Saturday, June 30, 2012

Letters to Tory: 10 Months

Tory Bean,

You're 10 months old today! It isn't hard for me to believe my baby girl is nearly one year old. This month has brought so many changes in your physical and mental development, I can easily see you transforming into a toddler before my very eyes.

One word describes you these days: mobile. You have so much energy, people often comment how active and outgoing you are. I guess I'm so used to your wiggly worm antics, I don't realize how extraverted you are until I see other babies your age. Just the other day I wondered to myself how other babies ride in shopping carts. So, I watched a few other babies in the store and they just SIT and occupy themselves with a toy or a box of cereal. You, my darling? Oh, no. You practically LEAP out of the cart the second I buckle you in. You always keep me on my toes, Tory girl.

You were cast as a baby model for 3M filter packaging this week, and there was another baby at the photo shoot with you. You sat on the set with the mom model, smiling and waving with both hands to the entire crew. "Hi! Hi! Hi!" you kept saying, charming every single person in the studio. One of the shots required you to gaze over the mom model's shoulder as she sweetly snuggled your head and the producer could not get you to cooperate. You just would not sit still. Wherever the other baby model was stationed, she just stayed in place. As active as you are, I wouldn't trade it for a single day. You are so entertaining and people of all ages are naturally drawn to your inviting personality. It's a wonderful trait to have.

This month you've mastered pulling yourself up to a standing position and are even beginning to climb furniture. Forget the entire playroom of toys you have, your favorite activity these days is to climb underneath the table. You'll keep yourself occupied for 15-20 minutes at a time, crawling between chair legs and over the wooden beam in the center of the table. It's all fun and games until you inevitably bonk your head on the wood. That game always in tears, but it doesn't stop you from going back.

Walking (or should I say running) is not far off as you'd prefer to walk assisted than crawl. You can even stand alone for a second or two until you realize you're not holding onto anything. From a sitting position, you can stand up with the bottom half of your body, but you haven't quite figured out how to lift your arms to a full standing position just yet. I guess it looks sort of like a monkey pose, with your feet and hands firmly planted on the floor.

We've spent a lot of time outdoors this month and your love for the water is blossoming. Last weekend, Daddy and I were lazy at the cabin and didn't want to take the cover off the pontoon, so we took you for a ride in the old, tiny aluminum fishing boat. I thought for sure our little adventure would end with you screaming all the way around the lake, but you loved it and kept giggling as we cruised along. As long as you're part of the action, you're usually a pretty happy baby.

Finally, FINALLY, you're showing interest in solid foods. Up until a few days ago, you refused to eat anything that wasn't pureed to a pulp and bland as can be. Last week I was eating a cup of yogurt and you seemed interested in what I was doing, so I gave you a tiny taste. You were a crazy baby for more bites. I think you ended up eating more of the container than I did. I bought you some of your own baby yogurt and this has quickly become one of your favorite foods. Last weekend, Daddy and I took you to the strawberry patch and although you weren't sure what to think of strawberries at first, you ended up loving them. I can't say you're actually eating them, more licking, but at least you're finally willing to try. We also gave you cucumbers this week and you seem to like biting (but not eating) those, too.

So many changes this month and so much fun. I'm thankful every single day God made me your mama. You're everything to me, little Bean. I love you so much.


Monday, June 25, 2012

Anniversary Trip

Our third wedding anniversary is next month and Andi and I decided we're ready for a vacation without baby. Tory will be 11 months old in July and I think she's at a good stage where she won't put too much of a burden on Grandma Janie. Truthfully, I'm only feeling as comfortable as I am about all of this because I'm confident in Andi's mom, who knows Tory's likes/dislikes and her routine. She'll be in good hands while we're away.

Andi's been pushing for a solo vacation for months (even just an overnight away together) but I honestly wasn't ready until now. The idea of being a plane ride away from Tory should something happen sent me into full-on hyperventilation. So, I'm fairly proud of myself for arriving at a place in motherhood where I'm alright spending a few days apart from my baby girl. I think it'll be a nice break for myself and wonderful to spend quality time with Andi. It'll be just like pre-baby days ... what will we do with our time! (wink wink)

We've been mulling over vacation ideas for weeks now, and I think we've finally settled on Vail. At first I was all, wahhh Colorado, we've been there a million times! (I know how snotty of me, right?) but I actually think it'll be a good mix of fun and relaxation. Other contending locations were Madeline Island in Northern Wisconsin and a cheap flight deal we found to Nashville, TN. Flights were incredibly expensive just about everywhere we wanted to go and unfortunately, the South is flippin' hot this time of year that Nashville didn't sound very appealing. Most lodging was already booked on Madeline Island and we didn't really feel like roughing it during our anniversary trip, so Colorado it is. Flights to Denver are reasonably cheap, it's a one-hour flight from the Twin Cities and an old friend of ours lives there and has the hook-up on lodging and fun things to do in the mountains. I think it'll be a great trip.

