October 31, 2013

Happy Halloween!

I really love Halloween. I don't know why, but I do :)

This year, we're going low key since Alden is still too little to really be able to do much (trick or treating before you can walk is weird…) and I never managed to find the time to decorate the house for the occasion. Also, I am a tad depressed that I cannot eat my weight in Halloween candy without anyone judging me (over-processed and chocolatey candy is certainly not dairy/soy free). All of you out there who are currently chowing down on miniature Snickers and tiny boxes of Nerds should be grateful for every sugary bite ;)

We are going to do a tiny bit of celebrating at home, though. I mean, it's Alden's first Halloween! The little baby pumpkin that we got at the pumpkin patch has been patiently waiting on our dining room table to be decorated by our little man and now is finally the time to do it!

Our plan was to decorate the pumpkin with Alden last night but an overly tired and slightly feverish little boy decided that Halloween night would be better. I can't wait to show you the final product! I am hoping that he will enjoy the process, even if he won't remember it :)

Alden has been celebrating Halloween all week with his outfit choices for school...errr, or his Mama has :) Get a load of this cutie patootie!

Daddy's little monster :) 

Grandma's little monster :) 

me in my most Halloween-y outfit (neon and black is appropriate, right?) and my little skeleton :)

this is a skeleton onesie that glows in the dark.
pretty much the most amazing piece of baby clothing I have ever seen

Mickey Mouse! 

Happy Halloween everyone! Stay safe tonight and enjoy your candy! ;) 

much love, L&N

October 30, 2013

Mama Moments: Vol. One

I realized the other day as I was sifting through old blog posts that I have been pretty good about posting about the stuff we do but I haven't really posted about how we feel about all of the new and wonderful things we are experiencing now that Alden is here.

Since I am not good at keeping a diary (I've tried so many times and have failed miserably every time...am I the only one who feels silly "talking" to a piece of paper?!) and since Nick & I are very much technology people, starting the blog felt like a great way to integrate the qualities of a diary, scrapbook, and baby book all into one comfortable place. I love this blog, I love the opportunity it gives me to share our adventures (big & small) with our family and friends but I also want to make sure that in 5 years when I'm nostalgically reading through old posts, that I find some of the special things that I have been neglecting to write here. Not neglecting on purpose, just forgetting that they belong here too- right in the middle of trips to the pumpkin patch and monthly updates on Alden.

So, this is my first installment of Mama Moments. I'm going to periodically check in with myself to write down the things that make me catch my breath, get teary-eyed, or beam with joy now that I am a Mama because, really, in the end, these are the things that I will treasure the most. Maybe you'll like reading them and maybe you'll be bored :)

Alden, you won't remember any of these moments but you should know that your Mama has been falling in love with you since the moment we met. When you are 16 and I cry the first time you drive away in your car, you will think I am silly but I will be thinking about all of these tiny pieces of time when you were so small and new. And then, maybe one day, you will have a baby of your own and you will stare at that tiny thing you created and will wish with all of your might that you never forget what their tiny hands feel like or how sweet they look when they fall asleep in your arms. Then, you'll understand why all of these moments are so precious to me and why I want to remember them forever :)

-the sweet, intoxicating smell of your skin
-the way your tiny fingers wrap around my thumb while you nurse yourself to sleep
-your giant toothy grin when Daddy & I walk in to pick you up from school
-the moment when I am stressed and anxious and you stop nursing for just long enough to glance up at     me and give me the sweetest smile, reminding me of the important stuff right away :)
-on early mornings when Daddy brings you into bed with us and you fall asleep curled up next to me
-the way your chest rises under my hand when I'm patting you to sleep. warm, rhythmic and so peaceful
-the joy on your face when you get to play in the dog's water bowl :)
-the little baby laugh you have when you throw your bib on the floor for the dogs to sniff
-your full-on belly laugh when you and Daddy play silly games in your room
-the way you pull yourself up on the end of your crib to smile at whoever comes in to get you from your nap
-watching how hilarious you are when you don't want to eat something, you just spit it out over and over again until we stop giving it to you! you definitely have strong opinions and you're not afraid to let us know what they are ;)
-the way your Daddy looks at me when we're all cuddling together, like he's realizing all over again how much he loves us :)
-your SUPER FAST army crawl that you bust out whenever you want to get to something ASAP
-the way you "bark" at the dogs :)
-your sweet little babbling while you're playing, or laying in your crib, or sitting in your car seat. you're trying to tell us so many things!

