Saturday, March 31, 2012

Did it...

Snip, snip, snip ...


Blah, Argh and Grrr....

I've been having a hard time the last few weeks. I can't tell if it's the change in seasons, a sudden drop in hormones as I weaned from nursing, Andi's traveling away from home or all of the above but I haven't felt like myself lately. I'm all over covered in blah.

Does anyone else have a hard time transitioning from winter to spring/summer clothes? While I don't particularly enjoy winter weather, there's something comforting about sweaters and jeans and coats. It's easier to hide flabby arms, pale skin and a flubby tummy behind layers and scarves. Now that our Minnesota weather has turned unseasonably warm so quickly, I find myself struggling to fit into my pre-baby spring/summer clothes because let's face it, my body is no longer in its pre-baby shape. I'm not necessarily bigger, just different. Plus, this wardrobe is from two years ago since I mostly wore maternity clothes in 2011. Oh, and did I mention most of my warm weather clothes are MIA? Last year I packed away my summer clothes because I was wearing maternity and didn't have the closet space to store them in our tiny old house. Somewhere in the move last summer, the tote apparently was misplaced (or didn't make the move?) because I can't find those clothes anywhere. I have a handful of shirts, of which all are skin-tight. Why did pre-baby me like to wear things so figure-flattering? GAH.

I know a shopping trip would likely cure this funk I'm in, but I'm having trouble finding anything flattering on my now flabby stomach and giant boobs. Also? Buying an entirely new wardrobe costs money and there's the whole part about finding TIME to shop. I wish there was a service like Trunk Club for women. I would pay serious money for someone to do the shopping for me. Well, not really. I don't actually have serious money but I'd love to pay someone in hugs and chocolate to pick out adorable new clothes that fit my figure perfectly and deliver them directly to my closet.

I'm sure some of this blah feeling definitely has something to do with hormones. I'm also sure it'll pass eventually like every blip in pregnancy and parenting does. I thought getting a new hairstyle might help lift my spirits so I made a spur-of-the-moment appointment on Thursday and walked out with new side-sweeping bangs.

Good idea when my hairstylist is there to style the look for me. Bad idea when I'm now at home and forced to DO SOMETHING with these newfound side-sweeping bangs that basically look like short layers. GAH. I'm now considering going back to the salon to have her change side-sweeping bangs into full cover-the-forehead bangs. Although, I'm not sure cutting my hair even shorter is a good idea if I can't figure out how to style it now.

Just a barrel of fun over here, aren't I? I guess I just needed to brain dump on someone and Internet, YOU WIN! Maybe I also wanted to see how many times I could say BLAH, ARGH and GRRR before it's overkill. Too much? You can tell me.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Letters To Tory: Seven Months


Happy seven months! You are so much fun these days and I truly enjoy every single second we spend together (OK, well, except the moments you're throwing a tantrum in your car seat or melting down as bedtime nears. Those moments aren't always so fun). Mostly though, you're a joy to be around and are always smiling and happy to play toys or jump in your Jumperoo.

Your personality is blossoming. I love when you burst into "conversation" with us as you babble sounds and hums. One of your favorite phrases is Ay, Ay, Ay, Ay and I often repeat this saying back to you: "Ay, Ay, Ay, Ay, Ay. I am a Frito Bandito." It's an old advertising jingle Nana and Papa always sing and somehow it's stuck around. Sometimes we repeat that sound to one another, over and over, and it always works to calm you when you're upset. I love these little signs that show you really can understand the things we say to you and you're learning how to talk back to us too. The other day, you signed "all done" to me after you finished your dinner. I was so proud of you! I wondered if I had imagined it, but your nanny said you signed the same phrase to her the very next day.

Speaking of meal time, you're really starting to enjoy solid foods and get so excited when we're preparing purees for you. You definitely prefer vegetables over fruits and peas (peas of all things!) are by far your favorite food. If there's something you don't want to eat, you're quick to press your lips together and shake your head 'no' if you don't like a particular variety.

Tory Girl, you have so much energy and are constantly bouncing in our laps and rolling around to get where you’d like to go. In fact, the two most common things people say about you are “look at those beautiful eyes” and “wow, she’s a wiggly one!” We have to hang on to you tightly when you're in our arms because sometimes you literally try to jump out of them! You're thisclose to learning how to crawl, just as soon as you figure out how to get those knees up underneath you. Sometimes you seem so focused in learning this new skill, yet other times you bat your eyes at us as if you're saying "could you just grab that toy for me?" Daddy is particularly smitten by those sweet expressions you make. To say he's wrapped around your finger is an understatement.

This month we flew to Austin, Texas for a weekend getaway and to Nebraska to see Nana, Papa and the rest of the family. You continue to be an excellent airport traveler although getting to and from with all of your stuff has proven to be more challenging. I'll never forget how much Daddy and I laughed as we tried to feed you food purees in an Austin hotel room or the look on your face when we plopped your car seat in the back of a cab after getting lost during the trip. Our life is always an adventure, that's for sure. You'll get used to all of our crazy antics, don't worry!

You started swimming lessons this month and so far you really seem to enjoy them. It's amazing how quickly you've picked up on kicking your legs, floating on your back and splashing in the water. We hope you'll enjoy the water just as much as Daddy and I.

Our life is so much fuller because you're in it, Tory. I can't wait to see what your eighth month will bring.


Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Who Loves Tory?

I'm not one to make photo books on online websites or even order prints online for that matter, but I did use Shutterfly around the holidays to make a few calendars for my mom / MIL. Because I haven't really spent a lot of money with them, or used the website in months, I was surprised to find a little gem of a coupon amix the massive amount of junk emails in my inbox the other day. It was for a free photo book (a $29.99 value - whee!). I, of course, forced my very tired eyes to stay open for an hour extra the other night to put together a story book for Tory before the coupon expired. I thought since she's so interested in books these days, she might enjoy looking at pictures of all our family on the pages. Plus, it'll help reinforce the names and faces of some of her Nebraska relatives she doesn't see very often.

