Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Disney World 2017 - Day 2

Ask Tory, and the ONE THING she wanted to experience at Disney World was meeting Elena of Avalor. Elena is a new Disney Princess with a television show by the same name, and Tory's favorite right now. Since our trip to Disney World was all about Tory, Lindsay and I decided we needed to do our best to make Tory's wish a reality.

Lindsay looked up the list of attractions, and Elena was available for a Meet + Greet alongside Cinderella at Magic Kingdom. The line to meet Cinderella at Fairytale Hall in FantasyLand can get really long and we didn't have a FastPass for it, so the three of us decided to wake up early on Sunday morning and make it to the park as soon as it opened.

That was the plan at least ... but we had the tough time waking Princess Tory from her slumber. Full days and late nights tired this little girl out! She popped right up with the promise to meet Elena though. Lindsay ordered breakfast to our room so we could get dressed and get a move on the day, and Tory was super impressed by that. She ate her Minnie Mouse pancakes and jelly toast with a big grin. A great day was before us!



Other people must've had the idea to arrive at Magic Kingdom when it opened because the Disney shuttles to the parks were much more crowded at this time of day. Fortunately, the three of us were able to squeeze onto the first shuttle that arrived. There happened to be a marathon race happening at the parks that morning, so traffic was slower than usual. When we made it to Magic Kingdom, Lindsay and I high-tailed it to FantasyLand to see Elena.


Fortunately, the line wasn't too long - about 20 minutes - so we hopped in it to make Tory's big wish come true. And, did we ever! Tory was absolutely SMITTEN with the princess. She'd made a picture for Elena and presented it to her when they finally met. Elena said she loved it and would be sure to share it with her sister Isabelle. Then, she displayed it proudly on a shelf near her greeting area. 


Don't forget - Cinderella was there, too. Tory snapped a few pictures with her next. "I don't think she remembered me from yesterday," was all Tory mentioned afterward her princess encounter. (I explained Cinderella meets lots of kids everyday and maybe she'd forgot about meeting us yesterday at our princess breakfast.)


Since the line was short, we decided to meet Rapunzel and Princess Tiana next door. Each of the princesses Tory met signed the autograph book Lindsay had given her for Christmas. Tory liked to look at each signature afterward to see how fancy it was.

 

Riding the carousel is one of Tory's other favorite things to do and since there was one right across from Fairytale Hall, Tory asked if we could ride it. It's nice not having to mess with tickets for rides at Disney World. There wasn't much of a line, so we got right on and enjoyed a whirl around and around.

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Next, we walked over to The Beauty and the Beast's castle for our FastPass to Belle's Enchanted Tales. I wasn't sure what to expect as the description was touted as more of an "experience." There wasn't much of a line which made us question using a FastPass, too. Soon, we were ushered into a room which looked like Maurice cottage and the whole "experience" began.

We quickly learned "Belle's Enchanted Tales" was a group performance and Lindsay was picked among participants in the room to play Mrs. Potts. After all the parts had been given, the organizer asked if anyone else would like a role, and to my surprise Tory raised her hand and shouted, "I would! I would!" She was cast as a plate.  





Mrs. Potts (Lindsay), the plates (Tory and a young girl), and all the other characters performed a skit about Belle in the Beast's castle. Afterward, Belle took photos with all the participants. I really enjoyed this "experience" at Disney World; it was fun and personalized.

Next, we decided to ride some of the rides in Fantasyland. First up: "The Mad Tea Party" (aka: the teacups!) Tory isn't a big fan of rides in general, but she really liked this one because she could control how fast our teacup turned. Bonus - we had a Fastpass, so we didn't have to wait long to take a turn.

 
We also rode "It's A Small World" which was cute. A Disney classic.

For lunch, we stopped at  Pinnocchio Village Haus for chicken fingers, fries and macaroni and cheese. I can't say I was very impressed with the dining options at Magic Kingdom. Lots of "fast food" restaurants and for someone trying to eat healthier, it was tough finding many options.

