Monday, October 31, 2011

Tory's 1st Halloween

Neither Andi or I are big Halloween fans, but we couldn't resist dressing up our little 'pumpkin' this year! It didn't much matter to me what she dress up as and since it was a PRETTY BIG DEAL to my friend Ellie, she selected this adorable chili pepper costume for Tory.

Little Miss Chili Pepper has some room to grow in her costume, but it's still cute nonetheless.

My mom also gave her this "My First Halloween" outfit she's sporting today.We took a few pictures outside with her very first pumpkin she picked out at the patch. She makes that regular 'ole pumpkin look enormous in size!

Happy Halloween!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Chloe Pup: Life with a Baby

My first baby hasn't gotten much play these days. All of a sudden, Tory Bean has stolen all the attention in our house. One day Chloe was the center of our world and the next day she wasn't. Poor thing.

Our friends and family often ask how Chloe's adjusting to life with a newborn and I have to say, she's been a good sport about it all. After having exclusive attention for 6 years, I wasn't sure how she'd adjust to sharing the spotlight. Chloe isn't Tory's biggest fan but she doesn't bother her either -- which is a big plus in bringing a new baby into the home with a pet. She's given Tory a sniff or two over the last two months, but otherwise stays her distance. Which is fine with me - I don't have to worry about Chloe messing with Tory if I leave the room for a minute.

Surprisingly, Chloe's become much more social to OTHER PEOPLE now that Tory's here. I think she realizes attention from Mom and Dad is limited so she better soak up any love she can get elsewhere. She seems less afraid of other dogs and thankful anytime we include her in an activity such as taking out the trash or taking a "once around" the neighborhood.

As much as Chloe may not love Tory, she supports her. Chloe follows me to the living room every single night for feedings and keeps me company in the wee hours of the night. If I'm pacing the room with the baby, she often follows along at my feet. When I take Tory to her nursery to be changed, Chloe follows us in there and lays patiently on the floor beside the crib.

Life with a baby is definitely different for a dog. I think she's coming around to Tory in her own way. Little does she realize, about the time she warms up to having a baby, Tory will be chasing her around the house!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Finding Mary Poppins

Child care. Now there's a topic no new mother wants to talk about, namely: me. 

Andi and I've been going back and forth since July about who should watch Tory when I go back to work. My first choice would be NO ONE BUT ME, which is neither productive or helpful. I'm lucky as it is to be going back to work part-time and honestly, I am looking forward to having a good balance between work and family life. So, finding the right caregiver is a necessity; I've just preferred to pull the covers over my head and pretend I didn't have to do it until now. 

Back in July, we toured a Montessori school we really liked. It's a tad on the pricey side of things, especially for an infant who basically eats, sleeps and wiggles, but eventually would prove value-added when she's a toddler and beyond. The Montessori school offers part-time care, but the center director wasn't super stoked about families who choose that option. She mumbled something about consistency for the teachers and child as being the reason, but I suspect she also likes the bigger paycheck associated with full-time families. Speaking of the center director, she was the only 'negative' I saw about the entire experience there. I didn't find her particularly friendly, but Andi said he didn't catch that vibe so maybe it was just me? She runs the center, but wouldn't be Tory's direct teacher so I'm not too concerned about her personality. We toured another center near our house and it was a real dump, so if we went the center-route, the Montessori school would be our choice.

Andi suggested we hire a nanny instead. Since I'll only be working 3 days a week, this option would be cheaper (although not by much) and more flexible. We wouldn't have to pay for child care when we take vacations, and may even find someone to travel with us. Andi posted the job on a local nanny website and we were immediately flooded with applicants. I started coresponding with a few candidates this week and there's a wide range of people who've applied. Seriously, I'm surprised at the way some people describe themselves! Spell check is your friend, people. If you can't spell, you won't be able to teach my child to either. Andi and I have gone back and forth with pros and cons to hiring someone younger (who'll be more flexible in scheduling, but less experienced) or someone older (many who are former teachers, but demand more money).  In the end, I think it all depends on the person. We'll know when we meet her, I'm sure.

Since a nanny seems to be the way we're leaning, I'm relieved I won't have to drag Tory outside in the cold this winter and she'll be exposed to fewer germs. I worry, however, she won't get enough social interaction by being home with a nanny all day. I want to find someone who interacts with her, talks to her and teaches her new things. How do I monitor that? I don't know. I'm relieved I'll be home with her 2 days a week and at least I know she's getting that attention when I'm there.

It's so hard letting go and trusting someone else with her care. I know every parent goes through this ... I only wish it were easier!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Nana and Papa Visit

As much as I love living in the Twin Cities, I hate how many miles there are between my parents and I. No matter how many visits we plan, it never seems like enough time together. Fortunately, life is busy with holidays, birthdays and family get-togethers, we usually see each other every month or two.

On Friday afternoon, my parents and niece Brooke drove up from Nebraska for the weekend. They arrived around 8pm, just in time to get a few snuggles in with Tory before bedtime. I was so excited for them to see how much she's grown since their last visit in August.

When we originally planned this weekend visit, my parents were going to watch Tory for us while we went to the Nebraska vs. Gopher football game. But, as luck would have it, we didn't get tickets. It turned out better that way anyway; I loved having the time to spend with my family.

It's adorable to see Brookie and Tory together. Brooke felt so proud to hold her, asking us a million times if she was holding her correctly. Awesome for my mom to see her grand-childen together for the very first time.

Andi took Brookie outside to run off some energy and snapped some great shots of this spunky girl!