Thought I'd share her cute little book!

Click here to view this photo book larger

I'm thinking we'll get more use out of this storybook (vs. just a picture book we print and stuff away somewhere). And since I only paid for shipping with my free book coupon, I won't feel guilty if the pages get ripped or the book gets ruined. I'm hoping Tory really likes it! I can't wait to share it with her when it shows up in the mail in a few weeks.

Monday, March 26, 2012

It's Time

Yesterday afternoon, I made a bottle of formula, sat down in the rocking chair and fed it to Tory. And like a unintentioned dagger to the heart, she drank it.


I'm throwing in the towel on nursing. I guess my body has decided it's time. After two and a half months of popping fenugreek and Mother's Milk pills, drinking tons of water and eating oatmeal with limited results, I'm coming to the realization my body is done nursing my baby. But am I ready? No. Yes? I guess I have to be.

As I laid in bed last night, wide awake at 4:00am after my third wake-up with Tory in less four hours, I tried to understand why this is happening to me. Isn't a mother's body designed to produce milk for her baby? Why is mine puttering out just a few months after it started? Why do some moms have such an oversupply but I don't? What did women do in biblical times when their bodies stopped producing milk and the alternative wasn't as simple as a can of formula? I suppose it's been happening to women throughout time and like me, they probably moved on to the next best option - cow's or goat's milk at the time.

Thankfully, Tory seems to be accepting the transition better than I am. I was worried she wouldn't take a bottle from me (as has been the case in past months) but it's almost like she knows it's time. Scratch that - I'm fairly certain she's ready. I don't think she's been getting enough to eat. Yesterday for example, I nursed her at Noon and she slept for an hour which is fairly standard. She woke up happy, but started to fuss about a half hour later. Knowing I likely didn't have much milk left and half wondering, I went into the kitchen and made a bottle of formula. As we walked back into her nursery together, Tory was already grabbing at the bottle in my hand and down-right guzzled the bottle once we sat down. The poor girl was hungry! I held back a few tears as my heart shattered right there on her nursery floor. I know it's such a silly thing for me to be so worked up over a stupid bottle of formula, but it made me feel like I was depriving my child of food. I let out a deep breath, realizing I was clenching my teeth and waiting for her to bock at taking a bottle, and tried to focus on rocking her in my arms. I expected her to want me, to demand to nurse, but she didn't. She drank her bottle, sat up and smiled and we went on with our day.

It's no secret we're still waking up a bazillion times a night over here, and I'm starting to wonder if hunger is the root cause. Last night before bedtime (which was an hour and a half after she ate a full serving of rice cereal and squash for dinner), I made Tory another bottle of formula. I know she went to bed with a full belly but like clockwork, she woke up again around Midnight. I nursed her back to sleep and she woke up again at 3:00am. I fed her again, but she mostly pacified herself back to sleep. A few minutes later, she cried out again until 3:45am I finally made her a bottle and went in to feed her. Tory drank the bottle, I laid her in her crib and she went right to sleep. She was still sleeping when I left for work this morning at 7:00am. I'm not sure what to think. Has she been hungry after nursing and that's why she wakes up so frequently at night? Or is she conditioned to wake up at Midnight and 3:00am and does so out of habit more than anything? Where is the manual for this child?!

In my mind, I thought the nursing transition would happen gradually over a few weeks. I'll slowly replace one nursing session with a bottle feeding, I told myself to make it an easier pill to swallow. It seems though, Tory is dictating another course of action. I brought my pump into work this morning and I'll try to pump a few times a day like I always do but I'm fairly certain I'll have little results. Looks like my Tory Bean will be bottle fed by the weekend.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

My Little Swimmer

Since Tory turned six months old, I've been itching to sign her up for some kiddo classes. Getting her involved in an activity will be something fun for her to do, especially since her weekday excursions usually peak with trips to Target and the grocery store. Plus, I'm looking for ways to meet other moms in our area with similar-aged babies. I started doing some research and found lots of options to get involved including EFCE groups, swimming lessons, story time at the library, baby music classes and more. We decided to start with baby swimming since cabin season is upon us and familiarizing Tory with the water is something important to both Andi and I. We also thought swimming would be something fun for Andi to do with Tory so whenever possible (when he's not traveling for work) he'll participate in the class with her.

Friday was Tory's first swimming lesson at Foss Swim School and she did fantastic! She's signed up for Back float Baby 1 which ranges in ages 6 months - 3 years. There are two other kids in her class and both are much older than she is, but that didn't stop her from getting right in on the action. In fact, I almost think her younger age is an advantage as she wasn't as anxious to put her face in the water or get splashed a little bit. Her instructor at Foss was so patient and fun and Andi and I both loved how much importance they stress in creating a routine in the pool (how to get in and out, etc.) so young babies/toddlers become familiar with safe ways to play. Tory never shed a tear during her 30 minute class. We were so proud of her!

More interested in what the other little kiddos were doing than taking a photo with Daddy, obviously. Come on, Tory! It's your very first swim class! (She could care less about making memories).

The kids sing Humpty Dumpty before falling off the wall into the pool. We just flew through the part where Humpty cracks his head. Minor detail, not to concern you children ...

Miss Tory had to be bribed with a toy to chew in order to put her elbows on the floating bar. (Even at 6 months she has a mind of her own)!

