Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Letters to Tory: Nine Months


Nine months in; nine months out. It's hard to believe I've been caring for you in one way or another for a year and a half now! Where does the time go?

I've enjoyed every single minute with you, but I have to say this age is truly my favorite. You are so much fun lately! I love watching your personality come alive and thus far, I think it's pretty cute how opinionated you are about your likes and dislikes. New loves this month are blocks, bubbles, baby dolls and cups. You dislike teething biscuits, having your face wiped after meals, sitting in the grass and being anywhere Mommy isn't.

This was a big milestone month for you. About a week ago, you started crawling and have never looked back. It's like a whole new world opened up and now you're a exploring machine! Daddy and I quickly baby-proofed the house and just in time. You're literally crawling up the walls, trying to stick your fingers in power outlets, lift the covers off floor vents and have already discovered the stairway. Thank goodness we were one step ahead of you.

This week, you also started pulling yourself up on the furniture. You're determined to learn how to walk (even though you just started crawling!) as you practice pulling yourself up on the bath tub and the living room sofa. I can't believe what a dare devil you are! Already you're holding onto the furniture with one hand as you attempt to balance and move alongside it. You're going to be walking before long and it's too much for me to comprehend. I'm equally excited for your achievements and silently pleading with you to slow down, baby girl. You're growing up so fast!

A big highlight this month was the addition of your first tooth. Unfortunately, you weren't one of those lucky kids who's teeth just magically appear. Some days, you seem pretty miserable as you slobber and chew on everything. With teething, you've developed a new sound -- whining, whining and more whining. Ugh! I feel bad for you, Tory Bean, and I try to do everything I can to make you comfortable. I'd like to believe the next few teeth won't be so difficult, but considering the way you're biting everything in sight this week, tooth #2 doesn't seem far behind.

One of the cutest things you do these days (in addition to waving / saying "hi" to every person you see) is dancing. Whenever any of your toys play music, you sway from side to side to the tune. I don't know where you learned this trick. You surely didn't get your love for dancing from me!

It's cabin season and we've already spent a few weekends this month at the lake. You went on your first boat ride over Mother's Day weekend. I was thinking the other day what a good little sport you are bouncing from our house to the cabin every weekend without issue. We also took you on your first road trip this month to Nebraska for Auntie Ashley's wedding celebration. Seventeen hours in the car with you was a loooong time, but overall you did fairly well. I can't say we'll be making a return car trip anytime soon. You may have been onto something all those months protesting riding in your car seat!

Yes, life with you has definitely been an adventure. The light in your eyes and contagious smile fill my heart with so much joy. I love you more than words can express, Tory Bean. You mean everything to me.


Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Tory - 39 Weeks Old (9 Months)

Tory - 39 Weeks Old (9 Months)

Hard to believe this cute little doll is 9 months old already!

Tory's working on her second tooth and definitely not feeling her best this week. The only way I could get her to sit still - even for a second - was to give her a toy to chew on. At one point, she laid her head down on the chair as if saying "enough photos, mom."

Monday, May 21, 2012

On the Move

... and she's off to the races!

Tory started crawling this weekend.

Until now, Tory's been perfectly content doing a mad roll to get to where she wanted to go. Last week, she started rocking on her hands and knees and I knew my days of laying Tory Girl on a blanket and expecting her to stay there were numbered.

Andi and I drove to the cabin on Friday night and as we were unpacking groceries in the kitchen, I placed Tory down on the living room floor to play. She hopped up on all fours and hit full stride. Baby Girl hasn't looked back. She skipped right past the "arm crawl" stage to full-on crawling and she's fast, too. I haven't seen Tory roll as a form of transportation since she learned how to move this way.

What happened to my itsy bitsy baby? She's transforming into a mobile toddler before my very eyes. I'm equally excited to watch Tory discover a whole new world around her and heart broken she's growing up so quickly. With more movement comes independence and less interest in snuggling close to mommy. I'm concentrating hard on every moment the last few days as I never want to forget the exact moment my baby grew into a little girl.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The Baby Attraction

Like a moth to a flame, people are naturally drawn to babies. With Tory in arms, I'm approached at swimming class, the grocery store and even walking around our neighborhood by people who 'want to get a look at the baby.'

