Sunday, September 30, 2012

Letters to Tory: 13 Months

Tory Girl,

You're a toddler now! You're a walking, spunky, babbling little girl now and life with you couldn't be better. I know I say every month with you is more fun than the last, but it's absolutely the truth. You make every day brighter. Daddy and I love you so, so much!

Visit to the Turtle Lake, WI Pumpkin Patch
Several weeks ago as you were learning to walk, everyone kept telling me to hope you'd hold off just a little bit longer. "You'll really have your hands full then," they'd say. Honestly though, I enjoy my time with you so much more now that you can explore the world on your own two feet. By nature you're somewhat clingy, okay really clingy especially to me, and most of the time I don't mind carrying you along wherever I go. That is, unless I'm trying to make dinner or change a load of laundry. I've become quite skilled over the months of doing all those tasks with one hand while you're perched upon my hip. At least now I can put you down for a few minutes if needed and you're (usually) content to entertain yourself. Your unconditional love warms my heart and I could just about die from cuteness when you put your arms around me for a hug and pat my back like a little grown up. What a little lover you are.
My best girl - always together
You're still a little monkey and love to climb underneath everything possible. Daddy bought you a play tent for the cabin and a princess tent for your play room at home and you love them both. Many times, you'll drag books into your castle and read yourself stories. Baby dolls continue to be your best friends and you're often seen giving them hugs and kisses or carrying them tucked underneath your arm.

"Monkeying around" on the living room furniture
This month was your 12 month check-up and the doctor just couldn't get over how perfect you are. You weigh 19 pounds (33rd percentile) and are 29 inches long (50th percentile). The doctor was happy to hear you're doing things like helping mommy get you dressed and imitating the animal noises of dog, cow, snake, lion, bear and elephant. You can even point to all of your body parts. There's just one thing he was surprised you aren't doing - saying mama or dada yet. I know it'll come eventually, but I long to hear you say those sweet little syllables!

Just look at that little face.
One of your biggest milestones this month was learning to sleep through the night. After spending the day with Daddy and taking a banner long nap, I decided it was time we let you "cry it out" in your crib until you learned how to soothe yourself to sleep. Honestly, I think you were ready and the whole process went fairly smoothly. The first night or two you fussed for 20 minutes or so and it was hard to sit by and listen to you cry, but by night three you were settling yourself to sleep in minutes. Since then, you're sleeping much better during the daytime and at night and we are, too! It feels so good for all of us to get a good night's rest. You even sign "nap" to us when you're tired and will lay right down to sleep. I'm shocked at how easy the transition has been when I remember all those long, hard months of multiple wake-ups and tip-toeing out your bedroom door. Crazy how much my little girl is growing up.

We spent lots of time at our Wisconsin lake cabin again this month and there you went on your first ATV ride with Daddy. Don't worry, he only took you around the backyard. Isn't that what Baby Bjorn carriers are for anyway? You have no fear when it comes to water, climbing or exploring.

First ATV ride
You also took your 11th? 12th? flight to Nebraska for Baby Neeley's baptism. You were a rockstar traveler on the plane as always, although a bit on the wiggly side. It was neat to see you notice things in the airport like airplanes on the tarmac and the clouds out the window as we flew at 30,000 feet. For the first time, I really felt like you knew what you were experiencing. At Nana and Papa's house in Nebraska, you had a fun time playing toys with your cousins. It's a wonderful sight to see all of you girls together.

Tory (1 year), Brooke (5 years), Neeley (7 weeks)

Keep lighting up our life, Tory Bean. We love you always.


Friday, September 28, 2012

Screen Time

Recently I joined the party and purchased an iPhone. I used to have a crappy Blackberry for work that never functioned properly, took poor quality photos and didn't have any fandangled technology like maps or weather. I finally bit the bullet, paid out of pocket and now have a shiny new iPhone. I've entered the world of apps and Instagram. Yippee!

