Polishing Up the Home, pt 6

Every once in a while, I get a seemingly random burst of energy and motivation to take care of things around the house. This is one of those times. And lucky you! You get to hear all about it.

First up, I finally – FINE. UH. LEE. – bought a garden hose reel.

What the hell Belle? That’s your leading item? I can hear you thinking.

I’ve always wanted one, but it seemed unnecessary. I mean, it’s not like I use the garden hose on a daily basis. I did last summer, to water our fresh sod, and I use it occasionally to fill up the dumpling’s wading pool or water plants. I’d always just re-looped it back on the ground and figured that was good enough.

However, each time I’ve come across it in the past few weeks, it’s been a tangled mess. The last straw was that I used it to fill the dumpling’s pool a couple of weeks ago. The tangles and kinks frustrated me and I spent a good half hour re-looping it back into an orderly fashion. Not three days later, the landscaping crew used it to plant our new tree and left it in another tangled heap. I almost cried in frustration, but decided then and there to at least look at hose reels.

I was in Home Depot a couple of days ago for other items and found one that was very reasonably priced. I brought it home and experienced near-nirvana as I wound the hose onto it. Even being the tangled mess that it was, it took mere minutes to wind properly. Then I wheeled it to the back of the house, hooked it up, and stepped back to marvel at the neatness. The hose reel deeply satisfied me and Luffy just laughed when I told him. So now I’m telling y’all.

This may be TMI, but ever since the dumpling started having real poops (you know, once they start eating real foods and those dreamy breast milk poops are gone) […. did I just really describe stool as “dreamy”? maybe it’s a pregnancy thing], we’ve dumped solids into the toilet during diaper changes. The dumpling has, within the last few months, also taken a liking to helping us flush the toilet afterwards. On one such occasion, the toilet seat/lid slammed down a bit too hard and the brittle plastic cracked.

It happened a few days before we left for our trip, thus I just got around to purchasing a new seat and installing it. I was very pleased with my handy work, removing the old seat, cleaning underneath (gag), and installing the shiny new one. Then I stepped back and realized that it’s off center.


I kind of want to fix it, but I’m also waiting to see just how much it bugs me before breaking out the tools again.

Also in potty-related news. We took the toilet roll holder out of the primary bathroom when the dumpling started walking. Toilet paper is a magnet for little kids, right? So we figured we’d just avoid the whole issue by having the toilet paper up out of reach.

Luffy asked me a couple of weeks ago where the holder was, as we could probably re-install it now. I looked and looked, but couldn’t find it (of course) so I purchased a new one. Felt like a queen, using toilet paper on an actual holder. So nice! So fancy!

I installed that Tuesday afternoon. Wednesday evening I left the dumpling playing in the bathtub (sans water, he was just hanging out in it because reasons or something). I was out of the room for literally two minutes and came back in again to find that he’d unrolled the toilet paper all over the floor. He looked mighty proud of himself too, that little cutey.

Oh well, so much for avoiding that mess, huh?

This one isn’t so much about polishing up the home as it is keeping it clean.

I know a lot of people can’t stand hair, as in loose strands, on the floor, in your food, etc. I felt like I had a pretty high tolerance for hair in most places (my weakness was the shower drain, shudder), probably because I shed so much.

Notice the past tense up there? Had a pretty high tolerance.

I can no longer stand the sight of loose hairs, nearly anywhere. It grosses me out to find it on the kitchen or bathroom floor. Or by the sinks. Or pretty much anywhere. I think because I have such short hair now? In the past, I could pretty much guarantee it was my own hair and maybe that helped the gag reflex. But now I know that any hair over like three inches in length is definitely NOT mine and I just can’t with it anymore.




I have a love/hate relationship with my allergist.

She is an amazing doctor. She’s one of those people that is so thoroughly educated, it’s a wonder she still works and lives in our little town. She’s an allergist, as I mentioned, one of the city’s best as voted by her peers. She is also a pediatrician and did her pediatric residency at Duke. She’s open and candid and refreshingly frank. She cares very much about her patients and presses me to call her – day or night – should I have a flair up.

Her office is also cramped (though she’s moving – huzzah!) and she’s probably gonna be running at least a half hour behind schedule. If you’re lucky.

