March 31, 2014

y'all make me smile :)

Over the past couple of weeks I have had a few blog readers send me notes to say that they have gotten useful information from here and that they love reading what I write on this blog.

Can I just say that getting little notes from people who connect with something I write is, quite possibly, one of the best ways to immediately put a smile on my face.

I love hearing that I made someone's day a little brighter, helped them learn something new, made them feel connected, or helped them in some other way.

I share our lives here because I enjoy it. But also because I find comfort in knowing that other people are going through the same things I am and blogs are one of the ways I connect to communities that are similar to mine. Feeling the same things, being curious about the same things, experiencing similar today's culture of busy calendars, big cities, long commutes, and the giant internet, finding community is sometimes difficult. If the small part of our lives that I am able to share here makes someone else's day easier, it's worth it to share. And if some of what I write leads me to new experiences, new friends, and personal growth- that's even better :)

I really do appreciate everyone who reads, whether you're family members who are really only here to see photos of the little guy (I know what y'all's priorities are ;) or are strangers who have stumbled here and have stuck around. Thank you for sharing in our tiny slice of the internet.

much love, L&N

p.s. send me a note! or a comment! I love to hear from people that are enjoying the blog :)

March 26, 2014

breastfeeding: 14 months later

Remember sweet little photos like this?

Where, after nursing, your tiny newborn would drift off to sleep and peacefully hang out in your arms for hours? 

Yeah, I barely remember, too. Haha. 

If I wanted to get a picture of Alden's nursing now, I'd end up with a million photos of his hand trying to grab my phone :) I knew that nursing a toddler was going to present a few new challenges to the mix, but I definitely wasn't prepared for how different it would feel.

We've now been nursing for almost 14 months and even though he nurses WAY less often than he used to, I still really enjoy our nursing time together. Yes, he's squirmy and more "down to business" than he used to be but he still holds my hand and plays with my shirt, too :) It's nice to have a few minutes (really, it's rarely longer than 3 minutes a side and that's on the long side) with him every day where he's just my little boy, cuddling up in my lap. But it's definitely different. I can tell that nursing doesn't calm him the same way that it used to and he doesn't automatically fall asleep when he nurses before bed now, either. The way it generally goes: he pulls my shirt up, eats as fast as he can, then pushes my shirt back down when he's ready for the other side, and repeat. It cracks me up how businesslike he is sometime! :)

Part of me is really ready to be done breastfeeding, the other part is really sad that it will end. I always have a few days of weird emotions after our nursing schedule has changed (spreading out feedings, dropping sessions, etc.). This past week we officially dropped the mid-day nap time nursing session so I'm in the middle of my weird emotional mama phase. We're now down to nursing once in the morning when Alden wakes up and once before bed. He drinks almond milk/breastmilk from a cup during the day and is no longer eating during the night. While I am THRILLED! to finally be done with my breast pump (that midday session was the only thing keeping me chained to that pump every work day for the past 50 weeks), it's a little sad to know that I'm not going to have dedicated time with him before his nap to cuddle and rock. My baby boy is growing up! At least there haven't been any tears yet...I'll just save those for when he weans :/ 

Just in case you're curious about how we've gotten to the schedule we're in's some backstory:

Alden has been really great at dropping feedings himself as he's grown so I've had it pretty easy when it comes to adjusting nursing frequency. He decides when he's getting ready to drop a feeding and over the course of a few days, makes it known that he doesn't really need it anymore. Since he's at school so much during the days, we've allowed his cues at school to guide how we nurse at home. 

