Little Light

Luffy was out of town this weekend for a bachelor trip. I was a little nervous as it would be the first time he’d really been gone since we had the dumpling. I mean sure, he’d had a business trip here or there, but it was always during the week, when I would at least have daycare to help with the care-taking load. But here, I was looking at two nights and two solid days of just me and the dumpling. Would he be a handful? Would I be able to keep up with him by myself? Would he drive me bonkers?

I needn’t have worried though; we ended up having the best time.

Sure, Friday night was rough, as Friday nights tend to be, and we had some power struggles, as toddlers are wont to do. But overall, we just had the best time. And, it sounds kind of bizarre, but I just fell so much more in love with my sweet boy. From little things, like the way he just played and played and played at the park. Or the way he carried our groceries to the car Saturday afternoon (never fear! it was a single bag with lightweight items). Or the way he would always give me the last ball to toss in our game of toss-and-retrieve.

I spoiled him a little, with the holiday weekend and all. He asked for a popsicle Saturday after he woke up from his nap. We didn’t have any, but I took him to Dairy Queen for a popsicle there. He was very confused as we were driving because “mama, you said popsicle and yet I have no popsicle…” I wasn’t even sure Dairy Queen still sold popsicles and was relieved to find that they still do. I got him a cherry-flavored, star-shaped one that was bigger than him. You guys should have seen the smile he gave me when we sat down with it. He beamed up at me from his seat on the bench, like a little light. We sat there for a good half hour, watching people come and go, as he ate his popsicle. An older man was delighted by him and stopped by to say hello.

We went to the park on Sunday morning and he astonished me by hanging out for almost an hour and a half. He was a little hesitant, at first, because we went to a different park than we usually do. He warmed up pretty quickly though and was running around in no time. He’d peek out at me from behind the bars and dissolve into giggles when I’d spot him and go “boo.” He watched an older girl bunny hop through a little obstacle course and a moment later I watched him go through the same course, with this little jig. I think it was his attempt at bunny hops and it was absolutely precious. We walked the big kid’s play area and we swung together. He was completely worn out, yet it still took me a few tries to get him to peacefully leave. After an early lunch, we sat down to play with blocks in the living room. He gathered some up and came to sit in my lap, humming Go to Sleep Little Baby to himself, which is how I knew I’d worn him out!


He’s just looking more and more like a little kid now. We’re really getting a peek at his personality as well. He’s observant and a little reserved. He’s sweet and caring. He loves to help, whether it’s feeding Jas or carrying groceries. He loves to sing and dance. He’s an amazing little person and I can’t wait to watch him grow.

 

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Eyes on me

I’ve been having a lot of dreams that involve Michael lately. Sometimes it’s casual: we bump into each other, say hi/bye, and go about our business. Sometimes it’s bizarre in a typical so there I was, fighting a fire-breathing dragon, and Michael runs up to me and kicks me in the shins dream way. Others are negative: we bump into each other and he starts accusing me of ruining him or being a bitch. One was downright unnerving: we bumped into each other, but I had the dumpling with me, and Michael laid into him for his muddled lineage and told him what an awful person I am.

Shudder

I’ve always had vivid dreams. I can usually remember them too. Sometimes I can tie the vividness to something (Sudafed is often the culprit, but watching crime shows can be another). In this case, I think the trigger is a billboard.

You see, there’s a billboard that’s currently up all over DFW. Along my route to work. When I went to pick up pho last night. Near my exercise facility. It seriously seems to follow me. It’s an ad for an ambulance chasing lawyer, which is exactly what he does/is (pretty much). It features the lawyer in a suit and a cowboy hat and the guy looks startlingly like Michael. Like, I have to do double- and triple- takes just to make sure that it really isn’t him. And since I feel like I see him everywhere now, he’s been on my brain lately. And in my dreams, though I wish that would stop. I can’t wait for the billboards to come down.


