June 27, 2014

15 months!

This update is really late. We're only a week away from the 17 month mark so I guess I should get some posts done :)

Month 15 was a whirlwind but that's no surprise, right? It seems like every month is a whirlwind with a fast-growing, busy-bee toddler in the house! We are officially approaching big boy territory, that's for sure. Alden has started getting really interested in self-care activities like bathing, combing his hair, putting on his lotion and powder, and is starting to have some interest in the potty. He knows all of his main body parts (arms, legs, eyes, nose, hair, etc.) and will point to them when you ask. It's really adorable :) Especially since he refuses to point to his belly unless he also lifts up his shirt. I guess it's not really his belly unless it's uncovered ;)

He loves to be outside but is not usually a fan of the hats and sunscreen involved :) This was the first day we actually got him to wear his hat for more than 3 minutes!

Mama knew there was a reason to keep those Mardi Gras beads! 

He's independent and opinionated as always and surprises us every day with the things he's learning and doing. The tantrums come and go in phases, with a few days of pretty much non-stop whining, crying, tantrums and then a few weeks of wonderful little normal Alden. I'm sure the weird days are linked to developmental growth, teeth (his canines have been trying to come in FOREVER!), allergies, etc. but, man!, they are no fun. We have taken to calling him alien Alden on days where he's just out of sorts all day. It feels like we have a different child in the house sometimes :/ Most of the time, though, he's such a fun little guy to be around. He's playful and loving and curious and I just love watching him grow up.

His nighttime routine has become more smooth with less fighting before he goes to sleep. We still have some rough nights but overall he's doing really great! We are living proof that, for some kids, no amount of sleep training or sleep techniques or tricks will work. Some kids just aren't great sleepers and they take a long time to get there on their own. I feel like we can finally say we've gotten through the worst part but the kid may sleep in his crib until he's 4 since I'm imagining hellish scenarios of trying to get him to stay in a toddler bed. Haha! I know there are a lot of families whose 18 month olds are already transitioning to a toddler bed but we are definitely waiting as long as possible for that leap. We've only really figured out a good routine to get him to sleep in the past few months so I'm not messing it up for a while ;) He sleeps with a stuffed animal (a beagle named Copper) every night now and we're really starting to notice him get attached to it for comfort as well. I had a blanket for far longer than I should admit publicly (yes, I still have it in my dresser drawer) so it wouldn't surprise me if he ended up with a long-term comfort item.

He sleeps in such big boy positions now! *
*strange side note: We have, on numerous occasions, looked at the monitor to see Alden and Copper in the exact same positions (evidenced above). We're not talking simple similarities here, we mean the same legs crossed at the same angle, head facing the same way, etc. It's strange and weird and we kind of love checking each night to see if it's happening again...I wonder if Alden is doing it on purpose & we just haven't caught him ;) 

He's a good eater but we have started to see some evidence of the infamous toddler pickiness. There are some nights where he just won't touch what we give him, even if it's something he happily gobbled up the day before. This should be a fun journey! :) We can always get fruit in him, though. The boy would survive on fruits if we'd let him.

We also had some time to squeeze in some fun activities this month. We had a blob day with some friends and their kids that was a total blast! If you're looking for something fun and pretty easy to do with small kids, check out this backyard water blob. We had so much fun!

blob day! 

hanging out with my bud Kilby Ann
We also went over to Lake Lanier for a day to hang out with friends and get some sun one weekend. Some dear friends of ours had rented a lake house to celebrate their anniversary and invited a ton of us up for the day to eat, drink, and play on the lake. Alden had great fun!