The Little Mermaid is Lindsay's favorite Disney movie, so "Ariel's Undersea Adventure" was on her list of things to do. We had another Fastpass for this ride, so we made our way there after lunch to take our turn. Tory thought this ride was scary because it was dark part of the time.
 
Mid-afternoon, we gave Tory the choice to stay in Magic Kingdom, ride more rides and see the parade at 3 o'clock, or go back to Animal Kingdom Lodge and swim for the afternoon. This was our last full day at Disney World, so we wouldn't be able to do everything. Tory thought and thought, and eventually decided she wanted to stay. Good choice!

We made our way to the Adventureland area of Magic Kingdom, and waited in line for Alaadin's "Magic Carpet" ride. It was a long and hot wait in the afternoon sun, but it worth it. Tory really enjoyed this ride! For me, this was best "wahoo! we're at Disney World" moment of the day. It was magical flying through the air, listening to Tory's happy giggles.

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We made our way back to Cinderella's castle for the Festival of Fantasy parade. Smartly, Lindsay asked a nearly parade employee to suggest a good viewing spot for the parade. I always enjoy a good parade, and we all had a great time watching the floats and Disney characters pass by us.



After the parade ended, we decided last-minute to meet Tinkerbelle. The waiting time on the outside of the building said there was only a 5 minute wait - too good to be true! - but it ended up taking much longer. Tory was excited to see Tinkerbelle, so I suppose it was worth it.

For dinner, we made our way back to Adventureland to Pecos Bill Tall Tail Tavern for the promise of Mexican food. The restaurant was packed with people and we had a hard time finding a table. I ordered the chicken fajitas and made Tory a burrito using my tortilla and toppings from the condiment bar -- that was a nice perk since she wouldn't have eaten much from their regular menu anyway.

I have to admit, I was overstimulated by this point in the day. We'd been at Magic Kingdom for 9 straight hours, and there were kids crying and parents yelling all around us. You know what everyone needed was a glass of wine! Too bad Magic Kingdom is completely dry, ugh.

We walked back to Cinderella's castle and waited for the fireworks show. My grumbles over crowds and kids crying quickly turned when the show started. Seriously, so magical!


I'm continually impressed with Disney's ability to put on a show. The fireworks were amazing and made me appreciate the thousands of people who'd gathered that evening to celebrate the magic with their loved ones.

Lindsay, Tory and I made a mad-dash to the Disney shuttle area following the fireworks show. As luck would have it, we made it onto the first bus back to Animal Kingdom Lodge with one sleepy girl exhausted from our big day.


I was never so glad for the travel-sized boxed wine I brought along in my suitcase! Lindsay and I poured ourselves a nice glass of red after we returned to our hotel room. What a fun and exhausting day!

Monday morning, the three of us grabbed a buffet-style breakfast at the hotel's Boma restaurant and then made our way to the airport. Our weekend trip to Disney was a quick one, but the perfect amount of time in my opinion. We didn't see everything during our trip, but we sure the made the most of our time. The best part was spending three days with Lindsay and my favorite little girl.  





Tory was so agreeable and understanding; Age Five really is the perfect age for this trip! I'm so glad she was able to enjoy the things we experienced without needing a break during the day. She also knew we couldn't do everything that weekend, so involving her in our plans helped keep tantrums at bay.   

Monday, March 13, 2017

Girl's Trip! Disney World 2017

About six months ago, my sister-in-law Lindsay suggested taking Tory to Disney World. We talked about a few ways we could make the trip work (big family trip / girl's trip / Lindsay and Tory only) and in the end, decided Lindsay and I would take Tory for a long girl's weekend.

So many people have asked me why Andi didn't go along and the short answer is - he didn't want to. I can't imagine Andi enjoying any part of the Disney experience so we thought it best to go our separate ways for this trip. I, on the other hand, am always looking for an excuse to get away during the winter and Tory is at the perfect age to experience the magic of Disney. Even better - Lindsay kindly organized the entire trip for the three of us, so Tory and I simply had to show up and enjoy ourselves. 