Alas, tis the downfall of having a doctor who doesn’t mind spending twenty or so minutes talking about my pregnancy rather than my allergies.

I did come away with a few gems from my appointment last week:

Apparently, I am part of a lucky third of pregnant ladies. According to my doctor, a third of pregnant women find their seasonal allergies unchanged during pregnancy. A third find their seasonal allergies get worse during pregnancy. And the remaining third, in which I find myself, find their seasonal allergies get better during pregnancy. Indeed, I had gone in for my regular check-up ready to report this season didn’t seem as severe as last. Then she told me that the pollen was far worse for everyone else, so I guess I should thank little bao for my reprieve. Just another reason to start immunotherapy afterwards I suppose.

As I mentioned, she’s happy to chat about topics unrelated to allergies, so when she asked me about the due date and proceeded to mention that second babies usually arrive closer to their due dates, I told her about little dumpling’s scheduled arrival. I even got to tell her something she didn’t know! She mentioned that it was too bad he didn’t turn into the proper position, but that at least he had a nice smooth head. I, in turn, told her that he actually came out with a dent on his head, from where he’d been pressed against my rib cage. She’d never heard of that happening, in all her residency and schooling, but then she was quick to surmise that my short torso probably left no room for the little guy. Too true!

And then with the mention of a c-section, of course, we delved into the topic of VBAC. She had a medical student shadowing her, so she detoured a bit into what exactly a VBAC was. She asked if I was going to do it and I confessed that I likely wasn’t. Her response: good for you. She said that “those naturalists” would probably pelt her for saying that, but the controlled risk of a repeat c-section was far more preferable in her mind than attempting a VBAC. I’m finding it very interesting that the very smart, educated people in my life (Luffy included because damn he’s the smartest person I have ever met) are precisely the ones who are against VBAC. Probably a sign that I should listen to them and not feel so guilty about my apathetic attitude towards a VBAC.

Anyway, I hate how long appointments always take, but I sure do love my allergist.

The Uncanny Valley

As I near the second trimester of this pregnancy, it’s time to start making good on some of the ideas I tucked away for future use. Ideas on how to make the dumpling’s transition from only child to big brother as smooth as possible. (I know – I know! Don’t laugh! Tis a pregnant woman’s fantasy, ok. You just can’t burst my bubble.)

Anyway, there are things for much further down the line (note to self: must talk to the grandparents about essentially ignoring the new one when they visit. Little bao won’t care if they spend thirty minutes with the dumpling first but the dumpling will CERTAINLY notice if no one interacts with him in the same amount of time.) There are things we’re doing now. I got him a couple of big brother books to read and he seems to like them. Daniel Tiger has a great set of episodes about a new sibling and we always try to watch those is possible. We’ll start talking up how much of a big kid he is now.

Then there are things we’ll do a bit further along in my pregnancy. Let the dumpling help get little bao’s toys ready or help us make sure the dumpling’s toys are safe for the new one. I also rather like the idea of getting the dumpling his own baby (doll). He likes taking care of things, especially kitty and puppy. Plus I’ve read that some kids really respond to feeding their baby while mama feeds the (real) baby, that sort of thing. Could be a handy thing to direct him to when he’s trying to climb me and I’m trying to nurse. Times like that.

I was on Amazon today, picking up a few items, when I decided to go take a look at some dolls. Knowing me, I’ll take forever to make a decision on which one to get him, so might as well start now. It started innocently enough: little newborn-looking dolls with onesies and bottles or diapers and blankets. Precious really.

But then. I stumbled into the downright creepy. I mean, look at this thing:

You can’t tell me that’s not creepy

THAT IS A DOLL. seriously. You can see it here if you don’t believe me.

Or what about this one?

Imagine this just watching you from across the room.

Found here. She’s not creepy per se, but she’s just a little too lifelike for comfort.

But wait! There’s more!


The longer I stare at this doll, the worse it is. What’s with her weird, pinchy mouth and chin? And the hands?! What’s wrong with her hands?! And why does she look both 80 years old and 80 minutes old?

I could go on, but I’ll stop here for our collective sanity. There are so many more examples. The doll section is definitely not a place to wander into after dark.

