Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Tory - 48 Weeks Old

Tory - 48 Weeks Old

Today, singing "If You're Happy and You Know It, Clap Your Hands" was the only way to get her to sit still ... even for a second. Tory Girl is craaazy for that song these days and can't help but clap her hands when we sing it. She's also into patting her hand against her mouth and saying "bah bah bah" like a little Indian Chef. It's too cute.

K, Mom, I'm done now.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Letters to Tory: 11 Months


I always wanted to be a mom, but I never imagined it would be this wonderful. Does every parent feel this way, or am I just this lucky to have an amazing kid like you?

Like every month, you've changed and grown so much lately. Physically, you're becoming a daddy mini-me and I wonder how a little girl who resembled her mama so much at birth could change so dramatically. You have a flare for adventure, which might be why you remind me so much of him, with a dangerous side of mischievousness.

Had to snap a photo of this before telling you "no no."
Parenting; it's a balancing act between doing what's right and capturing the cute.
You've learned to climb on top of things (evident by this photo of you standing on your rocking chair), but it's your love for crawling underneath things that keeps you most entertained. If you can play under a chair or the kitchen table, inside a cupboard or cardboard box, you're one happy girl. You love baby dolls and books, swimming lessons, bright colors, trees and animals. Your favorite songs are "Wheels on the Bus," ABC's and "If You're Happy and You Know It, Clap Your Hands" -- complete with actions. Just a note of one of those tunes has you swish, swish, swishing like the wipers on a school bus and clapping your hands together. This month, you started to "moo" like a cow and growl like a lion. Still no "mama" or "dada" though. (We see where your priorities lie). Tory video

The surprised look on your face captured in this photo is classic Tory these days. It's your way of saying "whoa Mom, did you see the way that toy moved? Or, can you believe I almost fell out of this rocking chair?" You're more expressive with your emotions this month -- happy, surprised, scared, excited -- and it's fascinating to see the world discovered through your eyes.

It's been a big milestone month for you. In the last three weeks, you've gained three new teeth, started walking while hanging onto furniture and took your very first steps alone. I'm not sure I'd describe you "walking" just yet, but you're so very close. The other day, I was standing on the three-season porch talking to Daddy and you were standing next to me, holding onto my leg. You just let go and took two or three steps by yourself. In the days since, you continue to perfect the skill. I know everyone says we'll have our hands full once you start walking on your own but honestly, I'm so excited for you. 

You're showing more interest in solid food, slowly but surely. I used to think you didn't like foods with bigger chunks or textures, but I've since learned it's all about finding foods you like. Your favorites are yogurt, cottage cheese, cucumbers and crackers. Fruit of any kind? Forget about it.

Eleven months. It's hard to believe it. Next month, we celebrate a year!


Saturday, July 28, 2012

Vail Anniversary Trip: Day 2 & 3

So, Andi and I have this thing for amazing buffet breakfasts while we're traveling. It's basically the way we judge the success of our vacation.

On the second day of our Vail anniversary trip, we had breakfast at Ludwig's in the Sonnenalp Hotel. The hotel has a Bavarian theme, from the decor to the staff attire, which made us feel like we were somewhere far away in Europe. I may have eaten my weight in buttery, flaky croissants.

Coffee cup as big as my head

After breakfast, Andi and I visited the spa at Sonnenalp. Massages are also always on our vacation bucket list and those we received in Vail were very relaxing. (As they should have been - it was the most expensive thing we did on our trip). We lounged around in the hot tub for a while afterwards and just talked. It felt so good to be JUST US. That hasn't happened much since we became parents almost one year ago. We're always pulled in a million directions and when we finally do have time to connect, we're both too exhausted to really dig deep and share. By this point in our vacation, we were relaxed enough to just BE there together. I loved every minute.

For some crazy reason, Andi and I decided to go hiking after our spa time. I suppose it'd be a shame to visit the mountains without going to the top, so we rode the gondola up Vail Mountain with the intention of hiking an easy path and then riding back down. Neither one of us enjoy exercise all that much, so we weren't looking for anything too strenuous, just a way to enjoy the outdoors. We arrived at the beginning of two hiking trails with one directional sign laying on the ground. Which way to the easy-peasy Fireweed trail? We couldn't quite tell and definitely didn't want to get half-way down the road of a difficult one. Andi asked a lady approaching us and she told us she'd just hiked up the Berry Picker trail in the last 1 1/2 hours. For real? She hiked UP the mountain? Berry Picker had be an easy trail then, right? We could surely follow it down without effort.