Lindsay, Tory and I boarded a plane from Minneapolis to Orlando for our weekend away together. A winter storm threatened to ruin our travel plans that day, but the wind and snow stayed South of the Twin Cities and fortunately we made it to Florida with no issue. Tory is such a rock star junior traveler. We watched movies on the plane and colored pictures until our flight arrived around 6:00pm. From the airport, we shuttled to Animal Kingdom Lodge via Disney transportation, and found a quick dinner at the hotel after we arrived.

I highly recommend Animal Kingdom Lodge. Every last detail inside the hotel made it feel as if we were staying in the African jungle. After we checked into our room, the three of us walked around the hotel property to check out the sights. We stumbled upon an area with special night-vision binoculars to watch the exotic animals roaming on the property grounds. It was neat! We saw wildebeests, gazelles, birds, bunnies and giraffes and something about watching these animals through night-vision binoculars made our experience even more special.   


The next morning, we were pleasantly surprised to find animals right outside our balcony. We knew there were animals on property, but we didn't expect to see them directly outside our hotel room. Lindsay and I sat on the balcony and took in the morning sunshine while we waited for Sleeping Beauty - aka: Tory - to wake up for the day. Once she did, we stopped for a quick breakfast at The Mara, a quick-service restaurant at Animal Kingdom Lodge, to grab yogurts and fruit before hopping on the Disney shuttle bus to Epcot.



Lindsay chose Epcot as our first park to visit because it's the home of Elsa and Anna, and the new Frozen ride. Forget Mickey and Minnie; Tory is all about the Disney princesses so our goal was to meet as many of those characters as we could. Lindsay made us reservations for a princess breakfast at Akershus Royal Banquet Hall so we'd have a chance to see several right away.




Neither Lindsay or I were sure what to expect at the princess storybook dining experience. A waiter seated us, took our drink orders and invited us to fill our plates at the breakfast buffet displayed in another room. We did as such, and returned to our table to find one Disney princess after another parading by our table. It was a little overwhelming! Tory was literally speechless as Aurora from Sleeping Beauty greeted her first. "You seem a little sleepy yourself this morning," she told Tory. I think she didn't know what to think, and neither did Lindsay or I. Ariel came by the table next, then Snow White and Cinderella, and slowly Tory warmed up to the idea of meeting the princesses and having her picture taken with each of them.



It was next to impossible to eat anything because there's was so much commotion at our table. Boy, was it sweet though! Tory was wide-eyed in amazement as each princess came over to speak with her. Our favorite was Ariel who commented how similar Tory's Jasmine outfit was to her own dress. "I'm not sure what to call this flouncy stuff," she said as she lifted the fabric on her dress. "Human stuff."

After our second breakfast of the morning, we walked around the big lake in the center of Epcot to  visit the different "countries" there. I rented a stroller for Tory upon Lindsay's suggestion, and I'm so glad I did. Our trip would've been a lot of walking for Tory, and I was thankful I didn't have to carry her. (I rented through Orlando Strollers, by the way, and it was super easy. The stroller was waiting for me at the hotel concierge desk when we arrived and I simply dropped it off there when we were done with it. Easy!)

We had an hour until our FastPass reservation for the Frozen-themed ride, so we decided to take a chance and hop in the line to meet Elsa and Anna. We'd checked the day prior, and knew the line got to be pretty long for this attraction, so Lindsay thought it best to do right away if we wanted to meet them. Luckily, we only had to wait for about 20 minutes until we had the chance to meet them.

Tory had the "meeting princesses" thing down by the time we saw Elsa and Anna. She embraced each one in a great big hug and seemed absolutely amazed to be standing in their presence. I appreciated how each of the Disney princesses were in a private meeting room so it was quiet from outside noise. It felt like you had their undivided attention for those few minutes. 



In Epcot's China, we stopped to have Tory's face painted. My sweet girl didn't ask for one plastic trinket during our entire Disney trip (not that she couldn't have; my Magic Band was ready and willing to spoil her rotten that weekend!) so I thought face painting would be a fun and unique treat.



