June 27, 2013

simplicity and gratitude.

There are a lot of things that I try to do every day:

workout (almost never happens)
drink enough water
eat some fruits and veggies
go to bed earlier (rarely happens) 
tell Nick & Alden that I love them (this always happens :) 
clean something in the house
snuggle the dogs

Many days, I only get a few of those things accomplished but there's one thing that I get done every. single. day. 


I practice gratitude every day and it makes me happier, calmer and more peaceful in the life I am building. 

I am a naturally anxious and restless being. I'm always thinking 10 steps ahead, worrying about and planning for all the contingencies and actively working towards the next thing. If I'm not doing all of this stuff in my head, I feel unprepared and unproductive. (I know, I'm working on it...)

Practicing gratitude has helped me to find a balance in both my emotional and my tangible life. When I actively send thanks out into the world for the multitude of positives in my life, I find myself smiling more easily, making more memories, focusing on the meaningful things instead of the menial things. I don't mind quite so much that I've been wishing for new paint on the walls, a piece of new furniture for the bedroom or those beautiful sandals I saw in the shop window. 

All of a sudden, the universe responds to my thankfulness by reminding me of the precious smile I see on my little boy's face every morning, the unwavering love and support that I get from my husband, the cozy and comfortable house that we have built into our home, our full pantry and clean drinking water, the clothes in my closet, our wonderful families, our health, and the promise of our careers. I'm reminded of the perfect little moments that all of us have every day but are often times too busy to appreciate. The bird on the windowsill, the playful bounce of a puppy with his toy, the sweet smell of fresh cut grass on a beautiful summer day.

Being grateful makes me feel better about not always moving, not always working on something, it makes me happier to be where I am. 

These are all things that I am thankful for and that make me a better person, every day, for recognizing.

With this gratitude comes a desire for simplicity. 

I am now, as my husband calls it, an anti-hoarder. Haha. That hasn't always been the case (just ask my parents about all the times they couldn't walk through my room because there was so much STUFF everywhere). My appreciation of simplicity, both practically and emotionally, has grown from maturity and experience. Case in point: I am on a rampage to use up all of the cleaning products we have in our house so that I can clean out the cabinet and replace them with one all-purpose cleaner and can't wait for the day when I can stand in front of that cabinet and gaze at that singular bottle sitting in an otherwise empty space. I'm even more excited to find a more useful use for all of that space that we will create. I'm an odd breed, these things excite me :)

Ultimately, being grateful for all that we have has made me more willing to live with less. I realize that we could be doing so much more meaningful things with our space, time, money and energy. Less clutter means less cleaning which means more time to spend with Alden. Less junk in the closets means better storage solutions which leads to better organization and an easier logistical life. Less extra food in the pantry means less waste, probably less calories and more money in our budget for other things we want to do (like travel, gym memberships or community center events with Alden). 

Yes, I still wish to one day have our dream home and I'm still pining for that gorgeous Prada bag (maybe in 10 years...) but one day at a time, I'm sending just a little bit more "thank you" into the world and maybe that will make a difference. 

I'm hoping to begin a little series here on the blog, that I'm going to call Simple. I'll find projects in our lives that I believe would benefit from a simplicity makeover and will report on the progress that I make. Maybe by the end of the year, I'll  have worked my way through the house and I'll be able to tell if it was worthwhile in a larger sense but in the meantime, at least we'll have clean closets and an organized garage :) and that is something to be grateful for. 

much love, L&N

June 26, 2013

sleep training. blargh.

This is a photo of the first time Alden took a nap in his crib, during the day, without a swaddle. It was such a big deal that we took a picture :) When this happened, I naively thought that we were maybe going to skirt around the sleep training monster. 

I was wrong. 

Like I mentioned briefly in this post, around 16 weeks we saw a drastic change in Alden's sleep behaviors. For a couple nights we chalked it up to teething (which it very well may have been) but when it lasted for more than those couple of days, we realized that we were facing something different. In search of an answer to why our wonderfully sleeping baby was no longer sleeping wonderfully, I came across articles and blog posts that mentioned the 4 month sleep regression, or the 4 month wakeful period. After reading a few lists of typical 4 month sleep regression "symptoms", we were officially ready to declare ourselves right smack in the middle of it. 

These were useful links: 

This regression happens to many babies around 4 months and is generally thought to be a result of their newfound interest in the world around them (leading to distraction while trying to fall asleep), their brain's incredible growth spurt around this age and the changing of their sleep patterns away from newborn sleep cycles and towards adult sleep cycles. 

