Weekend Recap

We had a fantastic one, thanks for asking! It was one of those weekends where every minute was planned, but they were fun plans.

Saturday afternoon found us two houses over, in our neighbor’s pool. I made some brownies for the occasion (a favorite < I was going to link to them there but OMG it seems I’ve never mentioned these brownies! hold up! time for a recap:

So, I have this caramel brownie recipe that I make. I’ve made it dozens of times over several years, so I’ve tweaked the recipe a bit. It comes from Smitten Kitchen and it’s great as-is, but my original feeling was that the brownie itself wasn’t brownie enough. In my recipe, I’ve upped the sugar and chocolate a bit and I like to add Princess Cake emulsion for even better brownies. Plus I always try to make the caramel the day before because that’s the only way I can ever peel the parchment paper off my caramel (which, as I’m typing this out, probably means I need to add less cream to the caramel, so maybe I’ll try that next time). Anyway. These are my brownies. My signature. My go-to. If you ask me to bring a dessert to your party, this is what you’re going to get. It’s a simple recipe that doesn’t take a ton of time that turns out right most of the time that I love and everyone else loves – so basically the unicorn of baking.

Now that you’re all caught up on the brownies, we’ll continue….

So anyway, we spent Saturday afternoon at our neighbor’s house – more specifically in their pool. We had a great time floating and chatting and eating BBQ in the water. Our host started talking about acquiring a smash cake for her almost-one-year-old’s first birthday party in a few weeks. She was shocked at the price on most of the cakes and disappointed with her options and seeing as I’d had about half a bottle of champagne at that point, I drunkenly offered to make said smash cake. To my credit, I pretty quickly realized what I had done and tried to backpedal a bit when talk turned to colors and designs and inspiration photos. Someone asked if I made cakes for a living or as a side-business and I tried to explain that no…. I’m just a hobby baker. And an out-of-practice one at that given no one in our house eats sweets right now. (Luffy’s more of an ice cream person and though the dumpling would LOVE to eat chocolate chip cookies for dinner every night I am a big MEANIE and won’t let him). Luckily though, our neighbor realized what she had done though and backed off of the peer pressure. She gave me some basic guidelines and I offered to present a sample this weekend. And THAT’s the story of how I’m now a certified amateur cakery.

As bedtime approached, we left to give the dumpling a bath and a few extra bites of food. We put the dumpling to bed and then went back over to their house (that’s the great thing about hanging out with the neighbors – proximity!). We ended up playing a couple of Jackbox games like Fibbage and Drawful. They were a ton of fun and we rounded out the night with a few rounds of Cards Against Humanity. We had a particularly hysterical moment involving a misunderstood prompt and a perfect answer that was suddenly not so perfect. It’s probably more of a had-to-be-there type thing, but I had to mention it nonetheless.

On Sunday we abandoned a suddenly shy toddler at his grandparent’s house and went to watch the latest Mission Impossible movie. I squeezed in an exercise class and then we imposed upon another set of friends with a pool (sensing a theme?) for a little afternoon swim session. The dumpling delighted us with his new skill (he now says this little no-no-no complete with finger wag) and his sense of swim fashion (he requested his swim shirt and shorts be removed at one point).

All in all, we had a fantastic weekend. Let’s conclude with all of the things we learned:

  1. Pour some champagne into Belle and she’ll offer to do things she is in no way qualified to do (next on the agenda: sewing a costume!).
  2. The dumpling has lot of sass with the no-no-no, just you watch out!
  3. My newest favorite summertime drink is grapefuit juice and prosecco.
  4. My drawing skills on my phone are sadly lacking, although I’m still unsure of how I would have accurately conveyed a prompt of key airplane snails.
  5. Luffy is the greatest, but we already knew that.
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Toddler-ese

The other day, on my drive home from work, I started counting up the words that the dumpling can say now. I came up with quite an impressive list (at least, impressive to me) and I realized that I haven’t memorialized what he can say in a while. So, without further ado and presented in as close to chronological order as I can get, a narrated list of the words that my child knows:

Uh-oh – a classic favorite that really just means, something needs your attention!
Dada –
a word for either mama or dada if I am in a good mood
Mama –
a word explicitly for mama if I am very upset
Up – now woman!
Down – now woman!
Off –
comes out as “oss” and it really means will you open/close/put-on/take-off this?
More –
self-explanatory, but it comes of as “ore”
All done! – and you have two seconds before I toss this to the floor!
Water –
“wawa”
Outside –
“outsi?”
Walk – I don’t care what you’re doing, but it’s time to get outside for a walk!
Shoes – shus?? shus??? where are you???
Sock –
“ock”
This –
self-explanatory
Oh this! – oh my gosh I need this right now!!!
Cracker –
he actually pronounces this one pretty darn close, he’s just missing the hard c
Yes –
I feel like it must be noted that he’s a toddler who actually does say yes
No – and I’m not even sure why you would suggest that, mother
Dressed –
as in, let’s go get you dressed!
Block – let’s play!
Bye –
the sweetest little “bye” you’ve ever heard
Truck –
OMFG it’s a TRUCK!!!!
Hi –
only said if you’re very lucky
Circle –
“ircle” said every time he sees a circle