Watch out behind you! The 80 year old newborn wants your blood! Or is perhaps just looking for her dentures! AHHHH!

A little lost

Do you ever go through a period where you lose a few items and you suddenly start questioning your sanity? No? Oh just me then? Well, ok.

This all started on Tuesday. I went to get the mail and realized that my mail key (which is on a ring with the two house keys and random key from my pickup truck) wasn’t in its usual place. I’m not known for putting things back exactly where they go (though I’m trying to get better about it!), thus I searched its other usual haunts. No dice. Or should I say no keys.

I looked around the house in that way you do when you’re sure what you’re looking for will turn up: wander from room to room, maybe looking under a pillow or in a single cabinet before wandering back out. I told Luffy about their absence and went about my usual day, figuring I’d soon spot them somewhere obvious.

By the time Wednesday afternoon rolled around, I still hadn’t found them. I worked from the house on Tuesday and Wednesday this week, so I was home literally the entire time, always with an eye out for the missing keys. With the keys still MIA, I took twenty minutes or so to scour the usual haunts and any likely places more thoroughly. Still nothing.

They’re still missing today (Friday) and I just did a pretty thorough search of the house and cars. I kind of think maybe something happened to them when I moved from one car to another, since I sometimes keep my keys in my car. However, I can’t remember for certain if they were in the car. I can’t even remember for certain when the last time I used them was. I usually get the mail, but Luffy was waiting on a few things for a couple of weeks and would beat me to the mail check. I’ve searched high and low in the house and, at this point, I’m just praying I find them tucked behind a bookshelf in six months.

On top of the keys, I realized on Wednesday that I’m missing a sock, which would be par for the human course, except that these are special. I have three pairs of slip socks to wear with my flats to work and one of the pairs is a really nice Bombas pair that my mom gave me in my stocking. I’ve worn them just once and was wondering this week why I didn’t wear them more. When I get ready for work, I usually blindly rummage through my sock drawer until I find a matching set and off I go. On Wednesday, I dumped my sock drawer out to find the mate, but the mate wasn’t there. I searched through my underwear drawer and my pajama drawer without luck. I took a look through Luffy’s drawers and the dumpling’s drawers. Also no luck. And I say they’re special because they’re one of those items that I look for in the wash, like delicates. I place them in a mesh bag and pull them out separately. They’re paired up when they go in, paired up when they come out. It’s a sock. It’s gotta be somewhere, but I currently have no idea where.

And that brings me to my last missing item: a pair of work slacks.

I know right?! You see why I’m beginning to question my sanity? I mean, the keys make sense and I guess the sock is probably in someone else’s drawer or something, but the work pants?! How did I manage to lose that?

Yeah, I’m not sure either. I realized yesterday as I was getting ready for work and, since I was trying to get out the door and because of the above two missing items, I haven’t really looked into it further. Who loses pants?

Edit: I found the keys guys! And I have writing this post to thank because as I was checking the links, I had a flash of thinking. It dawned on me that as I was scrambling to get things together to take the car back to the dealership for service, I was haphazardly throwing things in my backpack for the afternoon. Phone charger. Laptop charger. Snacks. Water. And … my house keys. Luffy had suggested them so that if I got a loaner car, I’d be able to get back in the house. After upending my backpack, I found them tucked away in a seldom used pocket. Score! Now if I could just find those pants…

Sibling Rivalry

Did I miss something, you’re wondering…

Isn’t the dumpling an only child, you’re thinking…

Someone asked me the other day if my kiddo is pretty good with other kids, meaning: is he nice? Does he share? Is he the kid at the playground shoving other children out of the way so that he can go down the slide? Does he fight over his food? Does he claim other kids’ food as his own?

I legitimately paused to review my son’s behavior and was pleasantly surprised to realize that yeah, he’s pretty good with other kids. Partly because it’s just not in his nature to go barreling through other kids or to bulldoze his way into other snacks. He generally shares well and takes turns. If you ask him nicely, he’ll share his snack with you. He’s genuinely a sweet little kid.

And then I realized the exception to nearly all of those things: Jas.

She goes near his toy? Mine! Miiiiine! MINE!

She sniffs his long-discarded snack bowl? Mine! Miiiiine! MINE!

She rubs her head on the book we’re reading? Stop Jas STOP!

