Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Letters to Tory: Three Months

Tory Bean,

It's no question you're a child of ours. We're beginning to see glimpses of your personality and at times, you're mirror images of Daddy and I. For one, you're very particular about your likes and dislikes and we're certain you're as strong-minded as we are. You like bath time, but only if we get into the tub with you. You still love your bouncy seat, but only if someone sits next to you and bounces it feverishly. One day you like your pacifier, the next day you don't. You can't sit idle for long; always asking to be entertained. And who can forget your arch nemesis - the car seat - how you loathe the sight of it. Yet when you're doing something you enjoy, your the smiliest kid on the planet. Lately, you love being carried in the Baby Bjorn and ring sling, laying on your changing table and watching us make silly faces at you.

This month you're fascinated by your hands. You stare at them forever and watch your fingers move open and closed. You also like to hold onto our fingers and just the other day, you wrapped your arms around my neck when I carried you down the hallway. That little gesture made my heart sing; you hung on tight and and I hugged you right back, baby girl. I love you so much!

You're a jet-setting baby, Tory Girl. This month, we flew to Nebraska for your baptism at St. Paul's Lutheran Church. You wore the same baptism dress Mommy wore when she was a baby and you looked absolutely beautiful in it. Lots of people met you for the first time including Great-Great-Grandma Lohse and Great-Grandpa George.

We also went on our first family vacation this month to the Florida Keys. As always, you were an excellent traveler. We think you'll be quite the adventurer, just like Daddy. I can't say you napped much while we were there because you didn't want to miss a minute. So many times, your head looked a little droopy, but you fought hard to see and do and go. On this trip, you dipped your toes into the ocean for the very first time and experienced your first rainstorm. You're a tropical baby, that's for sure, you loved the warm air on your piggies as we took daily walks along the water.

Just the other night as I stood beside your crib and rocked you to sleep, I remembered my dreams of one day holding my newborn baby in their nursery. Tears streamed down my face as I realized my dreams have finally come true. You are everything to me, Tory. These have been the best three months of my life.


Monday, November 28, 2011


I find myself lost in your tiny little hands and I realize you won't be my baby girl for long. Ten ridiculously tiny fingers have given way to chubby round ones reaching and discovering the world all around you. You're growing up far too quickly, Tory Bean, that I know for sure.

Lately as I lay you on your changing table, those adorable hands grab onto my shirtsleeve with a strong hold. You hang onto me tightly and I feel like you're trying to tell me you need me. I reassure you, letting you know I'm right there. Your face lights up with your sweet, gummy smile.

You've started to caress my chest with your precious fingers as I cuddle you in my arms. It makes my spirit leap as you slowly move your fingers along my shirt, my neck, my heart.

Two baby hands are growing. I watch you motion for toys on your activity mat. Soon you'll be shaking a rattle between your fingers or waving bye-bye to everyone you know. Not long after you'll be crawling around the living room, using those hands to guide you.

Those sweet tiny hands, full of wrinkles and creases.

Today I memorize what they look like for I know this moment will pass us by too quickly.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Thanksgiving 2011

We have much to be thankful this year!

Exactly one year ago today, God created our beautiful Tory Girl. We wished and hoped and prayed for her and in 2011, watched her grow in my belly. I never forget for a minute how blessed we are to have her in our lives.


We celebrated Thanksgiving 2011 with Andi's family this year. In past years, all the women would meet at Andi's Grandma's house early in the morning to start cooking for the masses. His family is HUGE and it takes lots of turkey, mashed potatoes and pumpkin bars to go around. This year though, I didn't feel like I could tackle cooking and taking care of Tory Bean all at the same time, so I opted to bring a side dish I made beforehand. Maybe next year I'll have more time to break out my apron and help.

Thanksgiving was a hit with Tory; she refused to sleep a wink during the day because she didn't want to miss any of the action. Poor baby was asleep in the car before we pulled away from Grandma's house (and asleep in her car seat no less ... now there's something to be thankful about)!

