May 31, 2013

things I couldn't live without: breastfeeding edition

Breastfeeding is an amazing, wonderful experience and it's really difficult at the same time. I love having that time with Alden, knowing that my body is providing him with all the nutrition he needs and I know I will be sad when he's ready to wean, but it's hard at the beginning and it definitely takes time to adjust and get comfortable with the whole process (especially if you're a first time breastfeeder).

I will have to write some more posts about my experiences breastfeeding, but for now we're just going to talk about all the stuff you'll want to have around to begin breastfeeding in comfort. :)

Here's my list of breastfeeding essentials:

1. Medela breast pump: I could not live without my Medela pump. I didn't use it at all for the first 6 weeks but now I use it at least three times a day and sometimes more. I would absolutely recommend spending the extra money to get a hospital-grade double electric pump (Medela and Ameda are the two most recommended brands by my lactation consultants). The double pump will cut your pumping time in half, at least, which may not seem that important but when you're pumping 3 or 4 (or more) times a day, especially if you're at work, saving 10 or 15 minutes at each session can really help you keep your sanity (and productivity) intact. Even though I had my electric pump when Alden was born, we had ordered new tubing for it and it was out of stock until he was about 6 weeks old. This meant that when my milk came in and I was dealing with engorgement, Nick went out and grabbed me a single, manual pump (also by Medela) to use in the interim. It was a lifesaver when we were still learning our rhythm and I had to deal with very full breasts that he couldn't latch to without me pumping a little beforehand. Now, I never really use the manual pump but it's nice to know that we have it in case there's an extended power outage or my electric pump breaks.

2. Extra set (or two) of shields, valves, membranes, bottles: Get as many accessories as you have the storage space and money to buy. I was lucky enough to get a LOT of bottles from someone on Craigslist but have still ended up buying more. I also have two sets of shields and four extra sets of valves and membranes. We're actually talking about buying another set of shields so that the rotation is even easier. Having extras around will help when/if you go back to work and will also reduce the amount of dishes/sanitizing you have to do every day.

3. Button up pajama sets: Since Alden was due in February, I knew I'd want something comfortable but warm to lounge around in after coming home from the hospital. I also wanted something cute to wear in  the hospital for all those photos :) I landed on a couple of pairs of good quality, comfortable pajama sets. For me, they absolutely had to be button up fronts because I knew that it would make those early days of breastfeeding worlds easier (and I was right!). I actually asked for a couple pairs for Christmas and ended up with two really adorable prints that I still wear now. Just make sure you get a size that will fit both your post-pregnancy belly and your newly engorged breasts. I wore mine (alternating, of course, for laundry purposes) for almost three weeks and was so grateful that I had something comfortable that was easy to nurse in and that provided good "coverage" in the days when family was staying at our house.

4. Earth Mama Angel Baby nipple butter: This stuff is amazing. It's completely natural and organic, smells like chocolate (it's the cocoa butter) and it saved me some tears from ridiculously sore nipples. One of the things I love about this product is that, since it's all natural, you don't have to worry about your baby ingesting it. Lanolin (what's most often recommended) should be cleaned off of the breast before each feeding so that baby doesn't ingest any of it while sucking. My lactation consultant recommended not applying the nipple butter within an hour of your next nursing session(I just put it on as soon as he was done eating and let my skin absorb it) for two reasons: so the baby doesn't end up "eating" a lot of it and so that the smell of the nipple butter doesn't mask the natural smell of your breasts and milk. Newborns especially are incredibly attuned to the smell of their mother's milk and need this to successfully create a breastfeeding relationship. It is definitely a little pricey (compared to some lanolins) but I buy mine from a local shop and chalk up the extra expense to helping local businesses thrive :)

5. Boppy nursing pillow: This pillow is different than the Boppy you're probably familiar with. It's relatively new and Boppy made it specifically for nursing. It has a firm side and a soft side, is much thicker than the newborn Boppy, and has a strap that allows you to tighten it around you. I didn't have this pillow to begin with because 1) it didn't exist yet and 2) I thought the original Boppy pillow would be great for nursing. I found that when I was nursing in our glider, the original Boppy was great but when I was finally comfortable enough to want to nurse sitting in bed, on the couch, or even on the floor, the original Boppy pillow wasn't thick enough to give me the support I needed. Enter the Boppy nursing pillow- hallelujah! It's much thicker so it provides support even when you're just sitting cross-legged on the floor and the firm side is amazing for keeping the baby at just the right angle for a feeding. I rarely use it now because we've gotten so much more comfortable nursing in whatever position we happen to be in but at the beginning, it was a lifesaver!

