Friday, May 31, 2013

Bullet Points & Pictures for the end of May

  • The weater has been beautiful...hence the reason for a lack of blogging, I'm still taking plenty of pictures but I'm just not taking time to actually post, comment, or edit.  Oh well, time outside with Elyse at this age is TOO fun!
  • Elyse is seriously so fun at this age, we have daily giggle fests and tickle monster attacks which honestly makes me feel like my heart is going to explode from the love & joy I get from her each day.  She of course also is starting to have her own opinions and is showing a little bit of a stubborn side...but oh how I love this little girl!  
  • We had our first momma/daughter cooking experience last week...ok, so she really just watched as I finished rolling the cookies into balls...but we both enjoyed the fruits of our labor after they were finished baking!  I can't wait until we can actually bake together...she's going to love it!  
  • Hubby certainly knows the way to my running shoes for our anniversary!  I'm in love! 
  • We've discovered Elyse's favorite meal..spaghetti!  This girl can shovel it down!  This picture was after Daddy had already cleaned her face, she has a little bit of a reaction to the acidity of the tomato sauce...but she definitely needed a bath after this meal!
  • We had a fabulous Memorial Day weekend...maybe I'll get some of the photos I took from my actual camera up sometime next week.  Elyse is starting to love sidewalk chalk...until she trips and falls into it...
& then she looks like a pitiful little Wild Indian with chalk all over her face!
  • Last weekend we were struggling a little bit with naps...and she decided she wanted to finish her nap in her momma's arms.  I quickly obliged and we took a nice nap together.  I'll take it, I don't get cuddles very often anymore!
  • Tuesday night, Hubby & my dad went to a STL Cardinals game; so Elyse and I hung out with Gigi for the evening.  This girl is seriously a country girl at heart!  She LOVES being outside...and seriously two seconds before this picture she was tromping through the weeds that are right behind her!  Definitely time for a bath when we got home from our walk!
  • But before the bath...time for an orange popsicle!  She had it running all the way down her elbows and to her knees and into her shoes!  But she loved it!
  • We've been exploring the local parks & playgrounds a lot in the last few weeks!  She's really getting brave and loves going down the slides and climbing all around!  
  • I've resolved as of yesterday to set my alarm for 15 minutes earlier so I can get up and shower and still have time for some quiet time before Elyse awakes.  Today I certainly was thankful for it...I certainly needed this word this morning! 

Friday, May 24, 2013

Welcome to the world, Harper Marie!

There are certain dates in your life that you will never forget...& birthdays of those closest to you are certainly one of them.  On Tuesday, a precious little girl had her very first birthday! 
Proud Daddy & his baby girl!
My little brother, proud Aunt Lauren & baby Harper!
Papa & Gigi, now the proud grandparents of two incredibly beautiful & special little girls!

Our beautiful bright-eyed Harper!
 Harper Marie was born on May 21, 2013 @ 1:42 pm.  She weighed 7 lbs 8 oz and was 22 1/2" long.  She had a full head of dark hair and is absolutely perfect. 

Elyse meeting her cousin for the first time!

Checking out her fingers...

Papa & his girls!

Hugging Harper! Check out that hair!
 Momma, Daddy & baby are all now at home, trying to find their own routine and just enjoying some precious time as a new family of 3. 
Hubby &, we can't even remember Elyse being that small!

Such a snuggle bug!
I have nieces and nephews on Hubby's side...but this is Elyse's very first cousin on my side of the family--so I'm pretty stinkin' excited and so proud of Nick & Millie.  They are going to be fabulous parents and our family just got a whole lot more fun with another little girl in the mix! 
First Bath at home!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

On Vacationing Without Baby--Just GO!