Starting around 5 months old, we began increasing the amount in his bottles (to 4 oz. from 3) but had one less bottle during the day. His teachers had noticed that he was less interested in one of his midday feedings and that he was guzzling down one of his afternoon bottles and looking for more. This told us that he was probably ready to spread out his feedings but that he still needed the same (or larger) amount of milk. We shifted his bottles around and he did great. Then, once he really got into solids around 7 or 8 months, he just stopped drinking one of his other bottles while he was at school. They would offer it to him, he would drink an ounce or two, then just be done. So, over a few days we gradually phased that bottle out and he wasn't even phased. Then, around 9 months (in preparation for his "graduation" to the next classroom), we started transitioning to a sippy cup and he got one bottle and one cup of milk every day. This transition was the only one where we saw any kind of resistance from Alden at all. It took him a relatively long time to be okay with taking milk from a cup and not a bottle. I think he had just associated milk with bottles and was being stubborn about the switch. He would drink water from a sippy without a moment's hesitation so we knew it wasn't an actual cup issue. 

Around 11 months, we had completely phased out the bottle and he was only getting milk from a cup during the day. He would drink a little at lunch but drink a whole 4 oz. mid-afternoon (around the same time he would have gotten a bottle before). By this time Alden was eating three solid meals a day so that mid-afternoon cup of milk was really more like a snack for him. Once we switched to one nap a day and he was preparing to move up to the next classroom at school (mid-January), he was still nursing once during the night, when he woke up in the morning (sometimes once around 4:30 or 5 am and then again around 8 am), before his nap, and then before bed. I was, no joke, starting to go a little crazy having to get up and nurse during the night so a month or so ago we night weaned. After our 1 year pediatrician appointment, I felt confident that he didn't need the extra calories (which I had worried about before since he's wasn't a great eater during the day) and I told Nick that I just really needed to be done with night nursing. Daddy stepped up and took over nighttime wakings since I knew Alden would ask to nurse if I came in the room and after a whole week of no night nursings, I was pretty sure we were done. It's been about a month now and, even though Daddy is still handling most of the night wakings (Alden is not a straight-through-the-night sleeper yet), I have gone in there at night and Alden doesn't even ask so I think we handled the transition well. In fact, I'm pretty sure that I was the one prolonging the nighttime nursings- Alden would have been fine to drop them a while ago I think. That was probably another reason why night weaning went so smoothly for us. 

Alden moved up to the next classroom at school the week of his birthday so since then his school day has followed a structured schedule. This was the biggest difference from the infant room where each baby is basically on an on-demand feeding and sleeping routine. We knew there would be some adjustments for the first couple of weeks and were pleasantly surprised when Alden did wonderfully with the transition. We actually think he's sleeping and eating much better now that he's on a consistent schedule every day. Once he was in a routine of napping once a day, at the same time of day, I started thinking about dropping the pre-nap nursing (mostly because I was SO ready to stop pumping at work...have you figured out that I really hate the breast pump?!). With the switch to the new schedule at school, Alden was already used to going to sleep without nursing which you'd think would be the perfect time to drop that nursing session when at home. What prolonged the change was Alden's lack of any other milk source. Typically, at one year old is when you would introduce cow's milk (or goat, etc.) to your baby's diet. Since Alden is dairy allergic, that wasn't an option for us. We tried almond milk right around his first birthday and he hated it. Then, we tried mixing the almond with breast milk and he still hated it. So we waited a few more weeks and then started with the goat. Alden loves the goat milk but we're still trying to figure out if he reacts to it or not, it's been a little up and down since his huge flare this past month. But, Hallelujah!, a week ago we started almond milk again and, now, Alden loves it! He'll drink it by itself or mixed with breast milk and I was finally free of the pump!! I wasn't willing to drop that pumping session until I was confident that we had at least one other source of milk since the fats that are present in milk are vital to a baby's nervous system development. Now that we have almond and goat to work with and since Alden was already used to not nursing before his nap at school, we went ahead and dropped the nursing session at home. Nick said that the first weekend of no nursing before nap made it a little harder for Alden to go down but overall, he still went to sleep and slept for just as long as he usually does. I think we can call it a success :) 