She gets on his tower? No sir, Jas. No SIR!

One morning, he was being particularly ornery. It was one of those mornings where he seemed to be primed for a meltdown. I had just gotten him calmed down (AGAIN) when he ran back to the living room and promptly burst into tears. My nana bread! he wailed. When I went to investigate, he told me that Jas had eaten his (doubtful, though I will concede that she might have licked it) and, in his outrage, he had thrown down his only remaining piece.

He loves to chase her and give her hugs. He’s saddened when she struggles out of his grasp, as cats are wont to do. He seems to dislike when I give her attention over him, often calling me back to a book if I turn my attention her way. They can’t share my lap. She can’t touch his toys. He takes great pride in helping take care of her though. He loves to tuck her in under his most favorite blankie as he sings her goodnight. He also loves to tell her to stop doing things.

I don’t want you to feel too bad for her though. I realized this morning that I’m fairly sure the feeling is mutual:

Jas, being a cat, pretty much decides where she’s going to sleep for the night. We don’t curtail her in any way except that the dumpling’s bedroom door is closed. Other than that, she can sleep in the office, on the guest bed, on the couch, in the closet, or in our bed. In our old bed, she used to stay tucked behind my knees. In our new bed, she sleeps curled up by my pillow. Sometimes she’ll stay in one place the entire night, but it’s fairly unusual to go to sleep with her beside me and wake up with her still there.

One quirk though: six out of seven mornings, she’ll come in and settle down on me. Always in the same position: across my rib cage (I’m a side-sleeper). And usually right around dawn. At first I thought it was the specific time of morning, as she typically comes in right as I’m starting to wake up. I always joke with her that she has the worst timing – settling down right as I need to get up.

And then, this morning it hit me: she’s not just randomly coming to join me in bed… she’s literally coming in to pin me in bed and I think that her cue is the dumpling waking up. I kid you not, I realized this morning that most mornings, she comes in after the dumpling starts requesting to get out of his crib. Or if Luffy gets him, she’ll wander in before I get up. Or, on the off morning that the dumpling wakes up in a fighting mood and I’m out of bed lickety-split, I’ll stumble over her on my way out of the room as she comes in.

We don’t even have a second child and I’m already dealing with sibling rivalries. Luckily, a cat is slightly less vocal than a human. And like 98% less prone to throwing tantrums.

Missives from the North Pole

Disclaimer: I am not actually at the North Pole. I am actually at my office, in downtown Dallas, where it is currently 27 degrees outside and, perhaps more importantly, maybe 50 degrees inside. Seriously, building maintenance has been called because we can feel cold air blowing – blowing – around us. It’s frigid. I am sitting at my desk with my overcoat on and a blanket and I’m still cold. Luckily, I brought some soup for lunch today.

We had a pretty good weekend, even with the freezing temperatures. We made cupcakes on Saturday, much to the dumpling’s delight. He discovered the perks of making them at home: being mama’s taste tester for the frosting. He adorably got a tiny little smidgen of frosting as his first test and then I guess it was pretty good because he dipped the spoon back in for a huge spoonful. (And yeah, we talked about clean spoons and double-dipping, but not exactly the hill I want to die on.) He took his cupcake while I frosted the rest and when I checked on him again, he’d licked off all of his frosting. Second perk of homemade cupcakes: mama re-frosted his cupcake. A few minutes later, he handed a licked-clean cupcake back to Luffy, announcing that he was all done.

Probably the peak of excitement for the weekend was spotting a bobcat outside our window Sunday afternoon. The dumpling had just gotten up from his nap and was still a touch cranky about it. I showed him the bobcat and he wanted to go outside to see it. It was only 40 degrees or so, but you know what, we’ve all got a bit of cabin fever at this point… let’s do it. Of course, by the time we got ourselves bundled up and outside, the bobcat was long gone, but we looked for it anyway. I gave a nice long spiel about inside kitties we pet and wild, outside kitties that we don’t pet while we walked around a bit. We only lasted ten minutes or so, but it was nice to get outside.