So we started down the Berry Picker trail. Down the mountain. Down. Can I reiterate that? DOWN. As in, toes jammed in the tops of our sneakers, bracing ourselves as we hiked down the side of the mountain. This was actually fun, Andi and I said over and over. High five! Look at us being all sporty-spice and enjoying ourselves!

We gave a nod to the gazillion people we passed on the trail hiking upwards. UP. Seriously, we couldn't believe people were actually doing that! One guy even had a baby on his back. For real? At the one hour mark, Andi and I were feeling good. Yay us! Two hour mark? We were like, where the hell is the chicken exit? Our feet were in so much pain from jamming into the toes of our shoes we were almost in tears. (A week later, my toes are still aching from the pressure).

Overall, Andi and I enjoyed the hike because the scenery and the weather were beautiful, but we were also glad to sit on a patio and enjoy a cocktail afterwards. We met a former colleague of ours who happens to live in the Vail area for a drink. Our lives have changed so much in the nine years since we all worked together.

After a happy hour drink, Andi and I went back to the hotel to freshen up before dinner. We had another cocktail at The Tap Room bar just down from our hotel then had dinner at Kelly Liken restaurant. Honestly, we weren't all that impressed with our dinner selections. The $7 cheese plate we ordered as an appetizer was literally a piece of cheese the size of my thumb nail. Restaurants stingy on cheese are not my friend. Somehow we ended our evening with grand marnier on the rocks because it was served in a glass with one giant ice cube. The things that excite my husband .... Obviously, after what turned out to be a bar-crawl-esque evening, we then stumbled back to our hotel.

Traffic on Sunday was forecasted to be terrible, so we left the mountains early to avoid the rush. We ate breakfast at our hotel, then stopped at an outlet mall on the way to Denver. Somehow, malls have also become a vacation tradition for us and I'm not sure why as neither of us ever set foot in one otherwise. I think it has something to do with killing time before the airport. Anyway, we hit up Carter's outlet and I did some serious damage with my credit card, buying baby gifts for my sister, best friend and Tory Bean.

Andi and I contemplated ways to spend our last few hours in Colorado, and opted for a showing of The Hunger Games at the one and only theatre still showing the movie. We both felt a little guilty about seeing a movie on vacation (we should be enjoying the beautiful outdoors!) but going to the theatre is something we very rarely do as parents. And since the movie has been on our "must see" list for months, we went for it.

Our flight was delayed a few hours, so we decided to visit the 16th Street Mall in downtown Denver. It's the first place Andi and I met nine years ago, so what's more special than a ride on the trolley where it all began?

Alright, it's a bus which is much less romantic sounding.

Nearly a decade older, a few gray hairs and much saggier... but still so in love.

Happy anniversary, babe!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Vail Anniversary Trip: Day 1

I am so in love with this man.

We had the best weekend celebrating our third wedding anniversary (which is technically next Tuesday so hooray for another few lovey dovey days)!


This weekend, Andi and I hopped a flight to Denver for a relaxing anniversary trip together. Our first real vacation without baby. To say we felt like giddy school children would be an understatement. WE WERE SO EXCITED! Not that we don't love our little Tory Girl to pieces, but an entire three days with no responsibilities, no nap or feeding schedule to keep and no one to worry about but ourselves seemed rejuvenating. I felt like a horrible parent every time someone asked me if I was missing Tory over the weekend because sure, I missed her, but I also enjoyed every single minute of quality time with my husband. Also, I knew she was in capable hands with Grandma Janie so there was no need to spend one minute of time worrying about her back home.

Tory's been teething like mad, so of course I was awake with her during the wee Friday morning hours, settling her back to sleep in her nursery. I absolutely hate when you've got a time schedule mapped out for a big day ahead because it almost never works out when a baby's involved. Tending to Tory in the early morning made for maniac last-minute packing before we left for the airport and I had no idea what I even brought along for the trip. We made it onto our flight (just barely) and I loaded up on toiletries at a Denver Target once we arrived. Nothing you can't buy there, right? No matter ...  we made it! We rented a car and headed straight for the mountains.