The breastfeeding relationship changes and sometimes I feel like the last thing I want to do is nurse again. But other times (most times), I am so happy that I can provide for my boy, that we have this relationship together, and that it's something he enjoys and is comforted by. Alden has been so good at self-regulating his nursing that I am confident he will wean when he's ready. I am also confident that the day he weans will be both happy and sad for me. Happy because he is growing and learning and ready for the next phase. Sad because it will be representative of his leaving babyhood behind and needing his Mama's closeness less. Happy because my body will finally be completely mine again- no more worrying about being home at exactly the right time, no more avoiding happy hour or dinner-time cocktails because I have to nurse in an hour, no more tiny hands pulling at my shirt or little teeth nibbling on my nipple because he thinks it's funny. Sad because there won't be guaranteed times in the day when he curls up in my lap and rests, no more tiny hands resting on my chest as he falls asleep eating, no more sweet middle-of-the-night smiles in between gulps of milk, no more silly games hiding behind my shirt or tickling his feet before bed, no more "just-something-Mama-can-do". I will cry but I will smile, too.

I think my final thoughts are this: whenever you're ready, little man.

much love, L&N

March 24, 2014

i hate food allergies

Enjoying some diaper-free time in the backyard (with a conveniently placed tennis ball) :)

We have been battling a horrible eczema flare the past couple of weeks after attempting to introduce some more dairy into Alden's diet. I swear food allergies are the epitome of "2 steps forward, 3 steps back." As we attempt to reintroduce things, we think we're doing great and then, all of a sudden, we're back to the drawing board. 

By the end of February Alden had been eating yogurt on a daily basis for about 3 weeks with no remarkable flares in his eczema or other allergy symptoms. He was sleeping relatively well and his respiratory symptoms had improved a lot. So, we decided that we'd branch out and introduce a little but more dairy to the menu. He started eating baked-in dairy in small amounts and did fine with those as well (we think. He hasn't had a ton.). Then, cheddar cheese cubes popped up on the school menu and we decided to let him try them. He didn't have any immediate/short-term symptoms so we let him have some sliced cheese with dinner the next night. That's where our luck ended. By the second day of cheese, his eczema patches had reappeared and were everywhere. His back, thighs, shoulders, arms, and stomach all had patches and his diaper area was very angry. If you've been reading along over the past few months, you'll know that Alden's diaper area is one of our most difficult places to keep clear. Since he reacts to proteins in food, those proteins are often still present in his urine and poop, and the skin that comes into contact with the waste in his diaper gets a double dose of allergen exposure. This means that he has chronic irritation in his diaper area and we sometimes do diaper-free time to give him a break (see adorable photo above). 

Well, the past two weeks have made our usual routine of extra aquaphor, more frequent changes, and periodic diaper free time seem like a cake walk. The most recent flare (we think caused by the cheese, although maybe prolonged by goat milk since we introduced that once we thought the diaper area was at least not getting worse- and have since eliminated again) has taught us even more about our baby's allergy symptoms. Turns out he is also prone to blistering eczema. Yes, it's exactly as bad as it sounds. Some people with eczema can have a form that causes actual blisters to form in the affected area along with the more typical red, dry patches of irritated skin. It's most commonly seen on the hands and feet and is more common in women but our pediatrician seemed pretty sure that what we were seeing fit the bill. So, add that to the list of skin symptoms allergens cause in Alden :/ 

Even now that I'm writing this, he still has some blistering spots in his diaper area, and we're over three weeks away from the beginning of the rash. We've gotten him through the worst, though, and his skin now looks about 400% better than it did a couple of weeks ago. What finally made it better was a combination of Boudreaux's Butt Paste (to treat any diaper rash that he had concurrently with the eczema flare & to act as a super-duper moisture barrier) and liberal amounts of cornstarch (not baby powder) on every inch of skin that is covered by his diaper. The cornstarch absorbs any moisture on his skin and keeps him really dry. This is finally what helped the blisters start to dry up and heal. I had been avoiding the internet during the beginning of the flare because our pediatrician had warned me against looking up photos, etc. (only the worst cases end up on the internet and WebMD always tell you you're dying...) and getting more worried than necessary BUT the internet is finally what suggested the winning combination. After seeing these blisters for a week and trying every trick we had up our sleeves, I couldn't stand the idea of just waiting for our doctor's appointment. So I cautiously started looking around...lo and behold, someone suggested cornstarch to control a blistering rash and we started it that afternoon. By the next morning, his skin was a normal color (no more lobster baby) and there were sheets of dry, dead skin peeling off him. In just 12 hours, the cornstarch had dried him up enough for his body to finally slough off all the dead skin and start healing. It was amazing and now we're forever cornstarch converts. We should buy stock since we'll probably recommend this to EVERY person we meet who has a baby with diaper area skin problems. 

