Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Lessons Learned While Traveling with an Infant

Tory and I flew home from Nebraska yesterday afternoon and while overall, traveling solo with her went fairly smoothly, there were a bumps in the road on our return home.

First, the ticket agent was having a hard time adding "infant in arms" to my boarding pass when we arrived at the airport. I'd attempted to add it online when I checked in but the system wouldn't allow me to add it either. It took about 10 minutes for the worker to fix the glitch before we were able to say good-bye to my parents and head through security at the Lincoln airport.

Once Tory and I got to the gate, I quickly changed her pants and situated our belongings for boarding. As I pre-boarded the plane, I realized I hadn't requested to be by an empty seat if the plane wasn't full to give us some extra space. So, I wasn't surprised when a good-looking man (sorry husband, he was!) plunked down next to me a few minutes later. Great, I thought. Things are about to get real when I whip my boob out to nurse the baby during take-off. And sure enough as soon as I did, the guy nearly had an aneurysm (despite my best efforts to conceal myself - Tory did not appreciate a blanket draped over her head). OMG. This was literally the first and only time I've ever been embarrassed to feed my baby in public. I really missed my boob blocker (aka: Andi) on this flight home.

I have no idea what was the matter with Tory (well actually, I do, more on that later) but she did not want to nurse. She kept pulling away from me and smacking her lips against my skin (read: making an even bigger scene than we were already). I finally stopped nursing her and prayed her ears wouldn't pop on the ride up into the air. Tory started to fuss and throw herself back on my lap. Sitting quietly and playing with toys obviously wasn't in the cards on this trip. Thankfully, a man in the seat across the aisle started to make googly eyes and wave at Tory and she seemed amused by him. He was able to entertain her when all of my distractions failed. I quickly apologized for Tory's wiggle-worm antics to the man sitting next to me but he still wouldn't look me in the eyes. The shock of my boob must have still been lingering.

The flight attendant came through the cabin, offering everyone a drink and a packet of cookies. "What will you have?" she asked me. "Nothing, thank you," I said. "You don't want anything to drink?" she asked again. No lady, because how the heck would I manage an open-topped glass and cookie while holding onto my baby? Another downside of traveling solo with a little one.

About half way through the one-hour flight, Tory pooped her pants. Ah yes, that's why she was so fussy before. We were about to make our decent into Minneapolis, so I opted not to ask the man next to me to get up and move so I could take Tory to the bathroom. We can wait it out until we land, I decided. But the longer Tory sat on my lap, the more I envisioned poop spreading all through her diaper and up her back (this is a real problem with Tory's poops these days). I nursed Tory again on the decent (by this point I didn't really care if the man could see my boob or not, the mystery had been revealed I decided). Of course, she ate and started to fall asleep in my arms. Great timing, kiddo.

We debarked the plane and bee-lined to the nearest women's restroom. The changing table was right next to the bathroom door and I uneasily juggled Tory, three baby blankets, the Baby Bjorn and the diaper bag while trying to pull out the changing pad. This is the single biggest pain the ass when traveling alone with a baby: I only have two hands. I couldn't set anything down because ew, germy gross airport and I can't very well ask someone to hold Tory! "Cute baby," several ladies exclaimed as they entered the bathroom door. Holy crap, I was sweating to death. I finally got the changing pad out, laid Tory down and began to change her pants. My suspicions were confirmed: poop everywhere. I striped off her clothes, wiped her down and dressed her in some pajamas ... all while holding three baby blankets, the Baby Bjorn, diaper bag and Tory on the changing table. Phew!

I tried to call Andi, who was picking us up at the airport, to let him know we were running a few minutes behind. Unfortunately, my crappy-ass Blackberry's battery was already dead (even though I purposely charged it before I left my parent's house to prevent this from happening). We made our way to baggage claim, I grabbed my suitcase and headed to the pick-up area. Except ... shit. I can't stand outside on the sidewalk with Tory and wait for Andi to drive by. It's nighttime in Minnesota - far too cold to stand outside with a baby (I only had the Baby Bjorn; Andi was bringing the car seat). And because my cell phone was dead, I couldn't call Andi to see which door number he'd be waiting by. Finally, after standing inside the doorway for a few minutes, I wrapped three baby blankets around Tory and walked outside. We waited a few minutes, scanning through tons of cars for the sight of ours, before someone shouted "Heather!" down the sidewalk. It was Becca, a friend of Andi's who happened to be at the airport picking someone up. "Are you looking for Andi?" she asked. "I saw you standing there so I texted him. He's down at door 6," she said. Thank the Lord for Becca. We hurried down to door 6 and met Andi.

Moral of the story: traveling solo with a baby is completely doable but holy crap, it's tiring too. Finally at home, I walked through the door and practically threw Tory at Andi as I made a mad-dash to the bathroom. How the heck was I suppose to use the restroom myself with a baby and her belongings at the airport? I couldn't figure that one out so I'd been holding it for the last four hours.

Would I fly alone with Tory again? Absolutely. Overall, she was a great little traveler. But I also learned these things:
  • Bring extra blankets ... because the ones you carry through the airport will undoubtedly touch something (or fall on the floor once or twice) and will need to be washed again before use.
  • While you're at it, bring a second set of toys too ... because a rattle or two is bound to drop on the floor. I wasn't fast enough to catch every one Tory dropped.
  • Always request an empty seat next to you if the flight's not completely full. Or pray you'll be seated next to a woman who probably won't be so surprised to see your nipple.
  • Carry an extra outfit in case of diaper blow-outs. So glad I had one stashed in my diaper bag.
  • Don't own a Blackberry with a crappy battery.
  • Bring a bottle of water.
  • But don't drink it. You won't be able to use the bathroom! (on second thought, skip the beverages all together).

Monday, January 30, 2012

Letters to Tory: Five Months

Tory,

You're five months old! Days are quickly flying by us and with each one, Daddy and I are watching you grow into such a big girl. It's a beautiful gift to see the world blossom through your eyes.

You found your legs at 18 weeks old and a few days later, discovered your toes. More often than not, you've got those piggies in your mouth. You can't seem to get enough of them! Who knew feet could be so entertaining?


You're a big helper these days. The nanny tells us you've started to hold your own bottle and you love to help Mommy in the kitchen too. If I'm carrying you on my hip and a load of laundry with the other arm, you'll reach over and put your hand on the laundry, too. I laugh every time I fill up a water glass at the refrigerator door as you reach out to help me hold the cup there. I can't wait for the day we can bake cookies together or you can help me load the dishwasher. You're going to be mommy's little shadow, I just know it.

