Memorial Day 2018

Whew! We made it! We took our first road trip with the dumpling and we all survived. We had to break a few rules and we did deal with one round of puke, but yay! WE DID IT!

In all seriousness though, I am very grateful Luffy agreed to make the trip down to hill country Texas for my mini family reunion. In the end, my grandparents really only got to say hi to the dumpling, but it made their day. They hadn’t had the opportunity to meet him. Plus I got to catch up with my cousins and their children, so that was a lot of fun. We compared notes Sunday morning on how our respective children handled the night in the hotel room and our parents marveled over how it felt for their kids to have kids now. Weren’t we just in diapers and swim floaties like last summer?

We were there for less than 24 hours, but it was so wonderful to see everyone. We introduced the dumpling to the swimming pool and taught him how to kick his little legs (from his perch on the pool steps) and splash people (mainly my brother [his target] and my mom [an innocent bystander since he didn’t quite understand how to aim his splashing]). We also found a nearby neighborhood playground that he got to romp through. He also took full advantage of the VAY-CAY-TION!!! rules around food and had snacks on snacks on snacks.

To round out our holiday weekend, we spent yesterday afternoon in the backyard with his kiddy pool and bubbles. I managed to distract him enough to get him to wear a pair of sandals for the occasion (have I told you guys that I bought a couple of new pairs of shoes for him at Target that he has flat out refused to wear? because if anyone has ideas on how to convince a toddler that new shoes are not the devil, I’m all ears) and I laughed over his enormous swim trunks. He definitely had a little booty showing at the end, that poor, skinny dumpling.

I’m looking into water activity tables now because I discovered a great solution for all of those little ow-si??? inquiries when it’s 1,000 degrees outside and I don’t want to take his wagon for a walk around the block. A shady backyard and water activities are where it’s at!

Speaking of ow-si? I have to say that my favorite story from the road trip itself is sitting in the back with the dumpling and having to field the ow-si?? question as he’s forlornly pointing out the car window. No, my sweet baby, we can’t go outside. We’re driving. Ow-si?? I know it’s right there, but we’re driving, we can’t go outside. Ow-si?? We can’t go outside; I know you’re bored. All dun. I know you’re all done baby, but we’re not there yet. All dun. We’re still driving my sweet boy. All dun. If it makes you feel any better, mama and dada are all dun too.

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Weekend Joy

I was going to write this up yesterday (Monday), but then it took me over an hour to get to work due to multiple accidents. And then my sauerkraut leaked all over my car. And then I got the dreaded call from daycare to come pick up my diseased* child. And then I had to rearrange my day to care for a cranky-ish, infectious dude. And then I got screamed at for a half hour because I had the audacity to think a car ride** might help an interrupted nap. And then, once Luffy got him back to sleep peacefully, I had the audacity to wake the dumpling up from a perfectly WONDERFUL nap to buckle him into the car. Again. Like deja vu woman! And then we went to the pediatrician’s office where he was MOST displeased with me for not letting him out of the examination room when he so politely requested. And then I spent another hour in traffic trying to make it to my exercise class on time. So yeah, it was that kind of Monday.***

*He’s fine. Little bacterial infection in his eye which cleared up almost completely as soon as we used the drops. So Tuesday-edition dumpling is only like 2% diseased.

**I know dumpling. Mama’s sorry; I don’t know what I was thinking.

***But Luffy was the real MVP as he convinced the dumpling to sleep not once, but three times AND he took solo parental duties as I flitted off to teach class.


We had a glorious weekend, thank you for asking. And since I was kicking myself earlier over not writing down the happier times, I’m doing it now.

Saturday morning, Luffy took the dumpling to the playground for the first time as a mobile child and he liked it so much, we took him back two more times. We spent a collective four hours at the playground this weekend. It’s a great one, close to our house, that has separate areas for smaller kids and big kids. The dumpling mastered the climbing wall (not a traditional climbing wall, mind you, basically is was a staircase with unevenly placed and irregular steps) and we introduced him to slides. Saturday morning, he was unsure. Saturday afternoon, he had fun with help (mama getting him into position at the top and dada guiding him down). By Sunday morning, he was getting himself started at the top and only needed our help getting all the way down. (He kept getting stuck on his shoes, then he’d attempt to push up to stand.)

Besides the climbing wall and slides, he loves the steps (he got wonderful practice at holding on to the rail for support) and he had great fun wandering all over the park. We’d give him his sippy cup and off he’d go, to meander through the fields and parking lot, with his little entourage of adults following behind. And what an entourage it was! My mom came in for a quick visit and Luffy’s parents would meet us there, so we’d have five adults following the whims of a toddler. Great fun for him!

