Thursday, May 30, 2013

Letters to Tory: 21 Months


Another month older, my sweet girl; here we are again. I'm having a difficult time accepting you're just 21 months today old because this month seemed like you grew up by leaps and bounds. I keep a running list on my iPhone of your new accomplishments and favorite sayings, and the list for this month is overflowing with news.

I receive a weekly auto-generated email from a baby website with milestones and developments toddlers your age are likely experiencing. I file the information in the back of my mind somewhere; some things you've been doing for months and others I have yet to see. There were several "accomplishments" this month where I stopped and thought to myself "ah ha! here's ..." because you were sporting new skills almost every day.

For instance, you like to dress yourself now and can actually pull on your own pants, shirt and shoes (with some guidance). I've been very impressed with your ability to walk up and down stairs this month by holding someone's hand or hanging onto the railing. Very rarely do you scoot down the stairs or crawl up them anymore. It actually scares me a bit how fearless you are when navigating a tall staircase or monkeying your way into the high chair. Last weekend at the cabin, Daddy and I were packing up our things and watched you climb into the Ranger ATV so you could push all the buttons on the dashboard. Thankfully, you weren't in any real danger but your curiosity and independence are a little daunting sometimes.

You've had a big language burst this month. Some of your newest words are: Go, Knock Knock, Fall, Pink, Truck, Backpack, Baby, Big, Boat, Hot, No and Yay! One thing that seems so simple, yet really made me realize how much you're growing up this month, is how you now say "no" to a question or request instead of just shaking your head with an "un uh" sound. You also say "yay!" when you're excited to do something and it makes me laugh out loud every single time. Gotta love your enthusiasm! When we're all in the car together, you perform a roll call as if you're verifying your favorite people are there with you. "Mama. Dada. Mom. Dad" ... over and over again.

This month, you learned to throw overhand and practice by tossing anything and everything these days. (This can be a good or bad thing depending on what's in reach). I'm fairly certain you'll be right-handed as it seems like your dominate throwing and writing hand. Your interest in songs with physical actions has clicked recently and at swimming class, for example, you move your arms in the water in big exaggerated movements when we sing the Wheels on the Bus song.

You've been a great sleeper this month. Just like your mama, you love a good schedule and we've finally settled into a consistent 12:30pm - 2:00pm nap and 7:30pm bedtime. You usually wake up between 6:00am - 7:00am in the mornings. We're in one of those wonderful places where you go to bed without a fuss. Last weekend for the first time in your life, you actually said "night night" and pointed toward your bedroom when it was time to go to sleep. I've heard stories of other kids doing that but I would have never believed in a million years you'd be one of those children! I nearly fell over and died right then and there. The ease and enjoyment of this "good sleep" pattern is not lost of me because we've endured many months of bedtime struggles together. Let me just say thank you for this glorious time and kindly remind you how much happier and well-rested you are when you sleep.

Let's see, in other news, you love all things that "go" this month. Of course, you still love your baby dolls and playing kitchen, but you've also been into airplanes, trucks and trains. Every time you hear an airplane pass over head, you point up to the sky and make a "shoo!" sound. You exclaim "tuck! tuck!" whenever a big truck passes by us. Mickey Mouse has also been a favorite this month. You call him "Nah" and ask for "Nah" in the mornings while you're eating breakfast. Bubble Guppies are still a favorite for sure, but Mickey Mouse and his Clubhouse gang are surely stealing a place in your heart. You also like to take showers with Daddy this month and it melts my heart listening to you two laughing and playing together. I think all the laughing on your part is you spraying Daddy in the face with the spray nozzle. Personally, I'm loving sharing the responsibility of bathing you every single day.

One thing you don't like is touching the grass outside. Now that spring has finally arrived in Minnesota, we've made many trips to the park and played in the backyard with bubbles and bouncy balls. When you fall down, you'll lay there like a turtle with your arms and legs outstretched, shrieking until someone helps you to your feet. You remain a good, but picky eater. You love cottage cheese, yogurt, cheese, peanut and butter and jelly sandwiches, tomato soup, grilled cheese and pineapple. You aren't a big fan of any "adult-like" meals like meat or veggies. Daddy gave you your own corn on the cob this month and you licked all the butter off -- no eating of the actual corn, though.

We made our first trip to the Minnesota Zoo this month with our friends Val, Kasen and Linden. You and I also took our first solo trip to Des Moines, Iowa and you did fantastic in the long car ride. I think you're going to have a ball at the lake cabin this summer. We took a boat ride around the lake with you this past weekend and you loved every single minute. Wearing a life jacket seems to be much more tolerable now you can stand and climb to get to where you want to go. You've come along way in 21 months, Tory Bean!