Andi's been hard at work searching for the perfect luxury hotel to stay at and unique, interesting adventures for us to embark on while we're in Colorado. We're planning to stay at Sonnenalp Resort which looks absolutely beautiful and I fully intend to treat myself (and Andi as well) to a wonderful day at the spa.

Look, this is going to be us.
(Oooh, hey baby. Oooh, hey there).
Andi thinks he wants to spend a day on a fly fishing float trip. It's basically a little bit of fishing (which I'm not really that into) mixed with floating through awesome mountain scenery (which sounds pretty fantastic). It's probably one of those once-in-a-lifetime experiences and when has Andi ever steered me wrong? Also, he promised to watch every single Husker football game with me this fall as a thank you for always being willing to try his adventurous ideas. (Alright, I made that last part up but that sure would be nice of him).

Minturn Anglers - Vail
Whatever we end up doing, I know we'll have a wonderful time celebrating our anniversary together. I'm looking forward to focusing on nothing but the two of us. Oh, and sleeping, drinking wine, taking naps and sleeping some more. Maybe throw in some chocolate and cheese, too.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Strawberry Picking

We're at the cabin again this weekend and decided to treat Tory with a visit to the strawberry patch. Can you believe neither Andi or I have ever picked strawberries? I know! Deprived childhoods we must've had (I kid, parents, I kid).

We visited a strawberry patch just a few miles away from our cabin. This little farm was run by Amish women (at least I think so, there were dozens of them in the field picking berries). Andi bought two pails and they assigned us a row to begin filling our buckets.

I couldn't believe how beautiful, red and ripe the strawberries were on the vine! It makes you appreciate fresh, local produce when you see the quality before you (and makes you never want to buy another container of sub-par strawberries from the grocery store again).

Tory wasn't sure what to think of the strawberry patch at first. She definitely wasn't willing to put her feet on the soft straw between the rows. Andi and I picked a few strawberries and gave one to Tory to hold. She immediately squeezed the fresh strawberry with all her might and red juice squirted everywhere. Amateurs. Who wears white to a strawberry patch? Apparently Andi and I do.

I gave Tory another strawberry to feel and taste (but not hold or squeeze)! She touched it, smelled it and finally licked it - and loved it! You may be thinking, geez Heather, you're such a horrible mother for allowing your child to lick a strawberry right from the ground. Normally, I'd agree but I think there's something special about picking a berry and eating it right in the field. We used to do the same with mulberries when I was a little kid and it such a special feeling. Part of the experience, I say.

Once Tory got a taste for the fresh, sweet juice of the strawberry we couldn't keep her away. She started lunging for the pails and grabbing berries as fast as we could throw them in. I'm surprised, too, because usually Tory isn't a big fruit fan. I guess there's nothing better than a freshly picked strawberry. 

This afternoon, Tory and Andi took a nap and I decided to whip our strawberries into strawberry pie. The recipe called for baked pie crust and I only had graham cracker, but I didn't think it'd matter much. Except, an hour later after I washed, sliced and mixed together the ingredients, I had a nagging feeling they didn't turn out quite right. Andi swears they'll be just fine once the filling sets up, but it looks too mushy to me. I think the strawberry filling basically washed away the graham cracker in the pan. Sigh, I hope it still tastes okay.

We had such a great day at the strawberry patch, I fully intend to make this an annual family tradition. I can only imagine how fun it'll be for Tory to pick her own berries one day. I can't wait for the day she puts on an adorable, tiny apron and joins me in the kitchen to whip up something fabulous with our hard-earned pickings.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

First Father's Day

Andi's first Father's Day was picture perfect. After a grueling few weeks of work travel, quality time with our favorite man has been few and far between. On Friday after producing a week-long photo shoot in Northern Minnesota and then sitting in traffic for hours, Andi picked up Tory and I at home and then we left for our lake cabin. I knew we were in for a long late-night drive when we stopped to grab coffee on our way out of town. A few hours later we were settled in one of our happiest places on Earth, ready to relax and enjoy the weekend together.