6. Nursing bras: Obviously, you gotta have nursing bras. Unless, of course, you don't wear bras...if so, you're all set :) I have three regular nursing bras, two sports bra-type ones and two sleep bras. I don't ever wear the sleep ones anymore because I'm more comfortable sleeping without a bra at all and I don't have any leaking issues at night that would require me to wear nursing pads. I also don't really wear the sports bras because I haven't really started working out regularly yet and they're not particularly comfortable for just regular wear (to me). All of my bras are from Motherhood Maternity because I waited a long time to buy them and we have a store in Athens, so essentially convenience. I have two that I really like from there and one that I can't stand. It really just depends on what's comfortable for you and how the bra fits. 

7. Nursing tanks: I love these! I'm getting ready to go buy more since I wear mine so often. I love that I can wear them under sheer tops or low cut dresses and that even if I'm wearing it under a normal shirt, they keep my belly covered while I nurse. If you're wearing a shirt that you have to lift up to nurse in, having a tank on really makes it more comfortable to nurse around people since your stomach isn't exposed. I have two from Motherhood Maternity (I got them with a couple nursing bras with their buy-3-get-one-free deal) and I like them. They fit well and seem to hold up nicely to multiple washes. I have heard good things about the Target brand tanks as well and think I'll try some of those next. 

8. Lansinoh breast milk storage bags: If you are planning on pumping and storing breast milk at any point, buy these bags! I've tried the Target brand that mimics the Lansinoh and they're better than the Medela by far but still not as great as the Lansinoh. I'm not even sure how to explain why they're so great, they just are. 

9. Lactation consultants: So, here are my thoughts on lactation consultants. Use them as much as possible while they're easily available to you (e.g. in the hospital before you go home, through your doctor's office, etc.) but don't take everything they say as gospel. So much of the breastfeeding experience you have is going to be dependent on you and your baby's individual characteristics and needs. There is no one-size-fits-all breastfeeding instruction booklet and sometimes lactation consultants can approach issues or questions in the same way for every woman. Alden started nursing within 20 minutes of being born and he nursed about every hour for the first night- without a proper latch. I had the nurses check his latch a couple of times in those first few hours and they seemed to think he was fine. I wish I had asked the lactation consultant to come by for one of those first feedings instead of waiting until the next day. Since he wasn't latching completely correctly and since he was nursing so frequently that first night, I got very raw and very sore. Once your nipples start to hurt, it's difficult to get them to heal since you have to continue to nurse. After that first night, I called the lactation consultants to come watch us at almost every feeding until we left the hospital. I figured why not use them when all I had to do was call them? I wasn't going anywhere, anyway :) It was also comforting to know that they were only a call away once we went home. Plus, our hospital's lactation consultants do a weekly Mother's Group where you can go for support, "latch checks", and general breastfeeding questions. 

10. The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding by D. Wiessinger, D.L.West, and T.Pitman: This book was given to me by a dear friend and it has been my go-to guide for all of my 
breastfeedings questions, concerns and just general "I wonder..." moments. It helped me to get 
comfortable finding nursing positions that were the best for Alden and I, to feel confident in my ability to 
breastfeed and to trust my body to provide for my baby. It really is invaluable and I will forever give it to 
all of the women I know who are having babies. 