Grandma Janie and Tory
Daddy's telling Tory about Aunt Judy's famous pumpkin bars!
Ok, now Daddy's being silly ... Tory can't eat turkey legs!
My favorite part of Thanksgiving is family. It's awesome to get together to laugh and celebrate each other. It's a great reminder of just how lucky we are.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

We Made a Picture Wall

It seems like picture walls are all the rage these days, so Andi and I jumped on the bandwagon and put one up this weekend. I've been eyeing this one ...

... I found on Pinterest a few months ago so we went to Michael's yesterday (with a 40% off frames special and a 20% off coupon in hand) to see what we could find. Unfortunately, the Christmas shoppers and extreme cinnamon-smell overload had our heads spinning. We couldn't decide how many frames we needed or which type of frames we liked best. Then Andi found a picture wall grid pattern which included numbered frames so we opted for that design instead. We seriously had the picture wall hung in our upstairs hallway in less than an hour. It was so easy! There was no spousal snapping at each other (which tends to happen to us when home improvement projects are involved) and we accomplished it with Tory in the mix.

Total project cost = $140 (plus the cost of photo printing)

Here's how we did it:

First, we taped the paper grid to the wall, positioning it where we wanted the frames.

Second, Andi drilled screws into the holes designated on the paper grid. Then he ripped the paper down from the wall. Only the screws, exactly measured in the correct places, were left.

Next, we determined which photos we wanted places on the picture wall. We selected a mixture of our wedding photos, reception photos and Tory photos.

Ta-dah! The finished product.

I think it turned out fabulously and it really warms up the upstairs hallway. Yeah, us!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Tory - 12 Weeks Old

Tory - 12 Weeks Old

.... and all dressed up in her Thanksgiving dress!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Hyperventilating Over The Holidays

Is it just me, or is anyone else having a hard time getting into the holiday spirit this year? I'm completely denying the fact that tomorrow's Thanksgiving and Christmas will be here a few short weeks later. Usually by late November, I'm chomping at the bit to dig out all my holiday decorations and start up a baking frenzy. Scouring the internet for awesome appetizer recipes and decorating ideas completely consumes me. I have the perfect gifts in mind for all of our family and friends and more times than not, most of my gifts are already on order.

But this year? I find myself breathing into a paper bag at the very thought of baking or entertaining or shopping or celebrating. I have no idea what I'm buying anyone this year. Add in the fact I haven't worked in three months and I have about $3 in my checking account, I'm squeezing my eyes tight and hoping it all goes away.

My life is different this year because of Tory. She consumes every ounce of my energy and all of the minutes in my day. Twelve weeks into parenting, I've finally figured out how to shower everyday. If I'm firing on all cylinders, I have dinner prepared when Andi gets home from work. But other daily tasks like grocery shopping at the store, I can't even fathom. If it weren't for online ordering and grocery delivery, I think we'd probably starve.

Is it just me, or does anyone else have a really hard time balancing motherhood and the every day? I see and hear and listen to all my mom friends and fellow bloggers baking wonderful holiday treats and hosting fabulous dinner parties. Their houses are already decorated and their planning tons of activities to celebrate the holidays ... and I'm all GAHHHH! How the heck do they do it all?

I love being a mom more than anything in the world. But this thought has been bouncing around in my head a lot lately and I can't seem to find the answer: When will I be able to be "me" again? When will I be able to cook and entertain and clean my house and do all the things I find achievement in completing? Because seriously, this baby of mine is all-consuming and I'm drowning in the sole responsibility of caring for her. There is no time for anything else.

Graciously, my MIL volunteered to come over and watch Tory next week so I can decorate my house for Christmas. I'm so thankful she's close by to help with Tory; I really don't know how I'd get everything done otherwise. But then the mommy guilt creeps in and I feel completely horrible about wasting one of my last maternity leave days with Tory to decorate my house for Christmas. She's only this little once and here I am worrying about Christmas trees and holiday wreaths? How selfish am I? This time with her is the only thing that should matter to me.