It rained most of Saturday, but honestly we didn't mind. That morning, Andi, Tory and I decided to walk to the neighbor's cabin and were caught in a downpour. We raced around the lake point and laughed as the warm rain showers fell down on us. I listened to Tory, perched up on Andi's shoulders, giggling the entire way there. It was her first time running in the rain and she seemed to be having the time of her life. Once at Joe and Lisa's, we sat on their wrap-around porch for the next hour or two, having a beer at 10am, listening to the rain fall around us and enjoying their great company. One of my favorite things about cabin life is watching the stress melt from Andi's shoulders. It's the best kind of medicine for him. I love seeing him so happy.

Daddy and daughter, watching the rain

Tory took an epic nap in the afternoon and Andi and I decided to take one, too. I can't remember the last time we all fell asleep in the middle of the day. I guess it's easy when all you hear is quiet wilderness and the sound of rain outside the window.

Later on, we ran into town to the Cheese Factory to pick up a few local cheeses, crackers and gelato. We came back to the cabin, Tory went to bed like a champ and Andi and I relaxed in the hot tub for the rest of the evening. Seriously, paradise!

On Sunday, Andi's parents, sister and grandma came to the cabin to celebrate Father's Day. The weather was beautiful and we spent most of the day outdoors. Janie and Lindsay brought brats, corn on the cob and watermelon for lunch. Tory took another awesome nap so Andi and I took Jim and Lindsay for a pontoon ride around the lake and Janie and Grandma Marion stayed back with Tory. It was the most relaxing boat ride I've had all summer! Not that I don't enjoy time on the boat with Tory, but it's not quite as relaxing wrangling a wiggly baby the entire time. On Sunday, I put my feet up and basked in the sunshine.

After Tory woke up from her nap, she enjoyed a little toe dip in the lake, too. She thought it was pretty special.

Dads and daughters
Grandpa Jim, Tory, Andi and Lindsay

For Father's Day, Tory gifted Andi a framed photo of herself holding the letters D-A-D. Tory and the nanny also made him a picture mug. Now, Andi will be able to gaze at his beautiful daughter all day long with photos for his desk and a mug for his coffee at work. 

Happy Father's Day to the best dad around!

Tory - 42 Weeks Old

Tory - 42 Weeks Old

What a crazy animal our little Tory Bean is! She knows just what to expect when Andi and I sit her down in the chair to take her weekly photo. Today, she lounged forward the second I set her down and laughed uncontrollably.

We finally did capture a nice photo of her sitting next to her zebra, but Andi pleaded with me to post this one. After all, this is the photo we'll want to look back on and smile about in years to come.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Things I Love: 6-9 Months Edition

Keeping with my quarterly review of favorite baby things, I wanted to share a few items I loved during the 6-9 month baby age. Tory changes so quickly over the months, I want to remember (and recommend!) all the things we grew especially fond of during this stage.

- Useful -
My little girl began eating fruit and vegetable purees at 6 months and this opened a whole new world of baby gear for us. I'm doing a mix of homemade purees and store-bought organic varieties and quickly learned by trial and error which items in the food category saved me time, energy and clean-up. I bought the Beaba Babycook Baby Food Processor before Tory was even born and while I like it and I use it, looking back I didn't really need it. It doesn't do anything my standard blender or Magic Bullet couldn't do. This would not be on my must-have recommendation list although it does work great for its purpose. Here are a few things that are definitely on my must-have list:

We have a rotation of 20 bibs of so, but these Carters Just One You bibs are my favorite. I think they're actually teething bibs, but they've held up great to many washings over the months. And because Tory's only eating purees at this point, they capture all of her spilled food. The Carters bibs also have a snap closure which I prefer over the Velcro you see on most other bibs. Andi bought a bulk pack of terry cloth bibs which we use as well and while they do the job, I hate the way the Velcro sticks to other laundry in the washing machine / dryer. I know I'll eventually need to upgrade bibs to those capable of catching crumbs so if you have recommendations on your favorites, clue me in!

Sippy Cups
We've collected a variety of sippy cups over the months and thus far, my favorite is Nuby Super Spout. This cup seems easy enough for Tory to drink from and don't spill like the other Tommee Tippee cups we have.