Andi's traveling during next week's class so it'll be just Tory and I at the pool. Logistically, I think it'll be a little more difficult to wrangle a wet baby in the locker room when I, too, will be dripping wet but I'm sure we'll manage. I'm just glad I had one week to get the lay of the land before I have to conquer swim class solo with her!


I'm curious to hear what other activities you've signed your kids up for? Any suggestions on what class or activity Tory should do next?

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Home Sweet Home

Tory and I are back from our whirlwind weekend trip to Nebraska and bonus! Husband came home from his work trip two days early this week. Guess what else? I SURVIVED solo parenting last week and hardly worse for the wear, I might add. The time really did fly by.

On Thursday, Tory and I hopped a late flight to see my family in Nebraska for a few days. I'm so thankful I made plans ahead of time to visit them, knowing I'd be moping around my house all weekend otherwise. It created a nice distraction from barely talking to Andi all week. (We don't usually talk when Andi travels for work. He's busy, time changes and late work dinners usually get in the way, and I don't think I'd offend him if I admitted neither of us enjoy talking on the phone all that much). (On a side note,  I seriously don't know how our relationship survived long-distance the first year we were together). 

This was my second time flying with Tory by myself and it went relatively smoothly, considering the timing. Evening flight options to Lincoln are limited so we were booked on the 9:55pm flight home. Poor Tory was so tired, but refused to close her eyes for even a minute for fear she might miss one piece of action in the airport. Now up 3 hours past her bedtime, she finally tuckered out after 10 minutes of crying once the plane took off. In case you're wondering, I didn't have a boob-isode on this trip. Just my luck, I was seated next to a 30's-something guy again but this time I politely introduced myself and explained Tory *should* be asleep shortly; to please bear with us. I brought my nursing cover which Tory still wouldn't allow to be over her head but at least provided enough fabric to shield my chest from the rest of the plane. The man seated next to me was very friendly (and sort of drunk, I think) and said he had 3 kids so he understood completely. I decided not to care if he could see my boobs or not; it is what it is when you're seated so closely. Who knows if this guy was uncomfortable with my nursing. I didn't pay enough attention to care. My parents picked us up from the airport and Tory slept the 30-minute drive to their house so while disjointed, she did get some sleep throughout the night.

My parents took the day off work on Friday and we drove back to Lincoln for a day of shopping. Strangely enough, this was Tory's first real shopping adventure - at 6 months old! I'm not a big mall person (I much prefer buying online) and I didn't realize until afterwards she'd never actually been to the mall (except during our trip to see Santa). Tory did great, though. I carried her in the Baby Bjorn and she loved watching all the people. I even bought her a little outfit she pulled off the rack at Old Navy because it was cute and I'm pretty sure she wanted it. (Mama = wrapped around Tory's finger).

Later that night, my sister came over for dinner at my parent's house and after Tory went to bed, we sat out on the patio and drank cocktails. Who would've imagined we'd be sitting outside enjoying the beautifully warm Nebraska weather in MARCH? It was wonderful.

Saturday was more of the same; we lounged around my parent's house for the better part of the day. Saturday evening, I drove back to Lincoln to meet up with my best friend Ashley for some much-needed girl time. We got pedicures and went out to dinner. I heard later Tory was somewhat of a pistol going to sleep for my parents which I felt guilty about. I'm sure she was overly tired from traveling and not being on her regular schedule.

My family went to church on Sunday and celebrated my sister's boyfriend confirmation into their church at a reception hosted at her house. Tory and I were able to see my extended family before we left town which I loved. It's so fun to see all the little cousins (Brooke and Lauren) play together and interact with Tory, too. I'm thankful we get to see them as much as we do considering we live so far away. My parents took us back to the airport later that afternoon, and Tory was a peach on the entire flight home. I think she was exhausted from all the excitement of the weekend.

This week Tory and I enjoying our time at home with Daddy, who cut his trip short and came home on Monday. It's still crazy-beautiful weather in Minnesota this week and Andi and I have been taking advantage with walks around the neighborhood and dinner on the three season porch. Ah, springtime I've missed you!

So, I survived my week of solo parenting and surprisingly it wasn't too difficult after all. Andi's home this week and then gone again and although I'm not looking forward to him being away, I'm not dreading it like I was this last trip. Sure, I won't be able to jet-set to Nebraska every time he leaves but I also realize Tory and I will find plenty of things to occupy our time.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Getting Along Just Fine

While we are missing Daddy around these parts, I have to say the unseasonably warm weather has Tory and I in good spirits during his absence this week. The days have flown by since Andi left on Tuesday and we've found plenty to keep us busy.

After work on Tuesday, I bundled Tory up (even though it was sunshiny 65 degrees outside!) and we took Chloe for a long walk around the neighborhood. She was probably overdressed for the occasion, but I'm having a hard time finding a balance between the seasons with our abrupt switch to spring in Minnesota. I find myself in constant panic she's not dressed warmly enough ... or has on too many layers and is sweating herself to death. Better to peel off layers than freeze her little body, I suppose.

It's nice to finally get some use out of our City Mini stroller. I was too nervous to take Tory outside in September when she was only a few weeks old and she never allowed us to use it on our Florida vacation because she had to sit in the car seat attachment. Now that Tory's big enough to sit solo in the seat (just barely!), she's enjoying cruising around the neighborhood trail.

Working has helped fill the days this week so the few hours I have with Tory in the evenings fly by. Now that she's 6 months old and started solids, it seems like I'm hustling to feed her dinner, clean her up (which often involves a quick bath to wash vegetables out of her hair!), a few minutes of playtime and it's already time for bed. I remember the early days of Tory's life this fall, when Andi was traveling so much, and how LONELY I felt all by myself everyday. Some days seemed never ending and I guess that's what I was dreading more than anything now that Andi's busy work season is upon us. Maybe I'll be busy enough with Tory and that won't be the case this time around ...