I hope this list helps someone who is just starting out or who is waiting to meet their little one and 
wants to begin breastfeeding in comfort and with confidence! 

much love, L&N

May 29, 2013


Yes, I realize that this is not Twitter. Yes, I also realize that it's supposed to be #throwbackthursday. But the dates didn't work. #whatevs #i'llusehashtagsanyway #boom


this post on my adorable cousin, Anna's, blog announcing their pregnancy made me realize that even with the best of intentions, I never went back and told the story of how we found out we were pregnant. Since it was a pretty exceptional day in our lives, I'm going to take advantage of the one year anniversary of that day and recap here.

-May 29, 2012-

2:30 pm

Laura gets in the hot car to drive home from the CDC in Atlanta, where she's been working all day at her internship. As she's listening to NPR, shoes off with the cruise set, relaxing after a long day of meetings and writing, she gets a weird feeling that she might be pregnant and that she should take a test when she gets home. Her brain says, "that's silly. Your period's not even due for another few days, wait until you're actually late." She ignores her brain...

4:30 pm

Laura takes a pregnancy test at home, alone (except for the dogs). The test is positive and she jumps around in the bathroom for a good 5 minutes with a ridiculous smile on her face, while dancing with a dachshund. All the other dogs stare at her in confusion and then leave the room, looking for more interesting things to do. This is about the time that she realizes maybe she should tell her husband :)

4:45 pm

Laura calls Nick, who's still at work, and calmly asks him about how long he plans on being there before heading home. Luckily, he says about an hour or so which gives her time to run to the store to get a cute card for the big announcement. She rushes out the door, returns with card in hand, and rushes  to create a last-minute "We're pregnant!" announcement before Nick gets home.

5:15 pm

Announcement is waiting on the kitchen island. Laura has decided to play it cool and hang out on the couch. She is going insane. Why can't he just come home already?!? Soon enough, she gets the text that Nick is on his way home. Only 10 more minutes until he's here!

5:30 pm

Nick comes in the door, Laura tries to continue playing it cool but ends up just acting weird instead. This prompts Nick to ask her what's wrong, all the while she's still sitting on the couch acting weird, and she has to say, "Nothing," without breaking out into a huge grin and ruining the surprise. This was a very stressful minute and a half.

5:32 pm

Nick sees the card! Asks what it is, Laura tells him it's for him. He reads it! He looks up and says, "Really?"

Laura says, "Yep," and Nick stands in the kitchen with his arms victoriously thrust above his head and a huge grin on his face.

Laura no longer has to play it cool so she gets off the couch and heads into the kitchen where a big hug is waiting!

5:35 pm

We both realize how surreal this is, giggle with happiness and proceed to make dinner, without opening the wine :)

4 days Ali & Mark's wedding

and another 13 days after that...6 week photoshoot

-May 29, 2013-

One year later, we have our beautiful, spirited, loving, amazing little boy, Alden, here with us. We never could have imagined, on that afternoon, standing in our kitchen embracing each other with brand new butterflies in our stomachs, how incredible this journey would be. It almost hurts to be this happy :)

our gorgeous little boy

Alden Peter, we are so INCREDIBLY happy that you are ours :)

much love, L&N

May 25, 2013

3 months!

Since Alden will be 4 months old tomorrow, I figured it was about time for me to post his 3 month update :)

please note the funny little face he's making. this is because he's sucking on his bottom lip,
one of his favorite things to do lately :)

Month 3 was great! We've really gotten into a routine (well, as much of a routine as you can expect with a 3 month old, especially at night, and Alden has been sleeping really well. We give him a bath around 8:30, he relaxes with us for a few minutes and we read a book while he cools off then its into his sleep sack, nursing and into bed. He normally goes to sleep between 9:00 and 9:30 and stays asleep all night or he wakes up around 4:00 for a snack :) He sleeps in his crib all night unless he wakes up to eat, when he'll come into our room in his bassinet. I have to say, getting pretty much full nights of sleep is pretty amazing :)

He's in the 13 pound range and is still wearing his 0-3 month clothes, but they fit him perfectly now. Daycare is still going wonderfully and we are having so much fun watching him grow and learn every day. We're at the age where it seems like he's doing new things every week and it's so neat to see him struggle with something one day and the next day all of a sudden get it! A couple of weeks ago I was playing with him on the Boppy with a wooden teething toy and I could tell that he wanted to be able to hold it but he just couldn't quite figure it out. Later that week, I got the same toy out of the bin and all of a sudden he could hold it and bring it to his mouth! It was only 3 days later but it made all the difference :)