Organic Food
When I don't make my own baby food, I buy pre-made organic purees. I find it a little irritating how Gerber only offers a few select varieties and some of them aren't very health-focused (ie: Mac and Cheese). I've tried Full Circle Organics, but found their purees to be really thick - so much so, I had to add water to avoid choking from my uber-gaggy baby. My favorite organic puree is Earth's Best because of their vast variety of options and overall quality. The purees actually taste good and that makes me feel all warm and fuzzy about serving it to my child.

Butt Paste
The addition of solid food and er, smelly poop, has brought diaper rash a knockin' on our door. Or should I say, at Tory's back door (Ha! Too far? Alright). When I first had Tory and brought her by Andi's office, one of his male employees went on and on about butt paste. At the time, Tory was only a few weeks old and I remember thinking, "Really? He's THIS EXCITED about diaper creme?" Now I get it. (Sorry for doubting you Andi's co-worker). Boudreaux's Butt Paste is where it's at. Seriously. We were gifted various tubes of Desitin and Palmer's Cocoa Butter diaper creme brands but nothing holds a candle to Boudreaux's effectiveness and overall prevention.  


Best Gifts / Toys -
Tory's interest in toys blossomed at the 6-9 month stage. It was also my first glimpse in getting something done without holding a baby 24/7. Where would I have been without the glorious invention of the activity center? This gadget entertained Tory many mornings while I cleaned up the house, washed bottles and quickly shoved some food in my mouth.

Baby Einstein Activity Center

Lift Flap Books and Indestructables
My heart melts every time I watch Tory discover what's beneath a flap in her activity books. She loves the Karen Katz ones, but I don't necessarily as I've already had to tape many of the flimsy paper flaps back in place. Grandma Janie bought Tory this book and she loves it just as much ... plus, it's made of a chunkier board book material that can withstand slobber and curious hands.

Another kid tested, mommy approved book are Indestructable Books. My cousin Jen told me about these non-toxic books made for babies to hold, grab, bend and chew. The paper-like material lets Tory feel like she's creating a ruckus and so far, they've held up perfectly. She loves them.

Chew Beads
I may have mentioned these before, but I love my pairs of Chew Beads. This last few months, Tory's been biting on everything in sight - including me - and Chew Beads offer her a great alternative to gnawing on my face! This baby-safe jewelry is made of the same material as pacifiers so Tory can literally chew away on the beads. To disinfect, simply throw in the dishwasher. How wonderful is that?

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The Circle of Life: Teething Edition

What comes in, must fall out (and grow back again).

Tory's been teething like a mad women lately. I googled "teething symptoms" and the poor kid has every single one. Every. Single. One. The teething gods aren't being so nice to my kiddo. Her head feels warm, pools of drool drip from her mouth, she's literally chewing on anything she can get her hands on, runny stool, gagging on excess saliva (and barfing because of it). I've tried Tylenol, teething tablets, Orajel, teething rings ... and my goodness, will the next tooth just pop in already? She has one so far - bottom middle - and that little thing smarts when she chomps down hard. No sign of the second tooth, but I'm hoping it won't be long until it pops through and gives her some relief.

See that little tooth in there?

While Tory's teeth are starting to come in, my niece Brookie's teeth are starting to fall out. She's had a loose tooth (bottom middle, ironically) for a few weeks now and on Monday it finally fell out at day care. I guess she was playing in her babysitter's backyard and all of a sudden it was gone. All the kids searched in the grass for Brookie's tooth, but it was nowhere to be found.

Later that evening, my sister Ashley told her to expect a visit from the tooth fairy in the night. She said Brookie was beyond excited when she woke up to find a shiny quarter in her little tooth pillow. A quarter! What it takes to please a kid. Brookie couldn't believe there was still a hole in her mouth the next morning. She understood the part about loosing her tooth and how the tooth fairy visited afterwards, but thought her new tooth would just magically appear in its place. "I still have a hole there," she told my sister "and it feels weird!"

Don't mind the dance costume ... don't you usually wear yours around the house?

The next day at day care, the babysitter was having her morning coffee and happened to notice Brookie's little tooth glistening in the sunlight on the ground. She found it after all and now Ashley will be able to save it in Brookie's baby book. "I bet the tooth fairy took it from my pillow and left it at Janice's house so she could find it," Brookie said. Um, yep, I bet so.

