Hello Dinner

Luffy and I are trying out one of those meal delivery services this week. As they all do, it promises convenient, delicious meals. I’ve been curious about them (Blue Apron, Terra Fresh, Hello Fresh, etc) ever since they started getting popular. It sounds amazing, right?! All the ingredients to create your own chef-quality dinners delivered right to your door! So when we received a coupon for half off our first delivery (and since Luffy was up for it), I signed us up for a trial run!

So far, I’ve made two of the three meals (what can I say? it’s a bit hard for me to go from picking up food to primarily cooking dinner). And they’ve been tasty! Here’s what I’ve discovered so far (albeit with a limited sample of two dinners):

The Good:

  • Prep time – Probably the first time I’ve ever encountered a recipe that says 30 minutes and means it. None of this oh, but you’ll get faster the more times you prepare it or how on point are your knife skills?? These recipes say 30 minutes and mean 30 minutes, start to finish. They do require you to multi-task, which a more experienced cook will feel more comfortable with, but they do at least lay it out for you (and tell you when you can/should reuse pans).
  • Taste – I will admit that we chose (via powers of the lucky coupon draw) one of the more simple services. The recipes are fairly basic and there are a decided lack of “exotic” recipes. However, they do taste good. So far, we’ve had a version of sweet-and-sour chicken, over rice and green beans, and ‘bangers and mash,’ with homemade mashed potatoes and oven-roasted tomatoes. Each recipe has been tasty.
  • Sense of accomplishment – It probably sounds weird, but it feels good to get back into the kitchen. We’re to the point that we’re tired of eating out (except for sushi currently – I’m obsessed with sushi – sorry honey $$$$$) and I hate that. Eating out should be a treat! It should be fun and something to look forward to. At least that’s how I was raised. So this service gave me the umph to get back into the kitchen again, with new recipes in hand. I’d never actually made mashed potatoes from scratch. Tomorrow I’m making burgers, which is also new for me. It’s fun to experiment with new things and to see what techniques I can add to my set of skills.

The not-so-good (aka, why we won’t use a service like this on a long-term basis):

  • Cost – Look, I know that you’re primarily paying for the convenience of (a) not meal planning and (b) not grocery shopping, but still. Together, Luffy and I actually (usually) enjoy our weekly grocery shopping excursion. We like making the occasional trip to the Asian grocer. Luffy seems unperturbed by going to multiple grocery stores in a single outing (though I usually draw the line at two, he’d happily go to three or four for the right products) and willingly makes multiple trips during the week. All that to say that we’re probably not the best of candidates for this “convenience charge.” Our current plan roughly breaks down to $10/person/meal and I can say, without a doubt, that I can procure all of the ingredients for far cheaper than that. Oh, but Belle, they say, you don’t have to buy all of those ingredients that you’ll never use again and will waste away in your pantry/fridge! Perhaps. Maybe with one of the ritzier services. However, I have all of the pantry staples on-hand for all three of our meals. So that doesn’t quite justify the cost either.
  • Portions – Look, Luffy is a big man. He’s 6’5″ and he could put away two Chipotle burritos in a sitting in college. So when they send me less than half a pound of chicken breast for a two-person meal kit, well that’s just not going to cut it.

I realize that we’ve only had two meals (of hundreds), so I’m probably not qualified to opine, but clearly that didn’t stop me. I think we’ll enjoy the service every once in a while (if I can stay on top of the skip-a-week options!), but we’ll stick with buying our own groceries.

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Toddler

I’m not sure what happened over the past week or so, but my dumpling suddenly looks more like a little boy than a baby. I can’t even pinpoint the change really because his little chubby cheeks are still there. As are his miles-long lashes. And his arm roll (yes singular, for my child is a string bean) and belly. His ham-bones are still nommable. And yet, when I look at him, I see a little toddler. He’s growing so much. Luffy took a picture of me holding a sleeping dumpling at the airport (on our flight there). I was shocked to see it and to see how big he looked laying on me.