Lindsay wanted an Oktoberfest beer in Epcot's Germany but we were all so full from our two breakfasts that morning, we couldn't possible dream of eating something more. We continued through the villages until it was time for our first FastPass at the Frozen ride.

I'm a Disney newbie, so I didn't really understand the whole FastPass line thing - so glad Lindsay knew what to do. We used a Disney park app on our phone to check wait times for rides, locate restaurants and restrooms, and keep track of the FastPass selections we'd made. (For any Disney newbies like me, FastPasses allow you to skip the line for popular rides. You only get a few of these during our park visit.)

The Frozen line was really long, so we were glad to scoot right to the beginning. The employee asked the three of us if we wanted to sit in the front of the boat, and we say "absolutely!" even though I wasn't completely sure how Tory would react to the ride. 


She ... wasn't the biggest fan. The Frozen ride wasn't scary at all, but it was dark, the boat traveled backwards for a portion of the ride and went down a small hill which she didn't appreciate. "Scary!" was her exact phase in this photo. (It wasn't.)

Afterward, we continued to wander through the various countries. Tory enjoyed an ice cream cone from France's L'Artisan des Glaces, and Lindsay eventually did get a German beer from one of the stands we passed.  


We stopped in Morocco and learned Jasmine was there! There was only a 10-minute line, so we had to meet her. After all, Tory wore her Princess Jasmine costume to Disney that day. 


The three of us walked over to Future World on the other side of Epcot for a chance to ride Soarin.' Tory's school friend had told her about this ride, so she was determined to ride it. We didn't have a FastPass for this one, so we waited in line for an hour to ride it. It was ... long. Fortunately, was content to watch the PBS App on my phone while we waited, and Lindsay and I had a fun time catching up with each other. 

Tory did NOT like the Soarin' ride - surprise, surprise! In her defense, it probably was too much of a thrill for a five-year-old. Lindsay and I loved it though. It felt like we were hang gliding through some of the most breathtaking landmarks and sights in the world.

We walked outside the complex after the ride was over and nearly had a heart attack when we discovered our stroller was missing! It wasn't in the "stroller parking spot" we'd left it, and Lindsay and I both started to panic. We hadn't left any valuables in it, but it did have our coats and water bottles -- not to mention I didn't take out the insurance on the rental. Fortunately, we found it a few minutes later parked in another spot along the rail. Someone had moved it apparently. Oy. 

Tory snapped this pic of the Epcot ball as we pushed our way to the park exit. Isn't it great? She's becoming quite the photographer.  
 


Around 5:00pm, we decided to head back to Animal Kingdom Lodge for the campfire and s'mores party. Of course, the shuttle ride took longer than expected and we missed the s'mores by 10 minutes. Tory was disappointed because s'mores are her favorite dessert on the planet, but she managed her disappointment well. I was impressed! We decided to have dinner at the hotel's Sanaa restaurant. We didn't have a reservation, but the kind staff made a place for us.

The food was African-Indian themed, and really tasty! Lindsay and I ordered a appetizer of seasoned Naan breads with nine sauce accompaniments to start, and I think we'd forgotten we hadn't had anything to eat all afternoon. We scarfed down that plate of bread and still had room for our ethnic entrees. Tory had a cheeseburger and fries for her meal (very thankful every restaurant had kid food) and she even got her s'mores / dirt cake dessert in the end.


  
The three of us were exhausted after dinner, so we retired to our hotel room and went to bed. We had a great first day at Disney's Epcot Theme Park. Next up -- Magic Kingdom!

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

The BEST Winter Day

Summer is on it's way!

Or, at least it feels like it this past week. Our Minnesota / Wisconsin weather has been unseasonably warm, and I'd be lying if I said I haven't enjoyed every minute. Sunshine and lots of time outdoors has the entire state population exhaling a big sigh of relief.