Last year for Thanksgiving, I made army-size portions of mashed potatoes and corny macaroni for Andi's family celebration. I crafted a cheese ball in the shape of a turkey for all of the cooks to snack on while we prepared the big meal at his grandma's house. This year I'm bringing mashed potatoes again if I can carve out time to make them. It's my mom's super easy make-ahead recipe and yet the task at hand seems like an uphill climb. Today I must brave the grocery store crowds with a baby in tow all for disposable foil pans. If I'm lucky, Tory won't scream all the way there from her car seat and we can whip in and out of the store before the after-work crowds descend. Back at home, I'll scramble to pull the ingredients together while Tory takes one of her classic 20 minute naps. And tomorrow I'll pull it all together and make it Andi's family celebration on time.

I'm hoping Thanksgiving gives me the kick in the pants I need to get into the holiday spirit. Or maybe this year we'll have a half-decorated tree and store-bought holiday treats. Maybe next year will be easier to find a balance between all the things I love about the holidays - my family and the excitement that surrounds the season.  

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Florida Keys: Day 6

Last day of vacation ...

Andi and I woke up early (thanks T!) and packed our bags. Since our flight didn't depart until 6pm, we decided to spend our last day of vacation in Miami. We'd both been there a few times before, but mostly traveling through. Andi scoped out a few spots and we hit the road.

It goes without saying, we were dreading the 1 1/2 hour drive from Duck Key to Miami, but Tory was awesome during our drive! Could we have finally broken her of the car seat curse? The fact that she suddenly decided to take a pacifier really helped buy us some peace and quiet in the car ... even though I had to sit back there and plug it into her mouth every six seconds. Andi's work was quickly exploding back home anyway and he spent most of the drive on the phone. I had planned a riveting conversation with him, but since he was distracted with work I spent my time talking with Tory instead. I guess now he'll never know what an awesome conversationalist I am.

Our first stop in Miami was Vizcaya Museum and Gardens, an Italian renaissance-style villa built in the early 1900's. We rented an audio book to listen and learn while we toured the gardens (a tip we picked up after visiting countless museums in Europe and having no idea what we were actually looking at). Andi listened to the audio book and conveyed the highlights to me as I handled Tory. He  began to tell me John Deere (of the tractor fortune) built the place which sounded a little off. A guy who sells farm equipment was really interested in Italian architecture? But then he quickly changed his tune and corrected himself by declaring it was actually John Deering who constructed the grand structure and gardens. I guess Andi deserves a blond moment after mine the day before. I literally thought a car was driving down the highway with no one in it (upon second glance I realized the car was being pulled by a motor home). Whoops! Anyway, the gardens were beautiful ...

After Vizcaya, we decided to grab some lunch to-go and find a park somewhere to have a picnic. We drove to Key Biscayne and basically pulled into the first restaurant that sounded good. Tory wasn't crying in her car seat, but we didn't want to push our luck by drawing out the process. Andi ran into a Old Heidelberg's Deli to grab us some sandwiches. Whenever he runs into places while Tory and I wait in the car, I swear he's trying to torment me. I'm stuck in tight quarters trying to entertain a baby who hates her car seat, while he's taking his sweet time in said establishment (at this particular moment, the deli). Andi came out 15 minutes later (or 70 gazillion, whatever) with two sandwiches, two bags of chips and two Zico waters. "Dude, what the heck took so long?" I asked. Apparently, it was a German deli and the workers didn't speak English. All Andi could make out was schnitzel. The German deli didn't sell chips and only offered German sodas (and knowing his wife Andi knew he'd be dead meat returning to the car with sandwiches and no chips) so he ran to the juice store next door to find some. The juicer was broken so that's how he ended up with some chips and Zico's. "Fine," I said. "You get a pass this time."

We drove to a nearby beach and ate our German sandwiches (which were actually really good, by the way. No idea what we ate, but that's part of the adventure). It started to rain a little, so we hopped back into the car and headed for Miami Beach. This was actually one of the best things we did on the trip. Miami Beach is just as you'd imagine; like stepping into an episode of Miami Vice. Lots of faded pink and turquoise buildings, restaurants and shops galore and people everywhere. Definitely one of those places you have to check out in your lifetime. Next time it'd be nice to have a drink at one of the famous restaurants or stay in one of the fancy hotels ... next time, maybe, without a little one in tow.