As an avid skier and having worked at a ski resort years ago, Andi knows a lot about the mountains. I hesitated agreeing to a vacation in Vail for this reason; I like to travel to places new for the both of us. But Andi assured me, our trip to Vail (staying at a luxury hotel, spa appointments and strolling the street hand in hand with the woman he loves) would be a far cry from the trips he took with buddies 10 years ago. I have to admit, it was convenient traveling to a place where Andi knew a lay of the land.

We drove Loveland Pass, the long way up the mountain, and stopped along the way to take in the breathtaking sight.

Once we arrived in Vail we checked into Tivoli hotel, dropped our bags and walked into Vail Village for lunch at The Ore House. We ordered cocktails and a yummy grilled artichoke. Andi had a fabulously cooked local trout and I enjoyed a Cobb salad. It felt so good to be on vacation; to be away from any responsibility. To sit in the sunshine and enjoy conversation together.

After lunch, we walked around Vail Village - which by the way, is absolutely adorable! It almost feels like a pretend city, with perfect little buildings and manicured lawns. There were kids playing in outdoor fountains and cobblestone streets. Seriously, a dream. I loved how convenient it was to walk everywhere and numerous high-end restaurants and shops line the streets. At one point, we saw a bride and groom walking down the street, hand in hand. A musician on a nearby patio started playing a tune and the couple danced for the crowd in the middle of the road. It felt like a fairy tale as we stood by and watched them twirl together to the music. I'm sure the newlyweds felt it, too.

We walked to the nearby Ford Park to see the pretty flowers. Because that's what parents do when they're on vacation without their kiddo: stroll hand in hand, talk, laugh, take photos...

We stopped for dinner at Terra Bistro. There were so many great local/organic, high end restaurants in Vail Village to choose from, but most of them required reservations and only had random dinner times like 9:30pm left. Let's be honest, we fully intended to be in bed by 9pm so a late-night dinner wouldn't work for us. We ended up sitting at the bar at Terra Bistro and it was actually perfect for us. Full people watching view of the packed restaurant and to-die-for food and cocktails. We ordered martinis and decided to split a few appetizers because the menu looked too good to choose.

Ice cream for dessert, of course, at the local Marble Slab Creamery. We split this giant bowl of goodness, walked back to our hotel in the rain and called it an evening. The perfect start to our Vail anniversary vacation.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Tory - 46 Weeks Old

Tory - 46 Weeks Old

The sweet, gentle smile on Tory Bean's face gives the impression she poses perfectly for these weekly photo sessons. This is most definitely not the case.

With Tory's new found standing and cruising skills, she now stands right up in the chair and practically leaps out of it before I run across the room to catch her. Weekly photo time is a two-parent job and I'm out of breathe by the time we get a good one. What I won't do for a bright smile from my baby girl? (jumping jacks, dancing, clapping, singing, barking, toy-shaking, baby catching ... you name it).

Only six more weeks until the Big 52!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Weekend at Home

It was a work weekend for Andi, who produced a local bike event in town. Tory and I originally planned to lay low around the house, maybe make a trip to Target or Trader Joe's. Nothing too eventful. On Tuesday, a last-minute flight deal from Minneapolis to Omaha popped up so Andi surprised me with a ticket home to see my family.

On Saturday, Andi dropped Tory and I off at the airport. Tory and I haven't flown by ourselves for a few months and this was the first time traveling with her convertible car seat, so I was a little worried how I'd manage all the extra baggage by myself. Surprisingly though, the entire trip went so smoothly. I'd venture to say this was the easiest time I've had traveling with Tory in tow. I checked both my suitcase and the car seat so I didn't have to worry about carrying them through the airport. Luckily, Tory still loves to ride along in her Baby Bjorn which gave me extra hands to maneuver if needed. I even stopped for Starbucks on the way to the gate - WATCH OUT. Traveling with a baby this age was perfect because I could've set Tory down in a chair if I needed to, but she isn't able to run around yet. (Also, it helps I've figured out how to use the restroom and hold her at the same time. Not ideal obviously, but sometimes you do what you've gotta do).

I was worried about my parents driving to the Omaha airport to pick me up because they're not always the most comfortable navigating in unfamiliar situations, but they also did great. They were in good spirits and not a bit stressed when they picked me up, so I felt better about making them drive two hours to get us. On the way back to their house, we stopped in Lincoln for lunch at Applebee's and met my brother there. Restaurant dining is also much easier with Tory these days and she happily sat in a high chair and ate her crackers. Girlfriend also loves herself some French fries as noted when she'd swipe them off my plate, suck on them and put them back all wet and soggy.