I'm amazed at how quickly Tory is growing up. I think she'll be crawling any day now. Last night we were laying on the floor of the sun porch which was wildy reminiscent of my first few days at home with her last fall. I love when those deju-vu moments rush over me in the most fantastic way. I was instantly filled with so much love for my baby girl and could've laid there for hours watching her play on a blanket. She rolled back and forth, back to tummy and tummy to back a million times and couldn't get enough of her reflection in the sliding glass door. She practiced scooting on her elbows, although she's not quite there yet. I hoped she wouldn't army crawl just yet; I don't want Andi to miss it!

Tonight we fly to Nebraska to see my family. Here's hoping Tory Bean is a good little traveler and sleeps most of way there. This time I'll bring a nursing cover so I won't have the same boob situation with a potentially handsome plane seat passenger!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Focus On The Good

Yesterday began the first day of Andi's whirlwind weeks of work travel and I'm trying reeeeeally hard not to be bogged down by his absence. I've been dreading this time on the calendar for weeks because I know how lonely and frustrated I feel when he's gone. Logically, I also know how silly it is for me to feel this way. We're lucky his business is thriving and without all his hard work, we wouldn't be able to live the life we do. Sigh, it's just, I miss him terribly when he's gone ... and parenthood is so much more tiring when I have to do everything by myself.

I'm trying to focus on the good things ahead this week:
  • Our beautiful Minnesota weather, sunshine (!!) and taking Tory and Chloe for walks outside.
  • It's Spring Break at work and almost everyone is on vacation except for me ... which means few meetings, lots of quiet time to catch-up on projects and little stress.
  • Tory and I are flying to Nebraska this weekend to see my family. Planning ahead this time and knowing I'd be down-in-the-dumps with Andi being away, I made plans for the one thing that always makes me feel better - going back home.
  • I have a date night scheduled with my best friend Ashley this weekend with big plans to drink wine! Go out to dinner! Get a much-needed pedicure! Ashley wanted to see Tory Bean but like a good friend, obliged, when I begged for a few hours of girl time. My parents will love the solo time with Tory, too.
Time will fly by while he's gone, right?

I should also mention what a lovely time Andi, Tory and I shared at the cabin last weekend. I soaked up every single moment of togetherness before his crazy work schedule began. We drove to the cabin Friday night after Tory's bedtime (and avoided a baby car meltdown, for the win!). On Saturday, we took Tory and Chloe for a walk outside and laid around the cabin all afternoon relaxing, reading books, playing toys and enjoying each other's company.

On Saturday night, we took Tory out to dinner at Hilltop Restaurant for the first time. I'm always too scared to take her into restaurants for fear she'll be too noisy. Plus, how enjoyable is it really to wrangle a wiggly baby for an hour or two while trying to eat? Not very. But Saturday's dinner went well and Andi and I took turns eating while the other held Tory. I suspect things will get easier when she's able to partake in eating with us (even if it's only Cheerios to keep her busy).

We're lucky to have the cabin to retreat to on the weekends. It's a peaceful place for us to spend time together and a nice break from reality. Here's hoping the remainder of this week flies by and my weekend in Nebraska is as fun as the last one.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Things I Love: 3-6 Months Baby Edition

From time to time, people ask me which baby things I've found most useful. A few months ago, I told you about my favorite newborn baby things. I'm glad I jotted down my thoughts as babies change and along with it, my favorite baby items evolved too. Here's a run-down of my favorites for Tory - age 3-6 months.

Halo Sleep Sack
Pre-rolling baby, the Summer Infant swaddle wraps were a favorite of mine. Around 17 weeks, when Tory learned to roll from back to tummy, I turned a little freaky about her swaddling situation. The rolling transition inspired quite possibly my darkest month of parenting (a la, frequent wake-ups every hour or two until Tory learned to sleep without startling herself awake) but the little sleep I did get was peaceful knowing my baby was snuggled up in her Halo Sleep Sack. The fuzzy material is warm enough for her during winter nights and still allows her to move around without the threat of suffocating.

Oh, boy! This age brought lots of "up the back" messy poops. While I'm normally very good at keeping up with the laundry, Tory's diaper blow-outs were causing me to fret over the decision to wash one teeny tiny outfit by itself (because all of my other laundry was caught up) or let the poopy stain sit while I waited for the next round of wash to accumulate. Enter OxyClean. Too many times to count, I soaked the soiled outfit in a bucket in the laundry room until I was ready to wash it clean. The result? Bright, non-stained outfits and a life outside the laundry room.

Baby Bjorn
Somewhere around 3 months of age, I finally had the realization to "wear" Tory around the house and while running errands since she was never content to lay on a blanket by herself or quietly chill in her car seat like every other baby I saw at Target. I had a variety of options and believe me, I tried them all. I use the Moby wrap from time to time, but it's a little too complicated for me to maneuver by myself with a fussy, wiggly baby. I have a ring sling which I use around the house quite a bit but I never feel comfortable enough using it in public (as it looks like baby torture the way Tory's stuffed in there kangaroo style). The Baby Bjorn quickly became our "favorite" baby carrier because it's easy to strap the baby in one-handed, secure enough to wear in busy situations (the airport, on walks, shopping, etc). Speaking of the airport, we wore Tory right through security checkpoints many times which allows two free hands to manage everything else.

Sophie The Giraffe
It's a rubber giraffe and the #1 rated baby item on Amazon. It costs $20. I have to admit, I didn't get it either until Tory hit teething age and went bananas over it. Sophie is, by far, one of her favorite toys. She squeaks and plays and chews on it for hours (ok, several minutes ... which feel like hours in baby time). Definitely worth every penny.