Overall, our trip to the Florida Keys was a relaxing one. It was the longest concentrated time the three of us have spent together since Tory was born, and it was awesome to see Andi and Tory get to know each other better. Tory was an excellent traveler to and from Miami, never crying once at the airport or on the plane. I think she's a born explorer, just like her dad, and we're already dreaming of our next big adventure together.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Florida Keys: Day 5

Sunday, our last day in Duck Key ...

Tory woke us up around 7am and the three of us snuggled in bed for a bit before Andi got up and made breakfast while I fed and changed the baby. The upside of being the primary caregiver for Tory (as mothers generally are) on this trip is I never had to make a meal once and I never cleaned up afterwards either. I did, however, get up several times during the night and barely had time to shower but you know, whatever.

After breakfast, we loaded Tory into the Baby Bjorn and took a warm sunny stroll around the resort property. Seriously, Tory LOVES her Bjorn carrier. I don't know what we would've done on this vacation without it. On our walk, I scouted out Calm Waters Spa where Andi was lovely enough to book me a massage appointment that morning. An hour to myself to rest and relax is much appreciated these days. The 'nautical compass' treatment was basically like paying a lady to massage my head for an hour ... and it was amazing. I get goosebumps just thinking about it again.

Next up, we decided to check out Bahia Honda State Park, about 30 miles south of Duck Key. Andi and I were feeling adventurous and decided to brave Tory's cries in the car seat. She has to like it eventually, right? I dug out a pacifier from her bag (which she normally refuses to take) and sat in the back seat with her on the drive. Surprisingly, she took the binkie and barely cried at all! Andi and I silently high-fived as we drove into the park. Maybe she's finally learning to tolerate her car seat?!

As much hype as Bahia Honda State Park had online, we actually thought it was a bust. The weather was windy and the beach was crowded. We took Tory on a little hike around the Bahia Honda Bridge and then headed back to the resort.
Love Tory rockin' this sun hat!
We spent the rest of the evening relaxing at our condo. Tory was exhausted and fell asleep around 7pm and I think Andi and I followed shortly. The exciting life of a family of three ...

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Florida Keys: Day 4

Saturday during our Florida Keys vacation ... no work for Andi day!

We woke up early (thanks Tory!) and lounged around the villa for a few hours. Between baby snoozes, Andi and I had coffee and a big breakfast of eggs, bacon and hash browns on the patio overlooking the ocean. Originally we'd planned to visit Bahia Honda State Park which is about 30 miles south of Duck Key, but it was pretty windy outside and we didn't want to subject Tory to the weather. Plus, there's the whole Baby Hates The Car Seat thing and we weren't up for the scream-fest if we wouldn't be able to enjoy the day there. So, we headed to the pool instead to relax and enjoy the sunshine. Tory settled in and took a long nap in my arms (so unlike her!) and shortly Andi fell asleep too. I sat there next to my two loves and people-watched. I tried to be present in the moment; to enjoy a day at the pool with my little family of three. There will never be another time like this. Life just gets too busy. Although, I have to admit I was a little jealous of Andi's nap taking.

After the pool, we came back and made artichokes for lunch while Tory took another nap. Then we packed up the car and headed to a closer state park - Curry Hammock - just down the road from our resort. Half way there, I realized I'd forgotten Tory's sunhat and the baby sunblock so we had to turn back and endure double the baby screams. Once we finally got to the park, we realized it wasn't so great for babies. There was a small beach, but mostly mangroves you could kayak through. Not something I think Tory would particularly enjoy. So we loaded up the car once more and drove down the road to Sombrero Beach which was much better. Just as the sun was setting, Tory dipped her toes into the ocean for the very first time.

 And we watched the sun set together ...