We spent the rest of Saturday lounging around my parent's house. My niece Brookie and Tory played for hours underneath my mom's sofa table. It was the cutest thing to see them interact together like little cousins do. I've venture to say this was the first of many, many games of playing "house" and babies together.

Tory Bean was thisclose to taking her first steps this weekend. She loved Brookie's stroller walker I bought her for on her first birthday (Brooke still uses it for her baby dolls). Tory walked behind the toy like it was no big deal and even took a few unassisted steps between my sister and I on Saturday night. Selfishly, I didn't push her too hard because I didn't want her to take her first real steps when Andi wasn't around. She was cruising furniture for the first time this weekend, too, so I bet it won't be long before we have a mobile baby on our hands!

Monday's trip back to the Twin Cities was a breeze. Many of the passengers around us commented what a good little traveler Tory was and that always makes me feel good (as I know they probably rolled their eyes when they saw me sit down next to them on the plane). Looking out the window and tearing pages out of the free magazines on the airplane entertained Tory for most of the ride. I'm not a big "plane talker," but I think the key to traveling alone with a baby is making friends with your seat neighbor. I politely introduced ourselves and apologized in advance for any toys or crackers that might fly through the air toward their seat. Once the ice is broken, it doesn't seem so awkward when a Gerber Pinwheel cracker literally does land on their TPS Report a few minutes later.

Andi had a successful event back at home and now we're both counting the days until anniversary trip to Vail this weekend. Every baby has their thing and Tory's no exception with her no-pacifier-taking, hated-her-car-seat-for-9-months ways, but I'm thankful she's so go-with-the-flow when it comes to change in surroundings. One weekend we're at the cabin, then in Nebraska, the next a weekend with Grandma. Tory's a good sport about changing places and people which makes things like flying back to Nebraska for the weekend worth it all the way.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Hair to Enlighten Me?

Because we're in the thrones of swimming suit season and my curiosity knows no bounds, I ask you: do you bikini wax, Brazilian wax or, er, maintain your personal business another way?

Last weekend at the cabin, the conversation came up amongst the ladies and afterwards, I wondered how other girls handle this delicate subject. One of the girls had a bikini wax appointment earlier in the day and it struck me that I've never really considered having my below-the-belt area professionally maintained. Does waxing hurt? How often do you have to keep it up? Isn't it embarrassing?

I remember the first time I heard a group of females discussing Personal Area Maintenance in college. We were sitting at the dining room table in our sorority's cafeteria and a few girls were discussing shaving their nether regions completely bare. HOLY CRAP! Were they really talking about this out loud? I couldn't believe it. Those Omaha girls were craaazy. (They happened to be from Omaha. Big city ideas from these Nebraska girls. Heh.) Since then, I've had plenty of conversations with women about personal topics and I'm not ashamed to ask the Internet about your methods. Come on, aren't you just a little bit interested to learn what everyone else does?

So, enlighten me. Leave a comment and tell me if you bikini wax, Brazilian or something completely different. Comment as Anonymous if you don't want to identify yourself. Do you have a waxing story to share? I'd love to know what to expect if I decide to make an appointment. I'm seriously considering it ...

Friday, July 13, 2012

Tory, Lately

Tory, lately, has been so full of change. I love, love, love this baby stage for everything it is. She is so full of energy and curiosity. And the smiles! Oh, they're in a never ending supply. My heart swells every time she reaches up and puts her arms around me. There's even a little part of me that would crawl into her crib while she sleeps if I could. I'm crazy, I know. I'm just so in love with that girl.

So changes, yes. They're happening so quickly and we're really starting to see glimpses of who Tory will be when she grows older. I'm glad Andi captured this video of her dancing the other weekend because as darling as it was to watch her groove, the phase seems to be gone. She went from dancing to music in the aisles of the grocery store to staring at me shocked and confused when I boggie down in front of her. The dancing queen has left the building.

Tory Bean loves the water. Oh my gosh, do we have a little fish on our hands. She finished her first session of swimming lessons in June and is now enrolled in the summer classes through August. When Tory started this spring, she was six months old and the youngest child in her class. Her other classmates were toddlers and naturally grasped techniques at a faster pace than she did. I wasn't sure how much she really knew because in comparison, it seemed like the other kids were more advanced. Once summer swim lesson started though, it was clear how much she really knew as her love for the water blossomed. Tory now can hold her breathe underwater for 5 seconds (!!), comfortably back float for 30 seconds at a time, and blow bubbles with her face in the water. I can't say enough positive things about the swim school she's enrolled in and the life saving water skills she's learned. Tory also loves the lake at the cabin this summer. She not afraid to play and splash in the water and even tolerates her life jacket fairly well. Andi can't wait for the day she begs him to take her tubing behind the boat.