He has mastered his little Tarzan yell and loves to squeal and coo back at us during our "conversations". We've even heard his first real giggles! It is so cute when he gets excited and lets out a little baby laugh :) He is a big flirt and when he's really turning on the charm he'll get a big grin on his face, bounce a little and quickly turn his head away. He's really very coy ;) We're having so much fun watching his personality develop and it is so enjoyable to see him interact more with us every day. We always wonder what his voice will sound like and now that he's making more and more noises, I'm getting even more impatient to hear that first word! (even though we have a while...) We've decided that we're going to teach Alden sign language using American Sign Language (ASL) signs, in small doses, so that he can communicate his needs before he has the ability to talk (often referred to as Baby Sign Language) so Nick & I have started to accompany some words with signs when we're talking to him. We are starting with 5 words that are common in our house; Mama, Daddy, Ceiling Fan, Light, and Dog. Even though Alden won't be able to sign back to us until he's about 8 months old, practicing now is helping Nick & I to get more familiar plus, it's giving Alden even more time to soak up the language. It should be fun to learn another language along with the baby!

We've been using our cloth diapers for about 3 weeks now and so far, I love them! They definitely require a little more work in the evenings (washing and drying before the next day) but we recently ordered another set of 6 so that the laundry burden will be reduced a little. We have had fewer "blowouts" and Alden seems to be really comfortable in them. Plus, they're super cute!! We've also switched to cloth wipes at home and those are going even better than we expected. We keep ours in a cloth wipes warmer (made by Prince Lionheart, you can find it here) and I only have to "make" the wipes once a week since he still uses disposable wipes at daycare. 

Breastfeeding is still going really well and I feel like we're on our way to becoming seasoned pros :) Feedings are down to about 7 minutes total (sometimes even less) and he often nurses on only one side per feeding, which makes it really easy for me. I normally pump three times during the work day and, so far, I've been getting enough milk to at least replace what he's eating at daycare and sometimes a few extra ounces for the freezer. I knew that I liked breastfeeding but now that it feels like we really know what we're doing, I find that I look forward to the times he nurses. They are special moments that we have together where we can relax, talk and cuddle. I especially enjoy nursing before he goes to bed because he's so peaceful and sweet, compared to some nursing sessions during the day where he's so distracted by all the cool stuff going on in the world that he forgets to focus on eating! :) 

Alden's getting closer and closer to being able to sit up on his own and he's holding his head up really well while being held or when he's on his tummy on the floor. He's started sitting in his Bumbo for short periods of time and he has recently started "standing" whenever we give him the opportunity. He'll push himself up when he's in your lap or he'll "stand" on his changing table while we help hold him up. He is definitely working out those legs so that he can get up and go! He also started rolling over (from him stomach to his back) this past month, which has been really fun :) When he gets tired of tummy time, he just flips himself over and, usually, lays there for a few seconds while he figures out what happened ;) 

On the more miserable side, Alden has started teething :( It's exciting because that means we're closer to starting solids (we're both looking forward to introducing him to all the yummy foods out there) but it's sad to see him hurting. There were a few nights of no sleep and lots of crying- all he wanted to do was sit up and chew on our fingers through a washcloth. He was so tired but he couldn't fall asleep without having something to gnaw on. It has gotten a lot better this past week and he's been sleeping normally again. We definitely went out and got our Sophie the Giraffe, though! She has been a lifesaver! 

He can hold up his head on his own really well

flirting with the camera :)

learning how to ride the scooter

playful in the morning

relaxing with Mama

Daddy and I have matching pajamas! :)
 The beginning of cloth diapers...

1st time in my cloth diapers at 13 weeks!

look at how handsome I am
 How we knew we were starting to teeth...

his favorite thing to chew on...

I love to play Superbaby!

in my Bumbo

helping Dad with dinner in the Boba carrier


I can reach up and tug on my toys now

and I LOVE my Sophie!