He’s standing now, unassisted. He hasn’t quite figured out the walking (unassisted) thing yet, but he’ll merrily zoom around using a push toy. He cruises along the furniture, begging for food with his irresistible outreached hand. He points and gestures and emphasizes that he wants to go there and there and over there! He gives the best hugs now – have I told you? I’ve been saying for ages that he’s not a cuddler and all of a sudden he wants hugs. A few of nights ago, I sat down with him to listen to Luffy read to us and rather than bounce around, like he normally does, he turned into me and climbed up to rest his head on my shoulder. My heart swelled and I held him tightly, figuring it was a one time occurrence but he’s done it every night since.

He chuckles now, too. We’ve only ever known his laughs when we tickle him (which are hilarious because they’re silent until he can’t hold it in any longer and he just squeals), but now he’ll chuckle at things he finds amusing. A toy, Jas, his dada, whatever tickles his fancy.

We’re getting a glimpse (or should I say foreshadowing?) of the quintessential toddler tantrum – belly down, feet and fists pounding the floor. Except we’re also seeing his personality shine through. He’s far too cautious and careful to traditionally tantrum by throwing himself to the floor and beating it with his fists and feet. Rather, he delicately lowers himself down, and sort of flutters his feet and hands above the floor. While I assume that at some point he’ll hurtle himself down with all the potent fury a three-year-old can muster and I’ll groan because gah, right now it’s pretty darn cute.

He eats like a champ, when he’s hungry, chowing down on everything from cut-up grapes to whole crackers. His favorites are meat (chicken and pork in particular, though he loved Thanksgiving turkey) and clementines. He doesn’t seem to be a big fan of bread or bread-like things (muffins, pancakes, etc) or vegetables (to be fair here, he only has four teeth, it’s a little hard to enjoy most veggies with just four teeth), but he’ll happily put away some pizza. We make sure he gets his veggies via pouch and I was inordinately proud when he disliked a fruit-only pouch I tried to distract him with on the plane. I tried it myself, found it far too sweet and figured he did too. (Side tangent, it drives me crazy how difficult it is to find pouches (or baby food, for that matter) made of predominantly vegetables. Like, I don’t need help getting him to eat strawberries or bananas, I need help with green beans and broccoli! Whyyyyyy is this so challenging?) He’s a pro with pouches now and will come crawling for his Apple-Raspberry-Spinach-GreekYogurt-Oat or Banana-Kiwi-Kale-Barley-GreekYogurt. He likes to mix it up.

I didn’t really sit down to memorialize everything he’s doing now, but it’s so challenging when he’s so active and adorable. I realized the other day, scrolling through my photos, that we actually don’t have many photos of him now. Not stills anyways. We have videos. Mini clips of him doing something – eating with a spoon, standing, giving a hug, begging for food*, cruising with a push toy. In fact, most of the still shots I’ve captured of him recently are blurry as he was busy heading off to the next thing. It really put into perspective (a) how boring babies are initially and (b) how much he’s grown in just a year. I really can’t wait to see what he’ll learn next.

*We are firmly in the stage of what-are-you-eating-there-mom???? As soon as either Luffy or I sit down with a snack or meal, he must know and sample what we’re having. He’s also very good about asking for food. Apparently, he knows exactly where his puffs are kept at daycare and will routinely gesture up to the cabinet throughout the day, just to see if one of his teachers will succumb to the adorableness and give him some puffs.

Turkey Day 2017

We’re back! I hope your Thanksgiving was gluttonous. Ours was…. good? Bad? Clingy? Scream-y? No-sleep-y?

Sigh

Our mistake was staying too long. We were visiting my parents out in West Texas and flew in Tuesday morning with a return flight on Saturday at noon. Honestly, if we had left Friday morning instead, we probably would have avoided 80% of the crying and woe that we endured. (Yeah, Friday night was that bad.)

