Not what you came here for

I know we have things to talk about… doctor’s appointments and opinions on cycles and all that. But I can’t talk about any of that right now because I can barely hear myself think. And I was going to tell you all about that, but then I realized that I have told you nothing about that so HOLD ON TO YOUR HORSES! Belle has a lot to talk about today.

Let’s go back to mid-October. I know right – how have I not mentioned any of this since October??? The answer is that it’s just been moving along so slowly that it’s been a mostly boring process. Anyway, mid-October, a Saturday. It was raining and we’d just gotten back from lunch. Since it was raining, I closed the garage door before getting out of the car to get the dumpling out. As I walked around the back of the car, a fat droplet of water splashed to the ground in front of me. As I peered up at the ceiling, I spotted a the telltale inverted puddle on the ceiling. Roof leak. Well crap.

I climbed up to the ceiling and, thankfully, didn’t find the lake of water that I feared. I did notice a slow drip down one of the roof’s beams, confirming a roof leak. As it appeared to be a very slow leak, I wasn’t too terribly concerned. I called several roofers on Monday morning, knowing that it might be a while before anyone could get back to me (lots of storms in the area mean busy roofers). While waiting to hear back on the calls I had placed, I had a guy call me, based on some information I had given to HomeAdvisers. We agreed to meet in a couple of days, when I’d be at the house (and when the forecast was finally free of rain).

I was hoping for some guidance on whether to repair or replace the roof. I didn’t know how old, exactly, our roof was. We haven’t done any roof work and when we bought the house, five years ago, they certainly weren’t advertising a new roof. That places good odds that the roof is at least seven years old. Depending on how expensive or extensive the repair would be, it might be a better idea to replace the roof.

But then, my new roof-savior appeared. Ryan was knowledgeable and extremely helpful and quite willing to go toe-to-toe with our insurance company. I was impressed that first meeting when he had Allstate’s (our insurance company, though he didn’t know that beforehand) claim number in his contacts. We called them up on the spot to start the claim process. I was even more thoroughly impressed when Ryan rattled off the date and time of the storm (which had rolled through in June!). And thus we began our journey with Allstate.

I won’t give you all the back-and-forth though there are a few highlights:

  • Somehow, the claim we filed that first day didn’t get entered correctly. It appeared in Allstate’s system as a claim number with nothing attached. It took me calling in several times to get the issue sorted out and the process started for real.
  • We had a very contentious first inspection when Allstate’s ladder guy refused to label our roof as hail damaged. Incongruently, they agreed that the vents and gutters had hail damage and that the interior damage was also storm related. So all the trimmings are due to hail damage and the inside damage is due to the storm, but not the roof? Not that the roof was fine, mind you. Oh no, everyone agreed that the roof was shot. The first ladder guy argued that it was blistering instead.
  • We requested for a re-inspection almost immediately, with Ryan adamant that Allstate should cover the roof.
  • After the first inspection, when we knew this process might take a bit longer than anticipated, Ryan had his guys put on a temporary cover to seal up the roof a bit better. The next time it rained, I was appalled to discover that rain water sluicing off our garage door when it opens, what I had assumed to be a little quirk (quick! run around the car before you get wet!), turned out to actually be a symptom of the leak. I had been dealing with this little quirk for months. MONTHS. And I’d never realized.

And that brings you up to just a few days before Christmas. Our re-inspection was scheduled for Friday, December 21st. We had an adjuster, a quality control inspector, and a senior ladder assist from Allstate, as well as our own contractor, Ryan. So many people! After some initial disagreement (the ladder assist “didn’t see” hail damage on his first pass through), Allstate finally agreed to recognize the hail damage and cover the full roof replacement. Merry Christmas! You’re getting a new roof!

So that’s what we’re doing today! Getting a new roof! The materials were delivered early yesterday morning. The dumpling was living his best preschooler life as he gleefully watched the forklift drive up and down our driveway. I about had a heart attack this morning when I spotted someone walking across our backyard before dawn this morning, only to realize that it was the roofers, here bright pre-dawn and early. (The dumpling adorably decided the noise he was hearing was thunder.)

And now I must confess that while I am very distracted from all the hammering, my primary reason for writing all of this down is so that in several years, when I can’t remember when we put the new roof on, I can look back and figure it out. (Which is the only reason I know when we put the floors in.) Yay for adulthood, when every year starts to run together!


Adorable Things My Child Did Over the Weekend

Why are toddlers so cute? Like, seriously, how on earth can I go from pulling my hair and gnashing my teeth in frustration to looking at my child with pure love and adoration in like …. 2.5 seconds? I truly believe that toddlers are the reason people decide to have more children – they’re so cute. That’s how they get you.

But without further ado, I present to you adorable things that my child did over the weekend:

The dumpling is just beginning to play pretend. He’ll pick up the play phone in his kitchen and say “hello?” He’ll serve you pretend soup, if you sit patiently as he makes it. He has started tucking his puppy and kitty under his blanket and saying “night night” to them, but this past Friday, he took it to a whole ‘nother level. 