Tory is a social butterfly and loves to be around other kids. I signed her up for story time at the library last month and she's befriended a little boy named Max. She was drawn to him like a moth to a flame; she'd literally dive-bomb him as she tried to pull up and play next to him. She loves all little kids and waves feverishly telling them "hi, hi, hi." She does not like the sound of babies crying though. At the cabin last week, there were several different babies at various BBQs and gatherings and she burst into tears every time one of the babies would fuss. I'm not sure if it was sympathy tears or if the crying startled her but it awfully hard to keep a straight face. It was just too cute.

I shouldn't be, but I'm shocked at how smart she is. We fashioned this gate around furniture in the cabin living room to keep Tory away from the stairs. (We weren't able to put up a traditional baby gate there).  After spending three weekends at the cabin, Tory has learned how to open the baby gate door by herself. She just reaches up on her little tippy toes and lifts the handle. Little stinker! She also knows exactly where she's not suppose to play and tempts me with a devilish grin as she bee-lines toward the no-no object. The other day I walked up on her playing in the dog food bowl. In a deep voice behind her I said, "hey!" She scurried away from there like lightning, crawled under the dining room table and started bawling. She knew she was up to no good. It took all I had not to laugh.

This is the best baby age yet. I'm not sad at all about how quickly Tory is growing. All these changes make it so much fun to be her mom.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Nature vs. Nurture?

(I wrote this post a few days ago, but it performed a magical disappearing act. Here it is again ...)

Sometimes I'm shocked at the comments people make to one another. Like a friend-of-a-friend stranger this past weekend who commented how "personable" Tory was for having an in-home nanny. I'm sure she didn't mean it offensively, but seriously lady? I was a little annoyed. Does my child really need to attend a daycare with other children to avoid being raised as an introvert?

This isn't the first time some one's said this to me, and I'd venture to guess stay-at-home-moms have fielded like comments. A few months ago, a woman made a similar remark at the Wal-greens pharmacy counter. It's true, Tory doesn't have built-in friends to play with every day at our house but we have her involved in a variety of activities to maintain a level of social engagement (swimming, story time at the library and play dates to name a few). Someday I hope she has a sibling or two to interact with, but until then I'm not worried about it. She's only 10 months old, for goodness sake.

The personable baby comment has me wondering, is an outgoing personality nature or nurture?

I believe it's nature all the way. Getting children involved in activities with others their own age can be very nurturing to their development and I'm sure having a pen of babies playing together daily does foster some friendships between them. However, I don't understand why people would think that because Tory is at home without that social environment, she's lacking in advantage. In fact, she's one of the most bubbly, outgoing 10-month-olds I know. It doesn't matter where we are - the post office, the grocery store or the library - Tory waves and says "hi" to every person she sees, both young and old alike. She loves people and I can only believe her energetic personality is a direct reflection of Andi and I.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The Teething Saga Continues

What one little girl loses, another one gains.

Yesterday after much pain and suffering, Tory's second tooth finally poked through her sore little gums. My poor baby has been drooling, battling diarrhea, fever, diaper rash and restless sleep all thanks to her new little chomper. She now has two tiny teeth on the bottom center of her mouth (or she will, once the second one grows in a bit).

Coincidentally, my niece Brookie lost her second tooth - the exact same one as Tory gained! - yesterday as well. Remember how these two girls gained/lost their first tooth on the same day last month? Crazy. It's like their teething cycles have synced up or something.

Bring it, Tooth Fairy!
 The upside for Brookie? Another quarter from the tooth fairy.

For Tory? More sharp puppy teeth to bite Mommy and Daddy. Ouch!

Monday, July 9, 2012


Being a mom means I've become fondly acquainted with poop. Not to imply I like it by any means, but I've definitely become accustomed to wiping it, wearing it and smelling it. Did I tell you about Tory's recent poop-plosion in the card aisle at Target? Yeah, that happened.