and a million more little things that make it so amazing to be your Mama. I love you, little boy.

much love, L&N

October 28, 2013

local love: Washington Farms

A couple of weekends ago we took Alden to the pumpkin patch for his first pumpkin picking! There is a local farm, Washington Farms, that has a pick-your-own-pumpkin patch, corn maze, hay rides, and a bunch of other fall activities. Nick and I have been before but this year was special because it was Alden's first pumpkin! We didn't participate in any of the fall activities because Alden's still too young to enjoy them but I'm excited to get in on some corn maze action in years to come :)

Alden's pumpkin!

more interested in the pumpkin vines than the fruit...

surveying his pumpkin kingdom. "all the pumpkins that the light touches..." 

"this is mine." 
If you live in the Athens area, go check out Washington Farms! It's a great afternoon activity that really gets you in the spirit of Fall :) 

much love, L&N

October 24, 2013

dairy and soy free: the short version

I've never mentioned this on the blog but Alden has pretty bad eczema. He also has a chronic runny nose, trouble sleeping, a chronic "rash" in his diaper area, puffy eyes and very sensitive skin (like, break out in a rash immediately after coming into contact with a new product). If you're the least bit familiar with allergies (both environmental and food) in babies, you'll recognize most of these as potential allergy symptoms. We have, thankfully, never had any type of anaphylactic reaction to a food or environmental trigger but we have seen these other things creep up over time (in addition to a few skin reactions he's had immediately after exposure to new products). But, there was enough reason (after a few months of watching and trying various things) for his pediatrician to recommend a dairy and soy elimination diet for both of us (since Alden is still breastfeeding) to see if these symptoms are a reaction to a potential dairy/soy allergy, the most common allergy in infants.

you can see his puffy eyes here

you can kind of see the redness/puffiness in his eyes here, plus the pink, runny nose

We started the elimination diet on October 1 and it generally takes about a month to really see results if there are going to be any. Dairy and soy proteins take about two weeks to be completely eliminated from an adult's body, and then it's another two weeks for them to be eliminated from the baby's body after the Mama's body is "clean". So that makes us on Day 24 of a dairy/soy-free diet and, overall, it's not that bad. (Don't get me wrong, I am really missin' me some CHEESE, but in the grand scheme of things- I can deal) 

That whole story is going to come a little later, with things like resources and tips. For now, I'm going to talk about how we got to this point (mostly because it will be helpful for us in the future if we do end up being "allergy parents" to have this all written down, but maybe it will help someone else who may be wondering about these things in their own baby).

We planned for the sensitive skin- I have temperamental skin as well so we stocked up on Aveeno products before Alden was born (Aveeno has always worked well for me and it's dermatologist-recommended) and we also changed laundry detergents to a no frills, nothing added, just plain soap brand (that I LOVE!) called Charlie's Soap. Since I wanted to get something new to use on our cloth diapers anyway, we figured it couldn't hurt to cut down on the additives for the rest of our clothing/towels/linens in case Alden's skin turned out to be sensitive to things like fragrance, etc. This ended up being a great decision!

What we didn't plan for was the chronic rash, eczema, etc. and we have been on a months-long journey to conquer all of the little issues that Alden has, one thing at a time. In a stroke of good luck, he has never seemed bothered by any of his symptoms but it still breaks my heart to hear him stuffy every day and see his soft, perfect baby skin turn scaly and dry.