I downloaded free Fisher Price apps for Tory and all too often, I find myself handing over my phone to entertain / distract her during diaper changes. She's just so wiggly! Andi bought a car mount for the iPad and we're guilty of playing Backyardigans on repeat during weekend drives to / from the cabin. Better than her fussing the whole drive! Now that Tory feeds herself for the most part, I've been turning the TV to PBS and allowing her to watch Arthur or Curious George while she eats. Gives me a few minutes to make dinner with two hands! All this technology makes life so much easier now that Tory's growing into a little person. Lately it has me thinking, how much screen time is too much? As parents, should we have a limit to how much we allow our child to interact with TV, iPads and iPhones?

This is one of those topics where I'm sure everyone's got an opinion. I have friends who've waited to expose their kids to screen time until age 2 and others who allow their kids to watch Elmo and Mickey Mouse as young toddlers. Honestly, I don't think either choice is a bad one. I fall into the "everything's ok in moderation" category and feel like a little media won't hurt anyone. I want to be a good parent though and so I don't want to overdo it either. I definitely don't want to be sitting in a principal's office one day saying "we should've limited TV time or we would've never found ourselves here."

When I was growing up, we didn't have a limit on television at all. My sister and I watched movies and played video games. We watched Sesame Street and Barney as young kids and Full House and Family Matters when we were school age. We didn't abuse it though and we still clocked many hours playing Barbies and riding bikes around the neighborhood. Andi was sort of the opposite (by choice? I'm not sure. I should ask his mom). He never saw Dirty Dancing until we started dating at age 26. The shame! Ha, my sister and I dreamed of being Baby and learning dance moves along a tree log down by the river. I wouldn't say Andi's obsessed with TV now, or has a firm stance against watching it. I can't say I struggled in school or fought childhood obesity because I watched too much TV as a kid either. I'm not sure either end of the spectrum stunted our development, shaping us as different people today. Well, except one of us gets references to pop culture and the other one's still trying to figure out why someone put Baby in the corner.

If we develop strict rules for Tory (aka: kid 1), I wonder if they'll be thrown out the window by the time Kid 2 or Kid 3 comes along? How will I censor Toddler Kid 3 from watching Grade School Kid 1's shows or reading Tiger Beat when his/her older sister does it? Am I putting too much thought into this whole thing when it likely doesn't matter anyway so long as everything's in moderation?

I mentally fist-pump when I hear other parents talk about their toddler's obsession with Elmo or Mickey because it makes me feel less like a parenting failure for exposing Tory to the world of technology at age one. She's not hypnotized by any specific character at this point. Well, except for the intro song of Backyardigans which she could watch over and over and over ... and does while I clip her fingernails.

I guess I'm not looking for strong opinions on one side or the other; I'm just saying I worry sometimes if I'm doing the right thing by my daughter. I want her to have every chance to be smart and creative and original and I hope by exposing her to the Great Big World too quickly, I don't hinder who she becomes.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Things I Love: 9-12 Months Edition

The 9-12 month stage ... oh, it's a fun one! Tory developed such a lively personality in the span of a few months. Her preferences and schedule changed quite a bit, too. I'm always trying new products and baby gadgets to make life a little easier. I think I've found the perfect bib or sippy cup until I stumble upon a product even more functional. With so many baby items out there, I wanted to jot down a few of our favorite things during this baby stage.

Items we continued to use/like in the 9-12 month range:
Nuby No-Spill Super Spout Sippy Cup
Sleep Sheep
Adan + Anais Sleep Sack
OxyClean Baby

New to us items for this age which quickly became our fav's:

- Useful-
Britax Boulevard Convertible Car Seat
Around 10 months, we transitioned Tory to a convertible car seat. I did some online research and asked around to see which car seat all of my mommy friends had purchased. There were mixed reviews - most people said they were happy with Britax but other didn't think a big, bulky, expensive car seat was necessary. I read a review online somewhere (Amazon maybe?) where a lady said she's been in a severe car accident and her two boys walked away without a scratch thanks to the Britax Boulevard. SOLD. We bought that car seat the very next day. My verdict? I love it. It's absolutely worth the money. I can tell how solid and supportive it is just by touching it. The material's soft and comfortable and all the straps and clicks function like they're suppose to. A few days after we bought it I thought to myself, "this would be better if there were Velcro here to hold the straps" and lo and behold, there they were! Perfect. The Boulevard is big and somewhat heavy (28 pounds) but it's obviously safe. Best of all, Tory loves it (and she's the biggest car seat critic around). Regularly, she falls asleep minutes after she's strapped into her seat.