The good news is that now that his skin seems to be under control, we've started goat milk again! Fingers crossed! 

More posts to come! I've had a crazy couple of weeks at work, Alden's skin issues (plus a weird week pre-developmental shift of not sleeping, etc.), and other general life stuff...but I've got lots of drafts saved up and hope to get some posts up in the next couple days!

much love, L&N

March 13, 2014

first year fog

I am 13 months postpartum and I finally feel like myself again. I was told (by a lot of people) that by 6 months, I'd feel normal again. But for me, it's been 13, and I'm not even sure that I'm 100% "back".

I am fortunate to never have experienced any major symptoms of postpartum depression but I, like probably 90% of other new mothers, definitely had my fair share of hormone-induced baby blues. They were generally moments that would pass quickly, unless I was really tired. When it's the middle of the night and you're nursing for the millionth time that day (and really, do you even know whether it's  today or tomorrow when you never sleep more than 3 hours at a time?), it's really easy to set up camp in a dark, pessimistic place in your head & convince yourself that nothing is ever going to be easy or good or happy again. For me, once I got a little more sleep, the middle-of-the-night crazies would seem silly and I'd get back to enjoying my baby, my husband, and my life again. I am so happy that I was spared the battle so many women fight, where those thoughts don't pass on their own and you feel trapped in an isolated, sad place.

I had read a lot about postpartum depression while pregnant. The idea terrified me and I wanted to make sure I was intimately aware of the warning signs, symptoms, and ways to find help. I have anxiety issues (and always have) that I usually cope with pretty well-thanks to past therapy, learned and taught coping skills, and a great husband- but while I was pregnant, I was worried that my anxiety would make it easier or more likely for me to have postpartum depression.

While there's a ton of literature on postpartum depression, there's not a whole lot for people who just get "a little bit". I read a ton of blog posts, articles, etc. that talked about serious depression and I read a lot of stories from women who had blissful newborn months, overcome with love and peace. But the stories that I didn't find were the ones that sounded like mine. Maybe people would acknowledge the "baby blues" in passing; I know I saw some mention in one of the BabyCenter weekly emails. But, every time it was mentioned as a side note, "By the way, your hormones are still freaking out. You may get blue but it will pass and it's normal." I kept feeling like I was right in the middle, not seriously depressed but more than just mild, tears-for-no-reason episodes.

I'm calling it my "first year fog".

Now that I'm looking back, I don't think I realized that I was out of sorts at the time. I was so wrapped up in our new baby, trying to get comfortable nursing, and just surviving the chaos that I didn't even realize that I felt different. At the beginning, we're wired to easily shut out the rest of the world. It's our human instinct to cocoon with our babies; feed them, love them, sleep with them. I thought that it was normal for me to be completely overwhelmed with love and focused on the baby all the time. Even when I was still feeling the same things at 5 months, 6 months, 7 months, etc., I chalked it up to being an anxious, first-time mom. But then I would see friends who were going out for date nights at 3 months postpartum (or better yet, 3 weeks postpartum) and I would be baffled. "How can these women be so okay leaving their babies to go out into the world?!" I'm just in the last couple of months getting comfortable with the idea of leaving Alden with his grandparents, much less an actual babysitter! I had no desire to go on a date night until the past month. I was so stuck in baby land (both the caring for the baby and all of things that come along with that; nursing, lack of sleep, etc.) that I honestly didn't even care about the rest of the world. It wasn't a conscious decision and for the past 5 months or so, I've been actively trying to wrench myself out of it. It took me 8 months, though, to even realize that maybe what I was feeling wasn't just the typical "baby blues" or new mom adjustment.