Life with you this month has been the best ever. I love being your Mama so much and I'm so very thankful for every single second we spend together. I love you, baby girl, with all my heart.


Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Tory, Lately

Miss Tory Bean has her big monthly birthday coming up in a few days, so not to steal the thunder of all her 21st month accomplishments ... but I wanted to take a minute to document what a wonderful delight my little Beanie has been the last few weeks.

It wasn't too long ago, I was pulling my hair in frustration regarding Tory's near-constant pre-Terrible Two's struggles. Every single thing last month was a battle -- eating, picking out clothes, getting dressed, sleeping, getting ready to play outside, coming indoors from outside, etc. Tory was driving me to drink, which coincidentally, wasn't very convenient for Baby #2 growing inside me. (Don't worry, Baby #2, I didn't hit the [wine] bottle.)

Lately, Tory has been a pure joy. PURE JOY. She is smart and funny and happy and silly and ... I am on such a parenting high because I'm so in love with this kid of mine.

Tory wants to be independent by putting on her own clothes in the morning, but she's not demanding about it. She pops her little arms through the sleeves and shouts "peek!" She tosses her tennis shoes to me and roars with laughter when I catch them one-handed. I ask her if she'd like a yogurt with breakfast and she replies "oh!" which is code for "yes, mom, I'd love a yogurt with my toast." Her new thing is to shout "yay!" whenever she's excited about something and it seriously makes me belly laugh every time. I love her enthusiasm for life. She makes my days so much brighter.

I was really dreading two weeks of solo parenting when Andi was working in Montana this month, but it turned out to be some of my favorite moments spent with my girl. We laughed; we played toys; we spent time at the park. I loved every single second of our time together.

There were several floating-on-a-cloud, surreal parenting moments like when I heard her say "baby" for the very first time. We were reading a bedtime book and she pointed to a baby on the page, calling it just so. Tory's love for baby dolls is deep, so I was always surprised she didn't have a verbal cue for her precious loves. Now, clear as day, she says "baby." It is truly the most magical feeling to see your child's development before your very eyes. I love watching her smell flowers as she passes by them in the yard and stop dead in her tracks as the sound of birds chirping. It's easy to appreciate all of life's wonders when you see it through the eyes of a toddler.

That Trace Atkins country song always gets me to my core when I hear it play on the radio. "You're Gonna Miss This ..." and I will. These are the days I hold dear in my heart and want to remember always -- this deep love I have for my Tory Girl. I'm so blessed to be his girl's mama.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Memorial Day Weekend: Part 2

Memorial Day weekend at the lake cabin wrapped just as relaxing and perfect as it started.

Sunday morning started with a road trip to Wal-Mart in Rice Lake, Wisconsin. Andi wanted to grab a few "stock up" supplies and we also bought a new set of dinnerware for the cabin kitchen. My main motivation in going was to buy Tory one of these Bubble Mowers I saw at Wal-Mart a few weeks. I've been on the hunt for fun outdoor toys for Tory and I need two sets of activities - one for home, one for the cabin - preferably, different things to keep her interested. (Alright, I'm also a sucker for kids toys and I find the resistance to buying her everything in existence nearly impossible). Seriously though, wouldn't she just love a bubble mower? I think so. Unfortunately, they weren't any at the store so I'll have to buy one another day.

Andi's aunt Barb and uncle Ken drove up from the Twin Cities on Sunday afternoon for a visit. We spent the cool, sunny afternoon taking a long pontoon ride all around the lake (as in ... all around the lake. I think it might have been Tory's first time visiting North Pipe Lake and she loved every single minute of being on the boat). I brought Tory's bubble bucket (one of the best summer toys for kids out there - love this thing!) and we blew bubbles, waved to the boats passing by and Tory "helped" Daddy by pushing all the buttons on the dashboard.

Captain Dad and his First Mate
Wearing Daddy's hat on the boat

We were bundled up in coats, pants and sweatshirts, but honestly the weather wasn't too unpleasant. Memorial Day weekend is never all that warm, despite our best wishes for it to instantly be summertime. I could almost feel summer within our reach, though. In a week or two, we'll be running around the yard in our swimming suits and teaching Tory to fish off the dock. Hooray for time at the lake!

Barb brought crab legs for dinner (Andi's all-time favorite) so we boiled a big feast for dinner -- crab legs, corn on the cob and red potatoes. Andi used his big stock pot (which he actually purchased for his Halloween costume last year) and it was perfect for steaming dinner out on the deck. I foresee many seafood boils on the patio this summer.