We can't wait to see what next month has in store for us! We are just absolutely loving being this little man's parents :) 

much love, L&N

May 16, 2013

when you were born.

Last week, I got a coupon code in my email from Destination Maternity for a free 8x8 hardcover photo book from Shutterfly. I love photo books and I have at least 3 books worth just sitting in my computer that I never get around to actually turning into, I figured this was a great time to try and get some of those photos out of my computer and into our house :)

Since the 8x8 photo books default to 20 pages (which isn't a ton of space for photos), I decided that I would make Alden his first small memory book. I titled it "When You Were Born" and made him a whole book of just the first couple days of his life. It has photos of us before we went to the hospital, all of our hospital photos from the night he was born, some of his newborn photos from the day after and I captioned most of the book to describe the day.

I was always fascinated as a child to hear about the day I was born so I'm hoping he enjoys having his own little book to describe the night he came into the world. :)

I think it's such a sweet way to remember his day :)

p.s. I would definitely recommend Shutterfly for photos books if you want something simple, with a lot of templates to choose from and if you don't want to do a lot of customizing. My go-to photo book sites are Blurb or Artifact Uprising for super customized, gorgeous products. bonus: shutterfly allows you to link to facebook and instagram, plus getting photos from your own computer which makes adding photos a breeze!

much love, L&N

May 13, 2013

my first mother's day

I had a wonderful first Mother's Day with my boys. We woke up late (well, late for a three month old), hung out at home for a little while and then went to brunch at a cafe, Heirloom, that we've been wanting to try for months. I had a spinach, mushroom and gouda quiche with local grits and a house-made biscuit (so yummy!) and Nick had the "Love on a Biscuit", which is a biscuit covered in a chicken stew (kind of like a chicken pot pie filling), topped with two poached eggs and fresh arugula (his was even more yummy than mine). One of the reasons we wanted to try Heirloom so bad is because it's owned by a chef who has been living and cooking in Athens for a while, so she understands the local food culture, and they are committed to cooking in a strictly farm-to-table style that only uses local/regional products. Even the yogurt they serve with their granola is from Atlanta (and it is delicious!). Everything from the chicken to the eggs, the arugula to the cheese is from local Athens farmers and providers. Great little place, super food and such a hometown, relaxed atmosphere. I'd love to go back on a Sunday afternoon and sit outside with my book and have a leisurely afternoon snack :)

such a cute little place!

great patio, and a bocce ball court on the other side :)

Love on a Biscuit

Spinach, mushroom and Gouda quiche

just relaxing with Dad, chewing on my burp cloth

baby boy :)

Then, we went to HomeGoods so that I could walk around and look at all the stuff for the house that I wanted :) I was planning a pedicure, too, but the baby needed to eat and take a nap so we went home early. (I'm going to make up for it today, though and go get my toes done before we pick Alden up from daycare- this is a big deal since I've been trying to find the time to get to the salon since before he was born!) We spent the rest of the afternoon relaxing at home, talking to our Moms on the phone, and playing with Alden. I opened my sweet presents from my Mom and Mom-in-Law and we went grocery shopping, then picked up take out from Outback for dinner :) It was such a sweet day with all of my boys!

I hope all the other mothers out there had as relaxing and enjoyable of a day as I did! 

much love, L&N

May 11, 2013


My mama is awesome. She is my biggest cheerleader, my most supportive shoulder to cry on and, by far, one of my best friends in the whole world. I cannot imagine who I would be, both as a woman and as a mother, without the guidance and love that she has so selflessly given to me since the day I was born. She is the person I looked to when I was learning who I was and she helped guide me to where I am now. 

I always knew that she loved me and I always knew that she would have supported me through anything but since becoming a mother myself, I understand on a whole other level what it means to be someone's mother. I am so grateful for everything she did for me, all of the things she taught me and the many sacrifices she made for me.

three generations of mothers

In the short time that Alden has been here, I have learned what it means to mother someone. I know that, until Alden has his own children, he will never fully comprehend the unconditional, overwhelming love that his father and I have for him. I understand now exactly what it felt like for my mom to tell me, "I would do anything for you," and I just hope that I can be as wonderful of a mother to Alden as she was, and is, to me. 