It's the circle of life: teething edition around our family. While one little girl struggles to gain a tooth or two, another one is losing hers.

Monday, June 11, 2012

A Weekend In the Cities

I can't remember the last time we spent a summer weekend in the Twin Cities, which is crazy since we live here. We pay a lot to have a cabin in the summertime, and we usually block our calendars months ahead to make sure we have time to use it. But Andi's had a crazy work schedule the last few weeks including out of town travel trips, and he left for another one again on Sunday. As much fun as it is, it's a lot of work to pack up Tory and her necessities, food and clothes every weekend to head to the lake. Since we'd only be able to enjoy it for one day this weekend, we decided to relax at home instead.  

Friday night after work, Andi and I took Tory and Chloe for a walk around the neighborhood. Tory and I go for a walk at least once a day, but it's been forever since Andi was home to go with us. It felt like the old days - pre baby days - when Andi and I'd take a evening stroll with roadies in hand. Is it bad I associate Gin and Tonics with summertime strolls?

We stopped at the nearby park to play on the playground. Tory loves the swings and this was her first time trying out the plastic tube, given her new crawling mobility. 

We were up bright and early with Tory Saturday morning, so we decided to take a trip to the Minneapolis Farmer's Market. It's been YEARS since Andi and I've been there and it's grown quite a bit since then. Our life has changed since those days. In typical baby fashion, Tory took an enormous poop in her car seat on the drive there. If I had a quarter for the number of times I've wrangled a wiggly baby covered in poop in the back seat of a car, I'd be rich.

The story of my life these days ...
just changing a poopy diaper, no big deal.

Inside the farmer's market, We bought some local cheese, strawberries, lettuce and radishes. Of course Andi had to have a roasted corn and he shared a bite or two with me. Tory had the best time taking in all the sights - the people watching, the smells. She never made a peep the entire time we were there. 

No weekend's complete without a little Daddy / Tory photo session. Tory's starting to enjoy the backyard a little more these days and she'll even tolerate sitting in the grass for a minute or two now.

A hidden talent?
Tory's pulling grass with her toes.
We practiced lots of walking around the house this weekend. Even though Tory just learned to crawl two weeks ago, she's having nothing of it these days and wants to walk assisted if she's able.

Saturday night, our nanny came over to stay with Tory for a few hours while Andi and I went out to dinner together. As busy as his work schedule has been lately, it was nice to spend a few hours together just the two of us. We dined at Corner Table and the food and service were wonderful. The restaurant prides itself on serving food grown within 100 miles of the Twin Cities. I ordered duck and I for a moment I wondered when I became so grown up. The 20-something me would be shocked! During dinner, Andi commented how different I looked wearing make-up. I wear make-up everyday, I thought to myself, but I think it was his way of saying I looked nice. That's why date nights are so important for parents! Everything looks a little better under the flicker of candle light. 

As enjoyable as it was to spend a weekend at home, I think Andi and I are ready to return to the cabin next weekend. The comforting sounds of the lake are calling our name.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Jim's Retirement

A few weeks ago, Andi's dad retired from the Post Office after working there for 27 years. Braving the wind, rain and snow for so many years to deliver the mail deserves a celebration, so Andi's mom hosted us for steaks and beers after his last day of work - ever!

Before I left for work that morning, I casually mentioned to our nanny that Tory was attending her grandpa's retirement celebration that evening. I came home to this thoughtful gift below! The nanny took a poster board, a few sheets of scrapbook paper and her camera to craft a creative gift for Grandpa Jim. The poster board was shaped into a suitcase and read "Enjoy Retirement Grandpa." Accompanying it was a book titled "How to Enjoy Retirement" which included pictures of Tory and captions that read "Try New Foods" (with a picture of Tory eating) and "Dress to Impress" (Tory in a cute outfit). I was so touched by Manda's gesture and creativity. And of course, Tory's gift was the hit of the retirement party.

We also went together with Andi's mom and sister to give Jim gas cards, snacks and a gun case to fuel him through his favorite hobbies in the months to come. 

It was wonderful to see Jim so relaxed and happy after his last day of work. He deserves it! 

Andi just arrived home after a week on the road, so Tory was extra excited to see him.