Alden loves to climb and wrestle and is almost running. He keeps learning new words and there are quite a few that he consistently says but that we just haven't figured out yet. It's so frustrating for all of us when he's clearly trying to tell us something and we just can't get it :/ At his 15 month well visit, he weighed 23 pounds 8 ounces and was 32 inches tall. He's in the high percentiles for height (like usual) and relatively lower percentiles for weight (like usual). So our string bean is still nice and stringy ;) He's wearing 18 month shirts (except for some that are still gigantic on him) but is still wearing mostly 12 month shorts! He's got such a long torso that we have basically abandoned any kind of onesie or john john and 90% of the time he's wearing separate shorts and shirts. It's the only way we can find clothes that fit! I would like to make a plug here for someone to standardize clothing sizes. It's absolutely ridiculous that we can buy the same size clothes from two different stores and them fit completely differently. At least we've found a couple brands that fit him well so we can always find him something that we know will work :)

now that he can get on the couch by himself easily, he like to play with the remotes while he relaxes :) 

getting to ride in the big carts at Publix for the first time :)
he's a professional mess-maker but I love him anyway

Nick's parents were in town for a short visit and we got to enjoy some Lowe's time and yummy breakfast at Mama's Boy.

3 generations of Danish genes :) 

I also got around to doing some things around the house. Since the time change, Alden has had a hard time falling asleep in his bright room. It was high time for some blackout curtains. We bought the patterned panel at Target and I just grabbed some blackout fabric from JoAnn and sewed them together. This photo is from before I ironed it all so it looks a little wonky but it already makes his room feel more grown up! I wasn't sure whether his window (and room) was big enough for two full panels on the window but I've definitely decided that we're going to add another full panel to fill out the look. I'm also going to add a broad strip of bright green fabric to the bottom to add length and a pop of color. Maybe I'll get some better photos when it's all done :)

Then, we finally got started on our Alden wall! We had started collecting frames and photos to put up of Alden's first year but couldn't figure out where to put them, then my mom suggested creating an Alden wall on a short section of our hallway. We, of course, thought it was a great idea and set out to get some of those frames hung! They will eventually all be white, black, or silver because the hallway is getting repainted in a pretty gray and I like the way those frame colors look against gray walls. For now, I get a little smile on my face every time I walk past and get a glimpse of my little man :)

his birth day shadow box

the first artwork he brought home from school
It was a good, busy month! Good weather, good friends, family, and lots of fun. Exactly what summer should be!

much love, L&N

June 23, 2014

Father's Day

According to Nick, we had a wonderful Father's Day :) It was relaxing but fun and we managed to check off everything on Nick's list! 

We started out the morning letting Daddy sleep in while Alden and I played a little and then I made him his breakfast. When Nick woke up, he headed out to grab us his Father's Day breakfast-of-request, McDonald's and a coffee from Starbucks. Yep, you heard that right. He wanted to eat junk food for breakfast :) (Don't worry, we have maybe had McDonald's breakfast once in the past year leading up to this so we're not going to have a heart attack tomorrow or anything...)

After we ate we got everybody sun-screened up and we headed to the splash pad at one of our local parks. We've had so much fun at the splash pad this summer so far and Nick wanted to do something that he knew he and Alden would have a lot of fun doing. We packed Alden's lunch picnic style and hung out at the park, playing in the water, eating, and climbing on the playground until it was time to head home for little man's nap. 

running in the water
spinning on the water fountain

While Alden slept and Nick relaxed on the couch I made a lemon chiffon pie (SO DELICIOUS!) for dessert that night. Nick loves lemon desserts and had sent me this recipe a few weeks prior after he ran across it online so I decided it would be the perfect summer Father's Day treat.

And then, after all that work, this happened...

Alden decided to taste it ;) 
We saved the handprint for last because we thought it was too cute to eat right away. It may go down as one of my favorite memories :)

Even though Nick was "supposed" to be relaxing, he ended up getting fidgety and went outside to trim the bushes in the front of the house instead :) I was in the kitchen and he came up to me and said, "I know I'm not supposed to do anything today but I really would just like to go get the bushes trimmed." It made me laugh and I told him that, technically, he was supposed to be doing whatever he wanted  to do and if he wanted to trim the bushes, then he should get to it!

After Alden woke up from his nap we made smoothies (Alden's first!) for a snack and then headed to Lowe's. It surely wouldn't be Father's Day in our house without a trip to Lowe's. Nick got to look at whatever he wanted and I didn't even make him wait for me to drool over paint colors ;)

first smoothie went over very well!

loving the lawn mower (mo mo, in Alden language)

We stopped by the grocery store to grab some steaks and headed home to get them on the grill and the kiddo in bed. Nick grilled the steaks up nice and yummy and we picked up salads (our favorite Blue Cheese and Pecan Chopped) and some grilled shrimp from Outback.