Baby Einstein Piano and Take Along Tunes
During 3-6 months of age, Tory discovered toys and especially loves the ones with lights and music. These two Baby Einstein ones are her favorites. The portable Take Along Tunes has diverted many car seat meltdowns over the months and the piano is a favorite for playtime on a blanket. I was surprised when she knew exactly how to push the "piano keys" and move the rattle on the top. What a smart cookie!

My mom looked at me like I was crazy when I was back home a few months ago and proclaimed Tory's love for books. A few hours later, as we were driving in the car and Tory started screaming, I pulled out one of our favorite reads and she instantly stopped to listen to the story. Tory really does love books, especially board books with few words and vibrant pictures. It melts my heart when she touches the pages as I read to her and tries to flip the pages by herself. Okay, she tries to eat them too!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

11 Questions

Laura over at The Diniwilks tagged me in a fun little post and since I am a rule-follower by nature, I will not be able to sleep until I answer her request to play along. Enjoy!

Post a picture of yourself, tell us 11 things we might not know about you, answer the 11 questions asked of you, then write 11 new questions and tag some friends to play along (let them know you 
tagged them!)

Here's a photo of me in Austin this past weekend. Turns out, I don't have a lot of pictures without a baby in my arms anymore. I guess I need to work on that!

Eleven things you might not know about me:

1) I was born on Friday the 13th.

2) I still sleep with my childhood blankie.

3) In my hometown, people drive around in the country and drink beer for fun. It's called road-tripping. When Andi and I started dating, I asked him if he wanted to go road-tripping and he thought I was asking him to take a vacation.

4) In high school, most of my friends were boys.

5) I love chips of any kind. I don't discriminate.

6) I never flew on an airplane until I was 22 years old.

7) I love geniology and someday I want to visit the place in Germany where my dad's family originated.

8) When I was little, I dreamed of being a broadcast journalist. My parents have home movies of me "interviewing" my younger sister.

9) I love to be in charge, except around my husband. He makes most of life's little decisions about where to eat or what to do on the weekends and I'm totally fine with it.

10) My gums itch every time I eat steak.

11) I never carry a purse. I don't really need it; I just shove my wallet in the diaper bag or give my ID to my husband when we're going out somewhere fun.


Ok, onto Laura's questions:

1) What are your top five all-time favorite bands?
Top five! Geez, I don't think I have that many. I'm not a big music person. Well, right now I would say John Mayer, Jason Aldean, Tim McGraw, Dave Matthews Band and Taylor Swift. GAH, that was hard.

2) What are your top five all-time favorite books?

I just finished The Hunger Games trilogy and all three books were amazing. As a kid, I loved Where The Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein and read every book in the Baby-Sitters Club series about a hundred times. Let's see, I just finished Bossypants by Tiny Fey which was a great, easy read and one more ... Baby Wise has been a good go-to reference for me in parenting.

3) What is the craziest thing you have ever done?

Some of my travel adventures with Andi have been pretty crazy. Scaling the side of cliffs, getting lost in the middle of a Jihad neighbhorhood in Paris, renting a scooter and driving through crazy traffic in Thailand. During those times, I always feel like it's safe until he makes a comment afterwards about how sketchy the situation was and I'm always like, "Dude! What the heck?"

4) What is your favorite treat?

Diet Coke. I try to limit how often I have one so when I "treat" myself, I always enjoy it. (Before I got pregnant, I was drinking like 3-4 a day!)

5) What are you the proudest of?

I'm proud of myself for living on my own before I got married and establishing a career (and living that life) before I became a mother.

6) What are you the most ashamed of?

We don't go to church all that often these days, and it's something that really bothers me. I'm very fearful my child(ren) will grow up without the strong religious foundation my parents gifted me.

7) What is your guilty pleasure?

Brain-less time to myself. Watching tv. Reading blogs.

8) What are you really, really good at?

Memory. I easily remember names, past characters I've seen actors/actresses play, family memories, etc.

9) What does your handwriting look like? (post a pic!!!)
I find it hard to write cards and letters these day because I so infrequently use handwriting to communicate. Darn you, technology!

10) Which chores do you refuse to do (or do your best to get out of)?
Taking out the trash. I leave it by the door for my husband. Any other chores, I don't mind doing ... even cleaning toilets!

11) Do you have any tattoos, body piercings, etc.?
No tattoos and I'm so happy I didn't jump on this bandwagon in high school / college. I do have my ears pierced and had my belly button pierced but took it out when I got pregnant.


... and now for my 11 questions:

1) Would you rather be poor and work at a job you love or be rich and work at a job you hate?

2) What is the single feature people comment about you the most?

3) What is your favorite part of the day?

4) Ever have an imaginary friend as a child?

5) What are the 3 most important things in your life?

6) What is your most prized material possession?

7) What did you do to receive the biggest punishment of your childhood?

8) Favorite and most hated smell?

9) What celebrity are you often mistaken for?

10) Are you named after anyone?

11) Biggest pet peeve?


Ok, now it's your turn to play along. I tag ... Jen, Katie, Jessie and Raising Snowpeas. Ready, GO! (If you play along, don't forget to post a link to your blog in the comments below this post!)

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Austin: Day 3

Austin: Day 3

Monday was our last day in Austin and we decided to get out of the city to explore Texas a little more. As clique as it sounds, we only saw one cowboy hat in the city (and it was more like a cowboy hat sombraro - a cowbraro? - on a Mexican construction worker). I don't think that really counts. Andi said Austin wasn't the Texas he pictured so we decided to change that by heading into "Hill Country." The evening before, Andi hooked up a ride from our hotel's shuttle van driver when he went to grab take-out and asked for some good spots to see while we were in town. Here's a tip: NEVER TRUST THE SHUTTLE VAN DRIVER. We learned this the hard way.