Over the last 10 months, my ability to cope with embarrassing parenting situations in public places has come along way. I remember being so nervous to take Tory to the store, for fear she'd scream bloody murder and I'd have no way to soothe her. (Her resistance to pacifiers has been one of the most scarring experiences of my parenting career). There were many days, in fact, I bolted from the store without making a single purchase because I was so embarrassed by her outcry. Oh, how things have changed.

A few weeks ago, Tory and I went shopping at Target to pick up a few groceries, formula, shirts and any other random goodies I discovered. We've recently upgraded to the convertible car seat and this latest milestone has brought about some new challenges; ie, Tory will not sit in a shopping cart for more than 15 seconds. It's quite a job to entertain her as she's strapped in the cart, while I hunt for items on my shopping list and navigate the store around shelves and customers. The belt is tight enough, but the little stinker can maneuver her legs out of the harness faster than a straight jacket. (Since this day, I've realized the Baby Bjorn is a must-have shopping accessory. Strapping her to my body is the only way to contain her).

Anyway, after an hour of shopping, my cart was full and Tory was positioned on my hip. Nearing the check-out counter, I remembered I needed a birthday card for my brother-in-law and re-directed to the card aisle to make one last selection. As I picked through the cards, I felt something running down my bare leg and into my flip flop. What the? I gazed down at my white t-shirt and noticed liquid brown poop covering Tory's bottom half and one side of me. Ack! A bout of teething-induced diarrhea had soaked through her diaper and little gray shorts, my shirt, dripped down my leg, into my flip flop and onto the aisle floor. She was happy as a clam, by the way.

I did what every mother faced with a poop-plosion would do. I hauled my heaping cart to the restrooms, grabbed my diaper bag and wrangled cleaned a wiggly baby from head to toe. And this is where life has really changed for me: I wasn't about to abandon my entire cart over a little poo! The new-mama-me would've been mortified, but now it didn't even phase me. I contemplated changing my own poop-soaked shirt into one of those waiting for purchase in my shopping cart, but I didn't. Instead, I strolled over to the register area, paid for my things and drove home with squishy liquid poo in my shoe. As I tore out of the parking lot, I may have run over one of those curb divider thingies because I was just a tad big flustered. But hey, I've come along way, baby.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Fourth of July Week: Weekend 2

We decided to drive home from the cabin early this morning, so Saturday was our last day of our week-long vacation at the lake. As relaxing as it was, I think both Andi and I were ready to get back to reality. Well, maybe not the responsibility part; just being in our own home.

Ellie and Derrick decided to leave the cabin on Saturday, so we all bummed around and did a few chores before they hit the road. Unfortunately, we don't have trash service at the cabin so we usually haul all our garbage back home with us. With all the fireworks debris and ten days worth of garbage, we couldn't take it all home with this time, so we decided to visit a nearby town's incinerator instead. The facility converts the waste to energy and powers the local cheese factory so I felt a little better about going there. It was one of those experiences though, where Andi and I both looked at each other and wondered where the heck we were. It smelled horribly and I've never seen Andi and Derrick move as fast as they did when they unloaded the garbage. So gross and definitely brings to the forefront where your garbage goes when you throw it away in the trash can.

Afterwards, Andi and I decided to visit the Turtle Lake County Fair taking place about 10 miles from the cabin. It was everything we hoped it would be; awesome people watching and quite entertaining. I have a special soft spot in my heart for small town county fairs after visiting my own hometown's annual event when I was little.

Tory's first carnival game - the Duck Pond!
(She won a rubber ducky)

The truck pull taking place at the fair.
First time I'd ever seen anything like this!
First carousel ride
Tory didn't cry, but she was shaking like a leaf while we rode the carousel together. I imagine it is a bit overwhelming for a little girl with all the bright lights, movement and music. I couldn't resist riding it with her though, and I think she did great overall.
It was hot! My girlie and I taking a water break.
Later in the day, Andi, Tory and I went to a BBQ at a neighboring cabin on the lake. Joe and Lisa invited tons of friends and family over for a feast of smoked brisket, turkey, ham, salmon, venison and as many side salads and desserts as the eye could see. The party was the perfect ending to our week on the lake.

There are so many wonderful memories made during this year's Fourth of July holiday. It was my baby girls' first and I'll always cherish the quality time our little family of three spent together on Pipe Lake.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Fourth of July Week: Thursday/Friday

Andi's parents joined us at the cabin on Thursday and we decided to switch up the pace with a trip into nearby Cumberland, Wisconsin. Just what Janie and Jim had in mind I'm sure, as they drove up expecting quiet time by the lake. They were good sports about our little daytime adventure though, and Andi and I were in the mood for a change of scenery.