It's taken me all these years to realize my parents do not want a whirlwind tour of Minnesota when they come to visit. There's far too little time on their weekend trips to squeeze in activities all over the city. This weekend, we never even left the house - except for a quick trip to Target (because there's always time for that!). We also stopped at the new FroYo shop by our house for a little Saturday evening treat. Brookie loved customizing her own bowl.

My heart always hurts BIG TIME after a visit from my family. It gets easier with time, and soon it'll be time to see them again.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Tory - 8 Weeks

Tory - 8 weeks (2 months)

Letters To Tory: Two Months


You're eight weeks old, baby girl! I can hardly believe how much you've changed and grown in the few short weeks we've known you. You're becoming more aware of your surroundings every day and now able to distinguish Mommy's and Daddy's voices from across the room. You look all around when you hear us talk to you and thoroughly enjoy the evening dance parties we have together as we listen to country music and pace the living room floor. At 6 weeks, you found your hands and love to suck on them, especially when you're tired. You've discovered your tongue and can be seen sticking it in and out as you learn how to make it work. You've started to enjoy the bright lights and sounds on your activity mat and most recently, you've begun to flash us that beautiful gummy smile of yours.

Tory Girl, you continue to be an excellent baby, eating every three hours on the dot and sleeping in three hour stretches at night. You've had a few restful slumbers from 9:00pm - 3:00am and while you're not consistently sleeping through the night, Mommy is thankful any time you come close! We moved you from the bassinet beside our bed to your crib this month, and surprisingly you didn't balk at the transition. Daddy often says we should record the grunts and hums you make in your sleep because they are so darn cute (but also very disturbing when you were in the same room with us).

As easy going as you are, there are a few things you are very particular about. Your car seat, for one, is not your favorite thing. We've tried listening to the car radio, turning the music off, sitting in the back seat with you, talking to you and ignoring you, but nothing seems to work. You're not happy being strapped into your car seat and you're sure to let everyone know it. Also, your bouncy seat is one of your favorite places to hang out, but you only like it if someone's bouncing it by hand. The vibrating motion is not enough and somehow you can sense the moment we stop bouncing it for you - even if you're in a deep sleep.

This was a big month for you as you traveled to two new states! At 4 weeks old, Mommy and Daddy took you on your very first trip to San Diego. You were an excellent traveler on the plane ride there and back, sleeping the entire way. Although you spent much of the trip inside a hotel room with Grandma Janie while Mommy and Daddy attended a wedding, we did take you to the ocean for the first time and hiking at Blacks Beach.

At 6 weeks old, we took you to our Wisconsin lake cabin for the weekend. We visited an orchard farm and picked out your first fall pumpkin. It was also your first time seeing the lake - our very favorite place to be in the summertime!

Just last week, Nana, Papa and Brooke came to visit you. We've taken to nicknaming you Tory Bean for one reason or another, and Brookie thought it was the silliest thing. "Hi Tory Beans!" she'd say to you, over and over again. You girls are going to have so much fun growing up together.

Tory, I can barely remember what life was like before you made me your mama. The feeling of completeness you've given me warms my heart and I look forward to spending every day with you as I discover your bright, shining personality.


Monday, October 24, 2011

Never Grow Up

Tory -

Daddy's back at it ... he made another video of you!

You can tell you're our only child; we have a gazillion photos of you and had the hardest time narrowing it down to just a few. We're amazed at how much you've changed over the last seven weeks. You're so loved, little girl, so loved.

Friday, October 21, 2011


Have you seen this commercial?

Andi flipped open his computer the other day, played this commercial for me and nearly burst into tears. Having Tory has had the greatest affect on him; he's a different person - a better person - since he became a dad seven short weeks ago.

This time last year, Andi was a little apprehensive about starting a family. I really wanted to try for a baby and he wasn't so sure he was ready. It's not that he didn't want to have kids someday; he just wasn't sure he was ready for that moment to be now. We were living in our own little bubble as my mom liked to say, traveling and entertaining ourselves in whatever way we pleased. With a few tears (on my part) and many conversations later, he decided he was ready. Ten-ish months later, here we are today: parents to our Tory Girl.


Throughout my pregnancy, I imagined Andi to be really hands-on. I thought he'd gently touch my belly, talk to it and want to feel close to the baby just as I did. But he rarely did, and I'd be lying if I said I wasn't a little offended by it. Why wasn't he as excited about the baby growing inside me as I was? Hindsight tells me he was; he just had a different way of showing it. First-time dads (not all I assume, but some) aren't as sure what to expect when it comes to pregnancy and fatherhood. And because Andi wasn't experiencing the symptoms and pregnancy feelings I was, I think it was hard for him to relate.

This took place up to the minute our baby girl was born. The man who didn't want anything to do with the physical aspects of labor or cutting the baby's umbilical cord was suddenly right there in the thick of it, without a second hesitation. And he's never been the same since.

What I love so much about watching Andi become a dad is the way he interacts with Tory. It's different  than the way I talk to her, hold her, or flatter her with attention. I guess that's why having both a motherly and fatherly influence in her life is so important. I try my best to hold back when he doesn't do things exactly as I would (sorry honey if it doesn't always seem that way!). When I can get out of my own way long enough to listen to them together, it melts my heart. He truly is the best father my daughter could ask for.

Mostly, I wanted to jot down this special transformation here in our life's journal. I'm anxious to watch their relationship unfold as Tory grows older and develops more of her personality. I can't wait for the day Andi teaches her how to ski for the first time or how to ride her bicycle. I'm sure he'll be the "fun-er parent" but uber protective too. I hope she has his supreme negotiation skills and street smarts (although I'm sure that'll come back to bite me later!). It's exciting to see parts of him shine brightly inside her.