We also purchased this Evenflo Tribute Convertible Car Seat as a back-up for the nanny to use and for traveling. It's alright; definitely less supportive when compared to the Britax Boulevard and more cheaply made. It works fine for the nanny's occasional trips to the library with Tory or when we travel through the airport. It's lightweight at 13 pounds (half the weight of Britax) and buckles into vehicles easily.

We also purchased this JL Childress Car Seat Cover and it's works great for lugging around either car seat. It fits both car seats and is comfortably worn like a backpack. No complaints about this at all. A must-have if you're planning to travel with a car seat and don't want it to be dirty and damaged by baggage handlers.

Tommee Tippee Explora Bibs
A-mazing! On a whim, I threw these bibs in my cart one day at Target and I am in love. I dreaded meal times like math homework because Tory was seriously such a messy eater. I spent 15 minutes deconstructing her high chair and wiping it down 3-4 times a day and it was getting ridiculous. Once I started using these bibs, messy meal times were drastically reduced. Tory doesn't mind wearing the Explora bibs at all (she ripped the Bumpkins bibs off in two seconds flat) and these bibs catch 99% of the food she drops. In fact, they're so good at catching crumbs, Tory often says "oh!" and re-eats the food she dropped in the little bib flap! I like the button-hole latch at the back as well (vs. Bumpkin's Velcro) because she can't pull them off either.

Baby Bath Sponge
Around 9 months of age, Tory outgrew her baby bath tub and I started giving her baths in the regular tub. She was still learning her balance and definitely wasn't comfortable sitting in the tub alone. I heard people talk about those bath seats but as wiggly as she is, I imagined her popping right out of that. My mom sent me a baby bath sponge and it worked perfectly for our needs. I think it's intended for small infants to lay on, but I used it to give Tory something to sit on and provide traction in the water. It allowed her to explore and learn to balance in a bathtub environment while giving her some stability at the same time. Although she doesn't need it as much now, I still put it in the bathtub with her to lay and crawl around on. Cheap, easy solution to the slippery baby learning-how-to-function-in-a-bathtub stage.

Old Navy Sun Hat
Of course I can't find the link on their website any longer, but it's still worth mentioning. The Easter Bunny bought this sun hat for Tory with a matching pair of little baby flip flops. The sandals were crap because, duh, shoes on crawling babies are kind of awkward (lesson learned). However, this sun hat was perfect for Tory because it actually stayed on her head. The bill was short enough that she it shaded her face without hanging over her eyes in a floppy way and most of the time she forgot she was even wearing it. That's the best kind of baby hat in my book.

-Favorite Toys/Gifts -
Poppity Pop Dino Toy
Goofy name. Great toy. Around 11 months, the nanny picked up this toy at Target for Tory and she loves it. Mostly she carries around the balls and is completely amazed by watching them shoot out the dino's mouth. I like how the same balls are used with multiple Fisher Price toys.

Baby Dolls
Tory's not attached to a blanket, pacifier or stuffed animal but she adores her baby dolls. She has two babies and carries them all over the house with her. Yesterday, she had one stuffed in a trick-or-treating pail. It may have been the cutest thing ever. I'm amazed by her natural instincts to love them, hug and kiss them and even put them in her toys and push them around. What a little mommy girl she's become.

Touch and Feel Books
Tory's a little book worm, she has been from an early age. I like to think it's because she's a baby genius but likely it's the one-on-one attention she gets when we read her stories. Anyway, during this age (and still today), her favorite books were touch and feel ones. Specifically, she likes On The Farm because she's obsessed with farm animals and Curious George at the Zoo.

Sesame Street Stacking Cups
Cups of all kinds were a big hit with Tory during 9-12 months of age, especially these Sesame Street Stacking Cups. It was right around the time she starting drinking from a cup and I'd see her pretend to drink from these all the time. She never really learned to nest them into one another, or stack them for that matter, but she carried them around with her constantly.