The first "allergy" symptom was probably the runny nose but since babies, especially babies in daycare, get runny noses like it's their job, it didn't set off any red flags with us or his pediatrician. He was always otherwise healthy, growing well, alert, and happy so allergies didn't even hit our radar for a while. The chronic "diaper rash" has been around for at least 4 months and I put it in quotes because it's not really a true diaper rash. It's usually flat (not raised bumps), not present in the skin folds (which can point to yeast) and has a diffuse, slightly red presentation. We began treatment for a yeast rash when it first showed up and, lo and behold, Alden reacted to the medication and ended up with a horrific allergic reaction on his skin that took forever to completely heal. We're still not really sure if it was ever a yeast infection or not because once his skin began reacting to the medication, we couldn't really see what was going on with the original rash. We added fleece liners to his diapers on the suggestion of a fellow parent who sees similar skin reactions in her son and saw some mild, occasional improvement. We now know that it is exacerbated, if not completely caused, by heat and wetness so he gets a fleece liner in every diaper and we try to change him as often as possible so his skin can stay dry. sidenote: back when we first started seeing this diaper-area rash, I wondered about dairy since I had read that one of the first signs in a dairy-allergic baby could be a "milk rash" in their diaper and around their mouths. now, I'm even more curious if my gut was right...

Trouble sleeping has always been present, too, but since Alden is such an alert baby who wants to be in on all the action, we attributed most of his reluctance to sleep to him just wanting to be awake. Now that he's older and is at the age where we would expect to see him sleeping for much longer stretches of time, we're seeing that he is probably not sleeping as well as he could be. I have heard that this can be a sign of allergies as well...then, the eczema started. I have psoriatic arthritis (which comes with psoriasis of the skin) and I worked as a medical assistant for a dermatologist so I am familiar with what psoriasis and eczema look like. I knew what it was from the very beginning (when it was just a couple small patches on Alden's back) but also knew that infant eczema is very common so we just started with some home remedies to try and keep his skin moisturized and get rid of the eczema patches. We tried Aveeno lotion, coconut oil, my nipple balm, putting nothing on it for a while, etc. Turns out, the coconut oil recently seems to work well on the rash in his diaper area (as does Boudreaux's when it gets really bad), but nothing would touch the eczema. Lotion would help to keep it from being scaly and dry but it didn't make it go away and nothing we tried kept it from spreading. It took a while but after a few weeks the eczema patches began to spread pretty quickly and that was when we took all the information back to the pediatrician. She said, "elimination diet". We chose to also eliminate all traces of oat in his diet and his products since I had thought we saw an exacerbation of the eczema after introducing oatmeal. That meant we put all of the Aveeno products on the shelf and have been using an all natural Johnson's baby wash this month instead. We also cut out his oatmeal cereal and will reintroduce oat after we get the eczema under control and can really monitor his reaction.

this is when the eczema really started to spread. you can see it on his shoulder & back

here you can see the patches on his back, side and legs. my poor baby :( 
So here we are. I have had no dairy or soy for 24 days so it should be completely out of my system and we are getting close to the one month mark where we may be able to make some judgement calls about Alden's reaction to the diet. Hopefully we'll be able to make some decisions about how to move forward at Alden's 9 month appointment in a couple of weeks. **Knock on wood** I think his eczema is better, still there but definitely not as irritated and red and the rash in his diaper area is essentially gone. The runny nose is still going with a vengeance but there are so many things that can contribute to a runny nose that I'm not sure whether this is something we can count on to monitor. Also, he's been sleeping pretty well lately- seems like we're getting more consistent longer stretches of sleep at night. However, he's started spitting up/vomiting more than usual lately and if he was having reflux due to allergies, we would expect that to be going away...so that's another question. All in all, something is causing his eczema (and potentially other symptoms as well) and even if it turns out not to be dairy or soy, we need to find out the cause so we can avoid it until his body can tolerate it. I'm almost hoping that what we've already done will prove to be the solution because the thought of having to keep searching, trying, and wondering is daunting and sad.