On the drive back, we stopped at a local seafood shop to pick up stone crab claws for dinner. The Florida Keys are known for them, and Andi lives and dies by crab so it was a must-do. We came home, I put the baby to sleep and came downstairs to find a romantic dinner by moonlight on the patio. "We can eat dinner in front of the tv anytime," Andi said, "let's eat by the ocean tonight." So true.
Dinner by moonlight ... and the glow of the baby monitor

So we ate. We talked. And Andi beat the crap out of those stone crab shells with a wooden hammer on the patio floor. Classy.

As everyone back in Minnesota braved the first snow of the season, we enjoyed a sunny day in Florida. Life is perfect sometimes.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Florida Keys: Day 3

Friday morning of our Florida Keys vacation, Tory and I spent time snuggling in our villa while Andi worked for a few hours. I contemplated going to the pool or taking Tory for a walk around the property, but The Girl Who Hates Her Car Seat isn't always a barrel of fun to venture out with for no reason. So, we were content enough at the condo watching Regis' last show and squeezing in as many 20 minute naps as we could before our day of adventuring began.

Around 1pm, Andi made some lunch for us before we loaded up the car and headed south to Key West. With a full belly and plenty of sleep, we hoped Tory would be content during the 60 mile drive. WE WERE WRONG. The poor baby cried the entire way. Of course we stopped a few times to take her out of her car seat and console her. And of course she stopped crying the second we did, but the waterworks resumed as soon as we buckled her back into the car. This made a scenic drive along some of the most beautiful coastline in the United States not to wonderful. By the time we pulled onto Duval Street, both Andi and I had pounding headaches and were in desperate need of cocktails. I, of course, forgot the bottle I'd pumped earlier back in the car, so no cocktail for me. I think Andi enjoyed his though, while I breastfed the baby on Duval Street. I may have been the only one to have done that before.

Why? Well, apparently Key West's Duval Street is reminiscent of New Orleans' Bourbon Street, only not as dirty. Andi and I didn't exactly know that when planning our day. Within five minutes of walking around there, we felt like bad parents. There wasn't another kid in sight, but there were lots of ladies in scantily-clad clothing, beer drinking galore and dueling music from every bar along the strip. One lady stopped us and asked how old Tory was. When we answered "11 weeks" she and her group of friends gasped and replied "oh, how tiny!" Taking a vacation with your infant must not be common because that's about the 85th gazillion time someone has said that to us on this trip. From that moment on, Andi and I decided to answer "3 months" to everyone who asks us that question for the remainder of the trip. It just sounds better, I think.

Once we cut over from Duval Street, it was much quieter and frankly, more beautiful. The architecture in Key West is grand and historic. We strolled along the sidewalk and snapped a few photos.
This rooster totally photo-bombed us

Mile 0:
The end of the highway with a screaming baby in tow
(frowns are intentional)

At sunset, it started to pour and trapped us underneath a storefront awning. It didn't matter though; the view was wonderful, the air was warm and the three of us enjoyed Tory's first rainstorm.

We waited for the rain to stop, then walked to our car and headed back to the resort. Tory slept the first half of the ride back (win?) and cried the rest of the way. We ordered take-out from the resort's Tom's Harbor restaurant (Andi finally got his fresh fish and key lime pie!), we put the baby to bed and watched Hell On Wheels on the Ipad.


In the moment nothing sounded better than belling up to a bar and having a beer in the pouring rain yesterday afternoon, but it wasn't really an option with a two-month old in tow. Travel is definitely different with a baby, but as Andi and I discussed on our drive home (the quiet part), it's still an adventure. Tory will never be 11 weeks old again; she'll never again experience her very first rainstorm in the warm Gulf air. We were present in that moment, and it's exactly where we want to be.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Florida Keys: Day 2

Yesterday was our first full day in Duck Key and we had an awesome time. Andi had a few conference calls in the morning, so Tory and I snuggled in our villa. She was up a few times the night before so mama and baby were pretty tired. We're back to getting up several times a night again. Please tell me it's because of our jet-setting travel ways as of late and not some three-month-old phase we're venturing into. Anyway, between Andi's calls, the three of us walked to the nearby marina to look at the sailboats and check out the shops nearby. People knock the Baby Bjorn but for one reason or another, Tory really likes it and it makes toting her around places so much easier. This girl is killing my wrists lately (I think I must have weak wrists anyway because yoga always hurts them too). So, call it baby torture via the Bjorn, but it's one expensive baby contraption she actually tolerates, and we roll with it.