One of your favorite toys these days is the jumperoo. "She's going to love it!" Daddy kept saying. "It was my favorite toy when I was a baby!" he told me.

If you aren't just like your Daddy ...


Ha! That face. You LOVE the jumperoo. You'll spend 30 minutes in there (which feels like HOURS in baby time) jumping and squeaking and spinning. I love how excited you get when we say "kick, kick, kick" and you move your legs as fast as they'll go.

One of your biggest accomplishments this month was learning how to sit up on your own. At 20 weeks old, it took you exactly one afternoon to figure out how to balance yourself in a sitting position and you've been doing it like a pro ever since.

I watch you play and I'm amazed at how smart you are, little girl. You see a toy you want, purposefully reach out to grab it and bring it directly to your mouth. Sophie the Giraffe is one of your favorites and any kind of rattle. You haven't started teething yet, but you're becoming a slobber monster. Nana says your chin turns red from saliva, just the way mine did when I was your age.

You're a lot more interested in what we're doing at the dinner table these days, and reach out to grab our plates and silverware when we're trying to eat with you on our lap. At 21 weeks, we fed you rice cereal for the first time. Little Bean, you loved it! It's like you knew just what to do with a spoon and ate bite after bite we fed you.

With so many mental and physical milestones this month, I'm excited to see where you'll take us next. You truly are a blessing in our lives and we love you so much!

Love,
Mommy

Sunday, January 29, 2012

There's No Place Like Home

On the weekends Andi works, I always wish I lived closer to my family. I don't mind spending quiet time at home with Tory but sometimes it'd be nice to pop over to my parent's house for a visit. So on Tuesday when Delta released their Weekly Fare Specials and Lincoln, Nebraska was listed for $79, I jumped at the chance to get home for a few days. Lucky for me, I have no life and the travel requirements to fly in on Saturday and out on Monday worked just fine for me.

Tory and I packed up on Saturday morning and headed to the airport together. It was my first time flying solo with her and it went so smoothly. As always, Tory was an excellent traveler. She loves all the lights and people watching at the airport and was plenty entertained while we were there. I packed one bag and checked it so I didn't have to mess with carrying anything but her through the airport. Easy breezy!
Travel buddies

Coincidentally, this weekend was my great-grandma's 93rd birthday and my family planned a party for her on Saturday afternoon. My mom kept my visit a surprise so when Tory and I walked into her house on Saturday she was shocked! "You came all the way back for my birthday," she exclaimed. Yep Grandma, we did. Just for you. *wink, wink*
Tory and her Great-Great-Grandma
It's been years since we've all been over at my grandma's house together. It reminded me of my childhood so much, except these days we've got a whole new set of little ones running around the house. My cousin Jen, her husband Zach and daughter Lauren were there along with my other cousin Jes and her husband. Ashley and Jason came with their three kids. My 3rd (??) cousin who I haven't seen in years was there with her two little kids plus one of their friends. It was fun to play toys and watch them discover all the weird things that make my grandma's house what it is. (When we were little, we used to call her "Grandma Hosie" for example because her stockings used to hang from pipes in the laundry room downstairs). Or like this super creepy baby doll one of the girl's dug out from a back bedroom. Oh, the memories! 
Little Lauren and creepy baby

Tory loves my sister Ashley and seriously squeals when she sees her. I can't get over this photo - I have another one from four years ago that's nearly an exact replica of this, except it's of my sister and her daughter Brooke when she was a baby. It's crazy how much Tory looks like my side of the family.
Ashley and Tory
After the party, my mom dug out a bunch of old photos and we couldn't believe just how much Tory (and Brooke) look like my mom when she was a baby. The resemblance really is incredible.
My mom Candy (left) and Aunt Cindy (right)

Today was a lazy day around my parent's house. It's kind of awesome to be back home for once with no agenda or place to be. My mom, sister and I played with Tory most of the afternoon. It was really nice for Tory to have some quality time with them. Later in the afternoon, we dressed Brooke and Tory in matching outfits and snapped a photo of the cousins together. They're growing up so quickly.


Tory and I fly home tomorrow afternoon. We're excited to get home and see Daddy but so thankful for the fun, relaxing weekend we had in Nebraska. What a treat to spend a last-minute weekend with those I love the most.

Friday, January 27, 2012

First Food

Our little Tory Bean still isn't sleeping through the night and just about everyone has an opinion as to why. It doesn't concern me much as I know she'll eventually get there, but there is a small part of me that crosses my fingers every night and *hopes* tonight's the night she surprises me. 

Two nights ago, Andi suggested we start her on rice cereal believing it'll help her sleep longer. I, on the other hand, thought we should wait until six months at the advice of our doctor. I quickly shut Andi down and let him know we WOULD NOT be going against the doctor's opinion, but later felt guilty about being such a bossypants. Tory's his daughter too, and I should at least give his suggestion some thought. 

Yesterday, I did some online research and decided we'd compromise by starting Tory on cereal at 5 1/2 months. We'd meet half-way because really, what difference would two weeks really make? Later in the day, Andi sent me a text to say he'd be home for dinner at 5:45pm which is SO EARLY for him. That never happens and I started to think it was a sign ... maybe we should give rice cereal a try. 

Tory was game; I suited her up in a bib and set her in the high chair ... 


I mixed up a super runny concoction of rice cereal and breast milk. Andi was camera-ready and I loaded up the first bite on a baby spoon. 


Tory LOVED it! She caught on so quickly and opened her mouth every time she saw the spoon in line of sight. 


I figured Tory would spit most of the cereal out, but she didn't. She eagerly ate every bite we gave her, finishing about half the serving of cereal. What a big girl!



*For the record, Tory was still up at 10pm, 12:30am, 2:30am and 5:00am the night after her first rice cereal feeding. The "it'll help her sleep through the night" advice was a bust in our household ... at least on the first night!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Love for 'Burb Life

You can take the girl out of the small town, but you can't take the small town out of the girl.

I can't believe I'm admitting this but I really, really like living in the 'burbs. Andi and I were so apprehensive when we decided to look for houses outside of the metro this summer. We loved St. Paul so much and all the conveniences our city house had to offer - walking distance to the grocery store, hardware store, movies, shops, bars and restaurants. We loved the hubbub of people, old trees and of course, all the character of our 1916 house. When we packed up this summer, I never thought I'd love another house as much as I did that one. It was really our "first house" (if you don't count the crappy suburb townhouse we lived in for a year) and the place we nested the start of our little family of two (plus one on the way).