It all started pretty well. The dumpling was clingier and more tired than usual, but I expected that for the most part. His waketimes drastically shorten until he’s more familiar with his location, but that’s perfectly understandable. We worked around it for the most part, holding him for most of the early days or talking to relatives from the floor as we encouraged the dumpling to play. Extra patience at bedtime and holding him to lengthen a nap (which wuh?? did we bring along a newborn??). Luffy’s patience ran out about 2:30 on Thanksgiving day when we were both struggling to get a clearly tired dumpling to go the F to sleep and he tried to change our return flight. No dice, though I did manage to get the dumpling down just in time to go snuggle my cousin’s newborn!

The true trouble started on Friday night though. The dumpling was extra cranky and resistant at bedtime and fear shot into my heart when we heard him wake up just two short hours later. I managed to get him back down fairly quickly but he only stayed down for forty minutes or so. And here is where we made the biggest mistake, I think. I envisioned a very long night for us and, in an effort to make soothing easier for myself, tried to bring the dumpling into our bed for the night. Now, the dumpling hates co-sleeping, and I know this, but I thought that since he already had been asleep that his sleep drive would be enough for him to just conk out again. In reality though, we actually just ensured that he’d be wide awake by the time we re-arranged things. Then he treated the first couple hours of the night as a nap and wanted to party while we tried to get him back to sleep. By the time he was truly ready for sleep again (somewhere around midnight), he was far too touched out, I suppose, at all the patting and shushing and rubbing and holding.

Around 12:30 in the morning I decided to give him some space, which is when he decided to howl like a banshee. My poor mom woke up (though she assured me that she woke up to check on us) and convinced me to let her take him for a bit. The dumpling started crying even harder when I passed him over to her. I gave them ten minutes and poked my head out to hear my son still screaming. That’s when I threw in the towel and resigned myself for a very long night. I gave him a dose of Tylenol, just in case, and then held him as I talked with my mom. I then moved to the living room and sat down on the floor, where the dumpling finally passed out in my arms sometime around 1:30am. My sweet mom gathered blankets and a pillow for me and I scooched my way down into a reclined position and tried to ignore my protesting back and hips. Around 3:30 in the morning the dumpling rolled off me and face-planted into the floor where he slept soundly for another hour or so. After that he wanted back on my chest and slept there until 6am, when he was AWAKE! and ALERT! BRIGHT EYED AND BUSHY TAILED! Gah mom, what is your PROBLEM?? I walked him around the dark house until I reasoned that he might as well eat some breakfast if he wasn’t going back to sleep.

So, I got about an hour’s worth of sleep that night? I’m not really sure. Thankfully, Luffy took over mid-morning while I laid back down and got a nap in. The dumpling also got a good nap in before our flight (also thankfully – praise baby Jesus!). And then….. the flight.

The. Flight.

We managed to distract the dumpling with food for most of the flight. But, when we started our descent, all hell broke loose. He quite literally melted down. My best guess is that his ears needed to pop and that sort of just set off his whole DONENESS with the travelling situation. He was over it. He wanted to be out and off and was done. With me and his dad and everyone. I have never felt more embarrassed and ashamed on a flight and this is coming from a girl who once threw up on a flight because she was hungover (which, I would not recommend to anyone, was not a fun experience). He screamed and screamed and screamed, barely pausing for breath. He worked himself up so much I seriously thought he might vomit or pass out from lack of oxygen. He screamed right up until we walked off the plane. By this point, Luffy was boiling mad and I can’t really blame him. The whole experience was just miserable and didn’t really lessen up any on our Uber ride home, though we did at least get to joke with the person we inflicted our hollering child upon (and tip generously, I might add).

Then, ladies and gentlemen, I witnessed a damn near miracle. As I walked through our front door with the dumpling, he lit up. I kid you not. He was SO happy to be home. I had not put that child down since practically Tuesday and in an instant he wanted down and was off to say hi to Jas and find his Sharpies* and visit his toys. It was incredible to feel the tension and stress just melt away from him.

Sunday was wonderful as we spent quality time together again, laughing and playing and not holding him for 90% of his day. I had almost forgotten what our little boy was like normally while we had been away.