Hope this helps share a few of our tried-and-true favorite things. I think I'll seriously refer back to these lists for every baby gift I ever buy because who doesn't love getting things that really work.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Neeley's Baptism

Andi, Tory and I flew to Nebraska this past weekend to celebrate my new baby niece's baptism. Neeley is 7 weeks old now and absolutely squeezable! Love that I've had the opportunity to see her twice in a month because she's already grown and changed so much.

We left for Nebraska on Friday evening and rented a car in Nebraska to drive to my parent's house. Tory behaved wonderfully on the flight, but she was definitely a wiggly worm. It took both Andi and I to keep her occupied for the 50 minute duration, which has us re-considering our decision to fly with her on our laps when we travel to Europe this Spring. Eleven hours is a loooong time and if we were physically exhausted after this flight, I'm not sure how we'd do. Not that she misbehaved by any means, just has a lot of energy. Our iPad, snacks, books and the friendly people seated behind us got us through this flight and she slept on the hour car ride to my parents afterwards. Pretty smooth traveling overall.

Saturday morning, we attended my other niece, Brooke's, swimming class at the YMCA. After seeing Tory in swimming during my family's visit to Minnesota in August, Brookie begged her mom to sign her up, too. The lucky duck's the only child in her class so it was great to see Brookie get one-on-one attention with her swim teacher. I spent half the session wandering around the old YMCA hallways, chasing an active toddler. Isn't it funny how much smaller places seem when you return to them as an adult? I swear the Y was giant when I was a kid. The gymnasium used to stretch on forever. Now it's a pretty small place, a little dingy and not at all how I remembered it. I suppose my hometown doesn't freeze in time just because I've moved on.

Back at my parent's house, we spent the rest of the afternoon playing with the girls and watching the Nebraska football game. Tory had a blast playing with Brooke and all Nana and Papa's toys. She was mostly obsessed with the bouncy seat she wanted nothing to do with six months ago as a baby. We all laughed as she reclined with her baby doll and coloring book in the baby lounger. (That's not baby Neeley in the picture, by the way. It's a looks-like-real baby I bought for Brookie's birthday).

My mom bought the girls Hello Kitty Huskers t-shirts so we had to snap a picture of them wearing matching gear. Someday Tory's going to love looking back at all the pictures we take with the cousins together. I know I love to see the ones of us when we were little, at my grandma's house lined up with our Easter baskets or in our matching pajamas. The best childhood memories, I think.

Sunday, we went to church and my mom hosted a reception for Neeley following the service. Neeley was a little angel and didn't cry once during church. Tory was well behaved also, if you don't count the times she chucked her bottle a few pews in front of us. Seriously, what is the solution to little kids behaving during a church service? Too young for coloring or quiet books; I basically stuffed my child full of Puff snacks and a bottle of water to entertain her. Her diaper weighed a gazillion pounds by the end of the service. This will get better, right? When she's 30 and finally capable of sitting still for an hour?

Neeley and her sponsors

Baby Neeley on her baptism

By the time all of the guests were gone, my immediate family collapsed on the living room furniture, watched a movie and played with the kids. You never realize how much work it is to entertain people at your house (the prep, the party, the clean-up) until you're old enough to be the organizer or responsible enough to help your parents with it all. Andi and I were beat on our flight back to Minnesota, but enjoyed every minute of the weekend with my family.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Cabin Life's Coming to a Close

Summertime at the cabin is coming to a close. It's the time of year where people are dressing in sweatshirts and jeans by the campfire at night, acorns and pine cones liter the yard and docks are being pulled out of the lake. We have three more weekends left of our summer cabin rental agreement. It's a sad part of the year where we putz around the lake and wonder where the summer's gone. What once was filled with anticipation for fun, sunny days ahead is now dread for snow and cold. I guess that's what enjoyable about living in a place with four seasons. There's never time to grow tired of hot summer sun because it's gone before you know it. Autumn rushes in with beautiful fall colors, apple orchards and pumpkins.