Alas, summer is most definitely NOT on its way. It's the end of February and there's still many cold (and probably snowy!) weather days left in March and April. Maybe even May ... though, goodness, I hope not.

When my friend Mirjam and I picked a day for her family to join us at the lake cabin for ice fishing, we never would've guessed the weather would be what it was last weekend. The forecast called for temperatures in the low 60's which had Andi and I worried about the condition of the ice. Would we still be able to go fishing at all? Fortunately, the ice was still 14 inches thick on our lake which meant it was safe to walk on and drive the Ranger UTV.

Mirjam, her husband Markus, and their kiddos Elia (3) and Lynn (6 months) arrived early Saturday morning and Andi and Markus quickly got to work drilling holes in the ice. We planned to have a "tip-up party" and set up lines all around the bay in front of our cabin. That way, the kids could run around and play, and everyone would be able to enjoy the warm weather together. Mirjam said she'd envisioned ice fishing as us all huddled together in our fish shack - and we could've done that - but this much more fun with lots of people, and especially with kids.

Right away, the fish started biting which was exciting for our friends to experience. Weather conditions play a huge factor in fishing, and the warm temperatures kept the fish active. "Fish, fish!" the kids would scream as they ran toward each vertical flag waving in the air.


  
The top layer of the ice was like a pool of water, and the kids were soaking wet in no time. Fortunately, it didn't seem to bother them much. Tory led Elia on an exploration of one of the state-owned islands on the lake, and they all had fun chipping away the ice to discover treasures (aka: leaves and sticks) once frozen in place.


Andi started a bonfire in our yard, and we all gathered around for lunch. I made shredded pork, broccoli slaw and a black bean salad for everyone, and Mirjam brought homemade grissini (Italian breadsticks) and sinfully delicious lemon bars. As we sat around the fire and listened to the kids running around, laughing, and playing "firefighters," we all commented at least a dozen times how wonderful it was to be outdoors. Such a perfect day!

After lunch, we made s'mores and hot chocolate for the kids which is Tory's very favorite thing to do at the cabin. It was absolutely quiet for at least a minute while Tory, Aden and Elia sat in their kiddie chairs and enjoyed their treat.



Andi had the idea to take the kids tubing on the ice, so he pulled out our summer boating tube from under the deck and tied it to the back of the ATV. It seemed like a crazy idea at first, but the kids had SO MUCH FUN, how could I say no? "Faster! Faster!" Elia and Tory screamed between squeals of joy. Fairly certain the neighbors thought we were crazy.




We capped off our day with a fish fry. Nothing better than eating freshly caught fish from your lake! This day will be one we remember for a long time - such an awesome day with friends!

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Stitch Fix #20

I had the same stylist for my first 12+ Fixes, and she was amazing. She seemed to understand what I liked and what I didn't, and rarely sent me something I didn't keep. At the time, I was transitioning into regular clothes following my pregnancy with Aden and I owned very few pieces that made me feel beautiful. Stitch Fix definitely helped fill that void in my closet and my confidence level.
Then, one month my beloved girl suggested I try another stylist. I don't know if she was bored styling me or what (?!) but the next time I ordered I was assigned a new person. It was never really the same after that. My body size also continued to change, and the clothing fit seemed 'off' no matter how many times I updated my profile.

Eventually, I broke up with Stitch Fix.

Earlier this month, I got an email from Stitch Fix offering to waive the $20 styling fee if I'd schedule a shipment. Why not? I figured I'd give it a try again.

Now, I need opinions! What should I keep?

Here's what I received:

MIA Emerson Tassel Zip Bootie


While these booties were cute, they were way too big - obviously. The floor angle of this photo actually makes it look like I'm a kid wearing her mother's shoes! No question here - RETURN

41Hawthorn Shara Herringbone Vest

This vest is my favorite piece from this box, I think. I like wearing vests, especially in transitional seasons like fall and spring and this one is cute and comfortable. KEEP 

Just Black Judy Scissor Cut Skinny Jeans

I really like Stitch Fix jeans - like, they're the main reason I'm still interested in their company. All of the jeans I wear are from Stitch Fix; they fit me well and hold up between washings. Except ... for the one pair of Just Black maroon-colored skinny jeans I bought in my last box. Those colored jeans fit fine initially, but stretch out super quick and I find myself pulling up the waistband all day long.