We cruised around town for a bit while my teething, fussy baby took a snooze in her car seat. (This didn't require much as there are only two main streets in town). After she woke up, we decided to have lunch at Nezzy's. It was only the fourth time we've ever taken Tory to a restaurant, believe it or not. She could be such an inconsolable baby in her early months of life that it was never worth the hassle to take her out to eat. On Thursday, she behaved wonderfully and sat in the high chair at the table munching on crackers throwing crackers on the ground and playing toys. Janie entertained for most of the meal so Andi and I were able to enjoy our lunches.

Later, we came back to the cabin and went for a pontoon ride around the lake. Tory usually doesn't last long. We usually make it 3/4 of the way around our not-very-big lake before she's fussing for us to be done. The weather was hot and sticky so during Tory's nap, the four of us sat outside in the floatation station and drank frozen margaritas. It's quite possibly my favorite cabin activity.

Andi's parents left around dinnertime, and we enjoyed a relaxing steak dinner with our friends Derrick and Ellie, Brian, Liz and their two kiddos who were still at the cabin. The boys went for a evening boat ride and the ladies chilled back at the cabin over girl talk and wine. It was a great ending to the night.

Friday, the whole crew took the pontoon to the sandbar while Andi and I stayed back at the cabin with a sleeping Tory. My poor girl is teething like crazy this week and desperately needed every minute of sleep. After Tory's nap, Andi and I ran to Cumberland again to buy brisket for a lake party we're invited to tonight.

We hired a neighbor girl to babysit Friday evening so Derrick, Ellie, Andi and I could go out for a date night to a Wisconsin supper club. There are so many well known supper clubs in our area on neighboring lakes; we chose Paradise Landing on Balsam Lake. Perhaps a sign we don't get out sans Tory nearly enough, I was beyond giddy to be responsibility free for an evening. The restaurant and lake area were beautiful and we enjoyed a perfect night of drinks and laughter with two of our very best friends.

An awesome ending to a great week. Only one day left of our cabin Fourth of July vacation and then it's back to reality.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Fourth of July 2012

I've learned this: parenting and Fourth of July festivities are a difficult mix. The holiday was different this year; frustrating and yet, still fun at times.

Typical Fourth of July activities I did NOT do this year:

  • Get drunk
  • Boat all day
  • Laugh until my face hurts
  • Light fireworks*
*Well, to be truthful, I loathe fireworks so this one's never really on my hit list. 

Things I DID do Fourth of July 2012:
  • Fell victim to the schedule of two baby naps
  • Soothed a teething infant
  • Felt frustrated by friends drinking and making noise outside my sleeping baby's bedroom
  • Enjoyed a fun few hours on the beach (after nap time, of course)
  • Ate a fabulous shrimp boil dinner prepared by my husband
  • Had a Jell-O shot (or two, or five)
  • Watched a fireworks show from our cabin's backyard that would rival any city's big show
Parts of our Fourth of July were fun and celebratory and other times I felt like a naggy bitch-face for constantly telling our best friends and their guests to please keep the noise to a minimum. I hated being "that girl" because I fully understand how fun and crazy Fourth of July can be. I was just so tired and frustrated after listening to a fussy baby who desperately needed her sleep that it was hard to find a balance between the two. In the end, it was all good and there were no hard feelings. This is just a stage of life we're in, transitioning from partying to parenting. 

Aside from all that, the boys put on a spectacular fireworks show in our backyard. It's morphing into quite the tradition, really. Word spread through all the neighbors and our backyard filled with cabin friends and strangers at dusk who watched the big show together. Amazingly, Tory slept through the entire evening which took place right outside her bedroom window. Thank goodness for a crappy $10 box fan we bought at the dollar store and her white noise machine.

No Fourth of July would be complete without a decorated baby! Andi bought Tory this adorable red, white and blue dress to wear. I can't believe how grown up she looks in this picture. Where is my little baby?!

We spent a few hours late afternoon at the neighbor's cabin for beers and beach time. It was the closest I came to my favorite part of Fourth of July which is basking in the sunshine all afternoon. Past Fourth's included dancing, floating in the water and drinking fun cocktails. This year, I responsibly had one beer and monitored Tory's shade and sunscreen levels. I don't necessarily need to drink to have fun but again, things were just different than past summers where Fourth of July festivities were the highlight event of the season. Sadly, neither Andi or I got a single picture with Tory all day, although we did get a few of her. She was at her happiest after nap time when we had her in the lake with us.