Let’s see, what else did we do? We read The Goodnight Train five hundred million times – OH WAIT – I just realized that I didn’t tell you about this. So the dumpling has really been into trains lately. He has a Duplo train set and another little train and track set. He watches Dinosaur Train. He loves seeing pictures of trains in his books about things that go. I had an epiphany last weekend to see if I could find him some books about trains and was able to get him two: The Goodnight Train and a little set of four classic Thomas and Friends books. They came in Tuesday while he was at school, so I told him when we walked in the door that evening that I had a surprise for him. (He adorably calls the little Thomas books his “surprise” and will say that he wants to read his surprise.) He LOVES The Goodnight Train. Since it came in, I’ve probably read it to him at least a hundred times. We read it in the morning, in the evening, at bedtime. One day last week, he ran to get it from his room so that he could read it in the car on our way to school. (And yes, he’ll read it to himself by flipping through the pages and saying “goodnight train – choo choo”) He likes the little Thomas books too, don’t get me wrong, but it’s The Goodnight Train he’s obsessed with.

So we read that a bunch.

We cooked. We chased dada. We ate pancakes (and I’d like the record to show that he actually did eat his pancakes for once!). We visited yeye and nainai (Luffy’s parents). We colored. I limped around.

Oh right, that.

So I’ve injured myself. The bottom of my foot, near my inner heel, is very painful when I walk. I’m not quite sure what I did because the pain started Friday, when I didn’t do anything except work all day. My best guess is that I wore boots on Friday (because of this blasted cold!) and perhaps I came down too hard on my heel. Anyway, I taught my class Saturday morning, but I’ve found a sub for this evening. I did my best to rest it over the weekend, but it’s a little hard to stay off your feet with a preschooler commanding you to “come on mama” as he runs off to gather his animals. We did tell him yesterday evening that mama needed a moment to rest. I was on the couch, a little sprawled out actually, when he came around the corner. Luffy told him that I needed to rest and I explained to him that my foot is hurt. He crawled up on me and laid with me for a moment, before getting closer to inspect my foot. I took my sock off to show him my KT tape, still yammering on about being hurt, when he leaned down to give my foot a kiss.

Sweet boy, taking care of his mama.

He gave it one more kiss before trying to put my sock back on. When he couldn’t, he called dada over to put it back on for me! Such a sweetheart. I told him I had to sit, but that I’d be happy to read to him. So he brought The Goodnight Train and his surprise and then allll his other books and we spent a happy 45 minutes reading until bedtime.

In pursuit of a dress

On Saturday, I had a rather … interesting event to go to: the 60th birthday party for a partner of my firm. Before you ask, no I don’t know him super well or anything. I think he just had a hard time of drawing the line at who to invite from around the office (which is understandable, given our small size). That and I think he and his girlfriend just wanted to throw a really big party.

The invitation, however, (which! I received a week before the event!! and only two days before I was supposed to RSVP!! talk about cutting it close!!), didn’t really describe the dress code adequately. Dress like a million bucks was the line used and we chatted among ourselves at the office as to what exactly that meant*. I settled on sparkly cocktail as the answer to the question. The party was being held at a snazzy downtown Dallas hotel and, knowing that this was bound to include some upper echelon Dallasites, I figured I was looking at a ritzy-housewife-goes-out type situation.

But here was my problem:

My mom, bless her soul, was the type to recognize the good fortune in stumbling upon something that just fits you. It’s your perfect color and fit and style. It looks like it was made for you. We always joke that you can never find a cocktail dress when you need one, but be looking for sweatpants on sale and the dress of your dreams will probably fall off the rack. So, I had quite the collection of cocktail dresses to start off my early-twenties with because if we found a cocktail dress that fit me like a dream on a random Thursday afternoon – she got it for me.

Indeed, I haven’t had to purchase a new cocktail dress in a very long time. I always had the perfect dress for an afternoon wedding or an office holiday party or a friend’s engagement party. No sweat, I was all set!

But of course, after a decade of rotating through the same half-dozen or so dresses, I had to purge my collection. The styles were no longer my preference or I’d worn them too many times around the same crowd (especially an issue now that I’ve worked at the same place for five years!). Some, while beautiful, just didn’t say the same statement when worn by a 30-year-old mom as they did a 22-year-old. And so, last year, I sorted and donated and paired my collection down to just a couple. None of which fit the bill for Saturday night’s sparkly cocktail attire.