All in all, I had a wonderful day celebrating the fantastic father that I share my home with and I think he had a great time, too!

I still may try to pin Alden down for a little belated Father's Day crafting but we'll have to see if I can get him to sit still :)

much love,

June 17, 2014

what if the worst

Maybe it's because I'm a worrier, prone to anxious thoughts, a planner till the end, type-A, perfectionist, first-child, or simply a Mama who worries about her baby. Maybe it's because the internet makes it so much easier to hear other people's stories and learn about their lives. For whatever combination of reasons are true, there are times when I think about what I would do if something catastrophic happened to Alden. Not for kicks or because anything scary has happened, but because I've read a blog post written by a Mother who never got to take her daughter home from the hospital or another Mother who lost her baby at 17 months due to an infection or have read on Facebook about the family who's fighting through the sorrow of losing their young son to cancer...their stories are everywhere and I learn something about myself every time I read them. I learn the ways I can be better at talking to people who have experienced loss (something I have always felt inadequate at), I learn that there are so many people who are out in the world every day carrying enormous burdens of grief on their shoulders that we never know of, I get a glimpse of just how terrifying and overwhelming those experiences can be, and, above all, I spend even more time in my day giving thanks for all of the amazing things in my life. If thinking about scary, horrible, and sometimes morbid things end up making me a more compassionate, more thankful, and more loving Mama...then maybe it's not so bad to think about them sometimes. 

I was reading a blog written by the mother of a young girl who passed away at 17 months from a lung infection and realized that even though I have been following her family's story for a few months now, I had never gone back and read their "About Us" page. I clicked on the button in the menu and was surprised to find that they had lost their oldest daughter in 2009. I found myself reading the posts about her premature birth, her stay in the NICU, and then the text of the eulogy given by the author at her daughter's funeral. I was stuck for a moment trying to imagine the pain that must have been present for her that day and every day since. I can't do it. I have never known pain like that and I hope that I never will. But it also got me thinking about the things I would say if I ever had to give a eulogy for a loved one, especially if it were Nick or Alden. I realized that there are so many beautiful moments, such incredible awe and love that I generally keep inside my own experience. I don't ever want to feel like Alden doesn't (or didn't) know exactly how much I love him or that Nick didn't understand just what he meant to me. I guess the idea of saying what you should to those you love isn't a new thing, people talk about it all the time, but spewing out deep-seated emotions isn't an easy thing for me to do. I'm not the person who can just tell you exactly how much I love you while we're sitting at the table eating breakfast. I need preparation and, most of the time, a pen and paper. I write things better than I say them. So today, I'm going to write some things to my boys. Mostly because they should know but also because I want to remind myself why I'm so fortunate to have these people in my life and I want to be able to come back and read this in 6 months or 6 years and feel the beauty of my family all over again. 

To my sweet baby boy: 
Alden, you are the best thing I have ever made and one of the top three things I have ever done (the other two are marrying your Daddy and taking the job that allowed me to meet your Daddy). You are the light of my world, apple of my eye, and absolute favorite part of the day. We joke all the time that we never understood half of what our parents told us until we were parents ourselves. It's funny because it's 100% true. You will not fully comprehend what I mean when I tell you that I would do anything possible to keep you safe, healthy, and loved. But I mean it with every piece of me. Maybe one day you will have a sibling or two, but right now, Mama cannot imagine loving any child the way I love you. You are the baby that made me a Mama and every day I look at you and wonder how I got so lucky. I was made to be yours and you will always, always, always be my baby boy (even when you're six feet tall and out of my house). 

