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!

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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?

TEEEEEEETH

Wut the wut?!

The dumpling has teeth!! (scrunches up face, fans eyeballs, valiantly tries… not… to….)

MAAAAAAH BAAAAAABBBBBBBYYYYYYYYYYYYYY!!!!!

I really thought we’d make it to a year without teeth. I didn’t have teeth until well after my first birthday. My brother apparently got like four in one week when he was five months old and then didn’t get another until around 16 months. And we’ve seen not a single sign of teeth in the dumpling. NOT A SINGLE WARNING that teeth were making their way through his little gums.

I was dropping the dumpling off at daycare this morning (which is usually an extended affair for me because his teachers and I just chat about him). Then they just casually mentioned that they had felt his teeth yesterday and were so excited for him and it also sort of explained his clingy behavior earlier this week and – HOLD UP – WUT NOW??? TEETH??? And they were like yes! Teeth!  And I was like, OMG, this explains so much, but also TEETH?!

So let’s back up to this weekend. Our darling boy was being a touch clingy. And we all know that I’m being a bit facetious when I say *touch* because, yeah. He basically refused to be put down the entire weekend. Don’t you dare walk away from me and leave me here. And no, it doesn’t make it better if you sit on the floor while I’m over here, pick me up woman! The only way I could get him to eat any of his solids was if I held him while feeding him. (Although we did try some baby pancakes I made him which he loved and then had an allergic reaction to, so yeah, not so proud of that one in hindsight.) He also seemed more tired than usual, barely making it a couple of hours before needing a nap. But! We still managed to get lots of smiles and laughs and “da-da-da-da”s out of him.

We mentioned it to daycare Monday morning as a sort of warning. Every other time we’ve warned them about fussiness and clinginess over the weekend, they’ve just laughed at us as, OF COURSE, he’s a perfect angel for them. This time though, even they had to admit he was just not himself. I picked him up Tuesday to find him on the hip of his primary teacher. She joked with me that he’d been there all day, lol, jk, but for realz please take this baby so that I can have my arm back. He, of course, was all smiles after being catered to.

Then yesterday, he kept biting me while nursing. He’s bitten me before, with just his little gums, hard enough to draw blood actually. Those times, it was more about the pressure or tugging. This time though, there was a sharp pain that accompanied each nip. I brushed it off though and tried to get through nursing without yelping. It didn’t help that he kept side-eyeing me while biting me, so I really thought he was just testing a boundary. What will mom do if I do this? CHOMP.

So yeah – teeth – it totally makes sense now. His teachers laughed that I hadn’t even checked for teeth, that they discovered them first, but, to be fair, teeth never even crossed my mind. I mean, aren’t they supposed to turn into little hellions? If my birth board is to be believed, the biggest sign of teething would be the extended night wakings with non-stop screaming, drooling, crankiness, and possibly some devil’s horns to top it all off – much like a bow atop a present. I just chalked the dumpling’s clinginess up to some sort of growth spurt or leap.

It’s true though, I felt them myself before I left the room. Two tiny teeth, poking through. I’m sad, in a way (ok, in lots of ways). Babies look so weird with teeth. Right? I can’t be the only person who thinks so. You’ve got this little cherubic baby, all cute and drooly, who opens his mouth and – BAM – teeth. Like a real person! I’m going to miss his little gummy smile so much… He’s going to look so different with teeth… He’s just getting so big… (scrunches up face, fans eyeballs, valiantly tries… not… to….)

MAAAAAAH BAAAAAABBBBBBBYYYYYYYYYYYYYY!!!!!

A boy and his wagon

Luffy and I are a big fan of walks around the neighborhood. Back before I got pregnant (and even while I was pregnant), we regularly walked two miles before work each day. We’ve also been known to head out after dusk in the summertime for a quick stroll. Not only does our little routine have health perks, I also feel like it’s pretty good for our relationship. We can’t be the only couple out there who can spend a whole evening sitting in the same room without talking to one another. Our walks force us to put away the technology and just be with one another.

When I was pregnant, we envisioned the day when our little dumpling would accompany us on walks – in his stroller or carrier early on, but someday on his own too. Because life with an infant can be a tad bit unpredictable (will he wake up at 6am today or 7:30am? Who knows!), we don’t get out as regularly as we used to, but we still try. Especially on the weekends, when we have all morning to get out.

This past weekend, Luffy discovered that the dumpling likes to sit up in his stroller. Now, we still use his infant bucket seat with frame as our stroller, so it’s really not meant to be sat up in. He did well though, holding on to the sides and (adorably) playing with the bar across the top of the stroller frame. I had an idea though, as we walked through the streets Sunday evening – a wagon!

I remember lots of my summer as a child spent playing with a wagon in the backyard. My brother and I used to leash our dog (a mini schnauzer) up to the handle so she could pull my brother around the backyard (mush!). We also took turns wheeling each other around in it (I always thought he was going too fast – he always thought I went too slow). We had the classic little red wagon – a red metal Radio Flyer. I think my parents actually still have it in the backyard. (Side note – you can actually still get them!)

Now, you know I couldn’t just get the classic wagon right? It’s practically the “entry-level” model of the bunch nowadays. Oh noooo – the wagon I got has two seats (with seat cushions!) that can be configured five different ways (with bonus storage!) and has its own kid table (with drink holders!) and detachable canopy (with storage case!). Luffy laughed at me, but come on, it’s an awesome wagon. We tried it out this morning and the dumpling loooooves it. He’s so tiny in it (we interrupt this blog to say that the wagon is technically recommended for ages 1.5 years+ so use with caution and whatnot) and he can swing his little legs in front of him, but he holds on to the side and we have him belted in. We’re careful with our starts and stops, but you should see the look on his face. He’s just so interested in watching the world roll past him.

You know I’ve made the decision not to post pictures of the dumpling here, but here’s the wagon with Jas, poor demoted first baby.

It’s been too long

Sorry folks, but it’s March 31, which means year end 2016 reports are due out today…. which means my life has been hectic and busy, even without the five-month-old peanut.

Momentous occasion though! We gave the dumpling his first taste of solid food this past weekend. It was a sweet potato puree. I honestly can’t say what he thought of it because … well, he did this thing where he’d lean towards the spoon, get some off, furl his eyebrows like ewe, smack his lips some, and then start the whole process over. So. Not really sure what that means. He kept taking bites! And furling his eyebrows? And sort of eating! Yay? Luffy’s parents are over the moon that he’s started eating solids and are chomping at the bit to make food for him this weekend. Luckily, they’ve decided to start with an egg dish which is infant friendly, although I’ll be taking some sweet potatoes along in case the dumpling has no interest in the egg. At least then we can all laugh at his perplexing reaction.

But yeah, this week has been a little crazy. And busy. I feel like I’m running in a million directions, but not really accomplishing anything. Hopefully I’ll get better at this working mom and wife business soon.