We're both so lucky to have him.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Tory's 1st Trip to the Cabin

Andi and I took Tory to our Wisconsin lake cabin for the first time this weekend. We were a little nervous for the drive there and back (even though it's a short 1.5 hour trip) because she HATES her car seat and screams to high heavens every time she's in it for longer than a few minutes. Aside from a freak out crying burst at mid-point each way, the trip went very smoothly and we were able to enjoy some quality family time, just the three of us.

Friday night, Andi grilled steaks and steamed artichokes and we snuggled up in front of the fire to catch up on our favorite fall television shows. These days, our evenings usually consist of dance parties in the living room (aka: pacing the floors with a baby who wants to walk around the house ALL. THE. TIME.) which doesn't leave much room for must-see tv. For some reason that night, Tory was content to sleep through the evening, so long as one of us held her. Her earlier-than-usual 7pm bedtime was nice at first until mama was up all night long with a bad case of engorgement and no breast pump. Not fun and very little sleep for me. It was the first time I was actually thankful when Tory woke up at 3am to eat!

After breakfast on Saturday morning, we piled into the car to adventure rural Wisconsin. Andi stopped by an auto dealer to check on our wakeboard boat for sale, then we visited Nature's Select Apple Orchard and Pumpkin Patch. We snapped a few photos and picked out her very first pumpkin!

Tory - 6 Weeks

We spent the rest of the afternoon taking Chloe for a walk around the cabin and visiting with the cabin neighbors. A perfect fall weekend!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Working Mama

When I was a little kid, I told my parents I was leaving their small town the first chance I got and never looking back. I had big dreams to flee to New York and become a television broadcaster. I imagined having it all; a uber successful career, a handsome husband and a few kiddos too. Because I always knew I wanted to be a mom; I just never imagined trading in one dream for another.

It's funny how we grow up and our dreams evolve into something completely new. What I once thought was the picture perfect life isn't even close to the life I lead today. It's a million times better than I could've imagined it to be. To say I'm blessed is an understatement.


As I got older (and realized only Diane Sawyer-types make big time bucks as a tv journalist), I knew being a mother would be the single most important thing I'd do in my life. And the minute I became pregnant I also knew I didn't want to miss a minute of it. From poopy diapers and first steps to PTA meetings; the desire to become a stay-at-home mom came over me. That dream, though, didn't come without a few hesitations. I often worried I wouldn't be as interesting to my husband if I'm not the career woman he married. I stressed about losing my edge in the marketing world if I ever decided to get back into it or worse, losing who I am as Heather The Person to someone named Heather The Mom.

Over the last few months, Andi and I have muled over this topic a gazillion times. Could we continue to live our life on only one income? And do we really want to? How would we manage health care? What would happen if something goes South with Andi's business and we find ourselves without any income at all?

As we toured daycare centers and other childcare possibilities, we determined a work / life balance was key for me in going forward. With the insane amount of pressure, travel and general work load of Andi's business, it's imperative one parent be available to keep our home life afloat. So, on Friday I made an appointment with my boss to discuss my options. I explained my reasoning and asked if she'd be willing to restructure my position to part-time to better accommodate my new family's needs. And to my relief, she was so supportive! She agreed to alter my position to 3 days a week so I can still maintain my career while assuming the role of a stay-at-home (sometimes) mom. I'm still in shock; I can hardly believe how fortunate I am to enjoy the best of both worlds.

Suddenly, I'm excited to return to work and dive back into tasks that stimulate my brain. And even more, I'm thankful for the opportunity to watch Tory grow up before my very eyes. I can't think of a better arrangement for our family and I'm grateful for my husband who's willing to work a little harder so I can live out this dream of mine.

Pinch me. Life just can't get any better.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Birth Control: To Be or Not To Be

A few days after I had Tory, I received a call from my OBGYN clinic inviting me to schedule a 6-week postpartum check-up. I happily did so over the phone (because I absolutely HATE doing things like calling to make appointments - I know, weird but for some reason I get all anxious-pants when I have to call and check into things, make appointments, etc. and I procrastinate until the very last minute. It drives my husband crazy).

Anyway ... while on the phone, the nurse asked what birth control method I was considering and I found this a little odd, to be honest. What business is it of the clinic's? Plus, this was the second time in a few days (as I had just been discharged from the hospital) someone had asked me about birth control methods post-baby. The other time was the morning after delivery when one of the attending physicians asked me in the hospital. I had to wonder - is the medical field that hard up for money they want me to jump back on birth control (specifically with a costly IUD, which is what both of them suggested in our conversations) or is it procedurally required they recommend birth control following a baby for health reasons (ie: to eliminate the risk of having multiple pregnancies back-to-back)?

To be honest, I wasn't sure what method was best for us. I'd been on The Pill (Ortho Try-Cyclen's generic) since I was 16 (not because I was sexually active, but because my parents felt it better to be prepared than to have a teenager with an unplanned pregnancy). So that was that and I never had any issues with it, or taking The Pill daily for that matter, for the lengthy 15 years I was on it.

It wasn't until Andi and I were ready to start trying for baby I realized how altering birth control is to a woman's body. Last November, I went off The Pill and started following the Fertility Awareness Method (FAM) by taking my temperature every morning and charting it as so to predict ovulation. We were one of the lucky ones; a month later, I was pregnant.