Today, Memorial Day Monday, Andi and I took Tory for a nature walk through the wooded trails near our lake cabin. We were all having so much fun! Tory literally squealed with excitement as she collected pine cones and sticks on the ground. Chloe's nose was in overdrive as she explored and sniffed all the smells along the trail. Andi and I looked at each other a bazillion times and said how happy cabin life makes us feel. So truly blessed to live the life we do together.

Little explorer

Classic Tory face

Trying out our Kelty backpack for the first time

A rare photo of just me

Love this girlie
Tory - 20 months

Our family of three ... for just a little bit longer

Sad to pack up and leave the cabin today after such a fun, relaxing weekend together, but I'm so looking forward to many summer weekends ahead at our favorite place on Earth.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Memorial Day Weekend, Part 1

A few weeks ago, Andi and I were feeling like losers for having no big Memorial Day weekend plans. We never had to "make plans" with friends for Memorial Day at the cabin in past years. Since we shared the space with several couples, everyone was just there. Now the cabin is solely ours and it requires more planning ahead of time to congregate a gathering. Also, it seems like the older we get, the more people have their own plans with family or very grown-up weekend tasks moving or landscaping to tackle. Memorial Day weekend is no longer a three-day party with lawn games and beers by the fire pit. Not all of it, at least.

But, after two solid weeks of Andi traveling in Montana for work and living a solo parenting gig myself, I'm so thankful we don't have big holiday plans this weekend. Spending three relaxing days with my two favorite people in the world is oh, so wonderful.

Hello Memorial Day Weekend!

Andi, Tory and I left the Cities Friday afternoon and took our time driving to the cabin, stopping by our favorite places along the way. When Andi's working on photo shoots, we don't really talk much because he's working 20 hour days and usually staying in remote places with little or no phone service. Plus, by the time he's back to his room for the night, it's usually late and I'm already in bed. So, we had two weeks of stories to share on our 1 1/2 hour drive to the cabin. Andi filled me in on his adventures in Big Sky Country and I recapped Tory's funniest moments and stories from our time at home.

We stopped by Balsam Lake Brick Oven Breads, to buy a few fresh loaves of bread for the weekend. This time, Andi bought a Sweet Focaccia which we all devoured for breakfast this morning. We also stopped at the bait store and by Kepper's Pottery and Produce for farm fresh veggies. Kepper's is a fantastic farm about 10 minutes from the lake cabin which takes veggie orders every week. We've opted to buy produce and eggs here vs. signing up for a CSA crop share this year. I love how we can specify what veggies we want in our box each week (or not feel obligated to buy if we're not coming to the cabin one weekend) and it's awesome to see the exact fields in which our produce is grown.

Shortly after we arrived at the lake cabin, we went for our first pontoon boat ride of the season. This year was already a gazillion times more enjoyable since Tory can walk now and her life jacket is more comfortable to wear. She was in heaven peering over the sides of the pontoon at the water and helping Daddy drive the boat. "Beep! Beep!" she kept saying as she pushed all the buttons on the radio. I venture to guess we'll be able to make it for a full loop around the lake during boat rides this year! Something we never were able to accomplish last year due to the attack of the screaming baby. (We better enjoy it because next year, we'll have Baby #2 in the mix and likely another life jacket hater on our hands).

This makes me so, so excited for the summer we're about to embark on. Tory is going to have an absolute blast at the lake this summer, planing in the sand and swimming in the water. I can't wait for sunshine and boating ahead (even if I can't partake in any adult beverage drinking due to the baby growing in my belly).

In three years time, we've traded in Solo cups for sippy cups; late nights of partying for quiet evenings. If I'm being honest though, this is the life I've always wished for. I had a blast during Memorial Day weekends of years past and now I'm so glad to be where I am today with Andi, Tory and our pooch, Chloe. Pontoon rides, afternoon cat naps and gourmet dinners featuring fresh, local produce. Here's to the start of summer and many more relaxing weekends at the lake to come!

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Whirlwind Weekend in Des Moines

Just wrapped an epic weekend. I think it's because my adorable Tory Bean has been such a joy to be around this week. Seriously. I'm floating on a parenting cloud nine because every minute of every day with her lately has been full of laughs and cuteness.

Also, I spent the weekend with my lovely family whom I love and miss dearly. We met in Des Moines, IA early Saturday morning for a quick 24-hour reunion. Des Moines is the half-way point between my parent's hometown and the Twin Cities and I'm not sure why we don't take advantage of meeting there more often because it really makes visiting each other quite simple.