Happy Mother's Day, Mom. Thanks for everything. I love you. 

May 9, 2013

i hate clutter.

I absolutely can't stand extra crap in my house. If I feel like we don't need it or don't use it, I will not hesitate to get rid of it. My husband can attest to this anti-hoarder tendency and has, on more than one occasion, had to instruct me not to clean out any closets by myself for fear of losing all his belongings :)

This is true for baby stuff also. I want as few giant, plastic, battery-powered, unnecessary baby things in our house as possible. I also want there to never be so many toys in our house at one time that they are forced to be stored in the living room, our bedroom or anywhere else that's not Alden's closet. But I also want my baby to be happy and engaged. There's the conflict: how to keep your house feeling like a place for the whole family but also like a happy place for a baby to play and learn.

These are the tricks I've started using (or plan on using) to keep our house from becoming one huge playroom:

1. Never buy a toy that does something similar to a toy we already own. Alden doesn't need three types of baby mirrors, one will do the trick. (This will surely change when we get into the trucks, legos, cars and GI Joe phase because those things are only fun if you have a lot of them). We've already started paying attention to things like this and I think it's helping us keep down the clutter as well as save money.

2. Try to find gently used versions of big and/or expensive items, especially if it's something your baby could either love or hate. Example: Nick and I were crazy about this swing/bouncer made by 4Moms called the mamaRoo. We thought it was the coolest baby technology to hit the market since video monitors,'s really expensive. We searched Craigslist and found an older model that had barely been used for over half off the retail price, swooped that puppy up and brought it home. Alden hates it. He essentially cries from the second we put him in it until the second we take him out. SO glad we didn't drop $300 on one of those things! We turned around and sold it on Craigslist to a family with a preemie foster child who really needed something to help the sick little guy sleep; we made our money back and we got to help a family that really needed it...the joys of buying pre-loved stuff :)

3. Pack away the clothes, toys, etc. that are for a different stage. For example, we already have about a year's worth of clothes so to save shelf and dresser space, all the clothes that are still too big are packed in bins according to sizes and stored in the closet. This makes getting him dressed, sorting laundry and keeping clutter to a minimum easier. When he gets too big for a drawer full of clothes, those clothes will go in a bin and the clothes from the bin will go into the drawer. Every drawer is a different size and I never have to worry about sifting through clothes that don't fit to find him an outfit.

4. Get rid of stuff whenever you get new stuff. This one I haven't actually implemented yet since we still have enough storage space in the nursery for all of Alden's things but I'm planning to start this at the first sign of cramped shelves and cluttered closets. I'm also planning on making this the rule of the house so that we can keep other areas of the house from taking over (kitchen, I'm looking at you. no one needs two blenders).

5. The living room gets picked up every day. I love having Alden's swing in the living room. He loves to sit in it, it gives me a chance to get some dishes done or for Nick to start dinner and sometimes it's the only way he'll go to sleep. For now, that's not a big deal. I'm OK with things being a little more chaotic around here in the newborn stage. We're all still finding our groove and since the baby can't really do anything but lay down, it's nice to have another place in our common area where he can hang out with us. In the future, he will be allowed to bring the entire contents of his room into the living room if he wants, as long as it goes back where it belongs at the end of the day. This means that when Nick and I want to have some wine and hang out on the couch at 10:00, we're not staring at toys all over the floor. This will help us to maintain the "adult" portions of ourselves that I think is really important.

6. We're also trying to implement a new (well, new to Nick) chore schedule to help save us time on the weekends. We'll tackle small, manageable chores every day on a rotation so that each evening we're spending about 15 mins on a small chore or two (like sweeping the floors, doing a couple loads of laundry, or de-cluttering our entryway table). We're hoping that this keeps our house clean and gives us more uninterrupted time with Alden on the weekends, which is what we'd really like to be doing ;)

I'm sure we'll learn more tricks along the way, but for now, these are my big plans to keep my house under control so that I don't go crazy. :)

much love, L&N

May 7, 2013

money, money, money, mo-nay. money!

props to those of you who get the joke.

if you don't, go here. and enjoy :)

let's talk about money.