One thing I realized when observing the Fertility Awareness Method (or rather, just going off birth control all together) was just how much I didn't know about my own body. I vaguely remember a high school health class or two discussing the female anatomy, but I can't say I ever retained any of that information. I was too busy making googly eyes at the boy sitting next to me! I also didn't realize just how powerful birth control hormones really are. I mean, wow, I took a pill every day for 15 years and never got pregnant. I stopped taking said "pill" for TEN DAYS and got pregnant. Whoa.

So, the big question before me - what birth control method is right for me now? Andi didn't seem to care much other than stressing that I physically BE on some sort of birth control. He isn't ready to put his faith in the FAM method (or in my ability to track ovulation) apparently. This left me to make the decision on my own and part of me felt scared to resume the entrance of such powerful, artificial hormone(s) into my body. But ... and that's a big BUT ... the other part of me is really nervous to get pregnant again. I know we'll have another baby someday, but I'm not ready for that day to be today.  Likely I would have a hard time conceiving anyway since I'm nursing, but I know this can't be relied on either.

After talking it over with my doctor, I decided to get the Mirena IUD. I hope I made the right decision. Everything sounded peachy when I was at the appointment and the little IUD was conveniently laying on the table, ready to be inserted. I liked the idea of not having periods (or very little) and the idea of not having to run to the pharmacy every month (again, I HATE calling things in and I always find myself scrambling at the last second to pick up my prescription). She made it sound so simple - when we'd like to try for another baby I just make an appointment, she removes the IUD and we're ready to start trying.

Isn't it funny how you hear about something EVERYWHERE you turn when it's happening in your life? Like breaking up with a boyfriend only to see his car or hear his name mentioned in every conversation. I've heard such negative press about the IUD since my appointment. And, uh, too late - I already got it. Some say it's the most painful procedure to have completed (although I hardly felt any pain at all - this is because I'm postpartum and my cervix is still soft) and how many crazy side effects people had once on it (mood swings, depression, etc). It's all making me very nervous to have entered into the world of birth control again.

Seriously, how did guys get off so easy?

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Flub

I never thought I'd say this, but postpartum clothes wearing is 17 million times WORSE than pregnancy wear. I have absolutely nothing to wear these days. I still have 10 pounds to lose to be back to pre-pregnancy weight (14 according to my doctor's scale and seriously, is SOMEONE going to fix that scale? It always reads heavy!). Not to mention my stomach is all sorts of, well, poochy. I find it funny how I thought my stomach was poochy before I was pregnant and now I realize I was smoking crack. That was not poochy, this is poochy and come to think of it, it's not all that funny after all.

Coupled with the fact that I gave myself absolutely no wiggle room in the sizing department pre-pregnancy, I have nothing in my closet that fits. Worse than not being able to close my jeans at all, I can squeeze into them and find myself sporting a glamorous muffin-top stomach instead. It's been unseasonably warm around here lately and somewhere between the move and not buying regular clothes for a year because I was preggo, I have no shirts that aren't t-shirts. It's apparent now that 2009 was a big Target graphic tee year for me and somehow those t-shirts look very adolescent to me now that I'm 30 and a mama.

So, I'm wearing maternity leggings and tank tops like they're going out of style. Which, I guess isn't that big of deal since I'm mostly at home during the day. BUT .... along come special events like the San Diego wedding we just attended or movie premieres like the one Andi asked me to attend with him last night. Have. Nothing. To. Wear.

After a crazy amount of complaining about my situation, Andi came home early yesterday and brought me a $100 Target gift card. "Go shopping" he said, "All by yourself. I've got the baby." I'm pretty sure I was squealing out of the drive-way before he finished his sentence (oh so long ago are the days I was terrified to leave Tory for an hour or two. Wait, that was actually last week, but whatev's).

I went to Target and found a few things I liked. I even tried them on in the store which, whoa, is a pretty big deal for me. I'm usually more in the camp of buying and promising to return the rejected items only to NEVER do as planned and let the crappy purchase hang in my closet un-worn. After trying on 20 items, I found 3 I was pleased enough to purchase. Why though did someone not warn me about dressing room lights and the deadly combination of a nasty linea nigra line down my stomach and my pasty white haven't-seen-the-light-of-a-tanning-bed in 9+ months body? Geez.

While changes to my body are COMPLETELY worth it as they resulted in my beautiful baby girl, it's going to take some getting used to as I settle into my new self image. Breastfeeding melts the pounds they say, and I suppose it has (down 27 pounds since Tory's birth) but WHEN will the rest come off? And how long before I start to feel like ME again? I guess the only bright spot is winter's approach. At least I don't have to sport a bikini anytime soon ....

Monday, October 10, 2011

Things I Love: Newborn Baby Edition

It seems like everyone I know is either trying to become pregnant or currently expecting. Prior to having a baby myself, I often bought baby items I thought were newborn baby essentials for the mama-to-be, but now I know there are a few items I couldn't live without. Here are some of my most utilized and/or favorite baby items thus far:

Boppy Pillow
No item do I use more than my Boppy pillow. It's an awesome compliment to nursing (and therefore used every few hours, every single day) but also helpful for daddy when feeding Tory a bottle too. The only thing I wish I would've received (and ended up buying myself) are additional covers for my Boppy so I can rotate and wash them regularly.