I think it was actually that crappy townhouse that burned us on suburb life to begin with (which I should note, the crappy suburb townhouse WE STILL OWN). We disliked our neighborhood and everything from the 80's-style bathroom to cheap doors and carpet. Looking back, I suppose it was the environment that put a sour taste in our mouths, not necessarily suburb life as a whole. Or maybe it was our place in life - being in our 20's and wanting to experience life on the go. These days, I'm much happier staying at home.

I was driving down the street the other day and realized there are car washes in the suburbs. CAR WASHES. On every corner. I love that about our new 'hood. I couldn't find a working car wash to save my life in our old city neighborhood. That's pretty freaking special I think. I could wash my car ALL THE TIME in my new suburb life. I don't, but I COULD.

A few weeks ago, Janie and Jim watched Tory so Andi and I could go out for a hour by ourselves. We were going to get coffee, but decided at the last second to go have a cocktail instead. Andi pulled up to the Sunshine Room just a few blocks away from our house. I'd never seen this place before (and truthfully, probably wouldn't have given it a second glance, it looked like an old-style Perkins). We walked in to a packed restaurant/bar that was so reminiscent of my old-school VFW from my childhood I nearly wept. I LOVED IT. They had serve-yourself popcorn and waitresses with smoker's voices. Suburbs aren't completely full of chain restaurants and no character, you just have to find the good spots.

How much have I adjusted to my new life in the 'burbs? It struck me head-on when Andi and I were visiting his grandma in the heart of the city this weekend. We ran to the Target by her house to pick up dish soap and oatmeal and I realized just how, uh, "cultural" my city Target used to be and also how, uh, "un-cultural" my new suburb Target is now. Nothing wrong with either, except for how twitchy I became in the parking lot. (For the record, I have nothing against different types of people but this "cultural" Target experience is the kind where they have locks on the carts so people can't steal them). "I really like our quiet, suburb life," I said to Andi. "Good luck ever getting me to leave it."

All this to say I love, love, love our suburb life now. Our cozy house and quiet street seriously make me sad to leave the comforts of my home when I pull away from our driveway. I love how our neighbors wave to one another and how one of them brought us a baby gift for Tory. I suppose friendly neighbors live within the city limits too, but it wasn't the type of city neighborhood we lived in. Just today I saw an article in my new suburb newspaper offering residents a $100 grant for composting. Hey, I compost! I'm going to apply! Mostly, I love the way our suburb feels like a small town inside a city.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Weekend High

There are weekends like this I never, ever want to end. I love being a parent so much sometimes. LOVE MY FAMILY and realize how lucky I am to be living this life with two incredible people. Nothing special about this weekend, other than it being the first time in a long time we had no big plans or places to be. The first in a few where Andi wasn't working (except for tonight, bummer) and we were able to hang out together at home.

On Friday night, Janie came over to babysit Tory while Andi and I had a much-needed date night. We went to Origami for dinner (yes, sushi in the mall because that's what you do when you live in the 'burbs. It's actually pretty decent). After we ate, we shopped for a little while and went to Trader Joe's. It's exciting to be grown ups, isn't it? Home by 9, in bed by 9:30pm ... a perfect date night? Maybe.

Andi, Tory and I spend most of Saturday at home together. Tory slept in until 9:30am (!!!) which meant Andi and I slept in too (don't get too excited, I was up a few times during the night with her). Janie called and offered to bring us breakfast from our favorite French bakery. Andi and I drank cafe lattes and ate freshly baked croissants and quiche while Grandma entertained Tory.

Saturday afternoon, we laid in front of the fire, watched Red Bull Crashed Ice on NBC and practiced Tory's new found skill of sitting by herself. After seeing what a big week she had in mental and physical development, it now makes perfect sense to me why she's been sleeping so crappy lately. So much new happening with her in the span of a few days, I think her little body was in overdrive.

Later, we went to a first birthday party for Hannah, the daughter of Andi's co-worker/friend Do and Kim. Isn't she the cutest thing you've ever seen?

Unfortunately, Tory was over-tired and wasn't much up for partying. I spent half the time in a side room nursing her and rocking her to sleep but so is the life of a mother, right?

And to round out our relaxing weekend, we grabbed breakfast to-go at Longfellow Grill this morning and brought it over to Andi's grandma's house for a visit. Andi's aunt Barb, uncle Ken and cousin Megan were there too, with Megan's little boy Connor. He's two months younger than Tory (but 3 pounds heavier!) and we had lots of fun snapping photos of the two babies together. Glad Tory will have someone to look after her when she's growing up - he's such a brut!
Connor and Tory

What's your problem, big guy?

Tory and Grandma Marion
Andi had a work event tonight so Tory and I snuggled at home, played toys and read books. I am just so in love. On a high really, wanting this feeling to never end. Weekends like this remind me just how fortunate I am to have such a great family.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Balance

Little time left for blogging as Tory and I fought Battle of the Never-Ending Colds this week, work and all the exhaustion that comes with both. I finally kicked my sickness mid-week, but it took my poor baby girl 10 days of coughing, congestion and a runny nose to finally feel better. It broke my heart when she'd look at me with her puppy-dog eyes as if she were asking me "mama, what's happening to me?" I ended up taking her to the doctor on Wednesday after she went on a two-day bottle strike with the nanny. She was nursing ok for me, but refused to eat at all for Allie and I wondered if she'd developed an ear infection with her cold. A quick check-up revealed she hadn't; it was just a virus so we rode it out with lots of baby snuggles and good ol' time. Thankfully, she seems much better this weekend.

This week was hard on me emotionally. I hated leaving Tory with the nanny when she wasn't feeling well, even though I knew she was in very capable hands. I'm sure every mother can agree there's something so unsettling about walking away from your baby when she isn't feeling well. Plus, after feeling like I was kicking butt at the SAHM portion of my life on Monday, my confidence took a nose-dive following a veeeery long three days at work this week. Some weeks are easy-breezy and I'm glad to be back in the swing of things. Yet other times, I struggle to find my place in my new work dynamic. My job is still my same job but in a shortened period of time and I find myself struggling with this internal tug-of-war:
  • I am just as qualified. I can complete all MY responsibilities in half the time. The strong-willed part of me wants to prove I can do all the things I used to at the office like nothing has changed, even though I'm there less time.
Except,
  • Haven't my priorities changed? Yes, they most certainly have. The new-mother part of me begs me to let go of the extra stress and accept less responsibility. I'm perfectly capable of completing all of my old tasks but I don't want to. Less to do means I get home faster to my baby girl and that's truly what I want in the end.
Sigh, I suspect there will always be weeks like this where I'll struggle to find balance. I do know this much: I'm having an amazingly wonderful weekend with my husband and little girl at home. A honest-to-goodness weekend with lots of play time and giggles, snuggling and relaxation. I think I'll put this week's worries behind me and look forward to another few days home with Tory and a fresh, new work week ahead on Tuesday.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Tory Sits!