Currently, he’s working very hard on brush (as in, to brush his teeth), wash (as in, to wash the clothes), and mulk (aka, milk). Then, there are other things that I’m fairly sure he’s just mimicking, like just like that (as in the spider caught the fly in her web, just like that) or coke (as in, gotta get dad a coke!). It’s always challenging to find the line between he knows that word and he’s repeating that word. He can also answer what sound a (1) dog, (2) cat, or (3) dinosaur makes.

All in all, he’s made a lot of progress since as of about three/four months ago he could only say uh-oh and dada.

Happy Fourth!

Happy 4th of July!

[Complete side-note: I laughed so hard the other day because a mix of politics and a dash of proper-holiday-greetings culminated in someone ranting on Facebook that people these days aren’t saying Happy Independence Day anymore. We’re being …. cautious? Politically Correct? Squeamish? I don’t even know, to be honest, but their point was that we should say Happy Independence Day rather than Happy 4th. It was funny and I laughed and then I kept scrolling, but I keep thinking about it every time I’ve said happy 4th of the past week. Crazy what people get offended by these days.]

[Ahem.]

I hope you had a fantastic holiday! Little odd, with it being smack-dab in the middle of the week, but we enjoyed it nonetheless. My family came into town, so we hung out with them and the dumpling. In the afternoon, we filled his water table and wading pool and let him play with the water. We busted out the frozen treats – popsicles, ice cream sandwiches and cones, and chocolate-dipped frozen bananas. The dumpling had three cherry popsicles and his skin is still a little stained today. We had cinnamon rolls for breakfast and BBQ for our late afternoon meal. And so much champagne. It was fantastic.

I’m still enjoying my hair. I’m firmly of the belief that I’ll never go back to long hair now. I don’t think I’ll be able to because my hair is so easy now. And cute! I seriously look more put-together now than I ever have before because it doesn’t take much for my hair to look great. I feel more confident too.

In other home improvement news, we’ve finally started on a landscaping project I’ve been working on for weeks. The project has quite the price tag (sorry Luffy!), but they’re doing a lot of clean-up work for us, as well as completely redoing the garden beds around our house. The main reason behind doing the project now is that the existing garden dividers in our yard are metal. Or were metal. They’re rusting away, creating a very dangerous hazard just waiting for little toddler toes. I wanted all of that pulled up and replaced. While they’re out, they removed two old DIY sandboxes. They also removed the drab plants we had in the front and are planting some new things! It’s looking nice, though they aren’t quite done yet. I’m excited to see it all come together.

Also, you guys, I’m prophetic. Remember when I recounted our experience with the wildlife people? And I remembered having to call them back a few times to get something finished up properly? Well you’ll never guess what I’ve been doing for the past two weeks. When they replaced our chimney, they also fixed a few soffits. In one of them though, the one that had the visible nest, they placed a one-way door. It allows anything that’s still in the attic to get out. They said they would leave it for a few days, a week tops, and they’d be back to permanently patch the soffit. Yeah, that was almost eight weeks ago and we still have the one-way door in our soffit. I’ve called their offices numerous times over the past two weeks and each time the receptionist or office manager or whatever she is tells me that she’ll have the manager call me back. I haven’t heard anything from them. I got fed-up this morning and called the guy who came out to give us the estimate directly as he seemed to at least be able to schedule things. He said he’d text me with a date as soon as he could (he was driving), so we’ll see about that.

Cleaning the domain

When I was growing up, my dad (a Navy guy) had us on a strict cleaning schedule. Every other weekend we cleaned the entire house, top to bottom. I’m talking toilets scrubbed, showers de-scummed, floors mopped, rooms straightened. When we were young, our only task was to straighten our rooms. In typical child fashion, it took my brother and I just as long to clean our rooms as it took my dad to clean the entire house. As we got older, he added chores until we were responsible for cleaning our bathroom too, as well as mopping/vacuuming our side of the house. When my brother moved out, I offered to take over cleaning myself. So every other week, I put on some music and dusted, mopped, vacuumed, scrubbed, shined, wiped, straightened, and more!