When I pass a mother and baby out and about, I make eye contact, smile and give her an intentional head nod. Rarely do I engage in small talk as I know she likely has a to-do list of things she's trying to accomplish before the baby melts down in the middle of the store. Let's face it, I've got the same agenda. And truthfully, I find forced conversation irrelevant and exhausting. Call me an ice queen. It won't be the first time I've heard it.

That isn't to say I won't engage in a conversation with a stranger if they start one first. Minnesota nice, right? I think it might be the law. I answer their questions about Tory's age, share her latest and greatest milestone when prompted and politely smile when I provide the usual response of "no, she's not sleeping through the night just yet." I truly prefer the older ladies commentary over other mothers because the conversation usually ends there. If it's another baby's mama who firing off the questions, I feel obligated to ask her a few questions about her little one as well. I don't know why I have such a problem forcing these questions out of my mouth, but I do. The other day at TJ Maxx, I courtesy-asked how old another mother's baby girl was and when she answered "six months," I all-too-eagerly exclaimed "so tiny!" WHAT? So tiny? What was I even saying? I just finished telling the lady my own daughter was eight months. She probably thought I was an idiot.

And, that's why I don't engage in small-talk conversation. GAH.

The thing about this stranger small-talk issue is that it never goes away. Everywhere I go, someone wants to talk about my child. What really gets me are the people who incorrectly identify Tory's gender. For some reason, elderly people especially, identify all babies as 'little guy.' As in, "how old's your little guy?" Can't you see the PURPLE BLANKET and PINK OUTFIT she's wearing? This drives me bananas. One of our neighbors, who bless his heart is so sweet, cannot for his life remember Tory is a girl, no matter how many times I correct him.

Worse are the people who incorrectly pronounce Tory's name. My beautiful baby girl is often referred to as 'Tony' or 'Troy.' Obviously Tory with a 'y' is a less common way to spell her name and I understand how the letters are easily transposed at first glance. But she's a girl! I just switched to a new pediatrician for this very (albeit silly) reason. The staff at the clinic repeatedly called Tory by the wrong name and often referred to her as a 'he' when I scheduled appointments. Isn't there a notation they could make on her chart to steer clear of this simple mistake? It drove me so bonkers I finally switched practices. I couldn't help but wonder, if the staff couldn't say her name or gender correctly, what other bigger details were they mis-diagnosing?

There's no doubt about it, people love babies and I realize everyone is just being friendly. Aside from the awkwardness and the "little guy" comments, I also know this is such a silly issue of concern. Maybe writing about it here will stop me from spending hours and hours stewing over this topic in my head.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Tory - 37 Weeks Old

Tory - 37 Weeks Old

*Taking these photos each week has become a two-person job. Toy has discovered how to scoot and slide out of the chair on her own (but has no idea what to do when she gets there - eek!) or stands up using the chair arm the second you set her down on her bottom. I've love to see how ridiculous Andi and I look propping her up / shouting to attract her attention / putting her back in place / propping up the zebraffe animal / snapping a gazillion photos. We may not make it to 52 weeks at this rate!

Monday, May 14, 2012

My First Mother's Day

I've dreamt of being a mom for as long as I can remember, so I've been eyeing my first Mother's Day on the calendar since the day I learned I was pregnant. As cheesy as it sounds, my only request was to celebrate the day with my two best loves - Andi and Tory. Without them, I wouldn't have the great honor of being a mom.

My special Mother's Day started on Thursday when I arrived home from work. I walked in the door, looked around and heard giggles coming from the playroom down the hallway. Tory and the nanny were playing toys together. I noticed a beautiful bouquet of white daisies on the kitchen counter, with a note that read "Happy Mother's Day! We made you this vase but it's still wet so be careful!" The nanny made me a hand-painted vase for a Mother's Day gift with Tory's tiny hand print on it. I was so touched!

On Friday afternoon, Andi, Tory and I drove to our cabin on Pipe Lake. We're renting the same Wisconsin cabin as we did last summer and this was our first official weekend there. Tory slept for most of the 80 mile drive while Andi and I enjoyed the quiet time, just the two of us. We picked up our new pontoon, grilled steaks and spent the rest of Friday night relaxing at the cabin.

Saturday was the perfect day. Tory took two awesome naps (who doesn't sleep well at the cabin?) and I finally had a chance to catch up on reading blogs while Andi tackled chores around the cabin. I wouldn't be able to pay my husband $100 to mow the lawn at our house, but he jumps at the chance when he's at the cabin ... and looks dang sexy doing it, too. Saturday afternoon, I laid outside on a blanket in the grass and read my Kindle. It was the most relaxing hour I've had as a mother yet. After Tory woke up, we went for a boat ride and played toys in the yard.