Cheers to the science experiment that is baby allergies! :/

much love, L&N

October 21, 2013

birthday weekend

So, about a month ago I turned 29 and my little brother turned 21 (yep, we have the same birthday)! Since 21 is a milestone worth celebrating, the whole family came into town to visit and celebrate :)

We had grand plans for the weekend but I ended up getting deathly ill on Friday (I mean, really. Fever of 102, emergency trip to the Dr., a shot of antibiotics and a prescription for more, chills, stuck in bed kind of sick) and some of our plans had to be adjusted. Since the Doc gave me a shot of antibiotics at the office on Friday afternoon (those things are amazing) and since my fever broke late on Friday evening, I was feeling good enough on Saturday to hang out with everyone (with a couple of strategic naps slipped in to the schedule).

I don't have a ton of photos from the weekend (you know, the whole sick thing) but here are a few :)

Austin opening presents birthday morning :)

Austin and sweet Sarah before our birthday dinner

Non-twin twins before dinner :) 

Alden ate his dinner with us and he loved the restaurant!

Mama and little bro

Austin, Sarah, and Daddy

family :) 

the whole gang! (with Alden staring at his Uncle Austin)

I even managed to wring out an hour or so of energy that night to take Austin and Sarah to one of our favorites spots in Athens for his first legal drink! (Please forgive my appearance in the following photos-I was still pretty definitively under the weather)

headed to Blue Sky

my little Bud is all grown up! :( 

first time out together without Alden
Cheers to another wonderful year! 

We spent the rest of the weekend shopping, eating yummy food, and relaxing at home. It was a wonderful way to spend the beginning of my 29th year :) 

I hope you had a wonderful birthday weekend, little brother! I am so glad everyone was able to come up to share in the celebration! 

much love, L&N

October 15, 2013

National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day

Today is a day to honor those who have been touched by pregnancy loss and infant death. It is a day to remember that there are women and men near you who have suffered through a miscarriage, a stillbirth, a SIDS death or the loss of a newborn and are most likely suffering in silence. It is a day to remember, even if only for a minute, that there are people who have lost tiny babies whom they loved so much. 

Every loss, whether it be a pet, a parent, a friend, a spouse, or a child, is hard and sad and life-altering. There is something different about losing a child, though. Something even more cruel and heart-wrenching. A life so short just doesn't seem fair. 

It is for these people that I share our story: 

While we were trying to get pregnant, one day in February 2012, I took a pregnancy test. It was (very slightly) positive and we were so happy, but cautious because it was still very early. The next day I began to have some cramping and some very light spotting. I called my doctor and they told me that while those symptoms would be normal for an early pregnancy, to go ahead and come in. They drew blood so that they could test the HcG levels and the doctor did an ultrasound, even though she knew that it was probably too early to see much of anything. After verifying that the pregnancy was not ectopic (which can cause bleeding and is very dangerous), she sent me home to wait for the results. 

The next day, after many hours of wondering and worry, we got word that my HcG levels were very low for the stage of pregnancy that I was expected to be in. I had continued to have light spotting off and on since my visit the day before but since it had seemed to have slowed down, I had let myself get hopeful before my follow up visit. Hearing that the levels were low was a moment when your brain realizes what is happening but your heart just doesn't want to listen. I kept running through the mantra, "Maybe it will all be ok. Maybe it will all be ok." in my head. The doctor warned me that the spotting was probably the beginning of the end and that they would not expect a pregnancy with those HcG levels to persist. I left the office, still hoping, and went straight to my night class. I talked with a friend before class started and she helped :) She said, "whatever will happen will happen and it will all be ok. It is very common to lose a pregnancy this early, it does not mean you're broken." 