Summer Infant Swaddle Wraps
Before I became a parent myself, I always heard swaddling a baby helped them sleep so much better. And I loved the cuteness factor of Swaddle Designs or similar blankets. I even purchased a few for friends and family members who had babies. But since becoming a mama, I realized my very favorite swaddle blankets were Summer Infant Swaddle Wraps. These stay in place and Tory seems to really find security in being swaddled in them too (even though my mom refers to them as a straight jacket!). Best of all, she SLEEPS better with them vs. wrapped in a standard receiving blanket.

Receiving Blankets
Speaking of blankets, I'm not sure you can ever have enough. We go through TONS of them on a weekly basis because I like to change them out to match her different outfits or if we've been out and about when them (to eliminate germs, etc). I especially like these thermal ones from Gerber, although they've shrunk quite a bit in size since being washed a few times. I also like these Carters stretchy ones, which are nice for swaddling.

Carter's Brand Pajamas
Sure, baby jeans and frilly dresses are cute, but the best clothing I've received are Carter's brand pajamas. Most days, we're hanging out at home and I dress Tory in these sleepers because they seem to fit her body the best. If you were laying around and napping all day, wouldn't you want to hang out in something comfy too?

Little Bamboo Hooded Towel
There's nothing better than wrapping your squiggly little baby in a towel soooo soft to the touch. Plus, it holds up in the wash. 'Nuff said.

Summer Infant Video Monitor
Nothing soothes a worried first-time mama's nerves more than being able to watch her baby sleep. While the picture on this monitor may be reminiscent of the Blair Witch Project (thanks for the spooky ghost reference, Lindsay), it helps me know what she's up to in her nursery. It's stopped me from going into there many times when I think she's awake (based on the squeaking sounds she's making) only to realize she's still fast asleep.


I'm a sucker for personalized gifts and three of my favorites we received are:

Personalized Baby Bible
It's a perfect keepsake and something unique, just for her. The bible cover is a soft pink leather and personalized with her name and birthday. So cute.

Personalized Blanket
My cousin Tara gifted Tory a personalized baby blanket from The Blanket Lady. It's absolutely adorable with her name repeated all throughout. I also love its softness and thickness.

Personalized Frame(s)
Tory received this personalized frame and another one similar to this as gifts. I think they're so special because they're especially made for her. Perfect for her nursery.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Family Traditions: Small Town vs. Big City

One of the best things about becoming a new parent is starting our own family traditions. I was discussing this with Andi the other day and apparently, our two families had very different traditions growing up.

I grew up in a small town and one of our very favorite things to do when we were little was to pack everyone up in the car on Friday or Saturday night and "go for a ride" around town. The whole family would go - my parents, sister, brother and I - and we'd drive around town really slow, looking at houses and talking. Sometimes my dad would make us malts for the road or we'd get to stop at Dairy Queen as a treat. I'd always get a Peanut Buster Parfait; sometimes a Buster Bar. It was so special.

I mentioned this to Andi the other day when he took a wrong turn and we ended up making a loop around our neighborhood area. "This could be our route when we go for rides with Tory!" I said. He thought it was the lamest idea ever.

But it was so fun when were little! Looking back, I'm sure it was a cheap way to get out of the house and keep us kids entertained on a weekend night. But we didn't see it that way, we treated it as an adventure we did together as a family.


Halloween's coming up and I'm excited to start a trick-or-treating tradition with Tory. When we were little kids, we'd trick-or-treat around our neighborhood, then make stops at our relatives' houses showing off our costumes. Our grandparents and aunts and uncles always had special Halloween treats for us. Final destination was our grandparent's house where we'd meet all of our cousins, take pictures in our costumes then head downstairs to dump all of our candy out to see what everyone collected. It never failed - I'd eat so much candy, I'd throw up in the car on the drive home.

I think we'll take Tory over to Grandma Janie's house and Great-Grandma Marion's to show off her costume. But things are a little different here; it's a big city vs. small town and people live farther than a few miles away from each other. It's important to me (and hopefully someday for her) to establish special things our family does together. It doesn't have to be something extravagant or cost money, just something that creates special memories for her when she looks back at her childhood.

What are some of your favorite family traditions?

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Mommy Gifts

Push presents.

What did your hubby spoil you with after you carried his child for 10+ months and painfully delivered that child from your body?

Andi made me this:

He had my baby blog, Baby In The Bubble, made into a keepsake hard-cover book. I love it, I really do. It'll be an awesome token of memories for Tory to read someday and a place for me to relive all the highs and lows of my pregnancy.

While the book shines, it doesn't "sparkle" so I've also been eyeing one of these: stackable birthstone rings. A Mother's Day present, perhaps?

Tory's birthstone is the Peridot (light green stone) and the idea is to add a ring for each subsequent child. I think it's a cool way to honor each baby without being too birthstone tacky. I'm not a big birthstone fan ... unless it's a done in a cool way, of course. 

What other cool "mommy gifts" have you seen or received?

Friday, October 7, 2011

Day In The Life: Fall 2011

Thanks to Navigating the Mothership for hosting another "Day In The Life" blog series. I love doing these every season to document what's new in our life! And obviously since the last one, a lot's new with the addition of Tory Girl to our family.

Thursday, October 6

Baby's awake. I walk into her nursery, change her diaper and head to the living room to nurse her. I don't snap any photos of this because A) it's dark B) it's 2AM. Too much work!

Damn it. Fell asleep in the rocker again. I hate when this happens! Now I only have an hour or so of REAL sleep in a REAL bed until Tory's up again to nurse. And, OUCH. Fairly certain my neck is broken. I lay the baby down in her crib and head to bed myself. I watch the baby monitor for a minute or two to make sure she's asleep.