My internship was the first time I was free from the every-other-week schedule and I took full advantage of it. A humorous anecdote from the time: my apartment’s shower developed an orange scum. I seriously had no idea what it was and didn’t know that could happen – that’s how often we cleaned our home. I blamed a crappy apartment shower, rather than the fact that I hadn’t cleaned it in six weeks. I didn’t realize my mistake until I was cleaning for move-out and realized that the stuff wiped away. Whoops.

Anyway, ever since moving out and being gloriously free from the every-other-week thing, I’ve struggled to find an adequate schedule. I mean, no one likes scrubbing toilets, but there’s got to be a better way other than my current mode (which is to invite friends/family over and then surreptitiously wipe down the toilet with Clorox wipes while they aren’t looking after freaking out because the smell is suddenly QUITE noticeable). Plus, I’m one of the weirdos that loves a clean house. It’s like I can’t fully relax unless the living room is straightened and the counters have been wiped down. Luffy thinks I am crazy, but I embrace it.

I say all of this because I’ve gone on a sudden cleaning binge. In probably the first time since well before the dumpling was born, all of our toilets and showers are clean at the same time. (And not just wiped-down-with-Clorox-wipe clean, I mean scrubbed-with-a-toothbrush clean.) The dumpling’s toys have been put away. The ever present entryway jumble is mostly organized. And I remember again why I love a clean home. But, you know, a toddler lives here and thus a clean home takes a lot of work. So cheers to me, for fighting the good fight. The living room will devolve into chaos as soon as the dumpling gets home from daycare, but at least he can’t muck up the toilet. Yet.

Battling Ants

AGAIN. Yes, again. I swear to you guys that we don’t live in a hovel.

For the past few months, I’ve seen tiny black ants in – of all places – our shower. It was only ever one or two and I immediately drowned them with the shower head, so no big deal. Right? Right.

I arrived home from work Wednesday evening to find a literal swarm of ants on my kitchen floor. I have never worked so hard to not freak out, considering the dumpling was all mama! you’re home! hold me! I had Luffy vacuum them up immediately and then I made a game of getting the ants with damp paper towels with the dumpling afterwards. After we put the dumpling to bed, I tackled the problem of figuring out where these particular ants were coming from.

You  guys. They were coming from our bathroom. They traveled across our bedroom, alllll they way across the dining room, and into the kitchen where they had a field day with the remnants that a toddler leaves. I’m sure they thought they struck gold with cheerio crumbs and jelly smears and dried applesauce splatters*. But such progress! In just a day! I’d be thoroughly impressed if I wasn’t so skeeved out.

The next day I cleaned our home more thoroughly than it’s been cleaned since we moved in. I also called our pest control service. We have a quarterly service and they always say that if we have a problem between treatments, we just call and they’ll come out. Easy peasy! So I called and found out that their next available appointment is Wednesday [computerized pause] July 25th. WTH?! So I had to tackle this on my own. I bought several ant bait traps at Home Depot and put them down strategically. I then had a dream last night that I woke up to a living room overrun by ants as well. Like the antpocalypse. Luckily, that didn’t actually happen. Whew!

I’m trying my best to leave them alone when I see them now because I know the whole point is for them to take the bait back to the nest. But guys, it’s so hard to leave them be when I see them scurrying across the dining room floor. Ick!

*Speaking of, do you know how hard it is to get apple sauce up once it’s dried? I swear it’s like cement.

Polishing Up the Home, pt 5

I’ve been holding back on y’all. In my defense, Luffy and I fully realize that we’ve gone a little crazy, but I like to think y’all would too, if you had the option. And because I see the crazy, I haven’t really said anything. Plus plus, this has been in the works for damn near a year, which just adds to the crazy. And well, ….. yeah.

What’s the big news, you ask? Are we moving? Did we buy a new house? Some ridiculously over-the-top vacation? Yeah, no, none of those things. We got a new bed.

[…]

Don’t do that now! I can feel your disappointment. You were all set to live vicariously through my husband’s and my crazy decisions and I go and let you down. Hear me out:

Like I said, this story starts almost a year ago when Luffy got it into his head that we should get a new bed and [something something something] here’s the perfect bed for us! Now, I’m not even really sure how he found this bed although I think it had something to do with his favorite blogger mentioning it. I don’t really know. All I do know is that suddenly this was the bed we were gonna get, cool? The man loves sleep far more than me, so it seemed fair that he could choose our bed. My only input was that we upgrade to a king to replace our little queen. It gets a little cramped since both Luffy and I have gotten addicted to that full body pillow that was supposed to just help during my pregnancy. Sure! he said, the thing is though, we have to wait until next May. 