I was stressed about driving four hours solo with Tory Girl, so I prepped myself extra to be super go-with-the-flow and accept meltdowns as they were sure to happen at some point. I charged the iPad on Friday night and downloaded all the Bubble Guppies episodes we own so she'd have plenty of viewing material. I brought three no-spill sippy cups of water and three different baggies of snacks, placing them in my car's center console area so I'd be able to toss back more snacks and drinks as Tory dropped them. I loaded up the pockets of the car seat seat protector with little trinkety toys Tory's not used to playing with like Matchbox cars, Lipsmackers lip balm and kid's sunglasses, plus stickers, crayons and coloring books. I directed (and tested for perfection) an air vent to blow directly on her car seat, while not blasting her in the face, so she wouldn't get too hot strapped in her car seat for hours on end. And surprisingly, after all that worry, Tory was a peach on the drive to and from Des Moines. She never cried once! All my preparation tricks worked fabulously, and I was able to successfully reach, dismount the iPad from the headrest mount and re-start Bubble Guppies episodes every 20 minutes. Believe it or not, it was actually a fairly relaxing drive, too. I turned on some old-school John Mayer (my favorite) and listened to my favorite tunes while Tory watched her shows and ate snacks. The drive time flew by like a breeze. (Tory did take a little snooze each way and that helped, too).

Tory and I arrived in Des Moines around 10:30am and met my parents, my sister and her family at Mimi's Cafe for breakfast. Personally, I was craving Red Robin for some strange reason, but everyone else wanted to do breakfast, so whatev's. Tory was too excited to sit down and eat so she spent the better part of our brunch orbiting the table from family member to family member and playing with her cousins.

Neeley and Tory sharing crayons and creating messes

Next, we ventured to Blank Park Zoo for an afternoon of lions, tigers and bears, oh my! There were twice as many animal exhibits open this time compared to my trip with friends last month. The weather was hot and sunny - perfect for an afternoon outside with the kids. Tory was even more fascinated with the zoo this time around. She loved the giraffes, monkeys and seals.

Tory (1 1/2 years) and Brooke (5 3/4 years)
It was impossible to get both girls to look at the camera at the same time.

Watching the giraffes roam

It always warms my heart when Tory gets to spend quality time with my parents. She doesn't seem them as often as Andi's family (naturally, due to geography) so it always takes her a little time to warm up to everyone which I know breaks my parent's hearts. Each visit, Tory seems to remember Nana and Papa a little more quickly and this time, she let my dad carry her around for half our time at the zoo.

One of the neat things about the Des Moines zoo is that you can pay to feed / interact with many of the animals. Brookie got to ride "Holly" the camel around for a bit. I was quite shocked she was so willing to get up there and ride by herself, but she didn't seem scared a bit.

Tory and Brooke also fed the coy fish.

We were going to ride the train at the end, but decided everyone was too hot and hungry to go. Brookie said, "Ah, man! I have to be six to ride the train. Maybe next year!" Seriously, where do kids come up with these things? No one said anything of the sort to her.

After the zoo, we had a late lunch / early dinner at Applebee's -- my parent's favorite. Secretly, I like when I'm with my family because we get to eat at chain restaurants and do wild and crazy things like order pizza. I've got to soak up all these special treats when my husband's not around. (He hates chains, remember?) I had the Sante Fe Chicken Salad which was especially tasty and drooled over my parent's giant size Long Island Ice Teas. Brookie and I cheers'd over Strawberry Lemonades.

Next, we swam in the hotel swimming pool for a bit before Tory's bedtime. My little girl was pooped from the day of travel and being outside at the zoo, so she was ready for nite nite at 7:00pm on the dot. A bit later, Neeley and Brookie were asleep and the adults sat up in our suite's living room area chit-chatting.

Storms were rolling into Minnesota, Iowa and Nebraska today, so we hit the road after breakfast this morning to beat the inclement weather. I'm always left feeling a bit sad and broken hearted when I leave my family after visits, but so is the life of the girl who moved away. I was hoping to make a trip back to Nebraska for a visit in early June during another one of Andi's work trips, but expensive flights have me watching airfare deals and crossing my fingers. As short as our visit to Des Moines might have been, I'm glad Tory and I were able to see my family and hope our next visit isn't too far into the future.

Friday, May 17, 2013

A Good Week

I was really dreading this week of solo parenting after the last time Andi was away for several days and Tory exhibited the worst behavior I've experienced as her mother to date. I thought she might have reached an age where she sensed Andi's absence, but wasn't able to completely understand that he'd eventually be back again. Most of all, I worried about enduring days upon days of whining, demands and tantrums, knowing how run-down and exhausted I felt by the end last time. It doesn't help any tantruming situation when I'm short on patience myself. 