Baby's awake. Repeat of the 2AM session. I change her diaper, nurse and rock her to sleep. Tory's becoming much more efficient at eating these days and nursing only takes about 15 minutes. Getting a burp out of her is a different story. This time I luck out and she releases one after a few minutes.

Andi's traveling for work this week, and I'm missing him about now. For the last few weeks, he gets up with the baby at the 5AM/6AM feeding and it's REALLY NICE to get a few hours of uninterrupted sleep from 3ish to 7ish.

I lay the baby down in her crib and then lay down myself. She's stirring quite a bit so I say a quick "please, please, please go to sleep baby" plea inside my head. She eventually does just that.

Baby's awake. Repeat of the 2AM/5AM routine. I change her diaper and decide to bring her back to our bedroom to nurse. On most days, Andi's already at work and I turn on the TV to watch the news while I nurse her. Obviously, today doesn't matter since Andi's out of town but I still stick to the same routine.

Tory's still sleepy (and I definitely am too!) so I let her doze on my chest in bed while I watch the news and fall in and out of sleep myself. She isn't sleeping too heavily at this point, and every 10 minutes or so she fusses and then falls back to sleep. I love this snuggle time in the mornings.

Tory's growing tired of laying on my chest and starts to cry. I decide it's time to get up for the day. I take her into the nursery to change her diaper and get her dressed. (Funny how she always looks cute in the morning, but I've yet to brush my teeth!). I pick a pink one-piece from Old Navy for her to wear. She loves to lay on her changing table and stare at the black "Tory" frame on the wall. As soon as I change her clothes though, she starts to cry. She HATES that part.

I lay Tory down on her activity mat and pray she entertains herself so I can go to the bathroom and brush my teeth. And SCORE! She seems happy to lay there by herself for a minute or two.

CRAP! It's Thursday and I forgot to put out the trash and recycling. Usually Andi takes care of this so I totally spaced it. I hear the truck driving up so I haul ass outside and drag ours to the curb.

Tory's screaming her head off when I return inside. She apparently noticed when I left her side for a hot second. Wasn't the nice vibration of her bouncy seat enough to keep her occupied?

I rotate Tory between the activity mat, bouncy seat and rocking her in the glider. She's a little fussy and I know she's tired. JUST GIVE UP BABY! She finally closes her eyes and falls asleep after staring out the window (that's one of her favorite things to do).

I quickly make some toast and a cup of coffee and head back to the rocker so I can pump, scarf down my breakfast and check Facebook / Twitter / email / read blogs. I'm sure I look quite fabulous - I hold the breast pump with my left hand, surf the Internet / eat my toast with my right hand and give her bouncy seat a rock with my left foot. It's called multi-tasking and you do whatcha gotta do.

Andi's mom sends me a text and asks if she can stop by for a bit. YES! I was hoping to take a shower during Tory's next nap time, but now I can for sure squeeze one in when Janie's here.

Baby's awake. I change her pants, nurse her in the rocking chair and burp her. Janie knocks at the door so I get up to let her inside. She wants to hold Tory and I ask if she minds if I jump in the shower while she does.

OH SWEET HEAVEN! A 10 minute shower with no worries, no responsibilities. It's wonderful. One of my favorite things to do after having Tory is to take a shower all by myself. I blow dry my hair, apply makeup, get dressed and put a pile of clothes away in the closet.

Janie's outside in the backyard walking Tory around (it's gorgeous outside today!) so I take advantage and throw a load of laundry in the washer, put away some gift bags I bought at Target the other day, wipe down the counter tops and do the umpteenth round of hand washing breast pump pieces and bottles.

Tory's asleep so I talk with Janie in the living room for a while. She stops by most Thursday mornings and it's nice to have the company to break up the day.

Janie leaves and I move Tory from her bouncy seat to crib, at the risk of waking her up. I'm training her to sleep in her crib this week and it's working really well. Yesterday I packed away her bassinet (Yelp! My baby's growing up so fast!). It's her afternoon nap time and I'd rather her familiarize herself with sleeping in her nursery vs. the bouncy seat. Before I lay her down, I swaddle her up so she sleeps better.

Tory's not very excited about sleeping in her crib this afternoon. We go through several rounds of me laying her down in her crib ... Tory falling asleep ... Tory waking herself up ... me letting her cry for a minute ... me going in there to soothe her back to dreamland ... and repeat. We're following the Baby Wise Parent Demand Feeding method where I follow a routine of feed / awake / sleep time. Part of the theory is training Tory to fall asleep on her own and I'm working REALLY HARD to allow her to do this.

After laying in her crib half-asleep for a few minutes, Tory finally falls asleep. I watch her on the monitor for a minute or two and then make myself some lunch. Usually I have a sandwich, chips and fruit or yogurt but today I re-heat some lasagna from last night's dinner and pair it with a side salad. I usually hate leftovers, but this sounds good to me for some reason.

I eat lunch and surf the Internet for a while. Tory SHOULD sleep for an hour or two based on our schedule so I'm crossing my fingers she's a good lil' baby and plays along today. (Yesterday - not so much).

Baby's still sleeping! I change a load of laundry and start this blog post. With Andi traveling this week, I take advantage of any responsibility-free moment I can get.

BABY'S STILL SLEEPING! I relax and watch some Dr. Phil.

I hear the baby stirring on the monitor and see she's awake. I walk into her nursery to see a very happy, smiley 5-week old. She took a THREE HOUR NAP which is something new she's doing this week. I heart three hour naps. I change her pants and take her out to the sun room to nurse her.