[???] <<< was probably my real response

And this is where Luffy launched into a somewhat convoluted explanation about a shareholders’ meeting of a parent company which triggered a big sale at subsidiary company and if you were a shareholder of said parent company, you got an even greater discount at the sale. The meeting had just wrapped up, thus we needed to wait until next year. And this is where I got a little suspicious, you guys.

You see, Luffy is a man who values his time and comfort over almost everything else. I love seeing the way he thinks a lot of times because it’s not the way most people think, even though we probably should be thinking that way. For example, you would never, ever find him at a Black Friday event because the discount is literally not worth the time invested. Now, I know a lot of people feel the same way about Black Friday, but he takes this far deeper. He discovered this tool that helps you gauge how much your free time is worth and also highlights the disparity between how much our time is worth and yet how we’re willing to spend it. (The classic example from the article is how long you should wait in line for a $100. At some point, the scales tip and the surprising thing is how little time that actually takes.) So he’s actually quite ruthless in his decisions over what’s worth his time. And as to his comfort, well he places a high value on that as well.

So to hear him say that he was willing to wait an entire year for this sale…… Luffy, how much does this bed cost?

The answer was a lot. A lot a lot. It’s a crazy amount of money for a mattress and if we waited for the sale, we’d get a ridiculous amount of money off the price. I figured he had a year to change his mind, so I’d see how he felt in Spring 2018.

Fast forward to April of this year and Luffy has us at the store, laying on the most comfortable thing I’ve ever laid on in my entire life and that is not at all an exaggeration and suddenly I’m counting the days until we can buy it (25 days) and then how much longer until it would be in our home (20 more days).

You’ll be happy to know that we did indeed survive the wait and we are now the proud owners of a king size bed and a glorious mattress that is truly heaven on earth. I also feel about 30% adultier because the bed is big and beautiful and stately. It fits right into our big bedroom and puts our previous setup to shame. Not bad for a couple of thirty-year olds!

Polishing up the home, pt 4

So we’re getting a new chimney. Um, yay?

It all started last Tuesday when the pest control guy came by. He was new (and therefore thorough) and noted that he found what might be rodent activity up on an eave. He said he’d be happy to set up an appointment for a (free!) inspection the next day. Why not? I said. Famous last words, I know.

So the inspection guy comes out and he does indeed find evidence of squirrels and mice in the attic and a hole! A hole in the chimney! We can patch that, they said. And here’s where I had to pause my little story and take a dive back through the archives in search of another story. Except I realized that I actually didn’t tell you guys this story, back in late summer 2016. I was a little preoccupied with other things, I guess. So buckle in folks!

Back in 2016, August-ish (because I’m not exactly sure how quickly I handled this issue, given I was very pregnant at the time), we looked out our back windows one day and realized that an eave had completely collapsed. To my horror, there was also a squirrel chilling there. In my memory, the furry little rodent is also giving me the finger while he ever-so-casually reclines on my roof, but that’s probably an exaggeration. I wasn’t even sure how to go about repairing this, but I distinctly remember calling my dad for advice and he brought up the possibility that there could also be raccoons and other assorted wildlife up there. He suggested a wildlife removal business and the Googles gave me a phone number. So a very pregnant me ends up outside in the August heat, going over a list of up-sells from the wildlife removal guys. They could, of course, solve me problem for X dollars, but they, of course, offered to completely wildlife-proof my house for XXX dollars. Suffice to say, we just wanted our damn eaves fixed (there ended up being a couple that had fallen).

Their work has held up over the years, though looking back on it, I do remember two problems. First, they forgot to install a new turbine they charged us for. I called them about it as soon as I got home and discovered it (the old one was damaged and thus it was very apparent they hadn’t done it). If memory serves, I actually had to call a few times to get them to come back. Ultimately, all work we had agreed upon was completed. And secondly, though they inspected and said nothing was in our attic, something had to have been because shortly after they patched the eave, a vent was busted open from the inside. Shudder. My dad ended up fixing that when he came down for the dumpling’s birth. (So nice of him!)

Anyway, when our talk turned to rodents in the attic, yet again, I called on them to give us a quote. Their inspector came out and went the extra mile by actually climbing onto our roof to inspect the squirrel’s hole in the chimney. And that’s when he discovered that the entire thing is rotting. Apparently it’s plywood, circa 1992, and it literally caves in with the barest touch. He said they could definitely patch it, but that it was only a matter of time (and honestly, probably days or even hours) before the squirrels made a new hole. And I completely believed him because even two freaking years later, squirrels still try to get through the eave that we repaired. They come up to it and paw furiously at it until I bang on the window.

And that’s the tale of how we’re getting a new chimney this week! Yay! I guess? I mean, I’d probably prefer to spend a few grand on other, dare I say it, funner things, but eh. A squirrel-free attic is probably nice too.