By the end of my class that night I had started a full-on period and I knew that it was over. I was probably only 4 or 5 weeks pregnant at the time and if I had never taken the test, I wouldn't have ever known. (The curse of living in such an advanced time...) But the thing was, I did know. Even logically knowing that early miscarriage is very common, and that in another decade we never would have known, and that one early miscarriage does not mean you will have trouble carrying a healthy baby in the future, even knowing all of those things in my head- I still felt heartbroken. I still felt like I was broken and it made me scared that I would not be able to have a healthy pregnancy. 

We are so very lucky to have had, just three short months later, a blissful second beginning to a pregnancy. A few extra doctor's visits, sure, but positive blood results on more than one occasion, a perfect, tiny little heartbeat on the screen at 6 weeks and, now, a beautiful and healthy baby boy sharing our home. 

Even at 5 weeks pregnant, it hurt. Now, looking at my sweet boy, I literally cannot breathe if I think about what it must feel like to lose a child at 10 weeks, or 15 weeks, or at 6 months, or 12 months. My heart breaks along with all of those Mamas who have had to say goodbye to their babies, no matter the age. 

Today, you are where my heart lies. 

And a reminder to those who are unfamiliar with the world of pregnancy and infant loss...a woman who has lost a baby does not cry and share her story while walking down the street, or while working in her office, or when she's at a party with friends. She suffers quietly in her heart, while trying not to cry as she passes the pregnant woman in the grocery store or when she sees a friend's pregnancy announcement on Facebook. She looks "normal" and healthy but, inside, she is grieving. Please remember this the next time you joke to a friend that, "it's about time y'all have kids!" or you ask, for the second or third time, why a couple is childless. For some, it is simply a question, for others, it is heartbreaking. 

much love, L

local love: Treehouse Kid & Craft

A local shop, Treehouse Kid & Craft, offers Baby Sensory classes twice a week for babies aged 6 months- 12 months that focus on the exploring the 5 senses. Every week there's a different topic (the first week we went it was Suds & Bubbles) and the experience is a hands-on way to introduce your baby to new sights, sounds, and textures. 

Let me start by saying we L-O-V-E Treehouse. It's such a smart and comfortable space with retail, crafting, learning, and fun (!) all present in one place. Most of their products are responsibly sourced, ethically sound, and/or eco-friendly and everything they sell is obviously carefully curated by the shop owners. We feel confident that anything we buy there will be a home run. 

To top it all off, they offer regular crafting classes for kids that range from painting to yarn crafts to beginner's sewing (check out their class offerings here). When we first discovered Treehouse I was so excited to, one day, be able to participate but all of their classes were better suited to older children... womp womb :( 

Theeeennnnn...they started offering Baby Sensory and I was so excited! Not only was there going to be a class especially made for our little ones, but there was a Groupon for half off the cost of classes! Nick & I swooped in, bought a couple Groupons and quickly used our first one on the Suds & Bubbles class one Saturday morning. 

See the following for Alden's reaction :) 

paying close attention to the teacher...

and getting some reassurance from Mama

let the bubble play begin! 
There were large pieces of white paper set up for each child and the teacher would blow bubbles onto the paper for the babies to touch and watch pop. The bubble solutions were dyed with food coloring and when the bubbles pop on the paper, they leave a splatter of dye on the paper. The final product is a baby-made piece of bubble art :) I love Alden's so much that I'm going to frame it- it's really that cool!

playing in the sudsy water

now he gets it! waiting for more bubbles :) 

Quick! Pop it!

he loved to catch the bubbles and watch them pop on the paper! 

We can't wait to get back to Treehouse for more Baby Sensory fun! In the meantime, I'm just going to be over here, admiring my little guy's first masterpiece :) 

much love, L&N

p.s. sorry for all of the down-my-shirt action in the photos :/ there's not much you can do about it when you're down on the floor with the baby...

7 months!

Our little man is already 7 months old! We've had a pretty eventful past month and Alden grows and grows a little more every day. We are amazed at how quickly life is changing with a mobile baby and we are loving every second of watching our little one grow and change :) 

I have been seriously slacking with the blog lately but will try to catch up in the next couple of weeks. There's a lot to talk about: baby sensory classes at a local shop, a new diet in the house, my family's birthday visit to Athens, etc.! 