This pair of skinny jeans are exactly like those - thinner material and very stretchy. No question on this item - RETURN

41Hawthorn Kassidy Faux Wrap Dress

I requested an Easter-appropriate dress in my style notes for this shipment, and here's what I received. I like this dress. It fits me well and modestly covers my bust, which is usually my issue with wrap dresses. I wouldn't say I'm in love with this dress, or would wear it often, but it would be nice to own a nice dress for church or special occasions. KEEP or RETURN - what do you think?

Skies are Blue Charlene Button Down Cotton Top

My initial reaction to this button-down shirt was NO. Honestly, it's not really my style. Then, I tried it on and looked at the photo I snapped on my camera and thought, "hmmmm." It definitely looked better than I thought it did. Cute, even! What do you think? Definitely everyday casual which fits my mom-life ... but does it look like I'm about ready to paint a bedroom? KEEP or RETURN - what do you think? 

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Valentine's Day Chocolate Superfood Bites

I'm always on the hunt for healthy sweets and treats I can feel good about eating and with Valentine's Day around the corner, I thought I'd share one of my favorite indulgences -- chocolate superfood bites.


One of the first things new fitness challengers usually say to me is, "I have a sweet tooth, so I need to find a solution for that." The awesome thing about the 21 Day Fix / Portion Fix Eating Plan is that you can still have chocolate, cookies and muffins - you just have to plan for them! Also, it's important they're made with the cleanest ingredients possible and these chocolate superfood bites fit the bill.

These treats taste sinfully delicious and satisfy that craving for chocolate we all get sometimes. They're also easy to make and look so fancy! Here's how to make them:

Start by assembling your favorite nuts, seeds and dried fruits. You don’t need much in quantity for this recipe, so hit up the bulk food section of the grocery store or scour your pantry to gather ingredients. I used pistachios, cranberries, dried blueberries, slivered almonds and unsweetened coconut flakes. For the chocolate, I used a bar of Ghirardelli Intense Dark Chocolate (look for chocolate with 70% cacao or higher).

Heat chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl on 50% power in 1 minute increments until melted. Then spoon melted chocolate onto a parchment-lined baking sheet and immediately top with chopped nuts and dried fruit. Pop the tray in the refrigerator when you’ve finished to let the chocolate harden. Store leftover chocolate superfood bites in the refrigerator.

How sweet would it be to receive these handmade chocolates for Valentine’s Day?

Recipe adapted from the Beachbody Blog

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Letters to Tory: Five Years!

And, just like that - my big girl turned F-I-V-E this past August. Somehow time slipped away from me (hello, she's basically 5 1/2 years now!) and I have yet to write about her birthday celebration or her many milestones at this stage in life. There's so much to say, I fear I won't capture the awesomeness that is Age Five ... but here's goes nothin'.

Dear Tory,

You are FIVE, little girl! How in world did this happen? As you remind me whenever we discuss you growing older, you'll always be my baby girl -- even when you're 16. I know this to be true, but it doesn't make change any easier on this mama's heart.

Age Five is wonderful. Dare I say, the best? You are so fun to be around these days. Your knowledge and thirst for learning is inspiring; your humor, witty and your love for others, infectious.


No trace of baby is left in your appearance; these days, you're grown up as grown up can be (at least, it seems that way to me). Your long legs stretch on forever sticking out of your swimming suit this summer. You're now wearing 5T clothes, size 9 shoes and weigh about 34 pounds. Still a peanut in comparison to your peers, though. At your five-year check-up, you measured in the 14% for height and weight.

Developmentally, you've changed so much in the year. One of the most notable things about this age is the ability to reason with you. You might not always like the answer, but you understand why thing happen the way they do. You're also very responsible and understand/follow rules around you.