Tory and I had the best day. It was cold and snowy outside and we snuggled happily inside all day long. We played toys, read books, did some laundry (one of Tory's favorite things to do actually, she always laughs and kicks her legs when I fold clothes) and we practiced her new trick -- sitting all by herself!


video

... and a little fun after she goes boom

video




Monday, January 16, 2012

It Gets Easier

Not so many weeks ago, I remember hyperventilating as the holidays approached. There was so much to do (decorate! bake! be crafty!) and I could barely find the time to take a shower. The feeling of motherhood was all-emcompassing and as I struggled to keep my head above water, I had to forgo all my favorite parts of Christmastime. "Old Heather" used to carefully select themes for my Christmas wrapping and hand-craft decor on every present. "New mom Heather" gifted presents with no name tags on them because I simply ran out of time.

Will this ever end, I wondered? Will I ever feel like myself again? I craved the idea of having a measly ten minutes to trim my fingernails, read blogs or accomplish anything with two hands.

If I could go back in time and tell myself one thing, it'd be IT GETS EASIER. Many people said it would but it was hard to see forward when I was so focused on putting one foot in front of the other. As I sit here typing on my laptop and watching the snow melt outside my window, I am relaxed and so content in my life. Tory is taking a nap in the other room and I am enjoying a few quiet minutes to myself; something I could never see happening a few weeks ago.

I'm finding more time to cook these days and it feels good to get back into the kitchen. Do I have a few hours to bake cookies or make elaborate meals? No. I'm definitely not there yet. I've learned to cook when a window of time opens in my schedule (even when it might be 9:00am) and I opt for meals with few steps and uncomplicated ingredients. I've had to walk away from a messy kitchen several times and the other day it took me three hours to assemble a lasagna, but the important part is I'M FIGURING IT OUT. Learning how to balance motherhood and the demands of a baby while finding myself again.

I know it won't always be like this. Someday I hope to have another baby and managing life with a newborn baby in the mix and toddling Tory will bring an entirely new set of challenges. Heck, who knows what the next few weeks will bring as Tory changes and develops. I know there will be many more days of uncertainty and hyperventilation ahead, but today it feels good to have life slow down enough to realize how lucky I have it.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

RBCI + The Weekend

Red Bull Crashed Ice finally happened this weekend! I'm so unbelievably proud of my husband and his production team's tireless efforts for their part in such a spectacular event. These events are a big sacrifice for our family as it means my husband is away from home and our baby girl for days (sometimes weeks) on end with stress levels up to high heaven. More often than not, it sucks in the moment but seeing him in his element last night makes it all worth it - he is truly doing what he LOVES and where his talent is appreciated. I am SO PROUD of him.

------

On Friday, my little brother Adam and his girlfriend Josi drove up from Nebraska to attend the event which took place in St. Paul this weekend. (My little brother didn't rush up here when I HAD A BABY this fall, but drove 7 long hours to attend a sporting event for his favorite brand. You know, priorities of a 21-year-old, right? Anyway, life isn't too exciting at my house these days (especially when Andi's not home). If I achieved one thing this weekend, it's the heavy level of birth control Tory gave my brother and his girlfriend (you're welcome, Mom) as both Adam and Josi were less than impressed with Tory's whining, fussing and general presence. Poor baby was sick with her first cold, it wasn't her fault! At one point I think my brother said, "wow babies are a lot of work, huh." Ha.

I always get a kick out of my brother's visits to the Twin Cities and how quickly he forgets we're not in Nebraska anymore. At 5:00pm on Friday, Adam and Josi decided they wanted to go to Mall of America. "I wouldn't leave right now," I said, "it's rush hour." They left anyway and I'm sure sat in bumper-to-bumper traffic the whole way there. I made a pot of chili they could snack on throughout the weekend and an egg bake for Saturday morning. The great part about hosting college kids for the weekend is any amount of home-cooked food was sure to impress. And it did. They were very good house guests, picked up after themselves and even put their dishes in the dishwasher. I always enjoy having him here.

My brother and his girlfriend did more shopping on Saturday afternoon while I stayed home with my sick lil' bug. Luckily Tory seemed to be feeling alright, just a running nose and cough (no fever). I debated whether I should attend RBCI at all with Tory feeling under the weather, but I planned to leave her with Grandma Janie and I knew she'd be in good hands. (If she would have had a fever, I think I would've stayed home though).

I invited my friends Jenna, Kristin and Kylie to the ice-cross event and my brother and Josi tagged along with us too. I was worried about parking and traffic getting there as they expected 75,000 people for the event but my wonderful husband gave me the inside scoop on where to go. (He knows me so well). We all loaded into my new mom car and we were off! It was so exciting walking into downtown St. Paul with crowds and crowds of people lining the streets. The backdrop of the Cathedral and the State Capitol were amazing. Once we arrived at the event, we split from my brother and his girlfriend. They wanted to be belly-up to the track for prime viewing.

This is the one and only photo we took of the four of us before some creep-o guy started talking to us. I blamed it on my pretty friend Kristin, she always attracts the weirdos!
L to R: Jenna, me, Kristin and Kylie
And I'm stealing a few photos from Andi's Facebook page to show the event because my camera took crappy pictures.

RBCI track with the Cathedral in the background.
Photo credit: Claire G.

Six Speed at work! Grant and Andi
Photo credit: Kim O.
Photo credit: Craig Madson Photography
There was an after-party but I decided to come home after the event. Most people likely weren't up with a baby all night so I'm using that as my cop-out for being so lame. Plus, Andi was still working so it's not like I would have been able to hang out with him anyway. He comes home (at some point) today, hooray! Tory Bean and I are so excited to have him home.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Sick Lil' Bug

Sleep training's on hold until further notice.

My little Tory Bean came down with her first cold yesterday and the poor girl is coughing and sneezing up a storm. I feel horrible for her, especially because she caught her cold from me. I did my best to wash my hands, disinfect our house and not breathe on her this week, but spreading germs is inevitable when I'm her primary caregiver.

Last night, I could hardly justify letting her soothe herself to sleep when she doesn't feel well. Plus, all I want to do is snuggle her and make her comfortable, even if that's all night long. Last night's sleep wasn't too bad all things considered. Typically, Tory usually takes a 20-minute nap around 5:30pm or 6:00pm or she's a complete mess by her 7:30pm bedtime so I upped our bedtime routine by an hour last night and she was asleep at 7:00pm. She was up at 11:30pm, 1:30am, 4:00am and 7:00am. Not awesome, but not as trying as her sleepless nights earlier this week.