Showing Auntie Lindsay her new found "pulling up on furniture" skills. Andi's parents have a sunken living room and a step separates their living room / dining room / and kitchen. Tory's never been around stairs before, but she had no problem scaling the stair to make it from place to place. Of course, this was her favorite activity that night. We're just beginning the stage of exploration and it's exciting and scary at the same time.

Happy retirement, Jim!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

First Overnight Away

Yesterday, I boarded a plane bound for Chicago. I didn't check a bag or have "infant in arms" printed on my boarding pass. I drank a Diet Coke in my seat and closed my eyes for a few winks of shut-eye. Tory stayed back in Minnesota.

I traveled to Chicago for my first work meeting out of town. I wasn't nervous to leave Tory, not at first, as I knew she'd be in good hands with Grandma Janie and our nanny, Manda. Andi's traveling for work this week too, of course, so I coordinated pick-ups and drop-offs and left lots of notes for Tory's care while I was away. But the morning I left Tory woke up at 3AM in big-time teething pain. As I rocked her back to sleep, the worry of leaving her started to set in. I knew she's be just fine without me but what if something happened, what if she needed me and I wasn't there. It's a lot of pressure to place on Janie and our nanny to care for her completely while her parents are away.

My alarm buzzed at 4AM (of course, I hadn't been able to fall back asleep after being up with Tory the hour before). The nanny arrived at our house at 5AM and I left for the airport. Watching all the early, early news shows on television in the morning reminded me being pregnant all those months ago. I don't miss starting my days in the middle of the night. I forgot how lonely it is to be awake at that time of day.

It was different traveling without her. We have our airport travel system down now and I'm used to engaging with toys, readying a bottle, walking the airport hallways keeping a certain miss someone happy. The last two days have been all about me and it's different for a change. I don't travel much for work, and I'm not sure if I really all that interested in doing it in the future. But I am excited to spend a few days away, just Andi and I, this summer for our wedding anniversary. I guess I had to pull the Band-aid off eventually and everyone survived our first overnight away just fine.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Cabin Days

Cabin life is different with a baby, but it's still an awesome way to spend a summer. There's less rowdiness and afternoon boat rides are dictated by baby naps, but I don't mind one bit. I'd even venture to say it's exactly where I want to be at this stage in my life.

I also thought having a baby would deter some of our friends from hanging out with us this summer. Turns out though, the invite for a free weekend at the cabin trumps baby every time. Actually, it's funny how wonderfully sweet some of our single, childless friends are with Tory. Our friends Adam and Jane stayed with us at the cabin this weekend and we had an absolute blast - Tory Girl included.

On Friday night, Andi, Tory and I left for the cabin after Andi got home from work. Tory slept the entire drive there which was amazing. After screaming car seat bouts for the first 8 months of her life, I never stop appreciating how lucky we are to have a tear-free road trip. After we arrived at the cabin, I put Tory to sleep and Andi made dinner on the grill. We ate together, just the two of us, and the sweet sound of nature outdoors. Afterwards, we jumped in the hot tub and relaxed away all the stress of a long but "short" holiday week.

Andi took the mid-night wake-up with Tory, so I let him sleep in on Saturday morning. Once he was up and moving, we drove into town to pickup a few last minute groceries for the weekend. We've never taken the time to window shop on Cumberland's Main Street and it was a gorgeous morning to be outdoors, so we strolled along from store to store. We stopped by the hardware store, a trinkety gift shop store, popped into the dog groomer and finished our shopping at the market. There's something about small town America that makes you feel like you stepped back in time.

Adam and Jane arrived shortly after we were back at the cabin. We spend Saturday afternoon taking the pontoon out on the lake and relaxing in the sunshine on the back deck. Later, we visited the County Line Bar down the road to treat our guests to a little cabin culture. I've never taken my baby to the bar before, but I fit right in with the rest of the patrons. There's even a swing set in the grassy field outside so I'm obviously not the first one to do so. It's as if Tory is treating us to all the things she never dreamt of doing as a small infant. She slept in her car seat next to our table the entire time we were there. I could barely believe it! (Alright we were there for less than an hour, but still)! I always envied other parents who'd take their babies to restaurants like it was NO BIG DEAL. How do their babies just sleep in their car seats like that? By some miracle my baby actually did it too, and if it never happens again I'll always remember how glorious that one afternoon at The County Line was for us.