So whew. I am glad things are back to normal around here. We did have some fun. We ate lots of good food. Drank lots of champagne. My mom and I baked and made candy. We saw the house my brother and his wife are moving to (that’s right! they’ll no longer be in DFW which I am very sad about). The dumpling played with my parent’s cats, including their four-month-old kitten, and my parents were delighted by just how well he treated them (gentle hands! I say for the millionth time). We watched movies and saw extended family. We took walks and enjoyed tickling the dumpling. If I separate out Friday night and the flight back, we had a fantastic time! So I think I’ll do just that for my own sanity.

*I don’t think I’ve mentioned this before, but the dumpling loves Sharpies. I have a colorful set of the fine-tipped ones in my office that he discovered one day. Now, he’ll just go play with them and cart them around the house. I keep finding Sharpies everywhere though my set seems to have dwindled. Oh well, it’s awfully cute.

Things that go EEEE OOOO in the night

I feel like I have a history with things going off in the night.

A little backstory is required for this particular rendition of shit that kept Belle awake. Our house came wired with an alarm system. To our knowledge, none of the most recent owners had ever used it, it was just there. We really didn’t even notice it because it wasn’t the type to chirp when you opened doors or windows. The control panel beside the front door and back door just lit up to show an open point of entry. The only time this alarm system became an annoyance was during a power outage (or, technically, immediately following one). Whenever the power went out, the main alarm would let out a warning blare every 60 seconds or so and one of us, usually Luffy, would mash buttons on the control panel until the stupid thing reset. This didn’t always happen, mind you, so there would be an occasional middle-of-the-night power outage that would go by without waking us. In other words, it was never annoying enough to motivate us to look into permanently disabling the system during daylight hours.

That is, until this past weekend.

In the wee hours of Sunday morning, I heard the dumpling wake up. To our best guess, he’s been having some bad dreams and he keeps randomly waking up, upset until we go check on him (and sit with him). I checked the clock (1:58am) before turning off the monitor, so as not to wake Luffy, and heading back to the dumpling’s room. While I was back there, patting and shushing, I realized that it was a bit chilly. We had a cold snap blow through Saturday afternoon and had turned the heater on for the first time in a week. I wondered to myself if the pilot was still lit (it hadn’t been, when I’d turned it on last week). So at one point, I decided to give the dumpling some space and went to check on the pilot. I crept through the quiet house, unlocking the inner closet door to the furnace. I didn’t turn on any lights, figuring I’d be able to see the lit pilot without an issue. I opened the panel and peeeeeeered in –

EH WHOOP. EEEE OOOO. EEEEE OOOO.

I nearly had a heart attack as I, at first, assumed I had tripped some weird alarm that I had no knowledge of. I did quickly come to my senses and realize that we were dealing with a power outage and off I sprinted through the dark house, trying to disable the alarm. After what felt like an eternity, I finally managed to get the alarm silenced (instead of its intermittent signal, it decided on a continuous one for this night – an ominous sign had I known to look for one). Of course, as soon as I had it quieted down, Luffy came stumbling out of our bedroom, looking for the cause of the raucous.

“Power outage,” I told him, “I’m so sorry you got woken up.” He mumbled something about alarms and gestured to the front of the house and the crying baby.

“Oh, he’s awake separately, but now that you’re awake, you mind checking on?”

Luffy headed back to whisper sweet sleep nothings to the dumpling while I sort of padded around the house, trying to slow my heart rate.

EEEE OOOO EEEE OOOO EEEE OOOO EEEE OOOO

I dashed over to the nearest panel and frantically mashed buttons (there’s nothing like a blaring noise at 2 in the morning to both (1) lower your ability to form coherent thoughts and (2) make you frantically mash buttons until the noise ceases). My mashing did at least silence the alarm though, dubious that I’d done anything productive, I traded places with Luffy to let him deal with the button mashing. He was successful and I sent him back to bed while I comforted a, probably, confused dumpling. Not 60 seconds later….