For now, my biggest focus is helping Tory feel better. You can see it in her eyes ... she just doesn't feel her best.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Tough Love

Sleep training is like religion or politics. It's a sensitive topic and most parents have a passionate opinion about it one way or the other. I won't be making any friends when I say I've decided it's time to start sleep training Tory. I'm sure some of you thought I should have done this a long time ago and the rest of you are cursing me under your breath for my bad parenting decision but it's time for us.

Personally, I wouldn't have felt comfortable implementing sleep training until now because I genuinely believe Tory's little tummy was crying out in hunger. There were times not so many weeks ago she guzzled her milk down at a 3AM feeding and for that reason, I have no issue getting up in the middle of the night with her. Late night feedings are part of parenting.

Recently though, I've come to the realization she's playing games with me. When she cries at night, I go into her nursery and as I approach her crib she smiles and kicks her legs back at me as if she's saying "Hooray! Mommy's here!" I change her diaper and she babbles back and me, wiggling in excitement because she knows what's next. I snuggle her in the rocking chair and as I start to nurse her, she's instantly back to sleep. The little stinker isn't hungry at all, she only wants to be cuddled back to sleep.

And if I'm being completely honest, I don't mind cuddling her to sleep once or twice at night. Especially on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays when I haven't seen her as much as I'd like during the day, it's nice to spend some quiet snuggle time together. Lately though, a once-and-a-while wake-up (usually around Midnight and/or 3AM) has transitioned to every 1-2 hours and I started to realize someone was using Mommy as a clutch.

For the last two weeks, Tory's been putting herself to sleep at nap time so I know she capable of comforting herself. At the first sign of tiredness during the day, I lay her down in her crib and she falls fast to sleep. Sometimes it takes her a few minutes of fussing and sucking on her fingers to get there, but shortly she's off to dreamland. There's no reason she can't do the same in the middle of the night.

So last night, I decided it was time: sleep training time. Andi's working away from home for the next few days and I have the next four days off work; it's the perfect time to nip this in the bud. As tough as it is to listen to Tory fuss, it's even harder on my nerves if I'm also subjecting Andi to the misery. He works so hard and needs his sleep so I know I'll cave to Tory's late-night fussing if he's home with us. It's easier on me if I do it when it's just Tory and I.

Here's how last night went:

7:30PM - 8:00PM
Books, nurse, bedtime. Tory didn't eat very much, despite me trying to rouse her awake to take in a full feeding. She was asleep in her crib by 8:00PM.

11:00PM - 11:30PM
Tory cried from her crib. I let her fuss for a minute but the guilt of baby hunger got to me. Was she crying out because she didn't get a full feeding at 7:30PM? I got up to change and feed her. She hungrily ate and fell back asleep.

2:00AM - 2:05AM
I woke up, checked the time and realized Tory was still sleeping. Nice!

4:00AM - 4:20AM
Tory cried from her crib. I let her fuss for a minute and then decided to go in to change her diaper. As I changed her pants, she tried to eat my shirt-sleeve which made me wonder, was she hungry again? It had been 5 hours since she ate last. I decide to nurse her again. She ate and fell asleep.

6:00AM - 6:45AM
Tory cried from her crib. I decided to let her cry it out. I know she's not hungry now. Forty-five minutes of fussing / silence / pissed-off crying later, she fell back asleep on her own.

8:00AM - 8:10AM
Tory stirs from her crib, but falls back asleep.

9:00AM
Tory's up for the day!

Self-grade rating for CIO Night #1: C Average

My mental notes for tonight:
  • Make sure Tory takes in a full feeding at bedtime so I don't second-guess myself whether she's hungry in the middle of the night.
  • Aim for a minimum of 5-6 hours of sleep before offering to nurse. 
  • Try not to change her diaper unless she really needs it.
  • Work toward a consistent wake-up time / early morning feeding of 6:00AM (as this is when I need to feed her before I leave for work on Tuesdays / Wednesdays / Thursdays). 
We'll see how tonight goes ...

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Rough Night

The last few nights have been rough on this ol' mama. Tory's decided she isn't a big fan of sleeping at night recently. I blame it on the dreaded 4 month sleep regression. I was sort of doubtful there was such a thing until she turned 4 months old and promptly began refusing to sleep longer than 1 1/2 - 2 hour periods at night ... now I'm hoping PRAYING this is just a phase she'll soon outgrow.

Last night went something like this:

7:30pm: Full-on meltdown. Cranky baby = stories, nurse and bedtime.

8:30pm: Andi came home from work. I stayed up and talked with him for a hour since our time together has been few and far between these days.

9:30pm: Lights out. (We're tired! Don't hate!)

11:30pm: Tory cries from her crib. I get her up, change and feed her. She falls back asleep.

12:00am: I crawl back in bed, only to have a gigantic coughing attack (I'm still battling this stupid cold). After coughing and coughing from bed, I finally get up to get a cough drop and some ice water to cool my throat. I walk around the kitchen a bit to calm my tickling throat.

12:30am: I crawl back into bed and drift off to sleep (sitting up no less, ugh!)

1:30am: Tory cries from her crib. I let her fuss to herself for a while hoping she'll go back to sleep. I know she's not hungry; she just ate two hours ago!

2:00am: Fussing turns to screaming and I finally get up with Tory. She's wide awake now and mad as all get out I left her in there so long. I change her diaper and nurse her back to sleep.

2:20am: I crawl back into bed. Cough, cough, blow my nose.

2:25am: Andi gets up. He's wide awake from all of Tory's noise. He jumps in the shower.

2:35am: I check Twitter and then fall back to sleep.

3:00am: Andi wakes me up. He's heading into the office because he can't sleep. He's got so much to do for this big work event taking place this weekend in St. Paul. He'll be working from there for the rest of the week. "See you Sunday," he says.

3:20am: I startle awake to a sound in the house. I forgot I set the dishwasher to "timed start" so it'd run in the middle of the night. Normally I wouldn't hear it, but since I'm in such a in-and-out slumber it scares me half to death. I check the time and Facebook via my cell phone. Andi posted this picture of his office. Apparently, some of his employees were burning the midnight oil when he arrived into work.


3:30am: I fall back asleep.

4:00am: Tory's awake. I listen to her fuss for a minute and then remember last time. With a glance at the clock, I realize I have to be up in less than two hours for work. I might as well go in to her nursery and soothe her back to sleep.

4:25am: I crawl back into bed and fall asleep. Dang, this mama is tired!

5:30am: My alarm sounds. Oh man, how I wish today wasn't a work day!