You're in Pre-Kindergarten this year, and absolutely thriving in the classroom. I wouldn't say school is challenging you academically (truthfully, you're super ready for kindergarten) but you love your classmates and idolize your teacher, Ms. Jessica. Every afternoon, in fact, you come home and draw dozens of pictures to take to your teacher the next day. You have your whole life ahead to focus on concentrated learning, so I'm pleased this year you're developing a love for the classroom. You're so excited for kindergarten to start that you remind me often you'll be just fine at school all day and that you'll "send me letters" so I won't miss you.


Drawing is one of your favorite activities. You mostly freestyle hearts, flowers, rainbows and portraits of our family. Without fail, every afternoon you come up to me and ask, "So, Mom, do you have a craft idea?" I'd better have one up my sleeve, too! One of our big kitchen drawers is plump full of stickers, paper, scissors, glue and markers. All of those items can keep you occupied for hours.


My favorite part of your drawings is the way you sign your name - "Tory Mom." In your eyes, we're like one person, like you couldn't possibly be you without me. I know it won't be like this forever, so I commit those little pieces of art to memory (and usually snap a photo of them) so I can remember this stage forever.

You still very much enjoy playing with your dollhouse and Barbies. When we're at the cabin, you're a tom-boy through and through. You have no problem touching worms and minnows, love to collect rocks, to fish, snowmobile and ride the ATV. I have no doubt you'll be driving the boat by the end of summer! Really, you thrive in nature. Wild Kratts is one of your favorite television shows and your knowledge about animals and other creatures is astounding.  

 

You've very compassionate, tenderhearted and a Mother Hen to Aden. When you're feelings are hurt, you'll often retreat to your bedroom to be alone for a while ... and almost always fall asleep in there which tells me you were tired and emotional to begin with. I often tell you you're "in charge" of Aden when I'm leaving the room for a minute, and you're very good at keeping things in order. When Dad and I have been away for a few overnights, I never worry because you know exactly how things function in our home.

Strangers often compliment you on your politeness and cooperation. This makes my mama heart happy, especially because your brother can be a little crazy! As grown-up as you appear, you quick to remind me you're still five-years-old. The baby talk stage has begun which can be a little annoying (sorry, it's true!) as well as when you refer to yourself in the third person. I know it's a stage, so I try to ignore it the best I can.    

Another funny thing you do recently is sneak into our bed at night (which is a no-no) and then roll out sneaky as a mouse before we realize you're there. Your feet hit the ground and then you pop up like you just arrived. We can't help but laugh, as deceitful as it might be.


You worship the ground Grandma walks on, and still have many "best friends" including Ryan from school, Ashley in Kentucky and Hannah at the cabin. You're also especially fond of our condo neighbor, Jenn, who lives on the floor above us. Life with you, Tory, is always joyful. Age Five is shaping up to be a great year!



------

On your fifth birthday, I asked you the same set of questions I do every year on your special day. Here's how you responded (8/30/2016):

1. How old are you today? Five

2. Where do you live? Minnesota

3. What is your favorite thing to do with Daddy? Go on adventures with him

4. What is your favorite thing to do with Mommy? Do crafts and play games

5. What is your favorite thing to do with Aden? Play with him

6. What is your favorite color? Pink and purple and yellow and turquiose

7. Who is your best friend? Ashley (from Kentucky), Deanna (our cabin neighbor), Mom, Dad and Aden

8. What is your favorite book? Cinderella

9. What is your favorite food to eat? Cheese

10. What is your favorite thing to play? With my favorite baby

11. Where is your favorite place to go? The pool

12. What is your favorite song? I made up this song called Mary Sista and it goes like this ...

13. If you could buy anything at the store, what would it be? Cupcakes

14. What is your favorite animal? Giraffes and piglets

15. What would you like to be when you grow up? A ballerina teacher

16. What do you want to do on your birthday? Go to the State Fair

Love you, Tory Bean!