebrated with our new baby girl & next year, we'll be celebrating with my new niece or nephew!  I'm going to be an aunt in May 2013!  We've known for several weeks, so I've been keeping quiet for awhile.  Nick & Millie are going to be incredible parents & I can't wait for Elyse to have a cousin who's so close to her age.  More Thanksgiving updates to follow...

Thursday, November 22, 2012


Happy Thanksgiving from the Layman's!

 Teeny, tiny little hands
Home that's more than just a house
Amazing women of God who I get to share life with & confess all my troubles to
New adventures, each & every day with the man I love for than life itself
Kindness, even in such a crazy world I experience some sort of kindness each day
Saturdays & Sundays that I get to spend doing whatever I want
Good & yummy food to fill my belly
Idle time in a world of go, go, go
Very, very loving parents who would do absolutely anything for me & my family
In-laws who now live so much closer than a long day's drive away
Night's sleeping 8+ hours without being awoken by a crying baby girl
God, the one from whom all of my blessings flow 

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Weekend Rewind~Dinner & a Movie

So it might be Tuesday, but I'm still smiling as I look back on our weekend and what fun we had.  

Friday night was just a family night at home.  We had leftover soup for dinner which meant a quick kitchen cleanup & then we just played with Elyse before it was time for our nightly bath, bottle, bed routine.  I just love the moments we have after dinner playing with her in the floor or just watching her read her books.  & seriously, I don't think this girl could love water anymore...she LOVES bathtime!   
Can you tell?  Happy, nakey baby!
Saturday was one of the first Saturday mornings in awhile where neither Hubby or I had to work or we didn't have other plans.  Elyse woke up about 7...YIPPEE!!!...and we all cuddled in bed for awhile before Elyse got tired of that and wanted down to play.  Hubby headed out for the last official mowing of the year & I put Elyse down for her morning nap.  After she woke up, or after I woke her actually, we headed to Springfield for a quick stop at Staples and then a quick lunch at Chick-fil-A.  We were curious as to what she would do if given a whole french fry and it was quite hilarious...all she did was clench it in her right hand and examine it.  It was like she didn't know what to do with a piece of food so giant!  Guess that's what we get for tearing her food into bite size pieces!

After lunch we headed to our first MSU Bears game as a family.  Elyse had been already with my parents, but Nick & I weren't able to go.  She was missing her afternoon nap so I was a little worried how things would go...but I shouldn't have.  For the first half she was too busy taking everything in to realize she was tired & for the second half she became a little cuddle bug since she was sleepy.  This momma certainly wasn't complaining about the extra cuddles.
Hubby & Elyse, who was more interested in what was going on around her than picture taking!
Elyse with Papa, Uncle Nick, & Daddy
Elyse & her Boomer Bear...she loves that thing, but she only gets to play with it during MSU games.  We're taking bets on how long it lasts this season!
Momma & Elyse
After the game we went to my in-law's house to drop off Elyse.  They volunteered to watch her for the night while Hubby & I ran a few errands but also had date night.  We picked up Elyse's birthday present, had dinner at a new pizza place downtown & then headed for the movie theater to watch Skyfall.  It was a pretty perfect night, minus the part where I had to sit through a red-banded movie trailer for the new Quentin Tarrentino film...yeah, not a fan of that & I'm honestly thinking about writing a letter after I finish this post.  The trailer was just unnecessary, especially in a theater showing a PG-13 movie.

Sunday Hubby & I had nursery duty for first service & then we attended second service where my in-laws & Elyse joined us.  We had a nice lunch out & then headed home for some work around the house.  Hubby headed outside to put up Christmas lights while I worked in the house & played with Elyse after her nap.  We then headed to small group & called it a night.  Another pretty fabulous fall weekend for the Layman family of 3!
Hubby hanging lights while Elyse watches from her stroller!
She's got her Cheerios & a hoodie...what more does she need?
BIG yawn!
Stuck in her toy & not happy!  

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Elyse Love ~ 11 Months

Wow...we have an 11 month old.  I'm a momma to an 11 month old.  My baby girl is 11 months old...How is that possible?!?  
This is what I was fighting most of our photo shoot today...
Weight/Height: No official measurements this month.  We did try to get her height and she is around 28" long.  She's definitely still growing because this baby girl LOVES to eat!  However, I still think she's pretty petite which is helpful as I pick her up!  