Humans are weird. Our brains are hardwired to seek out patterns. We look for the familiar, we try to predict based on the past, we try to make sense out of the random. It also means that we see things from our past, things we might not want to. That’s what makes me laugh (in an uncomfortable sort of way) over the concept of “trigger warnings.” It can be such a personal thing. I mean, sure, talking about rape may bring up painful memories for a rape survivor and you might feel obligated to place a trigger warning on the discussion, but there are so many other triggers, far more painful triggers, that would need to be cautioned if what we’re going for is to truly limit someone’s pain. I can discuss emotional abuse without really linking it to myself but don’t you dare try to offer me a particular flavor of Extra gum. I can manner-of-factly tell you my story and why I stayed and why I left, but this song (especially the movie version) from Tangled makes me so uncomfortable I can hardly listen to it. The word “fluffy” is, just now – seven full years and this adorable character later – starting to lose it’s negative connotations. You see, it always meant my midsection.

Time softens the blow, as it has a tendency to do, but some memories refuse to be buried by the sands. There are things, reminders, that I wish I could forget, a la Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind. A specific joke, for instance. He always told it to me at a specific, intimate moment and it jumps into my head at random moments with Luffy. I would pay good money to never think about that joke again, to never have it pop into my head. I live in fear that I’ll accidentally say it one day, though I’m not sure why. Luffy knows my past; he’d understand, I’m sure. But the simple fact that the joke still swirls around in my head is proof of the fact that the owner of the joke is still in there too. I can’t imagine my reaction if I actually heard someone else say that joke now, especially since it’s – ahem – sexual. I can tell you one thing for sure, it would absolutely kill any sort of mood they were trying to create. I’d also probably either run from the room or slap them, but who’s to say.

I don’t really have a nice, neat bow for all this. I’m hoping, as I did once before, to purge my mind of the intrusive thoughts. I hope those billboards come down soon.

Mishmosh

It’s the fifth third fourth I-don’t-even know week of August, so please enjoy some random thoughts and don’t forget this applicable treasure.


The dumpling has been in daycare since he was 12 weeks old. He’s loved it and I love being a working mom – wouldn’t change a thing. However, I’d like to make an official complaint that I was rudely denied an opportunity by taking this route. You see, all my other mom friends (I have like two … it’s not a very large sample size, I know) who stay at home and have toddlers the dumpling’s age are posting these adorable First Day of School!!! photos on Facebook with their toddler all dolled up in uniforms and backpacks. It is completely, adorably precious. And yet…. they aren’t really going to school. Those toddlers are headed off to preschool. I’m not denying that it’s a huge milestone, especially for kids who have been home with their moms this whole time. But still. I have to wait another four years for my dude’s First Day of School!!! photo even though the dumpling’s totally in “preschool” right now and I’m a little jealous, that’s all. Perhaps I’ll doll him up tomorrow and title the post Four-hundred-seventeeth Day of School give or take a few days!!!

What? I did the math at least.


Speaking of working and stuff (nice segue self), before I had a baby, I was addicted to chewing gum. I would chew at least a couple of half pieces each day, though definitely more than that on some days. I guess maternity leave got me out of the habit? I’m not really sure, but I just don’t chew gum anymore. I never think about it and even when I do, chewing feels awkward. Or maybe I’m just newly awkward with chewing gum. Who knows?!


The cake baking and cake pop making went excellent this past weekend, thanks for asking! I did indeed get everything done, with a lot of help from Luffy (to distract the toddler and also keep me company in the kitchen). I was pretty proud of my creations, until I took the smash cake over to the party and all of a sudden it was SHOCKINGLY clear that my cake was lopsided on top. Uh – whoops? And also, how did I not notice that before?! Oh well, the little birthday girl seemed to enjoy it and the cake pops turned out fantastically, so I’m still calling it a win.

Have your cake!

I mentioned a few weeks ago that I drunkenly offered to make a smash cake for a neighbor’s daughter’s first birthday party.

So Belle, how’s that going?