After lunch, we headed to the resort pool to relax and enjoy the warm weather. Being the sucker first-time parents we are, Andi and I bought a $16 reusable baby swim diaper the other day at Babies On Grand so we suited Tory up and headed into the water. She loved it! Splashing her legs and making cooing sounds. It was bath-water warm and she was having a ball. We spent the rest of the afternoon lounging under a shady umbrella, taking naps and people watching. Either the economy has hit Florida tourism big-time, or we're in the tail-end of off season because there are hardly any guests at this resort. This translates to awesome customer service by the staff at Hawks Cay and peacefulness wherever we go here. It's a nice treat!
Taking poolside naps

Swimming with Daddy

Lounging with Mommy

At sunset, we walked along the water and shared ice cream from Emack and Bolio's. This has been the perfect little getaway for our first family vacation.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Florida Keys: Day 1

We're in Florida!!!

We hopped on a plane yesterday morning and a few hours later landed in Miami. Oh holy day, it is WARM here and so SUNNY. How I miss this weather in Minnesota already.

Andi and I wanted to take a quick trip before I return to work in a few weeks. Primarily because I won't have any vacation left (since I used it all during my maternity leave) and because it happens to be a "slow" time for Andi at work (aka: sandwiched between two major events he's producing) (husband: if you're reading this, I know there is never a "slow time" for you at work) so we set our sites on the Florida Keys. This is our first real vacation with Tory and we tossed around the idea of going to Mexico or somewhere more exotic like Nicaragua, but ultimately decided to play it safe and stay stateside. We've been to Florida a hundred times, but never to the Keys so that's where we settled on.

Tory did an awesome job on the 3 1/2 hour plane ride, sleeping almost the entire flight and never making a peep. As we got off the plane, all the passengers around us commented how good she was. A few people said they didn't even know she was there! I realize traveling with her won't always be so easy, so I'm thankful for every trip that goes as smoothly as this one. Everyone who knows my husband will be shocked to hear we actually checked bags this trip (I KNOW!) so I was able to bring things like real hairspray and plenty of clothing options. Traveling with a baby isn't hard, it's just different and sometimes doing things like checking bags makes for a smoother process. One other thing we learned on the journey: there's a "family" line at the airport which basically equals VIP. We skipped past 100 people in the Minneapolis airport security and breezed right to the beginning of the line. IT WAS AWESOME.

Tory, our perfect little travel buddy, turned into a travel tornado once we loaded into our rented Chrystler Town and Country mini van (definitely not the convertible we're used to renting on vacations ... although I have to admit, it's quite functional). From her car seat, Tory screamed bloody murder during our entire drive from Miami to Duck Key. We stopped about 30 minutes in and I fed her, changed her and soothed her and she still cried the rest of the way. Poor baby just HATES her car seat and there's nothing we can do to help it.

We're staying in Duck Key which is near Marathon, FL and about 60 miles north of Key West. Andi rented a villa for the week on the Hawks Cay resort property and it's got all the luxuries of a kitchen, living room, bedrooms, grill and patio with a pool, bar and marina nearby. Last night we went to the store and loaded up on groceries for the week so we're all set to relax and enjoy a few days in the sun with our little family of three.

Off to spend some time at the pool (under a shady umbrella for Tory, of course) and maybe do a little exploring, too.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Tory - 11 Weeks Old

Tory - 11 Weeks Old

Squeaky Clean

Squeaky clean, through Jesus Christ. My sins are washed away.

Thanks Brookie for teaching us Squeaky Clean in honor of Tory's baptism this weekend. (And thanks for getting that song stuck in my head since Saturday. Darn catchy bible tune)!