Many recommendations, including our pediatrician's, are that this 4 month wakeful period is a good time to start sleep training if you're going to start at all. Since Alden had essentially stopped sleeping and was close to impossible to put down without him wailing, we figured that sleep training was, in our house, pretty much a necessity. 

I'll admit that we jumped into sleep training unprepared. We knew just a little about a couple different methods and felt like we had to start something so we spent 3 nights or so doing what we thought was sleep training, but was really just torture (for me, at least). We attempted (what we thought was) the Cry It Out (CIO) method those first couple of nights. (disclaimer: it turns out that we were letting him cry longer than we should have those first couple nights and I still feel horrible about it. this method, when done correctly from the beginning may be a great option for some families) We had had so many people tell us that it worked well and we were feeling lost so we dove in. I HATED IT. It felt cruel and horrible to me and I knew there had to be a better way for us to teach Alden good sleep habits while at the same time keeping us all emotionally sane. The first time we tried CIO, I had to sit outside on the deck because I couldn't listen to him cry and not go get him. The second time, I stood in the kitchen with Nick and cried the whole time Alden did. After that, we sat down and made a plan. We did some reading and we had a discussion about what we felt were good options for us and since then the sleep training journey has been much better. It's still rough at times and I still hate seeing Alden upset while he's trying to learn to fall asleep on his own, but knowing that we have a plan and that Nick & I are on the same page makes it feel a little less insurmountable. 

I'm in the process of reading the following books that have been recommended to me by other parent friends: 

Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child by Marc Weissbluth, M.D.
The No-Cry Sleep Solution by Elizabeth Pantley
On Becoming Baby Wise by Robert Bucknam, M.D.
Sleepless in America by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka

I'm learning a lot about both sleep training methods as well as about baby sleep in general. I already feel better about starting this journey and am hoping that, armed with tons of information- in true Laura fashion, we'll clear this hurdle and come out the other side with a better rested, happier little man :) 

As far as what's working for us so far: 

We've combined some of the CIO/Ferber techniques with a method recommended by a friend called the 5/1 method. We put him down in his crib when he's calm and we think he's ready to go to sleep, give him 5 minutes by himself and, if he's upset after the 5 minutes is up, one of us goes in and soothes him for 1 minute. We put our hand on his stomach, talk to him and make sure he knows we're there until he calms down again. If he gets really worked up (generally only if he's gotten overtired to begin with), we'll pick him up for a minute or two to cuddle and calm him down before we put him back in his crib. 

We've been doing this for 4 or 5 nights now and the first 2 nights, it took him about 18 mins of off and on fussing/soothing to fall asleep but the past 3 nights have been so much smoother! It took him about 10 minutes the third night and last night there was essentially no crying or fussing at all! :) Some nights his eating schedule works out so he nurses right before bed and on those nights, he usually gets drowsy enough while he's eating that he falls right to sleep when I put him in bed but, we've had 3 nights where he didn't nurse right before bed (another change) and he still went to sleep in 10 minutes or less. 

Our fingers are crossed that it continues to be this smooth! Wish us luck! :)

much love, L&N

June 25, 2013

4 months

I can't believe our little man is almost 5 months old! Alden has been growing and developing so much in the past few weeks that sometimes it feels like we'll never keep up! 

As you can see in his 4 month picture, he's SO close to sitting up on his own and he is a master at controlling his head. I really feel like if he wanted, he could sit up but all he wants to do is stand! Any time you try to sit him down he stretches himself out and wiggles until you stand him up. He can even pull himself into a standing position from laying down if you give him your hands to hold on to! It's so funny! He even stood at his crib the other day and held himself up on the railing...this kid is crazy strong. His pediatrician marvels at how strong he is and tells us that his motor development is pretty advanced for his age. He can almost completely roll from his back to his stomach but he hasn't figured out how to get his arm out from under himself to be able to get all the way over. Hopefully, he'll figure it out soon and we can be on our way to crawling! Alden is such a curious, interested little guy and we know he's going to be so happy when he can get around by himself. He gets frustrated if he can't see what's going on and he is so squirmy- this boy is ready to go!

He's found his tongue recently and likes to stick it out while he's "talking" to us and he also found his feet! Some of the other babies we know that are Alden's age had been playing with their feet for weeks and he still hadn't expressed any interest in his so we wondered when he was going to discover them :) Turns out he only cared about them for a couple days and has since moved on to other things, like grabbing my hair and touching our faces whenever we're close to him. He reaches out and feels our face while intently looking at us, it's so cute and funny! 