Besides the playground, he just played really, really well by himself. He was the sweetest little boy, giving hugs and unloading cabinets. He’d busy himself with the recycling bin, then wander into the living room for a quick snuggle and off he’d go again to upend the next drawer. My mom and I took him to Target and then to See’s Candies, where he stole 3/4 of a chocolate caramel from me and proceeded to amaze me by eating the entire thing. He then gestured broadly at the chocolate display case and I had to break his little heart that those weren’t ours for eating.

Anyway, nothing extraordinary except the quiet happiness of a wonderful weekend. Hope yours was enjoyable too!

Shoes!

Shoes! Shoes people! I took the dumpling to Stride Rite this weekend to get him his very first pair of shoes. I mean, people gave us plenty of baby shoes. Crib shoes? I think that’s what they’re called. We had little moccasins and brand-name Uggs (who knew they even made baby shoes). We had little faux sneakers and cozy slippers. But I’ve never been one to accessorize and that’s exactly what all of those little baby shoes were – accessories. He didn’t need them to walk. He didn’t need them to keep his feet warm. I certainly didn’t want to have to deal with putting them on his feet and then checking every thirty seconds to make sure they were still on his feet. Pfft. The dumpling rocked socks or bare-feet for the first year of his life.

But. He’s walking now. Not completely unassisted, but well enough. Plus, we’ve reached the point that he knows he can walk, so you’ll be carrying him and he’ll stage dive out of your arms trying to get to the ground. Whelp, guess he’s gonna need some shoes.

We happen to have a Stride Rite store close to us and I took him there for a proper fitting. The salespeople were surprised by his shoe size. He was measuring 4.5, thus we were fitted for 5’s. I guess this is large for a fresh walker? To be fair, their beginner walker series only goes up to size 6, so maybe it is. Anyway – he did great there. They gave him a push toy to try out with his new shoes and he was exceedingly happy. We picked up a couple of pairs and then went to See’s Candy (wut? I’m totally picking up chocolate for my family who are coming into town…. just don’t mention anything if it’s all gone before they arrive) where he thought it was the BEST thing ever to get to walk around in public.

The next day, we did more walking at Target and the grocery store. We even let him out of the wagon along our regular walk and his unbridled enthusiasm was absolutely precious. He realized, after we let him take the lead, that he could stop everyone’s progress by squatting down to examine the sidewalk. Then he wanted to touch the mud. Then he took off at almost a run (remember, I’m holding his hand through this) and just laughed and laughed. Mama and dada also learned the lesson that perhaps we should wait until the end of the walk to let him out of the wagon since those tiny baby legs need like forty steps to Luffy’s one.

First Birthday Party

We had the dumpling’s first birthday party this weekend!

It was such a whirlwind weekend that it’s honestly hard to re-cap. I spent a lot of time cleaning our house (nothing like a house full of guests as motivation to get the house spic and span!). I baked the cake layers on Saturday. These turned out beautifully (I followed Smitten Kitchen’s recipe for confetti cake!) and went into the freezer to be frosted the next day.

Sunday morning passed in a haze of oh we have plenty of time to prep to OMG THE PARTY STARTS IN FIFTEEN MINUTES AND WE STILL DON’T HAVE A FULLY FROSTED CAKE!!! So that was fun and stressful. But the party itself was fantastic! We had friends and family there, including two kids just a few months older than the dumpling. It was very entertaining to watch them play.

My absolute favorite part was the cake cutting. We set the cake on our kitchen island and gathered everyone around. We sang happy birthday to a confused dumpling and then I blew his candle out (while he dipped his hand into the frosting). [For a visual picture, I had him on my hip and we were now facing his cake, away from our guests.] He got excited by something, the cake or the singing perhaps, and started clapping. Our guests, delighted by his enthusiasm, gave him an awe and a cheer. He immediately whipped around to look at them with a bewildered look on his face.  Who knew he had a cheering section! So they stop cheering and the dumpling turns back to his cake and begins clapping again. Another cheer goes up from our guests and the dumpling repeats his whip around stare. I swear to you that this happened at least three or four times and was no less hilarious the last time.

He did partake in a couple of bites of cake. I squished it for him (I had frozen the cake layers for easier frosting application but I misjudged how much time it would need to thaw…. it was still a bit firm) but he gamely tried a bite or two.