Lindsay (my SIL) sends me a text and says she's on her way over. Was she coming over today? I give her a call. Turns out, she left me a voicemail last week saying she was bringing over dinner tonight. Oops, I  never check my voicemail and never got the message. Nice surprise, nonetheless.

Lindsay knocks at the door. She was in the area for an eye appointment and decided to spend the evening with us. She brought homemade vegetarian chili for dinner with homemade apple sauce for dessert. Sounds awesome.

We chat for a bit in the sun room, then she warms up dinner for me while I burp Tory.

I sit down to eat dinner while she holds the baby. The veggie chili is really tasty and so nice I didn't have to make anything for myself. I also treat myself to a Summit Octoberfest which I've been craving the last few weeks and some cheese and crackers.

Switch - She warms up some leftover lasagna from the fridge (after deciding not to eat chili after all) and I hold the baby.

I change Tory's diaper and warm up a bottle from the fridge. There's about an ounce and a half left from Andi's last feeding with her yesterday and I want to use it up so Lindsay offers to feed her.

Afterwards, I nurse her for the remainder of her feeding. Tory's nice and alert now and listens to us intently as Lindsay and I share some girl talk in the living room. I miss these days. Lindsay and I used to chat a lot more when we lived a few blocks away from each other in St. Paul. We have lots to catch up on today.

I pass Tory off to Lindsay so she can rock her for a while. That is after all, the reason people come over to visit, isn't it? I'm sure it's not just to see me! Tory falls asleep in Lindsay's arms and we continue to chat about life, work, boys (Lindsay's, not mine), etc. She's coming back over on Saturday to hang out and we're planning to make a bunch of freezer meals. We brainstorm various recipes, especially ones with apples and potatoes (not together, of course) because I have an abundance of each from my CSA.

Lindsay lays Tory down in her bouncy seat and gets ready to head home. Tory's wide awake and lays there contently as I check Facebook and rock her bouncy seat with my left hand. I clean up a few things around the house, start the dishwasher and get ready for bedtime.

Time for another nursing session (and I'm beginning to see a pattern here ... that's about all I do these days). I nurse the baby and she begins to fall asleep. Enjoying this quiet moment with her, I read a few pages from my Kindle while she sleeps in my arms.

I transfer Tory to her crib and she stays fast asleep. I fill up two glasses of water for my middle-of-the-night nursing sessions. I'm always so thirsty when I nurse so I need water by the rocking chair in the living room and by my bedside table.

I crawl into bed myself after changing into my pajamas. I'm not very tired, but I know if I don't go to sleep, I'll be sorry tomorrow morning. If Andi were here, he'd turn off the TV and tell me it was time for bed. I hate when he does that, but he's always right. If not, I fall asleep and the TV flickers in our room all night long.

TV off. You're welcome, honey.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

1st Date Night WO Baby

This week, Andi and I went on our first date night since the baby. A very big step in being a parent, I think. I left my baby for two whole hours and didn't bat an eye as I walked out the door. Granted, I left her in the very capable hands of her grandparents ... BUT STILL. Andi and I are in the belief it is important for our marriage to spend time together - just us two - every so often. And further, try not to talk nonstop about our child (this one was hard to do, but I tried).

Believe it or not, I was a little "first date" nervous we wouldn't have anything to talk about. This feeling with the man I've been dating for the last six years. I still feel a little strange about being a SAHM these last few weeks - I worry I will be less interesting to my husband who's stimulated by so many smarty-pants work people and exciting events and clients during his day.

I have no pictures to share of our lovely date night because frankly, we looked pretty disheveled. I didn't bother to re-apply make-up or change my clothes from Tory's doctor's appointment earlier in the day and Andi was wearing his typical workday wear. But it doesn't matter. Quality time was the point and we got it.

We decided to go to dinner (since we rarely eat dinner together anymore - one of us is usually shoving food in our mouth while the other rocks a baby to sleep) and without much of a plan, opted for a place with a patio since it's SO NICE outside this week. Cowboy Jacks near our house it was. Other restaurant suggestions were Mexican or sushi or even Travail (a fancy restaurant which is suppose to have spectacular food) and about five minutes into CJ we realized any of those restaurant choices would've been better than this one. The patio was full of smokers and loud, drunk men discussing hunting with swear words free-flowing all over the place. Andi asked to move us to a table inside where the restaurant was calling BINGO (seating arrangements not much better). Our food was horrible and we only won $6 from the Pickle cards (aka: pull tabs for you Minnesotans) Andi bought for us. It was the first time we missed living in St. Paul since moving to the 'burbs and the plethora of awesome restaurants around there.

Then Andi redeemed our little date night. He pulled into Freeziac, a new frozen yogurt place by our house. After customizing our frozen yogurt dishes, Andi took me to Target for a little retail therapy sans kiddo. It was heavenly. As stupid as it sounds, I think that's the thing I miss most after having Tory. Not the movies; not even sleep. Leisurely trips to Target. Every time I've gone there with the baby she cries two minutes into our trip. I end up high-tailing it out of the store, sometimes abandoning my cart without making a purchase. For date night, Andi and I walked around the entire store, talked and laughed. It was perfect.

And to think I was nervous? Oh, silly me.

My husband just GETS ME.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

5 week stats (and the dreaded 6th)

My baby is 5 weeks old! Seriously, where does the time go?

Andi and I took Tory to her 1 month doctor's appointment yesterday. It was a particularly uneventful appointment since everything is going so well with her growth and development. Above anything, I was anxious to see how much she's grown since her appointment four weeks ago.