We went for his 4 month doctor's appointment a couple weeks ago and he weighed 13 pounds 14 ounces, was 26 inches long and his head circumference was 16.5 inches! He's somewhere around the 85th percentile for height, but only the 25th for weight. Our pediatrician says, "He's long and lean, exactly what the rest of us wish for!" I used to call him butter bean, but I guess I'll have to switch to string bean, haha :) He got all checked out and had his second round of vaccinations. He did really well, just like the first time, and was perfectly fine as soon as I picked him up to cuddle. He was especially happy when he got to nurse right after and was his usual happy self by the time we left the office! 

Alden definitely still loves to talk and he's started to babble in the mornings when he wakes up. He used to cry every time he woke up for us to come get him but a lot of the time now, he just lays there and babbles and coos to himself until we wake up. Some mornings I just lay in bed and listen to him for a few minutes :) He sounds so happy and content. On the other side of the coin, we definitely had some rough patches (and are maybe still going through one or two) that began right around the 16-17 week mark...

It's commonly known as the 4-month regression (read here, here, and for a little laugh, here) and, let me tell ya, it is not pretty :( We went from an easily put down, sleeping through the night baby to a screaming every time you lay him down, waking up 3 or 4 times a night, fussy and unhappy baby. He was clingy and easily upset during the day, never wanting to be away from us and it seemed like nothing would chill him out. We seriously got to the point where he would wail every single time we put him in his crib or bassinet. It was pretty obvious that we had to figure something out fast and we have since started the sleep training journey. (More about this later...) So far, it's going pretty well and I feel like we're on the right track. 

On top of the nighttime sleep challenges, our pediatrician told us that we really need to get him on a more consistent nap schedule because he is naturally a cat-napper and he needs to learn to get better, more lengthy daytime sleep. We have had a couple home-bound weekends while we try to get Alden in the habit of taking a morning and afternoon nap and, so far, he's done remarkably well. We're still swaddling him to sleep at home but once we feel his routine is well established, we'll begin the process of weaning him out of the swaddle (he already sleeps without one at daycare, so this may not be as complicated as we're expecting). I never thought I would be this concerned with someone else's sleeping habits, but such is the world of the Mama :) 

This month, we've been to the Farmer's Market for the first time with Alden and he loved it! He sat in the Boba carrier the whole time and just watched everything happen around him. We went to a "Traveling with your Baby" seminar at a local mama-baby shop, reBlossom, and he was so well behaved. We're always happy when he seems at ease while we're out in the world! We also took the dogs for a morning of dog park fun at Sandy Creek Park in one of their private, rentable dog parks. We felt like we had been asking the dogs to take a backseat to the baby recently, so we rewarded them with a nice morning in a GIANT fenced in dog park. Buster ran like a maniac, played fetch with Nick and generally enjoyed himself while Brinkley explored the wooded area and chased squirrels. Maverick stuck with me pretty much the whole time but he did venture out a little and I think he enjoyed it also.

I'm so glad that Alden is old enough to be out and about during these summer months because he loves to be outside! Plenty of times he'll be upset and the ONLY thing that calms him down is going outside on the deck. He has really started to pay attention to the dogs and gets excited when he watches Buster play fetch with Nick in the afternoons. I think we're going to have a little outdoorsman on our hands in a few years :)

watching the boys run

little baby, big tree :)

so much space, all to ourselves! *that tiny dot of black you can see up near the tree is little Maverick, just hanging out :)

enjoying his morning!

so busy exploring that I couldn't even get a good picture

tiny Maverick in the huge field

Otherwise, we are loving watching Alden grow and change. He is turning into such a wonderful little person and his personality is shining brighter every day. He is happy, playful, observant and intelligent. He has already figured out that drinking glasses and the head of the toothbrush should go in his mouth. (Stay tuned for a video of him trying to steal Daddy's Coke!) I think he is a bright, interesting fella and I can't wait to see what he's going to do next! 

wearing his new sunglasses! they'll be great for the beach in a couple weeks!

on our way to Alden's first Terrapin Brewery night

Chip Monster like his Daddy :)

attitude. love it. 

he loves the bath now! he splashes and lays there for as long as we let him :)

We went to visit a friend who just had her baby and I snapped a picture of the room we stayed in when Alden was born. This was where you spent your first night, baby boy!

On my new play mat! 

Chewing on bath toys. When he's not trying to eat them, he stares at the ones on the wall.

a boy and his toys.

sweet sleepy baby.

playing on the bed in the morning!

hanging out with Daddy in his Bumbo

"helping" Mama fold towels...

which really means chewing on them :)

Alden, we LOVE watching you grow up! You make us happy every day and there is nothing better than a smile from you every morning and some cuddles every night. 

much love, L&N

June 23, 2013

making my boy a lovie

When Alden started falling asleep while cuddling his burp cloths, I knew it was time for a lovie.