Another delightful part was when we had all the babies help us open his presents. Especially since the other two were older and were already hip to the present thing, they were more than happy to oblige. (My cousin’s daughter actually started opening a present while everyone was eating!) There was just a pile of wrapping tissue and paper and toys and babies in my living room!

Then, quite suddenly, our house was quiet again. Our friends left to make naptime and my parents left to return home and Luffy’s parents left and my brother left. I’ll admit that I got hit with a bit of melancholy. We’d had such a good time. I was sad to see it end, but that’s probably what marks a good celebration!

Happy birthday dumpling! It’s official now since there was cake!

One

Happy birthday, my little dumpling!

To be quite honest, I haven’t put much thought into how I want to commemorate my dumpling’s first birthday (and therefore setting the precedent for how I will always commemorate his birthdays). I’ve thought about waxing poetic about what it means to be a mother, to be his mother. I’ve thought about regaling you with what, exactly, the dumpling is doing now and how far he’s come. The thing is though, I’m sure those words have been spoken (re: motherhood) and it’s obvious how far he’s come (because, if I may be blunt, a year ago he was a squishy potato – not exactly setting the bar high here).

So I’ve decided the dredge through the memory banks and try to capture some untold* memories:


So in the hospital, our teeny, tiny newborn was primarily in his diaper and a swaddling blanket (day) or actual swaddle (night). This was just easier for the parade of nurses and doctors who needed to examine him and easier for me and Luffy as we held him skin-to-skin. I don’t want to alarm anyone with BRAND NEW INFORMATION, but the dumpling was our first child. Therefore, when we came home, we just kind of continued what we were doing/picked up at the hospital. I can only imagine my mother’s bemused smile when I told her, about a week and a half after his birth and so proud of myself, that I’d put pajamas on the baby! To help him sleep! Because I thought he might be cold at night! Aren’t I awesome at this?


I’m not a good picture taker. As in, I never remember to take them. Take this past weekend, for example, my brother got married and I got precisely three pictures: one of the dumpling and Luffy, one of the couple’s first dance, and one extremely blurry pic of my mom and brother dancing. That’s it. I don’t even have one of myself! And I got all dressed up! So as I scroll through my phone’s gallery, I am ever so pleased with myself about one particular image I did manage to capture:

It’s early morning. The picture’s embedded information is able to tell me more precisely: November 7, 2016, 7:13AM. I am reclining on our guest bed with my knees up; Luffy is at my side, asleep. The dumpling is in my lamp, bottom against my pelvis, head by my knees. He too is asleep. I don’t remember much in the way of specifics except that it had been a rougher night. If I remember correctly, Luffy had come in to check on me and had fallen asleep again as we chatted in the dim morning light. As I settled down into the bed, feeling complete with my husband and child, both right there and asleep, I snapped the picture. It’s a quiet, sweet memory through the newborn haze.


As a newborn, the dumpling used to always stick his tongue out. Quite literally. My OB commented on it after he finished stitching me up, that’s how early it started. It was adorable and I just now realized that he hasn’t done this for a very long time.


In looking back through photos, it’s so interesting to see his transformation from generic, newborn to himself. In the early photos, I see none of his features. I can (now) see a few of his features around the 2mo mark, but he doesn’t really look like himself until four months.


The dumpling has never been a snuggler. I think I’ve mentioned that fact several times (SO MANY TIMES, said everyone). This made it a little challenging when he was fussy or upset (read, overtired and refusing to settle) because you couldn’t just snuggle him into happy oblivion. I could get him to sleep on me by nursing, if we needed, but it wasn’t exactly something I wanted to encourage. And it didn’t always work.

So! There are exactly three times in his life that the dumpling has fallen asleep on me, sans nursing:

  • The first time is a cheat because he actually did nurse to fall asleep. But! I was able to shift him up and pull my shirt up and actually appear presentable when some friends of ours dropped by, even with a newborn in my shoulder.
  • The second time was during his first full-time week at daycare. Luffy and I stopped by at lunch to check on him. He snuggled into my chest and immediately fell asleep. And I do mean immediately. I felt terrible that I needed to return to work and had to hand him over, thereby waking him up, but it did warm my heart that I could just feel his little body relax and finally, finally, surrender to slumber in my arms.
  • The last time also occurred at daycare! (I’m sensing a theme here.) This time though, it was less about being over-stimulated by a new setting and more about having a blast. He had been playing like a champ when I walked in the door, but by the time we walked out, he was asleep on my shoulder. Poor little tuckered out baby!