And so I was in the dreaded position of needing to find a dress.

To take some of the pressure off (see above and my assurance that you can never find it if you need it), I decided that I’d at least go see what was out there. I had a back-up at home, something I’d worn before around the same people, but beggars couldn’t be choosers, you know? But of course, last week was ridiculously busy between work and a flat tire and suddenly the only time I had to look was Friday afternoon. Egads!

I started off at TJ Maxx and found a decent Calvin Klein dress that was passable. It wasn’t sparkly, but it was a unusual bright green and fit well (other than I’d probably need to get two inches taken off the bottom eventually), so I bought it. Ross didn’t turn up any finds except a casual T-shirt dress that I’ve been looking for (score!). I decided to head to Neiman Marcus Last Call next. I should have just gone there first, but you can never look through too many racks, right?

I’ve never actually been in Neiman Marcus Last Call before, I just figured it would be a good place to look for cocktail dresses. I was right and they had racks upon racks upon racks of dresses. I was completely confused as to the pricing (everything seemed to have multiple tags with conflicting amounts and then additional stickers and there was some sort of sliding scale for spending and savings and I don’t really know…), but I picked out five dresses to try on. One was too big, two were fun but seemed, incongruously, to be of poor quality, and two… well two of the dresses were absolute dreams.

The first (and the one I wore on the night) was a midnight blue lace dress, fitted, with solid panels underneath to form the dress and a little bralette-type bodice. (I know, I’m terrible at descriptions, but envision cut-outs at the ribs.) The entire thing was covered with flat sequins of the same color, not too flashy but just enough to catch the light. It fit me like a glove and looked amazing with my hair cut and shoulders. Yay!

The second dress is a fitted black-with-white-polka-dots dress. Simple cut. High neckline. The only detail is a shoulder ruffle. No sparkle. No cut-outs. No cleavage. But. It fits me like they made the dress on me. Literally on my body. Everything skims my body, there are no gaps or tightness. It’s perfection.

And so, I was left with two perfect dresses, a miracle in and of itself. As best I could tell, they’d both be right at $100. Also another minor miracle, given the store I was shopping at. I quickly decided that there really wasn’t a decision to be made – granted I only “needed” one, but clearly the dress gods were smiling upon me and I couldn’t leave a gift like that behind.

I proceeded to check-out and then. AND THEN. The reason I’m telling this story in such excruciating detail: I got a really, really good deal.

Remember I said it was really hard to tell the price? The midnight dress had an original tag of $265. That tag had red sticker on it that said CLEARANCE. It also had a separate tag that said $99 with a yellow sticker that said 30% off. The polka dot dress had an original tag of $129 and a separate tag that said $92. The original tag also had a yellow sticker on it that said 30% off. So I head to the counter thinking I’ll be paying $99 and $92 for the dresses, a perfectly reasonable price given their quality and fit. The sales lady rings me up and mentions she can give me 30% off and suddenly the prices are $66 and $62 – woot woot! I’m not sure if that was the whole sliding-scale scheme I had seen signs for around the store, or if it was the 30% off stickers themselves, but I wasn’t gonna argue. So she goes to hang and bag them and realizes that she missed the clearance sticker on the midnight dress.

“I’ll just re-ring you up,” she tells me and my stomach falls a bit. I figured that meant it was going to be more expensive (like when the store sale doesn’t apply to clearance items, etc, etc).

I was watching the screen closely and was dumbfounded when the new price popped up – $42.

$42 instead of $265!


I couldn’t believe my luck and was so happy that I’d decided to purchase both of them. As I mentioned, I wore the midnight one to the party and I would say I was perfectly attired for the directive (it was a mixed bag with some people clearly bringing down the average [a normal looking sweater and black slacks] and some people going above and beyond [a floor-length, lace-up black gown]). I received many compliments and even had someone tell me on their way out that I was wearing the best dress of the evening!

Feels good.

*I secretly figured that with a line like that, the hostess had probably already picked out her outfit and wanted to craft a dress code around it. I think I was right. She was wearing a tight, black, one-shoulder jumpsuit with 2/3 of a clearly fake boob out. Did I mention I had a great time people watching at this thing?

**Also relevant reading.