I slept with a security blanket until I was much older than I should probably admit and still have my Blankie in one of my dresser drawers as a 28 year old woman :) Some things you just can't get rid of...

Anyway, since Alden seemed to want something to cuddle, I decided that I was going to make him a tag blanket. I'm sure you've seen them if you're well-versed in trendy baby items as there's a pretty big market for them on Etsy right now. Essentially, it's a small blanket (usually made from two different fabrics) that has all sorts of ribbons sewn into the seams so there are little "taggies" that stick out the edges. This gives the baby both visual and tactile stimulation on top of giving them something soft to cuddle and play with.

Since I first saw them, I've thought they were just precious and knew I could make one for much less money than it would take for me to buy one and pay for shipping. Plus, that meant we could completely customize the design and pick out fabrics that we really loved. Apart from the time it took for me to finally finish the seams of the ribbons and to fight with my sewing machine (we're rekindling our relationship after many, many years apart), the whole project took about an hour and it was really fun!

If you can sew a straight seam, you can make this! (I'm not even that great at straight seams and I managed...)

Here's my short photo-based tutorial:

find your fabric: we went with a fun cotton monster print & some minky dot in a bright chartreuse

cut your fabric into the shape you want: ours is a 15 inch square. then, place the fabric right side in against each other so you see the "back" of the fabric on both sides (so the right side faces out when you flip it inside out after sewing the seams- this gives you a hidden seam that you don't have to worry about looking pretty on the inside)

measure and cut all of your ribbon: we chose some neon grosgrain, black and light blue satin, some tan grosgrain (that I already had at home) and blue and yellow webbing. we wanted to vary the textures so they would be interesting for Alden. 

decide on positioning of your ribbons

once you've figured out spacing, place your ribbons in between the two pieces of fabric

then, pin the ribbons in their positions with the tags sticking towards the middle of the fabric (this means they'll be facing the proper direction when you flip the fabric inside out)

you can see that I folded all of the ribbons in half to create a loop except for the webbing. it was too thick to fold and easily sew, so they stayed flat.

once all of your ribbons are pinned in place, sew straight seams around 3 sides, making sure to catch all the ends of your ribbons in the seam, then flip inside out and sew up the 4th side! I used a zig-zag stitch on the fourth side (since you can see it) so it would look a little cuter and if you're really good on your sewing machine, you could probably figure out a way to hide the 4th seam as well. 

the last thing I did was to sew a straight seam across the very end of the pieces of webbing to prevent them from fraying and my mom sewed a squiggly little seam (I didn't feel confident doing anything but straight at this point) across the front of the blanket in a couple places (after it's been flipped right side out) to help hold the two pieces of fabric together and prevent them from pulling away from each other in the middle of the blanket.

the final product!

I think he likes it :)

much love, L&N

June 19, 2013

the nursery after 4 months

Now that we've been using the nursery for almost 5 months, I thought it was high time for a few updated photos. Some things have changed since we "finished" the room (I never really feel like a room is finished, since I prefer for the space to evolve with us) either for functionality or aesthetics. 

Take a peek!

We added a wooden sunburst mirror and a photo to his name wall. It feels much more balanced now. 

We moved the glider back into his room after the first few months in our bedroom and added the very stylish Freddy the Frog cool mist humidifier to help keep sniffles at bay. 

Nick found an amazing handmade paper mobile, with elephants and circus balls! Alden loves to stare at it as it gets blown by the fan. 

Many more toys and books to fill up his shelf! 

I bought a handmade drawstring laundry bag from Piggledee on Etsy to hang in his closet and we added some extra organization. 

I sorted and packed away all of his clothes into bins according to size. We have bins all the way through 12-16 mos.!

Close-up of his mobile, we've named them Frank and Gus :)

Everything else in the room is pretty much the same. We've added some things to his little shelves on the wall, like a wooden elephant from Busch Gardens (sent by Grandma Wiese) and a tooth fairy box (from Mimi and PopPop Palmer), and obviously, some days there are clothes and toys in the floor :) I still love his room every time we walk in and so far the space is working fine. I think as Alden gets bigger and more mobile, we will start looking for some smarter storage solutions that help to maximize the small area's functionality but for now, it's cozy and Alden smiles every time we go in :) We say, "Hi Room!" and he grins so big. It is so sweet :) 

And even though it may sometimes look like this:

and other times like this:

 As long as we enjoy it, I'm okay with a little bit of mess :)

story time with my boy :)                        

much love, L&N