But! This week has been glorious. Glorious! I will even say it's been one of my favorite weeks of parenting thus far. Tory has been so sweet and kind and happy this week -- every minute we've spent together has been a joy. Even last night when she was up three times during the night (what the heck is up with that, by the way?), I felt non-stressed enough to calmly get up and comfort her back to sleep again. No anger. No frustration. Just no big deal. Tory is still demonstrating an interest in doing things herself lately (putting on her own pants, pulling on her own shoes, etc.) and I've had more patience to deal with the extra time it takes to let her because we're both in better moods overall. 

On Tuesday, we played outside in the gorgeous summer-like weather we had this week. We rode bikes, played bubbles, wrote with sidewalk chalk and swam in her swimming pool. She was content to play semi-independently sometimes while I did the dishes or sat in my lawn chair alongside her and soaked up the sunshine.

I can't get enough of the way she blows bubbles by herself -- a forceful "phewww" blow until a soft bubble escapes her wand. Then Tory exclaims "pop!" as the bubble bursts into air. Over and over again. It's too cute for words.

Wednesday, I took Tory to church, knowing the last time Andi was out of town and I took her alone, I left the service half-way through and cried hard, frustrated tears the entire drive home. I braced for the worst and brought plenty of activities to keep her busy during the service. Surprisingly, Tory was so well behaved at church! I was so proud of her! Granted, she climbed around the pew bench a bit and sat on the floor between my legs coloring for a while, but at least she didn't scream and kick and I wasn't forced to drag her out of there like a completely incapable parent. I think this was progress! Ideally, she'd learn to sit nicely and color seated next to me but we'll get there eventually. She's only 1 1/2 years old I have to remember and the only way she'll learn how to behave is by continued exposure. Afterwards, we stopped to smell the daffodils outside church and my heart was so full of love for this little girl of mine. It's amazing to see the world discovered through her eyes.

I pre-arranged the grandparents to babysit Thursday afternoon to give myself a parental break, even if I didn't really feel like I needed it. I used my alone time to plant flowers in my yard and Tory enjoyed being the center of her grandparents' attention for a few hours. I was purely exhausted by the end of the day, but in a good way - a physical work accomplished way. It also felt good to check something off my to-do list and complete a big project like gardening from start to finish without interruption.

It was rainy and colder today so we stayed indoors and played with the same ol' toys we've been playing with all winter long. Tory seemed bored and was getting a little fussy, so I lined up all her stuffed animals and baby dolls on a blanket in the play room and we pretended to have a tea party for all of her friends. Tory was so excited about it and fed her dogs and bears and monkeys tea over and over again. I concentrated on being in the moment with her and enjoyed this sweet time together.

We made our weekly trip to the library this afternoon to pick up some new books to read. I love how familiar Tory has become with the library. She gave me the "shhhh" sign as we walked inside and ran right to the family play section. We picked out books and she helped me scan the bar codes with the machine. I'm just amazed at what a little sponge she is and how she remembers all our typical activities at the library. She's becoming quite the little person.

Tomorrow we trek to Iowa to meet up with my family and I'm hoping the good attitude vibes follow us the whole way there. I'm not as nervous about our trip as I was earlier in the week. Sure, there will be a few hairy moments, as there always is when traveling solo with a toddler, but I also know I can handle it.

Cheers to a great week!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

7 Quick Takes About Mom Stuff

1. So, the blog creeper is back. This time, the jerk is violating the comments section of my Baby Blog. So, I took that blog private again which is super sucky. I really enjoy sharing every personal detail about my pregnancy with the world! I've talked to several blog friends and none of these gross comments every happen to their sites, so I'm not sure why I'm the lucky winner here. I like sharing my thoughts with the Internet and I've made some great in-real-life friends through my blog. But ... those comments just ick me out and make Andi go very Protective Husband on the situation. So, private blog Baby In My Bubble is now. If the comments start happening here, I'll go underground altogether which means my poor mom will never be able to follow my life (she never can figure out how to access my blogs when they're private). Sigh.

2. So, hey! It was 98 degrees here yesterday! That's right, it was just sleeting at the lake cabin on Saturday and now it's full-on summertime. Minnesota weather, you're drunk. (But stay right here, we love your warm, sunshine-y days). Tory and I played outside for much of the afternoon. We were both a sweaty, sunscreened mess by the end of the day and we loved every minute of it. I bought her a new, bigger pool for the summer but I didn't have the energy to blow it up yesterday so I dug out the old baby one for her to play with instead. She had an absolute ball. Never mind there were Teddy Grahams and rice from her sand table floating at the bottom by the end of the day. That's what summertime is all about, right?