Before Elyse was born, Hubby & I traveled at least once a year...just the two of us.  We usually ended up having other vacations with family or to visit family or with friends...but we always managed to schedule in a week for just us.  A week to refresh and recharge our batteries and to make memories that will honestly last a lifetime...or maybe even longer. 
1st Official Vacation as Husband & Wife...Honeymoon...St Lucia 2007
We traveled to Maui in May of 2011...7 months before Elyse arrived, and until our trip a few weeks ago we hadn't had more than 2 nights away from her, with each other, in almost 2 years. Now since I breastfed Elyse until she was 1, it really wasn't feasible for us to go very far away for very long...pumping on vacation, yeah...not romantic.  However, for a couple who had been used to multiple was time.
Mackinaw Island, Fall 2007
Hubby & I have so many friends who always talk about going on vacation, but it never actually happens.  Life happens, and years go by where married couples never take the time to recharge their relationship.  And honestly, this scares me a little bit for them...I know that not everyone has the same situation as we do, but here's a few suggestions for all my experienced momma friends, or my new-momma friends, or maybe just my married friends who need a break.
1st Anniversary trip to NYC, May 2008
  1.  Just do it.  Seriously.  Start planning and put it on the calendar and go.  If you don't put it on the calendar you'll never do it, so pick a the flight and go.
Destin, May 2009
2.  Start saving.  Thankfully Hubby & I have had the luxury of being able to contribute a significant amount each month to a vacation fund.  It's not always designated to a certain location or even a specific time, but it's there and ready to be used.  (We already have a huge chunk of our family vacation in Florida set aside!)
Upper Michigan & Niagara Falls-Canada Side...Fall 2009
3. Choose somewhere you both want to go...or maybe somewhere you've never been.  Some of the best parts about travelling together is experiencing new things as a couple and going somewhere that is unknown.  This way there are no preconceived notions or expectations about the trip...besides, it's really less about WHERE you go and more about WHO you are with.  You're spending quality time with your spouse, the one you chose to spend forever with--you could potentially be in a crazy 2* hotel, but as long as you're together just make the most of it!
Riviera Maya, May 2010
4.  Go.  Yeah, I said it again.  Whether it's for 2 nights or 8 nights or 10 nights...just go.

5.  Find childcare.  So this is maybe where it gets a little bit sticky for some of you.  Hubby & I both have parents that live within 30 minutes of our house and they love Elyse practically more than we do.  I realize that not everyone has this luxury, but I'm pretty positive that everyone has someone who you would trust to watch your precious babies for a night or two or seven.  For those of you with long-distance relatives, maybe you can work it to drop your kiddos off and make it a vacation near that locale or maybe you can catch a flight from the same city where your potential babysitters live.  Last I checked practically NO grandparent is going to turn down the opportunity to keep your kiddo for awhile. 
Upper Michigan, Sept 2010
6.  Make it romantic.  We chose an adults-only spot that was also a place that many couples choose for their honeymoon.  And when I was packing, that's exactly how I treated a 2nd honeymoon. I packed some of the clothes that made me feel most beautiful, I bought some new swimsuits that Hubby loved, and the entire vacation I just felt like I was on cloud nine.  After losing all my baby weight I also got up the nerve to have some boudoir photos taken, and I packed away the album to surprise Hubby on the first night.  Wow was he surprised!
Breckenridge, December 2010
7.  Go.  Yup, here it is again.  If you think you can't afford it, plan something last minute or maybe a local bed & breakfast is your idea...close to home, but still away from home.  But

8.  Relax, or don't if you'd rather.  Most of our vacations are go, go, go...but this time we decided to just chill.  Hubby didn't take his golf clubs, I didn't schedule a massage, we just enjoyed each other.  The beach and ocean breeze certainly helped this...but do whatever makes you  happy.  If you want to go crazy with activities then do that...but don't feel bad about just enjoying the silence.  It was nice to hear the ocean waves that weren't made from a sound machine sitting next to Elyse's bed. 
Maui, May 2011--8 Weeks Pregnant!
9.  Unplug.  For the most part our phones were left on Airplane Mode, and our iPad was turned off once we arrived in the DR.  We did turn them both on occasionally to check for missed calls or texts from Elyse; but honestly, she could have cared less if we were gone.  We did Facetime home once on our last day & then once from the airport on our way home...but otherwise we tried to limit our tech time.
Chicago, May 2012
10.  And finally.  Go.  Love each other.  Romance each other.  Hubby & I had definitely gotten into this routine of being Elyse's mom & dad but not really husband & wife.  Every relationship goes through those phases, and I'm not afraid to admit that there were moments before our trip that I may have loved my husband dearly, but I certainly didn't like him very much.  I set all that aside once we headed out and honestly this trip was one of the best things ever for our marriage.  I fell more in love with my husband over those few days and I feel like we're back in that honeymoon phase of when we were first married.
Dominican Republic, May 2013

