mom or dad?

When a baby is born people immediately start asking who the baby looks like, the mother or the father. So far, most people think Elia looks more like me but lately, some people have said they see Todd in her.  I came across some baby pictures of Todd and me on my computer today so let's compare.

Does Elia look like Todd?

Or like me?

And here is a shot of Elia for reference.

I don't know what it is but I think this is so darn cute!
Well what do you think?  I know what my vote is, share yours below!


starting summer

Memorial Day weekend marks the beginning of summer and although the current temperatures don't reflect that, we're already onto summer things at the Neckers household.  Todd came home from work early on Friday to do some yard work.  Elia was a big help.

On Saturday afternoon we left for Silver Lake, our summer home away from home. 

After spending some time with Grandma and Grandpa N, Elia got ready for her very first boat ride.  

We think she liked it.  Or at least she didn't mind it, that's kind of her M.O. these days.

After dinner Elia got to have a fun night in with her grandparents while Todd and I enjoyed a few hours out at Bostwick Lake Inn.

Cheers to the start of a great summer!


baby books

Like many expectant parents, Todd and I did our share of reading about pregnancy and different parenting styles.  Now that we have a month of parenting under our belts, I thought I'd share some of my favorite books with you.


Mommy IQ by Rosie Pope: If you've every seen Pregnant in Heels you'll know why I find Rosie Pope completely charming.  As I read this book I heard every word in Rosie's lispy British accent.  The book's tone is familiar and you feel like it's one of your girlfriends talking to you, reminding you that you can make it through these 40 weeks and that you're not alone on the journey.  The content is nothing groundbreaking but it's a funny, friendly read for first-time moms.

Baby Gear

Baby Bargains by Denise Fields: Recommended by my sister-in-law this book was a lifesaver as we worked on our baby registry.  There are so many different options for everything from strollers to bottles to cribs and everyone you talk to will have a different favorite.  This book offers objective reviews of baby products and also give recommendations for the best buys overall and at different price points.  We loved this book and thought it was worth its weight in gold.


Bringing Up Bébé by Pamela Druckerman: This is my hands-down favorite.  The author and her husband started their family after moving to France and she starts noticing all of the differences between how the French parent as compared to the American parents that she knows.  As I read about the way that the French raise their children I kept saying to myself, "Of course that works, that makes total sense."  Some of the things she points out are cultural and would be hard to replicate outside of France but many are common sense and have to do with how French parents see their children.  I found myself reading passages aloud to to Todd over and over because I kept reading things that both reflected my ideas about parenting and new concepts that I hoped he could get behind.  He did.  Another fun, related read is Bébe Day by Day also by Druckerman.  This book provides the lessons from Bringing Up Bébé in short sections, basically a quick reference guide to the rules of French parenting.

Mayo Clinic Guide to Your Baby's First Year: After bringing your baby home from the hospital you are largely on your own.  Yes, you have your pediatrician, loving grandparents who successfully raised you, and tons of moms with advice to give but when you're at home alone with baby, you're on your own and bound to have questions about what is and isn't normal for a newborn.  We've already looked up a myriad of things from cradle cap to how long to store breast milk at different temperatures.  It's nice to have a go-to book from a trusted source to refer to instead of wading our way through the countless search results that come up online.

Brain Rules for Baby by John Medina: This was one of Todd's favorite parenting reads.  The subtitle of the book is "How to Raise a Smart and Happy Child form Zero to Five".  The author is a developmental molecular biologist who is also a parent and the book delves into the neuroscience behind baby's development.  He focuses on how you can put practices in place now that will help develop your child's brain in a way that will lead to long-term brain development.  He is actually qualified to make suggestions about what is good and what isn't for your child's development by taking the time to look at and synthesize lots of studies that either affirm or discredit common beliefs like the idea that playing Mozart to your child will make him smarter.  His goal is not to tell you how to raise your child's IQ but to provide parents with proven tools for helping the child's brain development.  Since he isn't the one who is conducting the studies he writes about he's able to look at them objectively.  He takes hard science and presents it through interesting stories and anecdotes - a very interesting read.

Of course there are many, many parenting books out there and many I'd still like to read.  On my reading list are:

The New Basics: A-to-Z Baby & Child Care for the Modern Parent by Michel Cohen
French Twist by Catherine Crawford
How Eskimos Keep Their Babies Warm by Mei Ling Hopgood
The Artful Parent by Jean Van't Hul
Parenting Without Borders by Christine Gross-Loh
French Kids Eat Everything by Karen Le Billon
The Idle Parent by Tom Hodgkinson

I'd love to hear what your go-to books for new parents and parents-to-be are.  What are your favorites?


one month young

Elia turned one month today (well, technically yesterday now...).  

Elia, we're so thankful that you are our daughter.  Your first month has been incredible, you bring us so much joy!  Happy one month, Bug.


celebration central

Has it already been over a week since I posted?  Goodness, gracious we have a lot to catch up on. The past week or so has been chock-full of celebration.