3. I'm back on the wagon for involvement in my neighborhood mom's group. The ladies meet once a month at someone's house and yesterday, I offered to host the gathering here. Attendance was low since the weather was so nice outside (can't blame people for wanting to stay home and enjoy it with their families) and one of the coordinators just had a baby last week. In any event, I had a really fun time chatting with the other neighborhood moms about life and kids and events around our 'hood.  Every year the group organizes a Neighborhood Parade in August, complete with a kid's bike parade, firetrucks, police cars and a visit from the Mayor. One of the ladies said it probably wasn't going to happen this year since no one wanted to take on the planning aspect or stuffing fliers into neighborhood mailboxes ... so, I kind of volunteered to do it! I think it'll be fun (and maybe a lot of extra work) but I just couldn't see the parade NOT happening this year -- it's the 25th year! So, I'm now scouring the Internet for block party ideas and making calls to our local service providers. Wish me luck!

4. I posted a job description on (the site we used to find our nannies) for a part-time babysitter once a week. Our current babysitter, Taylor, is moving off to college this fall and I'm 100% sure I'll need help with Tory once Baby #2 enters the picture. Once again, I'm floored by the number of applicants I received within 24 hours of posting the job. Once again, I am also floored by the email etiquette of other people. "Dear Family: I would like to apply for your job." NOPE. If you can't address me by name or read the job description correctly and respond accordingly, you are not suitable to oversee the care of my child. There were also some really promising candidates and I've got a few phone interviews scheduled for this week. I know I'll have no trouble finding someone great to babysit Tory this fall.

5. I'm taking Tory on my first solo road trip this weekend to Des Moines, Iowa. I'm so excited to meet up with my family there, but a little nervous (okay, a lot nervous) to drive in a car with Tory for four hours by myself. I know she'll be fine watching the iPad (I'm just not sure who will re-start her episodes of Bubble Guppies over and over again) and I'm hoping she takes a nap at some point during the drive. I think I'll load up the front console of my car with lots of snacks and several sippy cups to toss back to her when she drops them. I'm also left wondering why someone with technological experience hasn't invented a way for 20 minute shows to play continuously on the iPad without manually re-starting a new episode every time. A movie would be the logical solution, but unfortunately Tory won't watch anything but Bubble Guppies. First world problem, clearly.

6. I'm thinking about signing Tory up for Preschool this fall. I finally found a school that accepts two year olds (vs. three year old starting age) in our area that's not just a glorified day care. I don't really need the child care so much as I'd like Tory to have some structure for a few hours a week in a school-like setting, make some friends and have something lined up in her day other than watching me nurse a baby every two hours. The school's requirement is students must be two years old by September 1 and Tory will be two on August 30 (she'll make the cut-off by just two days). At quick glance, I thought she wouldn't make the cut-out by two days for some reason and I emailed the teacher asking if they'd make an exception. Then, almost instantly after I sent the email, I realized my mistake -- that Tory will, in fact, be of age by two days. Then I felt like a complete idiot (see Quick Take #4 - read first, you dummy!) so I sent another email to the teacher explaining my mistake and asking for a tour. They'll probably reject us just because I'm such a fool. GAH. Embarrassing.

7. Speaking of my smarts, I've had several instances in the last few weeks where my husband looked at me like I was a complete idiot because something of common knowledge is just making it into my brain sphere. Like, did you know ducks have bird duck houses? Big bird houses that are made for ducks. Did you know this? Apparently, we have them all over the cabin and I never knew that's what they were for until I saw a duck fly into one this weekend. Also, did you know ducks FLY?

Monday, May 13, 2013

Mother's Day Weekend

He's the man who blessed me with the gift of Motherhood.

She's the girl who made me a Mom.

I love them both more than they'll ever know ....

Mother's Day 2013

We had a wonderful Mother's Day 2013 at our lake cabin this weekend.


We haven't been up to the lake cabin in a few weeks with Andi's busy work / travel schedule so we were all excited to get away and spend some QT together this weekend.

Andi surprised me with an appointment to get my car detailed so Friday afternoon before we left the Cities, we met at the auto place to drop off my vehicle. When Andi used to use my SUV for work, he'd always have it detailed afterwards because it received so much wear and tear during photo shoots. Picture a SUV jammed packed with a bunch of dudes working 18 hours days, who take infrequent showers and smell of farts -- my car always needed a good wipe-down afterwards. Andi no longer needs to use my vehicle anymore and I jokingly said the other day, "Hey! So, if you want to borrow my truck sometime and then have it detailed afterwards, I'm totally cool with that!" There were Goldfish crackers crunched into the floor mats from Tory and a general dirtiness from the winter sludge all over my car. So, super excited by Andi's thoughtful gesture to have my car detailed for me.