What's even stranger about the whole thing is that some of the happiest moments of my life happened in the past 13 months. If you had asked me if I was happy I would have answered and unequivocal, "Yes!" I have been happy but at the same time, foggy. 

I'm finally ready to be me again. I'm getting better at being both Mama and Laura, instead of just one or the other. It no longer paralyzes me to think about leaving Alden for a night or a weekend. The idea of an actual sex life sounds pretty good for the first time in a long time (sorry, family :). I finally feel like my whole being isn't consumed by the baby and I'm okay with that. My first year fog is going away.

I do have some idea of what caused the fog, though, and am hoping that by knowing these things I can be better prepared when the next baby comes around.

-I am an anxious, introverted person who easily gets stuck in my head. I overthink, overanalyze, and don't easily talk about things that bother me. All of those things probably made the transition to motherhood a little more mentally exhausting for me than it could have been.

-I had Postpartum Thyroiditis. It's a condition that occurs in 5-10% of women after having a baby and, for me, the symptoms manifested as hyperthyroidism. There are actually two phases of this thyroiditis, a hyperthyroid (overactive) phase and a subsequent hypothyroid (underactive) phase. Some women have symptoms in both phases, others only have symptoms in one phase, and some others never have any noticeable symptoms at all. I only ever had symptoms in the hyperthyroid phase and am feeling like I'm probably leveling out now (most women return to normal thyroid function within 12-18 months). In the first 5 months after delivering Alden, I lost 35 pounds, had little to no appetite, was fatigued, had an increased heart rate, drastically reduced sex drive and lots of hair loss. A lot of these symptoms are also associated with normal postpartum body adjustments (like hair loss and fatigue) so it took months of me following up with my doctor to finally decide that there was actually something going on. This meant that I was skeleton thin (without trying) and constantly fighting to get enough calories to be able to stay healthy and keep my milk supply healthy. Most people comment on how great I look after having a baby and, even though I'm happy to be back at my "wedding weight", there were many, many months where I did not feel good. I was thin but I didn't feel strong or healthy. I literally felt like I was wasting away and was so happy when finally, in October of last year, the number on the scale stopped dropping. Since then I've been able to gain a couple of pounds and am starting to feel more like a healthy person again. My appetite is pretty much back and I'm feeling stronger (like, my actual muscles feel stronger) every day.

I feel bad even mentioning it because there are so many women who struggle to lose the weight they gain during pregnancy but there is something very unsettling about waking up one day and feeling like you're walking around in someone else's body. Most people don't lose 25 pounds in 2 months, or 35 pounds in 5 months. Most of the time, the weight comes off gradually and you get used to your body as it changes. For me, losing so much weight so fast felt like I had no control over my body and it was WEIRD. I am so glad this phase seems to be ending!

-Lack of sleep. Period. I am not someone who easily exists on less-than-normal amounts of sleep and the first year with a baby is no friend to sleepy people.

-I have nipple vasospasms and Raynaud's phenomenon of the nipples. These things are linked to the fact that I am autoimmune and they both made breastfeeding a challenge at times. I spent lots of time talking with my favorite IBCLC and working hard to correct Alden's latch, treat the symptoms of the vasospasms, etc. When you're body makes a normal process more difficult, it takes a lot of energy just to stay ahead of the game.

-Alden's food allergies. Living with a child who has a dairy and soy allergy (or any food allergy) is so challenging, especially while breastfeeding. It takes so much time and energy just to figure out what to eat and it can become overwhelming really easily.