5:45am: I hit snooze twice and now finally force myself out of bed. No shower for me today; I'm running way behind.

6:10am: I wake Tory to nurse her before I leave for work. Normally she wakes up around 6:00am to eat but she finally decided to sleep. Silly girl!

6:30am: Out the door.

7:00am: I'm at work and it's going to be a loooong day. Need caffeine STAT.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Tory - 19 Weeks Old

Tory - 19 Weeks Old


(and this is how our weekly photo sessions usually end)


Tory, Lately

As I listen to friends and bloggers blessed with newborn babies in the last few weeks, I realize how much easier life with Tory has become for us. She wasn't a particularly difficult baby to begin with, but those first few weeks had their trying moments as we adapted to the life of parenting.

There's something to be said for the itsy bitsy newborn stage and I loved it for all its euphoria and baby snuggle time, but I have to say I'm having so much fun in this 'golden stage' at 3 and 4 months old. Tory seems more content and easy going and she's learning new skills everyday. It's so fun to watch her develop!Just so I don't forget them, there's a few things Tory is doing these days:

  • Tory is such a smiley girl, especially with Andi and I and her grandparents. I love seeing her gummy smile all day long, especially in the mornings when I go to get her from her crib. I made up this silly "Good morning, good morning, good morning Tory Bean" song and she smiles ear to ear when I sing it to her in the morning. Tory also laughs more often now and usually at the strangest things. The other night she was watching Andi pour a glass of wine and let out the biggest belly laugh! He stopped to see what she was laughing at and then realized it was him. Once he started pouring again, she giggled and giggled.
  • Beginning at 4 months old, we VERY GENTLY began to let her cry it out at naps and bedtime. When she physically displays symptoms of tiredness (yawning, fussing, rubbing her eyes) I snuggle her up in a soft blanket and rock her for a few minutes. When she's drowsy but not necessarily sleeping, I lay her down in her crib and she falls right to sleep. Sometimes she may fuss for a second or two but usually she can soothe herself to sleep by sucking on her fingers. I can hardly believe it every time it happens! I'm still working on getting her to sleep through the night though. The last few weeks have been especially tough; I think it might be the dreaded 4 month sleep regression because she's wide awake every 2 hours.
  • Speaking of sleep, Tory's starting to nap more. She went from a newborn baby who never slept more than 20 minutes at a time to a 4 month old who takes two-one hour naps in the afternoon. It's not always consistent in timing, but the important part is she's getting more rest and is therefore less of a crabby-pants in the evenings. 
  • One of Tory's favorite things to do is read books. She has her favorite stories, especially Barnyard Dance, Moo Baa La La La and I Love You Through and Through. I know she likes them because she reaches out to touch the pictures with her hands and she even tries to turn the pages. It melts my heart every time. 
  • Tory is such a smart little girl too. My sister gave her a musical piano for Christmas and she actually knows how to push the buttons. Of course she's not very good at it yet, but she will reach her hand out and press until one of the keys plays music. 
  • Someone found their toes! I snapped this crappy cell phone pic last night when I looked over and saw her with her feet in her hands. 
  • If we have time to kill, sometimes Tory and I take a bath together. She really enjoys splashing and kicking her legs in the warm water. Last week, she started lunging forward in an effort to drink the water. When I wouldn't let her go under (obviously!) she started waving her hands in the water and then sucking them to take a drink. Last night, she wanted to stand up in the bathtub and was so curious to see what was over the side of the tub. I leaned her close to the side so she could see and the look on her face made me realize what a big girl she is becoming. She's so curious about the world around her.
  • Tory's thisclose to sitting by herself. She has fantastic head and neck control and always prefers to sit instead of laying down. She's not able to sit on her own just yet, but she can balance by herself for a few seconds at a time and much longer if she has the protection of sitting between my legs on the floor.
  • We're in trouble the minute this little girl learns to be mobile on her own because SHE IS READY! I'll recently had to retire the bouncy seat and Bumbo chair (unless we use the tray for it) because she wiggles her way right out of them. Last week, I added the high chair to the dining room so she could sit at the table with us at dinnertime or while I'm cooking in the kitchen. As of now, she'll only tolerate it for five minutes or so (probably because it's a little boring for her since she's not eating too). Her new favorite toy is the jumper but don't be fooled, she isn't content enough to play in it by herself. Tory wants you to watch her and clap as she moves around. The minute you walk into the other room to answer the door or grab a glass of water, she'll fuss for you to come back.
I can't decide if I should be happy or sad my baby girl is growing up so quickly. It's so fun to watch her develop into her own little person, but I also realize my tiny newborn is gone forever. Makes me want to have another baby so I can experience it all again ... ha!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Down and Out

I'm usually all about my four day weekends with Tory, but for some reason I've just been "off" the last few days. It's the first time since I became a mom I just wanted to curl up in bed and veg out on TV. I suspect it's because I caught a nasty cold this week so naturally the last thing I feel like doing is snuggling all over Tory. In fact, I'm trying to do the opposite by NOT kissing her head a million times and letting her suck on my hands which she loves to do right now. My head feels like it's full of seventy-million pounds of goo and I can't take anything for it since I'm nursing (unless one of you knows something I don't know in which case, please share)!

Andi's been putting in some crazy long hours the last few weeks for another big work project. I know I shouldn't be so whoa-is-me about him working all the time. He is, after all, working to provide for our family and it's a GOOD THING his business is thriving so well. But it gets old reminding myself that when he leaves every morning before Tory and I are awake, comes home every night after we're in bed and works weekends too. I suppose I should shut it since he's the one who's ACTUALLY WORKING but sometimes I feel frustrated and this is my place to brain dump, so there. It's just ... we miss him.

Tory wasn't feeling too hot this weekend either. Baby girl got 4 shots at her 4 month check-up on Friday. Poor thing has wanted to snuggle up all weekend and unfortunately, that's the last thing I want to do - infest her with my cold.

Aside from the shots, Tory is the picture of health. She now weighs 13lbs (33 percentile) and 24 inches long. She only grew 1/2 inch according to the doctor's office but the doctor wasn't worried. He said "babies are wiggly and it's hard to get a good reading sometimes." I know she's grown more than that based on the ways her clothes fit (some 3-6 months clothes are already too short; others are fine) so I think they may have measured incorrectly at her 2 month check-up.

The doctor recommended we start Tory on some sort of vitamin supplement that includes fluoride, or start giving her some tap water which includes fluoride. Anyone else heard of this? My mom was excited we got the OK to give Tory water now as she thinks I'm a meanie parent for depriving her of water this long anyway. I know a little water won't hurt her, but I just thought it was odd. I haven't read or seen that anywhere else. Anyway, we'll give her a little and see what she thinks.