On our way out of town, we stopped by Home Depot to buy a new riding lawn mower for the cabin. One of Andi's favorite things to do at the cabin is to drink a cocktail while mowing the lawn. Two years ago, we had a riding lawn mower that was the cabin owner's; last year they took the rider back and bought us a push mower to use and apparently, that wasn't as leisurely to drink and mow the grass. Andi was determined to buy a riding lawn mower for this year and I let him win (I shall file this in my back pocket for when I really want something ... wink wink, Andi). We had some gift cards to use toward the purchase and that's why we opted for Home Depot. Anyway, Andi dropped Tory and I off at Chipolte down the street so we could get some dinner while he completed the big purchase. Apparently, the entire ordeal was a complete disaster and the Home Depot employees knew nothing about the lawn mowers they sell. Andi was pretty keyed up by the time he picked Tory and I back up from dinner. It was late in the evening (for Tory, at least) before we finally departed the Cities and reached the cabin. We unpacked and played a bit and then it was light's out for all of us around 9:30pm.

Saturday was a crummy day, weather wise. It was around 45 degrees outside and alternated between sleeting and raining for most of the afternoon. We ran into town and re-purchased Andi's mom's Mother's Day gift from Brickyard Pottery. (Tory broke the first hand-crafted water pitcher we purchased for Janie's Mother's Day gift the day before - lovely, thanks Tory). Andi picked out a neat chip / veggie and dip serving dish for Janie instead. We grabbed a few last-minute groceries for Sunday's Mother's Day brunch at the cabin and picked up the pontoon from storage. Nothing says "it's time for boating" like sleet and 45 degree weather! It was too cold to put the dock into the water though, so we hung around inside the cabin for the rest of the afternoon.

Chilly afternoon walk in the cabin woods

On Mother's Day Sunday, Tory woke up early around 6:00am. Andi offered to take her for a ride into town so I could sleep in, but I actually felt well-rested and happy to spend time with my two loves. Tory was in a great mood and the three of us played in the living room and opened my Mother's Day presents. Tory gifted me a new L.L. Bean canvas tote bag which I've had my eye on lately. I love it and think it'll be great to haul stuff back and forth to/from the cabin, take to swimming class and pack up with stuff for picnics, groceries, etc. this summer. Andi also gave me a new dress and two shirts.

Tory helping me open my Mother's Day gifts
Shortly after, Andi's parents and sister, Lindsay, joined us at the cabin to celebrate Mother's Day. I made this delicious and easy make-ahead French Toast recipe and served it with fruit. Andi's parents brought freshly baked croissants from two different bakeries in St. Paul because they know just how much I adore them.

After brunch, we all took Tory for a walk through the woods around the cabin. She was so happy to be outside, running and exploring nature. Andi taught Tory how to swing between two people's arms and she was obsessed with doing this over and over again.

When we returned to the cabin, Janie put Tory down for a nap (seriously the best treat all day!) while Lindsay and I chatted on the couch in the living room. Andi and his dad worked to put the dock and the pontoon in the water, though unfortunately it was still too windy and cool to go for a boat ride. The ladies sat on the deck in the sunshine and visited while Andi and Jim tooled around the yard with various manly things. Janie and I opened our Mother's Day gifts. I received some beautiful glass candle jars and a springy scarf from Janie and Jim and a very sweet card from Lindsay. We gave Janie a canvas tote bag in addition to the hand-made pottery and Janie also received gift cards for flowers and yummy smelling soap from Lindsay and Jim. It was the perfect amount of relaxation for me on Mother's Day. When Tory woke up from her nap, we played around in the yard for the remainder of the afternoon.

Ice is off the lake and the boat is in!

Flying through the air with Daddy

Learning stretches with Auntie Lindsay 

Andi's family left to drive back to the Cities around 6:00pm, and Andi and I decided to stay Sunday night and drive back early Monday morning. We both commented how much longer and relaxing the weekend seemed because we had a full day on Sunday at the cabin. I think we'll extend our weekend like this much more often this summer.

I had the perfect Mother's Day weekend with family. Andi worked so hard to make my day special and I felt very pampered and appreciated. The only thing that would've made it better would have been to spend the day with my own mama and sister, too. If only Mother's Day came around more than once a year ....

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Never Forget These Days

Yesterday was one of those great, great days. Those truly magical days that only happen once in a while and make you stop in your tracks and realize just how lucky you are to be parenting this child. 

Magical yesterday: I needed you so badly.

Last week was one of the crappiest stretches in time I've had in a while. I missed Andi terribly (the world KNOWS by now I don't do well when he travels for long periods of time) and Tory's general behavior was purely exhausting. I tend to write my feelings here when I haven't talked to Andi for days and I need to vent frustration, so that's what last week's Peaks and Valleys post was about for me. Getting those heavy feelings off my chest.