Lounging by the lake

Tory and Mommy

Is there any place more relaxing?
Saturday night, Derrick and Ellie, our friends with whom we share the cabin, arrived. After Tory went to bed, we grilled steaks and hamburgers and sat on the deck with cocktails in hand. The boys took the pontoon out for a late-night fishing session while Ellie and I stayed back and had a girl's night.

Sunday morning, Andi's parents arrived at the cabin. Andi made everyone breakfast and we sat outside on the deck enjoying the warm sunshine while we ate together. Andi and Tory gave me a hoodie, pajama pants, flip flops and gift cards to Target and Banana Republic for Mother's Day. Later Andi's sister Lindsay arrived and we spent the afternoon taking boat rides and enjoying the beautiful weather outdoors. During Tory's nap, Andi and I snuck away for an ATV ride around the cabin trails. Even though Mother's Day is about being with your kids, I loved spending a hour or so with my husband. 

Tory and Grandma Janie

Our little family
The extended family
L to R: Lindsay and Chloe, Jim, Tory and I, Andi and Janie
Miss Tory's first time sitting in the grass
(she didn't like it very much)
Lawn games are replaced with baby swings at the cabin this year.

Sometimes I still can't believe I've been given this amazing opportunity to be a mom. And, to have such a special little girl as a daughter? I'm thankful for her everyday. My first Mother's Day was simple, relaxing and perfect.

Saturday, May 12, 2012


I'm sure every parent thinks their child is the cutest baby on the planet and I'm no different. My Tory Bean is the most beautiful baby I've ever laid eyes on and her sassy personality is icing on the cake. Outside my motherly affection for her, friends, family and random strangers comment about her adorable looks. I don't mean to sound pretentious, but it's true! I can't count the number of times someone has come up to me at the grocery store to tell me she's prettier than the Gerber baby.

A few months ago without my knowledge, Andi enrolled Tory with a local modeling agency. It didn't cost anything but his time in sending over a few recent photos of her. They put her pictures in a "look book" for clients and said they'd call him if they received a lead. He told me later about signing her up and I thought it was neat, but didn't put much stock in it otherwise.

On Monday afternoon, they called! The agency asked Tory to attend a casting call the next day for a Target ad circular in the newspaper. Andi phoned me with the good news and we were both so excited about the opportunity for Tory. At the very least, it'd be a fun experience to write in her baby book. At best, it'd be a great way for her to earn some easy cash for a savings account. I joked with a few of the girls at work how every child of Andi's is required to bring in their first paycheck by age one (kidding!).  By law, there are very strict rules on how many hours a baby can work per day. The pay differs per job, but let's just say it's more than I make in an hour!

It just so happened Tuesday was the new nanny's first day of work. I called her on Monday afternoon and asked if she'd be willing to drive Tory to the audition on her first morning with us. She didn't mind she said, but she was nervous about driving across town as she just moved to the Twin Cities a few days earlier. I committed to meeting her at the audition; she just had to get Tory there on time.

Tuesday morning, I met Tory and Manda (the nanny) at the studio and we walked in together. I filled out some paperwork and changed Tory into one of Target's new summer dresses. They whisked Tory and I into the photo studio, snapped two photos of her (literally, two photos) holding a whiteboard with her name on it, and said thank you. That was it. We were there for a total of ten minutes. If the Target client liked Tory's photo in the dress, the agency would call us back with an invitation to a real photo shoot.

Wednesday, the agency called Andi and said Tory got the job! They asked her to come back on Thursday. Once again, I lined the nanny up to drive Tory to the shoot and planned to meet her at the studio. A few hours later, the agency called back and said the shoot was on hold until the Target merchandise arrived from China. As soon as the shipment arrived, they'd call Tory again with another invitation.

As excited as I am about this opportunity for Tory, I'm apprehensive in telling people about it. Our family is super excited for Tory but outside our inner circle, I don't want to deal with criticism from people who think we're living vicariously through our child. No, we aren't going to act like the parents on Toddlers and Tiaras. No, we would never make Tory do something she doesn't enjoy. I think this is a fun opportunity for her and we'll see where it leads us.

Be on the lookout for Miss Tory appearing in a Target ad near you!  