Tory's 1 month stats:

9 lbs 8 oz (50th percentile)
21 1/2 inches long (75th percentile)

The doctor said she is a perfect baby. We couldn't agree more.

We did have a few "first time parent" questions. I say that because I'm fairly sure the doctor was thinking it as we asked them. We inquired about the gunk that accumulates in her neck everyday (it stinks!). Her neck rolls are a pain to keep clean. But he said we were doing everything right and to continue doing what we're doing. We also asked about a film that's been covering her right eye for the last few days. The doctor freaked Andi out when he asked if we had herpes and should have her treated for some herpes eye infection (news flash: we don't so she doesn't). He told us to watch it and see if it moves (and is likely eye gunk) or if it doesn't move (and is some sort of scratch or disease). Turns out, the crying session Tory entertained herself with while we were stuck in traffic yesterday washed it away. It was in fact eye gunk as we suspected. Oh the joys of first-time parenting. Andi was literally ready to take her to a pediatric optometrist!


I have my own six-week postpartum appointment on Tuesday. I'm all sorts of nervous for it. It's not that I don't feel fine (I do); it's the double-wammie blessing to resume sex and exercise I'm dreading. GULP. Wish me luck. I'm suppose every new mama has to jump back into reality ... eventually.

I've also got a few questions of my own, including one about my milk supply. I have one breast which is  larger than the other (which I think is fairly common) but the larger one produces far more milk than the other. My baby's obviously not starving (see growth stats above) but I'm concerned she's not getting any milk (or over little) from the smaller side. When I pump, I get far fewer ounces on that side as well. We'll see what the doctor has to say. Until then, I'm making it my mission to do my own home remedies - drinking lots of water, Mother's Milk tea and treating myself to a beer at night.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Wanted: Baby Gear Suggestions

Hey Internet!

I happen to have two $100 gift certificates for baby stores I need to use up by mid-November. Any must-have baby gear/gadget suggestions for kiddos 6+ months old? I have all the basic baby necessities to get us through the next few months (pack n' play, stroller, high chair, etc.) but what will I need next?

My current thought is to purchase a convertible car seat as we'll need one in the next year. Recommendations on which one is the best? I've heart Britax is the way to go. Thoughts? Any particular model?

I'm also planning to make my own baby food. I have the Beaba Baby Cook. Are there any freezer trays or food storage containers / feeding utensils I must have?

Or something else I should buy?

Tell me what you think. Ready, GO!

Tory - 5 Weeks Old

Tory - 5 Weeks Old

Monday, October 3, 2011

Derrick + Ellie = HITCHED!

This past weekend, we traveled to San Diego to celebrate the marriage of two of our very best friends, Derrick and Ellie. The wedding weekend was everything I imagined it to be - those two love birds are meant for each other and there's nothing better than celebrating the union of two people who COMPLETE each other. So happy for them!

Weddings have a funny effect on me since my nuptuals. I have this uncontainable desire to tackle Andi during the reading of the vows. I find myself repeating our own vows to myself and promising to love and cherish my hubby all over again. Ah love, it feels so good when you're in the thick of it!

So how was our first trip as a family of three? Amazing. Our little Tory Girl proved to be the product of her parents - an easy traveler. Thanks to all of you for your suggestions on what to bring with us on our trip. We ended up bringing our own car seat and stroller, a back pack and one small suit case. I nixed a purse and shoved my wallet, sunglasses and camera in the breast pump bag so we were able to carry everything onto the plane. Once we landed, I ran to CVS and bought diapers for the weekend. In hindsight, the only thing I would've added was another receiving blanket or two and maybe another sleeper. Otherwise, my packing skillz rocked. I had everything we needed, but not too much of anything.

Tory was a rock star on the plane ride, sleeping the entire way there and back. Even when she did fuss a little bit (just a minute or two) she quickly quieted down with a nursing session. I didn't feel self-conscious at all about nursing on the plane, and it didn't really seem like anyone around us cared either. Even if they did - so what, right?

I am so thankful we decided to bring Andi's mom along with us to babysit. It made for such a better weekend. Friday night was a little rough on me when I left Tory for THREE ENTIRE HOURS to attend the rehearsal dinner, but the wedding on Saturday was much easier on me. I suppose every time we leave her it'll get easier to do.

Sunday morning, we woke up earlier (who am I kidding, I was up with the baby anyway right?) and we headed to Coronado to my favorite French bistro - Tartine. Andi and I found this place on our last trip to San Diego in February. Tartine has delicious food and an awesome patio overlooking the ocean. Perfect vacation spot. Crazy the last time we were there I was pregnant and now we were dining with our little Tory Girl.

Afterwards, we walked around the Coronado area, then hopped in the car to hike around Blacks Beach in San Diego.

Andi wanted to hike down this big cliff (!!!) but I advised against it on Tory's first trip to the ocean. No need to risk her life on our first family vaca, right?

I also brought along Tory's first swimming suit. A girl can't go to California without a suit, right? While I didn't want her to be outside for more than a minute, we did stage a few photos at the pool. How cute is this?

Overall, our trip to San Diego was a big success. I felt bad for Andi who had to go into work today; while I'm tired too, at least I got to stay home and snuggle with my baby. Luckily, traveling didn't really affect Tory's schedule. She eats every 2 1/2 to 3 hours anyway, so it didn't much matter what time zone we were in. Here's hoping she sleeps good tonight so we all get caught up again.

We're already planning our next big adventure for next month and can't wait to show Tory a new part of America! Where we'll go? Who knows ... but glad to know we'll get along just fine.