The shuttle van driver recommended we check out Lake Travis. "It's the most beautiful blue water you'll ever see" he told Andi. Lake Travis is about an hour outside Austin and we thought this sounded like the perfect outside-of-town adventure before our afternoon flight home. The shuttle van driver also recommended Salt Lick BBQ, "the best in the country," he said. Lake Travis, BBQ for lunch = perfect.

After breakfast at our hotel, Andi and I loaded Tory into our rental car and headed out of town. Almost immediately, Tory fell asleep in the car which was perfect timing for her morning nap. Andi and I enjoyed each other's conversation on the drive. The sun was shining, all was lovely. As we pulled into the Lake Travis State Park area, I noticed the area looked a little "dry" if you will. There were cactus plants along the road and I swear I might have even seen a tumbleweed. There were definitely no cars around. We pulled up to Lake Travis only to find a small pond. Apparently the beautiful, blue lake is a little low in the off-season. In fact, I think it might be fed by an aquifer. Uh ....

Andi was bound and determined to find a trail to hike along so we drove around for a half-hour or more, looking for a road that wasn't closed! We finally found a small trail and parked the car on the side of the road. I loaded Tory into the Baby Bjorn and we started walking. It seriously felt like a scene from Breaking Bad. We stopped and took some photos with Tory and the cactus plants so our trip wasn't a total waste. Proof she made it to Texas.

After our little stroll along the dirt road, we loaded Tory back into the car and headed back to Austin. Of course our return drive couldn't possibly be as peaceful as our earlier one; Tory screamed her head off the entire way back to the city. Oh my, that child does not like her car seat. If there's one lesson you'd think we would've learned by now, it's that one.

We scratched lunch at the BBQ restaurant (good thing too, as we later realized it was a chain restaurant which was ALSO AVAILABLE IN THE AIRPORT!) (see previous note about not taking advice from shuttle van drivers!). After listening to Tory cry for an hour, I told Andi to hurry up and find food SOMEWHERE and make it snappy. He hit up another food truck court and came back with Korean French Fries and street tacos. Whatever. We took our lunch to-go and headed to Texas' Capitol building to have a picnic lunch in the grass. As soon as we took Tory out of her car seat, she was perfectly content to lay on a blanket under a shady tree. Little stinker...

In desperate need of a nap, we loaded Tory back into the car after lunch and decided to drive around for a bit. The poor, exhausted baby promptly fell asleep in her car seat as soon as we drove away from the Capitol. In an effort to kill time, we found ourselves driving around downtown Austin so Tory could get in a little snooze. At one point, Andi drove down the wrong-way on a one way street directly in front of a police officer. We got pulled over so, you know, that was fun. Thankfully the cop gave us a warning after he discovered we were from out of town and simply made a mistake. As friendly of a place we found Austin to be, I will say the town's streets aren't marked very well!

Still killing time while the baby slept in the car, we found ourselves driving through residential neighborhoods and even by the city's water treatment plant. "When we come to town, we leave no stone left unturned," I told Andi. "We want to see EVERYTHING!" Good lord. Eventually if you can believe it, we found ourselves driving around the outskirts of Lake Travis once again before finally deciding to call it a day and head to the airport. GAH.


I'm so thankful Andi and I jumped on the chance to visit Austin, as we really did have a lovely time. Most of all, I enjoyed spending quality time together and laughing (mostly) until my cheeks hurt. I feel so lucky sometimes, living the life I do, with an incredible man by my side and my gorgeous baby girl to share the journey. Next time though, I think we'll leave little Tory Bean at home.

Austin: Day 2

More about our weekend trip to Austin:

Austin: Day 2

Sunday started like a real-deal vacation: Tory slept in until 8:00am which means Andi and I did too. We tackled her breakfast feeding of rice cereal and bananas (which she hated, by the way! Tory Girl far prefers mama's homemade banana puree to Gerber's version). Once she was fed, Andi volunteered to take Tory down to the hotel breakfast while I got dressed. Can I tell you how heavenly it was to get ready ALL BY MYSELF for once? Quite the vacation treat, I say. I came down to breakfast to find Andi with perspiration on his forehead. Apparently managing a breakfast buffet and a six-month old isn't so easy, no? My husband made a comment about how he doesn't know how I do what I do everyday and I filed it under NO KIDDING and THANK YOU.

After breakfast, we decided to take a walk around Austin on Lady Bird Trail. Lady Bird promised a pleasant, mostly flat walk with views of downtown Austin and Lady Bird Lake which sounded like a perfect way to start our day's adventure. Conveniently, we hopped onto the trail just outside our hotel and strolled along in the warm morning sunshine. Tory was being a peach in her stroller and we even went as far to hope for a morning nap while we walked.

At one point, we came to a T in the trail. We followed some joggers and took a right turn instead of a left which turned out to be a really dumb idea. Still strolling along, the trail finally turned into a Department of Transportation parking lot. "I think the trail picks up just on the other side," Andi said, so we continued to follow the runners and blindly made our way out of the park. Our quiet morning stroll gradually became more noisy with busy traffic blaring by on the street. Andi stopped a man running by and asked where to pick up the trail again. "Just past those condos," he said. We continued walking, crossing a busy intersection to get there. Finally, we found the trail but it was under construction. Andi asked a gardener outside a nearby apartment complex for more directions. He basically told us we'd have to walk a few more miles back in direction we came but if we did, we should check out the kite festival in Zilker Park. "Very beautiful!" he said.

Super, thanks.