Mommy and Tory Girl

Tory's new favorite game: pull the sunglasses off Daddy's face

Saturday night after Tory was alseep, the four of us sat on the dock and fished. We may have passed a bottle of Captain Morgan Black around a few too many times ... and laughed harder than we have in a long time.

Jane was the "fish whisperer"

There was a fish on the end of Adam's line ... we swear!

We ate our dinner by the fire, hot tubbed it up and called it a night. Who says cabin life isn't just as great with a baby?

The cabin neighbors told us they had a good laugh the other weekend at our expense. "Last year, you were the party cabin," they said. "Complete with lawn games and the fastest speed boat on the lake. This year, you've traded all that in for a pontoon and a baby swing in the backyard." All that may be true, but we're still enjoying an amazing summer at the lake. I guess you could say not everything's changed.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Memorial Day Weekend

I'm behind in writing about our Memorial Day weekend, but I want to document Tory's first roadtrip adventure. (Tory's first time driving through Iowa - GET EXCITED). My sister and her long-time boyfriend (now husband) announced their engagement in April and threw together a small wedding celebration on Saturday of Memorial Day weekend. We usually fly to Nebraska but with less than a month's notice, flights were incredibly expensive. And since it was a holiday weekend, we couldn't even use frequent flyer miles. Driving 14 hours in the car with Tory wasn't our first choice, but we didn't have another option.

Thursday night after work, we loaded up the family truckster and hit the interstate. Fortunately, by the time we left town it was Tory's bedtime and she fell asleep in her car seat about an hour and a half into the drive. A seven-hour car ride to Nebraska is something we would have never, ever attempted a few months ago when Tory was a car seat hater, but lately she's been more tolerable. Unfortunately, Andi and I were flipping exhausted after working all week and then driving through the night. We contemplated getting a hotel room in Des Moines or stopping at my best friend's house in Omaha, but tag-teamed the driving between the two of us. We finally arrived at my parent's house around 2:00am Friday morning.

My parents were hosting a reception dinner at their house following my sister wedding on Saturday, so Andi and I spent most of Friday helping them clean and get ready for the party. Later that day, my sister came over for dinner and we sat around on the patio enjoying each other's company.

My mom had her hands full on Saturday, cooking a full meal for the reception party. Andi and I tried to help out as much as we could and ran errands around town picking up the bouquet, wedding cake and last-minute groceries for her. Alright, I should also mention we volunteered to drive around town so Tory would finally take a decent nap in the car. I pestered my sister about drinking mimosas or helping her get dressed for the wedding on Saturday before Andi finally pulled me aside and told me to cool it. She wanted a low-key wedding and that's definitely what she had. My intentions were in the right place - I just wanted her day to be special - but I think in the end it was. She even took a nap on my parent's couch Saturday afternoon - three hours before her wedding! I don't know how much more relaxed you can get.

The wedding was beautiful. It was a small ceremony attended by my immediate family at my hometown church. Afterwards, we took pictures outside (Andi was the photographer!), then came back to my parent's house to meet the rest of our family for a celebration.          

My family

Jason and Ashley
(Yes! She wore a black dress. I've never seen her look more beautiful.)

Andi had a big photo shoot for work on Memorial Day Monday, so we drove back to Minnesota on Sunday. It was definitely easier on us to drive during the daytime, but I was purely exhausted after entertaining Tory in the car for 9 straight hours. She slept for an hour during the entire trip. At one point, Andi commented how 'bored' he was driving alone in the front seat and I about punched him. When I asked him if he wanted to trade spots and sit with Tory while I drove the rest of the way, he quickly changed his tune. I thought so, buddy! We stopped a few times along the way to give Tory a break and overall, she was fairly well behaved. Nine hours is a long time for anyone to sit in the car and I don't blame her for getting restless. 

I wouldn't have missed my sister's wedding celebration for the world, but I was a walking zombie the following week. Since Andi was traveling and I was doing the solo parenting gig, I just couldn't catch up on sleep. Last Tuesday was the first day I was actually excited to go into work. I love my baby girl to pieces, but a mama can only sing so many renditions of the ABC's before she has a mental breakdown. I was damn near close. The next time we see my family will be on our turf for Tory's first birthday and I can't tell you how excited I am to have them visit us for a change!


As my sister put it, "What better way to honor a soldier than to marry one this Memorial Day!" and that she did. I welcome Jason and his boys to our family and am truly thrilled for my sister. I've never seen her happier.