Clothes: She's in mostly 12 month things now just because everything new we bought for the winter is 12 months.  She's still wearing size 3 diapers & I'm not sure if she'll still be in them for the rest of the month or not.  For the length she definitely needs the 12 month size, and even some of the 12-18 month stuff doesn't look too big on her.  I'm glad that for the most part she is staying true to her size, it definitely makes shopping for her a lot easier!

Food:  She is still a wonderful eater.  We had a couple of days where she was refusing to eat her veggies & really only wanted to eat what was on her plate, but we're back to eating practically everything now.  She still doesn't care for tomatoes, but per her Papa's request, we'll keep putting them in front of her & hopefully she'll decide to like them.  We have started feeding her even more table food this month and have given her grilled cheese, cheese quesadillas, pasta noodles, etc.  She loves eating the food off our plate & I just pray that she continues to be such a good eater.  

She is eating 3 full meals a day, 2 snacks, & either nursing or taking a bottle of milk 4 times a day.  Her 2 day-time bottles have definitely decreased in quantity so I'm thinking it probably won't be that difficult to wean her for those two feedings...but the morning nighttime feedings may be more difficult. 

Sleep: For now...I hate to even type it out...but sleep is good.  She is going to bed anytime between 7-7:30 & waking anywhere between 6-6:30.  We are leaving her in her crib until at least 6:30, even if she wakes before then.  Most nights she cries out at some point, but quickly puts herself back to sleep.  She is still taking 2 naps a day, 1-1 1/2 hours in the morning & then 1 1/2 -2 hours in the afternoon...normally.  She's been fighting a cold or teething or something the last few days so we've had some different napping schedules, but today she seems to be back on track.  

Activity:  NOTHING is safe!  I mean NOTHING!!  While she's not walking yet, she is pulling up on EVERYTHING and can make her way around any piece of furniture or any stationery object.  Hubby has installed child magnetic locks on all of our kitchen cabinets & bathroom cabinets to keep her from emptying them.  She doesn't want to be held for any extended period of time and definitely starts to get restless if she can't get down.  I honestly don't know when she'll start walking.  She's such an efficient crawler that it wouldn't surprise me if she was a late walker.  I have a feeling she's going to look at walking and say "what's the point?" since she can get practically anywhere she wants by crawling.  She also loves to read, play with small handheld objects like clothespins or balls.

Personality: Oh man are we in trouble.  This girl is definitely personality like you wouldn't believe.  She has this ridiculous crinkly, nosed grin where she dips her head & gives you this adorable cute smile.  She has also begun to learn that she can manipulate us & if she falls down or bonks her head sometimes she will wait for our reaction before she starts crying.  We are trying to have delayed reactions to make sure she's really hurt before rushing to her.  She just lights up the world she's in everyday & makes everyone smile.  She has started smiling at strangers again but if she's in a crowded or unfamiliar place (Our church's trunk-or-treat & a MSU bears game for example) she will be pretty quiet until she feels comfortable.  

Communication:  Elyse jabbers all the time...mostly to herself.  She loves to "read" books outloud and will sit in the floor for what seems like hours just going from book to book to book turning the pages & looking at the pictures (even if she does normally read them upside down).  She is saying "mama" & "Baba" for sure and also says something that sounds an awful lot like "Uh Oh."  She also makes a sound with a long "G" sound like Guh, Guh but we're not sure what that means yet.  There are also a few times where she says "dada" but it's not as consistent.  She is waving bye bye and has also started to learn the sign for "more" at the table.  Sometimes I wonder if "mama" actually means more, but any way I can hear "mama" come out of her mouth I'll take it!   

~books. I really think this girl is going to be a reader.  When we sit in her nursery, she just stares up at the bookshelf and loves to help me turn the pages.  I so look forward to those times when she just sits on my lap & listens to a story.  
~Peek-A-Boo.  She loves to play peek-a-boo with us and just this week has started to pull up a blanket over her face, pull it back down again, & laugh...I think she's got peek-a-boo figured out.  
~moving.   Do not try to keep this girl still...she's on the go ALL THE TIME!
~clapping--I'm not sure if clapping & the sign for "more" are the same, but she has recently learned to clap her hands together & she loves it!  
~magazines.  She loves to tear them apart, crinkle them up, and put them in her mouth...we try to stop her before they go in the her mouth!  
~Cheerios.  Man, don't try to take her snack-catcher of Cheerios away, the water works are definitely guaranteed to start!  
~Emptying things.  She loves to pull books off of shelves, empty her dishes drawer, pull clothes off the couch, or pull clothes out of a laundry basket.  