By this time, Tory was melting down (of course) and there was no freaking way I was walking back three or four miles with a screaming baby. We walked up the road to a 7-Eleven and hailed down a cab. I think this picture explains it all:

As the cab pulled away in route to the kite festival, Tory's face was priceless. She looked at Andi and I with a mixture of distaste and confusion. "Get used to it kid," Andi told her. "This is what it's like traveling with your parents." I couldn't stop laughing.

The kite festival in Zilker Park was beautiful. We laid in the grass and fed Tory before deciding to take the Lady Bird Trail back to our hotel (you know, the beautiful part of the trail which wrapped around the lake). Tory napped on the return route and then we hopped into the car to continue our adventure.

One thing on Andi's Austin To-Do List was to visit Whole Foods. It's their flagship store and we thought it'd be neat to see. Plus, we're quirky like that on vacations. The store was crazy big and had a wine bar inside, a full grocery store (with big aisles even - that's always my biggest pet peeve about Whole Foods in our neighborhood), a sushi bar and more. We bought Tory what turned out to be the lamest teething toy for $14.99 and left the store in search of lunch.

We decided to try Torchy's Tacos for lunch, highly recommended by She Likes Purple. We ordered two fried avocado tacos, queso dip and chips and made our way to a nearby park to have lunch outside in the gorgeous weather. The food was fabulous, by the way. I could've licked the queso bowl clean and finally had to throw it away in a yucky park trash can to stop myself from going overboard.

After walking around the park a little bit, we drove over to Austin's South Congress area, a street lined with unique stores and a nearby food truck court. Andi ordered an award-winning coconut cream pie a food truck and we spend an hour or so walking along the strip, browsing through the funky stores. We wanted to stop for a infamous drink at San Jose Hotel (another She Likes Purple suggestion) but Tory was getting fussy so we decided to head back to the hotel.

No vacation is complete without a trip to the pool, so we suited Tory up and went for a dip. She wasn't sure what to think of the water at first, but soon enough was splashing away. And lucky for us, it was Sunday night so there wasn't another kiddo around. We had the entire pool area to ourselves.

After swimming, it was bedtime for Tory. I tackled feeding, bathing and putting her to sleep while Andi ran out for take-out. This time, we ordered dinner from Bess Bistro (Sandra Bullock's restaurant). We dined on crispy artichokes, steak frites and asparagus. The food was pretty good, but probably would've been better served fresh from the restaurant. Someday we'll be able to go to dinner on vacation again ...

Andi and I were in bed by 9:30pm but neither of us were complaining. We had a great day in Austin, plus our legs were killing us from all that walking on Lady Bird Trail!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Austin: Day 1

Two things are certain about my husband:

1) Andi loves adventure.

2) Once an idea creeps into his head, there's no turning back.


With only two weekends left before Andi's whirlwind month(s) of work travel, we're trying to make the most of our family time together. On Wednesday, Andi mentioned taking a trip somewhere fun this weekend. I'm all for spontaneous vacations, but where to? We considering going snowmobiling at the cabin, but most of the trails are closed from lack of snow this season. We thought about visiting friends in Northern Minnesota, but they already had weekend plans. So, Andi checked the weekly airline sales and found buzz-kill deals to Detroit, Chicago, San Francisco and Austin, Texas. Austin? Eh, maybe. Our flight wouldn't arrive until 5pm Saturday so we'd only have Sunday and a half-day on Monday to explore the city. Would a trip to Texas really be worth it? We decided against it.

On Thursday, we poked around for another deal on the Internet and came up empty-handed. "Let's just go to Austin," I said, but the deal was already gone.

On Friday, Andi woke me up before he left for work and told me the Austin deal was back. "Let's do it," he said. And so we did.


Austin: Day 1

On Saturday morning, I packed a suitcase and we headed to the airport. Gone are the days of stuffing a few newborn diapers and wipes into my suitcase. This trip, I added baby food, formula, rice cereal, bibs, a HUGE pack of size 3 diapers and toys to the mix in addition to Tory's clothes, onesies and blankets. Good thing mama packs light.

At the airport, en route to Austin

Once again, Tory was a gem on the plane ride to Austin. She slept for the first half of the 2 1/2 hour flight and was content to play rattles and toys the remainder. It always makes me feel good when the passengers around us comment on how well behaved she was during the flight. Even if I spent the entire flight wrangling a wiggly baby and constantly staying one step ahead to keep her entertained, no else saw me sweat it.

By the time we landed in Austin, it was 6:00pm and nearing Tory's bedtime. To avoid a full-on baby meltdown, Andi dropped us off at the hotel and ran out for take-out while I conquered our bedtime routine. It turns out, feeding a baby in a hotel room with no high chair gets a little messy. Good thing there was an endless supply of towels and a bathroom sink for quick cleanup! So glad I brought her hooded towel, a wash cloth and baby body wash along (add that to the list of must-have baby travel accessories).

Once Tory was asleep in the hotel crib, Andi and I devoured a glamorous dinner from Zax Restaurant. We curled up on the couch in our pajamas and dined on crab cakes, an olive and cheese plate and split a South Texas Burger. Paired with a couple of cocktails from the hotel bar and we enjoyed a fine date night together.  

We had a blast exploring Austin the rest of the weekend. Gotta run, so I'll recap the rest of our trip later!

Friday, March 2, 2012

Mom Guilt

Sometimes the self-induced guilt in parenting is enough to swallow me whole. As a first-time mom, I constantly find myself questioning our daily parenting decisions. Is my child's brain being stimulated enough? Is she getting enough to eat? Too much to eat? When her face is wet with tears because she needs to learn to soothe herself, does it hurt her as much as much as it hurts me? Perhaps my worry is a sign of good parenting; I care enough to sweat the small stuff. Or perhaps I'm neurotic.