Nick and I don't bring home a lot of it and we try to not let it take control of our lives (either by stressing about not having it or obsessing over getting more of it). It is important to me to not make too many decisions based on money concerns alone (especially big decisions) and we try to keep the lines of communication open concerning our money, budget, etc. at all times. We also never buy things without the other knowing about it (well, almost never. We are allowed to grab lunch or a coffee without getting permission, haha ) so we both feel included in the financial decisions for our family.

But it's time for a financial makeover of sorts. It's not that we are bad with our money, we're actually probably a tad more responsible than others in our peer group (i.e. we have retirement accounts, a savings account, own our home and pay for things like health insurance, short term disability coverage and life insurance), but we've had a lot of changes in the past year and I was starting to feel a little out of control of our financial life.

See, I'm a saver and Nick is a spender (although neither of us are extreme versions of either). I won't even go so far as to say that Nick is a "spender". He is great about only spending the money I tell him we have in our budget but he definitely doesn't get the warm and fuzzies from seeing our savings account balance increase like I do. I get weird amounts of satisfaction from saving money, especially if the saving is attached to a goal (like an emergency fund, new car, or Alden's college).

The fact that I'm a saver was tested this past year. I finished grad school and spent a few (7) months either in an un-paid internship or looking for a job, our sweet Schnitzle got very sick and required a lot of (expensive) medical attention, and, oh!, I got pregnant and had a baby. Needless to say, our savings got depleted and our credit card balances swelled. We never got behind on our bills and we always had food on the table but it was definitely a stretch and we had to rely on more financial resources (e.g. credit cards, student loans, savings) than we would have liked to.

--> a special note for our family and friends: we want you all to know how grateful we are that y'all helped so much in getting us ready to meet our little man. we definitely wouldn't have nearly as much "stuff" as we do for the baby if y'all hadn't so graciously provided us with clothes, necessities, toys and beautiful nursery things for Alden. We really, really appreciate it and we think about all of you every time we take a peek in his dresser, closet or toy baskets and remember which sweet person sent it to us.


Since I'm on a "re-focus our lives" kick lately (long story...maybe I'll do another post later) and the baby is here (no more expensive preparation or bi-weekly doctor visits), it seemed like a great time to tighten our belts. We've always had a budget but have been bad about sticking to it every month, especially with things like eating out (our favorite thing) and buying things for the house (Target and Lowe's are our nemeses).

p.s. I realize that not many of you care about our financial decision-making, but social accountability is one of the best ways to keep yourself working towards a goal and this is our way of holding ourselves accountable. 

Our goals are this:

Pay off all credit cards
Save up a true Emergency Fund
Potentially refinance our mortgage and shop around for better deals on insurance, utilities, etc.
Begin a college fund for Alden
Stick to our budget!
Save up for a vacation (visiting family doesn't count)

We're using and Dave Ramsey's Gazelle Budget creator to get started. I'm already completely in love with Mint. It tracks your spending for you, by securely linking to your accounts online, and lets you set goals for your financial life. Then, it helps you reach those goals by instructing you in the best ways to spend your money. It's so awesome to be able to easily see a snapshot of our financial life without having to spend hours in front of the computer doing it myself. As far as the Dave Ramsey Gazelle budget tool, you have to sign up and give your debit card information to use it (I think there's a monthly fee of $9.95) but they have a free 7-day trial that you can cancel anytime. (note: I find it ironic that a program that advocates managing your money wisely and living within your means requires you to pay for the tools...but anyway...) I only used it to create a budget, which was super easy, using Dave Ramsey's recommended percentages for each category of spending and then canceled my membership. Since we're using Mint, I don't need to pay for the monthly service with Gazelle to track spending, etc.

Hopefully, writing this post will keep me on my toes and will add a little extra motivation to the, sometimes difficult, task of revamping our financial setup.

Cheers to bigger bank accounts!

much love, L&N