I worked at the Gopher football game on Saturday, so our cabin time was cut short this weekend. In a role-reversal, Andi had Tory and all of our things packed up and ready to go when I arrived home from work and we left town around 6pm. It's feels strange to hear about their daddy/daughter day together while I'm at work. I much prefer being the one at home who gets to play at the park and go for walks with our little Bean, but it's also nice for them to spend some quality one-on-one time together.

Our friends Ellie and Derrick were already at the cabin when we arrived Saturday evening, along with their friends Maia and Billy. They had prepared delicious ribs and corn on the cob on the grill for dinner. Andi put Tory down to sleep, and I put my feet up and relaxed. After dinner, we sat by the bonfire, drank a few beers and laughed until our faces hurt. Sometimes those night are so unexpected and such a treat. Friends around a fire, laughing and talking. It was perfect.

Sunday, Ellie and Derrick left with their friends and Andi and I decided to take Tory to the apple orchard. We visited the same orchard last year when Tory was just three months old. I remember her being so tiny and worrying about her being outside in the wind and cool breeze. A year later, she was tottling all around the farm. For some reason, she was afraid of the pumpkins and won't touch them or sit next to them for a picture. Maybe because they were big and orange? Who knows. The farmer took us on a hay rack ride around the pumpkin patch. Then Andi and I pulled Tory around the farm in a little red wagon. She had a blast looking at all the trees and pumpkins.

We picked out two big pumpkins for our front porch and bought some Honeycrisp Apples to take home. I love the tradition we've started by taking Tory to this orchard every fall. I hope we'll be able to go back every year. It'll be fun next year to watch Tory pick out her own pumpkin from the patch.

Andi and I talked about cabin life on our drive back to the Cities. Renting a cabin in the summertime is such a good investment for our family. Every weekend we spend quality time together, enjoying the outdoors and each other's company. We eat meals together. We laugh. We spend time in nature. Those are the memories we want our child(ren) to grow up experiencing.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Tory's 1st Birthday

We planned. We partied. We be pooped. Tory's first birthday has come and gone.

Wrapped up in the excitement of first birthday celebrations, I decided to host not one, but two, birthday parties for our special girl. On Thursday, August 30 Andi and I hosted both sets of our parents, my brother Adam and his sister Lindsay for Tory's birthday. More family planned to join us later in the weekend for another celebration. We grilled steaks for dinner at our house and enjoyed a fun evening together as Tory opened her birthday presents and tasted her first piece of birthday cake.

Hard to believe a year ago we welcomed this little girl into the world.

The birthday girl.

So big!
Tory wasn't very interested in unwrapping her birthday gifts, but was very excited to play with all of her new toys. She received a push toy corn popper, a baby doll, ABC floor mat and money for her travel fund from Grandma and Grandpa, tons of clothes and a charm for her bracelet from Nana and Papa, a step stool, shoes and a monogrammed T from Aunt Lindsay and a baby doll and plate set from Uncle Adam.

Tory Girl loved her first taste of birthday cake. She shuttered from the high dose of sugar half-way through and smashed the pink and red frosting all over her face and hair. Tory didn't hesitate a bit. She dove right into her cake and enjoyed every bit of it.

On Friday, our family drove to our Wisconsin lake cabin to continue the birthday celebration. Months ago, I dreamed of hosting a wonderful family reunion at the cabin over Labor Day Weekend. Since Tory's birthday fell just a few days before, I thought it was the perfect chance for all of my family (who don't make the trek to Minnesota very often) to experience a slice of our life here while celebrating our special birthday girl. My extended family is scattered in Nebraska and Pennsylvania, and there have been very few times we've all been together in the last few years. Everyone was set to attend until my cousin Tara learned her husband's job was moving them to Switzerland in September. Their abrupt move prevented them from attending Tory's birthday, but my Nebraska family still make the trip to visit us. We had a great time enjoying the lake and each other's company over the long holiday weekend.