We started planning several months ago, set a tentative budget, and looked at a few timeframes.  We considered several destinations, but I am a hardcore beach person at heart...and I'm happy to announce that I've come close to converting Hubby to one as well.  So the beach it was...Maybe for you it's the mountains, or a big city...wherever it is...just GO! 

Monday, May 20, 2013

Gettin' a Little Squirrelly!

In addition to celebrating our anniversary this weekend, the big event was the annual Running of the Squirrels 5K.  My hometown's claim to fame is being one of only 2 locations in the world to have a large population of white squirrels.  8 years ago, a new 5K was born...The Running of the Squirrels! 3 years ago our family business became the title sponsor of the event as it's become an annual tradition for us to participate! 
The organizers always pride themselves with choosing catchy themes...and this year it was "Nothing Runs Like A Squirrel" (which is also the John Deere slogan in case you're not from a rural community!)

Say Cheese!  Oh dear, she already poses for pictures!
Hubby ran the race by himself so he could race for time, and I ran with a couple of girlfriends.  We had a goal of running 2 minutes, walking 1 and for the most part we succeeded.  I think we ended up doing more like 2 minutes running, 2 minutes walking towards the end...but we still finished in about 37 minutes. 
My parents pushed Elyse in a stroller most of the way...but this is how she crossed the finish line!  Apparently she got a little tired of being in the stroller! 

Afterwards I headed to my parent's house so Elyse could nap and then we played outside for a bit until Hubby was able to close up the office.  
 After spending some time working outside on Saturday afternoon, we headed out for a date night!  Hubby & I were able to get a true Dinner & a Movie date night on Saturday night while we left Elyse with the in-laws.  Our big anniversary celebration was our Dominican Republic trip, but we still enjoyed a nice evening out to reminisce a little bit on all that we've done in the past 6 years! 
Chinese food & The Great, fun! 

Sunday, May 19, 2013 a Serious Number!'s the fingers on your hand plus a thum-ber...
Unless you listen to St. Louis Cardinals baseball on the radio, you're probably going to think I'm a dork...but the title of this post is a shout-out to Hubby. 
Today we celebrate 6 wonderful years of marriage.  While we've definitely had our moments and even though there are times when marriage seems to be more work than I ever expected it would be, there are also those moments when I fall absolutely head over heels in love with my husband all over again and feel like getting down on my hands and knees to praise God for bringing him into my life.
And for 6 years...6 reasons I love my husband...
1.  He loves me unconditionally and I have never once doubted the level of his love for me. 
2.  He is the most incredible Daddy to Elyse and watching them interact has filled my heart with an immeasureable amount of joy. 
3.  He is an absolute dork.  And I need this...he makes me laugh and brings humor to a situation when I need it most. 
4.  He loves Jesus, and strives to lead our family in the most godly way he knows how; also being willing to learn from others with more experience. 
5.  He helps me not to sweat the small stuff...even when it might have to do with us, he helps me to move on and remember what's important. 
6.  He reminds me that we are a team. We do every step of life together...not one of us on our own.  He is my rock & supporter who carries me when I need carried. 

Happy Anniversary Hubby, here's to many, many more years of doing this crazy thing called life together! 