Andi, Tory and I flew to Nebraska this weekend for Tory's baptism. We decided to baptize Tory at my parent's church in Nebraska since we haven't joined one near our new house yet. We flew out Friday night, opting for a more expensive one-hour flight versus a seven hour car ride because Tory's still hatin' on her car seat. The idea of riding in a car with a screaming baby for 7+ hours was not a challenge Andi and I felt like tackling. So! A quick flight to Nebraska it was. This was Tory's second plane ride (we went to San Diego when she was four weeks old) and it went so smoothly. This time we decided to nix the baby stuff altogether (we left our car seat and stroller) and carried two backpacks with Tory in the Baby Bjorn. (Did you know you can wear your baby through the security screening? This made for a super quick check-in process). I brought my breast pump bag and used it as my diaper bag, and voila! easy-peasy airport traveling. My sister was sweet enough to dig all of Brookie's baby stuff out of storage and let us use her car seat, boppy pillow, playpen and bouncy seat during our stay in Nebraska.

As we walked off the plane, we were greeted by my sister Ashley and her boyfriend Jason waiting with a handmade cardboard "Tory's Baptism" sign. There's no one in this world quite like my sister; only she would think of something like that! Then we walked out of the small airport to my sister's SUV parked right out front in the loading zone. Gotta love small airports; general rules just don't apply. After a 40 minute drive to my parent's house, we finally got settled in around 1:00am. Tory was such a trooper and slept most of the trip (never cried once at the airport or on the airplane!) but her sleep schedule was disrupted enough by our late night travels and she woke up several times throughout the night. Needless to say, neither of us got much sleep. Mama was a little tired this weekend!

Tory's baptism went great on Sunday. She fussed during most of the ceremony (and screamed when Pastor splashed water on her head!) but slept through the rest of the service. This was the first time most of my family met Tory. She was such a good little girl at the reception my parents hosted after the service and never fussed as everyone passed her around all afternoon.

A big thank you to my parents who hosted the baptism reception for Tory. What a great weekend!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Mikey's Story

The other night I saw a news story on Fox 9 about a 10 year old boy, Mikey, living with disabilities derived from being shaken by his in-home nanny at six months of age. Of course I can't find the story online to link to, but basically it showed Mikey (now in 5th grade) receiving special education in gym class and help with school work as he struggles to do things other 5th graders take for granted. I found myself sobbing while watching the story and I've had a pit in my stomach for days as the story keeps popping back into my brain.

The next night I told Andi about Mikey's story. "Obviously I'll have to talk to our new nanny about this," I said. "I'll tell her to call me anytime she feels frustrated with Tory. Don't shake her! Put her in her crib and walk away if you have to," I'll say. Andi half rolled his eyes at me and said something about it being the character, and common sense, that stops someone from hurting a child by shaking them. "I don't think Allie would do something like that," he said. But I bet Mikey's parents didn't think their nanny was capable of shaking him either. Why would they have trusted their baby in his/her care otherwise?

This story and all the press coverage about the Penn State tragedy make me wonder, how do you protect your kids from bad stuff happening to them? Now that I'm a parent, I have a heavy heart listening to stories of helpless kids being violated. Not that I didn't before I had my own child, but the feeling is now magnified by a million. How do I make sure nothing like this ever happens to Tory? My gut reaction is to put up a force field around her. I'll put her in a protective bubble where she'll never feel hurt or pain. But I can't. I don't want to rob her from life experiences and making friends and being a kid.

This is the hardest part of being a parent. Enjoying the journey as your baby girl experiences life, while shielding her from the world's scariest monsters. I think we all do the best we can, and couple our decisions with prayer we'll be lucky enough to avoid the worst.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Life As Three

Several months ago, Justin (a work friend of Andi's) gave us one of the best baby presents by volunteering to take photos of our baby girl Tory once she was born. Justin and his wife Jessica own Bees-Knees Photography. Unfortunately, we weren't able to schedule a shoot with Bees-Knees until Tory was four weeks old (since Andi was traveling for work the first few weeks of her life). We missed the chance to get those itsy bitsy baby photos (you know, the ones where their tiny hands are folded underneath their adorable pudgy chins?) but we did get some great "capture the moment" shots of us at home with our new baby girl.

Take a look, I think they turned out fabulous! (these are just a few of my fav's) ...