Baby's up and I'm off to feed her ....

Friday, January 6, 2012

Bouncing Tory!

Andi bought Tory a new toy the other day ... and she loves it!

(Also, who doesn't love that little patch of hair she's rockin' in the back? Be still my heart. She is so darn cute!)

video


Thursday, January 5, 2012

I'm Different, Baby

I've been thinking a lot lately about how pregnancy and motherhood has changed me. I'm different in all the ways you'd suspect I would but there are strange, simple things that are so different about me now than say, a year ago at this time. Here are just a few: 
  • I haven't worn a real bra since August. These days, I'm strictly a non-wire nursing bra wearing kind of girl. There was a time in my life I wouldn't have stepped foot in public without the perky support of a Victoria's Secret bra and now I'm not sure I can ever go back.
  • Speaking of underthings ... thongs are a thing of the past. As my pregnant body grew along with my hips, I opted for more comfortable cotton underwear (not granny panties per se, just some cute undies which provided more coverage on the backside) and now I don't think I'll ever go back to the world of thong underwear. How on Earth did I wear something so uncomfortable all those years? My girlfriend Ellie (newlywed, no kids) and I were having this conversation a few weeks ago and she was FLOORED when I told her I don't wear thongs anymore. "What the heck do you wear?" she asked. Cotton undies, my friend, because when you're married and a mother comfort trumps sex appeal and panty lines all day long (at least in my mind).
  • Boobs are all I can talk about. I'm sure the topic will pass when I'm no longer nursing Tory, but lately it seems like all I think about is boobs. The way mine feel (engorged or full or empty or sore or whatever). Am I getting enough milk? Will my boobs be down to my knees after they've been squeezed and massaged and sucked every three hours for a year? I'm pretty sure the girls at work are fed up to HERE with my constant commentary about boobs throughout the day.   
  • I like meat and oranges. I used to be a pretty simple girl. Chips, Diet Coke, iced coffee and cereal. I swear that's all I ever ate. That was before I had a baby growing inside me and before the nourishment I take in helps to supply the milk my child eats too. I wouldn't say I'm the healthiest eater now, but I have noticed my taste profile changing completely since I had a baby. I  crave meat now, for example, which is something I used to practically force-feed myself. I'll actually make dinner for myself in the evenings (even when Andi's working) because I know I need to eat something substantial (even though I make him a plate and when he comes home he says, oh sorry honey I ate dinner at work. GAH!!!). I bought a bag of clementines a few weeks ago and they tasted like heaven on Earth. Clementines? I used to hate oranges. These days, I can only drink about a half a can of Diet Coke before it just doesn't sound good anymore and iced coffee makes me jittery as hell. Breakfast has suddenly become my most essential meal of the day. If I don't eat it, I'm toast ... literally.
  • Taking a shower is the most peaceful part of my day. Pre-baby, I was a shower hater. I mean, I took them because I had to, but I dreaded getting up earlier than required in the mornings, drying my hair; the works. I seriously invented various ways to pin my hair back or wear a headband all in the name of hiding my greasy hair. Stepping out of the shower all cold and wet is one of my least favorite feelings. It must stem from some deeply-rooted regressed childhood memory or something. But now, NOW! showers are glorious. Standing in warm water for 10 uninterrupted minutes (especially on those days when Andi doesn't bring Tory into the bathroom to see 'what mom's up to') is heavenly. Ten minutes to do nothing but close my eyes and stand there and relax. I am in love with showering these days.
  • Crime dramas creep me out. My DVR used to be packed full of CSI, Criminal Minds and 48 Hours Mystery. Curling up in bed with my laptop and Nancy Grace's latest story on a missing person was one of my favorite past times. And now? I am completely freaked by all of these shows. Watching a show about all the scary monsters of the world sends me into a panic attack and more so, how the heck do I protect my child from all of them?
  • I cry at the drop of a hat. This commerical sends me into a full-on tear fest. I saw this commercial about veterans while I was watching the Nebraska game on Monday and started sobbing. Holy cow, I've become an emotional wreck when it comes to anything that tugs at the heartstrings. I never used to be like that before.
  • My self image has changed. Pre-baby, I wouldn't say I was obsessed with being thin but I was very 'aware' of the way my body looked. I didn't go so far as to work out or anything - whoa, whoa, whoa, that's a lot of work - but I definitely monitored the way my clothes fit and the number staring back at me on the scale. A few weeks after I had Tory, I felt impatient as I waited to hit that magic number again and I'd be lying if I said I wasn't nervous about the way my body would look post-baby. But honestly, it doesn't really matter to me anymore. I finally did hit my pre-pregnancy weight about a month ago and eventually my body just regulated back to it (as many of you said it would). I definitely LOOK different than I did before having a baby (more saggy in the mid-section) and I still have my linea nigra stripe down my stomach. My pelvis doesn't contour the way it did before but you know what, whatever. I'm proud of myself for giving birth to another human life. It's a miracle what the female body can do and I look at my jiggly belly and remember there was a little baby in there not that long ago.
  • I never, NEVER, question another parent's methods. Before Andi and I became parents, we'd always say things like "we're never giving our kid this" or "we'll never do that." But then you're suddenly put into that very situation and you know what? Sometimes you do what you do to survive. I will never again question the way other people raise their kids (as long as they're safe and well-cared for, obviously) because every child is different and you never know what you'll do until you're there.
I wonder what other things will change about me as I grow into the role of parenting? Or I wonder if my perspective on things will shift back to the way I was before being a mom. It's just interesting, this parenting gig. It really does change your entire life, in every aspect.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

New Year's 2012

Andi and I aren't the ragin' club type (surprised?), so we thought New Year's was the perfect chance to get away for the weekend. We invited our friends Nick and Julie, and their boys Joel (4 1/2 years) and Alex (18 months), to tag along.

Before we left town on Friday, Andi and I made stops to two different dealerships in town to pick up our new vehicles. It was sort of a surprise to me -- I knew Andi was "working on some deals" to get us into new cars but he's ALWAYS working on some sort of deal so I didn't realize it meant we'd be getting something new LIKE NOW. I guess it had something to do with the end of the tax year and end of the year car specials and who knows ... I don't ask a lot of questions. Because we need a vehicle with enough towing capacity to pull our boat and the new SUV will be my new "mom car," Andi narrowed down my selection to the 2012 Ford Explorer or Honda Pilot. I test drove each earlier in the week and decided I liked the Honda better. It drove more like a car and felt easier to handle since I'm not used to driving a larger vehicle. Andi chose a sporty little black sedan for himself as he needs something more "fuel efficient" for driving around town he said. Mmm hmm. Anyway, shiny new Pilot! Yay for me.