I absolutely love this photo of Brooke and Tory playing together. Now that Tory's able to keep up with the big kids, she had a blast playing babies and building sandcastles by the water. I have so many happy memories of playing with my cousins when we were little, and I love witnessing the same develop for my little girl.
Cousins Brooke and Tory
Lauren and Brooke driving the pontoon

Building sandcastles
Daddy and Tory playing in the lake
Because everyone was at the cabin all weekend, I didn't host an official "birthday party" for Tory. I hung birthday decorations for the entire weekend and we celebrated on Saturday with a big meal of pulled pork sandwiches, potato salad and cole slaw, baked beans, corny macaroni, chips and dip and yellow cupcakes for dessert.

Papa and Tory
We spent the afternoon down by the lake, relaxing in the sunshine and enjoying each other's company. These are some of my favorite times - laughing and relaxing with my family. Because we don't all get together very often (and very, very rarely in my neck of the woods) it was so special to be all together.

Afternoon boat ride
 Later in the evening, we ordered pizza and Tory opened more birthday presents. She received lots of cute outfits from my sister Ashley, cousins Jen and Jes and Aunt Cheri. Since Tory wasn't too interested in opening her own presents, she was lucky to have little helpers Brookie and Lauren to assist!

Brooke (5 years), Tory (1 year) and Neeley (4 weeks)
All the party guests left on Sunday and Andi, Tory and I relaxed at the cabin for the last day of Labor Day Weekend. We're so blessed to have wonderful family who love our Tory Girl so much and I'm so thankful for all who traveled to celebrate with us. 

Friday, September 14, 2012

Nebraska Visitors

My best friend from Ashley and her husband Neal visited us in Minnesota last month. Even though it's old news, I still want to take a minute to write about our fun weekend at the cabin! Ashley and her husband are so thoughtful by making an annual trip to the Twin Cities to visit.

Ashley is my childhood best friend dating all the way back to 1st Grade. I can still picture our desks pushed next to one another in Mrs. Justice's grade school classroom and I'll never forget the early years we spent together, bonding over spelling books and American Girl dolls (Ashley had many, I had none. Very deprived over here). We remained friends through Middle School when our lockers were near each other and became neighbors when my family moved a few houses away from Ashley's in the 8th Grade. We each lived on the opposite side of a shared street corner and many, many times "met in the middle" to hang out together. I'm pretty sure we watched every single episode of 90210 in her basement.

In college, Ashley and I went to college in different states. We were several hours away from each other, but always stayed in touch. She's one of the few people in life who just get me. We don't have to talk everyday to pick up right where we left off the last time.

Ashley went to Grad School in Omaha where she met our (now mutual) best friend Val. In some strange stars-aligning coincidence, Val and I both attended undergraduate at the same college and vaguely knew of one another there. Ashley met Val a few years later and suggested Val reach out to me when she moved to Minnesota a few years ago. Since then, Val has become one of my very dearest friends (and still remains a close friend of Ashley's, too). The three of us are lucky to have a strong friendships with one another, each different in its own way.

So! Ashley, Neal, Val, her husband Brionn and their two little ones, Kasen and Linden, traveled to our lake cabin to spend a weekend with us. Everyone arrived mid-day Friday and spent the evening relaxing outdoors in the beautiful fall air and playing catch-up with chatter about our lives.

Ashley, Tory and I
This was the first time Ashley had seen Tory since she was 3 weeks old and Neal's first time meeting Tory so it was really fun to see my best friend together with my daughter. Ashley and Neal are expecting a baby this November, so the weekend was perfect baby training for the expectant parents. If spending a weekend with 3 kids under the age of two isn't enough to prepare you, I don't know what is. No turning back now, friends!

 Kasen was adorable, as always, and loved to watch the fish swim in the water.

Kasen and Brionn
Tory loved Linden and kept giving her hugs. She was much more gentle with Linden this time, compared to just a few weeks prior. Tory Girl is such a Mother Hen and loves all types of babies - real and plastic ones!
Tory, Val and Linden
Every time Ashley and Neal visit Minnesota, the weather always seems to be too cold to do anything fun outdoors - even in the summertime. When they arrived on Friday afternoon, it was chilly jeans and sweatshirt weather, but Saturday turned out to be absolutely beautiful. We spent most of the day lounging around the cabin in between baby naps and feeding schedules.
Our favorite place to be ... floating on a raft in the lake.
Ashley and Neal
Saturday night, Andi attempted to cook Beer Can Chicken on the grill, but all the fat and dripping caused it to literally catch on fire. Eek! I went to put Tory down to sleep and when I came back, our plans had changed from grilling to pizza from the County Line Bar. 