What I am lucky to have is my amazing husband by my side. I can only imagine how much worse my "fog" would have been if I hadn't had the support and help that he provided. Nick changes basically every diaper in our house, has always gotten up with me at night to take turns with the baby (in the beginning to help me get settled to nurse and now to get Alden back to sleep when he wakes at night), makes Alden breakfast in the morning, makes us dinner pretty much every night, etc. He has been right next to me through all of it and I couldn't be more thankful. Not to mention how patient he's been while I've been slowly coming out of my fog. I can't even remember how many times he's said, "We'll get a babysitter when you're ready. Don't worry about it. It'll come," or something along those lines. I really got a good one :)

here comes the sun :)

Maybe someone will read this and think, "Hey, it took me more than 6 months to feel normal, too!" and will send me a note or a comment so that I know I'm not alone :) For Mamas who may be feeling "foggy" too, remember to be patient, let your body tell you what it needs, have open conversations with your doctor and family, and reach out to someone if you start to feel like you're sinking. Having a baby causes different physical and emotional symptoms in every woman, there is no normal. Just work towards healthy and it will all come together :)

much love, L&N

March 12, 2014

the best plank of wood I've ever seen

My sweet husband surprised me with this crazy-thoughtful, tear-inducing, absolutely-wonderful, nerd-tastic anniversary gift and I'm going to get all gushy and share it with y'all. 

Wood is the traditional fifth anniversary present (here's the Wikipedia article with a list) so the fact that this is basically a plank of wood makes more sense after you know that...

Aside: In case you're curious, for year 1 we gave each other personalized stationary and tickets to a cruise (Paper), year 2 was a fluffy robe (for him) and Williams Sonoma apron (for me) for Cotton, year 3 was a leather trimmed toiletry kit for Nick and a professional leather bag for me (Leather). Our fourth anniversary was exactly 32 days after I gave birth so for that year, I gave him a baby :) Although we bought plenty of linen in preparation for the baby, so maybe we can stretch and make that one count. And then, year 5 is Wood...enter my creative and sneaky husband. 

Nick and I got engaged in Venice (Italy, for clarity's sake) and we used to always say that we would try to make a trip back for our 5th anniversary. If you're laughing as hard as I am right now, it's because you realize how optimistic we were about our future financial status ;) Apparently we thought we would be hanging with the Trumps on our yacht in between our trips around the world, haha! Or, we just weren't expecting for both of us to go back to grad school, buy a house, have a baby, or do any of the other "real life" things we've decided to do that have impeded our ascension to Trump levels of wealth. Maybe in 5 more ;)

Anyway, because our dewey-eyed dream of returning to Venice this year was obviously not going to happen, Nick got to thinking about how he could bring Venice to me instead. He spent some time noodling around the internet and eventually found himself looking for "our bridge" in Venice on Google maps. An idea began to hatch and he spent many more hours finding the spots of important events in our lives on Google satellite view and dropping pins to their exact coordinates. Now he knew what he wanted to do, so once he had found all of these locations, he enlisted the help of an artist who has done custom pieces of art for us before, Sara Johnson of Airtistic, to help him finish the project. He and Sara worked secretly to design the piece and it was at our door the week of our anniversary, all without me knowing anything! 

Since I pay our bills, I ended up seeing the payment to Sara on our statement and immediately knew that Nick had been stealthy and had ordered something for our anniversary on wood (although pretty surprised, since we weren't supposed to be buying gifts this year, cough cough Nicholas cough cough). Sara does a lot of her painting on wood so I put the two together pretty quickly but obviously had no idea what it was going to look like. Luckily, I only figured this out a few days before our anniversary so I only had to wait a little while to open it. Once the day rolled around, I begged Nick to let me open it. He kept saying, "No, we need to wait until Alden goes to sleep." I didn't understand why but I (finally) said okay and waited until later. Once I opened it, I totally understood because I then spent the next 20 minutes Googling the coordinates and reminiscing about all of the important moments that Nick captured in this list. 