Friday, May 17, 2013

Punta Cana, DR ~ The Food

Like most of the resorts in the DR, our resort was all-inclusive.  This hasn't ever really been a deal-breaker for us because we're not huge drinkers or really huge eaters for that matter.  However, we do appreciate a nice meal & quality food on vacation.  Staying at an all-inclusive, our expectations were honestly pretty low--because anytime you're trying to feed a mass of people at one time, the quality is bound to suffer. 
Not to mention that we're not in the USA and we're eating food that is prepared in another country...things are bound to be a little different. 
Having said all of that, we managed to find lots of things we enjoyed and never really left any meal feeling like we were starving.  With staying in the adults-only section, we had the ability to eat at most any ala carte restaurant on the property.  We tried the gourmet restaurant the first night, a Mediterranean restaurant the next night, and an Italian restaurant the next night. 

By the time we had been at our resort for 3 1/2 days, we were ready for a little change of place in the food department so we decided to check out our trust friend Trip Advisor.  My parents had visited the DR a few years ago & mentioned that if possible we should try out Captain Cook's.  So we had our concierge book us a reservation and off we went...

My parents could have done a little better job explaining just exactly what we were getting into...because imagine our surprise when we taken over to a huge wooden cooler, the lid was whipped open, and this is what we found inside! 

In broken English, our host asked us to pick out our dinner...and to order from this menu! Which neither one of us could hardly read except to see camorones (shrimp) & langostinos (lobster).  I remember reading on Trip Advisor about a mixed grill platter that a couple shared so I tentatively ordered that along with some fried calamari for an appetizer. 

Thankfully, you couldn't beat the was a great place to sit and wonder just what in the heck we had ordered and whether we were going to need to hit the buffet when we got back to the resort. 

The meal started off great with some homemade chips, some sort of fish sticks, and Coca-Cola in real glass bottles.  And of course, who can complain about being seranaded by an official mariachi band! 

Finally, our meal arrived and we realized there was no reason to be it was a platter of wonderful Caribbean lobster, red snapper, shrimp, and a ton of other seafood that was delicious! 
After our meal they provided a plate of fresh fruit & a local drink called Mamajauna (Google Mamajauna, it's worth reading the description)...we took a small sip and then asked our waiter to take a photo.  He insisted that we take it on the beach, with Mamajauna in hand. 

Cheers to a very fun & memorable evening!  Oh and did I forget to mention the security guard with a sawed-off shotgun slung over his shoulder...oh my, what an experience! 
When we arrived back at the resort we sat down in the lobby bar just in time for a cart of chocolate covered strawberries to be brought around...we enjoyed strawberry daiquiris, chocolate strawberries and then headed off to bed with incredibly full bellies!  

With our last night upon us, we just couldn't waste it by eating at the this time we used Trip Advisor again and booked a reservation at The Jellyfish. Even though the atmosphere was fun & memorable at Captain Cook's, this was the perfect, romantic spot to finish off our trip...
Our beautiful view..
& my handsome date!
The Jellyfish is a popular place for destination weddings but it was pretty quiet on the night we were there...we were actually the only party in attendance until our main course had been served.  And see that table under the lanterns in the picture was set up all romantic for the entire night and never got sat in--Hubby & I both kept wondering if it had been set for us & we just didn't have the nerve to ask!  ha! 

We went on a walk along the beach while we waited for our food...and even used the Shoe Valet!  ha! 

And then it was time for some fine dining...a 2 lb lobster tail for the lady...(definitely imported but definitely amazing!)
 & a filet & french fries for the Hubby!  The best french fries he had all week! 
I was only a little bit excited about my lobster! 

This capped off what honestly could not have been a better trip...sure there were a few minor glitches, our tram breaking down on the first day when we were being taken to our room, or Hubby knocking over the glass at the buffet which caused a small cut on his foot, or the fact that we NEVER EVER bring enough cash on vacation so we had to find an ATM...but overall it was perfect.  An amazing trip where Hubby & I were able to not forget about Elyse, but at least not be the ones responsible for her, for just a few days. 

And so what would I say about travelling without kids...go, go now before you change your minds, it may just change your marriage in a very, very good way!