*I just noticed that I never posted his 6 month update! We took our monthly photos and I wrote up most of the post, I just never hit publish :/ I'll make sure to update it and post it soon! 

For now, I'll leave you with our 7 month recap and some really cute photos :) 

Alden is now army crawling like a champ, pulling up on anything he can get his hands on, and trying to stand ALL THE TIME. He started out army crawling by pulling himself forward with his arms while sliding on his tummy, not a whole lot of leg action in the beginning but now he full on army crawls like a little soldier, legs and arms moving together. He's got the movement down for crawling, he just has to pick his tummy up off the floor and he'll be off to the races! Nick and I joke that he was so motivated to start some kind of movement (hence the somewhat early "crawling") but now that he can get around easily, he has no motivation to truly crawl :) He is incredibly fast on his tummy and since he's obsessed with pulling up and standing lately, I'm actually starting to think he'll never really crawl. Maybe he's like his Mama, impatient for the next thing to start so he just jumps right in :) 

army crawling right out the door! 

He loves to pick things up and examine them and chew on them. Everything that's within his reach is either knocked over, rolled around on the floor, or in his mouth. Most of the time it's all three :) He is still keenly interested in his environment and will stare the pants off of people in the grocery store. He is obviously a curious, interested, little observer. Or, as Nick's Aunt Marianne calls him, our Little Professor ;) He amazes me with how deliberate and intelligent his actions are, even at 7 months old. 

We introduced a sippy cup about a month ago and Alden has always much preferred to play with them than drink out of them. He really enjoyed having something that was his size and that he could chew on, but he never really made the connection between the action he uses to drink out of his bottle and drinking out of the sippy. Then, last weekend, Nick was drinking a glass of water and Alden was very interested in the glass. Nick gave him a drink out of the cup and Alden took to it so much better than he had ever taken to the sippy. Now, we just give him a cup at meal times and, with help, he drinks his water that way. It's like he didn't have the patience to mess with the sippy cup and was ready to just drink out of a regular cup :) He has his own little Klean Kanteen sippy and he really loves drinking out of it without the lid- so much so that he grabs mine and tries to get a sip! 

Alden has gotten very vocal and seems to be babbling, screeching, or squealing all the time. He loves to make little raspberry noises with his mouth and giggles when we imitate him :) He can clearly say many letter sounds, like ma, da, ba, and ga and he does his little monkey noise (oo oo oo) when he wants to eat or is excited. 

He has so much personality and we see a little more of it every week. It takes him a few minutes to acclimate to a new environment and will stay close to me and be very quiet until he feels comfortable. But, boy, when he gets comfortable, he really goes all out! Before you know it he's on the other side of the room trying to crawl up into a stranger's lap :) He flirts and plays shy with people, especially women, all the time and has a tendency to pull glasses off of people's faces. 

He has three teeth, the two bottom and his left lateral incisor (the tooth between the front and the canine). Supposedly, baby teeth erupt in a predictable pattern: bottom two central incisors, top two central incisors, top lateral incisors, bottom lateral incisors, etc. Well, just another thing to put on the list of "every baby is different" :) Alden got his bottom two teeth first and then got the top lateral incisor next, even though that one shouldn't come in until he's 9-12 months old...we're thinking maybe he should be Dracula for Halloween ;) 

Here are a few photos of what we've been up to lately with the little man:

playing with Mama's old stacking boxes

crawling around with a pan on my head at school :) haha!

1st time at The Varsity! 

learning how to stand up in my crib

1st bath in the big tub

Daddy and Alden match! :) 

1st time in a highchair at a restaurant! He was beautifully behaved the whole time :) So much so that the manager complimented us on how great he was! 

Happy 7 months, my sweet boy! 

much love, L&N