I am SO glad you asked! A week after my offer, our hosts invited us back to their house for more BBQ and swim time. (Holla!) I promised a test cake, so they could see what they were working with. (I imagine our neighbor was vacillating between being suuuuure that everything was going to work out, this-will-be-fine style, and panic at the thought that I’d produce some monstrosity and then how do you back out of that without hurting my poor, sweet, misguided feelings???? HOW?????)

I immediately had a plan in mind. I’d bake a simple butter cake and use an oversized cookie cutter to get 4.5″ diameter circles out of it. I’d then stack those (either three or four, wasn’t sure) and fill it with pink frosting. I’d then frost the outside of the cake with white frosting and decorate with gold and pink sprinkles. Easy as pie cake. I went to a craft store and found some amazing gold sprinkles and these neat pink sugar rock things. It’s hard to describe, but they’re beautiful. I also picked up some piping tips and a new piping bag, with the hope of at least piping a border.

I baked up the cake in advance (and the great part about only using a portion is that I was able to taste test first – it was delicious) and made the frosting/decorated the cake the day of. It turned out really, really well and our neighbors were very pleased with the final result. So yay! And whew!

And then, my big mouth got me again (and I can’t even blame champagne this time!). I was discussing my plans with her and mentioned that I had a lot of cake leftover. This led to me divulging that I wanted to try my hand at cake pops. Which I did, the following week. And they were super cute and delicious. And since they had seemed so excited by the idea, I took a half dozen to the neighbors just for fun. And they loved them. And that’s how I’m making a smash cake and about three dozen cake pops for Sunday.

WISH ME LUCK AND THEN SEND WINE.

Back at the barre

So I think it’s likely that I’ve mentioned that I used to dance when I was younger. I’ve taken at least ballet and tap since I was five years old and continued all the way through college. I taught dance as well, to three-year-olds through sixteen-year-olds. It was fun and I really enjoyed that period of my life. I recently had my parents bring my recital DVD’s to me so that I could re-watch a few numbers I had been thinking about. I spent a happy afternoon skipping through the years.

I haven’t danced though since I moved to Dallas. I’ve had my mind set on an adult tap class every once in a while, only to find the only options out of sync with my schedule (right in the middle of the dumpling’s bedtime, for instance, or at like 9pm, which no thank you). Back when Luffy and I lived in the White Rock area, there was a dance studio a few minutes from our house. It offered ballet classes for adults and I was all pumped on signing up. And then we moved. I shelved the idea of dance class for a later time.


Now that the dumpling is a little older, I’ve been meaning to fill in my workout schedule a bit more. Pre-baby, I used to teach 3-4 times a week, along with taking a 2 mile walk most mornings with Luffy. Now I teach twice a week, and we get a mile walk in when we can. (It hasn’t helped that DFW has been hotter than usual this summer, with numerous 100+ degree days.) I’d been thinking about what I could do to fill the gap when we got a flyer in the mail for a local barre exercise class.

When I checked their schedule online, I found that they conveniently had an 11:30am class on the days I work from home. This way, I could work out at my lunch hour* and be able to actually keep it within an hour. I took the plunge and attended my first class a couple of weeks ago.

I love it! It feels great to get another workout in. It also feels fantastic to be back at the barre, with relevés and turn-outs. It feels like coming home, as cheesy as that sounds. The work out targets my glutes and abs, which I really like. It’s mainly a strength workout, so I think it complements my current aerobic workout really well.

The only drawback to this class is the price. Holy cats is it expensive. I know I’m biased, considering my current workout routine costs me nothing, but WOW. It’s far more than I’m willing to spend, so, unfortunately, I’ll be saying goodbye once my promo month is over. Boo. Luckily for me, there seem to be no shortage of barre inspired classes in the market these days. Hopefully I can find another one that I love just as much.

*Am I the only female who totally envies men and their ability to work out at lunch? I would love to be able to hit the gym for 45-50 minutes, hop in the shower, then be back at my desk within a reasonable stretch of the lunch “hour.” Must be nice.