Not only is it a thoughtful and sweet gift, it's also totally us and so geekily romantic that we're probably the only people who love it as much as we do :) I mean, we're both trained scientists (one of whom is almost a PhD) who think hanging out reading books on a Saturday is more fun than being at a party and who (honestly) spent the better part of an hour the other night talking about string theory (and enjoyed it!). It makes total sense that we're both so in love with a list of GPS coordinates ;) 

I'm not going to reveal what all of them are (we like that there are some moments on there that no one else will know) but I'll say that the day we met, the day we got engaged, and the day we got married are all represented. I really just can't believe how wonderful my man is, how did I get so lucky?!

Also, if you ever come to our house, be prepared to see these things everywhere! I'm obsessed and want to do them for everything now :) Alden's birth? Check. First house? Check. That place with the really yummy burgers? Check. Haha. 

What do y'all think? Too geeky or sweetly romantic? 

much love, L&N

March 10, 2014

five years

This past Friday marked our fifth year of marriage. 5 years! I remember us talking about our 5th anniversary after we got married and it feeling like it was so far away, but, then BAM! it's here. I am so overwhelmed with how fortunate I am to be married to Nicholas. He truly treats me like his equal partner and we still enjoy spending every day together. He respects me, inspires me, supports me, and makes me laugh. He is my sounding board, my movie date, and my best friend. While we have our struggles (just like every couple), he is still the only person I want to come home to and the only person I can imagine spending my life with. I am so lucky that he picked me. Out of the whole world, he chose me and I am elated that he did :)

I remember the day of the wedding so vividly, I was in our hotel room putting on my makeup, getting my dress on, and waiting to leave for the ceremony. My mom and maid of honor, Karlan, were with me and our photographer was fluttering about taking photos as we all got ready. I don't remember being nervous, but I'm sure that I was (at least a little). It was a gorgeous Florida day and I kept thinking, "I'm getting married today!" It was a relaxed day and I was so excited to get to that altar and become Nick's wife. I can honestly say that I am still excited to be his wife, even after all these days :)

This time five years ago, I was with my brand new husband in St. Augustine enjoying authentic cuban picadillo, sangria, spanish almond cookies, and lots of relaxation. We had so much fun taking in the city and spending our days walking through historic sites and browsing little shops. A perfect way to spend our first few days as a married couple! 

This last Friday? Our day was a little different :) We woke up to a baby's cries at 5:30 and once Alden was back asleep, Nick cuddled up to me in bed and whispered, "Happy Anniversary", gave me a kiss on the cheek and we went back to sleep. Alden woke up again at 6:30 and we started our day. Me nursing the baby, taking a shower, and getting dressed. Nick getting Alden his breakfast, feeding the dogs, and cleaning up the kitchen a little. I changed a dirty diaper and got Alden ready for school, Nick took a shower and we were out the door. School drop off, walk to work, a quick kiss to say goodbye and then a normal Friday. Although we did have one of our favorite meals on the menu for this weekend (shrimp and grits) and a bottle of bubbly to celebrate :) I'm also going to make us some strawberry cupcakes with fresh, in season strawberries that I grabbed this week. We had strawberry cupcakes with vanilla bean buttercream (among other flavors) and little sour candies on top at our wedding so I'm going to recreate this favorite of Nick's as our celebratory dessert.

Once the weather warms up, we're going to spend a couple of days without the little one (not far from home, probably in Atlanta) since we feel like our 5th anniversary deserves some extra celebration than usual. We're going to go to one of the restaurants we've been dying to go to, hang out by a pool, maybe get a massage or pedicure and just relax together. My parents are going to come over and watch Alden for the night so we can have some couple time together. We saved some Christmas money for this weekend and we're excited to get some time away :)

I can't imagine a better man to walk beside on the journey of my life and am so lucky to have Nicholas as my partner. He is a better father to Alden than I could have imagined and I look forward to whatever life brings our way. We are having a wonderful time! :)

Happy Anniversary, Nicholas. You're my favorite and I love you. 

much love, L&N