Friday, May 4, 2012

Summer Fashion Suicide

I'm a mother now, so I guess it's time for me to respectably cover the lady parts this summer. I think I'm going to buy a one-piece swimming suit and I'm a little mortified that I'm at a point in my life where this has become a good idea.

Last summer when I was pregnant, I was a little bummed to wear a tankini that covered my belly. How on Earth will my body ever get tan? (First world problem, I know). However, all in the name of baby safety (and to protect my friends from seeing my ever-expanding body), I bought a tankini swim suit to cover my mid-section.

*I searched through last summer's cabin photos to provide a visual of said pregnant tankini except A) there aren't a lot of photos of me in a swimming suit last summer (thankfully) and B) sweet Jesus, I was GIANT last summer! On second thought, no photos for sharing.

I kept telling myself that next summer, I'll be back to my skinny self! Next summer, I'll be able to wear all my old bikinis again! Next summer ... ! Next summer ... ! This is just a temporarily blip in life and a fashion sacrifice all in the name of baby. No big deal.

Except, next summer is almost here next summer is here. Cabin season starts next weekend and, well, y'all know post-baby mama's don't exactly look the same as they did before. Sure, eight months post-birth, my body's mostly back to the way it was but I don't think my stomach will ever look like it did. There's no way in hell I'm wearing one of my old bikinis this summer. Even if I wanted to, I'm pretty sure the tops wouldn't fit anymore anyway.

Tory started swimming lessons a few weeks ago and THANK GOD Andi participated in the first class with her. I watched from the sidelines as all the other moms pranced in wearing their modest black one-piece swimming suits. Um, I don't exactly own a one-piece modest swimming suit. Apparently this piece of clothing is a requirement of parenthood. Can you imagine if I would've rolled in to swim class on the first day in my skimpy two-piece bikini? Oh my, how embarrassed would I have been?

Meanwhile on swimming class days like today where Andi's not able to attend, I've been wearing my maternity tankini in the pool. It doesn't exactly fit the best, but it's better than a two-piece at this point. That's why I think I'll break down and buy a one-piece. I'm sure they have stylish ones, right? I just hesitant because I feel like this leap into swim wear is me diving off a cliff into mommy fashion. I already get a million comments from guys at work about how my new haircut is my "mom haircut." ("Women always cut their hair shorter and shorter when they become a mom," they say. OMG, I want to punch them in the face when they say that.)

Will buying a one-piece be committing summer fashion suicide?

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

We Found Mary Poppins (Again)

On Sunday, I extended a job offer to a new nanny. I'm so, so thankful to have the chore of finding someone new to care for Tory over and done. Her name is Manda* (*not her real name) and I think she'll be a perfect fit for our family. She's earning her bachelor's degree in Elementary Education and shares a love for travel, just like we do. She starts next Monday. I'm having her come over for a few hours in the morning to show her our routine and then she's on her own on Tuesday. GULP!

We used again to post our position and had a whopping 52 applicants apply this time around. Of course, some of the candidates were easy to weed out from the get-go, but there was also a steady amount of candidates I painstakingly corresponded with by email, phone-screened and finally interviewed. In the end, we met with three candidates last week - all of whom were very sweet and qualified - before finally selecting Manda.

This means our current nanny's last day is Thursday. To say I'm bummed is an understatement. Tory and I have developed such a fond relationship with her. I've known how lucky we were to have someone so easy-going and responsible all along, but it's really hitting me this week as our last days with her tick away. Tonight, she gifted Tory a scrapbook filled with photos she snapped over the last few months.

Of course, they're photos I haven't seen before as she took them on her watch, and I absolutely love seeing images of them playing together, reading stories and rocking in the nursery. At the end of the book, she wrote a letter to Tory telling her how lucky she feels to have been able to care for her the last few months. She also recorded this quote which I thought was so touching:

"If ever there is a tomorrow when we're not together, there is something you must always remember. You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem and smarter than you think. But the most important thing is, even if we're apart, I'll always be with you. - Winnie The Pooh

I had tears in my eyes as I read her beautiful gift. I keep telling myself we'll keep in touch with her, but I also know we'll probably lose contact over time. That's just how life goes.

I hope our new nanny is smart and kind just like our first. I hope she's patient with Tory and learns to love her just as much as we do. It's hard to trust someone new with our most precious gift but we have to take the leap. I'm sure she'll be great ... I'm crossing all my fingers and toes we strike gold a second time.