We spent more time last weekend with Uncle Joel, Aunt Kim, and Maddie.  Then, on May 7, we celebrated our two-year wedding anniversary.  While Todd and I went out for dinner, Elia stayed home with Grandma and Grandpa Lautenbach babysitting.  Before we left, we got a family photo in the same spot Todd and I took one just over a year ago when we bought our house.

A lot changes in a year, doesn't it?

The next day we went to Tulip Time.  It was the first time for both Elia and I.  After the parade Todd played tour guide at Hope College and we spent some time wandering the campus and the surrounding neighborhoods.  It was fun to see the places where he spent so much time and made such good friends and memories in college.

On Thursday night, Elia went to her first museum opening.  It was nice to pop in at work and see introduce my co-workers to E.

Our very talented daughter brought me breakfast in bed on Saturday morning.  She made me pancakes in honor of Mother's Day and she and Todd both gave me thoughtful, heartfelt cards.  Though I'm new at this, being a mom really is amazing - it's the best thing.

We had some friends visit on Saturday afternoon and then we celebrated Mother's Day with a brunch with both sets of grandparents on Sunday.  

What a week! It really has been celebration central over here for the past few weeks.  We are so thankful to have so much to celebrate in the last month.  It's an incredible feeling to be parents and to be blessed with a happy marriage and so many people supporting us and loving our daughter is extraordinary.

Visitors: Grandma and Grandpa Lautenbach + Mary S + Rebecca J + Allison B + Justin and Krista M
Milestones: Elia has a belly button!  Her cord stump fell off Saturday, May 4.


friends near and far

We had a big day today!  We spent most of the afternoon at Grandma and Grandpa Neckers house where Elia met her Aunt Kim and cousin, Maddie for the first time and got to see her Uncle Joel again.  They're all in town visiting from Denver and we were so excited for the cousins to meet for the first time.  The girls were largely indifferent about meeting each other.

That's okay though, once Elia can stay awake for more than a few minutes at a time we're sure they'll be best of friends.

Plus it was fun to see Todd and Joel together with their girls.

After we got home, Mom's friends Mary-Catheryn and Beth came to meet Elia along with their kids, Boston and Lahna.  Elia is so excited to have play dates with them (and so is her mom!).

By the way, Boston has the most adorable baby blog around, The Boston News, check it out if you want to be overwhelmed by cuteness.

We're looking forward to more fun with family this weekend!

Visitors: Uncle Joel, Aunt Kim and Madeline + Mary-Catheryn and Boston B + Beth and Lahna Q
Favorite Things: Sleeping, Snuggling
Least Favorite Things: Diaper Changes, Being Hungry 


sunny days

Saturday, April 27

Mom began Saturday morning with a quick stop-in at Debbie's baby shower - we can't wait to meet Baby V!  Dad and Elia hung out while Mom was gone and by the time she got home the sun was shining - what a beautiful day!  

In the afternoon, Mom and Dad's friend Elisha came over to watch Elia for a bit while Dad went to the gym and Mom went to run some errands.  After some quality cuddling time, Grandpa L came to drop off a meal and visit for awhile.  Everyone was sitting outside and after Grandpa left, Mom and Dad decided that the only thing to do was to grill out. 

Visitors: Elisha D + Grandpa Lautenbach
Milestone: First Babysitter 

Sunday, April 28

Visitors: Grandma and Grandpa Neckers + Grandma and Grandpa Lautenbach
Dinner Provided By: Grandma and Grandpa Lautenbach

Monday, April 29

Visitors: Great Grandma and Grandpa Lautenbach
Dinner Provided By: Great Grandma and Grandpa Lautenbach

Tuesday, April 30

Elia had her newborn shoot today.  She was so well-behaved!  Mom took a few shots in process but we can't wait to see all of the shots that Allie took and put together her birth announcement.  


Don't worry - the professional shots are much better than Mom's iPhone pics.

Visitors: Shari M
Milestone: Baby's First Photo Shoot - Check out a few preview pictures on Allie Marie Photography's Facebook Page!
Dinner Provided By: Shari M

Wednesday, May 1

Elia is two weeks old today!

This afternoon Great Grandma Lautenbach came over and spent two hours planting flowers from her garden in our garden.  It was so nice of her to not only give us her plants but spend the afternoon getting our garden up to snuff.  She even did our weeding for us!  We are so grateful to her and are looking forward to watching our garden bloom all season long.

After Dad got home from work we went on our first family outing (outside of medical appointments) and enjoyed a happy hour and appetizers for dinner - Mom's favorite thing!  Elia slept the whole time making it a nice relaxing outing all around.

Visitors: Great Grandma Lautenbach
Milestone: Baby's First Happy Hour

Thursday, May 2

We had a nice quiet day at home kicked off with a long walk.  Mom could get used to this!  In the afternoon Aunt Jennifer came to meet Elia since she was finally better after contracting the most poorly timed bout of illness ever.  Her mom, Great Aunt Linda came to meet Elia too - she had so much fun getting acquainted with more family!

Tonight family from Denver arrives - Elia is so excited to meet Aunt Kim, her cousin Maddie, and to see Uncle Joel again tomorrow.  We're so lucky to have so much family, near and far.

Visitors: Great Aunt Linda + Aunt Jennifer
Dinner Provided By: Sarah H