"Breast is best" they say, so I knew I wanted to nurse before Tory was even born. It's nutrition only I could provide her and it was important for me to eat right, drink lots of water and limit the fun stuff like alcohol and caffeine. No worries, I was up for the challenge. Battling through nasty colds without taking any medicine and pumping at work in less-than-ideal circumstances; I've made personal sacrifices to support the cause for six months now (and more if you count pregnancy, too). All in the name of motherhood and I'm happy to do it.

No one ever told me about the guilt associated with nursing, though. The books and the doctors never warned me how stressed I'd feel when demand couldn't keep up with supply. When I look at the bigger picture, I know I'm lucky for never having to deal with latching on issues or thrush as many other moms I know. So it never crossed my mind how let down I'd feel when my body started producing less and less milk. I first noticed it when Tory was 3 months old but I chocked it up to my return to work and pumping inefficiencies. I started taking fenugreek pills, ate oatmeal daily, pumped every two hours at work and drank water like it was my job. For a while, it made a difference and I was maintaining demand (just barely). I repeated the mantra "you only need enough milk to get through the next day" to myself and tried not to burst into tears every time I looked in the freezer and watched my bags of milk slowly disappear. A heavy weight pressed on my chest and I looked at my husband like he was crazy when he suggested leaving the baby for a date night ... or worse, an overnight stay without her. The horror! Every time I was apart from Tory, I worried how I'd replace the milk she'd consume in my absence.

When we started Tory on rice cereal at 5 1/2 months, I couldn't keep up with the milk madness. The thought of mixing breast milk (my hard earned breast milk!) into rice cereal which would potentially be thrown away if she didn't finish the portion nearly broke me. I came to the realization I'd have to start supplementing with formula ... if only in the rice cereal. And guess what? We did and nothing happened. Tory didn't even notice the change and I felt the smallest bit of relief.

Two nights ago, after another one of Tory's epic no-sleep nights, I cried uncle. I put Tory to sleep at her usual 7:00pm bedtime and Andi volunteered to feed her a bottle at her next feeding. My gut reaction was to deny Andi's help because it meant I'd have to get up and pump while he fed her. Then I decided I'd had enough. I quietly made her a bottle of formula and placed it in the fridge for Andi to use. If she drank formula and wasn't using one of my last bags of breast milk, there would be no pressure to get up and pump in the middle of the night. I slept from 9:00pm - 4:30am that night and it felt glorious. For the first time in forever, I woke up feeling rested. Following Tory's bottle with Andi, she slept for 5 straight hours. I'm not sure if it was the formula or because she consumed more ounces before falling back asleep but the point is, she slept. Last night resulted in the same; she slept for five straight hours. I'm sure Andi's less than thrilled to be the new Midnight feeder, but it's working.

For the first time in a long time, I let go of the breastfeeding guilt. Formula won't hurt Tory and there's room for both nursing and bottles in our world. I'm not sure why I felt so obsessive about all of this for so long but in any case, it feels good to finally breathe. I hope I can continue nursing Tory for as long as my body will allow. When it comes time to wean, I'll be okay with that too.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Letters to Tory: Six Months

Tory Bean,

Six months and one day ago I waddled around our house, round and pregnant, anxiously waiting the next chapter of my life to begin. The part I saw in my dreams so clearly; your sweet little face, lying on a blanket reading books together, snuggling in bed with Daddy on Saturday mornings. Those are the things I knew would be part of my new life with you. What I didn't know then is how complete you'd make me feel. My heart swells with joy everyday because of you.

Here we are on your half birthday and time has flown by faster than I'd like to acknoledge. I look back at your newborn pictures in amazement because I cannot believe how tiny you once were. Today, your beautiful brown eyes (which have finally turned from deep blue), wiggly worm kicks and infectious personality give us a view of the little lady you're becoming. 

This month you transitioned into 6-9 month clothes and size 3 diapers. They look huge when I hold them up (this can't possibly fit my baby!) and yet they do. You're growing up so quickly. At 25 weeks old, you tasted your first sweet potatoes and loved them! You've also tried bananas and carrots, too. We now feed you a mix of fruits or veggies and rice cereal at breakfast, lunch and dinner. Sleep is still not your friend, little bean. Everyone said you'd sleep in longer stretches when you started solid foods but this hasn't made a difference as you're still waking most nights every 2-3 hours. Most of the time I don't mind snuggling you back to sleep beceause I know these days are numbered. Someday soon you'll be sleeping through the night and when you do I'll realize just how fast my baby girl is growing up.

These days, your favorite pasttimes are playing with Sophie the Giraffe, sucking on your big toe, taking baths and slobbering on any rattle you can get your hands on. You're the most ticklish little girl I've ever seen and kisses on your belly, your feet and your neck send you in an all-out gigglefest. Finally at six months old, you're finding interest in rolling over. You learned how over two months ago, but it wasn't until recently you discovered how cool the world is from a belly's point of view.

When I reflect on these last six months, I remember the challenges of our first few weeks together. I didn't know how to be your mom, didn't know the difference between your cries, your favorite songs or the way you liked to be snuggled. These days, that's all become second nature and being your mom is less worry and lots more fun. Your sweet baby sighs and squeaks have given way to boisterous coos, hums and laughter.

I'm often stopped in my tracks when I realize there will never be another time like this for you and me. Our future holds busy schedules, your desire to run and be a kid and hopefully one day, a little brother or sister. Someday you won't want me to squeeze you tight or smother you with kisses and that's why today I cherish every single minute I spend with you. The memories of the last six months will forever be held in my heart with my dreams for our future days together. I love you, baby girl. Happy six months!