The weekend was better because Andi was back home and the grandparents offered to babysit Saturday which helped my husband and I reconnect again. Time alone to be grown-ups is always good for the soul. Tory was still being quite ornery for me, but thankfully agreed to let Andi do all the daily chores of feeding, dressing, etc. It felt very strange NOT to be the preferred parent for once. I started to realize I was Tory's trigger in tantrum episodes -- for whatever reason, she was purposely fighting against anything I asked her to do (or tried to do for her, like changing her diaper, OMG, the horror) but would happily let Andi do any of those same things. Fine by me, I guess, since there was actually someone else here to help with those things. That's where solo parenting becomes such a tiring process for both of us, I think. There's almost too much together time for Tory and I during those long weeks in time. In the future, I think I need to build in more babysitter time when Andi travels for long stints because Tory was clearly sick of me and I was near tears by the end of last week. Not a good place for either of us to be.

On Sunday, I hosted a baby shower for a girlfriend and Andi spent the day with Tory. I was a tad relieved to hear he'd had an exhausting day with Tory as well - that it wasn't just me she was acting out against. He had a particularly terrible story to share about their trip to Target earlier in the day and how he now believes me when I say shopping with her is an impossible task. I laughed inside when he told me how she dumped two containers of blueberries on the ground and was pulling things off the shelves at the store. WOW. Just, wow. No further comment. Ha.

An email popped up in my inbox yesterday re: Tory's 20 month update. It would appear the Terrible Two's have knocked on our door a little early, as the article described her recent behavior in a nutshell. There were some tips on how to deal with TT's and now that I can see those behaviors a little more clearly, at least I know that's what I'm dealing with here.

But! Yesterday was fantastic. Tory woke up happy, we played nicely together and she listened to important commands like "stop" when we were outside in the yard. I made an extra special point to be in the moment with her (it's OK that I don't wash the dishes the second we finish breakfast, even though it killed me inside to put it off) and I felt like she was redeeming herself with random, unsolicited hugs and signs of affection. I was consciously aware not to "over play" her outside because I think that was part of the problem last Monday and I built in plenty of mental breaks into our day for snacks and quiet time with books, etc.

Parenting has its good days and bad days and of course, there's going to be some bumps along the road as we experience this journey together. Those wonderfully magical days like yesterday go a long way, though. I'll hang onto those euphoria feelings for as far as they'll take me.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Ellie's Owl Baby Shower

Yesterday, I co-hosted a baby shower for my dear friend, Ellie, and her baby bundle-to-be. Our theme was owl / woodlands to match her baby girl's nursery and I couldn't be happier with how the afternoon turned out!

First, the owl theme / decor was one of my favorite baby showers I've hosted. I ordered this invitation from Etsy to set the "nesting" vibe for the party. The invitations were a bit on the pricey side for what I like to pay for an PDF print-your-own invitation, but I absolutely loved the finished product.

My co-host, Danielle, offered to host the party at her house and tackle the food portion of the party. No last-minute scramble to clean my house with a toddler afoot = WIN. Plus, the food part of parties always stresses me out big time, so I was glad to shift that responsibility and I knew Danielle would do a fabulous job, as she did.

The Mama-To-Be dishing up a plate of delicious foods

For decorations, I made an owl simple diaper cake and donned bird nests and a white ceramic owl I gifted Ellie after the shower to put in her nursery. I also made a "tree of wisdom" with twigs from my backyard and cards to hang from the branches that said "Wise Words for the Mama-To-Be." Giving Ellie baby advice was one of the shower activities which turned out to be kind of funny as half the party guests were seasoned mothers and the other half didn't have kids.

For other baby shower games, we played a round of "Guess the Celebrity Mom" with pictures pinned to each party guests backs, which everyone seemed to have a fun time with, and "How Much To Build Ellie's Nest?" which was a variation of Price Is Right where we guessed the cost of essential baby items.

Ellie opened oodles of gifts from her friends and received lots of baby items. Derrick (Ellie's husband) made a brief appearance while we were opening gifts and one of Ellie's friends gifted Derrick a bag of Blow Pops since Ellie's boobs will be otherwise occupied for a while. Everyone had a big laugh at that -- I think Derrick was a little embarrassed though!

Ellie opening gifts ...

Finally, I made party favor treats for all the guests and tied a note on each one that said "Thanks for coming to Ellie's baby shower. It was a hoot!" I used this white chocolate gorp recipe which was really yummy and easy to make.

It was a great day celebrating Ellie and her baby girl. I'm looking forward to welcoming this little one into our circle of friends later this summer and having my Baby #2 be so close in age with Ellie's girl. Many more memories ahead!

Ellie and I after the party
(plus our baby bumps at 28 weeks and 12 weeks, respectively)