~diaper changes: yeah, no changes here.  She's decided that she wants to roll over every time we try to change her diaper or her clothes so we have quite the Elyse rodeo.  I think the changing pad on her dresser is quickly going to be outdated!  

11 Month Milestones:
~First Halloween--October 30 & 31, 2011 dressed as a peacock!
~Playing Peek-A-Boo
~Standing on her own for short periods
~Learning to clap & wave bye-bye

Monday, November 12, 2012

Weekend Rewind~I'm still NOT a runner...

Last weekend was Hubby's shot at a big run, and this week he had another one.  Silver Dollar City (I'm sure everyone has heard of it) hosts a charity 5k each year called Run to the Lights.  It's held after the park closes and they serve hot chocolate & cookies after the race.  Millions of Christmas lights have already been hung around the park and it's absolutely beautiful.  Hubby & I both signed up for the run if for no reason other than the extra tickets we received with our entry fee.  It's seriously too good of a deal to pass up!  
All lined up & ready to go...there was a ridiculous crowd of people!
We left Elyse at home with my parents, met up with some new & old friends for dinner & then headed down to Branson.  I honestly hadn't even decided if I was going to run, thinking I might opt for sitting around the finish line drinking hot chocolate and eating cookies while I waited for the group to finish.  However, Hubby promised he would run with me and would even walk with me if I needed to.  So...I decided to run, walk, jog, whatever, the 3.1 winding, hilly miles around the SDC park.  
Myself & the Dana's all ready for the run!
We started off slow and Hubby kept asking if I needed to walk, but I honestly felt pretty good and just kept on going.  I ended up running a little over 1.5 miles before I walked...but only .1 mile before running again.  By the end of the race I had only walked .2 of the entire 3.1 miles and Hubby & I finished in 36:27!  
Hubby & I before the race
I had not done an single ounce of training, but thanks to Zumba I was in MUCH better shape than I ever imagined.  I honestly couldn't sit here and tell you that I've run even a single mile without stopping.  I have a STRONG dislike for running, but on Friday night...running with Hubby, I surprised even myself.  I still have a  STRONG disklike for running, but I'm definitely a lot stronger than I thought!

While we were having fun with friends, Elyse was spending the evening with Papa & Gigi at her first Missouri State Bears game of the season.  We honestly didn't know how she would do, but she ended up having a great time with all sorts of things to look at & people to watch!  And of course Papa had to buy her a toy to play with!
As Gigi said...Go Bears or Eat Bears?!?!
Saturday morning Hubby & I slept in as best we could & then Hubby headed off to work.  I took advantage of the morning at home by myself & didn't even get out of bed before 10.  Hubby picked up Elyse & we headed to Springfield to have lunch and run some errands.  Mainly, Hubby had to stop by the an optometrist's office (who happens to also be one of our good friends who ran with us the night before).  See...just as we were getting ready to cross the finish line, Hubby tried to wipe some sweat out of his left eye and out came his contact.  Yeah, our race just got quite a bit more expensive.  

After an afternoon nap for Elyse, we went for a family walk in the almost 70 degree weather...who would have thought in the middle of November? 
Loving the fresh air!
Hubby & our furry son!
Oh how I love walks!
Saturday night Hubby was amazing and took Elyse duty while I went out for a girls' night.  I honestly took absolutely NO pictures, but just had a blast with some of my bestest girl friends.  We had sushi for dinner & then just hung out and relaxed without our husbands & kids....a reason to celebrate in and of itself!

Sunday was a rainy, cold, cloudy day...we headed to church & then came home to spend the rest of the day hanging around the house.  We all took naps & then Hubby headed off to a meeting at church while Elyse & I spent some quality time playing.  We ended up canceling small group to give everyone a week off so I fixed a yummy potato soup recipe from Pinterest for dinner.  We finished off the weekend with a movie...perfection!
It's another busy week...I can't believe that Thanksgiving is next week!