EEEE OOOO EEEE OOOO EEEE OOOO EEEE OOOO

EEEE OOOO EEEE OOOO EEEE OOOO EEEE OOOO

EEEE OOOO EEEE OOOO EEEE OOOO EEEE OOOO

I waited and waited, listening to a somewhat muffled blaring, but it didn’t turn off this time. I left the dumpling to fend for himself and went off in search of Luffy who I found frantically mashing buttons on the back control panel. When it was clear that our button mashing wasn’t going to cut it this time, I flipped the main breaker to give us some quiet and Luffy decided to go up into the attic, as that’s where the alarm seemed to be coming from.

The following ten minutes or so passed in a haze of a piercing alarm, more button mashing, and Luffy’s unsuccessful search for the source of the alarm in the attic. We switched places (is it appropriate at this point to mention that I was bare-cheeked?? I had only put on a flannel shirt to attend to the dumpling and had gotten too side-tracked with the whole ear-piercing alarm thing to put on undies. It was a little drafty up there, is all I’ll say.) and I immediately spotted the source of the alarm: a self-contained, two tone siren. I know the name of it because I glanced over the label before sending up a half prayer that cutting the wires wouldn’t lead to Phoebe-with-the-smoke-detector levels autonomy. And then… snip snip, followed by blessed silence.

Of course, by that point, Luffy and I were both too hopped up on adrenaline to fall back asleep, unlike a certain small person who decided, half way through the blaring, that on second thought, he could settle himself back down, thanks mom.

 

Wardrobe Malfunction

For the past (does some math…. THAT CAN’T BE RIGHT…. does math again) three years, I’ve taught an exercise class after work. Before the dumpling came along I taught Monday and Wednesday at 6:30. I just cover the Monday class now (along with my Saturday morning class), but the point is that I’ve been teaching after work for three years now. My routine has always been the same – I pack up my exercise bag the night before with my clothes and I change in the bathroom at work (the bathrooms at the center where I teach are communal bathrooms for the entire retail strip and they are a little…. gross). One time, shortly after I picked up this schedule, I left my socks at home and had to work out without socks. It wasn’t pleasant, but I made it through and I always have a spare pair of socks in my bag now – just in case. Probably at least once a month though, I always wonder what I would do if I forgot some other essential piece like my pants or my sports bra. Oh man, that wouldn’t be good.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is exactly what happened on Monday.

I was changing at work, like usual, balancing on one foot as I removed my dress socks and put on regular socks, when it suddenly occurred to me that I hadn’t pulled a bra out of my bag when I pulled out my clothes. No, I thought incredulously, I must have just missed it. I pawed through my bag again, although it was painfully clear that I did not have a bra. Honestly, I couldn’t do anything but laugh at myself. What on EARTH was I going to do now? I didn’t have time to stop to pick one up (although I briefly contemplated if it was worth being late over). I also happened to pick the worst possible top for a no-bra situation. It was a loose tank with cut-out sides, in other words, no support and a side-boob situation going on. I didn’t even have a crappy shelf-bra to console myself with!

So what does any girl do when confronted with a dilemma regarding boobs and bras and the lack there-of? I called my mom.

Moooooooooooooooommmmm!!!!! HALP!

She, of course, talked me down and suggested I just wear my regular bra. Don’t worry, she said, your students will all think it’s hilarious.

And they did! It was a lovely time to meet a new student of course (nice to meet you! sorry about the side-boob), but we all laughed about it. I joked that at least I hadn’t forgotten my pants (ohdearlordinheaven, please let me never forget my pants). It also wasn’t entirely bad. I expected my regular bra to majorly fail me through all of my jumping and hopping and lunging, but it held up just fine. I had to adjust my straps a few times, and I’m sure it helped that I just happened to be wearing a no-frills, full coverage bra (as opposed to some sort of balconette, push-up, lightly lined, unlined, plunging, etc etc contraption). But really, 7/10 would recommend.

And now I have to tell you about how hard it was to come up with a title for this, bearing in mind that I don’t want to appear in any questionable searches. Top contenders were Peek-a-boob and Don’t Fear the Nip Slip. Why no, I am not a twelve year old boy. Why do you ask?