We loaded up my new mom ride and headed to our Wisconsin cabin late Friday afternoon. Tory Bean decided to be a car seat hater so that made the drive EXTRA FUN! I ended up sitting in the back seat with her to entertain her. I swear, between the dog jumping around and Tory screaming, it felt like I was herding cats back there. The joys of parenthood, I guess. We arrived at the cabin around 7pm just in time to put T-Rex (Andi's nickname for Tory's alter-ego) to sleep for the night. Then Andi and I watched Friends With Benefits (the second movie we watched together in 2011, pathetic I know), had cocktails and relaxed by the fire. Bonus! Tory had a poop-plosion during the night and I had to completely strip her down and wash her from head to toe. A wonderful way to spend 3am, no?

On Saturday morning, Nick and Julie arrived and we seriously bummed around the cabin all day. It was moderately warm for late December (high 30's) so we bundled up all the kids and walked over to our cabin owner's (Joe and Lisa), new cabin just a few doors down for a visit. (Joe and Lisa have two cabins on the lake - we rent one of them).

Nick, Alex, Joel and Julie:

 Cabin owner Joe's very into hunting large game and their cabin is FULL of exotic animals. I love this picture of Julie, Tory and I (and the giant bear in the background. Ha!):



Julie brought an ornament project for the kids to work on which was really cute so we crafted for a bit in the afternoon. The adult boys (Andi and Nick) said they had their own "project" to complete which required their rum bottle so they HAD TO FINISH IT by the end of the night in order to use it. So they did. Later, the boys built a bonfire, Alex and Tory took naps; it was a really relaxing NYE afternoon. Julie made tacos and enchiladas for dinner. We played toys and read books. The kids went to bed around 8pm and Nick, Julie, Andi and I sat around, talking and laughing the rest of the night. Well, until about 11pm when we decided why stay up until Midnight when it was already New Year's on the East Coast? No sense in staying up later than we had to, right? Best kind of New Year's I say. Early to bed, no hangover.

During the night, about 5 inches of snow fell and it was absolutely beautiful outside our cabin windows New Year's Day morning. There's something about nature and fresh snow covering the trees that makes winter seem so wonderful. Andi and I bundled up Tory and whisked her outside for a few family photos.

Love this one!

Catching snowflakes ....

(actually she was arching her back and fussing because she didn't want to be in her snow suit anymore, but that makes the photo seem less picturesque so let's pretend that wasn't the case).

That was our New Year's! So fun and relaxing. There was no place I'd have rather been.
Here's hoping 2012 brings as many great memories.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Annual Report

Oh how a year seems like such a long block of time and yet, flies by in an instant. If I don't write down our favorite memories of 2011, they'll get lost in the past and I'll lose them forever. So here's our 2011 highlights (and here's 2009 and 2010 if you're interested):

January 2 - Andi and I told my immediate family we were expecting a baby in late December 2010 while we celebrated our Nebraska Christmas. Andi and I decided to tell his parents on our return home, January 2, over dinner at their house. We wrapped up a jar of Prego spaghetti sauce and gave it to them with a note saying "Baby is due August 22, 2011." They were shocked and so excited!

February 11 - Andi and I traveled to Southern California to celebrate my 30th birthday. I'd been to California a bunch of times, but never to San Diego. We stayed in Huntington Beach the first night and Andi showed me where he used to live. Then we spend two days in San Diego, sunning ourselves, eating yummy food and relaxing together. It was the perfect birthday.

March 15 - Andi and I traveled to Walker, Minnesota for a winter getaway. Originally we'd planned to take a week-long trip to Nicaragua but opted against traveling out of the country because I was 17 weeks pregnant. (I remember thinking I was SO pregnant then ... oh how I wish I could've seen my future 41-week pregnant self and told her to Go! Go! Go on an exotic vacation while you have the chance!). Anyway, snowy cold Minnesota wasn't a tropical adventure but Andi and I had a nice time hanging out together, just the two of us.

April 12 - Andi and I learned we'd welcome a baby GIRL to our family in August!

May 14 - My first baby shower hosted by my friends Ashley and Val. Having a party to celebrate our baby girl's upcoming birth really made things REAL and so exciting.

May 31 - Cabin time! For the second summer, Andi and I rented a cabin with friends for the summer. Just an hour and a half away, we hopped in the car many, many weekends this summer for fun with friends. On May 1st last year, it snowed during our first weekend there and by Memorial Day Weekend, we were boating on the lake. Gotta love the beginning of summer!

June 17 - Andi and I headed to Nebraska for my cousin Jes' wedding. It was one of my favorite memories of the year; all of our family from across the country were back in town together and it was so awesome to spend a weekend together. I vow to organize another one this summer (not a wedding, just a get together!).

June 26 - Andi's family hosted a couple's baby shower for us. It was fun and something different to have the boys involved in the celebration!

July 4 - We spent Fourth of July 2011 at our Wisconsin cabin with friends. While I couldn't drink (I was 33 weeks pregnant!), I enjoyed one of the last relaxing weekends I'll have in a long time. We played on the water, hosted a White Trash Party, sat by the bonfire and watched our own gigantic fireworks display.

July 15 - I bought my very first house! Andi and I closed on our new "suburb" house on July 15, just 5 weeks before our baby's due date. YIKES!

July 17 - My cousin Jen and aunt Cheri hosted a baby shower for my Nebraska family and friends. It was our last big party before welcoming baby Tory to the world!

July 31 - Andi and I celebrated two years of marriage. Second anniversary is the year of "cotton" and Andi gifted me these sweet Christmas stockings for our new growing family. Best. Gift. Ever.

August 30 - Tory's birthday. One of the best days of my life.

September ... is a blur. Life with a new baby. Andi floating down the Mississippi River on a barge for work the first three weeks of Tory's life. 'Nuff said.

October 1 - Trip to San Diego for Derrick and Ellie's wedding and Tory's first plane ride.

October 31 - Tory's first Halloween. She was a chili pepper!

November 10 - Tory's baptism in Nebraska.

November 17 - Our first family vacation, just the three of us. We spend 5 days in the Florida Keys.

December 6 - I returned to work part-time after spending 14 wonderful weeks at home with Tory. It's been a challenge adjusting to our new normal, but it's getting easier each week. Tory now spends Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays with our in-home nanny.

December 18 & 25 - Tory's first Christmas! (Minnesota and Nebraska)

2011 was an awesome year for us! So many new beginnings for our little family. I'm excited to see what 2012 has in store!