On a side note, the chicken was actually fine once we pulled all the scorched skin off the outside. I used the meat in quesadillas and freezer meals the following week and it tasted delicious!

What a fun, relaxing weekend we all had at the cabin. Spending time with Ashley and Neal brings back so many memories of my childhood growing up, and we add to those memories every year. I hope this is a tradition we continue for many years to come.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Sleep Training: It's Time

On Saturday, I had to work the Gopher football game. A day which started with three nighttime baby wake-ups at 12am, 2am and 3am. My alarm went off at 4am and I worked an 11-hour day from 5am - 4pm. To say I was frustrated with Tory not sleeping, with life in general, is an understatement. I am so tired of running on fumes because I have a child who doesn't sleep.

Andi and I are not people who function well on no sleep. In the early weeks of pregnancy, I remember reciting reassuring words to myself on how we'd make it through the first few weeks of no-sleep parenting. I told myself, it'll only be a few weeks! I can do anything anything for a few weeks! Soon, I'll have a baby who sleeps 12 hours at night and we'll return to our normal selves.

Yeah, that never happened around here.

I will fully take responsibility for Tory's sleeping habits. I am not a fan of letting babies cry it out. I've never let her cry for more than 5 minutes because I just didn't understand how letting her get so worked up would help her fall asleep. She's also so gaggy and a few times she threw up from crying so hard. I couldn't bare to sit by and let that happen. I usually rock her to slumberland, even today, and I fall out of my chair with amazement when other parents talk about how their kids just magically sleep for naps and bedtime (it's so easy, they say!). I HATE YOU. (Just kidding). (Kind of).

So, Saturday was Andi's first big day watching Tory all by himself. We were both sort of nervous about it. I wrote him a list of foods to feed her and her naptime routine during the day. Not that he's not a capable parent, but I always take care of all feeding and naps. He sent me a text half-way through the work day to say she'd taken a three hour nap in the morning. WHAT THE HECK?!?! She's taken a three-hour nap for me exactly zero times. I didn't get it.

Later I asked him how he got her to sleep so long because seriously, this kid doesn't sleep at all for me. He said he tried to rock her to sleep a few times, but finally let her cry it out in her crib for 20 minutes before she soothed herself to sleep. She was tired, he said, so he just let her work it out by herself. Huh.

At that moment, I hit a wall. I'm over this! I'm tired of running on empty because I'm not getting enough sleep. At a year old, Tory really should be sleeping through the night. At most, she shouldn't need me (and only me - no one else) to comfort her. I decided it's time for sleep training.

Without sounding cold, I decided to go cold turkey. I rocked her to sleep last night as per usual and laid her down to sleep in her crib. If she woke up 20 minutes later (which is pretty standard), I would let her cry it out without going back in there. She didn't. At 2:00am, Tory cried out from her nursery and I listened and waited. At 15 minutes into her wake-up (not necessarily a meltdown by the way, but a constant fussing), I told Andi to put in earplugs if he like because I was committed to letting her soothe herself to sleep. At 3:00am, Tory was finally quiet. I was proud of myself for sticking to my guns. She finally figured it out. Unfortunately, I was wide awake but this will get easier, right?

Today during both naps, I rocked Tory to sleep and laid her down in her crib. She woke up both times and I normally would've picked her back up and rocked her back to sleep again. Today, I simply walked away and shut the door. She wasn't happy and she screamed when I left, but fell asleep minutes later and slept for 1 1/2 hours each time. I'm shocked and so happy.

I know there are various methods of Cry It Out and some offer a softer method of entering back into the room to offer reassurance. I see how this method might be a good option for a smaller child, but I think Tory's old enough to realize she's not abandoned. The kid's been playing me for MONTHS and I'm finally ready for both of us to move onto the next stage. She's a smart cookie and perfectly capable of soothing herself to sleep (as shown the last two days). Here's hoping our second night of CIO goes smoothly and my little girl will be on her way to sleeping through the night from here on out.