Itchy

Ok Universe… when I mentioned the thing about being excited to take Sudafed again, I didn’t mean it as a challenge.

Let’s roll the tape back to Sunday afternoon. We’d had a pretty good weekend thus far. The dumpling had been cranky (we blamed teething at the time but since he’s still cranky today and he got FIFTEEN HOURS of sleep on Sunday, we’re thinking developmental leap. maybe? hopefully?), but Luffy and I had left his parents in charge of the dumpling on Saturday and had gone to watch Thor. (Excellent movie, btw. Our standards may be low right now, considering that we haven’t been to the movies since last December, but I’d still recommend it.) Sunday was a laid back day of football and passing the dumpling back and forth as he seemed content only while being held, but only if you were standing.

So Sunday afternoon, I start to feel a little pressure in my right sinus cavity. Not congestion, mind you, just pressure. Right before the dumpling’s bath time, Luffy mentioned that my eye looked a little puffy and I had a horrible flashback to this ER visit. In the months since then, I’ve experienced only very mild allergic reactions. Nothing like the one back in January. That is until this past Sunday when I had the very real fear that my eye might explode from pressure. (Can that actually happen? I don’t want to Google it and get, like, pictures or anything. Or be told that it actually CAN happen and just freak the F out next time….. on second thought, no one answer this question.) Thankfully, I could actually take Sudafed this time which helped immensely. I also had the bright idea to apply a cold pack to my eye every fifteen minutes or so – also a life-saver eye-saver. Other pros of this round of allergies were that (a) it was only the right eye, as opposed to both eyes back in January and (b) I wasn’t sick at the time, unlike January.

Still though, this round was nothing to sneer at. By Monday morning, some of the swelling had subsided but, thanks to irritation, my entire eye was bright red. I briefly contemplated wearing a sticker on my shirt that said I’m not diseased, just allergic but dismissed it. Wearing contacts has been out of the question for the past several days and just today – Wednesday – would I say that my eye is mostly normal again. It also kicked off a round of oh maaaan I don’t want to get sick, please let this sinus congestion pass that has been super fun. I had really hoped that the initial occurrence of this was just a freak incident. A one-time thing. If this keeps happening I might need to research getting some sort of allergy testing done. The oddest part about all of this is that the two times it’s happened, the weather apps (which I do understand might not be the most accurate of sources) all report minimal pollen. So, who knows. Maybe I’m allergic to my house. Or a random tree that only sometimes blows pollen in my direction. Or a flower that only blooms on a Sunday evening every eleven months.

Weaned

Today, November 10, 2017, my baby weaned himself.

Honestly, nursing has been so much of an afterthought lately that the milestone doesn’t really mean a whole lot, in terms of our day-to-day existence. Further, this was entirely baby-led, so I’m not even celebrating a hard-earned victory or anything like that. We’re simply closing that chapter in our lives, mine and the dumpling’s.

They say that you never really know when the last time is the last, and I suppose that’s somewhat true. I had a hunch though, because he’d done the exact same thing when he dropped the evening session. Yesterday morning, he latched but didn’t stick around long enough to get anything from me, which is what he had done for his last session at night. The following night, he didn’t show any interest in nursing before bed. The difference this time: the evening sessions I took the mantra of don’t offer, don’t refuse and just didn’t offer my breast unless he asked. This time though, this morning, I did offer. And guys, he just looked at me, and was like nah – I’d really rather have some puffs thanks, and took off.

So, that’s it for us.

These milestones are hitting us right and left lately. A year old. He’s making strides cruising and walking with his push toy. He’s gaining weight, breaking his growth curve and accelerating up to the 13th percentile for the first time since he was born. He outgrew his infant car seat. He’ll throw a ball back and forth with you and will endlessly offer you things that he’s found. He claps and waves and high fives. He’s starting to drink cow’s milk. Our breastmilk stash ran out last week. And now he no longer nurses.

Sunrise. Sunset. Etc etc.

As for me, I’m super excited that I can take some Sudafed next time I’m sick. Living it up over here!