Even at 16 months old, you have SO MUCH personality! You are silly and smart and capable and independent and curious. You make us laugh every day and I love watching you learn. Daddy & I think you are going to be an engineer. You try to take everything apart and put it back together, you examine the screws on your toys, and are always concentrating on how something works. I wouldn't be the least bit surprised to find you building your own treehouse or personal butler robot one day. You are cautious in new experiences and you like to take some time to get the lay of the land before you jump in. I love that you know what you need to do to get comfortable with something. I hope you don't forget that it's okay to take your time. Your legs are never still. Even when you're sleeping, you often move your feet or legs around while you snooze away. I hope this means that you'll always be an active, on-the-go guy and that you will be ready for what life brings your way. You give the best hugs. I never thought a baby would give a good hug but you manage to do it! I will cherish the memories of your little arms around me and will probably remember your tiny, toddler head on my shoulder every time you hug me from now until forever. 

I am amazed at how well we fit together, just like I have always been amazed at how I can so easily rest my head on your Daddy's shoulder when I hug him. You have found a comfortable place with me since your beginning. Even when you were just a blob in my belly, I was your comfy spot and as you grew you still managed to get comfortable in the limited space of my womb. Then, you could easily snuggle up on my chest or in my arms in those early days of babydom and even now, when you are almost 3 feet tall, you still manage to find a place in my arms as we rock to sleep at bedtime. I won't always be able to hold you in my lap but I hope you always know that we were made to fit with each other. My arms will always be here to comfort and love you. 

You are my heart and I don't know what I would do if I didn't get to share my days with you. 

I love you, 

To my darling husband: 
Nicholas, I am sometimes at a loss for words to express what you mean to me. You are my best friend and my partner in life. Those words seem cliché or inadequate but you are truly my best friend and my partner in everything. All of the beautiful and scary things are ours together, never just mine. I cannot find the words for how grateful I am to know that I will always have you walking beside me. 

You make me laugh and you let me cry. You change diapers and help me clean. You make us dinner and are happy to let me bake as much as I want. I can ask you anything; from "What's for dinner?" all the way up to, "Should I change careers?" and you take each question just as seriously as the last. You let me go a little crazy with things that are basically frivolous (like a 1 year old's party) without telling me that I should calm down because you know that it's important to me. You try really hard to remember to pick up your socks even though you never actually do ;) You let me drool over design ideas and tolerate my endless discussion of the merits of open shelving in our one-day-dream-kitchen. You tell me to go shopping when I need new clothes and you help me clean out the clutter that I'm constantly trying to get rid of. You are quite possibly the most understanding and unflappable man I've ever met and I never feel like you're holding a grudge over me for my occasional inconsiderate lapses in judgement. 

I knew from the beginning that we were in each other's lives for good. Even when there was a possibility that it would be "just friends", we knew that we were never really going anywhere. Maybe after so many days of walking together through life I forget what it felt like to be on the path alone and it lets me get a little complacent about how important your place in my life is to me. But I hope that you never forget how much I value you- as my husband, partner, co-parent, and friend. I, honestly, with every cell of me have no idea how I would get by without you. When someone has become a part of you, there's no way to remove them even if you wanted to. 

You have always known where you wanted to go (both figuratively and literally) and have allowed me to wander while finding my path with patience and support. I am still excited for our days ahead and am so thrilled that I get to experience the wonders of the life we have created with you by my side. I married you because I belong with you. When my little brother asked me, "How did you know you wanted to marry Nick?", I answered, "Because even if I was going to be miserable, I would still want to be miserable with him." I am lucky to have never been miserable but the sentiment remains the same :) 

I'm not even sure I can explain how much respect and wonderment I have for you as a father. I am overwhelmed at the patience, involvement, support, and love you have for Alden. I am so proud to know that he is going to grow up being taught by you. You are a perfect example of the kind of men we should be raising and if we can add another man like you to our human society, then I am honored to stand by your side and watch our little man grow in your image. You are respectful, intelligent, tolerant, informed, supportive, driven, loving, engaged, and kind. You will teach him how important it is to be educated, well-read, challenged, and emotionally engaged. I know he could be a truly great man and with both of us behind him, we'll have to run to keep up :) I could never do it without you. 

The (salted) butter to my bread. The breath to my life. Forever and ever. 

I love you,