I really enjoyed browsing through my gallery in search of inspiration for this. I loved seeing a sort of highlight reel (of course, that’s if you scroll past the twenty snaps of the exact same pose that were taken in an effort to catch that smile! or that look! or that hand thing he’s been doing!). I can see the shift towards mobility and the milestones like sitting up or solid foods. I can see his hair fall out and then fill in, little by little. I can see his scrawny chicken thighs bulk up into the little ham bones they are now. I can see his face fill in and his tummy round out. And nothing makes me happier, than to see my little boy get bigger and stronger and figure out this world. Happy birthday my sweet baby.

*And my apologies if you’ve heard one of these before! I wasn’t about to go through the archives for a year to make sure. Just take it as a sign that I really, really like this particular memory!

First words?!

First words are an odd business. I think I had this idea, in my head, that a baby would go about his babbling thing and then be like mama or dada or doggie and you’d be like MY BABY SAID HIS FIRST WORD!!!!!!! OMSQUEE!!

But that’s not really how it happens. Instead, Luffy and I debate whether the dumpling is connecting phrases like mamamamama with mama and me, for instance. Luffy gives a lot more credit to the dumpling than I do. He thinks the dumpling is starting to connect that mama means me and dada means him. I’m not quite so sure yet*. I mean, the dumpling generally says mama-mama-mamamamama when he is upset (because of course he does) and dada-dada-dadadada when he is happy and excited, so I suppose that’s a start. It’s just not how I imagined it would be, that’s all.

And then there’s uh oh. I have no such questions about uh oh. The dumpling debuted this new word onomatopoeia over the weekend and pretty much exactly in context too (dumping his toys over the side of the bathtub). The funny thing is, I have no idea where he got it (though my guess is daycare). I have actually been painstakingly avoiding uh oh and other related whoopsies-type words because I haven’t wanted to make a game out of him tossing his food and/or sippy cup over the high chair. Regardless of where he picked it up, I do have to admit that it is adorable. Painfully adorable. We captured it on video the following evening (uttered while he was draining all of the water out of his tub) and I have been watching it all day today.

Uh! oh. Uh! oh. Uh! oh.

Uh oh, my heart!

*Obviously our discussion over mama and dada has been going on for while. However, last week, Luffy went out to get breakfast for us. The dumpling and I were watching him walk up to the house again and – clear as a bell – the dumpling goes “dada!” So I’m pretty sure he knows that one too. So sweet.

And he’s off!

The dumpling officially figured out the whole crawling business this week. Now, to be fair, he’s by no means an expert crawler or anything. I’d say he’s in need of a few power ups and +1 skills, but he’ll get there.

Tuesday, in the midst of all of this, I happened to be videoing exactly when he made that first knee-shift forward. He’s been getting up onto all fours for the past few weeks (basically since the day AFTER our pediatrician’s appointment where I had to report that he wasn’t getting up on all fours yet, because of course). Astonishingly, he pretty much immediately figured out how to go from sitting to all fours to belly and then added an expert level roll to the whole thing. (You know, I always thought these sort of motor skills would happen slowly. Like, they’d have days and days where you can see them start to make the attempts and go through the motions and then finally put it all together, when really, it’s like – BAM – I can now execute a swan dive off the couch, with Olympic level form, but you should totes catch me because away! I! goooooo!) And that’s where he stayed for a while. He’d get a foot stuck underneath him and the attempt would fizzle out. Or he’d have something worth getting that was juuuuuust out of his reach and he’d lay down and cry rather than make the move.

But then! Something just clicked! And he shuffled a knee forward. The next day, he shuffled two forward. Voila! And just like that, he’s off! And mom’s off to baby proof the house!

Speaking of baby proofing, I’ve been going over my game plan for a while. I don’t think there’s too much to do, although I imagine a lot of this will be trial and error as the dumpling starts to find some independence and wander off. My plan is to keep the bathroom doors closed, full stop. That way, there’s no worry over the toilet or toiletries or toilet paper or any of that. Our house is a wide-open floor plan, so it’s hard to rope off areas. I have, however, already put up baby gates to the utility room (where Jas’ litter box is) and my office (where Jas’ tower is and I just feel like she deserves a safe haven from grabby little baby hands now that he can chase her). Other than that, we’ll need to anchor two book shelves in the living room, as well as our TV (right? can you anchor a TV? idk how these things work) and I plan to reorganize my kitchen to move things like tupperware to the bottom shelves and our cleaners to the utility room. So. Not too much right? Just put a pin in this here and direct me  back to it in like five months when the dumpling is getting into everything and I’m lamenting not just throwing him in his own over-sized tupperware container. That’s safe right?