We were hanging out. He’s been having a ridiculous amount of energy right at bedtime for the past few days, so Luffy and I have generally spent the time between 7:15 and 8:15 trying to wear him out. Friday night, the dumpling was directing me around the house when he decided to pretend to put kitty to bed.

So we’re in his room and he gently lays her on the floor and puts his blanket over her. He gives her a kiss and tells her night night, then gives her a little pat. Suddenly, he gets up and says I’ll be right back! before tearing off down the hallway. He pauses midway to the living room to turn back and direct me to continue patting kitty to sleep. I’ll be right back! he assures me again as he continues down the hallway. He returns with his milk and water, to feed kitty, before resuming her pats. He then gathered her up and said let’s go mama! and we all went back in the living room to start kitty’s bedtime process again.

Every once in a while the dumpling decides that he doesn’t want a zippy for sleep. He’ll usually go without it for a few days in a row before changing his mind once again. On the nights that he doesn’t sleep in his zippy, I usually sneak back into his room after he’s asleep to put socks on his feet. I can’t help it, I worry about his little toes. I think it’s a maternal compulsion to keep his little feet warm. Anyway, Sunday morning, when I walked into his room, I found both socks on the floor outside his crib. Take that mama!

I put up the Christmas tree over the weekend. I am actually really pleased with it. I bought a new one this year. Our previous one was a slim tree, more suitable for apartment living (which is where we were when I bought it). This year, I upgraded to a “full” tree and opted to decorate it with more toddler-friendly tinsel rather than the bulbs and orbs I’ve had for years. It turned out gorgeous, if I do say so myself. Half way through assembling the tree (did I mention it was artificial?), the dumpling decided to investigate. 

“Uh oh mama – grass!” he said, bending down to pick up a few scattered needles. I didn’t even know he knew the word grass.

Later, I introduced him to the felt Christmas tree (and ornaments!) I purchased expressly for his entertainment. I hung it up opposite the actual tree so that he could play with it whenever (and so that I can conveniently redirect him to it whenever he tries messing with the real one). He loved it and I solemnly swear that I did not rearrange his haphazard placement of ornaments into a more pleasing arrangement.

Oh ok, fine. I did move the star that was clearly meant to be the topper to the top of the tree for reasons. And I also moved a present that was clearly meant to be under the tree to the bottom. Because reasons.

I took the dumpling for a walk in his wagon yesterday. We got to an area that accumulates fallen leaves. He hung over the side of the wagon, enraptured by the crunch, until I heard mama, it loud from the backseat. I moved over to the non-leaf-covered sidewalk.

A little bit later, he wanted out of the wagon so that he could pull it. I pushed from behind, trying my best to keep the front-wheel-steered wagon on path. My back’s a little sore, but it sure was worth it to see the pride in his face over pulling his wagon around the block.

The dumpling recently decreed that a tiny toy bunny rabbit should also join his bedtime companions. One evening a couple of weeks ago, as we were putting him to bed, I thought he was saying “help, help, help” but I realized as soon as I walked out the door that he was saying hop hop hop. As in the bunny, she hop hop hops. He must have learned it at daycare, because I didn’t realize he knew this.

Last night, as I was trying to get him undressed and into the tub, a very naked dumpling suddenly got down on his hands and feet, executing a tiny little hop. I wasn’t really sure it was intentional until I heard a ribbit. A frog! He was pretending to be a frog! I also didn’t know he could do this, but I got down on my hands and feet and we ribbitted down the hallway, mooning* Luffy before heading to the tub. 

*For clarity, the dumpling mooned Luffy. I was fully clothed. Just FYI. I can only imagine the grace and dignity I would exude if I were to ribbit down the hall naked.

Post-Thanksgiving Thoughts

We’re back! We made it! Oh thank goodness and praise the etch-a-sketch gods!

The car ride there actually went really smoothly, all things considered and thanks to the aforementioned etch-a-sketch. Luffy got it for the dumpling, especially for the car ride and he loved it! He, of course, ping-ponged around like a monkey for a while after getting out of the car, but that’s to be expected. And, unlike last year when it took the full four days to even get the dumpling to agree to separate from me for even a nap, he had left me behind and was reading books with his papa within 30 minutes of our arrival. Yay for me! Ahem, I mean him. Yay for toddler independence!