Tory and our friend Ellie
Phil and Ellie

Derrick getting ready to wakeboard

We're at the cabin for the rest of the week, and thankfully the big Fourth of July hoopla is over for another year. Yesterday, we fell back into regular cabin life - chill time with friends, playing outside on a blanket with Tory, cocktails and laughter around the table after an awesome steak dinner. This week's been a good mix of everything and we're fortunate to have such a great group of friends to make another year's worth of Fourth of July memories. 

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Fourth of July Week: Monday/Tuesday

Still at the cabin this week ...

Sunday, our friends Derrick and Ellie joined us at the cabin and we've made a daily ritual of boating, eating and drinking for the last three days. Fourth of July at the cabin is definitely different with kids in tow, but it's equally fun. We can still float and relax in the water; we just have to capitalize on every minute of nap time. Andi and I were laughing about it actually. The minute I walk upstairs after putting Tory down to sleep, I point out the window and we bee-line for the lake. Last night by the campfire, we had beers, bug spray and baby monitors lined up on our laps.

Monday we made another trip to the strawberry patch. Tory absolutely loved the strawberries we picked a few weeks ago, but hasn't been so crazy about the store-bought variety. Girlfriend prefers sweet, juicy strawberries fresh off the vine. The weather was hot and humid and not quite as pleasant as our last visit, but we still filled a pail to take home.

Daddy and Tory picking strawberries
The boys spend every evening casting a few lines. They catch lots of sunfish and large mouth bass. Andi wants to have a fish fry one of these nights. He, of course, bought a fancy outdoor fish cooker from Amazon he's dying to try out.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Fourth of July at the Cabin, Weekend 1

Is this the Fourth of July holiday weekend? Is it next weekend? Should we just celebrate them both out of pure confusion? Yes, I think that's appropriate.

We're at the cabin again this weekend and staying for the next 10 days. It's an awesome feeling to not be in clean up mode. Sundays always seem to be the most beautiful days and we're stuck wanting to play and relax and pick up and go home. Today, there's no such dilemma.

One of my best girlfriends, Val, and her family visited our cabin this weekend. Val and her husband Brionn have two little ones - Kasen and Linden - and Tory was in seventh heaven with friends to play with at the cabin. Although, I can't say Kasen felt the same way.

In Tory's defense (and I will defend her because she's my little girl), I think she was so excited to play but not quite big enough to get in on the action. Often times, she used Kasen to pull herself into standing position so she could see what he was doing. Luckily, Kasen was a pretty good sport about Tory touching and pulling on him most of the weekend. I tried to coach her as much as I could to "be gentle" when she tugged at him and I think that's absolutely my role as a parent to ensure she's not bullying others, but I also think it's important for her to play and interact with other kids on her own.

This weekend was the first time I've noticed Tory be so aware of other kids around her. She saw many of her little cousins in Nebraska over Memorial Day weekend, but she had little interest in playing with them. With Kasen, she spent much of the weekend watching him play toys and eat at meal times. It also really upset Tory every time Linden would cry and soon she'd cry, too, out of concern for the baby.

Saturday afternoon was picture perfect. During Kasen and Tory's afternoon naps, the adults floated in the lake and drank frozen cocktails. Thank goodness for baby monitors that reach to the lake shore! Near our dock, several sunfish were getting ready to lay their eggs and very territorial. The fish were swimming right up to us in the water and even nipping at our toes - eek! This, of course, forced me to crawl up onto a floatie and never move until I heard peeps from the baby monitor.

Miss Linden's first time in the lake.
Sunshine girls in matching swimming suits.
Linden and Tory
Floating with mama
We took all the kiddos for a pontoon ride. Based on the screams from little ones being stuffed in life jackets, I didn't know how our trip around the lake would go but all the babes was content once we started moving. Little Linden must've been comfortable - she even fell asleep!

After the kids went to bed, Val, Brionn, Andi and I sat on the pontoon and fished. I would venture to say we spend more time sitting on our pontoon tied to the dock than we do actually driving it on the lake. Then like good hosts, Andi and I went to bed at 10pm and left Val and Brionn to fend for themselves. Cabin life usually renders us comatose by sundown.

I'm looking forward to another few days here to celebrate summer.