Sunday, September 9, 2012


The last six weeks have been an absolute whirlwind.

I wanted to blog about the weekend my best friend visited from Nebraska. Jotting down memories from Tory's first birthday has been hanging over my head. I wanted to write about our last few weekends at the lake and budding friendships with new mom friends. I haven't had a minute to trim my fingernails (forget about finding time to paint them). I haven't had a chance to schedule a long-overdue haircut or make freezer meals for upcoming week-night dinners. I wanted to buy a new Crockpot and make chili one of these weekends. I've been mentally reciting Tory's recent achievements so I can record them in her baby book. The dog desperately needs a bath. Poor smelly dog. I miss reading all my favorite blogs. I have no idea what any of my Internet friends have been up to lately. My marriage is struggling. I'm mean, we're fine, but I've barely talked to my husband in weeks. We're exchanged quick kisses on the way to work and groggily said good-night before passing out from exhaustion at night. We spent Labor Day weekend in the same proximity, entertaining our family and friends during Tory's birthday celebration but I miss hanging out together when one (or both) of us weren't so cracked from the craziness. Tory barely slept the month of August. At all. I don't know if it teething, or if there was a full moon. Was she hot? Cold? Growing? Nothing? I give up guessing with her. The kid doesn't sleep. EVER. I spend the month of August holding her in a rocking chair and dumping caffeine into my body to somehow keep going.

I cry uncle. I am so tired of giving and doing for everyone else. I actually thought about getting in my car today and driving somewhere far away by myself. Just to sleep for a few hours or sit on a bench by myself. I wish my sister or my mom lived down the street so I could show up uninvited, but always welcome, plop onto their couch and lose myself in someone else's life for a hour or two.


I am so tired of feeling like I'm half-assing motherhood and work life and being a wife because there is never enough of me to go around. I'm giving 80% to everything and none of my efforts are enough to be perfect. I'm PMSing and even writing this, although freeing to finally have an hour to myself to dump out all these feelings, makes me feel like a failure for not being skilled enough to balance it all. I should have used the last 30 minutes to check a few of those nagging tasks of my to-do list, but I give up. I lack the motivation. I cry uncle.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Sunshine Birthday Party

Tory's first birthday parties (plural - she's so special she had TWO!) were sunshine themed. Yellow and cheerful just like my Tory Bean. Admittedly, I sort of have a weird thing against themed decorations (that's why Tory's nursery is lavender with white and black accents - no cutesy characters) and her birthday party was along the same vain - simple and bright.

About a month ago, I was stressing big-time about hand-crafting all of her party decorations. Pinterest is the devil because it's easy to find tons of cute ideas, but then you actually have to MAKE THEM. I used to love crafty stuff but since I had Tory, it's the last thing I feel like doing after she goes to bed at night. Then, I had a brilliant idea! My nanny is super artsy and creative. Since I decided to take a vacation day on Tory's birthday (which fell on a work/nanny day), I propositioned the nanny with an idea. She would get a free day off with pay in exchange for making all my sunshine party decorations. A win, win, right? I gave her some ideas as to what I was looking for and she make some adorable decorations for Tory's party (in, like, an afternoon I might add). I couldn't have been more thrilled with the way they turned out!
You Are My Sunshine highchair banner and tray decoration.
Tory was obsessed with pulling the cherry off the top of the cupcake decoration.

A "Tory's 1st Birthday" banner.
The "You Are My Sunshine" painting was a gift from our nanny featuring Tory's very own hand print.
Yellow frosting cupcakes and cucumber lemonade for all. 
Sunflowers for a table centerpiece.

Pretty yellow and orange paper flowers as outdoor decor.
Bright-colored dress from Carter's.

My sunshine girl was showered with love and gifts throughout the weekend. Our three-day celebration with family deserves a post of its own which I lack the brain power to compose at the moment. More details to come about Tory's first birthday ....