A quick memory

Guys! I am gushing with happiness over here and I just have to tell you and you and everyone:

My sweet dumpling gave me a kiss at bedtime rather than accepting my kiss.

The last piece of our normal routine includes Luffy and I singing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star to the dumpling as we head back to his room (after saying goodnight to the house). When we reach his room, still singing, Luffy and I give him his stuffed animals. Then I give the dumpling a kiss, then Luffy gives him a kiss. Then the dumpling goes down in his crib and night night! Lately, the dumpling knows his kisses are coming, so he leans towards each of us in anticipation. But tonight! Tonight, the dumpling refused to take his stuffed animal from me and instead leaned forward with a little (somewhat) puckered mouth to give me a kiss. How sweet is that?! He then gave Luffy a kiss, took his stuffed animals and leaned forward to be put in his crib.

This period is so amazing. He’s picking up so many new things each day. He’s learned how to say bless you! after someone sneezes and even said it by himself the other day after I sneezed in the kitchen. (He also adorably said it for himself today after he sneezed.) He loves feeding Jas and can even almost say her name now (he still calls her meow meow right now). Luffy and I can no longer hide things and hope he forgets about it, like the nail clippers he loves to play with, because he doesn’t forget about it anymore.

He’s getting so big, so fast, and it’s amazing to watch.

A quick update from a week later: The dumpling amazed me yet again over the weekend. I was sitting on the floor with him and wanted my phone (that was on the couch), but knew that if I got up he’d immediately start protesting. It finally dawned on me to ask him to get it for me. Luffy’s phone was right next to mine and they’re extremely similar (not that that’s hard in this day and age). But guys!! He picked up Luffy’s phone and turned it over, then handed it to Luffy. He then picked up my phone, turned it over, then gave it to me. And it hit me, he was looking at the cases. Luffy’s is completely black while mine is black with a rose gold panel. And the dumpling knows it. (!!!!!)

New Digs

Last week was exceedingly busy. As I mentioned previously, my company moved our offices. Last week was our first week in the new place, so there was a lot of unpacking and organizing going on. That and arranging my desk and then changing my mind and rearranging it and then changing my mind again. Twas fun! At least I’m pretty much settled now.

It has been interesting coming to the new building. I’ve been working in our old office building for five years, so this was a big change. Our new offices are located about a half mile away from the old, but since this is downtown Dallas we’re talking about, it means a completely different route into work. Plus, a new parking garage. And that’s really the issue here. Parking garages can be a nightmare and learning to navigate one when it’s rush hour and everyone is trying to get to work and has ZERO patience for your screw-ups…. well, it’s a high pressure scenario. Plus, our old garage was a relatively small garage, with a simple design and flow. Very intuitive. The new garage is massive. Three entrances/exits from three different streets, twelve stories. It’s technically two garages enmeshed in each other. I’ve parked in a completely new area every single day and I remain amazed that I haven’t lost my car (yet).

The new location has given a zip to the day though. I liken it to starting a new semester at school. There’s some nervousness over going to the right classroom or building. Figuring out all the unspoken rules that govern the area (everyone walks on this escalator or no one speaks in the elevators here). Desperately trying to make sure you don’t accidentally out yourself as the new person. Figuring out the best routes coming and going. Discovering what’s in the area. It’s been fun!

I also feel even more …. urban workforce chic? Is that a thing? Our new office is located in a true skyscraper. Since the building has the clout of being a legit tower, we have a few amenities not given to our previous mid-rise building. For one thing, the parking garage is directly connected to our building via a tunnel of sorts that runs through adjacent buildings and below ground at some points. That has made the slightly longer walk from the garage amazing. Just this morning, it was raining and yet I didn’t need to bring an umbrella or my rain boots. Such luxury! Another such perk is the sundry shop located below the lobby that I need to check out and the dry cleaners that’s technically in the garage. So handy! We also have key cards for this new building

Anyway, hopefully I’ll settle into a new routine this week. Wish me luck!