Our primary hiccup was sleep related, not surprising given the dumpling is a very particular sleeper. The first night, we tried setting up a toddler airbed in a separate bedroom for him. He did pretty well going down, but he woke up at midnight and didn’t go back to sleep until I crawled into the bed with him. Since I couldn’t sleep well in the position I was in, I tried getting back out of the bed around 4:30, but he woke up about 15 minutes later and was up for the day basically. I took him to our bed where we dozed for a bit, but never really got back to sleep. The next night, I asked him – where do you want to sleep? Initially, he asked for his bed to be brought into our bedroom, but changed his mind once we laid him down to sleep. (On an interesting note, he was all about the toddler-sized airbed, until it came time to actually sleep in it. Toddlers, amirite?) He requested to sleep in our bed which was shocking since he’s never, ever done that. We did that for the two remaining nights and it actually went really well besides a few kicks in the face and a really early wake time since oh hey mom, you’re right here and I’m up so let’s party

Sleeping aside, we had a really great time. Lots of good food and playing with the dumpling. We took walks* and met my brother’s dog. The dumpling was fascinated by my parents’ cats (all four of them) and delighted in helping feed them. We decorated and baked Christmas cookies. I made a delicious cake. We played in the backyard. We played in the front yard. We looked at Christmas lights. We dug through boxes full of things from my childhood, sorting into keep-toss-donate piles. (And giving the dumpling one of my stuffed puppies.) Lots of fun!

The drive back even went pretty well, up until the dumpling got himself so worked up over getting back in his car seat that he puked. And then he did it again not an hour later for good measure. That part wasn’t so fun. But hey, we at least made it back in one piece! 

I even got a little extra dumpling time on Monday because he vomited twice Sunday, just enough to make me wonder if he had a stomach bug. I’m still not convinced, but he definitely does have a cold, so we just hung out watching Daniel Tiger and eating Cheerios. As we should.

*One adorable anecdote: I took the dumpling for a walk Thanksgiving morning (the day we woke up at 4:30) at about 9:15ish. Luffy and I had already planned to load him up in the car around 10 for a car nap (he loves those and we were not about to try getting him to nap on the airbed). He was tucked away in his wagon under a blanket and we were talking about it being cold outside. I literally turned the corner and looked back to find him asleep. ASLEEP! Sitting upright! In the cold, harsh wind! When we had been conversing not a minute prior! Who is this child? I laughed so hard and was thankful that we were right around the corner from my parents’ house.

Officially Two!

We threw a birthday bash for the dumpling on Saturday, so it’s official! He’s two! He also seemed to grow two inches and put on a good five pounds over the weekend. But maybe I just feel that way because he requested to be held about 95% of Sunday, give or take a minute for bathroom breaks (mine) and kitty hugs (his).

We had the best time though on Saturday. The fun actually started on Friday evening, when my mom drove in early. I pointed out her car pulling up the driveway and as soon as she stepped out, the dumpling just dissolved into a fit of giggles and wiggles. He was SO excited to see her. The next day, we added more fun people when my dad and brother showed up. My brother chased him around the house for a while and allowed me to focus on getting ready for the party (those four dozen cupcakes weren’t going to frost themselves!). The party itself actually started out a little slowly because literally all of our guests except family had said they were coming but would be late due to various reasons. We truly did have the best time though and rounded out the evening playing Drawful with our neighbors.

Adorable moments from the party include:

  • When he discovered balloons: I bought him a big, Mylar fire truck balloon and had it professionally inflated Friday afternoon, hiding it in my closet overnight. I brought it out while my brother was playing with him and as soon as he stepped foot in the dining room, he stopped dead in his tracks. What is that glorious thing??? you could just see the question form in his mind. I felt a little bad for my brother as the dumpling immediately made a game out of letting the balloon go and having my brother get the string for him (even though he could totally reach it himself).
  • When he noticed that someone had brought him (the most adorable) stuffed dinosaur. It wasn’t wrapped, just sitting on the presents, and he immediately exclaimed di-no-sor!! and carted it off.
  • When he was overcome with shyness the moment he realized we were all singing Happy Birthday to him.
  • When he unwrapped the fire truck book my parents gave him and immediately decided to sit down in my lap to read it. He still had presents to open, but he just had to know what the fire truck’s smooth, shiny bumper felt like!
  • When he deftly handled the serving spoon to get himself more watermelon from the table. I was pretty impressed, honestly.
  • When my family had to leave fairly early to drive back to West Texas and he decided that it was time to say goodbye to everyone.

Not related to the party, but still completely adorable:

  • Our neighbors had an inflatable dragon up for Halloween. Quick thinking let me convince him it was a dinosaur. He’s been saying hi/bye to the dinosaur all month. They took it down on Sunday. He was very sad and talked about the dinosaur going bye bye for a good ten minutes.
  • This morning, he was in a particularly good mood, which was helpful since Monday mornings are always busy for us. I was making breakfast in the kitchen, when I heard the dumpling calling for me from the living room. I told him he’d have to come to me, since I was making breakfast. Miss you! is the response I heard, and felt my heart swell.”Awe! I miss you too baby!”

    Suddenly, he appeared around the corner of the counter, looking perplexed.


    It suddenly dawned on me that he was not proclaiming the fact that he missed his mama, he was inquiring as to when his damn waffle would be ready. Jeez, mother, and would it kill you to refill my coffee in the meantime?!. I turned the oven light on and had him check his waffle himself.

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.


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 –
Outside –
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 –
This –
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.]


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.